Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better
If someone forwarded this email to you, you need your own!
Hello Tea Lovers
It may be late in the year for Iced tea (or Iced tea.) Even here in Sarasota, we have the windows open, and it’s great sleeping weather. But I have a story I want to share with you about Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better.
Debbie S is a long time customer who uses our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Tea to make ice tea. I recently connected with her, and she told me she steeps her tea THREE times, with outstanding results.
Cold Brew Iced Tea
She makes large tea bags using the Tea Sacs #4 – Large and 38g of tea. In the first batch, she uses the ‘Cold Brew‘ method; a gallon of cold water in a sealed container, with the Tea Sac in the fridge overnight.
For the next batch, a second steep in cold water, but this time she leaves the container in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Debbie told me the tea is a little bit lighter, but it’s still a nice cup of tea.
For the third steep, she uses the same tea sac in a large bowl and hits it with a quart of boiling water. She lets the tea steep until it cools, adds cold water to make it a gallon, and then puts it in the fridge.
Debbie is a creature of habit and drinks tea all day long. My preference is hot tea, and I like a bit of variety. Above all, this is just one reason why loose leaf tea is so much better. In this case, so much more economical than tea bags. Debbie is an inspiration to anyone, everyone who wants to get the most out of their tea. It is possible, and I thought it was interesting to share it here. Thanks, Debbie.
Tea Station at Home
We have a tea shelf loaded with tea options at our home, and then near the kettle, we keep the teas we are drinking most often. I found this article about creating a tea station at home ( or a coffee station) with tons of details and good ideas.
Correction to Last Month’s Newsletter
Thank you for the emails telling me ’Live from Here’ got canceled. Drag! I need a whole new Sunday Tea routine.
I am a sporadic viewer of the Great British Baking Show, but I found ‘Biscuit Week’ to be especially ”Tea Focused” I don’t bake at all, but the show grabs me with the characters and the vocabulary. I love the way the brits turn a phrase. Hilarious, and they don’t take themselves too seriously, even in competition.
Enter Rowan. He laughs his way through a few episodes, stopping for a cuppa amidst the chaos. For the ‘Showstopper’ challenge, many contestants created variations of tea services made from biscuits. Clever. However, I still have a few episodes to go.
Tea Pairing – Chocolate Honeybush with store-bought biscuits.
Faith Stewart-Gordon, the owner of the Russian Tea Room, has died. She was 88. Obit here. Fun Fact – Madonna was a coat check clerk and was fired for slipping her demo tapes to guests. Stewart-Gordon had a goal “to make the restaurant look the way people remembered it, not the way it was.” RIP, and I raise a cuppa Lapsang Souchong in a decorative glass teacup in her memory.
Sip Locally Tea Blog – recent posts
I am reading ‘Titan’ by Ron Chernow. My ‘big book’ for the year from the author who wrote Hamilton. I don’t see a rap version of this story about John D Rockefeller, but then again, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius.
Tea pairing – Organic Earl Grey with a splash of Oat milk.
I play more golf since the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens closed. GolfToons is a side hustle I’ve been working on with Dianne’s brother, Marty. Have a look, and please pass along to any golfers you know. Or, you can subscribe and Laugh at the Agony!
Tea Pairing – Organic Strawbango Mushed up words that sound funny!
As always, your comments are welcomed, and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
Cuppa Tea at The Overton
When we visited this week, the MTV reality show “Siesta Key” was wrapping up filming. And, per usual, The Overton had a buzz about it. The Overton is Americano, fast-casual at its finest. Christian is a groundbreaker, and The Overton does it again.
The food is “On Trend” and eclectic, but more important, Delicious!!! They do things the Overton Way from the ‘Avo Toast,’ thick-cut bacon, and porridge, along with many other brekkie favorites.
For later in the day, The Roadside Burger is probably the most popular with fresh ground beef by the Butcher Block. The Fries are available in beef tallow or olive oil, and the list goes on…
Also, The Overton makes two styles of cold-brewed iced teas, a Nitro and a Sparkling. The Nitro is frothy with a thick foam. The Sparkling is a bit bubbly but not overwhelming. Try them and let us know which one you like better!
