Tea Fun Facts

Uses for Unused Tea Bags – What Can You Do with Old Tea Bags?

Uses for Unused Tea Bags – What Can You Do with Old Tea Bags?

“While there is tea, there is hope” — Sir Arthur Pinero We all are guilty of this. Stashed in the deepest, darkest corner of our pantry, is a box of tea that someone gave us years ago. Tea has some amazing health benefits when drunk fresh, but what can you do with tea that is old, gone stale or just lost its flavour? Good news! Tea, beyond being a flavourful health beverage, has some properties that make it useful around the home and in everyday life. The tannin in tea makes it a powerful cleanser. Tea’s nature to absorb odour is a superpower. (That’s why it is important to store tea away from items like spices). Here are some amazing hacks you can do based on the superpower of teas. In the Kitchen Make it part of your food You can steep tea in any cooking liquids like broth or milk or even water to infuse the tea into any dish. For milder flavour, you can use leaves or teabags which have been previously brewed. The concentration of tannins in tea also make it a great tenderizer for meat – marinate the meat in strongly brewed tea overnight before cooking. Dry black or tea leaves could also be used as a smoking agent. Directly incorporate steeped tea as a spice or a filling in noodles or if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand making Lahpet, Myanmar’s famous tea leaf salad. Use it to clean stubborn dishes It is common knowledge that soaking dishes in warm water helps to loosen stuck food. Power up your dishwashing routine by adding tea to the water to break up any grease. The astringent property of tea, caused by tannins, breaks down the grease without hours of scrubbing. In the Bath Bathe in tea Tea leaves contain antioxidants which are obviously great for your skin. Drop them into the bath to reap their benefits while relaxing. For an added experience, use a fragrant tea like jasmine or chamomile for a relaxing, therapeutic experience. Clean your toilets A fuss-free and easy way to clean your toilets! Throw a few tea bags into the toilet bowl, leave them for at least an hour. Remove and discard them before scrubbing down with a brush and flushing. Have a clean smelling fridge If you’re low on baking soda, use dried tea leaves as a substitute to soak up those weird fridge smells. Make sure to use leaves that you don’t want to brew. Around the house Remove lingering odours Tea’s ability to absorb is legendary and while it is a pain to store in the pantry, it is great for absorbing nasty smells. Both tea leaves or tea bags can be used for this purpose. Sprinkle pre-brewed tea at the bottom of your trash bins to neutralise any strong smells or keep tea in the fridge to keep it smelling fresh. They are also great for removing smells from your rugs – keep storing pre-brewed tea leaves/bags in the fridge until you have enough and sprinkle damp (not wet!) leaves over rugs and carpets until they are totally dry. Then sweep up the dry leaves! Freshen your air Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to dry used leaves to create air fresheners. This is much easier with teabags because you can hang the bags. Once the oil fades off, add a few more drops to refresh. Alternatively, you can use them as potpourri and place the dry scented leaves in small decorative bowls. Polish your wood Use weak tea made from pre-brewed bags to clean and shine hardwood floors and polish wood furniture. Polish your Glass Brew weak tea and spray onto windows, mirrors, and other such glass surfaces to loosen up dirt and clean grime and fingerprints. Wipe away with a clean, lint-free cloth to minimize streaks. In the Garden Water with tea Use weak tea to water your plants such as ferns and any other acid-loving houseplants to protect them from fungal infections. When on vacation, lace a handful of tea leaves or tea bags into the drainage layer of the pot; the tea will absorb water and will slowly release it back into the plant. Fertilise with tea It’s simple – mix tea leaves into the topsoil as fertiliser. Mix them into the topsoil for a lush visual. Tea is highly acidic and full of nutrients that can help plants thrive. You can also throw them into the compost pile. For your health Draw out infections Warm, moist pre-brewed tea bags are great for drawing out infections and reducing pain. Apply one over the affected area, whether pinkeye, canker sores or even boils, to soothe and heal. Soothe skin irritations Instead of warm, use cool and moist tea bags to soothe skin irritations. Place them over sore, tired eyes to ease discomfort or massage over sunburn to reduce redness. Place against bruises to ease discomfort and help speed healing. Just remember, if you plan to use already brewed tea leaves or tea bags, it is important to keep them in the fridge, especially if you are accumulating them, to prevent mold. If it does smell weird, it’s best to throw them instead. Sources https://www.today.com/food/tea-not-just-sipping-54-ways-use-amazing-ingredient-t98611/ https://www.rd.com/health/beauty/tea-benefits/ http://www.naturallivingideas.com/used-tea-bags/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahpet

How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Tea – Hot-to-Cold Tea Method

