Because loose tea is basically a non-perishable food item, you have plenty of options when it comes to storage. However, the way you store your tea can significantly affect its shelf life and freshness. The basic rules to loose tea storage are as follows:
Minimize the exposure to light – Tea should not be directly exposed to light, so avoid glass or any other type of transparent materials.
Avoid exposure to moisture – Store your tea in a relatively cool and dry place. This is especially important if you live in a warm, humid climate.
Avoid exposure to air – Exposure to air is your number one enemy when it comes to maintaining freshness. A stand-up resealable pouch or a tin canister with an air-tight lid will be sufficient.
Keep away from foods with strong odors – Tea will absorb flavors and aromas from surrounding foods and spices, so as long as you keep your tea in an air-tight container, you should be fine.
Maintain a moderate tea inventory – This may not be a standard rule, but it is one of mine. Why spend lots of money on a lot of tea that will ultimately go stale because you aren’t going through it fast enough? Unless you drink a lot of tea on a daily basis, we don’t recommend you purchase more than 2-4 oz at a time, which is enough for 25-50 servings. If you are buying your tea from the mall, watch out for those crafty salespeople, who will have you walking out of the store with 6 months worth of tea!
By the way, if you do buy your tea from the mall, you may be surprised to learn that quality and freshness are not their top priorities. I recommend you read https://www.teajo.com/about_our_tea.php, and then ask the tea salespeople at the mall if their tea follows the same standards. Sometimes you don’t always get what you pay for!
You may have noticed that when drinking flavored teas on ice, there is a definite difference in the flavor profile when compared to drinking the tea hot. In fact, you may also find that drinking chilled tea tends to bring out more of the flavors in the tea. This is particularly true of our Lemon Ginger Green tea, where ice definitely brings out the ginger flavor more than when the tea is consumed hot.
Without going into too much scientific detail, aspects such as the viscosity of the tea and the receptors on your tongue play a significant part in how the tea tastes whether it is poured over ice or served hot. For example, warmer liquids have a lower viscosity, so the sensation on your tongue will be different compared to a colder, higher viscosity liquid. With regard to the receptors on your tongue and mouth, some chemicals interact differently at higher or lower temperatures with these receptors. So lower temperatures can allow your tongue to taste different flavors.
Whatever the explanation, if you haven’t already experienced the difference, try your tea hot and then pour it over ice and note what happens with the flavors. I’ll bet you find you taste more of the flavors in the tea. Of course, the quality of the tea and the flavoring will have an impact as well.
We will be back serving our naturally flavored iced teas and hot teas at the Tampa Downtown Market at the latest by Friday, Dec. 12. We hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving holiday and look forward to seeing you at our booth in less than 2 weeks. Also, over the next few weeks, we plan to roll out a new tea flavor or two at the market, so stay tuned!
Thank you to all those who have stopped by our booth and taken the time to sample our teas. After 2 weeks at the Tampa Downtown Market, we have noticed that the most popular tea flavor so far has been Tropical Mango with Lemon Ginger Green coming in at a close second. For those who are used to drinking traditional black tea, the Tropical Mango with its black tea base provides them with a familar taste. Those whose palettes are comfortable with green tea are gravitating towards the Lemon Ginger Green. Last week, we also noticed an increase in the number of people who ordered the Orange Ruby Rooibos. Rooibos, even with its wonderful naturally sweet flavor, is a new concept to many, so it will take time for people to develop a taste for this herbal infusion.
Over time, we expect our customers to have their favorites, and we will try and keep those flavors around. However, we will also try and introduce new flavors over the next couple of weeks. Specifically, we will be offering a black tea infused with cranberries to coincide with the start of the holiday season.
Due to weather, the opening of the Tampa Downtown Market has been rescheduled for Friday, October 31, 2008. The market will still take place in Lykes Gaslight Square Park from 10 am to 2 pm.
Teajo Teas will be one of a number of gourmet food purveyors and local businesses participating in the Friday Downtown Market in Tampa. This market will take place every Friday from 10 am to 2 pm at Lykes Gaslight Square Park in downtown Tampa beginning October 24.
Our presence at the Downtown Market (www.tampadowntownmarket.com) will now offer our local Tampa Bay customers the unique opportunity to purchase our teas and tea accessories without necessarily having to order from our online store. We will also be serving individual glasses of specialty flavored iced tea and hot tea, so if you have a few minutes during your lunch hour, please do visit our booth on Franklin St. We will be offering flavored green tea, black tea as well as herbal infusions.
One of the most important aspects of our teas is that they are harvested without the use of pesticides or harmful chemicals. Once harvested, the teas are processed and then shipped to one of our facilities in the U.S., where they are kept in a warehouse for flavor blending and distribution. Depending on the tea varieity (black, green, white), processing of the tea leaves can involve one or more of the folllowing steps: (1) Withering – reduce water content in the leaves, (2) Rolling – release oils to provide aroma, (3) Oxidation – oxygen is absorbed (4) Drying/Firing – even and thorough drying to stop oxidation process.
