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Tea Guides

How To Store Your Tea and Keep It Fresher for Longer

May 10, 2022

Did you know that the way you store your tea leaves can effect how your tea smells and tastes? It’s true! This might sound shocking at first but luckily, the solutions for keeping your tea fresh are actually pretty simple! There are different shelf life’s for every strain of tea so we are going to break it all down for you!

Tea’s Shelf Life

The shelf life of every tea is different. It varies depending on a few factors like the tea and quality, but these are the general guidelines if stored properly! Green tea and white tea have the shortest shelf life at about 6 months to 1 year.  Oolong tea is 1-2 years and black tea is 2 years or more.   Dark tea (such as puerh tea) is suitable for long-term aging. 

Tea shelf life will differ if talking about tea blends though. Some ingredients in blends (ie. dried fruit, essential oils) may expire more quickly than the tea leaves. In this case, pay attention to the best before dates on the tea packaging and examine the tea before steeping to make sure it smells and looks okay before using!

Top Ways to Preserve Your Tea

Store tea in an airtight container. 

Tea leaves can continue to oxidize when exposed to air/oxygen. This will greatly affect the taste of a tea. For instance, green teas are less oxidized when compared to other types of teas. So, not only will the overall freshness be affected but also the color of the leaves too. Green tea is generally green in colour, but the leaves may turn brown if exposed to air for long periods of time. To limit the exposure, always keep tea leaves or tea bags in an airtight container. This can be a resealable jar or resealable pouch.  If using a jar, the best material to store tea in is tin, stainless steel or ceramic. 

You can store your teas in the packaging they came in if it is resealable. Keeping them in the pouches is convenient because you are able to squeeze out any extra air before sealing. This isn’t really possible if storing in jars, so it’s best to keep the jars full to limit the space for air/oxygen. 

Store tea in a cool and dark space.

Loose leaf tea (or tea bags) should always be stored away from direct light and heat. This is because light can affect the freshness of tea and heat can degrade it. This is why you should not store your tea near windows or any appliances that may give off heat (ie. stoves and microwaves). One of the best places to store tea so that it stays cool and away from light is in a closed cupboard or pantry. If you cannot store your tea in a closed cupboard, you may want to consider opaque containers. Glass or other see-through jars and pouches may be a fun way to store tea so you can beautifully display and present them but these types of containers will let light through. Therefore, it is not a proper way to store tea long term. 

Store tea away from strong odors.

A cupboard or pantry may be a good spot to keep tea away from light, but not if it is near other items that may give off a strong aroma. Tea can easily absorb any odors that are around them. Therefore, avoid storing tea near things like coffee, herbs and spices or your English Breakfast black tea may start to taste like chili powder (and we most definitely do not want that!)

FAQ’s

Does tea expire?

Most teas should come with a best before date. This means the flavours of the tea should remain the same until that date if stored properly.  But, tea deteriorates with age so it may get stale over time.

Does tea go bad?

Although tea can expire, it doesn’t necessarily mean tea will go bad and that you can no longer drink it for safety reasons. Most teas past the best before date can still be consumed, but it may not taste as fresh as when consumed earlier. Of course this is only if the tea still looks and smells okay. No mold should be growing on the leaves. Be sure to dispose of tea leaves or tea bags if moldy or smell odd.

Tea Recipes

Tea Pairing 101: What Tea Should I Pair with my Meal

February 17, 2022

You may have heard of the traditional tea time foods like sandwiches, scones and cakes to pair with tea but what about every other meal? Just like certain wines pair perfectly with certain foods, tea is exactly the same. With their different flavor profiles, this makes for some delicious pairings that will enhance your culinary experience. Pairing tea with food is the perfect way to enhance the taste of a dish as well as the drink itself. For centuries, sommeliers and chefs have paired certain wines with certain foods. Most of us are familiar with the basic rules: Red wines to accompany rich, red meat dishes. White wines to accompany white meats, fish and vegetarian dishes. Dessert wines for… well, dessert!

There are a number of different types of tea including white, green, oolong pu’erh and black. Generally white tea has the most delicate and subtle flavors, black and dark teas having the deepest flavors and black tea the highest tannin content/astringency. When you have a dish in mind that you want to match a tea with, consider the weight of the dish and what type of tea has a similar intensity.

