Life is too short to drink bad tea.
I like this quote. When I went to find someone to attribute this quote to, I couldn’t find anybody, so I’m claiming it for myself. That may be right, wrong, maybe morally questionable, but the truth is, life is way too short to drink bad tea. And there is no reason to drink bad tea when so many great options exist everywhere.
Loose Leaf Tea
Perhaps the quote should be, “Life is too short to drink anything except loose leaf tea” Loose tea is the better tea, fresher, and allowing for the best flavor, the deepest, resonant, complex, and any other word you can think of to describe the awesome flavor. There are superb teas in bags or sachets. Seek them out and stop drinking bad tea. The difference is immense.
Tea is an emotional beverage. What other drink conjures memories, alters moods, and makes you a better person. Yes, there is a similar quote, “Life is too short to drink bad wine,” but tea is healthy and can be drunk every day. And you should drink tea every day. We all want to extend our time on this planet and get the most out of each day. So drink tea and drink great tea.
Motivating? I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m just trying to get to the end of this blog post. But how about this?
“Make the most of every day” I won’t try to claim credit for this adage, but if you are going to drink the world’s most popular beverage after water, make the most of it and drink a great tea.
Drink great black teas—a robust, strong Assam or Darjeeling with a splash of fresh almond milk or a rich cream. Drink a great breakfast blend like our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend, Or a mild, sweeter Nilgiri. Or, if you want more flavor, spicy chai might be the perfect option. I almost forgot to mention Oolongs! Especially our ‘milky smooth’ Dung Ding Oolong.
Drink great green teas—Froth a pinch of a matcha green tea, or gently steep a pure Organic Sencha. Add a touch of flavor, maybe strawberry or goji berries, or any other subtle sweetness that brings out that cool wonderful green tea flavor. Yes, white teas too. Drink them!
Drink great rooibos teas. This is wonderful in the afternoon when there is no fear of caffeine stealing sleep from you. When faced with solving a mystery, drink Rooibos, or Bush Tea is not only a lovely, mild flavor. Rooibos takes on other flavors like vanilla and orange peel (Selby Select) or Lavender or Rose (Mable’s Rose Rooibos). Drink Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush, and the list goes on.
Drink great herbal teas, peppermint, Yerba Mate, or hibiscus or tulsi. I just saw this weekend that Roselle blossoms were available at the Sarasota farmers market. They are they’re blooming in Florida, and they make incredible tea as well as gorgeous jams and jellies. Drink a fabulous chamomile tea from Egypt and dream of Cleopatra or floating down the Nile.
Drink great fruit teas. Please share them with a young person. Introduce a child to the joys of tea. Start with the kettle boiling’s anticipation, then take a moment to select a tea to fit the mood, watch when hot water meets tea leaves, and the flavors release. This is called the ‘Agony of the Leaf’ what does it conjure in your imagination. Heat the mugs with hot water while you wait for all the flavor to extract, and then pour two mugs full and blow cool air over your brew.
Start a young person on a tea journey, drinking tea as a part of a ritual, after dinner, before bed, in the morning, later in the day. There are so many opportunities to drink tea. This ‘Tea Journey’ will last a lifetime, and you will be responsible for the very first steps.
And then there is the perfection that is Mote Beach Tea or Little Monkey fruit teas. Make a cuppa of either of these herbal gems before you go to bed. I promise you that your dreams will be finer, they’ll be sweeter, and your sleep will be deeper and richer and better. I can’t promise that your dreams will come true, but a great cuppa tea can bring hope.
Share that idea with everyone, a life of sound sleep and fantastical dreams. You are never too old to begin a ‘Tea Journey.’ And what a wonderful community to be a part of, drinkers of great teas!
Appreciate all that goes into a great cuppa tea. Where the tea was plucked, how far it might have traveled, who else might be enjoying the same cup at this same moment. How many years or decades or centuries have people been drinking this same tea. Or how much progress has been made in heating the water. Before electricity, 200 years ago or 2000 years ago, how did they boil water? What was the mug like or bowl or the cup? There is much to consider in a simple cup of tea.
And be sure to steep your tea for the correct time. Not too short, robbing yourself from a fully expressed cuppa. And not too long, for the bitterness or astringency might distract from the beautiful flavors intended for you.
