Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

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An Introduction to Beautiful, Bountiful, Bubbly Blooming Tea

I personally tried blooming tea (also known as flowering tea) a few years ago while attending Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa.   My friends and I frequented a local cafe which sold a whole variety of teas.   Needless to say, I was in heaven.   Then I noticed they had two teas labeled as “blooming teas.”   It sounded interesting and unique, so I bought a pot.

To my surprise, the barista came to my table with a glass tea-pot that contained this green ball at the bottom, seeping out tea.   It was slightly confusing.   Why was this called blooming tea?   It honestly didn’t look all that appetizing.   Then, I saw how this tea got its name.   While I don’t have footage from that day, I did find a generous amount of Youtube videos that will be able to explain blooming tea better than I could:

Blooming tea is when a flower bloom is wrapped up into a collection of tea leaves.   Once steeped in hot water, the tea leaves will open and allow the flower to literally bloom in the tea-pot, mug, cup, whatever setting you decide to put this artwork into.   Tea leaves are stitched together using cotton thread, a dried flower sewn into the center.   Any type of tea can be used to encompass the flower and any flower can be used (though chrysanthemum, jasmine, rose, magnolia, lily, hibiscus, osmanthus, carnation, peony and globe amaranth are the most commonly used), so you can get a variety of tastes, scents and shows.

Blooming tea is a relatively new venture in tea production.   Produced in the 1980s in China, it was originally known as display tea.   Over the last decade, blooming teas gained popularity in Canada, Europe, Asia and America.   It is not typically found for commercial use, though some restaurants and cafés are starting to discover the beauty and benefits of the tea.

Skillfully Assembled, This Blooming Tea Is Rich In Flavor And Beautiful To Behold

Skillfully Assembled, This Blooming Tea Is Rich In Flavor And Beautiful To Behold

Just as most teas, blooming teas are known to reduce stress.   Both the visual appeal and the natural properties of the tea help to aid this.   However, health benefits will vary depending on the tea that you select.

Because of this, the caffeine content will also vary, so be careful if you do have caffeine sensitivity.   They are normally not decaffeinated but do have less caffeine than a normal cup of coffee.   It is also easy to forget that there are flowers inside this tea, so if you do have a pollen allergy, please be aware!   This tea is not for you!

While not technically its own classification of a “tea,” blooming tea deserves a category of its own.   Visually appealing and just as tasty, sippers will get a tea that will stimulate all senses.

Photo Credit:

ChinaTownSFBay.   2011.   Chinese’s Tea Culture: Blooming-tea.jpeg, 12 Dec 2011.   JPEG.

Video Credit:

Teaposy® – Blooming Posy Teas.   Dir. Teaposy.   Youtube, 16 Mar 2007.   Youtube video.

Source Credit:

My Flowering Tea.   “Flowering Tea As Visual Art.”   Myfloweringtea.com, 2011.   Web.   14 Dec 2011.

My Flowering Tea.   “A Little History on Blooming Tea.”   Myfloweringtea.com, 2001.   Web.   14 Dec 2011.

My Flowering Tea.   “Health Benefits of Drinking Flower Teas.”   Myfloweringtea.com, 2001.   Web.   14 Dec 2011.

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An Introduction to Ornate, Original, Obscure Oolong Tea

Oolong tea, also known as wu long tea (translated to mean “black Dragon”), is mostly recognized as the tea served in many Chinese restaurants.

It is unknown exactly when oolong tea was created, though historical records do indicate that it was first grown in the Fujian Province of Taiwan, where it is still grown today.   This region is known to be sub-tropical, warm and humid, which is perfect for oolong!

Not even the name has an exact root.   It is possible that is named after a place name or a variety of tea plant, or maybe the lucky symbolism of a dragon.

What is certain, on the other hand, is the production of the tea.   Oolong tea is made from the same type of leaf as black and green teas.   However, they are fermented for different amounts of time.   They must be processed immediately upon being picked.   First, they are withered in the direct sunlight and then shaken to lightly bruise the edges of the leaves.   Next, they are air-dried in the shade until the leaves turn a light yellow.   This process is repeated several times.

