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Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao) Oolong from Oollo Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - 5 hours 20 min ago
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Oollo Tea

Tea Description:

Renowned for its beautiful five colour dancing leaves. This traditional beauty exudes apricot and peach scents followed by indulging orchid, muscat grape, and apple flavours.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oollo Tea offers some outstanding teas and this Oriental Beauty Oolong is a perfect example.  It’s one of the nicest Bai Hao Oolong teas that I’ve tasted in a quite some time!

The aroma is lovely – it reminds me of warm peaches – like the filling in a peach cobbler.  Warm and bubbly and sweet!  That’s what I think of when I smell this tea!

The tea has a wonderful fruit flavor – I taste stone fruit and flower.  The above description suggests orchid and when I focus on the floral notes, yes, I would say that the flower I taste is indeed orchid.  I taste notes of peach and apricot and hints of a honeyed sweetness.

I don’t taste muscat grape or apple yet, but perhaps those flavors will reveal themselves in later infusions.  For now, I’m quite happy with the notes of honey, orchid and peach-y apricot!

With my second cup (infusions 3 and 4) I am picking up some of those aforementioned notes of grape and apple.  Really nice!  I taste less of the peach and apricot flavors – those seemed to have disappeared – but I still taste a lovely orchid note and a lovely sweetness that I’d describe as more of a sugary sweetness now rather than a honey-like sweetness.  This tastes a bit like the sugar notes I’d experience if I were to eat a handful of raisins.

This cup is really smooth with just a hint of astringency toward the tail.  I taste a light, hay-like note to this too, similar to what I’d taste from a Bai Mu Dan (white tea).  Every once in a while, I’ll also taste the slightest whisper of vanilla.

I started to notice the flavor waning with my third cup (infusions 5 and 6), so I decided it would be my last of this tea.  But I had three marvelous cups of tea!  The third cup still had plenty of flavor – lovely notes of apple and grape and almost a melon-like background note that I hadn’t noticed in the previous infusions!  Still sweet, still lovely.

A really wonderful tea – this Oriental Beauty from Oollo Tea!  If you haven’t checked out their website yet, you should stop in and check them out!

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Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea from Udyan Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - 11 hours 20 min ago
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Jethikupi is a word from the Manipuri dialect (from the North-east Indian State of Manipur) and it means ‘jasmine flower.’ In the Nepali dialect the word ‘jethi’ means the eldest girl child, while ‘kupi’ is a funnel or cone shaped object. Hence this tea points out to the earliest first flush of the tea garden. Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea brews into a crisp, full bodied, deep yellow cup with a malty finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have enjoyed the different teas that I’ve received from Udyan Tea to review.  But I – without realizing it – think I may have saved the very best for last because this Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea is absolutely DELIGHTFUL.

It has that crisp and clean flavor that you expect from a first flush Darjeeilng tea, but this is more full flavored.  It has notes of malt!  It has a richness to the flavor and it’s nicely round.  It’s not “heavy” – it is crisp and light, but it’s not quite as light as a typical first flush Darjeeling.  This has a more robust body to it and it’s SO wonderfully sweet!

It’s nice and smooth with very little astringency and absolutely no bitterness.  It even has hints of muscatel to it – a note that I don’t usually expect in a first flush Darjeeling, but am always happy to find when I do find it.

This is exactly the tea I needed this afternoon.  I’ve been a little stressed out lately (I’ve been SO busy!) and I needed some time to just sit back and have a tea that tastes so good that the stress melts away.  This tea did exactly that for me.  This is one of the best first flush Darjeeling teas I’ve tried this year.  I highly recommend it!

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World Tea Expo - The Last Day and Heading Home

Tea For Me Please - 11 hours 21 min ago
Many of my housemates had shipped out by Saturday so I took advantage of taking a nap in a nice big bed. Tea partying all night takes a lot out of you! The expo being over, +Natasha N and I decided to have a bit of a tourist day. We started things off by walking to the Long Beach Museum of Art. Admission was free since they were having an art auction. None of the pieces were within our price Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

World Tea Expo 2015

T Ching - 15 hours 19 min ago

Air is the key to the success in tea business – this is what I learned on this trip. Air helps deliver the fresh tea in the water – which is the mother of tea.  This may sound new to many in the trade, but it is the truth. Removal of moisture from green leaf is the manufacture of tea,  whereas addition of moisture back is the brewing of tea. This whole process of moisture removal and addition is to give shelf life while keeping the desired qualities in tea. Air is the conductor of moisture and one of the main elements of nature. Its importance in food processing is being more appreciated recently because of increasing pollution and climate change.

Winners look for all the factors leading to their success, so let us think more about air. Recently one of the low elevation tea gardens in Darjeeling cooled the air inside their factory, resulting in producing much better filler teas. They aptly gave it a very fancy name to attract the attention of quality buyers.

