We have broken down the details of brewing a fine cuppa with our post “Infusion Confusion” now, let’s put the record straight on ‘Multi Steeping’ your tea.
We are talking about loose leaf tea rather than tea bags designed for one use only. See “Think Out of the Bag” post. Depending on the type and quality of loose tea, you should expect to make several steeps or infusions.
Loose Leaf Tea
Follow your usual procedure to make the first cup of tea. If your preference is a strong tea, I suggest increasing the amount of tea rather than the time you allow the tea to infuse. Make only the amount you require or decant into another pot to preserve your leaves and stop them from over infusing or tasting astringent.
This is an important step. It’s not the fault of the leaves as they carry on doing what YOU put them there to do!
Add more water to start the second infusion, releasing another round of flavor. Allow more time; I usually double my original infusion time. You may enjoy this cup more than the first; it has a roundness or smoothness, most pleasing.
At Local Tea Company, we add the first and second infusion together, making what we believe is the perfect cuppa. We call this multifusion!
Go ahead and infuse your leaves once again. You can continue this process until the leaves offer you no more surprises. If you are infusing a rolled leaf, you will certainly be rewarded with many infusions, a cut leaf not so many. Our oolongs offer at least 4 steeps, and my personal favorite for beautiful multifusion flavors is Goji Green.
Multi-steeping is also one reason we love using tea makers with pressure release bottoms to brew loose leaf tea. The lid keeps the leaves moist and fresh if you are away from your tea-making duties. You can also place the tea maker in the refrigerator if not using till later in the day or even the next day.
Experiment, play around with each tea. After the first steep, you will notice it is hard to overstep the tea, and you should not experience any astringency. This is one of the reasons some people prefer the second or third steeps to the first. And remember, it is suggested that oolongs are washed, basically discarding the short first steep or rinse. If you read our “Oooolongs” post, you will note that I drink this batch and love it!!
Enjoy multi infusions as you drink loose leaf tea, and keep in mind the great value loose leaf tea offers long after a tea bag is discarded.
the tea lady
America’s Only Tea Plantation
Last month I vacationed in South Carolina and visited an American Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. It was a brilliant visit. My family joined, and all agreed, it was one of the highlights of our trip.
After leaving Charleston, we approached the Charleston Tea Plantation, on tree lined roads dripping with Spanish moss. I felt as though we were entering some bygone time and era. An unassuming plantation gateway leads to a welcome centre lined with rocking chairs, an abundance of butterflies, and absolute quiet.
The entrance led us to the gift shop (of course) for some iced tea (delicious!) and to browse tea gifts before we walked through the factory area. TV screens explained how the machines process the tea, taking only 20 hours from bush to finish!
A withering bed removes 12% moisture from the fresh leaves. A rotovane machine tears and ruptures the tea leaf exposing millions of cells to the air and starting the enzymatic process. The oxidations process now begins.
Black tea is oxidized for only 50 minutes and oolong for 15 minutes. Green tea is lightly steamed and dried only, with no oxidation occurring. Each batch of tea leaves dries for 25 minutes, sealing in each type of tea properties.
Finally, all the teas are graded, removing any unwanted stalks, or off bits. That completes the miracle process, which is all done by one man!
Next, the trolley bus took us out onto the plantation of 127 acres. All the 150,000 bushes are Camelia sinensis varietals, which originated in China and India. The heat, humidity, well-drained sandy soil, and 75 days of rainfall provide ideal growing conditions from April through September. Spring sees the first flush of leaves, and harvest begins with 3-5 inches of new growth. Every bush will yield 7 to 10 cutting each season, with new growth taking from 14-20 days depending on weather conditions.
The plantation has a custom-designed harvester called the “Green Giant.” This machine and one man can harvest fields, which would take 500 manual workers to pick.
Cuttings are taken from selected varieties, which take 6-12 months to develop mature roots. After planting, it will take up to 4 years to mature. No pesticides are ever used in the plantation, and the plants all looked so healthy and well cared for!
