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Cassidy Waters

Types of Tea

5 Modern Rituals Surrounding a Simple Cup of Tea

June 1, 2017

Just over 240 years have passed since the Sons of Liberty defiantly tossed an entire shipment of tea into the Boston harbor. And so began the Revolutionary War. In the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, John Adams wrote letters to his wife that professed his love for tea, but admitted his reluctant switch over to coffee. Apparently, tea had become unpatriotic and lost its appeal. Thus, coffee began it’s reign.

Needless to say, we have a complicated relationship with tea in the States.

But regardless of where it’s being consumed, tea stands apart from coffee for a variety of reasons. One of the most interesting, perhaps, is the idea of “ritual” that seems to follow tea around like a pre-requisite. It may be an echo of rituals across the globe. It might also be the very nature of tea – the time it takes to brew and the variety of flavors that lend itself to a more sophisticated appreciation than a cup of coffee.

We could write an entire book on all of the ancient rituals surrounding tea. Instead, let’s explore the rituals that exist today that are often left overlooked:

1. The Children’s Tea Party

You’d be hard pressed to find a six year old who doesn’t know what a tea party is, let alone have organized one themselves. It’s almost a phenomenon – what other social event do kids regularly orchestrate on their own? Childhood tea parties are not only incredibly adorable, they are also surprisingly well thought out. The table is set, “guests” gather around, (imaginary) tea is poured and sometimes cookies even make an appearance. Thank you Ye Olde English children’s stories for keeping tea parties alive.

2. The Morning Cup of Tea

First things first, let’s be clear: tea in the morning requires an entirely different process than coffee. A (good) morning cup of tea requires that you heat water, steep your leaves, and wait. And wait…It’s kind of a zen experience, having to wait for your caffeine. Even if you decide to go to a cafe rather than brew at home, you never quite escape the patience that tea insists.

3. The Iced Black Tea and Lemonade

Or, as most people call them, Arnold Palmers (we have our own spin on that from National Lemonade Day). This drink has made a name for itself over the last several years. It started with a golf hero, but it’s fair to assume that few of the 20-something’s that regularly order the well-known beverage have a clue who the man actually is. The ritual lives in routine, and it’s always refreshing to know tea can seamlessly transition into warmer months and trendier libations.

4. The “Sick Day” Tea

“You should drink some tea.” How many times have you heard that advice when you had a runny nose or sore throat? It’s such common sense at this point, and yet you can’t get away from the suggestion. There is a conception, and a valid one, that tea has healing properties. We aren’t doctors, but the doctors we know tell us this is more or less true. Now just imagine that moment after a long day of work and a nasty head cold when you take your first sip of piping hot chamomile tea with lemon, breathing in the steam. It truly feels like you’re drinking a magical healing elixir.

5. The Pot of Tea

This always feels like a big one. A full pot of tea seems to separate the casual drinkers from the die hard. Tea, typically, is a sipping drink. A pot of tea is an hour of your life that you have dedicated to tea (and usually something else… We’re not crazy, we realize you’re probably reading a book or working on a paper too). In that moment, when you fill your pot or order a full pot at the neighborhood cafe, you’ve established yourself as a real “tea drinker.” In our books, that’s a pretty awesome commitment.

We invite you to join us and share your favorite tea ritual.

Tell us. Share with us. Join in and help paint the picture of tea.

Tea Recipes

Black Tea Oatmeal to Jumpstart Your Day

June 16, 2016

It’s time to combine two of the best things about the morning: tea with breakfast. Now you can enjoy the most important meal of the day even more!

Recipe:

You can adapt this recipe to work with any hot breakfast cereal. In this case we’ve kept it simple, and stuck by a quick oat method. If you decide to adapt it, simply keep in mind for every cup of milk, you will want a teaspoon of tea. You can also easily substitute the dairy for water, or any vegan dairy alternative of your choice.

Ingredients:

● 1 teaspoon Earl Grey, Earl Grey Lavender, or Earl Grey Creme black teas. If you prefer, any black tea will suffice.