Historically, consumption of tea was nearer to the producer – which kept growing with the passage of time, thereby necessitating newer forms of production like green, black, oolong and so on. Transportation required better packaging facilities to keep the teas fresh and the game changer was dictated by air. The need of the present is to learn more about air’s role in these times of rising costs and higher wages.

Japanese tea machinery manufacturers are set to pounce upon the opportunity opening up in America – be it tea cultivation, processing, transportation or storing.  Both are no doubt the best, led by Prof. Hara and Nigel Melican. Governments are coming forward to study the tea sciences led by Jason McDonald; James Norwood Pratt is leading the pack to document everything which we ever knew – and never knew about tea thus far.

I feel lucky to witness the second generation onslaught. The British led the first generation from 1600’s on, following the 5000 year old Chinese tea growing model which is expanding by leaps and bounds now.  This exponential industry growth is fueled by the lure of health benefits for the 7 billion world population. Given the 90 billion US Dollar annual turnover of 4 billion kilos of annual world tea production, we welcome the changes.

Let us be with the winners.

Images courtesy of Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea.

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North Winds from Whispering Pines Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - 17 hours 21 min ago
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea Co.

Tea Description:

My house black tea for good reason — North Winds is the essence of northern Michigan. A blend of a malty and chocolaty black tea from Fujian and a rustic high mountain dian hong with subtle fruity notes, this tea brings me home every time. Sweet fruity notes of apricot and white grape bring you to Traverse City while heavy dark chocolate notes allow you to have that Mackinaw Island fudge desert without having to take the ferry. Notes of toasted rye with cherry preserves show up mid-sip with a beautiful malt and wildflower honey finish. Light hints of sweet potato and clean white pepper mingle through the malt. These velvety smooth, decadent notes combine into a medium-bodied tea with a bold and rustic feel that makes for a perfect breakfast tea — but you’ll want to drink this all day long!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is Whispering Pines’ house black tea, and it’s become one of my house teas as well. It sits in a little tin at the front of my tea cupboard, and I drink it several times a week. When I feel like I’m beginning to run low I place an order for a couple more ounces because I never want to run out of this one. Given that I love trying new teas there aren’t too many teas that I say that about! It’s a delicious blend of Yunnan Dian Hong and Fujian Black Tea that makes me happy each time I drink it.

When I first sip this tea I get a nice mix of dark chocolate and malt. The chocolate note is deep but has a sweetness that makes me think chocolate rather than cocoa. There is also a sweet, fruity, cherry note that is eye rollingly good combined with the chocolate and malt notes. The mix of flavors reminds me of the braided cherry chocolate tarts I sometimes buy at Redding Terminal in Philadelphia.  Both the tea and the tarts are sweet but not overly so. There is an underlying earthy flavor to North Winds which I appreciate since it grounds some of the brighter flavors and makes this a tea that’s good both in the morning and the afternoon. I’ve paired this tea with eggs and biscuits for breakfast. I’ve also served it with sour cream chocolate chip cake at a tea party, and my guest really enjoyed it. Overall it’s a nice, versatile, and down right tasty blend.

Whispering Pines recommends Gongfu Style brewing for this tea. I have always brewed this Western Style using 1/2 a tablespoon of leaves in 8 ounces of 205°F water, steeping the leaves for  3 minutes.  I am curious to try the Gongfu Style brewing to see if it’s possible for me to enjoy this tea more than I already do. If you use different brewing styles with this tea leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

North Winds is a winner for me and one that I’ll happily repurchase again. I’d recommend this tea to black tea lovers and anyone who enjoys or is curious about Chinese black teas.

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Fermented Tea Classification

World of Tea - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 05:55

Fermented Teas

  1. China

    1. Hunan Heicha 湖南 黑茶 (Anhua)

      1. Fu Zhuan 茯砖  “fu brick”

      2. Qian Liang Cha 千两茶 “thousand tael tea” (sometimes called Hua Juan)

        1. Bai Liang Cha 百两茶 “hundred tael tea”

        2. Shi Liang Cha 十两茶 “ten tael tea”

      3. Hua Zhuan 花砖 “flower brick”

      4. Hei Zhuan 黑砖茶 “dark brick”
      5. Xiang Jian 湘尖 “hunan tips”

        1. Tian Jian 天尖 “sky tips”
        2. Gong Jian 贡尖 “tribute tips”
        3. Sheng Jian 生尖 “raw tips”
      6. Qu Jiangbo Pian 渠江薄片 (coin shaped)

