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Tea Guides

How To Be An Eco-Friendly Tea Drinker

May 2, 2017

Earth Day has come and gone, but we need to keep Earth’s best interests in mind every single day. Luckily, there are many tea companies that value sustainability, making it possible for your tea habit to benefit the planet.  Here are a few things you can do to be a responsible tea drinker:

1) Buy Tea With Compostable Packaging

arbor teas compostable packaging

 

We have a huge waste problem. Last year, the LA Times reported that the world produces 1.3 billion tons of waste each year, with the United States leading the way in trash production.

Arbor Teas delivers loose leaf tea in compostable packaging that can break down right in your backyard. The company packages tea in wood pulp cellulose film made from non-GMO, sustainably farmed trees. The company also prints accompanying labels on Fair Trade hemp- or sugar cane-based paper. Arbor’s packaging is special because most materials marketed as “compostable” only breakdown in industrial settings. Explains the company:

Because of greater variation in moisture and temperature, backyard composting environments have historically been incapable of breaking down so-called “compostable” packaging materials, such as corn-based plastic cups and take-out containers. However, the material in Arbor Teas’ packages requires a less optimized environment for biodegradation, representing a major advance in low-impact packaging.”

Through its sustainability efforts, Arbor Teas reduced the weight of its packaging by over 60% and packed 27% more tea into packages, delivering more product with a lighter carbon footprint.

Moral of the story: Keep your eyes out for compostable packaging when buying tea.

2) BYOM: Bring Your Own Mug

bring your own mug

We’ve gotten used to bringing our own bags to the grocery store; now it’s time to start toting your own mug around. Imagine if your mid-day tea break generated no trash… Starbucks alone hands out 4 billion to-go cups a year, and because these paper cups are lined with plastic on the inside, they’re difficult to recycle. The company is testing a recyclable cup in the United Kingdom, but for some people, having a cup that’s recyclable isn’t the problem—it’s the lack of recycling infrastructure that makes recycling impossible. So why not cut out all of these obstacles and bring your own cup to the tea parlor? With the Earth’s medical chart in mind, it’s time to pull the trigger on a reusable mug. Consider the Stojo Pocket Cup:Stojo Pocket CupIt’s a collapsible travel mug that you can easily throw into your purse or backpack, and enlarge when you’re ready to fill it with your favorite tea. Eco-friendly and stylish, it’s a win-win.

3) Buy Organic

USDA Organic Seal

Organic farming practices have a number of benefits over conventional farming practices. Last year, Washington Post columnist Tamar Haspel set out to find if organic farming is really that much better for the earth than non-organic farming. While she wrote that, “There’s never a clear-cut answer to a question like that when you’re talking about something as complicated as farming,” as not all organic farming is the same and not all conventional farming is the same, she found that when comparing five kinds of agriculture—two conventional, three organic—at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm in Beltsville, Maryland, the following comparisons rang true:

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm in Beltsville, Maryland organic vs. Conventional

So while organic food is not necessarily healthier, it is probably better for the environment overall. Do Mother Earth a favor and brew organic tea from companies like Numi Organic Tea, Arbor Teas, or The Little Red Tea Cup Tea Company.


Tea Guides

Brew Buds: Beer & Tea

March 23, 2017

Like the tea industry, the beer market is enjoying a period of extreme creativity.  Like tea drinkers, beer drinkers now expect a wide array of flavors that reflect a mixture of ethnic backgrounds, flavor profiles, and aromas. Both tea and craft beer consumption have been on the rise in recent years, so it only makes sense that brewers would put them together with inventive tea-beer hybrids.  Here are a few beers infused with tea that we think are worth toasting:

1) Yogi Beer

Yogi Beer Glasses

This beer from Texas-based Rogness Brewing Company counts black tea among its ingredients, joining cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, and black pepper to create an exotic, spicy, and bitter mix of flavors. The 5.2% ABV (Alcohol By Volume) beer comes in 22-ounce bottles or can be served on draught. Rogness suggests pairing this beer with “bold” Asian dishes such as curry and tandoori chicken. This Indian-inspired beverage also boasts notes of caramel, and judging by the name, we think it’s a great post-yoga treat.

