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
The past month in the tasting room at Selby Gardens, we have had many European visitors, especially British. When they hear me speak, we inevitably talk about where we are from and the type of tea we drink. Talking Tea, as I say.
The choices being PG Tips, Typhoo, Yorkshire, Twinning’s, etc., basically all the well-known tea bags available. There was also a gentleman who mentioned Brooke Bond, who was a real blast from the past! He was married to an American and lives in Sarasota. His wife sourced the tea for him, and he was very pleased.
The name Brooke Bond took me on a journey back to the small village in the Yorkshire Dales where I was born and raised. Our little grocery shop, run by Mrs. Gosney, had a large metal sign displayed outside in black and red advertising Brooke Bond! Mum sent me to buy tea, and I remember Mrs. Gosney using an old fashioned scale with real weights and putting the weighed tea in a brown bag.
When I got home, mum would transfer the tea to our caddy (which I think was a tin that had once stored candy, probably Liquorices’ Allsorts). I can remember inhaling the most wonderful smell of fresh tea in the caddy. I was touched thinking about how we continue such practices, as I use such a caddy even now!
So, where did the name caddy come from? During the early British trading days in Asia, a language called “pidgin English” was created to facilitate commerce. Composed of English, Portuguese and Indian words pronounced in Chinese, “Pidgin” is actually the word which was used for “do business.” The term “caddy” is from the Chinese word for one pound, the standard size for a tea container.
We meet such nice people when we start talking about tea. Great stories and legends are exchanged, and memories are evoked when we talk about this amazing drink called TEA.
I like the way this sounds, so I am going to blab about brewing. So many visitors to the CarriageHouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens are confused about how to brew tea. I hope this helps with Infusion Confusion.
Let’s start with the Kettle, used only to heat water. There are some great models on the market which switch off when the boiling point is reached. There is even one with a thermometer to catch the water before the boiling point is reached. Great for making green or white tea.
A Teapot is a vessel in which the tea is made. You may brew directly in a cup or mug, but I love my teapots. I always warm the pot with boiling water before adding the tea. After I pour out the heating water, I add the tea to the wet pot. After a minute or so, I inhale deeply. As the leaves start to open, the aroma from these warm environs is fantastic and hints at the pleasure soon to come.
Use a teaspoon for each cup of tea you want to prepare. My mum used to say, “and one for the pot,” and my husband and I still always add an extra teaspoon of tea when we brew a pot. A teaspoon is different for each kind of tea, as teas come in many shapes and sizes. Not to fret; you will soon get accustomed to the amount of tea you prefer as you brew more tea. Experiment, though it is not an exact science, have fun.
Steep your tea for the recommended time. White and green teas are 2 to 3 minutes. Black tea is 4 to 6 minutes. Herbals and tisanes are 8 to 10 minutes. Above all, personal preference is the rule. While I use a timer in the tasting room to bring garden visitors the perfect taste, at home, I just look at the color of the liquor and guess!
Many teapots have Infusers, mesh baskets to hold the loose tea. Other pots have Strainers to keep the leaves in the pot and out of your cup. I like to let the leaves move around in the pot, and with glass pots, it can be quite a show.
Loose leaf tea holds a lot of flavors, and I always recommend multiple steeping. Add more boiling water to the leaves and double the steeping time. Your second cuppa will not be as strong as your first, but I cannot bear the thought of throwing away tea leaves with even a bit of flavor. If you don’t plan to drink multiple cups, put the teapot in your fridge, and enjoy the tea over ice.
This afternoon I am brewing my favorite Oolong and will infuse the leaves at least four times before the leaves are laid to rest in my garden, but that’s another posting.
Sit back and enjoy the perfect cup of tea. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. I hope this helps.
The tea lady