Tea on the Front Porch
After the trolley ride, we sat on the porch and chatted with Bill Fernandez, founder of the plantation and a 3rd generation tea taster! He has 42 years of experience in the tea industry and is one of only 28 professionals in the USA.
We really started to connect when discovering his grandfather was from Yorkshire. After that, his Canadian/American accent with hints of time spent in London soon reverted to those roots, and we had a blast! Needless to say, he drinks only the freshest tea.
It was very special to see Camellia sinensis growing, to see and touch tea leaves. In short, I may never get the chance to visit China, India, or Sri Lanka, so this experience will always remain with me and add another special dimension to my personal tea journey.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed this whistle-stop tour through the Charleston Tea Plantation. Moreover, I hope you too will visit and celebrate this most amazing of local treasures.
Think out of the Bag
You may have noticed our new mantra, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG.” We have tried it on for a few weeks and think it may be time to provide some details about what we are trying to do at Local Tea Company.
During the course of a typical week, we sample teas to many visitors at Selby Gardens and the Downtown Farmer’s Market here in Sarasota. We talk tea and find many tea drinkers thrilled to engage us with their favorite tea tales. Yes, we love our job.
It comes as no surprise that many people use teabags. But shocking is how many people have never tasted loose leaf tea. Sad to think so many people are missing out on the wonderfully unique experience of loose leaf tea.
And so, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG” our campaign to encourage people to choose loose leaf tea in place of tea in tired old bags. The subheading is, “Loose leaf tea is fresher, hipper, and just darn better for you.” We intend to convert teabag users to loose leaf tea drinkers through tasting, educating, and advocating loose leaf tea one sip at a time.
There are several reasons to choose loose leaf over tea bag tea, and we offer them here. If you, our fellow tea lovers, have other reasons we failed to mention, please share…
There is absolutely no comparison. Most bag tea is the lowest tea grade (dust or fannings) that comes out of the production area. There are some exceptions, but generally, the tea is very small particles and holds little flavor. Every step in the processing of loose leaf tea is designed to enhance the flavor and taste.
There are also some exceptions, and just because you buy loose leaf tea does not mean it will be of excellent quality. We and all of our fellow tea enthusiasts search for teas with exceptional freshness, quality, and taste, and you should too. We call this our “tea journey.” Loose leaf tea allows you to examine, smell, listen, and sample for maximum quality.
Despite what you may assume when first exploring the loose versus teabag conundrum, loose is more economical. Teabags are created for one-time use! Nearly all loose leaf tea varieties should be steeped at least twice, and some loose leaf teas can be steeped many more times. Work out the math, and you will be surprised how little loose-leaf costs you per cup.
Loose leaf tea is perfect for brewing a pot of tea to share with others, the starting point for a meaningful conversation. Offering a cup of properly steeped loose leaf tea is a wonderfully kind gesture, hard for anyone to refuse.
Just think how much packaging and bits of string you would save!
Whilst you may still gain some health benefits from tea bags, you will gain many more from loose leaf tea. My theory is that you will like the taste better and want to DRINK MORE, giving yourself the gift of good health.
Lastly, and for us, one of the most important reasons to drink loose leaf tea is the sheer enjoyment it brings into your life. Brewing a pot of tea for one is relaxing and contemplative, watching such majesty. Sharing a pot of tea with a friend is a nod to a more civilised era. The leaves gracefully dance in your pot and tantalize your taste buds with their fresh and fragrant bouquet.
Make time in your life for loose leaf tea and join Local Tea Company in helping all tea lovers to “THINK OUT OF THE BAG.”
the tea lady
Van Wezel Anniversa-Tea
On Wednesday evening, the lineup of this season’s performers was announced. In addition to a signature dessert by Michael’s On East and our stunning Rooibos blend with black and red currants. Tony Bennett is the big star headlining the 40th Anniversary party on January 5th.