A Nice, Smooth Taste of Oolong Tea Can Sometimes Make a Day That Much Brighter

A Nice, Smooth Taste of Oolong Tea Can Sometimes Make a Day That Much Brighter

Oxidizing takes different lengths of time depending on the type of oolong.   Leaves are pan fried at a high temperature in order to prevent further oxidation.   They now have less moisture and thus a longer shelf life than green teas.   Finally, they are graded, packaged and sold to our favorite stores.

Oolong tea can have 15-50 mg of caffeine content in it, so it has 18.75% – 62.5% the amount of caffeine of a cup of coffee.   In other words, if you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid this tea.   A water temperature of 150-160 degrees is ideal.   Green oolong teas should only be brewed for 2-3 minutes, while dark oolong teas should be brewed for a bit longer.   3-5 minutes usually is enough to do the trick.   If you brew the tea for longer, you will increase the caffeine content of the tea, so be careful of this.

If you have had tea in a Chinese food restaurant, you know what this tea tastes like.   If not, it has a sort of bitter taste to it with sweet undertones.   It can be appealing to some and is a popular tea, but first timers might be best with a bit of honey or sugar.

Though not too much is certain about oolong tea, it is certain that it is one amazing tea!

Photo Credit:

Cultural China.   2010.   Kaleidoscope -> Food Culture: c3ebcb36500a9234302b6ba4967b4051.jpeg, 6 Dec 2011.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Chinaculture.org.   “Fujian.”   Chinaculture.com, 2003.   Web.   6 Dec 2011.

For Meaningful Life Tea.   “Oolong Tea.”   For Meaningful Life Tea, 2001.   Web.   6 Dec 2011.

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Basic Tea Brewing and Storage.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Oolong Tea Production.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

The Oolong Tea.   “About Teas.”   The Oolong Tea.   Web.   6 Dec 2011. 

Paajanen, Sean.   “Tea Brewing Temperature Guide.”   About.com, 2011.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

The Tea Site.   “Caffeine in Coffee vs Tea: Caffeine Content in Tea: Caffeine in Green Tea: Caffeine in White Tea.”   Dill-ee LLC and The Tea Site, 2009.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

Teavana.   “Types of Tea – Green, Black, White, Oolong and Herbal Teas.”   Teavana, 2011.   Web.   6 Dec 2011.

An Introduction to Rich, Robust, Regal Rooibos Tea

Author’s Note: Thank you everyone for understanding the late blog!   Sometimes, life just gets in the way.   Now, back to what you came here to read about: tea.

Rooibos tea, also known as “red tea”, has been enjoyed by South Africans for centuries.   This tea made from the red bush plant is quickly gaining popularity worldwide.   With its nutty (I would argue also spicy) undertones, it’s easy to see why!

Rooibos tea is another type of tea that doesn’t have any of the camellia plant, just like herbal teas.   However, the tea comes specifically from the red bush plant, or the Aspalathus Linearis.  With its rich green leaves and bright red stem, it is quite visually appealing.

Rich in Colors, the Red Tea Plant is Both Visually Appealing And Quite Delicious!

Rich in Colors, the Red Tea Plant is Both Visually Appealing And Quite Delicious!

The plant only grows in the small Cederberg region of South Africa.   According to Slate.com, US imports of rooibos tea from South Africa rose 30% last year and promise to show a similar increase this year.   Sadly, this tea almost died away before it became popular!   The indigenous Khoisan tribe who harvest the tea started dying out.   Fortunately, botanist Carl Humberg rediscovered the leaves in 1772 and revived the plant, thus saving the drink.   Russian immigrant Benjamin Ginsberg found the tea in 1904 and marketed the drink as a “mountain tea.”