2) Chamomile Wheat Beer

Beaver Brewing Company Logo

This beer from Beaver Brewing Company blends the calming power and lovely scent of chamomile flowers with cracked and torrified wheat, malt, fuggle, and hallertau hops to create a distinctive beer with 4.2% ABV. Made in a nanobrewery in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, each beer is crafted by hand in a 1.5 barrel system. You can try out this herbal tea-infused beer onsite at the brewery’s restaurant/brewpub in Pennsylvania, or email dan@beaverbrewingcompany.com to order your own batch of the artisan beverage.

3) Sah’tea

Dogfish Sah'tea

This beer from Dogfish puts a tea spin on a classic 9th century Finnish beer known as sahti, combining black tea and juniper berries for a modern take on a beverage that Vikings enjoyed centuries ago.   Dogfish promises, “The spicing is subtle and balanced, and Sah’tea is a highly-quaffable, truly unique brew with a full mouthfeel.” The New Yorker’s Burkhard Bilger wrote about Dogfish’s Sah’tea in his article “A Better Brew: The Rise of Extreme Beer,” describing Sah’tea as follows:

“…The tea and spices in it hovered politely in the background, leaving the yeast to run the show. Cloudy and golden, with a lush flowering of bananas and cloves, it tasted like something a trader might have sipped a century ago, standing in a colonial market in Ceylon, with open baskets of tea and spices all around. It wasn’t an extreme beer by any stretch, and it certainly didn’t taste Finnish. But it was a time capsule nonetheless.”

Try it for yourself and see if you agree!

4) Kombucha Beer

Kombucha Beer

On-trend kombucha gets in on over-21 fun with this collection of kombucha-based Triple Goodness beers from United Vibration. Organic, gluten-free, and vegan, each beer is raw and contains 30-day brewed Kombucha. Flavors include: Raspberry, Ginger, Bourbon Peach, and K.P.A (Kombucha Pale Ale).

5) Par-Tea Pale Ale

Par-Tea Pale Ale Prism Brewing Company

Prism Beer Company wanted to create a pale ale that was “approachable” and “not to bitter,” and turned to whole leaf Orange Peko tea to achieve the combination. With a modest 5.5% ABV, this Par-Tea Pale Ale is a flavorful alternative to a standard pale ale. Prism recommends combining this beer with lemonade for an extra sweet refreshment.

Tea Guides

The Best Chain Restaurants For Tea

January 19, 2017

Gone are the days when a restaurant offered you a cup of hot water and a black Lipton teabag after dinner. From fine dining to quick serve eateries, tea has become a signaturizing opportunity for restaurants across the country. The number of tea items offered at restaurants increased by 11.2% from 2008 to 2010. And you don’t have to go somewhere fancy to be treated to a unique, flavorful cup of tea. Chain restaurants have embraced the tea trend, offering up an impressive array of selections to satisfy your taste buds and your budget. Here’s 5 chains that we think are spinning impressive tea game:

1) Panda Express

Panda Express chain restaurant

Photo by Matt Dempsey from Flickr via Creative Commons | LINK

Tea originated in China, so it’s only fitting that Chinese fast food joints embrace the beverage. Panda Express has done just that, rolling out Tea Bars at some of its outposts. Offerings include Panda Express’s best-known option, Milk Tea, which can be served hot or iced, with or without tapioca pearls. Panda Express also has several fruit teas and lemonade teas, infusing your tea with a unique shot of sweetness. If you’re not into what Panda Express has cooked up, you can build your own tea. Here’s how it works: Start by picking a tea base of black, green, or oolong. Then pick a style: milk, citrus, berry, or tropical. Continue by specifying how sweet you want your tea to be, and then finish things off with an add-on: honey boba, jelly, pudding, aloe vera, or chia seeds.

Panda Express tea bar

Photo by Cathy Danh from Flickr via Creative Commons | LINK

2) Panera

panera chain restaurant

Photo by Mike Mozart from Flickr via Creative Commons | LINK

Panera serves hot teas from Republic of Tea, but it’s their iced beverages that have us dishing out the applause. Panera keeps it basic with iced green tea and an iced chai tea latte, but turns things up with its acai berry iced green tea (left) and its plum ginger hibiscus iced tea (right). The hibiscus tea includes pieces of apple, blackberry leaves, carob, ginger, and rosehips. How’s that for flavor?

panera iced tea

Images from: https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/drinks.html

3) Wendy’s

Wendy's chain restaurant

Photo by Mike Mozart from Flickr via Creative Commons | LINK

Wendy’s line of Fruitea Chillershighlights the burger chain’s enthusiasm for unique, tasty teas. The Blueberry Pineapple Fruitea Chiller (left) blends organic tropical green tea with blueberry puree and pineapple and pomegranate juices. And the Orange Mango Fruitea Chiller (right) pairs organic tropical green tea with mango puree, orange juice, and carrot juice.