    2. Sichuan Heicha 四川 黑茶

      1. Nan Lu Bian Cha 南路边茶 “south border tea”

      2. Xi Lu Bian Cha 西路边茶 “west border tea”

      3. Kang Zhuan 康砖 “kang brick” literally “peaceful brick”

    3. Anhui Heicha 安徽 黑茶

      1. Liu An Cha 六安茶

    4. Hubei Heicha 湖北 黑茶

      1. Qing Zhuan 青砖 “green brick”
    5. Guangxi Heicha 广西 黑茶

      1. Liu Bao Cha 六堡茶

      2. Liu Dong Cha 六洞茶

      3. Bai Niu Cha 白牛茶 (loose heicha)

      4. Xiu Ren Cha 修仁茶 (loose heicha)

    6. Guangdong Heicha 广东 黑茶

      1. Zhu Qiao Cha 竹壳茶 “bamboo shell tea”

    7. Yunnan Heicha 云南 黑茶

      1. Puer 普洱

        1. Sheng Puer 生普洱 (not technically post-fermented until fermented)

        2. Shu Puer 熟普洱

  2. Japan

    1. Awabancha 阿波番茶

    2. Goishicha 碁石茶

 

 

Gold Rush from DavidsTea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 03:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White Tea

Where to Buy:  DavidsTea

Tea Description:

Mulberries are a pretty precious fruit, so you don’t find them in tea very often. After all, mulberry trees are usually reserved for silk making, as they’re the only thing silkworms will eat. No wonder – they’re naturally sweet and rich, with an almost caramel-like flavour. In a word, decadent. Here we pair golden mulberries with creamy coconut and delicate white tea, for a tea that is guaranteed to give you gold fever. Eureeka!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was very surprised to open up the pouch of this tea to see large chunks of coconut and huge mulberries! Where’s the white tea? There are a few leaves in there, but it’s mostly coconut and mulberries.  The scent of this blend is quite interesting, as well. It smells sweet, tart and a bit like juice. I’m starting to think that this might be a good blend for those who don’t like the taste of tea, but maybe the white tea will come out more in the flavor.

Wow, I wasn’t expecting this blend to taste like this given the ingredients! It’s certainly sweet and a bit creamy. I definitely see the comparison to caramel, but a version that has a tinge of fruit. The finish reminds me of almost burnt, crusty sort of sugar. Yum! I wish that the cup had a bit more body only because I think it would make it a richer treat, but it’s certainly drinkable the way it is.

I would recommend this blend for anyone who is looking for a unique, sweet tea. To be honest, I can’t really taste any of the white tea and wouldn’t know of its inclusion had I not read the ingredients list. I might try to fish around in the pouch to see if I can gather more leaves. I’m not missing the flavor all that much, but I’m not sure if the tea is worth the price given the large volume of coconut and mulberries.

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Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Leaf Co. 

Tea Description:

A wonderfully bold and smooth organic tea blend of dark oolong and maple, a perfect pairing. While the oolong is bold, full-bodied, and lightly smoked, the maple is light, aromatic, and sweet. The combination of the two flavors results in a well-balanced, featured favorite maple tea blend.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  This Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co. is the first from this new-to-me tea company that I’ve tried, and it’s a good one!

The maple flavor is strong but I like that it’s not overpowering the Oolong tea.  Tea Leaf Co. has managed to strike a really delightful balance between the sweetness and rich flavor of the maple and the Oolong tea with its fruit notes and hints of smoke.

The base tea possesses notes of stone fruit (peach) and I taste wisps of smoke.  I like this delicate smoky note and how it plays to the notes of the sweet maple.  Nutty flavors develop as I continue to sip and I like how these interact with the maple notes as well.  This is a full-flavored Oolong, it’s rugged and has notes of wood and earth.  It’s a strong flavor that doesn’t wimp out behind the sweetness of the maple.  The contrasts in flavor from the woodsy, earthy, nutty and smoky flavors help keep the maple in check and keep it from becoming too cloying a drink.

The maple notes are sweet and pleasant.  They don’t taste chemical or artificial.  It tastes like someone drizzled a drop or two of real maple syrup in my teacup!  Quite delectable!

A real treat – this “Brown Sugar.”

The post Brown Sugar Organic Oolong Tea from Tea Leaf Co. appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Green Dragon from Canton Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 16:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Blended for us by Rare Tea Hunter, Phil Mumby, this is a base of China Green Sencha given a full makeover with the citrus kick of lemon zest, lemongrass, lemon oil – and ginger. The combination of the fresh, green grass sencha notes, the lemony flavour and the warming ginger is completed by the subtlest hint of liquorice root to give a lingering sweetness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  When Canton Tea Co.asked me to try their new Green Dragon – I was excited!  I’ve been really impressed with the quality of teas that I’ve tried from Canton and I love the combination of lemon and ginger – so I was sure that I’d enjoy this new blend of theirs.