For each episode of ‘Cuppa Tea in SRQ,’ we do a ‘Video Visit’ with one of our Serving Partners. It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.
Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.
Episode #8 The Overton in the Rosemary District Sarasota
Cuppa Tea at Selby House Cafe
For this episode of “Cuppa Tea in Sarasota,” now available from our YouTube Channel, we go back to our roots. We visit the Selby House Cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. for a cuppa tea at the Selby House Cafe.
The cafe is now operated by Michael’s on East, and they do a fantastic job and serve an incredible cuppa tea!!! Selby Select Rooibos, Secret Garden Green, and Little Monkey fruit tea, to name a few, and we are always creating new tea for the annual garden exhibitions. Previously art from Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, and Paul Gauguin has been on display at Selby Gardens.
The annual holiday Lights in Bloom celebration starts December 14, and when we visited, the gardens were humming in anticipation. Millions of lights in the trees, Santa Claus, reindeer games, live music, and much more.
Local Tea Company previously operated a tea shop, the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens, and the cafe. It is always nice to come home for a visit.
Each episode of Cuppa Tea in Sarasota, we do a ‘Video Visit’ with one of our Serving Partners. It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny. Here is a post from Lights in Bloom 2020 at Selby Gardens.
Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.
Episode #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s On East
Who was Earl Grey?
This week one of our glorious customers ordered some Garden Grey Black Tea. This is a tea we blend ourselves with organic lavender grown in the wilds of Tibet. What an aroma! While this is not one of our more popular teas, it did get me thinking about Earl Grey in general.
Most tea lovers are familiar with this black tea. One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup. This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.
What about the man behind the tea?
Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long-established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall. Educated at Eton, Trinity College, and Cambridge. He became the 2nd Earl of Grey and was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats), and became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22! His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France. He was involved in four years of political reform and the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons). Grey had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.
The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,
‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’
Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed life! He was said to be tall, slim, and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife. He also fathered at least one illegitimate child! Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage, and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.
Earl Grey the Tea
There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure! According to the most popular legend, a grateful Chinese Mandarin is partially responsible. His son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men. So, the Mandarin first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803. This legend seems to have little basis in truth! The Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China. Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.
While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world. Many people who I chat with over the years claim not to care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey. However, I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea. The quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount! Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.
When brewing a hot cuppa Earl Grey, we infuse for only 2 minutes or so. We then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves. It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too. ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy. Very different from Rooibos.
Along with the Garden Grey, we offer two versions of Earl Grey Black tea. One is our premium blend Earl Grey and we also offer an Organic Earl Grey. Our Organic Earl Grey is the tea we offer in the silk tea sachets and can be found served from nearly all of our serving partners.
You may be surprised to find you like Earl Grey tea, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.
Peach Paradise Tea
Let’s continue with our iced tea series and look at another very popular tisane here at Local Tea Company. The same format is used to break down the featured ingredients. I hope you will appreciate the delicious blend of flavors and the health benefits provided with Peach Paradise.
I hope you will enjoy finding out these details and stories.
A beautiful all-natural fruit blended Tisane or fruit infusion made from peach and apple pieces, hibiscus blossoms, elderberries, rosehip peel, passion fruit, and sunflower.
This tree is native to China but grown in the Mediterranean states as well as the USA. The three largest producers are California, South Carolina, and Georgia. The peach blossoms are highly prized in Chinese culture, and the fruit is symbolic of long life. Due to its delicious taste and soft texture in ancient China, ‘peach’ was also slang for ‘young bride.’ It has remained in many cultures a way to define pretty young women, peachy or peachy keen. Low in calories and a good source of healthy carbohydrates, the peach contains important nutrients, antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids (good for eye health).
Containing anti-oxidants, flavonoids, and pectin, a natural fiber, Apples are the richest source. Recently, Apples have been shown to act against bad cholesterol, decrease colon cancer chances, and reduce high blood pressure. Quercetin, which is primarily found in Apples (and Black tea), belongs to a group of plant pigment flavonoids that help fight disease.