Wendy's fruitea chiller

Images from Wendy’s website | LINK

For those craving something less sweet, Wendy’s keeps it simple with Honest Tropical Green Tea and Unsweetened Ice Tea.

Wendy’s launched a new slogan this year, calling its menu “deliciously different.” With these beverages, we have to agree.

4) Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee chain restaurant

Photo by Kolin Toney from Flickr via Creative Commons | LINK

Caribou Coffee packs in the flavor on its tea menu, from pomegranate and mango to peach and mint. One of its most flavorful concoctions is the Pomegranate Vanilla Tea Latte, which pairs pomegranate oolong tea with sweet vanilla syrup and steamed milk. Its hot and iced tea selections include cinnamon spice, black mango, citron green, and mint varieties. The Minnesota-based chain also features a selection of sparkling teas, including green tea lemonade and peach black tea.

 

Caribou Coffee tea

Images left to right: Green Tea Lemonade, Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea, Pomegranate Vanilla Tea Latte, from Caribou Coffee’s Website | LINK

5) Starbucks

Starbuck's Coffee chain restaurant

Photo by Mike Mozart from Flickr via Creative Commons | LINK

Starbucks may be the most famous coffee chain in the world, but it’s also become quite the destination for a good cup of hot or iced tea. The Seattle-based business features an impressive bevy of teas with rich flavor profiles that include mango, citrus hibiscus, papaya, cinnamon, and lemongrass—and that’s just in one drink, the Passion Tango™ Herbal Tea! Other tea offerings from Starbucks include: jade citrus mint green tea, mango black tea lemonade, and the Youthberry White Tea, which includes notes of acai berry, hibiscus, candied pineapple, mango, and Fuji apples. Starbucks even offers its own PG-version of sangria with the Teavana® Sparkling Berry Sangria Herbal Tea. The fruity mixture combines Passion Tango™ tea with apple juice, berry flavors, blackberries, and orange slices. Starbucks recently released its first coffee/alcohol mashup with the Espresso Cloud IPA. Tea and alcohol have been a hot new couple at restaurants in recent years…Will we see them hook up at Starbucks anytime soon? Stay tuned.

Starbuck's Coffee tea

From left to right: Youthberry® White Tea, Green Tea Latte, Teavana® Shaken Berry Sangria Herbal Tea from Starbucks’ website | LINK

Tea Guides

10 Teas That Are Basically Dessert

January 17, 2017

Looking for a dessert that satisfies your sweet tooth but doesn’t break the scale? These 10 teas hit all the right notes when you’re trying to stay healthy and treat your taste buds. Ditch the cheesecake and boil any of these teas when you get the urge to indulge:

1) Snowball Tea

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This tea from Blue Bird Tea Company mixes chocolate, marshmallows, and coconut with Ceylon black tea to create a delectable dessert tea. Buy it bagged or loose leaf.  Side effects include the urge to start an actual snowball fight.

2) Bananas & Custard Tea
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-28-07-pm

This tea from Blue Bird Tea Company pairs green tea with freeze-dried bananas, cocoa, and licorice for a custard imitation that tastes great and goes down easy.

3) Mint Chocolate Rooibos Tea

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Roobios tea gets cozy with chocolate sprinkles, cocoa, and vanilla to make this delicious dessert brew. With zero calories, this is a dieter’s delight.

4) Vicky’s Sponge Cake Tea

vickys-sponge-cake

This tea from Blue Bird Tea Company gets its inspiration from Queen Victoria, who’s said to have enjoyed her cup of tea alongside a slice of cake. Why not combine the two? This blend marries Ceylon black tea with the flavors of vanilla cake and raspberry, with notes of coconut and strawberry along for the ride.