During World War II, importing tea from Asia was nearly impossible.   Rooibos proved to be a valuable resource for tea-lovers, though a pricey one due to the scarcity of the plant.   The tea kept in the backdrop of everyone’s minds.   In 1968, Annique Theron published a book all about rooibos teas and its health benefits.   Because of everyone’s new-found understanding of red tea’s health benefits, sales soon exploded.

The red bush plant is harvested during the summer and early autumn months.   Branches are cut by hand and then cut into pieces about 5 mm long.   The plant is wet, then bruised and then allowed to ferment for 8-24 hours.   The tea is then dried in the sun and finally, shipped to the stores for consumers.

Of course, the tea has multiple benefits which would make this blog a novel, so I will only list a few of the amazing properties of this drink.

Rooibos tea has no caffeine, so it is perfect for those with caffeine sensitivity.   It is rich in antioxidants, perfect for preventing free radicals.   It has been recommended for people suffering from irritability, headaches, insomnia, mild depression and even hypertension.   Needless to say, it might be an important beverage during the upcoming holiday months!

Rooibos tea requires a water temperature of 208 degrees, so it is quite hot.   This tea is forgiving and will not taste bitter if infused for longer than 5-6 minutes.   However, it is the best for a perfect cup of rooibos tea.

A slightly spicy tea that can also have a sweet taste, rooibos tea would be a tea best eased into.   In its native land, it is typically imbibed with milk and sugar, though many non-natives find it delicious with some honey.   Personally, I love to get the full flavor of the tea and drink it plain.

With the rising popularity of rooibos tea, expect to find it in stores more often!

Photo Credit:

Tea Health Benefits.   20 Nov 2009.   Tea Health Benefits: rooibos-tea-nutrition-9387.jpeg, 1 Dec 2011.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Grose, Jessica.   “Rooibos Tea: If You Haven’t Heard Of It, You Will Soon.”   Slate.com, 21 June 2011.   Web.   1 Dec 2011.

Rooibos.ch.   “Rooibos Tea: Nature’s Great Gift From The Cederberg.”   Rooibos.ch.   Web.   1 Dec 2011. 

Rooibos Teas.   “History of Rooibos Tea.”   rooibostea.com.   rooibostea.com, 2011.   Web.   1 Dec 2011.

Teabenefits.com.   “Rooibos Tea Benefits.”   Teabenefits.com.   Web.  1 Dec 2011.

Teavana.com.   “How to Make Tea.”   Teavana.com, 2011.   Web.   1 Dec 2011.

An Introduction to Healthy, Happy, Heavenly Herbal Tea

Before starting this post, understand that a purist can very well argue with me that herbal tea is, in fact, not truly a tea.   Herbal tea, also known as tisane tea, is not made from the Camellia sinensis plant (as introduced in A (Somewhat) Brief History of Tea blog).   Instead, this tea can be made from anything from fruits to seeds to normal herbs.   However, walking through the store, you will see herbal tea on sale in the tea section.   Herbal tea is also brewed by seeping the items in hot water for a period of time, just like tea.   So, for the sake of this blog, it will be considered a tea.

Because of the different types of teas for herbal teas, there is not a general way to produce herbal teas.   One can take mint leaves, pour hot water over them and consider that a mint herbal tea, even!   Due to this, herbal tea might be the easiest kind to produce at home.   You do not need to worry about mixing it with tea leaves and you can still produce an excellent tea by taking items from your kitchen and garden.

A Fresh Cup Of Herbal "Tea"

A Fresh Cup Of Herbal “Tea”

Different herbal teas will produce different effects.   For example, it is general knowledge that chamomile tea helps to sooth frayed nerves (which is a perfect drink for the holidays for all those hosting Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow).   It is also considered to be one of the most popular herbal teas.

Lavender is another herb that is generally known to calm nerves, both through aroma and ingestion.   Combining it with chamomile can produce that much of a greater effect.   The two combined can also help prevent insomnia.   After all, who hasn’t been kept up late into the evenings due to some worry?

