Did you know?
“Tea bags were invented in 1908 in the United States by Thomas Sullivan.
He created small silk bags to give samples of tea to his customers. Some of
them thought that the bags were supposed to be put directly in the tea pot,
like a metal infuser, rather than emptied out. Thus, the tea bag was created
Courtesy of Tea Answers – http://www.teaanswers.com/tea-facts-trivia/
How much caffeine is in tea and coffee?
All teas contain caffeine in different quantities, due to the different production methods. It is generally accepted that a cup of white tea contains the lowest caffeine; green tea has less than oolong and oolong less than black.
Caffeine mg/per cup
Green tea contains 8.36mg caffeine
Oolong tea contains 12.5mg caffeine
Black tea contains av. 50mg caffeine. (Varies 25-75mg)
Filtered coffee contains 190mg caffeine
Decaf tea, herbal and fruit infusions contain no caffeine.
What are the health benefits of tea?
Tea drinking aids digestion, stimulates alertness and performance, combats tiredness and reduces the effect of age related diseases by cleansing the body of built-up toxins.
How should I store tea?
Tea should be stored in an air-tight tin or caddy. A sealed glass jar is fine if stored it in a dark cupboard. Do not store opened storage containers in a refrigerator because moisture can into a caddy. Store flavoured teas separately as the aromas can transfer to other teas.
How long will tea last?
Tea is a dried leaf product and can be stored for 2 years in an air-tight container, away from sunlight, before its flavour and aroma will degrade noticeably.
What is loose leaf tea?
Loose leaf tea is generally higher quality, has a larger leaf and therefore requires longer brewing, achieves a brighter flavour and has fewer impurities giving clearer liquor and has fewer chemical additives reducing toxic residues.
The difference between tea and herbal infusions (tisanes)
Traditional tea is made only from the leaves of a bush called Camelia sinensis. Even though some are called teas (i.e. peppermint tea, dandelion tea) as they are not made from the leaves of the Camelia sinensis bush, they are not teas but “infusions” or “tisanes” (pronounced tizz-ahns) Infusions are made from the flowers, leaves, seeds and roots of various herbs.
Types of tea
Black: Black teas have the strongest colour and flavour. Black tea has been left to ferment the longest.
Oolong (Wulong): The step between green and black, in both flavour and processing. Oolong is grown and enjoyed predominantly in China and Taiwan (formerly Formosa). This is the tea that many claim aids weight loss.
Green: Mainly grown in China and Japan, green tea is lighter in colour and more astringent in taste than black. Most green tea drinkers live in Asia, but its popularity is growing in the west.
White: White tea is the least processed as the leaves are not rolled or fermented, making it the palest of all teas. Only the smallest bud and leaf from the tip of the tea bush are used for white tea.
More about Green Tea
Bancha is ordinarily made of 3rd flush and 4th flush leaves, which are steamed dry and finally roasted. This tea is boiled directly in the kettle and then served. Containing less caffeine, it is an excellent drink for children, sick people, and the elderly.
It is made by adding roasted unpolished rice (genmaicha) to sencha.
This is the typical as well as the most common green tea in Japan. Unlike matcha and gyokuro, the plants are not covered. From sencha, several other categories are made, either by treatment of the leaves or addition of other ingredients
After the harvest, the tea leaves are simply separated, dried, and powdered. Rather than infusion, the liquor is prepared by dissolving the powder in a small quantity of water, using a special whip. This results in a somehow foamy liquor (as can be seen on the opposite picture). Because the leaves are powdered and entirely dissolved, all the nutrients they contain are retained in the drink, which is a great merit of matcha, compared with teas brewed by infusion.
Matcha tea gardens receive special care. The plants are covered for some time before harvest to control exposure to sunlight. This results in special sweetness and aroma, caused by the formation of amino acids.
Matcha is the tea used in sado, the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Normally, a concentrated liquor, to be used by several persons in turns, is made. That type of drink is known as koicha. New buds from old trees are the best for koicha. Progressively, however, a less concentrated liquor is made for individual use. That one is referred to as usucha
Light, oxygen and humidity are the enemies of tea. So an airtight metal or glass container in a dark cupboard away from those things is ideal.
My teas will have a “best before” date and it’s just that. Tea doesn’t go off after that date though the flavour (and medicinal qualities of herbal infusions) will be reduced if consumed after that time.
Brewing the perfect cuppa:
Great tea is all about timing and temperature. Too hot and the water will scald your white tea. Too cold and you won’t get the best out of your herbals.
White tea: 75 o and brew for 2-3 minutes
Green tea: 80 o
Oolong: 85 o degrees
Black teas: 100o. Brew 4-5 minutes depending on taste. Some black teas (i.e. Her Majesty’s Blend) will develop a stronger tannen taste if left too long and I recommend that it be brewed for no longer than 4 minutes.
Herbal infusions: 100o. Brew for at least 5 minutes – the longer you leave it the more benefit you will get from the medicinal qualities of the herbs. Ideally, leave for 15 minutes. If you don’t have an infuser cup or kettle just put a saucer on top of the cup. This will keep more of the herbal qualities in your infusion as well as keeping it hot. Many infusions taste great when served at room temperature or chilled.
Do I add milk?
It’s been said that in the past milk had been added to poor quality teas to mask the flavour as it was thought that if you had good quality tea you wouldn’t need milk. Now though, times and tastes have changed and it comes down to personal preferences.
When I was serving tea in my shop I always served light milk with black teas as full cream milk can sometimes overpower the individual taste of the teas. Some people preferred full cream milk though and again it does come down to personal preference.
Milk in first or last? In the old days tea drinkers used to put the milk in first as this protected the fine bone china from cracking from the heat of the boiling water. With cups now this is not necessary and again comes down to personal taste.