Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company
Recently, we brought to your attention the Tea Cozy, and now we turn to the TEAPOT!
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.
Gladwell Tea Party Podcast
I listen to podcasts. A lot of podcasts, but most current events, politics, comedy, and golf. Gladwell Tea Party Podcast.
The first podcast I ever listened to was Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” in 2015. My friend, Matt Turck, turned me on to podcasts, actually taking my phone from me while we were at the Corner Bistro in NYC, and downloading Gladwell’s first episode that had launched that very day. Thanks, Matt.
My preference is the long-form interviews, especially while driving my Tea Wagon around Sarasota. Always on the lookout for new podcasts, though I don’t usually listen to podcasts about Tea. There are a bunch. I don’t find them as interesting as the ones I like. And I read a lot of Tea Blogs, as well.
I’ve moved on from Revisionist History. I still subscribe but don’t really listen. That is until I noticed ‘Tempest in a Teacup.’ I read the overview and then listened. Fantastic!
Gladwell tells his tale, in this case revisiting the Boston Tea Party. The episode was released on July 4, and while I am a bit behind, I learned a few things…
The ‘Tea Party’ was actually the culmination of a colonial drug war. And the colonial drug of choice was tea. Really?? I always thought the Patriots dumped tea into Boston Harbor to take a stand against taxation without representation. Not so, says Gladwell.
The Patriots were smuggling tea from China into the colonies. This ‘Bohea Tea’ was cheaper and turned into a profitable business by undercutting the British taxed tea.
Great Britain found out about the smuggling and passed the Tea Act of 1773, lowering tea prices. This was not good for biz. So, the Patriots dressed up as Mohawk Indians and dumped the British taxed tea into the harbor. As the Canadian Gladwell points out, our Founding Fathers were a criminal enterprise, drug dealers defending their turf. Cool!
Apparently, lapsang has become popular with guys, and the smokier, the better. As a result, tea companies have been upping the smokiness of lapsang souchongs. And, in the opinion of Tony Gebely of Tea Epicure, ruining lapsangs by over smoking them.
Gladwell, also a lapsang drinker and unaware of the scandal, was deemed part of the problem by Gebely. Thanks, Malcolm. Tea Epicure is a wonderful tea blog that rates “the world’s most exciting teas” and goes deep into the tea world. Thanks, Tony.
Our lapsang souchong has a subtle smokiness and not nearly as smoky-tasting as it smells in the tin. And there is a great story about the origin of lapsang or caravan tea posted in our Lapsang Souchong product description.
More disclosure, I thought I might like a smokier version for my morning lapsang. This podcast stopped me in my tracks. I don’t. I believe our lapsang has gotten any smokier over time? But please tell me if you think it has.
Anyway, an interesting podcast having to do with tea as the colonial drug of choice and over smoked lapsang souchong that I thought I would share here.
Gladwell Tea Party Podcast
And the Sip Locally Tea Journey continues. Since this Gladwell Tea Party Podcast post, I have started drinking Lapsang Souchong most mornings with honey and steamed oat milk. And Revisionist History is out with Season Five!
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.
Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.
Episode #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s On East
Pu Erh Teas
When I got to work this morning (if you call going to Selby Gardens, sipping, talking tea all-day work!), I decided to crack open our Young Pu-erh. Pronounced Poo-Air, a special broad-leaf tea, Pu’er tea takes its name from the Pu’er county in the Province of Yunnan of China.
This is not a tea I reach for often. Maybe I should not call myself a dedicated tea drinker because of this. Though I was given a newspaper article about an area called Menghai in China. NYTimes Jan 2009
Farmers and citizens got rich investing and selling the bricks of Pu-er tea produced in Menghai. Some buyers promoted it as liquid gold. When the value hit record levels, they dumped their stock and disappeared. Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price. The tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.
Pu er Black Tea
What is Pu er tea? Let’s talk about this tea that people are willing to pay huge amounts of money for. Pu Erh goes through an additional oxidation process, much like composting, where bacterial and fungal fermentation occurs. Many refer to it as pu erh fermented tea.
The tea can then be aged for many years. Aged Pu Erh tea leaves are often compressed into cakes or bricks. Then the tea is wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are left to mature in dark, dry places, enhancing the already earthy flavor.
Pu Erh is said to lower cholesterol, cure hangovers, help with digestive problems, aid metabolism, and is low in tannins. Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed. The flavor is very pungent and earthy. With a deep inhale, the tea smells like a compost heap and looks like tar. So, I know it’s going to be good for me!
How many Steeps?
I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps. The later steeps are better than the initial steep. I find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.
By this time, late in the afternoon, I think Pu Erh should be brewed more often. I should share samples with visitors to Selby Garden as well as the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. I’m not sure I would invest pots of money in Pu-erh, but it is definitely worth experiencing. What a fascinating thing this drink is called Tea!
the Tea Lady
Earl Grey for Picard
“Tea, Earl Grey, Hot… and whoever this ‘Earl Grey’ fellow is, I’d like a word with him..”
-Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation
A favourite book of mine offers an interesting quote or excerpt about tea. I will share it with you. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome was first published in 1889 and was intended as a serious travel guide about a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. However, it turned out to be a very humorous account detailing the adventures of the three friends Jerome, George Wingrave, and Carl Hentschel, along with a fictional dog called Montmorency!