Give the gift of tea. Nothing can be so easy to share, so thoughtful, so considerate for either a tea lover experienced in drinking great tea or introducing someone to your favorite tea. Tea elevates the idea of a gift to a new level. Here is a post with 5 Things to remember when Gifting Tea.
Yes, I was hoping you could buy my teas, and we have plenty of options for you. But find a new place to buy tea, a wonderful loose leaf tea. You will recall the moment later when you are drinking or serving this tea. Tea comes with its own story. You have to be a bit creative about it. The story is available, and there is a joy to be had.
Serve a great cuppa tea in a fine piece of China, in a cup that needs a saucer. Please take a moment and make it special. You will enjoy the experience even more or help someone else feel special. That’s where this big thought started, with living your life to the fullest. Life is too short and so find the moments, the joys to extract a bit more than you may have expected. Surprise someone, delight them. Give that gift or treat yourself. You deserve it.
So drink up. Life is too short to drink bad tea.
Local Tea Company
Tea and Relaxation
It seems that stress has become a major part of every day in all of our lives, and we have forgotten how to relax. Stress is also leading to more obesity, heart problems, and blood pressure, to name a few.
I have a niece visiting from England, and it is apparent even in the young, she is 15 years old! It may not manifest in the same way as in adults. However, never the less, they seem to HAVE TO fill their day with one thing after another and no longer know how to ‘live in and enjoy the moment’ or RELAX.
For me, there is no better way to help mind and body cope than to enjoy a cup of tea (or several in my case!). That is exactly what I am doing at this moment whilst said niece and husband visit Busch Gardens.
There are excellent reasons why tea has such good stress-relieving properties. All teas made from Camellia sinensis, black, oolong, green, and white tea contain a unique and special amino acid called L-Theanine. Researchers have found that L-Theanine appears to play a role in the formation of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. This blocks the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, promoting a state of calm relaxation.
Here is how it works! L-Theanine enters your body through the bloodstream but will also trigger the alpha brain waves, relaxation brain waves. This gives us a sense of well-being and improved mood. This combines with the caffeine to release sustained energy, focus, and mental clarity. It was this amazing phenomenon that first attracted Buddhist monks to drinking the beverage thousands of years ago. They were able to remain alert but felt relaxed enough to meditate for very long periods of time.
L- Theanine’s chemical effect on our brain and body is not the only reason tea is one of the best-known remedies for relaxation. The whole process of preparing the water, warming the pot, the tantalizing aroma from the fresh leaves, the anticipation of the first sip, and the flavor in the mouth all relax our senses. Even if you are an iced tea drinker, you have involved those senses in preparing your tea. You may decide to enjoy your tea alone or share it with loved ones or friends.
Whichever tea or whatever way you choose to take your tea is not really important, take time to do it! Tea and Relaxation
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.
This is something I got thinking about the other day when a customer hinted our tea might be a tad expensive!
I know everybody feels the pinch right now and may continue to do so for some time, but tea is such amazing value for money. Most of our teas are $9 for a 2 oz portion. At 25 cups per 2 oz, you can make your cuppa for 36 cents a pop! And most loose leaf teas can be Multi-Steeped or infused multiple times, which brings the cost down even more.
Just in case you were looking for further justification for splurging on tea, let’s examine some more reasons why tea is such a fantastic beverage for our body and soul.
- Drinking tea reduces the effects of stress. An exceptional ingredient in Tea called L Theanine stimulates your Alpha brain waves creating relaxation and mental alertness.
- Tea strengthens your immune system helping to Prevent Colds and Flu during the winter months and beyond.
- Drinking tea helps metabolize fats (just in case you are making some bad food choices) and helps keep cholesterol levels low and convert fats into energy, especially Oolongs.
- Drinking tea is good for the skin and helps you to keep looking radiant. Take a warm bath in Rooibos tea for soothing your body and promoting deep relaxation.
- Drinking tea with a friend or your family is just the best thing for slowing down, being more mindful, and taking time to appreciate how much we already have in our lives.
Take time for tea, your Recession Remedy!
the Tea Lady
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
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
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
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