The term ‘The Big Apple’ was coined by the touring jazz musicians of the 1930s. They used the slang expression ‘apple’ for any town or city; therefore, playing New York City was to play the big time.
The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw. But, adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. The citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and powerful antioxidants. It belongs to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids, which can lower LDL cholesterol levels.
A member of the mallow family, Hibiscus, brings a sweet mellow taste and harmony to this blend. Hibiscus is very popular to blend with other fruits and flowers because of the beautiful color of the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body. Hibiscus is high in Vitamin C, also with calcium, niacin, riboflavin, and iron. In Folklore medicine, Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic.
Rose Hip Peel
From the Wild Dog Rose, which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs. Estimated to be more than 10,000 cultivated roses, the medicinal species are natives of Europe. Rose hips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection, and for this reason, they are often called “false fruits.” The nutrient value is as rich. Their color enhances the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
Prepare Peach Paradise using one teaspoon per 8 oz of water. Fruit tisanes release quite a lot of flavor, so experiment until you find your personal preference. Use boiling water and an infusion time of up to 12 minutes. Infuse the tea longer for more depth of flavor and color. Add the spent bits to yogurt for a bit a flavor and texture.
Try blending with our Nilgiri black tea for delicious iced tea. Don’t forget if you are placing over ice, increasing the amount of tea, or reducing the amount of water. Add a slice of succulent peach to finish and enjoy!
Organic Red Berries
I just returned from a holiday in Bermuda (which was really fantastic!. The heat and humidity greeting me on arriving back in Florida were hard to believe! For those of you who are struggling with some high temps right now, and probably for the rest of summer here in Florida, let’s cool off with some refreshing iced tea!
When we talk of iced tea, most people immediately think of black tea, but some great herbals or tisanes make refreshing, healthy beverages for all the family. We have some favorites at Local Tea Company, and I would like to share them with you during the coming weeks.
Organic Red Berries
Organic Red Berries is an all-natural blended Tisane or fruit infusion made from hibiscus flowers, elderberries, bilberries, grapes, and citrus peel. This tea has a distinct refreshing berry flavor and bright cherry liquor, which is perfect iced. Let’s break down the list of ingredients and look at the benefits they can provide us.
A member of the mallow family, Hibiscus, brings a sweet mellow taste and harmony to this blend. Hibiscus has become very popular to blend with other fruits and flowers because of the beautiful color of the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body and is high in Vitamin C, also having some calcium, niacin, riboflavin, and iron. In Folklore medicine, Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic.
This is a wonderful fruit that strengthens your respiratory tract. Elderberry helps to remove phlegm and mucous from the lungs and fights and reduces inflammation. A strong respiratory system is your best defense against allergic reactions in the future. Elderberry contains high amounts of Vitamin C, and A can be used as a gargle for throat and tonsil infections or soothing coughs and colds. I collected Elderberries from the hedgerows as they make superb wine, and in fact, hot elderberry wine is actually an old English cold remedy.
(Ribes nigrum or ‘black ribes’)
The berry of this shrub, which is mainly found in Northern/Central Europe and Asia, is used for the astringent flavor. It has very high antioxidant levels, especially Vitamin C. It also features a rare nutrient called GMA or gammo linoleic acid. This is the Omega 6 essential fatty acid.
This is a favorite flavor of mine. Black currant juice was a very popular cordial during my childhood. The bush thrived in the English climate and became a huge Vitamin C source during World War 2. Oranges were impossible to find. The popularity continued, and the sweet-tart taste is still enjoyed in jams, jellies, and desserts to this day.
Not as well known in the USA, this fruit was banned in early 1900 as the plant co-hosted a fungus attacking the pines. Therefore potentially threatening the logging industry. The Federal ban was lifted in 2003, and black currants are now making a comeback in NY, Vermont, Connecticut, and Oregon.