● 8 ounces of milk

● ½ cup quick oats

● Pinch of salt

● Tasty garnishes – sliced almonds, banana, chia seeds, segmented oranges, cherries, walnuts (the sky’s the limit!)

Directions:

Bring the milk to a boil – be careful not to scorch it. Place the tea in with an infuser or disposable tea bag, and let steep 5 minutes. Alternatively, submerge the tea leaves fully. Remove the tea infuser or strain the tea leaves off.

Add a pinch of salt to the milk. Bring back up to a boil. Add the quick oats and bring the temperature down to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.

Garnish with your favorite munchies and enjoy!

Be sure to take a snapshot of your bowl and share it with us on Instagram or Twitter and let us know what you think of the recipe in the comments below.

Tea Health Benefits

8 Ways Tea is Better Than Coffee

March 31, 2016

Okay tea lovers, spread the word. I know it’s true, you know it’s true. But it’s time to show the world why tea should always be everyone’s beverage of choice. While coffee might have a cult following in many parts of the country (if not world), tea ultimately comes out on top in countless ways. From its proven health benefits to its hypnotizing aroma, it’s time to prove to those coffee hounds why tea beats coffee once and for all.

It’s hydrating.

Think about it: tea is just pure water with added flavor from all-natural herbs and plants. Sipping on some tea (hot or cold) will replenish your body’s fluids, leading to additional benefits like smoother skin and weight loss. And whereas you should limit your consumption of coffee to one or two cups a day, experts say you can drink up to FIVE cups of tea a day before you should think of cutting yourself off.

It won’t make you crash.

Although tea typically has less caffeine than coffee (which can be seen as a benefit in and of itself), it can actually help you sustain your energy longer because it won’t lead to any peaks or crashes. While both drinks will give you the boost you need to get your day started, coffee has a much larger effect as a depressant, meaning the high will last shorter and drop quicker. So if you want to sustain your energy throughout the day, tea is definitely the way to go.

It has tons of antioxidants.

All teas contain an abundance of natural antioxidants (way more than coffee), leaving you feeling and looking your best at all times. These antioxidants have been proven do things like boost the immune system, slow down the aging process, make your bones stronger and even prevent cancer.

It can reduce stress.

While the physical cause behind this remains unknown, it’s a well-known fact that tea has been known to have calming effects on the body. Studies have even shown decreased heart rates in participants simply from smelling the aromas from lavender and jasmine variations. This can explain why it is so often used cross-culturally as a bonding tool, also reflecting why some cultures have tea so deeply ingrained as part of their customs. Tea has also been found to work as an anti-depressant, meaning brewing a cup the next time you’re feeling a little low might just help boost your mood.

It’s less likely to stain your clothes (and teeth).

At least, in comparison to coffee. Tea is a naturally lighter shade than the dark brew of coffee, so there’s a reduced risk of staining your button down on the way to the office. And as long as you’re not drinking gallons of tea a day (but let’s face it, I wouldn’t blame you), your teeth are safe from the unwarranted side effects of discoloration that occur after a cup of joe. Tea even contains fluoride, which actually protects your teeth.

The flavor options are endless.

Because tea can be made out of so many different materials, there’s a substantive range in flavors that just doesn’t exist in a simple coffee bean. You have the option to go more subtle, with floral undertones or opt for a bolder brew that’s full of herbs and spices: the variations are honestly endless. And if you’re missing that creamy quality, it’s easy to turn your favorite teas in tea lattes as well.

It’s easier to make and less expensive.

Coffee requires all the grinding, filtering, brewing, etc. Who has that kind of time? With tea, all you need is some hot water and you’re good to go. And because coffee requires this extra labor, it usually costs way more. Look at the menu at any restaurant or cafe and the coffee can be almost double the cost of a simple, yet delicious cup of tea.

It’s better for the environment.

As if we don’t already have enough personal reasons to choose tea over coffee, there’s also environmental benefits to it too. Producing coffee puts more of a strain on our Earth’s resources than tea. For large-scale coffee-roasting operation, harmful compounds are emitted into the atmosphere, whereas tea processing requires little more than the manual labor to pick the leaves. Tea also weighs much less than coffee, so it requires less fuel for transport and export around the world. So technically, tea also has a lower carbon footprint than coffee.