And I do!  The lemony notes are tart with just enough sweetness to them to keep me from puckering when I take a sip.  The warmth from the ginger is mild.  And the licorice root is barely noticeable – even those who don’t typically like licorice root would probably enjoy this because the licorice root doesn’t really stand out as an obvious flavor.  It’s more like a hint of sweetness toward the tail.

The Chinese Sencha is a sweet, fresh taste with a hint of grassy flavor.  It has a pleasant creaminess to it, light and buttery.  I like the way this buttery quality melds with the lemon-y notes, creating an almost lemon custard type of experience with each sip.  It’s very smooth.

As I continue to sip, the warmth from the ginger builds slightly in the back of the throat.  It never gets really warm though.  It’s a very mild, gentle peppery note that offers contrast to the creaminess of the tea and the tangy lemon notes.

A really lovely tea – it’s a delightful summertime tea that tastes great as a hot tea or a refreshing iced tea!

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The Twinings English Breakfast Tea Song

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 15:00
Not so bad, as these odes to tea go.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Arty Twinings Infusions Tea Commercial

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 14:00
Here's an "encore performance" of one of the more memorable Twinings commercials.



Tea Guy Speaks Amazon Store

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Kris Grey Black Tea from Ette Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Ette Tea

Tea Description:

Shaded as the quintessential earl grey, Kris Grey (Blend no. 050) is a western classic brew fortified with south east asian ingredients.

Kris Grey is a blend of black tea, javanese vanilla beans, blue corn flower, bluepea flower, bergamot oil & edible silver dust.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

My second blend from Ette Tea!

So, I’m not the biggest Earl Grey fan; not that I dislike it, but I just don’t crave it often either. Under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have gone for this one – but who can resist sample sizes and the idea of sparkly silver tea? And really, the dry leaf is stunning! It’s covered in this really fine, gorgeous silver dust. So pretty!

Steeped up I’m not going to lie; I’m a little disappointed. The tea is still gorgeous and sparkly, but it’s not as dramatic as I’d have thought given the amount of noticeable glimmer in the dry leaf. Maybe about the same amount of sparkle as DT’s Gitter & Gold blend that people like to ooh and aah over.

The taste is solid though; it’s a good EG with a medium level of citrusy bergamot and silky smooth black base. I feel like a little bit more of vanilla would have really sent this one sky rocketing though. As it stands I can hardly taste the vanilla at all, but as is it’s just fine too. People who really love EG should definitely take a closer look at this because while it isn’t mind blowing, it’s got a really taditional taste with that fun sparkly element that makes it different from the average EG you can get at any store.

So for me, it’s a step down from Pandan Chiffon (which set the bar very high) but still not a flop! Definitely excited to try my next tea from this company!

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Sassyfras Strawberry from Piper & Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 03:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Piper & Leaf

Tea Description:

A Delicious Burst of Strawberries, Sencha Green Tea, Sassafras Roots, Red Beets, and a Subtle Herbal Blend.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Another sample from Piper & Leaf. Another tea I shared with my dad over the Mother’s Day festivities.  Another tea I so wanted to fall in love with, but alas. . not so much.

I brewed this one up per the instructions on the sample.

This tea smells delicious.  As with the other Piper & Leaf samples I have had, the teas smell fresh.  Crisp.  Beautiful to look at and brews up smelling amazing.  But first sip was met with a twinge of disappointment.

The tea had a strong strawberry flavor but had this weird taste that I couldn’t wrap my head around.  It was like the two flavors were competing against each other instead of mingling together.  My dad said the same thing.  He said it wasn’t something he would need to have again but that it was a unique tasting tea.  I’m not sure if the unique odd flavor I was picking up was the sassafras root or the red beets.

I would love to hear somebody else’s thoughts on this tea.  I can’t say that I’ve had sassafras a whole lot or even beets for that matter.  I’m wondering if it was just user error or if it was just the uniqueness of the different ingredients.  I am hoping to place another order with Piper & Leaf to try the rest of their offerings and I will more than likely give this one another shot.  It just sounds so very interesting!  I feel like I need to give this one another shot.

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Chemical Compounds in Tea

World of Tea - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 03:18

Tea chemistry is complex. Just how complex? Well, on the bush, tea leaves contain thousands of chemical compounds, when they are processed, these compounds break down, form complexes and form new compounds. When we steep tea leaves, our senses are tingled by the thousands of volatile compounds (collectively known as the “aroma complex”) from the tea liquor and the thousands of non-volatile compounds and the complexes between them, not all of which are water soluble, and the ones that are water soluble are soluble at a function of the properties of the water used for steeping like temperature, total dissolved solids, pH, etc.