Thyme tea might help fight anemia, a condition affecting the blood.   It might also help with some digestive problems that the drinker might be facing.

Chai tea is a spicy tea that tends to have strong undertones of cinnamon and nutmeg.   Perfect for the autumn season, it is believed to help strengthen the immune system and fortify the body.   This is due to all the spices that are normally mixed in with the tea.   The different spices tend to produce different added benefits.

The list of benefits from herbal teas are endless due to the simple fact that herbal teas can be made from almost anything from a leaf in the garden to a fruit found in the store!   This also means that the brew time will vary.

Typically, a brewing time will take five to ten minutes with boiling water.   Caffeine will vary, though you can make an herbal tea as caffeinated or non-caffeinated as you wish.   Be wary of the kind of herbs that you use if you have any sensitivities, as it can be potentially hazardous.   Herbal teas will vary to each drinker.   They can be sweet, spicy or have a strong floral taste, so it depends on the individual preference how the person might react.

Though herbal tea is not technically a “tea,” it definitely deserves a lofty status in the drink world due to its variety of tastes, benefits and amazing qualities.

Photo Credit:

Dutta Enterprise.   2011.   Dutta Enterprise: herbal-tea-832719.jpeg, 23 Nov 2011.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Paige, Alyson.   “How To Make Herbal Teas.”   eHow.com.   eHow.com, 2011.   Web.   23 Nov 2011.

Tea Herbal Tea.   “Herbal Tea: What Is Herbal Tea?”   Tea Herbal Tea, 2009.   Web.   23 Nov 2011. 

Teabenefits.com.   “Herbal Tea Benefits.”   Teabenefits.com.   Web.   23 Nov 2011.

An Introduction to Beautiful, Bold, Bitter Black Tea

Black tea is the most fermented tea out of all the teas available.   With a rich, black look that resembles coffee, black tea is perfect for those transitioning from the coffee world into the tea world.   Black tea was originally designed strictly for export from China (where it is known as red tea, due to the red edges of the oxidized leaves), since it was considered to be of a lesser quality of tea.   Thus, due to the export, it is the most popular tea outside of Asia.

Black tea goes through a nine-step process: plucking, sorting, cleaning, withering, rolling, oxidizing, drying, and sorting.   After the tea leaves are picked from the Camellia sinensis plant , they are sorted according to size.   Tea leaves are then cleaned of any dirt, rocks or twigs that might have been accidentally picked up with the leaves.   After all, no one wants to drink tea with bits of dirt in it!

The leaves are only dried slightly, so that their moisture content goes from 70-80% to about 60-65%.   This allows the leaves to be soft enough to roll without tearing the leaves.   Depending on the tea, leaves are either rolled right away or chopped and then rolled.   They are then oxidized, letting the leaves brown with a red tip.   Next, they are cooled and dried, leaving only 3% of the water content in the leaves.   Finally, the product is sorted according to grade.   Note that grade does not communicate quality of tea – it only indicates the size of the tea leaves.

Black Tea Would Be The Best Tea To Transition To If You Are Trying To Rid A Coffee Habit

Black Tea Would Be The Best Tea To Transition To If You Are Trying To Rid A Coffee Habit

Just like most teas, black tea creates a calming, soothing effect.   Something about the warmth of the cup in your hands when it is raining or snowing outside just brings inner peace.   It is also believed that black tea can lower blood pressure.

Black teas also greatly help the heart.   It acts as a gentle stimulant for both the heart and the whole circulatory system.   It also helps prevent build-ups in the arteries and veins that could potentially cause strokes or heart attacks.   This great beverage also helps to prevent the intake of cholesterol in the blood stream.

Black tea is rumored to help with weight loss.   Certain varieties are rumored to help with digestion as well.