Let us know what other ways tea ultimately wins in the battle between leaves and beans.

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.

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).

Types of Tea

Everything You Need to Know About Boba Tea

March 14, 2016

By now, you’ve probably either tasted or heard of the dessert-like tea drink known as Boba (also commonly referred to as bubble tea or pearl tea). A couple years ago, it seemed to take the country by storm, with new Boba shops popping up everywhere and well-known restaurants opting in to selling the tasty tapioca treat. But where exactly did this trend come from? We’re here to give you all the facts and answer all your questions about the popular drink.

It originated in Taiwan.

The first ever boba tea drink was invented in Taichung, Taiwan in the 1980s. Although no one’s certain exactly where the idea came from, the most circulated story credits Liu Han-Chieh as the mastermind. The founder of Chun Shui Tang Teahouse, he wanted to experiment with the possibility of serving tea cold – a new style that ended up propelling his small business to massive success. He mixed the cold milk tea with creative additions like fruit, syrup, candied yams, and tapioca bubbles, which resulted in the creation of the popular Boba tea drink as we know it today. The drink became popular in many parts of East and Southeast Asia during the 1990s before making its successful debut in the US and other countries around the world.

There are multiple ways to make (and drink) Boba tea.

In general, Boba tea recipes call for a tea base (green, black, etc.) mixed with fruit or milk, to which tapioca balls are then added. This will result in two main types: fruit-flavored teas and milk teas, although many shops now offer a hybrid of the two, combining the fruity mixtures with milk (or non-dairy creamers/milk substitutes). The flavoring is added in the form of syrup, powder, fruit juice or pulp to the hot tea, which is then chilled. Both variations can be served over ice or blended. The cooked tapioca pearls are added as a final step.

Choosing a flavor can be difficult.

The countless flavors for Boba tea can be overwhelming. They range from popular fruit flavors like strawberry, grape, and watermelon to more exotic, adventurous fruits like passion fruit, avocado and jackfruit. They also come in non-fruit flavors for a richer, creamier drink. Some popular types include taro, rose, almond, ginger and Thai tea. Although the drink is defined and often characterized by the black, marble-sized balls that sit at the bottom of the cup, there are many variations on the type of “bubble” you choose as well. The spheres can vary in color depending on the ingredient of the boba – options include green tea, aloe, custard, sago and taro. The chewy tidbits also don’t always come in the form of balls. Jelly is formed in the shapes of cubes, stars and rectangular strips with flavors such as coconut jelly, lychee, grass jelly and mango.

The straw is a dead giveaway.

Chances are you’ve already indulged in one of these delicious drinks, but if you haven’t (or let alone seen one), there’s one surefire way to know whether it’s the real deal: the straw. The oversized, often colorful straws must be large enough for the pearls to pass through; therefore, they can typically be spotted from a distance. Otherwise, the packaging of Boba tea can vary. Some cafes use plastic, dome-shaped lids while more customary Boba shops use a machine that seals the tops of the cups with plastic cellophane. These are often customized with the shop’s logo, only to be pierced by the straws. A benefit to the latter method: it’s spill-free, allowing patrons to shake up their drinks directly in the cup or save them to enjoy later.

Tea Travel

8 Bucket List Travel Destinations for Tea Lovers

March 7, 2016

Nothing beats starting the day off with a great cup of tea – except maybe starting the day with a great cup of tea in a foreign country. Tea has been a household staple in many parts of the world for ages and many of the traditions that correspond to tea still exist today as a staple to their respective cultures. If you’re a tea lover, you have to travel to these countries so you can experience the wonders of tea from their points of view:

Turkey:

Turkey is one of the biggest tea drinking nations in the world. The people drink up to four or five cups of tea per day, so you won’t feel out of place when it comes time to satisfy your tea craving. Tea is so strongly integrated into the culture that it is even considered an important part of Turkish hospitality. From offers of free cups of tea while shopping to complimentary tea service when staying at a local guesthouse, there won’t be a shortage of opportunities to sample the many different flavors of Turkish tea.