Local Tea Company samples and sells this tea at performances this season. We will serve the caffeine-free tea at selected events for sponsors and patrons. This tea is available at our shops in Siesta Key Village and Selby Gardens, on Saturday mornings at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, and online at www.LocalTeaCo.com
The Van Wezel Anniversa-Tea is the second in our “Celebrating Sarasota” series. The other tea is also a rooibos, our best selling Selby Select and honors Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Here is a post about Five Reasons you will Love Rooibos Tea.
The response to the iced version is very positive. However, it’s hard to compete with cold pinot grigio on a gorgeous summer evening at the bayfront. Special thanks to Julia Mays for spreading the word all evening long. In conclusion, thanks to the entire team at the Van Wezel, who quickly put the details together.
We love oolong teas and find the flavors so incredibly unique. They say no two oolongs are alike, which may be what we like best, always a surprise.
Oolong means “Black Dragon.” The Chinese tea growers thought Oolong tea’s complex character was similar to the spirit of this mythical creature.
The crafting of Oolong is an art form, and the growing areas are limited. Conditions have to be exact and great care is taken to maintain the tea plants’ surrounding environment. Like wine growing regions, the soil and humidity level definitely impact the finished product’s taste and complexity.
Oolongs are referred to as semi-fermented or semi-oxidized teas. (see earlier post on oxidation / fermentation) They follow a similar process to black tea but with up to 60% less oxidation. This results in tea with characteristics of both black and green tea. What does oolong tea taste like? Good question!
Fujian province in China is the home of Oolong varieties of tea. Still, production began in Taiwan during the 1850s when tea planters from Fujian immigrated to Formosa’s small island nation. The Dung Ti Mountains in central Taiwan have very fertile slopes where some of the finest tea plantations produce excellent Oolong tea. Both of our Oolong teas are from Taiwan.
Our Dung Ding Oolong is entirely hand made and has a stunning rolled leaf producing a smoother taste than black tea but not as grassy as green. The result is a very well balanced tea with an orchid-like aroma and taste.
Steep the leaves multiple times and give your taste buds an exciting journey along the way. Examine the leaves, and you will see the oxidation that has occurred around the outer part of the leaf, leaving the inside quite green. We highly recommend this tea, which is easy to drink. Don’t forget that Oolong teas are great for raising your metabolic rate.
Our Aronia Oolong produces quite a different taste profile. This is also a Taiwan Oolong, which is wiry and lively with much closer characteristics to black. Some Sri Lanka black tea adds depth along with chokeberries, mango, passion fruit, and rose petals for a delicate floral finish. As we like to say, this tea is easy to drink, hard to resist! And can be steeped multiple times, giving a lighter color and flavor each steep.
Brewing Oolong Tea
It is recommended to rinse or flush Oolong leaves; that is, pour water over leaves and immediately remove the hot water. We cannot bear to throw this lovely liquor away and usually add it to a later steep. Then start with a 1-2 minutes steep and add additional steeping time after each infusion.
When preparing Aronia Oolong, we actually brew as a black tea, using boiling water, steeping for 4 minutes, steeping a second time for 8 minutes, and combining the two steeps for a multi-fusion.
We use water around 194 degrees for Dung Ding Oolong, steep for 2 minutes, and drink! This is way too good to flush away, in our opinion. For the next step, add 2 minutes and continue adding the extra time until the entire flavor has been released.
As with all teas, there are personal preferences, so be playful and enjoy the process of discovering how you like your Oolong tea. Oh, and what does oolong tea taste like?
the tea lady
Selby Select Reviewed at Teaviews.com
And now the results are in, a review by Laura giving us a 7.5/10. See full review here. We were hoping for a perfect 10, but Laura makes excellent points about our rooibos tea, Local Tea Company, and our Sip Locally motto. She is very serious about reviewing tea, and we can only respect her opinion. Thanks, Laura!!