How to Brew a Perfect Cup of Tea – Hot-to-Cold Tea Method

“Tea is nought but this: First you heat the water, then you make the tea. Then you drink it properly. That is all you need to know.” – Sen Riyku Seems simple right? Yet tea brewing has been the subject of much focus and debate, with tea cultural centres like Japan and China having elaborate rituals that are associated with serving tea. Even Britain, which is known to be culturally reserved, has an obsession with this drink. So much so that George Orwell, the famous author, found it necessary to write an essay on the 11 cardinal rules of brewing tea, which includes his distaste for sugaring the drink. Without a doubt, there are different ways of brewing tea, depending on the type and profile of tea. However, they can be largely classified as Asian, British and Indian styles, which are defined by the tea that is usually preferred. Both the Indian and British method of brewing usually uses black tea, while the Asian style tends to focus on green tea. The British style uses a large teapot. The tea leaves are steeped for a longer time, usually not more than twice. As the tea is steeped for a longer time, a smaller amount of tea is used and the leaves are filtered and discarded after steeping. Tea made using this style is usually drunk in larger cups, and sugar or milk is sometimes added to lighten the bitterness. Brewing tea liquor is not controversial in this school of thought. However, the adding of milk is a subject of much debate. Traditionalists, like Orwell, are clear that milk should be added to the hot tea, thereby allowing one to regulate the amount of milk. About 70 years later, The Royal Society of Chemistry begs to differ and states “If milk is poured into hot tea, individual drops separate from the bulk of the milk, and come into contact with the high temperatures of the tea for enough time for significant denaturation – degradation – to occur. This is much less likely to happen if hot water is added to the milk.” While this seems to settle the debate, it may take a while to catch on! Tea brewed Indian style, also known as Chai, is traditionally a concoction of spices infused through the tea liquor. While recipes of the spice mix vary across cultures and family, the method of brewing is largely similar. The tea leaves are first boiled in water with the spices. As this brew boils, milk is added and the spiced tea is boiled again. Sugar is almost always added when the milk is boiling but it can be added separately. Asian brewing is distinct. Tea is prepared as an infusion of whole leaves multiple times in short bursts. Traditionalists prefer brewing it in a small clay teapot (“Zisha Hu”). Depending on the tea, a quarter to a third of the teapot is filled with leaves. After brewing, the tea is usually drunk pure, in small cups. It is believed that the due to the larger amount of tea used and short intervals of steeping, this method provides for a richer taste. In fact, each additional infusion can reveal distinct flavours, especially if the tea is of a suitably high quality. This style of brewing is also about encouraging relaxation and allowing enough quality time to spend with family and friends. In all brewing methods, there are always a few important factors to be attentive to: The type of tea: Different teas require different water temperatures to produce optimum flavour. Oxidised teas like black tea, need hotter water to release a full-bodied flavour. Green and white teas have more delicate flavours. If you’re looking for a strong brew, use smaller tea leaves as it creates a stronger tea liquor by infusing more flavour. The type of water: Don’t forget that tea is fundamentally flavoured water, even if milk is added. It is important to use good and fresh water, for a good flavour profile. Some teahouses recommend using water that is more alkaline. The temperature of the water: Generally, tea requires a brewing temperature of anywhere from 70°C to 100°C, depending on its type. White and green teas need to be brewed with much cooler water than Oolong, Black and Puerh teas, which can stand higher temperatures. Steeping method: One of the essential requirements of brewing tea is giving the leaves enough room to unfurl and expose surface area. By doing so, the essential oils have time to transfer from the leaves into the water and their flavour is properly extracted. Hence, the tea should flow freely through the water so no tea bags, infusion baskets or tea balls! Ideally, water should be poured directly over the tea and can be strained before drinking. Secondly, how long you steep controls the flavour of your brew – if it’s too little, the tea is weak and watery; if it is over-steeped, it is bitter and astringent. Steeping time also affects the quantity of caffeine in your brew. For more alertness, steep for a shorter amount of time. For less caffeine, you can do a brief steep, pour out the brew, and then re-steep to cut as much as 80% of the caffeine. If you’re not sure, use this handy timer to know how long to steep your brew!   3 Reasons to Cold Brew BALANCED FLAVORS: Brewing makes all the difference to a cup of tea. Leave the tea bag in too long and it’s bound to get bitter. Take it out too soon and it will taste weak. With cold brewing, you don’t have to worry about timing. Cold water extracts flavours more slowly and naturally so the result is less bitter and cleaner than hot tea. NO ICE: Ice is generally used to cool the tea, but it can also water down its unique flavour profile. When you cold brew, there’s no need to add ice since the tea is chilled in the refrigerator. HEALTH BENEFITS: Cold brewed tea retains more antioxidants than hot brewed teas. Studies also show that cold brewed teas contain about half (or two thirds) the amount of caffeine.   Hot-to-Cold Method FOR LOOSE OR TEA BAGS: Pour 8 oz. of just boiled water over 2 Tbsp. loose leaf tea (or 2 tea bags). Steep for 2-4 minutes. Strain and pour over ice. Or strain, let cool and refrigerate to chill.   References http://lifehacker.com/5697622/the-hackers-guide-to-tea http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-brew-green-tea-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-203091 http://orwell.ru/library/articles/tea/english/e_tea https://www.greenterraceteas.com/blogs/news/9796464-tea-making-western-style-vs-chinese-style https://www.teatulia.com/tea-varieties/indian-tea.htm https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/jun/25/science.highereducation https://www.teatulia.com/tea-101/how-to-make-cold-brew-iced-tea.htm

Popularity Facts On Coffee Vs Tea: Which Is The Winner?

