How to Benefit from “Tea Time”

By October 19, 2016 History and Culture of Tea, Our Beliefs

You’ve probably heard about some health benefits of drinking tea. From magazine articles to news segments, tea is often celebrated as a healthy alternative to soda or other sugary beverages. The one benefit that’s rarely discussed isn’t related to health, though. It’s the benefit to your mental well-being. To reap the full benefits of tea, you’ll need to look beyond just consuming the warm liquid in your cup. You’ll need to consume a tea drinking experience. 

The practice of steeping and drinking tea can almost be spiritual. Historically, tea is often tied to ceremonies and tradition. Silver Needle is said to have been picked by virgins and served to emperors. Matcha was once enjoyed by the wealthy in ceremonial settings. These ceremonies might seem archaic or stuffy now, but the principle can be applied to modern tea drinking.


Enhance Your Tea Drinking Experience

To bring the serenity of the tea drinking ceremony into your life, think about how you usually digest food and drink. Do you eat quickly while you scroll through your Newsfeed? Do you slurp down your tea while you shoot out an email? Is consumption a sped-up, out-of-focus action that accompanies the hustle and bustle of your life? Or is it a sacred time for you?

Making time to drink tea is easy. First, put more intention into your tea brewing process. If you usually start multitasking while your tea steeps, stop. Instead, carefully select your tea, pour in water that’s the appropriate temperature and steep for the right amount of time. Take this moment for yourself. You can even make a point of using this time as a detox from screens and technology.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the right environment to drink tea. Whether that means cozying up on your favorite chair or making your office workspace more hospitable, you want to make your experience as pleasant and relaxing as possible. Set yourself up to fully experience your tea from the first sip until the last sip. 

As you start to drink your tea, try to focus on what you’re sensing. 80% of what you’re experiencing when you drink tea is through your sense of smell. When you remove your tea leaves from your cup or teapot, smell them and try to figure out what the tea reminds you of. As you actually sip the tea, let it pass over each part of your tongue so you can taste each flavor note. Different sections of the tongue sense different tastes, so it’s important that you expose as much area of the tongue to the tea as you can. 

By creating a moment for yourself every time you drink tea, you’ll increase your own mindfulness and you’ll find that your tea drinking can provide an experience that goes beyond taste and smell. 



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Why Does Tea From the Grocery Store Taste Different?

By October 17, 2016 Brewing Tea

Tea drinkers who’ve grown up on tea from the grocery store might notice that Art of Tea’s products taste different. For one, they’re not as strongly sweet. They also take some care to prepare. These aren’t bad things! In fact, these are signs that the tea is higher quality. That’s why we suggest learning how to brew and steep Art of Tea tea. The tea leaves and blend components are different than those found in cheaper teas.


Tea Leaf Size and Quality

Next time you bag your own loose leaf tea using Art of Tea filter bags, grab a pre-packaged tea bag from your pantry and hold the two bags in your hands to compare. They feel different, right? That’s because the tea leaves are different.

Of course both Art of Tea and other tea brands use Camellia Sinensis or similar tisane ingredients, but the tea grade is not the same. You can actually think of these two grades of teas like you would potato chips.

When you open a bag of chips, the top few are potato-chip-commercial-worthy perfection. They’re usually whole, unbroken, and the highest quality. Those are the same qualities we look for when we source teas. We want whole tea leaves of the right size. These larger tea leaves are superior because as they brew and unfurl, they release flavor from more constituents of the leaf. Brewing whole leaf tea also reduces bitterness and unwanted astringency.

When brewing a bagged tea from the grocery store, you’re often brewing a bag of “fannings.” Fannings are dusty bits of broken tea leaves. Of course, these tea bags also contains larger pieces of tea leaves, but the pieces are smaller. You can compare these leaves and dusty bits to the chips at the bottom of the bag. When you pour the final crumbs of potato chips into your mouth, (Don’t worry. We’ve all done it.) they’re flavor-packed and full of concentrated salty flavor. The flavor can be overpowering and unpleasant.

Natural vs. Artificial Flavoring

When you drink a single origin tea, like Dragonwell, Silver Needle, or Gyokuro, you’re just drinking Camellia Sinensis. The leaves are processed through steaming, oxidizing, drying, baking, or roasting, but otherwise, the tea isn’t altered. Blends are a little different, though. Blends contain tea leaves, of course, but then we add other components, like botanicals, dried fruits, cacao, or other tea types. Sometimes, we add naturally sourced flavors. These flavors don’t contribute to the flavor of the tea as they do the smell. In fact, we like to think they contribute “essence.” They give you the essence of a fruit, the essence of vanilla, or the essence of another component. 