White Teas

Because of the extremely subtle flavor of white teas, we recommend pairing them with only the mildest of flavors so you do not miss the sweetness that is so loved in white tea. Pure white tea has a very delicate flavor, sometimes with notes of apricot and has a buttery mouthfeel. It is often seen in blends with fruits like peaches or flowers like roses or orange blossoms. Think of white tea as you would a delicate white fish. Its taste easily melds with whatever flavors it’s paired with. 

Pairing suggestions: oatmeal, yogurt, or other light dishes with fresh berries for breakfast and basmati rice, white fish and basic salads with lunch and dinner.

Our favorite white teas: White Peony, Dragonfruit and Citrus Blossom.

Green Teas

Green tea is known for its subtle taste and light and refreshing flavor profile in comparison to other types of tea like many varieties of black tea.  In general, the subtle, vegetative flavor and aroma of most green tea is well suited to mild or subtly flavored foods, such as seafood, rice, salads, melon or chicken. Green tea is also great to drink after meals as it has been shown to help aid in digestion!

Pairing suggestions: Fish, lemon, mint, basil, vinegar, smoked or barbecued meat.

Our favorite green teas: Gunpowder Green, Sencha, Moroccan Mint

Oolong

Many argue that the subtle complexity of flavor and aroma attributed to oolong tea demand drinking it on its own. However, because oolongs can range in character between green and black teas, many can be paired with food along the same lines as their green or black counterparts. For instance, greener oolongs tend to go well with scallops, lobster and other sweet rich foods, while darker oolongs compliment somewhat stronger-flavored foods such as duck and grilled meats.

Pairing suggestions: Bread and butter, fruit, roasted vegetables, milk chocolate, lightly salted foods.

Our favorite oolongs: Morning Oolong and Formosa.

Black Teas

The more robust flavors and aromas of most black teas, as well as the most pronounced tannins, are well suited to pairing with full-flavored foods such as meat and spicy dishes. Unlike green teas, black tea leaves have been cured and are therefore fully oxidized, resulting in a somewhat more astringent taste, together with malty and woody, roasted flavors similar to bread.

Pairing suggestions: Spicy food, beef, lamb, ham and chicken, lightly salted food, pasta dishes (like lasagna), and fruits.

Our favorite black teas: Darjeeling, Ceylon and Lapsang Souchong.

Pu’erh Tea

Worthy of special note, pu-erh teas are known for their digestive benefits. Pu-erh teas have a strong, earthy and distinctive flavor, and they make great choices alongside a chicken or stir-fry recipe, as they can neutralize the oily and greasy tastes. Thanks to their digestive benefits, these beverages are often preferred after large meals.

Pairing suggestions: After meal, eggs, red meat, wild mushrooms, chocolate, poultry.

Desserts and Tea

For desserts, we suggest seeking out English Breakfast black tea. Our Chinese teas are hearty, rich, and taste perfect when complementing baked custards, chocolate cakes, or a rich, dense strawberry shortcake. Assam is another rich black tea that complements chocolate desserts, yet is a surprising foil against lemony or custard dishes. Some may be sensitive to caffeine. To that we suggest our Decaf Earl Grey or Decaf English Breakfast. Due to the naturally sweet, floral nature of a Jasmine, it is also ideal to serve with a dessert such as fruit, macaroons and any coconut desserts! Chai tea also pairs wonderfully with light pastries and scones.

Types of Tea

The History of Tea

January 16, 2016

With every sip or sniff, you can pretty much taste the history of tea. Something about this earthy beverage makes you feel grounded within the world. Perhaps, it’s the laws of matter: all matter in the universe has existed since the beginning of time and tea feels just as old. I imagine early cavemen and women brewing their first pots of tea after recently discovering fire. Drinking the warm beverage during those cold prehistoric nights.

Fine, you got me, tea isn’t that old, but it’s pretty ancient! Follow me as we journey around the world, because nothing has traveled around the world like tea.