Popularity Facts On Coffee Vs Tea: Which Is The Winner?

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President Coke vs Pepsi. Tom vs Jerry. Microsoft vs Apple. Right up there with these world famous rivalries have to a rivalry as old as time – The eternal tussle between coffee and tea! Each drink has its loyal supporters, with coffee drinkers being associated with that busy buzz of energy while tea drinkers are seen to be zen and restive. Obviously, there are benefits to both beverages but is one really better than another? Let’s find out! For a morning jolt: Coffee It’s no secret that coffee is the choice of drink if you want that sudden burst of energy. It only takes 10 minutes for your body to feel the effects of caffeine. One cup of coffee can easily pack about 80mg per cup ( almost 1/5 the recommended daily caffeine intake for men and 1/3 for women), so that’s a quick morning pick me up. But, this could also be psychological. In a 2011 study, researchers discovered that daily coffee drinkers who were tricked into drinking decaf still scored the same on tests as caffeinated coffee drinkers. We’re so used to associating coffee with energy that we intuitively expect it to provide a jolt, even if it isn’t there! For morning zen: Tea While tea can pack a fair amount of caffeine, it also contains an amino acid called L-theanine.This tiny chemical creates two reactions in your body; the first, it lowers the absorption speed of caffeine and the second, it stimulates the neurotransmitter GABA in your brain, which has anti-anxiety effects. This creates an alert but relaxed state, which explains why tea is popularly used to aid meditation. For weight loss: Tea While caffeine has been shown to slightly reduce appetite, we’ve all heard the good news about green tea. More than the caffeine, the EGCG in green tea can help shrink fat cells and makes muscle cells more active. To build muscle: Coffee (But not too much!) While tea might be better for burning fat, coffee is the drink of choice when you want more muscle. An article in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise discovered that men who drank 2.5 cups of coffee could sprint up to 9 percent more than when they didn’t have coffee. It is likely because caffeine stimulates your muscles, which can help you power through with more reps. However, the article was careful to state that the coffee had to be drunk a few hours before their workout. To sleep better: Tea (If you really had to choose between the two). While tea also packs some caffeine and can cause sleeplessness, too much coffee in your system makes it harder for you to sleep as each cup packs a significant amount in comparison to tea. Lesser known is that too much coffee can make it hard for your body to absorb magnesium. As it is, many of us don’t get enough magnesium. Having too much coffee, coupled with this common nutrient deficiency, can cause symptoms like muscle cramps and sleeplessness. For overall well being: Tea’s clearly a winner (But coffee is not too bad either!) The long list of health benefits of tea, especially green tea and white tea, is common knowledge. Long story short, green tea is loaded with antioxidants such as flavonoids, EGCG and catechins that make green tea such a great catch! These chemicals recharge the white blood cells and help prevent viruses from reactivating. They also help fight inflammation and prevent blood vessels from hardening. This is also why tea is associated with anti-aging. Tea is also known to boost brain health; tea drinkers who drank more than 2 cups of green tea a day had a significantly lower risk of age-related declines in memory, compared to those who had less than 3 cups a week. Still, coffee does have its benefits. Similar to tea, it also contains antioxidants, though significantly less than tea. Like tea, which improves insulin sensitivity, coffee is believed to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Each cup of coffee contributes to almost a 7% reduction in developing this disease. It also plays a part in protecting the liver and reduces the risk of cirrhosis. Coffee also contains key nutrients such as potassium, manganese, magnesium, and niacin. However, one area where coffee loses out to tea is bone health. Regular tea drinkers are likely to have higher bone density levels and slower rates of bone erosion. While it remains unclear how significant the effects of coffee on bone density is, one study found that 4 or more cups a day reduced bone density up to 4 percent. Coffee is also notorious for causing acid reflux. Coffee can relax the band of muscle between your oesophagus and stomach. When that space opens, stomach acid could splash back up and cause acid reflux. The preparation of coffee can also affect its health value. Unfiltered coffee, like espresso or French press, may increase “bad” LDL cholesterol, which could increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. This increased risk is because of oily substances called diterpenes. Cafestol and Kahweol are the two significant diterpenes in coffee. They are present either as oily droplets or in the grounds floating in the coffee. For whiter teeth: Don’t drink either! It is common knowledge that coffee can yellow teeth badly, so for a long time, tea was touted as a credible alternative. Green tea is also believed to promote oral health as the antioxidants in green tea can actually kill bacteria in your mouth and keep you from getting an infection. However, the tannins present in tea are acidic and will break down the enamel on teeth. Once this enamel layer is eroded, pigmented molecules are easily able to attach to teeth and this leads to staining. It is unclear whether this means that green tea, which is rich in tannins, can lead to more staining! For amazing skin and hair: Use both! Use ground coffee to make a scrub and exfoliate your scalp. If you have dark hair, good news! Coffee can also impart an incredible shine to hair. Follow it up with a tea hair rinse to boost hair health. Tea is also a natural alternative to dyeing your hair. While terrible for your teeth, its staining properties add color to naturally blonde or brunette locks. Coffee is a known diuretic. While this is bad news when you drink up, it’s great news when you apply it topically! The same diuretic effect draws fluid away from fat cells, making them shrink. This tightens your skin, temporarily minimising the visibility of cellulite. Tea is very useful as a soother for sunburns and bug bites. Cold compresses made from black tea bags can relieve pain and reduce redness. And if you are having trouble with foot odour, cooled boiled tea is your friend! The tannic acid in tea is both antibacterial and antifungal, so it stops feet from sweating and smelling funky.   The winner: Tea mostly! While we might seem a bit biased, the truth is tea is probably much better for your overall health. While coffee has its benefits, you do need to be a regular drinker to reap them. But the caffeine content does add up, which is likely to cause over stimulation and affect sleep quality. However, you can get your coffee fix by using it externally as it is a skin and hair booster! Sources http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/the-face-off-coffee-vs-tea https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21824504 http://www.health.com/food/coffee-or-tea-an-rd-weighs-in-on-which-is-healthier http://blog.paleohacks.com/tea-vs-coffee/# http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/coffee-vs-tea/ http://www.dermstore.com/blog/tea-vs-coffee-effects-on-skin-health/ http://www.byrdie.com/coffee-beauty-benefits/slide5 http://www.prevention.com/beauty/beauty-uses-coffee http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/tea-beauty-benefits_n_3780258.html http://www.vogue.com/article/should-you-drink-coffee-tea-health-benefits http://stylecaster.com/beauty/beauty-uses-coffee/#ixzz4nLomZybo http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-is-it-about-coffee

