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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Tea Essential: On-the-go Steeping Tumbler

By October 12, 2016 Health & Lifestyle

Are you living an increasingly busy life? Are you finding it harder to make time for a cup of relaxing and delicious tea? If so, we want to help you put an end to that.

Well, since our lives are squeezed to the fullest, having tea on the go is essential and having a steeping tumbler can help you have your “ahhh” moment even on your busiest days.


How to Use a Steeping Tumbler

Steeping tumblers are generally an insulated glass or metal container that comes with a built-in place for the loose leaf or bagged tea. Simply fill the tea container with your choice of tea, add boiling water, and steep for the ideal time. Then, you can remove the filter basket OR pour the tea from the tumbler into a separate cup so you can reuse the tea tumbler again by refilling it with hot water and repeating the steeping process.

Which option you choose depends on where you go. If you are going into a public place with sitting areas and hot-water dispensers, bring another cup. But if your primary concern is to prevent the tea from spilling — like at a busy and crowded shopping mall — then remove the tea filter and just keep the tea in your spill-proof tumbler.

As for tea choices, feel free to use any you like! Just make sure not to let them steep for too long or they might turn bitter and lose their flavor notes.

Often, people recommend bringing a fork or some type of stick to remove the filter since the water can get pretty hot (and you don’t want to burn your fingers). Instead, if you’re using loose leaf teas, you can put them in our Tea Filter Bags. This still allows the leaves to move around and release their flavor while preventing any of them from escaping.

Types of Tumblers

There are two main types of tea tumblers: Glass or metal. Which one is for you?

It really depends on your lifestyle. Art of Tea has one of each, designed to make drinking tea on-the-go an awesome, delicious, and refreshing experience wherever your day may take you.

The glass tea tumbler, for example, has a silicon grip sleeve to make sure you don’t burn your hands or drop the tumbler. It’s also double-walled to keep the heat inside for hours and the lid is silicon with a little slit that prevents unwanted spilling.

The stainless steel tumbler is fantastic as well. It’s a much sturdier version than the glass tumbler — you could say it’s built for a more “rough and tumble” lifestyle. But, don’t let its resilient shell fool you; it comes with a stylish design on the outside and has a slim aesthetically pleasing build. This tumbler also comes with a removable mesh filter under the twist off lid, which is perfect for both loose and bagged teas.

If you’ve been struggling to find spare time to enjoy a hot or cold tea between work, the gym, soccer games, school plays, or whatever life throws your way, then add these tea tumblers to your shopping list. It’ll enable you to drink your favorite tea no matter where you are or how busy your life gets.

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