5) Strawberry Cuppa Chocolate Tea

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-36-34-pm

This zero-calorie tea from The Republic of Tea uses rooibos tea as a base for strawberry and chocolate flavors to mingle. Featured on The Today Show as a Top 10 Skinny Food for dieters, this South African tea also features sweet blackberry leaves and bourbon vanilla beans for extra kick.

6) Almond Coconut Macaroon Red Tea

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-51-18-pm

This tea from Republic of Tea will let you feel like you’re sipping a macaroon, and since it has zero calories, you’ll do so guilt-free. Red rooibos tea provides the base for almond, coconut, and macaroon flavors to thrive in this delicious concoction.

7) Cardamom Crème Brûlée Tea

creme-brulee-708439

This tea from Republic of Tea calls crème brûlée its muse. Black tea kicks things off and enters dessert territory with infusions of sweet blackberry leaves, caramel and vanilla flavors, and spicy cardamom seeds. Just add water, and this premium tea from Kenya is sure to satisfy.

8) Tiramisu Black Tea

tiramisu-1186465

This tea from Teavana delivers the classic Italian dessert to your cup. Black tea merges with flavors of mocha, mascarpone, and vanilla to bring the creamy, delectable flavors of tiramisu to every sip.

9) Apple Pie à la Mode Herbal Teaapple-pie-tea

There’s nothing as American as apple pie. But America could stand to get healthier, so reach for this apple pie-inspired tea from Teavana instead. This after-dinner treat is made from pieces of real apple, carob, rose hips, raisins, rooibos, caramel, white hibiscus, licorice root, cardamom, and marigold petals. You’ll taste fall in every sip.

10) Carrot Cake Rooibos Tea 

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-36-54-pm

This tea from Fusion Teas blends sweet and spicy flavors together for a satisfying cup of tea that emulates carrot cake. Organic rooibos provides the base, with maple, coconut, ginger, raisin, walnut, cinnamon, and carrots providing welcome bursts of flavor.

Tea Guides

How To Be A Trendy Tea Drinker This Year

January 5, 2017

We told you what tea trends will be taking center stage in 2017: green tea, matcha, and easy packaging options like on-tap tea and bottled teas. Now we’re here to show you just how you can be a part of these trends. If your New Year’s resolution was to be cool, you’re in luck.  Get ready to be ahead of the curve:

1) Green Tea

green-tea-trendy

Green tea’s expected to perform very well in 2017 and beyond, especially as a bottled option for busy commuters in search of a healthy alternative to sugary sodas. Snapple, Lipton, Honest Tea, Arizona, and Tazo Tea all offer iced green bottled teas. Swipe one when you want to be trendy but you’re pressed for time. Or order an on-trend coffee-inspired green tea beverage, like a green tea latte from Starbucks or a green tea latte paired with vanilla or peppermint from Peet’s Coffee. Look for green tea to be offered at more and more locations, from highway rest stops and movie theaters to convenience stores and vending machines as it settles decidedly into the mainstream.  Go big green!

2) Matcha

matcha-tea-trendy

Matcha is on the rise. Look for it on tea menus as a beverage and as a flavor in dishes from breakfast and lunch to dinner and dessert. Scan your menu and you’ll probably find matcha waffles and French fries or matcha chicken and pork belly this year. This green powder is infiltrating all parts of the menu, and not just at fancy restaurants. Matcha’s made it to the Big Leagues: Haagen Dazs sells its matcha green tea ice cream by the pint in American grocery stores and Trader Joes sells a Matcha Green Tea Latte Mix. Don’t be surprised if Japanese products like Matcha Oreos and Matcha Kit Kats come to the United States sooner rather than later.  Get ready to be singing “Break me off a piece of that matcha stick!”  OK, the jingle may need work, but the point is: matcha will be rolling off more and more tongues.

3) Tea On Tap

tea-on-tap-trendy

Get ready to see bartenders carrying kegs of tea or pulling a kombucha tap at the local watering hole this year. You can be part of this trend by ordering a tea keg for your next birthday party or installing a tea tap at your eatery. Full Service Restaurants said last year that, “Beverages on tap remain fresher for longer and offer a unique experience—bold flavors with an eye-catching presentation.”  Several companies work to bring tea kegs and taps to restaurants and organizations, such as Joyride, who argues that a tap “is the perfect solution to serve non-alcoholic beverages, offering product consistency, streamlined workflow, reduction of waste, and a unique customer experience.” That’s a lot of benefits on both sides of the bar! Joyride offers Ceylon Iced Tea and Green Tea in kegs and kombucha on tap. Look for signs outside bars advertising the allocation of taps to kombucha and tea, perfect for tea lovers not in the mood for an alcoholic beverage or non-drinkers looking for a way to feel included by the bar hopping experience.