China

The Emperor of China, Shen Neng, first discovered tea around 2737 B.C. while seeking to find remedies for his ailments. For several hundred years people drank this brew for its medicinal properties. Tea then moved into religious spaces, being used as an offering. During the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.), tea plants were scarce and only royalty and upper class people drank it. Around this time, people began to drink tea for taste and not just their health. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), more tea plants were discovered and tea drinking spread to the lower classes. The government took steps to support the planting of tea plants and the building of tea stores to ensure that everyone could enjoy the beverage. Also during the Tang Dynasty, tea spread to Japan by the Japanese priests who were studying in China at the time.

Japan

In Japan, tea is often associated with Zen Buddhism because the priests drank tea to stay alert and meditate. In keeping with ceremonial tradition, Buddhists developed the Japanese Tea Ceremony for sharing tea in a sacred and spiritual manner. Much like the Chinese emperors, the Japanese Emperor Shomu loved tea so much, he took steps to make sure tea became accessible to everyone.

In the 1500s, Sen No Rikkyu incorporated the ideas of simplicity and that each meeting should be special and unique into the tea ceremonies.  The traditional Japanese tea ceremony became more than just drinking tea; it became a spiritual experience that embodies harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.

England

Tea first arrived in England in the mid 17th century, and the London coffee houses were responsible for introducing the beverage to England. One of the first coffee house merchants to offer tea was Thomas Garway, who owned an establishment in Exchange Alley. He sold both liquid and dry tea to the public as early as 1657. A few years later, Garway created two advertisements about the virtues of tea: “making the body active and lusty” and “preserving perfect health until extreme old age.”

The refreshment quickly became popular in the coffee houses, and by 1700 more than 500 coffee houses sold it. However, the tavern owners and government weren’t too happy about it. The new beverage cut into their liquor sales and thus the tax revenue the government received. By 1750 tea had become the favored drink of Britain’s lower classes.

Much like the Japanese and Chinese, tea became part of a ritual. Even today, there are still certain Tea Etiquette followed when serving traditional afternoon tea and high tea. Having afternoon tea began by royal Britain’s Anna, the Duchess of Bedford. Even though it was typical to eat only breakfast and dinner in Britain, the Duchess started drinking tea and eating light refreshments when she started to feel hungry in the afternoons. She began inviting friends to join her and soon the afternoon tea tradition was born. Afternoon tea (or low tea) is usually served between 3 and 5 p.m. and is very different from high tea, during which a more hearty meal was eaten at the end of a workday. This usually happened around 5:30 or 6 p.m. for the working classes.

America

Like England, tea first came to North America in the 17th century through what was then the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (New York). When it was acquired by the British many of the tea drinking customs common in England were passed on. As tea drinking spread, special water pumps were installed in natural springs.  With water now readily available for making tea, places called “Tea Gardens” became popular at these tea springs. To symbolized wealth and elite social status, cities like Boston and Philadelphia adopted the English style of tea drinking and their use of fancy silver and porcelain tea products.

Tea trade between the colonies and England were centered in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Tea was heavily taxed due to the East India Company’s monopoly on tea imports. Colonists would often try to smuggle tea in. With more taxes being imposed, including, the Act of Parliament in 1767, American ports began refusing shipments of dutiable goods, including teas, causing ships to turn around with their cargo in some cases.  The Tea Act of 1773, which was intended to boost profits for the East India Company by bypassing local tea merchants and selling tea directly to the colonists, was the final straw that triggered The Boston Tea Party.

On Dec. 16, 1773, a group of protesters disguised as Mohawk Indians, along with the Sons of Liberty got the idea to dump the tea into Boston Harbor. The protestors and a large crowd of Bostonians, boarded the British East India Company ships, the Eleanor, Dartmouth and Beaver.  In  three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. This event lead to the American Revolution.

Two major breakthrough’s in tea happened in the early 1900s. First, by Richard Blechynden, who in 1904, at America’s first World’s Fair, had the idea to serve his brewed tea on ice since drinking hot tea during a summer heat wave is essentially a recipe for a heat stroke. The second was by Thomas Sullivan of New York, who in 1908 is credited for inventing the tea bag. This tea merchant packaged loose teas in hand-sewn silk muslin bags to be shipped around the world. But one day while hile delivering the bags of tea to local restaurants, he noticed they were brewing the tea while still in the bags. This sparked his idea to market the bags as a new, convenient and less messy way of preparing tea.