The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw. But adds a great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. The citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and powerful antioxidants that belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. They have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Rose Hip Peel
From the Wild Dog Rose, which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs. Estimated to be more than 10,000 cultivated roses, the medicinal species are natives of Europe. The Rosehips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection, and for this reason, they are often called “false fruits.” The nutrient value is as rich as their color. They enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
When preparing Organic Red Berries, use 1 teaspoon per 8oz serving. Heat the water until boiling and steep for anything up to 12 minutes. You may find that 3 minutes is as long as you require this tea to infuse. The longer the tea infuses, the darker and stronger the liquor will become. It will never have the bitterness you associate with over infused tea leaves; remember this is a Tisane. You can double the quantity of tea or half the water and pour over ice to serve iced.
At Local Tea Company, we serve this tea hot around the Christmas holidays. It is really is delicious with a cinnamon stick added too.
Organic Red Berries is naturally caffeine-free and suitable for all ages. This tea makes a great healthy, colorful drink for children and will make great ice pops too! Try adding seltzer water and a slice of lime for a different twist, Hibiscus Spritzer. Let me know if you have a special creation using this blend.
Stay cool AND healthy with this amazing tea.
Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea
Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea. In Florida, we never really experience the depth of winter weather that the rest of the US must endure. Consequently, we continue drinking iced tea all year round. According to the USA Tea Council, 85% of Americans choose to drink their tea iced, so there is still much-iced tea drunk this time of year.
Cold brewing loose leaf tea is simple and yields consistent results with little effort involved. This method of brewing is for true teas. It may work for some herbals, but our experience is not a suitable method for making iced Rooibos as this requires hot water to release flavor.
Please do not limit yourself to a particular tea: we cold brew black, oolong, green and white tea with equally good results. You may be surprised at an Earl Grey, and even our Lapsang Souchong is excellent cold brewed.
Cold Brewing Tea
Let’s get started.
- Good water always makes a difference. If your local water is heavily contaminated with chlorine, this will affect the final taste. Choose filtered water for the best results.
- Quality loose leaf tea will give you the best taste, but this is also a good way to use tea bags you have had in your pantry for too long. Life is too short to drink lousy tea, so mix and match and use it!
- Next, you will need some T Sacs. Put your tea in the T SAC, but don’t pack it too full to allow room for infusion and flavor to release. Use a second T SAC rather than overpacking. A tea maker such as the Timolina or Magic Filter works exceptionally well.
- The quantity of tea will depend on your personal preference but as a guide. We use 30gm or around 1 oz of tea per gallon. This works out to a teaspoon for 8-10oz of water if you are making a smaller quantity. We suggest you try different measurements and times to achieve the taste you like the best.
- Fill a sealed container with cold water and place the T sac with the tea in cold water, and then straight into the refrigerator for a period of 10-18 hours or longer. The tea will be deeper in color and flavor if infused for a longer time. Take the tea out of the water after 24 hours as we have found leaving the tea in the container will cause the tea to spoil faster.
Slow and Gentle
This slow, gentle process results in a much smoother, naturally clear, clean, and sweet-tasting tea that will last for 3 days. Do not be tempted to keep your tea too long and risk the possibility of spoilage. We are confident this is unlikely to happen as you will love the taste so much you will want to drink more!
Make up a gallon right now, and enjoy it tomorrow.
And in our Newsletter #4 Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better, we share a story from a customer who steeps her tea three times, two times using this Cold Brew method, and then uses hot water for the last steep.
Sabdariffa Spritzer or Holiday Hibiscus
I had some hibiscus tea in the refrigerator, and whilst I love this tea on its own, I cannot drink that much of it. (and for those of you who don’t know me, I am a tea drinker!)
I thought hibiscus would help keep me cool with the summer heat and give me all the other goodies Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Riboflavin, and antioxidant Anthocyanin. Hibiscus really is a good package of benefits.
I also drink a lot of Seltzer water, so here is what I did. I filled my glass half full with Hibiscus tea, some ice, and topped off with Seltzer. A twist of lime is good too. There you have HIBISCUS SPRITZER!
What a beautiful drink, so refreshing, and I can drink lots more Hibiscus this way. If you want to go all-out, use a martini glass, it looks brilliant.
Sip on a healthy, vibrant, non-alcoholic cocktail. Holiday Hibiscus.
And here is a recent post about our Mote Beach Tea and Selva Grill.
Cheers to me, dears.