Tea Leaf Grading System – How to Determine Good Quality Tea?

Tea Leaf Grading System – How to Determine Good Quality Tea?

 “The best quality tea must have creases like the leather boot of Tartar horsemen, curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine, gleam like a lake touched by a zephyr, and be wet and soft like a fine earth newly swept by rain.” – Lu Yu (d. 804), Chinese sage, hermit. We all know what a good cup of tea tastes like but we don’t always get a chance to sample the tea before buying it. So how do we know whether we are getting the right type and quality? Often, box labels have a series of letters and number. Here’s where knowledge of tea grading systems come in handy. Knowing the terms enough to decipher the label on the box can provide more insight into the type of tea you are purchasing. The most widely used grading systems are popularised by the British and the Chinese. Less common but equally extensive are the Japanese, Indian, Korean and Taiwanese systems, though arguably some experts believe they are more holistic systems. However, the lack of international standardization for tea grades poses a problem. Unlike tea brewing, which boasts an ISO category (ISO 3103), tea grading systems are of the grade varies according to its country of origin. There is also arguably a disproportionate amount of attention paid to the visual appeal of the tea leaf, rendering other vital factors such as soil quality and climate as less important. While the grading is crucial, it doesn’t always necessarily indicate good flavour or quality. Further, each individual system covers different teas and not all types of tea manufactured is unified under 1 system. British Tea Grading System As mentioned, tea grading varies by country. The most commonly known system, the Orange Pekoe system, was devised by the British. The origin of the name is speculative and credit for popularising it goes to Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea magnate. The term “Orange Pekoe” is sometimes misunderstood as referring to the flavour of orange. While “Pekoe” can be credited as a corruption of the dialect word for the Chinese “peh-ho” tea, the reference to Orange is speculated to be a “public relations” exercise to associate the Dutch Royalty of “Orange-Nassau” with tea (as they brought tea to Europe). Another theory claims the term emerged from the bright copper hue of an oxidised and finished Pekoe tea. Type of tea graded: Black tea. It is commonly used to describe a basic, medium grade tea containing many appropriately sized whole leaves. In some regions, such as North America, it refers to any black tea. Grading methodology: Grading is based on the ‘size’ of the individual leaves and flushes, which is determined by their ability to fall through the screens of special meshes. At the same time, the “wholeness” of each leaf is also tested; the less the leaf breaks, the more “whole it is”. It is believed that the size and wholeness of the leaves is likely to have a big influence on the taste, clarity, and brewing time of the tea. As black teas are made up of rolled and oxidized leaf, a perfect unbroken leaf is hardly expected. The higher grades are likely to be the ones which are closest in wholeness and size to a perfect leaf. Terminology: The largest leaves are Orange Pekoe, Pekoe, and Pekoe Souchong. Smaller or broken leaves are classified as “broken” – so Broken Orange Pekoe, Broken Pekoe Souchong, and Broken Orange Pekoe fannings are common references. The last categories are fannings and fines (also called “dust”). Tea makers then add modifiers to describe the leaf in more details. F (Flowery), indicates how the leaves look like crushed flower petals, G (Golden) indicates the level of golden leaves, T (Tippy) indicates the number of flower buds. For example, GBOP would be Golden Broken Orange Pekoe and FBOPF would be Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings. In Real Life: In brewing, flavour and color come out of the larger leaves more slowly than out of the broken and fine grades. The broken grades, which make up about 80 percent of the total black tea crop, produce a stronger and darker tea. The grades have nothing to do with the quality or flavour of tea; they simply refer to leaf size.   Chinese Tea Grading System Type of tea graded: Green tea. Grading methodology: Even within this system, each famous tea (like Longjing and Dragon Well) has its own grading system so it will vary greatly. Generally, each Chinese grade describes the quality and shapes of leaves off the bush (reflecting the skill of the estate/picker). The general philosophy is that younger, referring to unopened or newly opened buds and leaves, are the purest and most fragile of vessels, packed with healthy, flavoursome polyphenols and the other necessities for fine tea. Terminology: Chinese teas are usually numbered, first being the highest grade and onwards. The lower the number, the less the quality and grade of the tea. Theoretically, there is no end to the numbering but generally, the lowest grades are considered to be 7 to 9. In addition, there might be references to the season of harvest. This is referred to as the Flush. Certain seasons are thought to yield a better quality of flavour. Chinese tea names are also often poetic and descriptive of the leaf (‘Hairy Crab’, ‘Longevity Eyebrow’, ‘Red Snail’) and can indicate where the tea came from. These naming protocols are often contained lists known as “The Ten Famous Teas of China.” For a tea to be listed, it usually has to meet the following criteria : (1) It was once considered to be a tribute to the imperial court (2) It has a distinctive shape, flavour and aroma, easily distinguished from other styles (3) It has been recognised nationally or internationally and (4) the tea has been produced from a commonly known local variety of tea that has strong and widespread appeal. In Real Life: Similar to the Orange Pekoe system, while a tea like Pre-Qing Ming Dragon Well (“before the rains”) tells you the type of tea and the quality of the leaf production, it is not necessarily indicative of flavour quality.   