Craft: The Different Types of Tea

Early teas were processed into cakes, similar to the modern pu-erh teas. They were dried, steamed or processed in some way. During the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 A.D.), some teas were ground and whipped into a frothy beverage like our current day matcha.  Thankfully, not long after this the Chinese began experimenting with loose-leaf teas.

It wasn’t until the 12th century when tea was divided based on the types of processing used to make them. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.), foreign trade was increasing, so tea merchants needed a beverage that would last longer. The Chinese discovered fermenting and began crafting oolong and black teas that would store longer. At this point they also started experimenting with scenting and flavoring the teas in order to make the essence last.

The crafting of different types of teas continued to change over time. We now divide tea into four types: white teas, green tea, oolong teas (semi-fermented), and black teas (fermented). And there are subdivisions of these, such as pu-erh teas, which are double-fermented.

From its origins in China to its world notoriety, tea really has been through it all. It has  seen war and peace — which is truly something to drink to.

Tell us your favorite go to teas to sip on.

Tea Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Tea

October 28, 2015

From chai to green, black to oolong, tea is a delicious and comforting brew that is chock full of healthy antioxidants and other goodies. Tea is a zero-calorie, hot or cold drink that has potential health benefits for you – incorporating a cup of tea or two in your daily life could only help you. True teas all come from the same plant, and are fermented at different rates to bring out unique flavors. These result in four main types of tea: black, oolong, green, and white tea.

Black tea is made from fermented leaves, which is why it has a dark black or red colors. Many flavors of tea fall under the black tea umbrella, such as darjeeling, earl gray, and chai. Although drinking dark brews, including coffee, is blamed for teeth staining, black tea could actually be great for your smile, perhaps due to the tannins found in the tea. The Tea Trade Health Research Association has funded studies that suggest that black tea can reduce plaque build-up and control bacteria. Additionally, a research study has shown that black tea could lower your risk of diabetes. In this study, people who had been drinking black tea on a long-term basis had a 70% lower chance of having or developing type 2 diabetes. Black tea could also boost your immune system since it contains antigens that can boost immune response, and tannins that are able to fight viruses. Lastly, since black tea has a lower amount of caffeine, it can increase blood flow to the brain without over-stimulating the heart – it won’t leave you jittery with a caffeine crash later. Definitely worth the switch over from your morning coffee!

Oolong is similar to black tea but is only partially oxidized. Like black tea, it can reduce some chronic health diseases like high cholesterol levels and heart disease. It has also been hailed as a weight management aide, supposedly due to a polyphenol compound found in it. Studies are still being done to prove the effectiveness of weight loss, but in one study, mice that were given polyphenols in addition to a fattening diet still lost overall weight and body fat. The same polyphenolic compounds have been attributed to the anti-cancer properties of oolong tea, since they can act as a chemo-preventative weapon against carcinogenic cells.

Green tea is made from leaves that are dried or heat-treated to prevent fermentation and oxidization. This process leaves it with more amounts of antioxidants than black tea, which combat free radicals in your system. These same antioxidants do wonders for your skin, and can reduce wrinkles and signs of aging. Like oolong, green tea can contribute to weight loss. It boosts your metabolism by suppressing your lipid metabolism, which reduces fatty accumulation. In a study done in Japan, mice that were fed green tea powder gained less weight and had less adipose tissue.

White tea leaves are picked when they’re very young – which makes them rare – and have a mild, delicate flavor, as well as the least amount of caffeine. It contains the same kinds of antioxidants as green tea, but in even greater quantity because they are the least processed out of all the teas. It contains fluoride, which keeps teeth strong and healthy, and possesses many of the same benefits as green tea because of their closeness with green tea. White tea is also a natural killer of bacteria and viruses due to its antioxidants that guard the immune system against many illnesses. White tea is also believed to improve bone density and strength.

So whether it’s a bold cup of black tea to kickstart your day or a soothing cup of white tea in the afternoon, incorporate tea into your daily routine for a more healthy and energizing lifestyle. Given the benefits of weight loss, bone health and cancer and diabetes prevention there’s no reason not to drink a cup of tea a day! It might even keep the doctor away!