So all of this makes it very difficult to generalize and say that x chemical is responsible for y taste. Many tea chemicals have been categorized into broad groups, and collectively we have some idea of what happens to these groups during processing and what flavors and aromas they are responsible for. As tea gains popularity, there is no doubt that more research will be done on tea chemistry and we’ll have a clearer picture of what is going on chemically from the field to the cup.

Plant leaves are made up of mostly water, when they are removed from the plant they begin to wilt and lose water. Tea leaves are no exception to this. In the field, they are made up of mostly water, when they are plucked the leaves begin to lose water or wilt, a process called withering in the tea industry. As tea leaves wither, their cell walls begin to break down and the chemical components inside come in contact with oxygen and each another, spurring on a group of reactions we call oxidation. Over the years, tea producers have learned to control the natural tendency of tea leaves to wither and oxidize in order to produce a finished tea that has a desirable appearance, aroma, flavor, and taste using methods we’ll refer to as tea processing.

Amazingly, for hundreds of years tea makers have produced drinkable teas using principles of withering and oxidation with no knowledge of the underlying chemistry. From what we know today, the most important compounds in fresh tea leaves responsible for producing teas with desirable appearance, aroma, flavor, and taste are: polyphenols, amino acids, enzymes, pigments, carbohydrates, methylxanthines, minerals and many volatile flavor and aromatic compounds. These components undergo changes during tea processing to produce what we’ll call a ‘finished’ or ‘made’ tea – one that has been processed and is ready for packaging or steeping. Let’s take a look at each of these compounds beginning with the most abundant, polyphenols.

Polyphenols
In steeped tea, polyphenols are largely responsible for astringency. The term polyphenol simply refers to a categorization of compounds composed of many phenolic groups, hence the name poly-phenol. These compounds are plant metabolites produced as a defense against insects and other animals and are the most abundant compounds in tea comprising as much as 30-40% of both freshly plucked tea leaves and solids in tea liquor1. They are derived from amino acids via sunlight and therefore tea grown in the shade has a smaller concentration of polyphenols and a higher concentration of amino acids2. The bud and first leaf have the highest concentration of polyphenols and polyphenol levels decrease in each leaf moving down the plant3. There are an estimated 30,000 polyphenolic compounds in tea4, flavonoids are arguably the most important group of polyphenols in tea and are the source of the many health claims surrounding tea, and specifically tea antioxidants. Within the flavonoid group, flavanols (also known as flavan-3-ols) are the most prevalent. Flavanols are also referred to as tannins, and during oxidation are converted to theaflavins and thearubigins—the compounds responsible for the dark color and robust flavors notably present in black teas. The major flavanols in tea are: catechin (C), epicatechin (EC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the most active of these catechins and is often the subject of studies regarding tea antioxidants. Tea flavanols are sometimes collectively referred to as catechins. Besides flavanols, tea flavonoids also include flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, and anthocyanins; all of which contribute to the color of a tea’s infusion and its taste.

Amino Acids
Amino acids give tea its brothiness, or umami taste. Tea leaves contain many amino acids, the most abundant of which is theanine. Camellia sinensis, a mushroom called Boletus badius, and an plant called guayusa (which is often processed made into a tisane) are the only three natural sources of theanine found thus far in nature. In the tea field, sunlight converts amino acids to polyphenols, and as such; shade grown tea contains more amino acids than tea grown in direct sunlight. Some tea bushes are even deliberately shaded for several weeks before harvest to enhance the tea’s amino acid content. Theanine, more specifically L-Theanine is responsible for promoting alpha brain wave activity which promotes relaxation. L-Theanine in concert with caffeine can induce a state of “mindful alterness” in the tea drinker. In steeped tea, amino acids make up 6% of the extract solids1.

Enzymes
Polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase are the most important enzymes in tea leaves. They are responsible for the enzymatic browning of tea leaves that takes place when the cell walls in the leaves are broken and the polyphenols are exposed to oxygen – otherwise known as oxidation. These enzymes may be denatured or deactivated using heat so that browning cannot occur; this is one of the first steps in green tea production and is why finished green tea leaves remain green. The enzymes may also be denatured by simply depriving them of moisture for a time which is what happens during the long withering period in white tea production.

Pigments
Plant pigments are responsible for absorbing light for photosynthesis. Pigments also give leaves their color. There are two major groups of pigments in fresh tea leaves: chlorophylls and carotenoids. These pigments condense during withering and oxidation and become darker. During oxidation, the green color of tea chlorophylls is converted to black pigments known as pheophytins. This conversion leads to the dark appearance of finished oxidized teas. Tea carotenoids are another pigment group found in tea leaves and are mainly composed of carotenes which are orange and xanthophylls which are yellow and are also responsible for the color of finished tea leaves.