Three Men in a Book Excerpt
When I read this excerpt today, it seemed so clever and witty, evoking powerful thoughts about the beverage I so love…. tea. Enjoy.
‘It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says “Work!” After beefsteak and porter , it says “Sleep!” Then, after a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming starts to the gates of eternity!”
Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat.
What type of tea does it take for you to rise and show your strength, be eloquent and deep or indeed spread your white wings of quivering thought? It would have to be a good strong cup of Yorkshire Harrogate for me! Here is an earlier post about Yorkshire. Please share your comments and take time for tea.
Toast and Tea
“BREAD AND WATER CAN SO EASILY BE TOAST AND TEA’
This is a lovely quote (author unknown) that came to mind this morning. I was actually making some Lemon Curd at the time, but I also had a visitor in the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens that told me he would not drink tea because his mother always made him have toast and tea when he was sick! Of course, she would; mothers know what is good for you.
I also felt sorry for him! Toast and Tea is a custom most of us have such good feelings about, and I, for one, can sample this pairing at any time of day. There is nothing as simple or as tasty as toast and tea unless you add a little lemon curd, that is!
Lemons are in abundance here at the moment, and as they keep arriving by the bagful at my house, I keep churning out the Lemon Curd! I got myself a cup of jasmine tea and Lemons at the ready. Want to have a go too?
Lemon Curd Recipe
This is a straightforward recipe and method to follow. You will need preserving jars that have been sterilized in boiling water. I put the lemons in the same water as it makes the juice release easier. I usually double up the recipe, but to make one batch, you will need:
Juice and rind of 1 lemon (I have been adding rind of an extra lemon too!), 2 eggs, 2oz unsalted butter, and 3oz sugar.
- Place sugar and rind in a large bowl.
- Whisk eggs and lemon juice together. Add to bowl.
- Cut butter into small chunks. Add to bowl.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until butter melts and whisk lightly over heat until the mixture thickens. (It may seem like the mixture is never going to thicken, but it will.)
Place in jar and refrigerate.
It tastes delicious and is so worth the effort. I love giving to friends and, of course, the suppliers of all my Lemons! Lemon Curd is also the perfect accompaniment to scones, so maybe next time we will make scones.
I recommend putting on the kettle and making a pot of Yorkshire tea, and sit down to enjoy some toast and tea. Mmmm!
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.
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
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream for July, National Ice Cream Month. With the help of Chef Maryna of Local Catering, we used some of our new Matcha Green Tea to make Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream. We are still working on bulk sales packaging, so our Matcha is only available in drinks at our shops. But there are many culinary options Maryna and I will be exploring with Matcha Green Tea, and ice cream seemed like a good place to start.
Home-Made Ice Cream
Once you discover the wonderful world of home-made ice cream, your life as you once knew it would change forever. Since starting Local Catering, an extension of Local Tea Company, Chef Maryna’s culinary world has continued to expand. I have introduced her to our menu of teas and the magic of camellia sinensis.
Chef Maryna grew up in South Africa, so she has leaned towards our selection of Rooibos. She explores ways to integrate tea into her dishes, and ice cream sounded like a great place to start.
Here is the recipe we followed for Matcha Green Tea ice cream.
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs Matcha tea powder
6 Egg yolks
- Separate the egg yolk from whites in a large bowl. Add sugar and Matcha, then whisk until incorporated.
- Heat cream and milk in a saucepan until it comes to a boil.
- Remove milk from heat, then slowly add 1 cup of hot milk mixture to the sugar-egg mix, whisking vigorously to prevent curdling eggs.
- Add mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and whisk to combine.
- On low heat (do not boil or cook the eggs and you will end up with Macha scrambled eggs!) continue stirring until the temperature reaches 170 degrees.
- Pour mixture into a clean bowl and let it cool on an ice bath in the refrigerator until completely cold (about 30 minutes).
- Follow your ice cream machine directions and spin ice cream for about 20 minutes.
Pour into a container and freeze until set (about an hour). Scoop and…..yum!
So what makes Matcha so special? The vibrant, emerald green color of the powder is attributed to some meticulous cultivation. The Gyokuro Japanese tea plant variety is shaded by bamboo mats several weeks before plucking, forcing the tea bush to produce more chlorophyll, creating a supple, rich green leaf. The youngest, tender shoots are then hand-plucked, steamed, and dried. All stems and veins are removed before the leaves are stone-ground into a fine powder.
Matcha Green Tea
No tea is as celebrated or as famous as Matcha. The tea first appeared in Japanese tea manuals sometime during the 12th century, making it one of the country’s most ancient varieties used in the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries. It was believed tea was a gift of the heavens and held great restorative and spiritual power on earth. The development of the tea ceremony or Chanoyu began as a way for people to show reverence to this power. It was practiced by the Buddhist monks who drank the tea for meditative properties during long religious ceremonies. See blog post on Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Drinking this greenest of green teas or enjoying Matcha Green Tea ice cream, you are consuming the whole leaf and will drink 100% of the polyphenol nutrients contained in tea leaves. This gives Matcha the label of healthiest natural beverage in the world today. Along with the nutrients, you will receive a good dose of energy for wakefulness combined with lots of amino acids for relaxation. A truly great combination of ingredients that we can all benefit from today.
Visit our Siesta Key shop or the cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for a Matcha Latte, also excellent with soy milk and a bit of honey. Or celebrate the summer by making some Matcha Green Tea ice cream at home.