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Teapotty!

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company

Author unknown

Recently, we brought to your attention the Tea Cozy, and now we turn to the  TEAPOT!

Origins 

The teapot is a vessel for steeping loose tea leaves or herbal infusions.  Although the pot does not have as long a history as the leaf, its humble beginnings were also in China.

At first, tea was boiled in open pans.  Not until the Ming Dynasty did the idea of a covered pot became popular.  Those pots were small, and the tea was taken directly from the spout.  But they served their purpose well, keeping the flavor and allowing the steeping process to be repeated several times.  More about this later!

Towards the end of the 16th century, the Dutch started shipping cargoes of tea to Europe, and the teapot came along. The designs were mostly blue and white stoneware. Dutch potters started re-creating these designs, and by 1710, Germany began production in the Meissen factory, followed shortly after by production in France and England.

At that time in Colonial America, Boston became a center of silver production, which included the making of elaborate teapots. Two Dutch potters who settled in England established the pottery industry in Staffordshire, and it was some hundred years before they discovered the secret of making fine translucent pottery called porcelain. The teapot journey had begun!

In the eighteenth century, Josiah Spode is credited for creating the distinctive look of English China and famous names as Wedgewood, Worcester, Minton, and Derby.  All created such beautiful and elegant designs. Maybe you are lucky enough to have one in your collection!

Shapes and Sizes

Over the years, the size and shape of teapots have changed to suit tastes and fashions.  Now, of course, we can get any size or shape or material imaginable. From the finest china to stoneware to glass, basically, anything goes!  But which is the best style of the teapot?

I urge my customers to think carefully about their tea-drinking habits, as bigger is not necessarily better. The early Chinese method rings true for a reason. It seems that the majority of people, if they have a 6 cup pot, then they cannot resist making a full pot and maybe only take 1 serving!  You can stash the leftovers in the fridge for some Iced Tea (or Ice Tea.)

Whilst drinking that 1 serving, the remaining tea is becoming quite undrinkable unless you like major astringency! My advice is to make 1 serving and reinfuse the leaves for a second helping when you are ready, continuing till you have no flavor in your leaves…Multi-Steeping, not to be confused with Infusion Confusion.

If you were to decant the 6 cups of tea into another vessel upon completion of brewing, that would also be acceptable. The key is to gauge how much you will be drinking and brew accordingly. Choose a pot to match your drinking habits; life is too short to waste good tea!  Along with Life is too Short to Drink Bad Tea!

How to use a Teapot

How to make a nice pot of tea? In Yorkshire, they would say ‘take the pot to the kettle and not t’other way round.’   Warming the pot is so important!  Place the leaves in this inviting environment and they start to release their aroma. Stick your nose in the pot and inhale deeply.

All teas vary slightly in weight.  The general rule is one teaspoon per cup, and I add ‘one for the pot’ because my mum always did!  Steep for the recommended time or your preference and TAKE TIME TO ENJOY YOUR TEA.  Enjoy the first cup, and when you are ready, re-infuse your leaves, and don’t forget your tea cozy to keep the tea warm this time!

So, what’s your favorite teapot look like, or what would you like it to look like? I invite you to have some fun with us on Pinterest.

Here is my favorite teapot from the Yorkshire Dales!  And we have a wonderful Pinterest Board, TeaPotty, with heaps of Teapots.  Enjoy!

Amy Tan Tea

Drink Good Tea!

I take a few quick sips. “This is really good.” And I mean it. I have never tasted tea like this.. It is smooth, pungent and instantly addicting.

“This is from Grand Auntie,” my mother explains. “She told me ‘If I buy cheap tea, then I am saying that my whole life has not been worth something better.’

A few years ago she bought it for herself. One hundred dollars a pound.”

“Your kidding.” I take another sip. It tastes even better.

Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife

Image of Amy Tan, author of The Kitchen God's Wife
Amy Tan www.amytan.net

There is some truth to the above passage. You should drink good tea.  How much do you pay for tea?   I am not suggesting you need to pay 100 dollars a pound for good tea!  Price does not always guarantee the quality, but generally, ‘Good Tea’ is a great investment.  Your return on that investment is a smooth and pungent flavor.  This depth and the consistent flavor are very addictive, and after that, it will result in multiple infusions of the leaf!

Life is too Short to Drink Bad Tea.

Cheap Teabag tea is designed for one-time use!  I have heard tales of a second and even third infusion from a single tea bag.  What is the point of weak tea?  Drink good tea!

Not so with loose leaf tea.  You can certainly get great flavor from a second infusion, and with some teas, even a third infusion and beyond.  At Local Tea Company, we call this ‘multi-fusion’ or ‘multi-steeping.’  You might be interested in a previous blog post about this subject.

Many customers will only infuse or steep a pot or cup of tea once.  They then dispose of the leaves, hopefully in a compost bin.  Tea was an expensive commodity during my youth in Yorkshire, and from an early age, my mum always taught me how to get the most value from loose leaf tea!  Who would have thought that the term ‘multifusion’ would later describe this process?

Keep in mind these infusions were always at the same sitting. For instance, at least two cups were the norm in my childhood.  I have never had a problem drinking two cups or more.   If more than a cuppa poses a problem for you, then keep your leaves fresh by placing them in the refrigerator for use later the same day.  I do not advise keeping them beyond a day in case of spoilage.  Just drink more tea!