Natural flavors are fleeting, too. Imagine a piano. When you play a key, the sound appears and then disappears. It’s a short moment of sound. That’s what natural flavors are like. They appear, and they disappear after a moment. Artificial flavors are like a note played on the piano while you hold down a pedal. Flavor appears and then lingers, like a prolonged note. Artificial flavors are a little bit stronger, too. Rather than capturing an essence of something, they replicate the flavor. Sometimes these flavors, like the fannings, can be overpowering. 

We never use strictly artificial flavoring in our tea blends. Some companies do. If you’re having a difficult time distinguishing the taste of natural and artificial flavors, think back to a time when you drank a fruit punch or grape-flavored sports drink. That long-lasting, sometimes “chemically” taste is artificial flavoring. 

Keep all of these factors in mind next time you drink Art of Tea or a pre-bagged tea from the grocery store shelves. You’ll begin to notice the nuances that make Art of Tea’s products different and you’ll understand why we covet those top-of-the-bag potato-chip tea leaves the way we do. 

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How to Pair Tea with Dessert

By October 14, 2016 Cooking with Tea

There’s a reason why many restaurants offer tea with desserts after meals. Tea and sweets can complement one another very well. There’s a huge range of flavors in Art of Tea’s teas and many of them deliciously accompany your favorite desserts. Next time you reach into your pantry for tea to go with your dark chocolate brownies or key lime pie, consult this guide so your tea and treats taste even better. 


Dark Chocolate Desserts

Dark chocolate and tea are a wonderful pair. It shouldn’t be a surprise, as chocolate goes with just about everything. That’s why we even mix chocolate into some of our teas. When pairing tea with dark chocolate, think about what flavors usually mix well with the smooth, earthy intensity of dark chocolate, like salty and floral flavors. (Just think about how satisfying the salty-sweet of a dark chocolate-covered pretzel is!) 

Japanese green teas, like Gyokuro and Fukamushi Sencha, are great with dark chocolate because of this salt and chocolate combination. Japanese green teas have a slight mineral saltiness to them that makes dark chocolate flavors pop. Lightly oxidized oolongs, like Orchid Oolong, also work well with dark chocolate. The fragrant florals of lightly oxidized oolongs will bring out the fruity and earthy flavors of dark chocolate. Jasmine Pearls, a floral Chinese green tea, are great with dark chocolate for this reason, too.

Citrus Desserts

Loyal to Earl Grey? You’re in luck. Earl Grey tastes delicious with dark chocolate, but really stands out with citrus desserts. The full-bodied Bergamont flavor of this tea makes it an ideal pair for lemon cookies or cakes. You can even use Earl Grey to prepare lemony treats, like macarons, bundt cakes, and tarts.  

Just like Earl Grey, Japanese green teas are a jack of dessert trades. You can pair Hojicha, a roasted green tea, with crusty citrus desserts, like lemon meringue and key lime pie. The roasty, woodsy flavors of the tea make the citrus bite and pie crust sweetness taste even better.

Creamy Desserts

We’re not talking about tea and ice cream here, though matcha ice creams and affogatos do sound delicious. We’re talking milk chocolate, cheesecake, and other luscious desserts. When looking to enjoy something rich and decadent, turn to a black tea. The slight astringency of black tea will make that milk chocolate mousse or New York Style Cheesecake really sing.

Fresh Fruit

Trying to behave? Pair grapes or freshly sliced fruit, like melons or strawberries, with white tea. Amore, a white tea blend with floral and mint notes, is light enough to not overpower the fruits, but flavorful enough to make this simple post-dinner snack shine. You can also try Summer Rain, a white tea with subtle melon flavors, for a fresh and fruity flavor experience.

No Dessert Needed

Of course, you could always skip the extra calories of dessert and just enjoy tea. Art of Tea created the “Dessert Tea” genre and has plenty of options to choose from. Try Lemon Meringue, Blueberry Cheesecake, or Vanilla Berry Truffle for a guilt-free dessert or to satisfy a sweet tooth anytime. 

Whatever, the dessert, teas can only help elevate the experience. Whether you’re pairing your tea with your dessert, making a dessert with your tea, or just enjoying a tea that tastes just like your favorite dessert, you’ll find that tea can make enjoying your something sweet even sweeter.

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