Black tea has a rather hot brewing temperature – 190 – 212 degrees.   Depending on the tea, the temperature will need to be adjusted.   A typical brewing time is 3-4 minutes.   If brewed for longer, the tea will tend to have more caffeine and start getting a very bitter taste.   However, a typical cup of black tea has about 20% the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.   The release of the caffeine differs as well.   While a cup of coffee gives one a jolt of caffeine with the stereotypical crash at the end, a cup of black tea does a slow release and allows the drinker to have a gentle stream of caffeine through the day.

If you are a coffee drinker, then black tea should be an easy transition to go to.   Some teas might be a bit more of a pleasant surprise due to the different aftertaste.   However, for those who are just dabbling in tea and do not drink coffee, keep far away!   It is a tasty beverage that will take some time to get used to due to its strong taste and bitterness.

Photo Credit:

Onestop News.   19 July 2011.   Onestop News: black-tea-150×150.jpeg, 16 Nov 2011.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Folk.uio.no.   “China Black Tea.”   Folk.uio.no.   Web.   16 Nov 2011. 

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Black Tea Production.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.

Gottatea.com.   “Tea Encyclopedia: Black Tea.”   Gottatea Corp.   Gottatea Corp, 2010.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.

Narien Teas.   “Tea: Black Tea.”   Narien Teas.   Narien Teas.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.

Onestop News.   “Comparing Efficacy of Black Tea & Green Tea.”   Onestop News.   Onestop News, 19 July 2011.   Web.   16 Nov 2011.

An Introduction to Glamorous, Gracious, Grandiose Green Tea

I bet that, if I were to go up to a stranger on the street and ask them to name different types of tea, I would hear “green tea” first and foremost.   After all, China alone has hundreds of different types of green tea.   With so many different varieties, it would be hard to not gain so much attention.   Stores carry green tea bottles by the gallon for mass consumption.

According to How Products Are Made, “Green tea leaves are picked and immediately sent to be dried or steamed to prevent fermentation, whereas black tea and other types are left to ferment after they are picked. ”   They are grown primarily in the southern, warmer regions of Japan, half of it being in the Shizuoka Prefecture. Uji, near Kyoto.   Tea is also grown in the Shizuoka Prefecture and the surrounding regions. A total of about 100,000 tons of green tea is produced per year from 60,000 hectares of tea fields. Only green tea is produced in Japan.

A Serene Set-Up Of Green Tea

A Set-Up As Simple As A Tea Pot And A Cup of Green Tea Can Make the Outside, Chaotic World Suddenly Disappear

The soil for green tea is acidic, since tea plants will not grow in anything less.   Harvesting is done by hand or machine in April, May, June, July and September.   Harvesting by machine is more cost-efficient and faster than by hand.   They are then dried to prevent any fermentation that might occur and change the taste.   Different amounts of drying will make different types of tea; Sencha tea is steamed for 30-90 seconds and fukamushi is steamed for 90-150 seconds.

Tea is then rolled into different shapes.   This not only gives the tea an appealing and distinctive shape; it also controls the release of the tea when steeped.   Sometimes, it is dried one last time before being packaged in bags or loose and shipped off to our favorite tea shops. While watching television, listening to the radio, reading magazines or browsing around online, one can find unlimited proclamations regarding green tea.   While Googling “Green Tea” for this article, I was plagued by ads upon ads upon ads advertising green tea diets, green tea supplements and green tea health products.   It is starting to become the snake oil of modern society. Green tea does contain antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals, lower blood pressure, triglyceride  and cholesterol.   However, it is important to note that the FDA has not approved the claim that green tea helps reduce heart disease.   Studies also suggest that green tea helps prevent bladder cancer and pancreatic  cancer, as well as aid in breast cancer and ovarian cancer treatment in early stages.   It helps reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, reduce liver disease and even promote weight loss!   While one should always consult with a doctor about any type of nutrition regiment, even one like drinking a cup of green tea per day, it seems to arguably be more beneficial than not for the average person.  Green tea contains about 60% of the caffeine of a cup of coffee, prepared with ground coffee in a drip cup.   However, the amount of caffeine will differ depending on how you brew the tea.   Generally, green tea should be brewed in water that is about 140-185 degrees for 1-3 minutes.   Brewing too long will produce a bitter tea, so be careful!   It will also increase caffeine content, so those sensitive to caffeine should beware.   Green tea would not be a good tea, unless you invest in a decaf or caffeine-free version.  I would not personally recommend green tea for novice drinkers.   It is more of an intermediate drink; you’ve had tea before, you enjoy it but you want to branch out.   At first, it can be very bitter for a new drinker, so sugar might be needed.   However, with time, green tea can be enjoyed without sweeteners and you can enjoy the full benefits, both in taste and in health.Photo Credit:

GreenTeaSecrets.org.   2010.   GreenTeaSecrets.org: Green-tea.jpeg, 8 Nov 2011.   JPEG file. 

Source Credit:

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Green Tea Brewing Tips.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

How Products are Made.   “How green tea is made – making, used, processing, parts, steps, product, industry, machine, Raw Materials, The Manufacturing Process.”   How Products are Made, 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center.   “Green Tea.”   University of Maryland Medical Center.   University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

Wood, Heather Topham.   “Caffeine Content in Green Tea Vs. Coffee.”   LIVESTRONG.com.   LIVESTRONG.com, 26 Apr 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

An Introduction to Wonderful, Whimsical, Warm White Tea

White tea is the purest tea available.   Containing only trace amounts of caffeine, it’s perfect for those who are sensitive to stimulants, who don’t want the jittery effects of “harder” teas and drinks or who just want a nice cup of tea before heading off to bed.   It is minimally processed, which means that it also contains the more nutrients.   Sometimes, it is enhanced with fruit, flowers and other flavors, adding that much more to its nutritional value.

White tea bushes have to be cared for carefully.   They are tended for a few years before they are ready to be harvested for white tea.   Even then, workers only have a small window to harvest in early spring.   They must avoid rainy days and days when there is frost on the ground.   Everything from climate to soil to the plant must be perfect to get the perfect silver bud!

Minimally Processed White Tea Pearls

Minimally Processed White Tea Pearls

White tea pearls are not only visually aesthetic, they also brew a very light tea, amber in color, that is a decent starter tea.   It is not harsh enough to turn away anyone who is just breaking into the tea world but it still has that “tea” flavor (unlike teas like fruit teas, which can be comparable to fruit punch).

White tea also contains lots of antioxidants, which protects against free radicals.   This super-tea might also help to prevent cancer.   It lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.   It promotes heart health, stronger bones, healthy teeth and skin.   It seems impossible to consider white tea as anything less than super due to all the health benefits.

To get a great cup of white tea, make sure that you get high-quality white tea.   Personally, I am a huge fan of Teavana tea, since you can see exactly what you are getting in the tea and you can tell by the aromas what the cup will taste like.   They do doctor it and add items, such as fruit and sometimes, even popcorn, to their tea, but it enhances rather than detracts from the tea.   If you can get pure water, do so but don’t stress out about it if you can’t; your tea will still taste amazing.   Make sure the tea water is hot but not boiling.   Teavana suggests that the tea water be about 175 degrees Farenheit.   When you put the tea leaves in, make sure you keep them in for only 4-5 minutes, or you risk losing the delicate tea flavor that white tea is known for and get a more bitter taste.

If you are just breaking into the tea world and want something a little stronger than a fruit punch tea, make sure to go and buy a good quality white tea.   Then sit back, relax and enjoy you nirvana tea experience.

Photo Credit:

White Tea Pearls.   2008.   Chado Tea Room: White Tea Pearls, 27 Oct 2011.   GIF file.

Source Credits:

White Tea Guide.   Whiteteaguide.com.   Web.   1 Nov 2011.

 “How to Make Tea: Making the Perfect Cup Of Tea.”   Teavana.   Teavana, n.d.   Web.   2 Nov 2011.

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