Carbohydrates
All plants store energy formed during photosynthesis in starches and sugars, otherwise known as carbohydrates. Plants later use this stored energy to fuel important reactions, in tea, carbohydrates help to fuel the enzymatic reactions that take place during oxidation and are also responsible for the creation of polyphenols in young tea leaves. Carbohydrates make up on average 11% of extract solids in steeped tea1 and lend to its sweetness.

Methylxanthines
Methylxanthines in tea include the stimulant caffeine and two similar compounds: theobromine and theophylline. The tea plant creates these chemicals as a natural combatant towards insects and other animals. On average, methylxanthines in tea leaves make up 2% to 5% of the dry weight of the fresh leaves5. Methylxanthines also contribute to a bitter taste in the tea infusion. Levels of these compounds depend on the variety and cultivar of Camellia sinensis used, climate, age of the leaves, and the propagation method (seed vs. cutting) used on the plant.

Minerals
28 mineral elements have been found in the tea flush5. Compared to other plants, tea has a higher than average amount of: fluorine, manganese, arsenic, nickel, selenium, iodine, aluminum, and potassium5. Tea also has an unusually high amount of fluorine, which has been known to help prevent tooth decay in humans, however too much fluorine can be harmful. It is important to note that fluorine occurs in greater amounts in older tea leaves. Tea minerals vary greatly with each harvest and change greatly during processing.

Volatiles
The volatile substances in tea leaves are largely responsible for a tea’s flavor and aroma. The aroma complex of tea is made up of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of flavor and aroma compounds that exist in trace amounts. Many of these aromatic compounds do not exist in fresh tea leaves and are derived from other substances during processing. The flavor and aroma of each tea depends on a wide variety of combinations of these compounds, hence the name aroma complex. Compounds such as, linalool and linalool oxide are responsible for sweetness; geraniol and phenylacetaldehyde are responsible for floral aromas; nerolidol, benzaldehyde, methyl salicylate, and phenyl ethanol are responsible for fruity flavors; and trans-2-hexenal, n-hexanal, cis-3-hexenol, and b-ionone are responsible for a tea’s fresh flavor6. When studying tea’s aroma complex, it is sometimes broken into two parts: primary aroma (from fresh tea leaves) and secondary aroma (products of manufacture). Regardless, more and more research is being done on tea volatiles and how our olfaction system works in general, so we may expect some clarity on this issue in the coming years.

Sources:

  1. Harbowy, Matthew E., and Douglas A. Balentine. “Tea Chemistry.” Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 16, no. 5 1997: 415–480
  2. Ercisli, Sezai, Emine Orhan, Ozlem Ozdemir, Memnune Sengul, and Neva Gungor. “Seasonal Variation of Total Phenolic, Antioxidant Activity, Plant Nutritional Elements, and Fatty Acids in Tea Leaves Grown in Turkey.” Pharmaceutical Biology 46 (2008): 683–687
  3. Bhatia, I.S. “Composition of Leaf in Relation to Liquor Characteristics of Made Tea.” Two and a Bud 83 (1961): 11–14.
  4. Uncovering the secrets of tea – http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2012/11/tea-health-benefits
  5. Zhen, Yong-su. Tea: Bioactivity and Therapeutic Potential. London: Taylor & Francis, 2002
  6. “Tea Chemistry – Tocklai”. Tocklai Tea Research Association, n.d. http://www.tocklai.org/activities/tea-chemistry/

My Picks from World Tea Expo

Tea Pages - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 02:34

Now that I’ve fully emerged from the post-travel haze of World Tea Expo, I wanted to share some of the products and people that caught my eye out in Long Beach.

Tea-Ceré by Sharp

This was the one that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s the product I never knew I needed, but ever since getting home I’ve been measuring counter space.

Named to reference Japanese tea ceremony, Tea-Ceré was released under the name Healsio Ocha Presso in Japan a year ago. They were expecting to produce and sell 50,000 units in the first release. Instead, they sold 150,000. It’s described as an “espresso maker” for tea, but that just doesn’t do it justice in my opinion. Over and over I watched tea fans give a half-hearted shrug when they were told to visit the booth, but then they found themselves won over instantly.

This is no simple tea brewer. The front cylinder can be filled with a favorite tea – green, black, oolong. The cylinder is fitted with a ceramic grinder that acts like a mortar and pestle. The grinding is done slowly to ensure there is no heat degradation in the process. The tea emerges as a powder, the same consistency as matcha. The user then adds the powder into the brewer and it is whisked to a perfect foamy beverage. The entire process takes less than 3 minutes. Both grind quality and water temperature can be adjusted.

I loved the idea that you could use a good tencha and fresh grind matcha or you could put in a black or oolong and grind it to a texture that I could use in cooking. I also admired the way the whisking mechanism attempted to replicate traditional whisking.

