Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Art of Brewing Tea

While brewing a good cup of tea is largely a matter of personal taste, it is important to know the variables which can effect the quality of your cup of tea. The actual brewing is the steeping of the tea in the hot water.

Our more common coffee drinking culture has left many not understanding the terms used in making tea. I always get a chuckle when I pull up to the drive through at Tim Hortons and order a green tea, clear. The clerk will inevitably respond with "is that black ma'am". I'll respond telling her I want green tea, not black. A puzzled voice will eventually ask "cream and sugar" to which I respond "no, that is why it is clear".. Oh she says. Having terrorised her that long, I don't even think about telling her to be sure to 'steep' it.

But I digress

Different types of teas should be brewed in different ways. Not knowing the typical approach could lead to unpleasant results ranging from teas being weak to bitter, sour or astringent to the point of being undrinkable.

The main variables in brewing tea are:

    * Amount of Leaf Used
    * Temperature of Water
    * Length of Steeping Time
    * Vessel Used for Brewing
    * Quality of Water

How and where to brew your tea?

While many would recommend the placing of the loose tea into the tea pot, I tend to recommend the use of an open infuser which allows lots of room for the tea to move around as it steeps. I don't recommend using a tea ball. The more the tea can move around in the water the greater the ability of the flavour and aroma to infuse into the water. If you do place the leaves into the pot, be sure to use a tea strainer when pouring your tea.

Use different temperatures for Green, Black, White, or Oolong Tea:

Typically, black teas are brewed with boiling water, and green teas with water well below boiling, ranging from 160-180°F (72-82°C), and sometimes lower. White teas are typically brewed like green teas, using lower-temperature water. Oolong teas and more delicate black teas are usually best brewed with water slightly below boiling, 190-200°F (88-93°C). Herbal teas are very diverse and hard to generalize about, but most are brewed with boiling water.

Since brewing is a matter of personal taste, experimentation is important, and consistency is more important than exact temperature. You can bring water to a boil and then let it sit for a fixed period of time in order to let it cool or you can watch the size and pattern of bubbles forming in a pot; this provides a valuable clue about temperature when the water is in the range of about 180°F (82°C) to boiling.

My kettle allows me to view the water as it boils. So I guauge it like this:
- for green or white tea -- water is just starting to bubble a bit
- oolong tea -- water is boiling gently
- black tea -- water is at a full boil.
My kettle shuts down when it reaches full boil. I usually try to catch it just before it does.

Steep Whole-leaf Tea longer than Broken-leaf Tea:

Whole-leaf tea typically requires a longer steeping time because water diffuses slowly through the intact leaves. Broken-leaf tea, especially fine particles such as the fannings or dust used in most teabags, infuses very quickly. Some finely-broken leaves can rapidly acquire unpleasant bitterness or astringency if left to steep too long. In general, fannings often steep in two minutes or less, and whole-leaf tea frequently requires 3 minutes or more, although this varies greatly from tea to tea and is also a matter of taste.   

I also find when brewing multiply cups from the same leaves I do need to steep a bit longer each time.


Brewing your tea is part art and part personal taste. If you experiment with various approaches, you'll soon learn which brewing method you enjoy the most. If you are able to use spring water, filtered water or soft water try the different types of water. Try to avoid municipally treated water for your tea.

Have fun and enjoy a cuppa.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Removing Tea Leaves From Your Tea

When making tea in the traditional manner, without the use of tea bags, you will need to deal with the tea leaves in your tea. There are two ways of doing this. One is the use of a tea strainer and the other is to use an infuser.

I tend to prefer the use of an infuser. The infuser is a fine mesh 'strainer' which can be placed in the top of the cup or tea pot. Your loose tea is then placed in the infuser which extends about 2-3inches into the water. The boiled water is then poured through the infuser and the tea is allowed to swirl about in the hot water as it steeps.

Some would say to use a tea ball for this except a tea ball can restrict the tea from being able to fully open and release its flavours into the hot water. The infuser can be lifted out and placed on a small saucer until your make your next cup or pot of tea.

Some prefer to place the tea directly into the pot. The tea leaves may have an unpleasant taste, so filtering them in some manner becomes important in order to have an enjoyable cup of tea. Tea strainers are used to catch tealeaves as you pour it into your teacup. Strainers are usually fit on the top of the tea cup to catch all leaves as the tea is poured.

Tea strainers have been around for centuries; their popularity has declined since mass production of teabags and it's not an item that can be commonly found in the home anymore. However you are still able to buy them at most shops and convenience stores and they are quite useful for people that prefer to prepare their drink in the old fashioned way. They often come in a set that includes a small saucer to hold it in between drinking. They are usually made out of silver, stainless steel or china; in rare instances you might still find an original piece made out of fine porcelain.

