When you shop online for tea, you can’t touch or taste the product. So how do you know what to look for and how can you make sure you get good quality tea without overpaying? I’m sure there are more, but here’s a list of 5 things to look out out for when buying tea online.
1. The origin of the tea you’re buying - do they tell you the tea origin of each blend? Why is this important? Because it tells you something about the quality of the tea you’re getting. You need a little more than just “Black tea”. You need to know whether it’s Ceylon tea, Assam tea, Chinese tea, etc.
2. Just enough variety but not too much - Look for companies that specialize in certain types of tea or ones that don’t carry too many flavors. For example, 100 different flavors is too much. Why? Because the more flavors they carry, the harder it is to keep your tea fresh. You’ll end up paying the price with stale tea.
3. The use of natural and/or organic flavorings - This is important, because it can make or break the flavor of your tea. Natural and organic flavorings make a huge difference in the taste. These teas are usually more expensive, but it’s worth it.
4. Ability to purchase samples - This is the best way to try many different types of teas without having to buy too much of one tea. Otherwise, if you order a tea that you don’t like, you’re stuck with a lot of it.
5. Low shipping rates and good free shipping deals - You shouldn’t pay a lot for shipping when it comes to tea. Tea is light and fairly inexpensive to ship. Look for flat rates ($5.00 or less) and make sure you don’t have to buy $50 worth of tea to get free shipping.
Hopefully, you’re getting these and more from your favorite tea store. If not, start shopping around.
Just watched the Perfect Cappucino yesterday and have to admit that, initially, I wasn’t really excited about a coffee documentary, since I don’t drink coffee. I could not have been more wrong about the movie. Amy Ferraris, the filmmaker, does a fantastic job of describing her search for the perfect cappucino. What does this have to with tea? Watch the movie and pay particular attention to an independent coffee shop called the Double Shot Coffee Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We feel the same way about tea as Brian, the owner feels about coffee. Much of the movie is focused on Starbucks and why Americans are so obsessed with the global coffee conglomerate. The movie is just as much about culture as it is about coffee. Whether you drink coffee, tea or both, I highly recommend the Perfect Cappucino.
First, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cloudy iced tea, other than it does not look very appealing. Iced tea becomes cloudy because the polyphenols in the tea bind with the minerals in the water in which it was brewed. This effect is heightened when tea is refrigerated for long periods of time.
The primary reason tea companies promote the concept of non-cloudy tea is for the purpose of marketing. Many of these same companies include additives in their tea blends to prevent clouding of tea. Home remedies include adding citrus or boiling water to the tea to remove the cloudy effect. The bottom line is that, while cloudy tea may look unappealing, there is nothing wrong with the tea. In fact, cloudy tea often indicates a higher quality of tea leaves.
Sometimes even the most delicious flavored tea can become boring after awhile, especially if you like to drink tea on a daily basis. But whether you are hoping to bring more variety to your daily tea intake, or if you are simply hoping to impress your family and friends with a unique recipe of flavored tea, here are three unusual teas to try brewing in your kitchen:
1. Yellow tea
Yellow tea is both grown and processed on a small lake island in China, and after it is harvested it is then fermented under straw and then rolled into needles before drying. The flavor of yellow tea has a slight hint of cocoa, flowers and vanilla, and is extremely popular because of its subtle flavor.
In order to make yellow tea, you need 1/2 oz. of yellow root stems, 18 oz. of water, two teaspoons of sugar, one lemon cut into quarters, four teaspoons of lemon juice, and cheese cloth in which to wrap the root stems.
First you have to wrap the stems with the cloth but make sure it is tightly secured at both ends with a string. After bringing the water to a boil, add the stems and lemon quarters and keep boiling for one minute before adding sugar. Boil for another minute and then pour the liquid into a large picture before adding the lemon juice.
2. Pu-erh tea
Pu-erh tea has a unique espresso-like flavor that also has hints of mushrooms, nuts, plums and dark chocolate and is known to help treat digestion and high cholesterol.
All you need in order to make pu-erh tea is to purchase pu-erh tea cakes and then steep them in hot water for approximately two minutes.
3. Genmaicha tea (rice tea)
Genmaicha tea is made with roasted brown rice and a lesser grade of bancha leaf, and is also commonly referred to as “popcorn tea” because the rice usually pops during the processing. Genmaicha tea also tends to have a sharp and lemon-type of flavor because it contains both smooth and harsh tasting polyphenols.
In order to make the tea, spread a thin layer of brown rice into a medium sized pan, and then turn the heat to a low or medium setting. Toast the rice until it becomes dark brown, and although toasting time varies, try not to toast it for over five minutes.
Next, cool the rice on a plate and then place it inside of a container for storage. Then take one tablespoon of the toasted brown rice (one tablespoon will usually make one strong cup of tea), and then place the rice inside of a tea sieve with one teaspoon of green tea leaves.
Put the tea sieve into an empty mug and then pour hot, steaming water into the mug and let it sit for three minutes. Lastly, remove the tea sieve and pour the genmaicha into a mug and enjoy.
Bio: Aside from school and working part-time as an Assistant Chef, Bridget Sandorford is the resident Culinary Schools blogger where recently she has been researching Ottawa culinary colleges as well writing a guide on the types of chefs students can become with proper experience and training. She lives outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
In the U.S., most of the green tea we consume is from China. Very few are exposed to Japanese teas, and in particular, Sencha. Sencha is the most popular green teas in Japan and represents approximately 80% of the green tea produced in Japan. How is it different from the typical Chinese green tea? First, sencha leaves are initially steamed whereas Chinese green tea is pan-fried. This initial steaming step creates a more vegetal, almost grassy-like flavor with the sencha. In fact, it also has a slightly sweet flavor as well.