Japanese Grading System Interestingly, in Japan, teas are not graded by size of leaf. Most Japanese teas are blended in their final stage of production, hence leaf size or wholeness are irrelevant. Several lots of varying sizes are mixed for cup consistency. Type of tea graded: Green tea. Grading methodology: There are three main visual indicators to assess the quality of tea : the shape, the colour and the brightness. The shape directly reflects the selection and production process of the tea while experts know the appropriate shade of green for each variety. Terminology: The lowest grade is Kukicha, and is in fact made from the twigs and stems of the tea plant, and historically given to children and seniors. The next grade, Bancha, is still rather low in quality and is not often sold by specialty tea companies. Nevertheless, its robust flavour is appreciated as it complements mealtimes. The third grade is Sencha, “roasted tea”, the most common Japanese tea, and refers to an older style of processing Japanese green tea influenced by Chinese tea processing. The highest grade, is Gyokuro (“Pearl Dew”). This tea is very labor-intensive, and is shade-grown, with the tea bushes shaded from direct sunlight 20 days before harvest.  It is made only with the first flush leaf and its special processing results in a tea with a sweet, mild flavor and fresh, flowery-green aroma. Some may consider Matcha, which is the Gyokuro ground into a fine powder, as the highest grade of tea. In Real Life: Reputation is equally important so it is always advisable to do your research and ensure you’re getting tea from a reputable teahouse. Rest of the world Taiwan has a robust tea culture and is most famous for oolong teas. It has the honor of being the only major tea producer to actually grade its tea on flavour as well as looks. Their grading used to be government-run. Even though it is no longer publicly funded, it is preferred by private buyers and farmers as it works so well. Taiwan holds regional tea competitions and the scoring breakdown – 20% aroma, 20% dry leaf appearance and 60% flavour – is also used in formal grading. In Korea, green tea is not so much graded as merely categorized, based on the date of harvest and the maturity of buds or leaves plucked. The four traditional grades are Ujeon (First Pluck), Sejak (Second Pluck), Joongjak (Third Pluck) and Daejak (Fourth Pluck). Each grade has particular and unique characteristics, reflective of each season and do not reflect better quality, even if the early harvests are more expensive. The high price tag is more likely to be a result of the low supply of buds in early seasons. Other ways of determining quality As pointed out, these grading systems tend to focus on the visual, which is not always a reliable indicator of quality. While obvious, it is undisputed that tea tasting is the best way to determine quality. High-quality green tea will taste fresh and won’t be too astringent. Black tea will also be fresh and should be full-bodied. Good tea has a sweet aftertaste and should easily slip down the throat. The aftertaste should linger for a noticeably long time. If you can’t taste the tea and you’d like to verify the grade on the label, smell the tea. There should be an obvious fragrance to dry tea leaves. Green tea will emit a light soothing fragrance while the aroma of the black tea is floral and sweet. Quality scented tea will maintain its aroma over multiple infusions. If you’re buying online, then it is best to buy from companies that can clarify your doubts about tea properly. This is important because the tea industry has many middlemen, so the vendor whom you buy tea from may be getting his information from an unreliable source. Part of the journey in becoming a tea connoisseur is understanding what makes up the quality. The grading systems are a first step towards that but it’s important to experience the tea yourself. Ultimately a cup of tea is only as good as its taste, no matter what the labels say. Until there is more rigour in how tea is internationally graded, these systems act merely as a guideline. Sources https://sevencups.com/learn-about-tea/how-to-judge-tea/ https://www.teaclass.com/lesson_0210.html http://worldteanews.com/insights/bop-op-tgfopswhy-tea-grades-important https://www.teabox.com/tea101/tea-grades/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_leaf_grading http://www.theodora.com/encyclopedia/t/tea.html https://www.jiangtea.com/2012/02/06/what-is-china-tea-grading-system/#.WXMi3-vysuU http://www.thefragrantleaf.com/guide-to-japanese-teas https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tea-grades-taking-mystery-out-how-graded-darlene-green