You might be lucky enough to find an antique item, as tea strainers were common items in times past, before technology set in. You can even try to collect a set of them; they came in a variety of shapes and colours.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Green Tea Fat Burner - A Powerful One

In case you really want to lose weight without all the trouble, you should know about the idea of green tea fat burner because this can potentially be the solution to your problem.

As of these days, green tea is becoming such a hit in the world of dieting that even famous people would admit to have been using it as a help. This tea is packed with amazing benefits like its anti-carcinogenic properties, antioxidant properties, and it can work as a very potent fat burner. Managing weight has always been a national obsession among Americans, especially now that the rate of obesity is on the rise. Some of the facts behind green tea fat burner are:

1. This tea is known to increase metabolism thus it can make the body burn more energy than the usual rate that the body can do. Due to the fact that a lot of energy is stored within the body in a form of fat, this means that once your metabolism increases then you will be able to burn more fat.

2. This is a natural choice therefore you can prevent yourself from experiencing untoward side effects that are customary among other supplements in the market. Because of this, you can say goodbye to the feeling of nervousness, chest pains, and headache. There are even cases wherein the side effects are something deadly which permit the person to go on hospitalization.

But with this tea, you don't have to worry about all of these.

Since there are so many benefits behind green tea fat burner that can never be ignored, it will help if you can opt for this more than any other fat burning processes out there. What's more, most of the green tea supplements are available at a very reasonable price. You can buy both from online or local stores depending on your choice.

One rule to remember though in case you are going to buy for tea that comes in tea bag is to check whether the amount you are ingesting is enough for you to get through the whole losing weight process with ease.

Also, it is vital that you take some time to check the manufacturer of tea supplements if ever you are going to get one. Furthermore, check the amount of green tea that is incorporated in such product because some would incorporate other materials and not actually pure green tea.

Lowest prices ever on green tea fat burner, grab yours now while they last at Fat Burning Furnace Review. Better hurry because supplies are limited.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Types of Tea

True tea originates from one type of evergreen bush, the Camellia Sinensis. Other teas are created from other sources like herbs but are not truly tea.  Where the tea bush is grown, time of year when the harvest takes place and the processing determines the types and flavour of the tea. The most common countries for growing tea is China, India, Japan and Sri Lanka.
The time of harvest and the processing methods determines the four major types of tea; white, green, oolong and black.

White Tea

White tea is picked before the leaf buds fully open and are still covered with fine silky hairs.  Only the top leaf and bud are picked from the tree. The buds are sun dried to produce some of the rarest and most expensive tea available. White tea is said to have three times more antioxidants than green or black tea.

I was given some white tea as a gift a few years ago. I very much enjoyed it, finding it to be a very mild tasting tea but refreshing. Another tea I'd be inclined to drink during the day rather than as a breakfast tea.

Green Tea

After the tea leaves are plucked and sorted, they are either steamed or pan fired. Green tea does not go through the oxidation (fermentation) process. Green tea does have less caffeine than black tea. The leaves are often rolled into different shapes before drying. Once the leaves are shaped, they are dried and packaged.

This process retains many of the polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids that are associated with the health benefits of drinking green tea. Green tea also has HGCG; the most powerful antioxidant known. and can only be found in green tea.

I drink a lot of green tea, at any time of the day or night.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea falls somewhere between green tea and black tea in the amount of time the tea leaves are allowed to oxidize for less time than black.   The leaves can range from being almost black to dark green depending on when oxidation is stopped.  The longer the leaves are oxidized the closer to black tea they will become. Formosa Oolong is an Amber Oolong with a rich amber cup that is a little toasty tasting.) Se Chung leaves are not allowed to oxidize as long, so the leaves have a dark green appearance and produce a light yellow cup with hints of sweetness.

Black Tea

This is the most commonly found tea. This tea goes through the most processing. Black tea is allowed to oxidize which "ripens" the tea and creates a deep, rich, robust flavor with uniqueness based on the tea grower’s knowledge and skill. Once the leaves are picked they are left out in the sun to become slightly wilted.  The leaves are then rolled to break open their tissue.  The inner chemicals react with the air and begin to ferment.  During the fermentation, the leaves darken and change from green to red and finally to black.  After the fermenting is complete, the leaves are dried and them packaged.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I've Become A Tea Drinker

After years of being a die-hard coffee drinker, I find myself more frequently enjoying tea these days than coffee. I still drink coffee when I'm away from the house but for the most part, at home I drink tea. Not tea brewed from tea bags but tea brewed from loose tea.

Personally, I wouldn't thank you for bag tea, which is why I don't usually order tea when I'm out anywhere. I've become quite attached to the richness and variety of the flavours of tea that are out there.

Tea bags have a reputation for being lessor quality tea, which explains why I never acquired a taste for it when I was younger. My mother drank it on a regular basis and tried to get us kids into it but I just couldn't see the draw.