Tea Guides

Teas to Sip This Hanukkah

December 20, 2016

This year, Hanukkah’s “eight crazy nights” fall from Saturday, December 24 to Sunday, January 1. If you’re looking for a tea to sip while you celebrate or a tea to gift someone observing the holiday, look no further. Here are our suggestions for a tea-filled Hanukkah:

1) Blue, White, and Silver Teas

If you’re in search of a tea that goes along with your blue, white, and silver Hanukkah decorations, we’ve got you covered.   Consider these colorful creations when choosing what to brew:

Blue Teas

blue-teas

The True Blueberry tea from Celestial Seasonings is caffeine free, herbal, and packed with blueberry flavor thanks to blueberry leaves, wild blueberries, and natural blueberry flavors. Hibiscus, rosehips, orange peel, and blackberry leaves enhance the blue tea’s flavor profile. Added bonus: According to Livestrong, blueberry tea provides so many antioxidants that it can support brain function and lower your risk for developing type-2 diabetes. Also consider blue matcha from Blue Chai. This color-warped matcha comes in a cute bamboo tube. Plus, you can use it as a food dye for all sorts of culinary makeovers this holiday season. Or, opt for Blue Chai’s Butterfly Blue Pea Tea, made from sundried butterfly pea flowers native to South East Asia and India, also known as Asian Pigeonwing. For a fun party trick, you can turn this blue tea pink by adding lemon or lime juice to the liquid.

Silver and White Tea

silver-needle-white-teaThe phrase “silver tea” is actually used to describe a tea party that doubles as a fundraiser, per Miriam Webster. If you want to throw a silver tea this Hanukkah, consider serving Teavana’s silver needle white tea. Teavana describes this white tea, which was once reserved only for the Imperial Family in China, as a “delicate and refreshing infusion with a sweet, silky ending.”  White tea is made from Camellia sinensis plant buds that are not rolled or oxidized, making them the most minimally processed tea available. Try any of the many flavors added to white tea bags by Republic of Tea, from pineapple guava and honey mango to orange blossom and ginger peach.

2) Glow-In-The-Dark Tea

glow-tea

via Toxel

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, celebrating a miracle in which oil that should have lasted the Jews who reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem for one night instead lasted for eight. Lighting the menorah each night emphasizes the importance of light to this holiday. If you’re craving more light than a menorah can supply, keep your eyes peeled for glow-in-the-dark tea bags. South Korean designer Wonsik Chae invented the Lighting Bag, essentially a glow-in-the-dark tea bag. The fluorescent molecules inside the tea bag react with the liquid to make it glow. There’s not actually any tea inside the bag, but we’re hopeful that Chae will keep working on his invention until that’s the case. If you want to drink glow-in-the-dark tea, we recommend you serve your favorite tea inside a glow-in-the-dark mug, of which many are on the market.

3) Flavorful Teas

jewish-flavor-teas

Want your beverage to contain some classic Jewish flavors? Try this babka-flavored dessert tea from Black Teas by Petali, this Apple Strudel Tea from Capital Teas, or this certified kosher Pomegranate Tea from Wissotzky Tea.

Happy Hanukkah!

Tea Guides

Teas to Sip This Christmas

December 16, 2016

Baby, it’s cold outside, and Christmas is just days away. Whether you’re trying to warm up after a family snowball fight, looking for something to sip while decorating the tree, or searching for the perfect tea to nurse while you snuggle with your loved ones by the fire, we’ve got you covered. Here are our favorite teas that espouse the flavors and spirit of Christmas.

1) White Chocolate Peppermint Rooiboswhite-chocolate-peppermint-rooibos

Few flavors make you hear sleigh bells quite like peppermint.  Refreshingly cool, peppermint screams winter wonderland and tastes like a majestic snowfall.  This classic holiday flavor is the star of this rooibos tea from Teavana. White chocolate pieces are infused with peppermint for a Santa-approved red tea you’ll want to drink all twelve days of Christmas.