Drinking more tea is much easier when you have the right tea!

“You’re kidding,” said the Tea Lady.  Local Tea continues to make your ‘TeaLife’ better and better.

Book Cover for Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife

Pear Mu Tan

Pear Mu Tan

Pear Mu Tan.  I am glad to announce that we have added another tea to our Organic cultivation varieties here at Local Tea Company.

Pear Mu Tan is a White tea grown in Fujian Province, China.  White teas are surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China. Emperors proclaimed this delicate tea as “the culmination of all that is elegant.”

White Teas

The least processed of all tea categories, white is is natural.  The newest leaves are carefully picked when they have a silvery appearance from the hair or ‘hao.’  They are lightly withered, which turns them into an artist’s palette of hues.  From silver to green to brown, the results are a light, fluffy mixture of leaf pieces that yield a subtle and delicate flavor.

Pear Mu Tan White Tea

I had been asked several times about Pear tea.  After using this tea for several days in my travel mug, I knew we had to have it!  This type of White tea is known as Pai Mu Tan, which means “white peony.”   The tea is produced from various tea bush called chaicha, so it seemed natural to name this tea Pear Mu Tan.

There is evidence that Pear has been used as a food since prehistoric times.  In other words, a perfect partner for White tea.  To complement the pear, there are dried apple pieces, mango cubes, and marigold blossoms.  Besides, the shimmering golden liquor has a lingering fragrance and sweet, fresh mellow taste.  This is a lovely tea, both dry and infused.

Organic

Please note, this tea is organically cultivated but has not pursued the requirements to be designated ORGANIC.

White teas are becoming very popular.  They are considered to be the most beneficial of all teas for their health benefits.  With more antioxidants than black or green tea, white tea has anti-cancer properties.  We have read that the tea is heart-healthy, has a calming (anti-sagging!) and detoxifying effect on the skin, and the ability to strengthen our immune system.  A bonus is that it tastes so good!

There are debates aplenty about the amount of caffeine in white teas.  Could it be that as the tea is made from young leaves, they contain the most concentrated amount of caffeine?  The fact that we infuse for less time and at a lower temperature may mean less caffeine is released…and so on.  We may never know the exact reason, and it really does not seem to matter too much!

In my experience, I have found White tea VERY agreeable to my body function.  I do not seem to get as overheated or troubled with the caffeine content.  Therefore, I have been able to drink later into the day.   See how it works for you!

In conclusion, Pear Mu Tan is a tea that really keeps on giving and certainly wears the title ‘the culmination of all that is elegant’ very well.

Cheers,
the TeaLady

White Tea – White Mischief

White Mischief

White Tea is surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China. I am talking really ancient here, as in Tang dynasty 618-907 AD. The Emperor proclaimed this delicate tea as “the culmination of all that is elegant” and reserved for members of the Imperial Court. The leaves were picked in early spring when young tea shoots abound, and legend has it that the picking was done by virgins wearing white gloves. Well, it is a pure story at any rate!

White Tea

Tang Dynasty of China

White tea is thankfully no longer solely the property of Emperors and Kings! Although originally grown only in the Fujian Province in China, it is now grown in other regions such as Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and India due to its increasing popularity. What has remained the same is the process of making this tea!

White teas are the least processed of all the teas. Leaves are delivered to the factory by hand, where they are naturally withered and sun-dried; no oxidation occurs.

The new buds are picked before they open when they have a white, silvery appearance (hence the name!). This white appearance is the ‘hao” or hair on the bud or baby leaf.

White Mischief

White teas are subtle, delicate, and flavorful and are considered by some to have the most health benefits. The appearance of white teas can vary in color, depending on the style of tea. Still, all have a very natural fresh look, which is also very pure and natural in the cup, devoid of any astringency or grassiness.

With more antioxidants than black tea or green tea, research shows that white tea has anticancer properties, is strengthening the immune and cardiovascular systems, reduces high blood pressure, and calms and detoxifies the skin(anti-sagging!).

White Mischief

So, what about our White Mischief from Local Tea Company? I thought this a very appropriate name on first tasting this tea with a mischievous play on the taste buds. Please take a moment to smell this tea when it also plays mischief with your senses!
White Mischief is a type of tea known as Pai Mu Tan, which means “white peony” and is produced in Fujian Province from a variety of tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha where only the “two leaves and a bud” are used.  The tea is mostly green with silver tips and is quite light and fluffy.  The mischievousness is created by blending with a healthy dose of tart pomegranate and juicy guava!

When brewing White Mischief uses one heaped teaspoon per cup with water heated to 180-190 degrees (or just under boiling), I find this produces a mellow flavor without scalding the leaves, which may cause astringency.  The tea can be infused for 2 minutes with plenty of flavor.  The second infusion of 4 minutes and a third of 6 minutes will yield great cooling and refreshing character. See our earlier post on multi-steeping tea.

I have infused this tea as many as 6 times, but leave you to experiment with this stimulating and actually quite mischievous tea. Sorry I couldn’t resist it one more time!

Cheers,
The TeaLady

Multi-Steeping

Multi-Steeping

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.

Steep Loose Leaf tea multiple times, we call if Multi-Steeping at Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

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!

Steep Again

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.

Cheers,
the tea lady