Please read, comment, and share this Selby Select Rooibos review with others.
Oxidation vs. Fermentation
I have been puzzling this one for some time! Oxidation v Fermentation.
Why do some tea texts refer to Oxidation and others to Fermentation?
I found an exceptional description of this process on Wikipedia. The link for this tea lover’s article is here. The processing chart for the different teas is brilliant.
Here you go…
OXIDATION is the process of chlorophyll in tea leaves enzymatically breaking down. Tannins are released or transformed. Referred to as FERMENTATION in the tea industry, however, no true fermentation happens. No energy is generated in this process, and micro-organisms do not drive it. In other tea processing steps, for example, aging, microorganisms are used actually to carry out fermentation.
Each tea producer picks when to stop oxidation. This may be anywhere from 5-40% oxidation for light oolong teas, in darker oolong teas 60-70%, and in black teas 100% oxidation.
FERMENTATION (tea). The term used for the aerobic treatment of tea leaves to break down certain unwanted chemicals and modify others to develop the tea’s flavor.
Oxidation v Fermentation? In conclusion, I am not sure if this clarified anything. I guess it all boils down to the same thing…Keep Sipping.
the Tea Lady
Cloudy tea in the sunny summer?
Summer is here! Cloudy Ice Tea
In case you have not visited us at the Sarasota downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, we have had some stunning teas available.
White Mischief – a beautiful China tea which is flavored with Guava,
Cochin Masala Chai – a very traditional, authentic chai which has superb iced,
Selby Select – another bush tea honoring Selby Gardens with juicy orange peel and a creamy finish ($1 off in August at our online shop),
Organic Strawberry Smile – strawberry, lychee, rosehips, and jasmine blended to perfection with a Sencha style green tea. (also $1 off in August at our online shop)
Every week we brew three teas and make them available for samples or for sale iced to beat the heat as you shop locally.
If you are making iced tea using our premium loose leaf teas, do not be alarmed if your iced tea goes cloudy. This is a natural occurrence due to the high flavonoid/polyphenol levels in the tea. Your tea will still taste delicious! Don’t worry about cloudy ice tea.
Happy sipping, and don’t forget to ‘sip locally.’
the tea lady
Tea Reviews – Wow!!!
We have been submitting our teas to a few web sites that review teas. Basically, a panel of tea enthusiasts brews tastes and reviews teas, and then post comments and opinions.
At Local Tea Company, we are confident that our teas are of great quality and have an exceptional taste, but it is always good to hear what your peers have to say, right? This is what they do, taste A LOT of tea.
We were a bit reluctant, uncertain just how we might compare teas from the industry giants or the specialty tea companies. Well, we are happy to report here that Local Tea Company is holding our own and even impressing some folks.
We were very excited to hear the comments and, of course, would like to share them with you. Not that we are bragging you understand, but if you have not experienced these teas, check out what they are saying and please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts.
Organic Strawberry Smile…”The aroma of the leaves is also extremely strong and juicy, making your mouth water before you even taste the tea! The perfect drink on a summer’s day!” Buy Organic Strawberry Smile
Thank you for allowing us to enjoy this moment of glory.
Congratulations to us!!!
We have submitted other teas and will continue to keep you posted. If you need more information, please visit our website or send an e-mail to talk about tea.
The Tea Lady
Ming Tea on WSLR
Local Tea Company is underwriting the Good Evening Cabal show on Sarasota’s community radio WSLR on Wednesday from 9 pm-11 pm. The host Curt Werner, plays music from the late 60s and early 70s, and we expect him to play a bit of our favorite band, Ming Tea.
What does this have to do with tea?
Nothing, just hilarious lyrics.
What does this have to do with local?
WSLR is a local treasure, and we love supporting this station. Curt and his wife, Gail, are active in the local art community. Gail is our shop’s curator on Siesta Key, selecting the local artist we display at the shop.
Tune in on Wednesday night and support your local radio. Another way you can Sip Locally.