2) Gingerbread Spice Tea 

gingerbread-spice-tea

If you like to eat gingerbread, why not drink it? This tea from Celestial Seasonings packs spicy gingerbread flavors in your cup of tea. Cinnamon, roasted chicory, ginger, and carob blend for the ultimate seasonal beverage. As a bonus, Celestial Seasnings has a recipe for Gingerbread Spice Tea Cake that uses two of these tea bags.

3) Christmas Cookie Teas 

christmas-cookie-teas

This variety of Christmas Cookie flavors hails from Adagio’s Fandom series. And if there’s anything that deserves a fan club, it’s Christmas Cookies. This sampler by developer Cara McGee includes the flavors Sugar Cookie, Snickerdoodle, Coconut Macaroon, Jam Thumbprints, Chocolate Chip, Gingerbread Cookies, and Peppermint Bark. Yum!

4) Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh Teas

gold-frankincense-myrrh-tea

The Bible says that the Three Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for Jesus on his first birthday. No offense, guys, but these don’t seem like the best gifts for a baby. We’d go with a mobile or stuffed dinosaur, personally. But ever since baby J received these birthday gifts, we associate gold, frankincense, and myrrh with Christmas. So here are three GF&M teas to celebrate the world’s most famous birthday boy:

Turmeric Gold Tea

This tea from Pukka Herbs is a yellow tea made with lemon, cardamom, green tea, and, of course, turmeric. According to the Huffington Post, turmeric has a host of exciting health benefits: because it fights inflammation, turmeric can calm an upset stomach and heartburn, delay diabetes, and prevent heart attacks. It may also be able to kill cancer cells and protect brain cells. Jesus was known to heal the sick, so we think he would approve.

Frankincense Tea:

This tea from perfume artist Mandy Aftel uses hojary frankincense to create this oolong tea that boasts notes of balsamic, citrus, and honey. This blend’s leaves contain plenty of GABA, an enzyme that promotes relaxation. Just what you need during the busy holiday season!

Myrrh Gum Tea  

Check out this myrrh gum tea if you’re looking to alleviate any of the following problems: According to WebMD, myrrh is used to help “indigestion, ulcers, colds, cough, asthma, lung congestion, arthritis pain, cancer, leprosy, spasms, and syphilis.” In the days before modern medicine, maybe this was a good gift for Jesus after all.

Merry Christmas from The Tea Kitchen!

Tea Guides

5 Delicious Tea-Food Pairings

November 24, 2016
tea sommeliers testing tea

Tea sommeliers are on the rise as consumers expect more from their dining experience | Sebastiaan ter Burg from Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0 | LINK

We’ve become savvier consumers. We want to know where our ingredients come from, we’re open to trying new ethnic flavors, and basic just doesn’t cut it anymore. We don’t want just any old tea to go with our dish. We want a tea that complements the dish, or vice versa. This demand has sparked the new job of tea sommelier. According to NPR, a tea sommelier is “the hot new thing in tea pairing.” Just like a wine sommelier would recommend a specific wine to accompany your meal, a tea sommelier knows just the right tea to go with your grub. Tea expert Aurelie Bessiere told NPR, “What you want to happen in your mouth is to feel the different layers of taste and flavors of both tea and food.” If you don’t have a tea sommelier on speed dial or the time to take a tea pairing class, here’s five food-tea pairing recommendations to kickstart your knowledge of this new art:

1) Kabuse Green Tea & Chocolate

According to NPR, “The kabuse is a green tea with high levels of umami—a pleasant, savory taste—as well as sweet and salty. The article says that “when these three flavors hit melted chocolate, you unlock a flavor similar to pure cantaloupe.”  Strange, but color us curious.  Kubuse and chocolate, please!

2) Butterfly of Taiwan Oolong & Sheep Cheese

NPR also recommends this pairing because the cheese enhances the fruity (think apple puree and candied citrus) and honey notes of the tea, which seems sweeter. The strong woody notes of the tea are elevated to a lighter and greener tone.”  That description exemplifies what makes tea pairing so special: when done right, it has the ability to elevate and enhance the flavors in both the food and the tea.