Master The Art Of Tea Storage – What Is Tea Oxidation?

Master The Art Of Tea Storage – What Is Tea Oxidation?

“A simple cup of tea is far from a simple matter.” – Mary Lou Heiss, The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide Believe it or not, teas do have an expiry date. Teas are delicate and need to be properly stored so the flavour of every brew is retained. Improper storage can lead to tea losing its aroma and flavour, making it stale and flat. Knowing how long you have left to drink your tea is an important part of the tea experience! Before understanding storage, it is important to understand how tea deteriorates. When tea leaves are picked, the natural process of oxidation starts. Oxidation continues even after they have been processed. Green, yellow and white teas are processed when the leaves are withered, fixed and dried. Black and oolong tea are subject to oxidation before they are considered fully processed. The focus when storing tea is about minimising the exposure to oxygen to slow down the continuing oxidation process. Teas that are less oxidized such as green, yellow and white tea deteriorate faster than teas which are more oxidized.  Another factor that also affects deterioration is how broken the leaves are. The more broken, the greater the surface area which come into contact with oxygen in the air and hence, the faster the deterioration. The 5 Golden Rules of Tea Storage 1) Store tea in a dry environment – Dampness and humidity can dramatically reduce the tea’s lifespan, and could even cause mould to form. 2) Store tea away from strong smells – Tea will absorb the aroma of anything stored nearby. While advantageous when processing scented tea, it is a drawback around odours. While it seems intuitive, spice cabinets and pantries are not the best places for storage. It is also important that your storage container should not have a strong smell. Containers made out of wood, containers with strong rubber seals and plastic containers all have odours that tea can absorb. These are not recommended storage material. Air tight containers made out of metal are probably the best. 3) Store tea away from the heat – It’s basic science. Heat accelerates oxidation. Store tea away from direct sunlight (Light is bad for tea too, see below!) and from the stovetop. In addition, heat also encourages moisture to develop within tea, and that can cause mold to grow. There are also recommendations online to store tea, especially the more delicate yellow and green teas, in the freezer. While freezing can slow down oxidation, the freezer is also a hotbed of different odours which can affect tea flavour. Frequent opening and closing of the fridge can also cause moisture to build up, even if you may not see it. 4) Store tea away from light – If there is heat, there is usually light. Light exposure is another way to degrade your tea. While those clear canisters of tea look pretty, that’s all they would be good for as the UV rays in sunlight can bleach your tea. If you feel strongly about keeping tea in clear containers, keep them behind closed doors! Reportedly, light exposure, along with heat exposure, can also cause a metallic taste to your tea. 5) Store tea in airtight jars fully – Remember how we said oxygen is the enemy of tea? It is worth noting that a near-empty airtight container of tea is worse than an airtight container filled with tea – so if you wish to buy tea frequently, stash them in appropriate sized containers or vacuum sealed zipper bags. The more tea there is in the container, the less air (and hence oxygen) there is instead. Sources http://lifehacker.com/5697622/the-hackers-guide-to-tea https://worldoftea.org/how-to-store-tea/ https://food52.com/blog/14766-yes-your-tea-has-a-shelf-life-how-to-extend-it http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/tea-for-everyone.html https://teforia.com/blog/tea-storage/

