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
If someone forwarded this email to you, you need your own!
Since the pandemic, sales on our web site have ticked up. I suspect people are drinking more tea, with many new habits formed these past months. Firing up the kettle any time of the day is one of the healthiest habits you can have.
And if you are drinking more tea, the next logical step is to drink better tea. We have many favorites, like Selby Select and Mote Beach Tea or Siesta Tea and Goji Green. All will dazzle you and contribute to that newly formed habit.
This uptick in sales does not cover the drop volume to our wholesale business. So, if you can support our Serving Partners, thank you.
Like everyone else, we have been preparing more of our meals at home. And in the spirit of drinking better tea, I am doing the same when it comes to the spices. So, we are using better spices. Better teas, better spices.
We have used a mortar and pestle for years to grind pepper and kosher salt. And, we use a lot of fennel, especially on salmon. Freshly ground fennel is Magic!!
And now, I have started using really good spices, and the difference is MASSIVE. I have known about the Spice Trekkers (or Epices de Cru) for years. I have even gifted sets of their blends, along with a mortar and pestle as my go-to wedding gift. But like many gift buyers, I bought better for others than myself…
No more. I am hooked. My first order was for two different black peppers (Yupanqui and a Tellicherry) and fennel from Greece. I also found a powerful Chinese Five Spice and a tangy Harissa. I filmed an unboxing video, in case you are interested. Better teas, better spices!
The company is based in Montreal, and they have a fantastic website filled with ‘spice stories.’ I really like the videos they created, especially for the Yupanqui black pepper from Ecuador. Very cool and hard to not order the works!! Merci, Epices de Cru!
Better Teas Better Spices
My Sunday tea is Sweet Orange Mate while listening to Live from Here on NPR. I do miss Garrison, but the music Chris plays is much better. And Tom Poppa always makes me laugh. I drink my cuppa (or mugga) Mate as hot tea. And you may enjoy a recent blog post, “Is it Iced Tea or Ice Tea?”
I had some fun reviewing Yusuf Cat Stevens ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ this summer. I thought the remastered version was his new one. Explained here. ‘Tea for the Tillerman 2’ came out a few weeks ago. The original was arguably one of the best albums ever, and 50 years later, we get another version by Yusuf Cat. I’m working on the final post, but in the meantime, listen and enjoy. Tea Pairing – Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend “brewed strong with a cardamom pod dropped in, taken sweet with a dash of milk.”
We ping pong between Lovecraft Country and The Vow. HBO is knocking it out of the park, though I don’t know which is weirder. John Oliver is back, and Fargo is waiting in the wings. Tea Pairing – Organic Peppermint, for when your breath gets taken away!!
My new favorite podcast is “It Was Said,” A shortish show (45 minutes or less) where Jon Meachum covers a famous speech and provides a bit of context or historical perspective. The Ronald Reagen episode was especially touching. Tea Pairing – Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling, a serious black tea!
And lastly, a farewell to Pat Glass, Dianne’s Mom. She passed away last month. Pat was incredible, a true force in the Universe. Glowing tributes here and here, and an obit with her many accomplishments. With Love!
As always, your comments are welcomed, and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
Yusuf / Cat Stevens Tea?
The songs sound great, Yusuf sounds great, and the lyrics of Tea for the Tillerman are so familiar they reflexively bring memories to mind. But what struck me was my interest in the album cover.
I listen to music, but I rarely have any interest in album, song, or track art. Whatever it is called these days. Was this some other instinct from long ago?
Actually, I remembered that Yusuf / Cat Stevens was not only a singer-songwriter 50 years ago, but also an illustrator. So, I wanted to see what he sent out into the world with these songs.
Album Cover Art
I have not spent so much time examining an album cover in a very long time. Of course, “Tea” attracted me at first. But what kind of tea? Perhaps the lyrics offered some clues, so I listened to the familiar songs as I sought significance from the cover.
Remember, ‘tea’ also refers to the meal taken at the end of the day. Glynis and her husband taught me that term, and they still use ‘tea’ to refer to many of their meals. Tea is more than Tea.
But on the album cover, the ‘Tillerman’ has a teapot to go with his mug on the table. Then some milk and sugar, it seems. Is the Tillerman waiting to be served his tea?
A tiller-man refers to a person steering a boat or a farmer tilling the soil. Also, the person that steers the back of a fire truck or holds a ladder.
My guess with the deer in the background is either a farmer or this guy could be ferrying things across a river or lake. Perhaps this is how he is paid for his services? Isn’t that how we are all compensated, with food and drink for the work we do?
Further, the hat seems less a farmer’s cap and more of a dock hand’s cap, with a feather of either massive significance or just something that was found along the way?
What’s in the Tillerman’s Cuppa?
My guess is the milk is fresh from a morning milking. The ‘Big Guy’ could be lactose intolerant. Soaking oats, then straining them for a bit of creaminess with his tea, is not that far off or out of the question. What if he farms oats?
The giant sun is up, and so this is midday or late afternoon. With the kids climbing a tree, the tillerman looks happy. Are these his children? Perhaps his wife left the kids with him as she went about a chore.
The only thing I can’t explain is the gorgeous white tablecloth perfectly fitting the table. It seems like a special occasion, but I can’t make that fit. I guess that it could have been easier for Cat to draw a covered table rather than trying to illustrate a seated Tillerman?
Or, what if the Tillerman has been working a nearby plot of land that may have been in his family for a few generations? And recently, the acreage was purchased, retiring the laborer to a life of luxury. And with silver in his beard, maybe he is looking after his grandkids?
That might explain the white tablecloth, and this is how he spends his days now. He will be served ‘tea’ to go with his Darjeeling. Or if this is a cuppa green tea, I would guess an Organic Sencha rather than a fruited Goji Green or an Organic Strawberry Smile.
Tea for the Tillerman Lyrics
The album ends with a concise song I did not remember, ‘Tea for the Tillerman.’ A bit of a clue in the opening…
“Bring tea for the Tillerman,
Steak for the Sun
Wine for the woman who made the rain come…”
Okay, so a farmer waiting for his meal?
I have to do this more often. I really enjoyed gazing at this album art while listening to these classics. The album cover for Tea for the Tillerman holds up as well as the music.
Thank you again, Yusuf / Cat Stevens
Tea Rubbed Pulled Pork
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a video? Check this one out titled, “The Making of Tea Rubbed Pulled Pork.”
This Fall, Selby Botanical Gardens hosted the Garden Music Series under the banyans. Our pulled pork sandwich may have stolen the show, selling out each week as we doubled the batch. We may not wait until the Spring Music Series, so visit Selby Gardens and ask for the next chance to try this unique blend of tea and porcine.
Some interesting tales about Lapsang Souchong can be found on our product page. We have also tried this smoky tea iced with very positive results. This is not an everyday tea, but on a chilly afternoon with a good book and a comfy chair near a fireplace, Lapsang Souchong is your tea.
Lapsang Souchong Black Loose Leaf Tea from the Fujian Province in China. This tea is a large, bold, full-bodied whole leaf with a smoky flavor from drying over pinewood fires.
After that, this special smoked black tea from Fujian Province in China has a very distinctive flavor and aroma. The term “souchong” means sub-variety. This is a sub-variety of black tea from the Wuyi Mountains, where thick pine forests and heavy mists provide ideal environments for growing top-quality tea.
In conclusion, legend claims that the smoking process was discovered by accident. An army unit (during the Qing dynasty!) camped in a tea factory filled with leaves waiting to be processed. When the workers returned, it was too late to follow the usual procedures. So, they dried the leaves over open pinewood fires to hasten the process and created the sensational tea we know as Lapsang.
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.