3) Earl Grey & Orange Beef and Chinese Broccoli

Bigelow recommends pairing its Earl Grey tea with red meat, duck, or dark chocolate, arguing that the tea’s citrus notes make them a perfect match with these meats and sweets. Bigelow’s recipe for Orange Beef and Chinese Broccoli meets that criteria, with an added bonus of more tea: it uses Bigelow’s Orange & Spice Herbal tea in the stir fry.  Double the dose of tea?  Sign us up.

4) Pu-erh & Mushrooms

Pu-erh, a fermented tea grown in China’s southwest Yunnan Province, goes well with mushrooms, tea sommelier Melani Franks told Fresh Cup Magazine. Pu-erh smells like soil, complementing the earthy tone of mushrooms. Try creating a pu-erh broth and adding mushrooms, or marinating mushrooms in a pu-erh-based concoction.

5) Black Tea & Camembert

Wine and cheese may seem like an unbreakable duo, but pairing tea and cheese works very well, too. Food & Wine recommends pairing black tea and camembert. Heidi Johannssen Stewart of Bellocq Tea Atelier recommends her company’s Gypsy Caravan tea—which blends black tea with rose and chile– to go along with Camembert. She told Food & Wine that this pairing “feels like you’re sitting around the fireplace.” Elaborates Food & Wine, the Gypsy Caravan black tea “features a gentle, smoky finish, which is excellent with Camembert earthy flavor.”

Don’t have the ingredients for these specific pairings?

Here’s a handy dandy chart from the Tea Association of Canada to get your noggin working on some other ideas. With so many varieties of tea on the market, each offering a unique flavor profile, we’re sure you’ll come up with some genius pairings on your own:

tea and food pairing

Tea Guides

How to Host a Japanese Tea Ceremony

November 17, 2016

If you want to infuse a little history and a lot of tradition into your tea party, put a Japanese spin on it. Japan is famous for its long, choreographed tea ceremonies, the most serious of which can last four hours. Paradoxically, Japanese tea ceremonies are meant to encourage an unmaterialistic focus on the present, but were often practiced by members of the elite to show off impressive possessions and social status or reinforce social and political hierarchy. Mastering the ins and outs of a Japanese tea ceremony would take you years, but here are some basics that will give your next tea party a Japanese makeover:

Invite Your Guests:

Traditionally, tea ceremonies were a male affair. In the 1500s, as warlords fought for control over a divided Japan, tea ceremonies doubled as military negotiations for generals such as Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. As Japan modernized, the tea ceremony became less important militaristically and more important as a platform for businessmen to interact. The art form became more female-driven as time went on, so now, no matter your gender, you can be a tea master or attend a tea ceremony. So break out your rolodex and invite whoever you please, political agenda optional.

Choose Your Hardware:

Traditionally, a host used his tea utensils to show off his wealth. Don’t have expensive artifacts from ancient Asia? Don’t worry. Bowls, cups, and teapots that aren’t perfectly crafted, symmetrical, or conventionally beautiful embody the Japanese concept of wabi, or, artless beauty and spontaneity. You should, however, be mindful about the hardware you choose. What kind of mood do they set? What kind of conversation and values do they encourage? Your hardware sets the tone, so be purposeful. Learn more about the various types of Japanese teapots here, and check out some old school hardware courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art here.

Tea Pot Hardware

[Photo Credit: Public Domain]

Sit on the floor:

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony will take place kneeling on a tatami mat. If you don’t have a tatami mat but you’re really committed to the theme, buy your own set of tatami mats here. Don’t want to spend the dough? Spread a nice blanket on the floor and encourage your guests to kick off their shoes. You can take things up a notch by arranging a series of blankets in the “auspicious” pattern in which tatami mats are typically arranged to bring good luck:

Tea Ceremony Mat

[Photo Credit: Public Domain]

Prepare The Tea:

Surrounded by your guests, prepare green tea or matcha by whisking matcha and hot water in a bowl. Prepare a communal bowl of tea with a thick consistency. Pass the bowl around and have everyone take a sip, marking your bond as a unit.

Green Tea Preparation

[Photo Credit: Steenbergs from Flickr via Creative Commons]

Serve Something Sweet:

Balance the bitter matcha by serving dessert. Traditional Japanese sweets are called wagashi, and commonly use sweet aziuki bean paste as a base. Other main ingredients include rice, sesame, and chestnuts. Try making these mochi pancakes or follow Martha Stewart’s lead and make your own namagashi candy.