Russia:

Russia is a country famous for two drinks: vodka and tea. Their tea consumption is unparalleled and has become an extremely significant aspect of Russian culture. Although other types of tea are available, the Russian population almost exclusively drinks black loose-leaf tea, which is brewed in a small teapot with a high concentration of tea leaves to water (a concoction known as “zavarka”). The mixture is then mixed with boiled water, the quantity dependent on the drinker’s preferred strength. Tea in Russia is also not meant to be served “naked,” or without food to accompany it. Gathering for tea is the most common way for people to socialize in Russia, so therefore there is almost no occasion or situation where it isn’t appropriate to sip on a cup of tea.

China:

Chinese tea culture is the oldest in the world, dating back to the 10th century B.C. The tea plant actually originated in China, so there’s definitely no shortage of historic tea regions to visit (to name a few – West Lake, Wuyishan and Yunnan). Long before tea became the country’s beverage of choice, it was considered a medicinal staple, said to promote long life and vitality. In today’s modern society, tea drinking customs and traditions are still prevalent – though at a more sociable level. Travelers are often invited to join their hosts for a cup of tea and can also enjoy it at well-known teahouses across the country. Tea lovers can enjoy a variety of tea flavors in China, ranging from green tea, to white, black and flowering teas.

Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka boasts a $1.5 billion tea industry, making it one of the biggest growers and exporters of black and green tea worldwide. Its renowned Ceylon tea comes in a range of flavors that fall into three main categories: low-grown, medium-grown, and high-grown, referring to the various elevations of the plantations. The nation’s selection of tea plantations offers visitors a chance to taste the locally grown tea and learn the intricacies of production firsthand. Tea is the refreshment of choice for most Sri Lankans, so you can expect to be presented with a freshly brewed pot at any social gathering.

Morocco:

In Morocco, brewing and drinking tea is a tradition carried out with great care, representing both hospitality and friendship. Tea preparation, referred to as “atai,” is typically executed by the male head of the family and considered to be an art form passed down through generations. Mint leaves and sugar are added to a green tea base to create the signature Moroccan mint tea, which is served throughout the day, though particularly at mealtimes. The tea is served in small glasses and is only considered drinkable if it has foam on top. The pouring of the tea is done from a long curved spout and from a height of at least twelve inches – a practiced method that, when done correctly, signifies an experienced host or hostess. These many customs are exclusive to the Moroccan tea drinking culture, something that must be experienced firsthand.

India:

In India, locals consume chai tea on a daily basis. Seriously, you can barely walk a block without coming across it on the street, in a train station or at a restaurant. Tea lovers can travel to the famous town of Darjeeling, which is home to some of the most beautiful tea plantations in the world. There they can admire stunning views while sampling their famous Darjeeling tea, a staple to the Indian tea drinking community.

Japan:

Tea is the most common drink in Japan and an integral part of the country’s culture. The beverage can be found in practically all restaurants, as well as in vending machines, kiosks, convenience stores and supermarkets. Tea is also served to visitors at various temples and gardens, allowing tourists to sample the unique flavors while simultaneously admiring the beautiful scenery. Green tea is the most common type of tea, and also the central element of the Japanese tea ceremony. These honored ceremonies can last for several hours and put an emphasis on etiquette and Zen-inspired spirituality. By attending one of these tea ceremonies, tea lovers can learn a lot about the Japanese culture and the important part tea plays in it.

England:

The phrase, “as English as a cup of tea,” depicts how ingrained tea is in English society. English people are particularly proud of being “tea people,” which can be seen in the nearly 2 kilograms of tea consumed per person each year. The most quintessential of English customs is perhaps the activity of afternoon tea. Traditional afternoon tea consists of various teas served with a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries. Most hotels in England also offer the opportunity to experience the best of the tradition, so tea lovers definitely won’t miss out when they visit.

Have you visited any other tea-loving countries? Let us know in the comments below!