Local Tea Company
Local Tea Company promotes local products and services, protects local environments, and celebrates local treasures. Great things start at the local level. Therefore, it is no surprise our motto is “Sip Locally.”
Three times more money is injected into the local economy when people buy from local businesses rather than national chains. Local businesses put their money back into the local economy. Above all, both employees and vendors contribute to a cycle of support that strengthens a community. Sip Locally.
Our locally inspired, loose leaf teas celebrate Sarasota. For example, our most popular tea, Selby Select, is inspired by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. In addition, Selby was our home base from 2007 until 2016. We have created teas celebrating other parts of Selby Gardens, including our Little Monkey Fruit Tea and our Secret Garden Green Tea.
Other locally inspired loose leaf teas include…
- Mote Beach Tea was created for Mote Marine Laboratory.
- Mable’s Rose Rooibos celebrating Mable Ringling’s Rose Garden at The Ringling.
- Van Wezel’s Anniversa-Tea for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.
- Siesta Tea for the Best Beach in the World.
- Lido Tea for the home of St. Armands Circle.
We created a tea for the Edison Ford Winter Estates in Fort Meyers. You will love the sweetness of our Edison Ford Fruit Tea. Local Tea Company organized the Celebrating Sarasota Collection of Teas. We are working on more clever creations of loose leaf tea blends.
Join us in practicing “Sip Locally” throughout our community. We love Sarasota, and we love sharing our community with the many visitors we meet every day. In conclusion, we appreciate all the support, and we will continue working hard to contribute to our local community.
Margaret Thatcher comes to tea.
Margaret Thatcher Tea. What a lovely week! In the Carriagehouse Tea Room, I enjoyed conversations with many visitors from the States and beyond. Besides, a few fellow Brits. Everyone is interested in my story and how I started working with tea. What a great life, making conversation, and drinking tea.
Talking of Brits, I served tea to the ‘Iron Lady’ herself! However, in case you thought I was serious, the lady was an actor. Margaret Thatcher Tea was the theme for the afternoon tea benefiting the Women’s Resource Center. Our gracious hostess has a magnificent penthouse overlooking Sarasota Bay. The tea and food service was on a collection of exquisite china.
Iced Peach Paradise in wine goblets looked beautiful. When the ladies ate sandwiches, our Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling was served. With dessert, I served Goji Green tea. Above all, both teas were very well received. Why do I sound so surprised? All of the loose leaf teas offered at Local Tea Company are delicious!
There followed some discussion about Margaret Thatcher’s time in office. How different it would be if she were in office today.
If I had been invited, I could have told a few home truths about my experiences during her ministry. However, I was there to talk tea, so I did my short presentation about tea and ended with a Thatcher quote…
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
In conclusion, Sip Locally with your very own Tea Lady at the gardens. Stay Cool.
Are you Spellbound?
While sampling our iced Earl Grey, a customer told me she had read that Bergamot was bad for you.
How can the most popular flavored tea in the world possibly have an unhealthy ingredient for you? I wanted to prove that theory very wrong and found some interesting facts. Though, I’ll tell you about our iced Earl Grey later.
Bergamot is small, pear-shaped citrus native to southeast Asia. Now it is commercially grown in Calabria, Italy. The fruit thrives on the Calabrian coast and is the symbol of the region. Like most citrus, I am sure it makes excellent marmalade. My Key Lime marmalade would be hard to top, but I digress.
Bergamot is used in half of all women’s perfumes. And Bergamot is used in aromatherapy to treat depression and aid digestion. I couldn’t find much negative press.
Extract from the bergamot plant was used in sunscreens but was banned in 1995. Bergamot blocked the absorption of potassium in the intestines. Why would it be used as a digestive aid then?
I found that various North American plants of the mint family are also called bergamot due to their fragrance. One was used to make a beverage by the American Indian Oswego tribe. In the 18th century, colonists drank this ‘tea’ during their boycott of British teas! We won’t get into that now, though!
The worst info I found was that Bergamot had been used in Witchcraft. Maybe it cast a spell on all those people who think it is the best-tasting tea ever! Are you spellbound?
The Tea Lady