There are decaffeinated teas on the market. Having learned that the United States has approved both the use of carbon dioxide and ethyl acetate in the process of removing caffeine from black tea, I'll have the caffeine thank you very much.
I've discovered that seeking out tea shoppes can be rather fun. Each tea shoppe has its' own unique flavoured blends of tea in addition to the many kinds of tea available. Exploring the various blends is an adventure which never ends. I have to admit to having formed some favourites. Teaopia is a shoppe in the mall east of me. I rather enjoy their Dublin Creme black tea blend and their Creamy Nut oolong tea.

The Dublin Creme is my breakfast tea of choice. The blend is full bodied with the black tea and the added zip of coffee beans to start my day with, the creamy flavour lets me drink the tea my favourite way, clear. (no milk or sugar)

The Creamy Nut oolong is a tea I enjoy later in the day, usually when I need that 3pm pickup or am getting a bit of an urge to snack. The gentler flavour of the oolong combines with apple, caramel bits, almond pieces and mallow flavour to provide me with a sense of having something sweet without it being sweet.

I've also ordered tea online from the Tea Shop in Ottawa. (site is not online at the time of this writing) They send out samples of another type of tea along with your order which is really neat. That allows me to try something different and then decide if I like it.

Another site I've been recently exploring but haven't yet place an order is Adagio Teas.  The shipping will be a bit more because they are a US based company but that would be no big deal if I really like their blends.

The Adagio Teas site is fun to explore even without ordering. I may want to try out their custom blending feature, looks like fun.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Assam Tea

Assam tea (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) is a black tea grown in Assam, India. It has a distinctive malty flavour with a bold and invigorating character. It is a particular favourite for use in breakfast teas like English Breakfast tea & Irish Breakfast tea. Assam tea produces a beautiful ruby-amber hue.

The Assam region is in the valley of the Brahmaputra River. Its sandy soil, rich with the nutrients of the floodplain and the climate varying between cool, arid winter and hot humid rainy season produces almost ideal conditions for the Assam tea bush. It has a very lengthy growing season making the region one of the most prolific tea producing regions in the world, yielding some 1.5 million pounds of tea annually.

The long growing season produces two harvests of tea each year. The 'first flush' is picked in late March. The 'second flush' is picked later and is more prized for its "tippy tea", named for the golden tips that appear on the leaves. The second flush, tippy tea is sweeter and more full bodied, thus considered superior to the first flush.

Discovery of the Assam tea bush is attributed to Robert Bruce, a Scottish adventurer, in 1823. Bruce reportedly found the plant growing wild in Assam while trading in the region. He noticed local tribesman brewing tea from the leaves of the bush and arranged with the tribal chiefs to provide him with samples of the leaves and seeds, which he planned to have scientifically examined. Robert Bruce died shortly thereafter.

In the early 1830s Bruce's brother, Charles sent some leaves from the tea bush to Calcutta for examination. The examiners determined the busy was a variety of tea and different from the Chinese tea. Soon the British started making inroads into the Assam area. Tea seeds were imported from China as they were believed to be the superior variety. These seeds crossed with the local seeds and produced a hybrid bush which proved to be the suitable for their climate and terrain

As with any tea, to brew a perfect pot you need to start with cold water. Let the tap run for a few minutes before filling the kettle. Bring the water to a boil. Fill a ceramic or china teapot with hot tap water and let site for a few minutes. My mother used to always insist on the first bit of water from the kettle being used to warm the kettle.

As soon as water begins to boil, remove the kettle from the burner. Discard the warm water from the teapot and add tea leaves to the empty teapot. For Assam tea, figure on 1 teaspoon (1 g) of tea leaves per cup (240 ml) of hot water. Pack the leaves loosely into a tea ball if desired. Pour boiled water over tea leaves into teapot. Let steep 3 to 5 minutes, and pour through a strainer, for loose tea leaves, into individual cups.

Assam tea is full-bodied and merges well with cream, milk, or lemon. If sweetener is desired, honey or sugar may be added prior to adding milk. Stir until dissolved.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recipe: Apple Tea (Elma Cay)

2 red apples, do not peel and do not remove the seeds, cut in 4 or 6
1 orange, do not peel, cut in 4 or 6
1 stick cinnamon
2 whole cloves
4 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the fruits are tender. Strain into the bowl pushing gently with the back of the spoon to remove all the liquid. Then pour into the tea glasses.

If you like you may sweeten with honey.

Health Benefits of Apple Tea

  • Apple Tea speeds up metabolism increases the amount of urine.
  • It reduces edema (fluid retention). Boil the orange with its skin which contains citric acid. Citric acid is also available in medication for losing weight.
  • the mineral salts found in Apple Tea acts as urine remover and blood cleaner.
  • it strengthens the body against uric acid and rheumatism.
  • Vitamins and mineral salts gives energy and freshness.
  • presence of vitamin A keeps the respiratory tract, nerve system, blood vessels and the skin healthy.
  • Apple Tea strengthens both the heart and stomach