I personally prefer the taste of sencha over Chinese green tea any day and would recommend it to anyone who would like a lot more flavor in their green tea. This summer, instead of brewing up some black tea or Chinese green tea, try getting your hands on some sencha and definitely enjoy it over ice.
When it comes to flavored tea, how much variety is too much? In a perfect world, there would be no limit to the number of flavors one could create or offer to customers. What’s the downside? Quality and freshness are at stake. As a customer, think about this very carefully. The more flavors that are offered, the more inventory that is accumulated, and the longer it takes to go through the inventory. The reason is not everyone will purchase every flavor, which means many of the flavors could sit around for a long, long time before they are replenished with fresh product. Ultimately, you, the customer, pay the price by getting stuck with stale tea.
Take Cold Stone Creamery for example, a retail chain of gourmet ice cream stores. They offer 20 signature creations and approximately 9 base ice cream flavors for custom blending. By keeping a limit to the variety, they are able to control the quality and freshness of their ice cream.
As a consumer, you should be thankful when you see a company or brand follow this type of strategy. Everyone likes variety, but there is a price to pay for too much variety. Of course there is no formula or magic number for the variety of tea flavors a brand should offer. But when you see a tea company offer 70 different loose tea flavors, approach with caution. They obviously don’t have freshness or quality in mind and are interested in one thing…volume.
China’s Contribution to the Tea World
Tea has been around for the past 5000 years and has played an integral part in the creation of many cultural movements, even spawning the Boston Tea Party thousands of years later. The creation myth of tea revolves around the myth relating to the Chinese emperor Shen Nun who was a scientist as well as a ruler. One of his edicts stated that all drinking water be boiled in order to combat any outside additives to make water more hygienic for the population. One day, while he was visiting a nearby region, his servants began to boil water and a leaf from a bush fell in, thus creating a brown liquid. Since Shen Nun was a scientist, he drank the liquid and found it to be refreshing, and ever since, tea has played an important part in Chinese society. While the real history of tea remains lost in history, many speculate that the true story closely relates to this myth.
Since this time, tea has infiltrated the whole of Chinese culture as well as later spreading across the Asian world. Buddhist missionaries introduced the art of tea to imperial Japan after Lu Yu codified the various tea cultivation methods of ancient China in 800 A.D., writing down the preparation of tea for all to witness. The Japanese elevated tea to an art form through their Tea Ceremonies which were considered to be near-sacred. Japanese tea gardens still remain in effect throughout much of the world and offer the visitor a secluded spot in which to meditate, drink tea, and generally make yourself one with nature. It is these Zen-like qualities that tea has since taken on, involving a more harmonious interaction with nature. Europe did not begin to take not of tea until Portuguese began to advance their navy during the 16th century, and therefore gained the first right of trade with China; one of the leaders of these expeditions tasted tea for the first time and brought it back to Europe.
In Europe, tea was originally introduced as a costly commodity, making it a must have for the bourgeoisie class of the time, although as trade increased between Asian countries, the price fell and it became a common commodity. Due to the success of the Dutch navy at sea, the Dutch were the original tea drinkers of Europe and therefore passed this on to their settlements in the new world, thereby making Americans tea-drinkers in the long run. Tea infiltrated English society after this time as well, causing the new afternoon tea break in England, later including bread and pastries with tea. Coffee houses in England were so named because of the original introduction to coffee that had occurred before the knowledge of tea; however, tea did become the major beverage served at these locations and remains as such today. England’s decision to tax tea in the 18th century on the American colonists was the breaking point of the American Revolution and thus caused the colonists to openly rebel and purchase tea from Dutch imports. This major American historical event remains an integral part of the founding of our nation and revolves back to the original Chinese introduction of tea. The Chinese have led us to discover the more peaceful quality that tea has to offer, and have since let us picture ourselves as partaking in this harmonious tradition that has been going on for thousands of years.
We at Teajo Teas would like to thank all of our customers, suppliers, partners and anyone who took the time to sample our teas for their support throughout 2008. We have big goals for this year and would not be in this position without your support. We would alsoÂ like to wish all of you a prosperous and successful 2009!
Western food is, however, loaded with fast sugars, causing a daily panic in our bodies. Since too much insulin in the system can also be sickening and because our body is constantly trying to find a balance, we develop insulin resistance. This causes you to be free of complaints for many years. However, it is a pseudo-balance and it is therefore no coincidence that most people develop complaints and ailments in midlife. As the accumulated damage spans a period of 20 to 30 years, most people will not trace their health problems back to the food they have been consuming all these years. We are currently experiencing an explosion of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. And these diseases are occurring at an increasingly younger age too!
According to Phyllis and James Balch in their book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, green tea contains polyphenols, including phytochemicals with antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and other health enhancing properties. Epigalloacatechin gallate (EGCG) is a particular type of polyphenol in green tea that has shown in tests to be able to penetrate the body’s cells and shield DNA from the potent free radical, hydrogen peroxide.
In addition to protecting against cancers, green tea lowers cholesterol levels, and reduces the clotting tendency of blood. It shows promise as a weight-loss aid that can promote the burning of fat and the regulation of insulin levels and blood sugar.
Green tea is simply the unprocessed leaves of the tea plant, unlike black tea which is fermented. During processing, much of the polyphenols of black tea are lost.
In addition to brewing and drinking green tea, there are green tea supplements available. Some of these contain the whole plant, while others contain extracts. Whole plant supplements are usually preferable because they are backed by the integrity of the whole plant. Many green tea supplements are standardized to provide a quantifiable amount of EGCG, viewed as its most beneficial component.