The flavor blending process is very simple. We take only natural ingredients and combine them with the tea leaves. No artificial preservatives, colors or flavors ever touch the teas. For example, our Lemon Ginger Green tea is created by taking Green Assam tea leaves and blending them, often by hand, with natural bits of lemon and ginger. These natural bits are created from whole dried fruits and spices, so the lemons had to be dried and cut as did the pieces of ginger. Sometimes we also add natural flavoring or other garnishes, such as safflower or lotus petals, which help bring out certain flavors within the blend. For best results, the blended tea should not be consumed for approximately 24-48 hours to allow the flavors and aromas to properly infuse.
We focus on maintaining our tea inventory on a just in time basis, so that your tea is tastes fresher when you purchase. Many companies buy years of tea inventory to bring down their costs and provide you with a less expensive product. However, the price you pay as a consumer is in quality, taste and freshness.
We talk a lot about providing grower fresh teas and that we carry a very high quality grade of teas. I’ll bet many of you are curious as to who is growing these teas and where they are harvested.
With the exception of our Rooibos herbal infusions, Teajo teas originate from a region called Assam, which is situated in the eastern foothills of the Himalayas. Our grower operates tea cooperatives in this region and has been doing so for over 25 years. Most people in the U.S. do not realize that there is a good chance that the tea they are drinking contains some remnants of tea from the Assam region. In most cases, large tea buyers or consolidators purchase the tea from Assam and then proceed to blend with teas from other regions and countries to make products such as English Breakfast tea or generic Black tea.The difference in our case is that we do not blend with other tea types, so our black and green teas contain only pure Assam tea leaves primarily for reasons of quality and freshness.
More about the harvesting process in the next blog.
Are you still drinking tea from a tea bag? My goal is that by the time you finish reading this article, you will reconsider your tea bag ways and think seriously about switching to loose tea. If better quality, freshness and flavor are not important to you, then continue with your tea bags. Otherwise, you may want to read some of my arguments below in favor of loose tea.
I hear the following excuse all the time…”I don’t have time to make loose tea and like the convenience of the tea bag…” We as Americans are so caught up in convenience and instant gratification that we continue to sacrifice quality and flavor, not to mention health benefits when it comes to tea. Making loose tea is so simple that it takes only requires a marginal increase in time over using a tea bag. All you need to brew loose tea is either (a) an unbleached tea filter pouch or (b) a Smart Tea Maker or similar brewing device. Visit https://www.teajo.com/teainfo-preparing.php to learn more about the brewing options for loose tea. If using a Smart Tea Maker, you are looking at an investment of less than $20 to enjoy great loose tea. You can also purchase a box of 100 unbleached tea filters for less than $6.00. In terms of time, it may take a few more minutes to prepare loose tea vs. tea bag preparation. But isn’t it worth a few extra minutes of your time for superior quality and taste?
While there are some tea bag products that try to duplicate the quality and freshness of loose tea, few of them come close. Tea bags traditionally contain dust or fannings, which are the lowest grade of leftovers after the tea leaves are processed. There are a few companies that are now placing higher grade tea into their bags, but they still fall short of loose leaf quality. Break open a tea bag, look at the contents and compare the size of the leaves to that of loose tea. Do you notice how much larger and more defined the loose tea leaves are? There is an entire grading system for tea leaves, which is based on the leaf size and texture. I will not go into detail here but will expand upon tea grades in future blogs. The other differences you will notice are the superior aroma and freshness of loose tea, especially when it comes to flavored teas. Unless the tea bags are individually sealed, they are exposed to air and will lose flavor and freshness much quicker than loose tea. The tea bag also restricts the amount of space needed for the tea leaves to expand, which also affects the infusion process.
When you are finished drinking loose tea, there are no staples, nylon or silk bags to throw away. Loose tea is much more environmentally friendly. The worst offenders are the pyramid shaped silk tea bags which purportedly offer the quality of loose tea in the convenience of a bag. What is the point of putting a healthy, organic product like tea into a synthetic, non-environmentally friendly bag and throw them both together in boiling hot water? These pyramid tea bags look pretty, but considering their ridiculous cost, they are still lacking in quality and flavor when compared to loose tea.
In the end, it comes down to having enough compelling reasons to change any habit. If you decide to make the switch to loose tea, I have the feeling you will not return to tea bags. I understand that not everyone feels the same way about quality and flavor as I do when it comes to tea. If this is the case, stick with your box of 100 tea bags for $2.99. It is not worth your time or money to convert to loose tea. However, if you really care about what you are drinking and you still drink tea from a tea bag, it is time for you to make the change.
Congratulations to Laura Klopp of Brandon, FL, who is the winner of a Smart Tea Maker, 2 oz. of Very Raspberry and 2 oz. of Lemon Ginger Green!