The new machine will hit the market in July at a retail price of $299.99. It is available in red and green. (In Japan there is a gorgeous white and black version. I hope this one makes its way here too.)

Herb and Flower Crystals by Fresh Origins

I must confess that the appearance of this product is what got me to stop and take a harder look. It didn’t take long for me to be convinced that this was a product with real potential. Fresh Origins grows its own edible flowers and fresh herbs and then combines them with cane sugar for a crunchy and sweet crystal with vibrant (natural) color and a powerful flavor. They promote them for use in desserts and to rim glasses on cocktails. While my mind ran through some interesting pastry and sweets options, I couldn’t help but think how magnificent some would be in iced teas. I don’t usually put sweeteners in my hot tea, but then again, I could see the mint or fennel showing up in a chai. The flavors available include mint, cilantro, fennel, rose, basil, hibiscus, basil, pumpkin and cranberry.

Mama-Kii of Mamaki of Hawaii

I am not by nature a great lover of herbals. I can enjoy the occasional rooibos or chamomile, but my one true love will always be Camellia sinensis. Mama-Kii still stood out for me as something a little different. This herbal is from the plant Pipturus albidus, which is in the nettle family. I was curious about it as a friend had just been extolling the virtues of stinging nettle as a medicinal. While mamaki has grown and been used for wellness purposes on Hawaii for generations but Mamaki of Hawaii boasts the first certified mamaki plantation. The liquor is a soft berry color and the flavor was smooth. Now it’s time to dig through my samples and see if the flavor holds up for me or if the promise of mamaki was more appetizing.

Tea Soda from Brew Lab Tea

Well this was a surprise. I stopped by this table because I noticed Owl’s Brew on display. Owl’s Brew makes really interesting tea concentrates (in slick black bottles with chalkboard-style labels) that are primarily for use in cocktails. While I definitely enjoyed trying those (what’s not to love?), I found myself veering over to look at the blends they promoted as tea sodas. These blends were actually from their other company, Brew Lab Tea. Brew Lab has been developing custom blends for the past four years. I hadn’t yet experienced their teas, but found myself struggling to decide which to try first. They all sounded great. They steeped each tea and then carbonated them for a unique and yummy beverage. While the Lemon Ginger White was refreshing and the Hibiscus Bubbler sounded great, I was enamored with the Sasparilla Soda. Now I just have to figure out where to get it up here near Boston!

Arum Tea Organic

This is the first Indonesian tea I’ve had the chance to try. The company promotes the volcanic soil and tropical climate of Indonesia as the secret to its successful tea growing. If these examples are representative, then I think they’re right. (And the spectacular Arum offered a beautiful black tea and green tea, but what I actually loved most were the oolongs. They have both a dark and a light. I was very impressed with the complexity I found in these and I look forward to spending some more time steeping them at home. (My second try with Indonesian tea, an Indonesian White Tea Bud, from Chariteas was equally lovely with some of the most gorgeous buds I’ve seen in awhile. Interesting to see such diversity of styles.)

Bitaco Tea

This is another origin story, and one you will hear about again. You all know that I love to tell stories, especially the stories of tea people. I can guarantee that I’ll be spending more time finding out about the people behind Bitaco Tea. Have you ever had tea from Colombia? Neither had I. This company began producing loose leaf tea in 2013 in the Andes Mountains, in land with volcanic soil and basalt, and on a plantation that pays significant attention to sustainability. I got to try Cacao Kisses – a black tea with cacao nibs and cocoa husks. I think the addition of the cacao was a nice tribute to its South American heritage. It was a really decadent, rich tea and the blend was nicely balanced. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other blends that came home with me.

 

 

Raw

The Devotea - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 22:34

Many of us believe that quality, loose leaf tea is on the rise. In specialist tea shop/cafes and as an essential part of more general food businesses. Sometimes, that belief is shaken. When Lady Devotea and I returned to Adelaide, we stayed for a few weeks in the heart of a city, and were delighted to find nearby a perky little place that did great food, excellent coffee and a...

The post Raw appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Tequila Sunrise Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Southern Boy Teas

Tea Description:

Tequila-, orange- and cherry organic flavors blended with our awesome organic Chinese sencha fannings make this iced tea bliss. Blow your guests away with this awesome iced tea!

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

As I mentioned in my review of 52Teas Tequila Sunrise Black Tea – it’s been quite a while since I’ve had the cocktail.  To be honest, tequila isn’t my favorite alcoholic beverage – but as far as cocktail inspired iced teas go, this Tequila Sunrise Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas is a refreshing drink.

I don’t really taste ‘Tequila Sunrise’ here.  Then again – it HAS been a long time since I’ve had one, so don’t rely upon my memory of what a tequila sunrise should taste like.