The History of Tea in China – Zen Buddhist Tea Ceremony

The History of Tea in China – Zen Buddhist Tea Ceremony

“If you are cold, tea will warm you; If you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”  — William Ewart Gladstone, British Prime Minister (1809-1898) A cup of well-brewed tea, whether it be green, black, or red is a guilty pleasure made of lots of pleasure and very little guilt. The steam wafting from a hot cup, the uplifting aroma and the unhurried sipping of the warm brew provide a welcome slowing down from the rush of life. Unlike coffee, tea is the drink of contemplation and relaxation. The word tea refers to the infusion or decoction made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis.All tea comes from this one plant but is classified as either white, yellow, green, black, red or oolong based on the harvesting and processing technique. While herbal infusions such as rooibos and camomile are called tea, these infusions are not technically tea. This plant is native to Myanmar, Yunan and Sichuan provinces of China. The accidental birth of tea It is then hardly surprising that tea originated from China. Chinese legends state that the tea was accidentally invented 4753 years ago by Emperor Shennong, widely considered to be the ancestor of the Han Dynasty in China. A skilled herbalist and scientist, he (or more likely, his servant!) was boiling water in the garden when a stray leaf from a nearby wild plant drifted into the pot. The resulting infusion was delicious and refreshing, prompting the curious Emperor to find out more about this plant and discovering its medicinal properties. It is believed that tea drinking might have taken off 1000 years later during Shang dynasty, where it was drunk as a medicinal tonic first before it was being enjoyed for leisure. By the 7th century, tea was firmly established as China’s national drink and it received its own full length book, Cha Ching (The classic of Tea). However, it was only in 2016, where tea was buried in the mausoleum of the Han Emperor Jing Di, that we have factual evidence proving that tea is likely to have been drunk as early as the 2nd century. Tea in Buddhism The association of tea with relaxation is no accident. Closely intertwined with Buddhism, especially Zen buddhism, tea is often seen as an aid to meditation, stemming hunger, clearing the mind and sharpening resolve. Japanese culture credits Bodhidharma, the Indian saint and founder of Zen Buddhism, for this development. Introduced to tea in China, Bodhidharma incorporated the drinking of tea into his daily meditation routine. Yet the story of tea in Zen buddhism is unexpectedly glory! In popular legend, it is said that once Bodhidharma, during a long bout of meditation, realised with a start that he had dozed off. Disgusted with himself, he tore at his eyes, ripping out his eyelids, which fell to the ground. As the lids lay in the dirt, tea plants miraculously sprung up from them. Bodhidharma, from force of habit, chewed a few leaves, which cleared his mind. Once again focused, he resumed his meditation. Since then, tea has enjoyed an elevated status in Japan. Similar to the Chinese, the Japanese also developed elaborate tea rituals and ceremonies, reinforcing tea as a central cultural icon. It is believed that these ceremonies are likely to have originated from the Cha Ching. Brewing Politics and Tea Thankfully the spread of tea to other parts was more humane, though still quite dramatic. Being the almost sole producer of tea, China often gifted these leaves to the other countries and monarchs as diplomatic gifts. Russia’s tea drinking culture has its origins in a gift to the Tsar by the Chinese Emperor in the 17th Century. With the rise of the trade relations with China, samples were also brought back to Europe, mostly by the Dutch and the Portuguese, but the impact of this was fairly limited until two incidents in British history coincided. It was the marriage of the Portuguese Princess Catherine to the British King Charles II that really set off the tea obsession. While tea existed in Britain as a “the China drink”, it was by no means popular until Catherine’s arrival. Tea was a favourite of the Portuguese royalty and, was part of her bridal gifts. She popularised tea in the court and it was seen as a drink of the wealthy. When Charles married Catherine, the country was severely in debt and he was in urgent need of funds. While marrying her provided some financial relief, he still needed more funds. Unsurprisingly, he viewed the British commercial company, the East India Company (EIC) as an extension of Britain and gave them full military support, even gifting them the Indian port city of Mumbai, which was part of Catherine’s bridal gifts. This led to greater imports of tea into Britain, but it continued to be a drink of the rich – tea was such a prized commodity that the lady of the house kept in under lock and key. It was also heavily taxed well into the 18th century; the first ever tax was crippling, essentially one quarter of the sale price was for taxes. Inevitably, such high demand combined with heavy taxation created a huge black market as crime networks smuggled tea or worse, adulterated tea with other leaves, and adding poisonous copper carbonate to give the appearance of tea. By the late 18th century, the ill effects of tea were more disastrous than the need for money. Taxes were slashed, making tea affordable and drying up the black market. During this time, the EIC was also increasingly dissatisfied with China’s monopoly over the global tea market. It was decided that India, which was the centre of EIC operations, would start cultivating tea. Tea seeds were brought to Darjeeling and experimental plantation began. A highly covert operation was also led to bring the tea plant back to Britain. These plants were introduced near the Himalayas, but did not take root. Fortunately, tea plants native to Assam were discovered and were cultivated instead, creating the world’s first modern tea industry. Global Impact of Tea However, by the time the tea industry was created, three major wars were already fought because of tea. The high demand for tea was causing Britain’s trade deficit. This unsurprisingly led to the two “Opium wars” where Britain, amongst other causes, was fighting towards tax exemptions and the opening up of China for trade. Less expected was how tea was one of the root causes for the American Revolution. Sarcastically known as the “Boston Tea Party”, colonists returned tea or left it to rot at the docks as a sign of protest against the Tea Act of 1773, which imposed massive taxes for the import of tea into the colonies. Despite all this historical drama, China is the world’s largest exporter of tea, followed by India today. Interestingly, China nor India are the world’s largest consumer of tea. Surprisingly, Turkey, is the world’s biggest consumer of tea even though they only jumped on the tea bandwagon after World War 1, when coffee became difficult to obtain and tea became the preferred drink. Looking at a pot of green tea, one would hardly have expected such a riotous and colourful history from this soothing brew. The next time you look for some relaxation, pause and take in the soothing 4000 years of historical drama peppered with the occasional violence that is a lovely warm cup of tea! Sources http://www.tsiosophy.com/2012/09/tea-and-bodhidharma/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea http://www.tea.co.uk http://www.teaanswers.com/learn