Prepare More Tea:

Treat your guests to individual cups of tea, this time with a thinner consistency. If you want to be authentic, keep conversation (and extraneous body movements) to a minimum. If not, sip and gab away.

Be Showered in Compliments:

Traditionally, the conversation at a Japanese tea ceremony was limited to lots of praise for the host and the hardware that he/she’s chose to show off. Feel free to tell your guests this is very important, and enjoy the ego boost.

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

[Photo Credit: mrhayata from Flickr via Creative Commons]

Achieve Inner Peace (And Maybe World Peace, Too):

A Japanese Tea Party was meant to spread the values of wa, kei, sei, and jaku (harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.) Kristin Surak, a professor of Japanese politics at the University of London and the author of Making Tea, Making Japan told NPR, “The claim is that everyone in the world can understand those things, and if everybody sat around and had a bowl of tea, we could create world peace.” Hopefully, by the end of your tea party, you’ve achieved wa, kei, sei, or jaku. And if we’re all lucky, you’ve eradicated war.

Tea Guides

How Much Caffeine Are You Drinking in Your Tea?

March 28, 2016

Although we can estimate how much caffeine will be in your cup of tea, determining this amount never comes down to an exact science. Many factors play into how much of a kick you can get from your daily brew. Caffeine occurs naturally in tea, but the content varies based on growing variances, manufacturing, steeping times and brewing conditions. So whether you’re looking to give yourself a boost for that late night study session or sip on a soothing blend before bed, check out our definitive ranking of tea based on caffeine level to know just how much you’re drinking:

Herbal Tea (0mg)

If you want to relax with a toasty cup before bed, then herbal tea is definitely the way to go. Herbal teas are a great way to enjoy the benefits from tea’s antioxidants while avoiding the jittery feelings that often accompany caffeine intake. Herbal varieties are typically all-natural, made from various plant materials including the leaves, stems, roots and flowers from plants other than the Camellia Sinensis. Another benefit? Herbal teas don’t pose the risk of having addictive qualities, as is typically common with caffeinated beverages. However, if you’re still craving a little caffeine throughout the day, try substituting one cup a day with an herbal blend.

Decaf Tea (2-6mg)

Now you’re probably wondering,”how and why is there any caffeine in decaffeinated tea anyways?” Well, it’s important to note that decaffeinated does not mean the same thing as caffeine-free. Decaffeinated tea typically refers to black or green tea that has had most of its natural caffeine removed through processes that involve either the soaking or filtration of the leaves. But rest assured, the amount is almost negligible – by law, decaf tea must have less than 2.5% of its original caffeine level. So go ahead and brew another cup, it won’t keep you up at night.

White Tea (10-15mg)

White teas are the least processed of all teas, releasing minimal amounts of caffeine from their leaves while giving off a very subtle and silky taste. Though typically lower in caffeine content than its more processed counterparts, there can still be a wide range. However, white teas are usually blended with different herbs which bring down the caffeine level. White tea is a good option at anytime of the day, boasting little to no negative side effects.

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Green Tea (20-35mg)

Green tea works as a great midday pick-me-up. Its moderately low caffeine level produces a very steady effect when consumed, causing no peaks or plunges. It is also considered an effective meditative aid, acting as a mild stimulant without causing any insomnia or jitters. The benefits of green tea are also numerous, so if you want to drink two or three servings a day, I’m not stopping you…

Oolong Tea (30-50mg)

Oolong tea is halfway between green and black teas, both in caffeine and oxidation levels. It has the body and complexity of a black tea while still maintaining the brightness of a green tea, making it a favorite among tea connoisseurs. Its caffeine content is both healthy and palatable, so it can provide a nice boost without the risk of crashing later in the day.

Black Tea (40-60mg)

Black tea is the strongest and most caffeinated of all the tea varieties. It acts as the perfect way to awaken your senses and kickstart your day. Chai tea is on the lower end of the caffeine spectrum while more processed blends can release higher levels. If you’re worried about too much caffeine, don’t stress; black tea still pales in comparison to the ridiculous caffeine content in coffee (just another reason why tea will always prevail).