During the sip, I taste green tea with hints of citrus.  In the aftertaste, I taste cherry and orange more distinctly and occasionally, a flavor crosses my palate that reminds me of tequila.  But that doesn’t arrive until the aftertaste.  During the sip, I taste green tea and notes of bright, sunny citrus flavors.

What I do like about this particular iced tea is that it’s refreshing and it’s quenching my thirst without tasting overly sweet.  I’m enjoying that I taste more green tea than flavor.

It’s a pleasant iced tea.  Not my favorite from SBT, but they can’t all be my favorite.  Even so, I like it enough to say that I might buy it again.

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BTS Featured Artists Series: Home sewn decor from Renae L.

Barb's Tea Shop - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 18:26
Beautiful table runner with tea-time theme
Custom table runners, towels, trivets, cozies and placemats - these are just some of the items that my friend, Renae Leggieri, can create for you. You can custom order based on size, colors, patterns and themes. Of course, I am a fan of the tea-themed merchandise!

I am introducing a new feature for Barb's TEA Shop Service blog and putting a spotlight on artists and crafters that I know and whose work is amazing. After writing about my sister-in-law, Sandy, and her knitting earlier this year, it occurred to me that I am blessed with a network of creative women whose talents I admire. I'd like to share these artists and crafters with you as well.

I love this fabric and just happened to have cups to match!
Renae started her sewing business last year. She quilted for a hobby, but quickly found that she was getting requests for items she made for personal gifts, such as towels and trivets.

You'll be taken with the creativity and attention to detail.

Fancy stitching and pretty ribbon trimmings add to artistry
Although I have two table runners suitable for the fanciest of tea parties,  Renae has items perfect for holidays and everyday use.  Check out these trivets that would be great for all your summer holiday entertaining.

Red, white & blue theme is great for summer parties. 

In addition, Renae crafts bowl cozy/wraps. They can be used as a decorative feature or for functional hot pads when heating up items in the microwave. (Set of 3 sizes, 15", 12", 10". Mix & match sizes for what works for you. $30 set.)


Bowl wraps functional and decorative.
Table runners start at $15.00, if quilted, prices start at $20.00.

For more information, contact Renae at grand_valley_mom@hotmail.com.

Table runner keeps surfaces safe from drips while adding charm and whimsy to tea time

And, next time you are over for tea, check out my new table runners!

Jestha Jasmine Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 05/23/2015 - 16:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

Jestha Jasmine begins with Nepal’s premium Pokhara green, a light, clean and crisp tea with beautiful full leaves. To this is added fragrant jasmine blossoms and orange peel to create a very serene cup of tea. Jestha Jasmine tea is perfect for warm weather and makes a really nice iced tea! 

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

25% of profits from our Nepal teas will be donated to the ‘Nepali Tea’ Restoration Fund for earthquake relief.  Learn more here.

Taster’s Review:

I was intrigued by this Jestha Jasmine Green Tea from Nepali Tea Traders.  I’m usually not all that excited to try a non-Chinese jasmine tea because I’m usually disappointed by them, but, I can’t recall having been disappointed by any teas from Nepali Tea Traders so I decided to go into this experience with an open mind and who knows?  I might actually find a jasmine tea not from China that I like!

I brewed this in my Breville One-Touch.  I usually steep jasmine teas in my gaiwan and then strain the tea into my Yi Xing mug that is designated for jasmine teas, but because this also has orange in it AND because I wasn’t so sure if I’d actually enjoy it and want the flavor to taint my jasmine mug, I decided to just use a ceramic mug and brew this tea in my Breville.  I poured the entire contents of the sampler from Amoda Tea into the basket of the Breville and then added 500ml of water to the jug.  Then I set the temperature to 175°F and the timer for 2 minutes.

Joy!  This is the way that a jasmine tea that hasn’t been processed in China SHOULD taste.  It doesn’t have that artificial jasmine flavor to it.  I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that the jasmine notes come from the addition of the jasmine blossoms rather than the use of jasmine oil.  The jasmine tastes delicate and natural – not perfume-ish!  It has a lovely floral essence without tasting like soap.

And I really like the touch of orange in this blend.  It adds a pleasant juicy, citrus note that isn’t overwhelming and the orange and the jasmine complement each other very well.

The green tea base is quite enjoyable as well.  It’s soft and has a hint of creaminess to it.  I like the way the creaminess of the green tea plays to the other flavors in this tea.  It softens the floral notes so they aren’t too sharp and adds a lovely sweetness to the tangy citrus flavor.

A really surprising Jasmine tea!  I’m very picky about my jasmine – and I’m enjoying this.  I’d recommend this to other jasmine tea drinkers too!

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