Health Benefits of Chinese Tea – Free Radicals Antioxidants

Health Benefits of Chinese Tea – Free Radicals Antioxidants

“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” – Lu T’ung, Tang Dynasty Poet LuT’ung would be pleased to know that tea is definitely one drink that would bring you closer to immortality. A staple in the Buddhist philosophy, tea is said to aid meditation by clearing the head and now we have the research to back it up. In fact, researchers have dispelled the urban myth that tea is dehydrating because it contains caffeine. “Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid” (source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5281046.stm) Obviously, you should not stop drinking water completely but tea can be excellent for rehydration as it replaces both fluid and antioxidants. So what makes tea so magical? It’s all about chemicals Well, the right ones anyway! We all know the importance of antioxidants, molecules that prevent the oxidation of cells which can lead to many free radicals. Free radicals are unpaired molecules that are highly reactive, which can end up reacting with the wrong substances, causing a chain reaction of damage to our body. Tea, also known as Camellia Sinensis,contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which many plant based food, including coffee can have. However tea contains ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate), one of the  most powerful of these, and they can help fight against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. All tea are not the same though Green and white tea, are likely to have the more polyphenol as they are the least processed. Oolong and black teas are fermented or oxidized so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high. On the other hand, mature tea leaves contain 10 to 20 times more fluoride, which is important for healthy teeth and gums. 78% of the world consumes black while 20% consume green tea. The balance of 2% consume oolong. Consumption of white tea is slowly increasing, though it is still not as popular as green tea. Drinking green tea has been associated with Lower levels of cancer, especially esophageal. It is widely believed that green tea reacts with cancer causing cells without reacting with the healthy cells. Improved cholesterol levels and reduced risk of stroke due to less arterial clogging. Green tea is believed to inhibit the production of free radicals in the lining of the arteries Reduced risk of neurological diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson. Increased metabolic rate. Black tea is also beneficial as it: Helps blood vessels dilate appropriately. Potentially reduces lung damage arising from smoking. (But the best way for prevention is still no smoking!) Promotes better oral health because of higher concentrations of fluoride. Contains alkylamine antigens and tannins also boost our immune response and our ability to fight common viruses such as influenza. Lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Aside from the long-term health benefits that come with regular consumption, one of the daily benefits of drinking tea is “relaxed alertness”. L-theanine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in tea and is the only naturally occurring source we can include in our diet. The calming effects of L-theanine counter the jitteriness that can result from excessive caffeine in our bodies. But tea has caffeine too! This is too good to be true! All teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness. But compared to coffee which packs 80mg per cup (almost ? the recommended daily caffeine intake for men and ? for women), tea only carries 15mg per cup. While dry tea contains more caffeine than dry coffee, much less tea is needed to produce a flavourful beverage. Of course, if you are sensitive to caffeine, be mindful of your intake if you wish to drink more than 1 cup. Pregnant women should also be mindful, as tea, like wine contains tannins which can decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid. Some might also point out that many of these studies are not formally confirmed by government institutions like the US Food & Drug Administration. This could be because many of these studies are also done in Asia, where tea drinking is a culture, and cannot be generalised to countries like America, where tea drinking is less common. Even if you are skeptical, most of these studies have not shown any harmful effects and may only be guilty of only showing correlation and not causation. As with any food, the key is moderation and holistic. Tea is not going to counteract a dinner made up of donuts but there is no harm in swapping one cup of coffee for tea! References http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits#1 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5281046.stm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea https://greatist.com/health/why-coffee-tea-are-amazing-you-infographic http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/04/13-reasons-to-love-tea/ https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/upshot/what-the-evidence-tells-us-about-tea.html?_r=0 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/11-benefits-of-green-tea-that-you-didnt-know-about.html http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/11-benefits-black-tea.html

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