Tea Types: What Are You Drinking?

By September 26, 2016 History and Culture of Tea

All tea (white, green, oolong, black, and pu-erh) comes from the same plant — Camellia sinensis. All teas start out as fresh green leaves before being processed into a specific tea type. It is the cultivated and processed leaves of this plant that create the second most consumed beverage in the world.


Camellia sinensis is a subtropical/tropical evergreen plant native to Asia, though commercially grown all over the world. It takes between 5–7 years before the plant has matured enough to be used in the making of tea, and can be cultivated for more than 100 years. In every pound of finished tea, there are 4.5 pounds of freshly plucked tea leaves, which equates to about 2–3 thousand shoots.

There are five major tea types produced — white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh. It is the processing of the tea at origin that determines which type of tea the freshly plucked leaf will become. During processing, the leaf’s enzymes are exposed to oxygen. This chemical reaction, or oxidation, can transform the green leaf into the many shades of green to brown to black. Oxidation is the processing step that has the greatest impact when determining the tea type. Oxidation is sometimes incorrectly referred to as fermentation. An apple’s flesh turning brown after being cut and the leaves on trees turning colors in fall are both examples of oxidation.

White Teas

White teas are so named due to the white down that covers the new leaf buds. Traditionally, white teas came only from the Fujian province of China. However, today, any tea that follows the white processing method is considered white tea. White tea is closest to the natural tea plant. Processing methods of white tea do nothing to encourage or stop oxidation. The natural bruising of the leaf during harvesting and transportation allows oxidation to start on part of the leaves. This produces subtle aromatics, taste and color.

Green Teas

Green teas traditionally came from China and Japan; however, the processing methods of each are radically different and produce completely different tea aromatics and taste. Today, green tea comes from most tea producing countries due to its popularity, but is still defined by which processing method was used. Green teas need to keep their fresh green color, for this to happen, oxidation must be limited. Heat is applied to the leaf to arrest oxidation. In China, the heat source that is applied is referred to as pan firing. Due to this, Chinese green teas tend to have a nutty, smoky vegetal taste. In Japan, steam is used as the heat source, thus, Japanese green teas have a brighter emerald leaf color with a more seaweed, fresh taste.

Oolong Teas

Oolong teas, sometimes referred to as wulong or blue tea by some creative marketers, is the huge bridge between green and black teas. Oolong teas can be as green as green teas and as black as black teas. Oolongs are sub-categorized by the amount of oxidation and leaf shape. Traditionally, oolongs come from China and Taiwan (Formosa), and still today are the major producers of these teas. Oolongs are prized for their complex aromatics and flavor, as well as their ability to be steeped several times. Greener, less oxidized oolongs tend to have more floral notes; mid-oxidized oolongs tend to have more stone fruit notes; and darker oolongs tend to have more nutty, woody notes.

Black Teas

Black teas are the most consumed tea in the US. Though over 60% of the black tea in the US comes from Argentina, historically black tea was a product of China, India, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). In some countries black tea is referred to as brown or red tea. (It is important to note that today the term red tea is most commonly used to refer to rooibos tea, which is an herbal tea not made from Camellia sinensis.) Black teas are considered fully oxidized and produce a full bodied, robust, and earthy cup of tea. Black tea is strong enough to stand up to milk and spices; hence why it is used in Breakfast teas and Masala Chai’s. (Chai is a Hindi word for tea, though most commonly used to refer to a spiced tea in the US.)

Pu-Erh Teas

Pu-erh teas historically come from the Pu-erh region of China — though other areas of China produce a similar style tea. Many tea companies refer to this category of tea as dark tea due to its rich and dark brew. Dark teas are aged teas which subjectively become better with age and will fetch a higher price the older they become. Oxidation is never fully arrested so the teas become darker over time. Traditional pu-erh teas can take up to 5 years before they are palatable, with many consumers wanting 10–15 year-old teas. These teas are referred to as uncooked teas. To speed up the process some producers add microbes to the tea so that in 1–2 years the tea tastes like it has aged longer. These are referred to as cooked teas. The taste difference between these 2 styles of tea is vastly different. Cooked teas tend to be more earthy, wet farm, and musty in flavor; while uncooked teas tend to be more earthy, spicy and smooth in flavor.

No matter which tea type is your personal favorite, all teas start out as a fresh green leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant. The processing and control of oxidation determines which flavors and tastes are developed for you to enjoy.

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How To Make And Enjoy The Perfect Crumpets For Your Tea

By September 23, 2016 Cocktails, Mocktails & More, Cooking with Tea

Tea and crumpets could be one of the best food and drink pairings in the world. The crumpet goes amazing as a snack or as an integral part of your next tea party. So how do you prepare and make the perfect crumpet? It’s a lot easier than you might expect.

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Creating The Ideal Crumpet Experience

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Before you start your crumpet journey, bring your water to a boil for the perfect cup of tea. (You can pick any of your favorites, but black tea is the traditional choice.) While your water is heating, grab your toaster. Why? Untoasted crumpets are squishy like a sponge.

Carefully put your crumpet into the toaster and use the highest setting — the high heat will help to create the perfectly warmed crumpet.

Back to your tea, pour hot water over your tea and steep while your crumpet is toasting.

When the toaster dings, your crumpet is STILL not yet ready. Put it through a second toasting and be aware that you’ll want to pull your crumpet out before the edges burn. You’re looking for a golden bottom and a tanned upper crust, not a burn. Remove the crumpet when it looks tanned.

After inspecting for perfection, allow it to sit for one minute. If toasted perfectly, you should have crunchy outsides and a contrasting squishiness on the inside.  

The Crowning Glory: Crumpet Toppers

Honey, butter, and jam are three essential toppings. Your add-ons should melt enough to fill the crumpet holes with flavor in each bite.  

Pure, softened butter is an amazing crumpet topper. If you let your butter rest at room temperature for a few hours before using it, you can just slice off a bit and put it on your warm crumpet.  

If your butter is straight out of the refrigerator, soften it using a hot water bath. Cut off a few chunks of butter and place it in a bowl; then, carefully place the bowl inside a shallow container of hot water to soften the butter quickly. (Make sure only the butter dish — and not the actual butter — touches the hot water.)

Jam is a delicious treat and provides a good contrast of cold and sweet with a hot crumpet. Honey is also a great idea: when combined with salty butter, you get a sweet and savory crumpet.  

You can also add cheese, eggs, vegemite, or even creamy peanut butter as a tasty crumpet topper.

Make Your Own Crumpets

Want to make your own crumpets? In that case, we’re here to help! Here’s a foolproof way to make the perfect crumpet. Enjoy!

Tea Crumpets
  1. 2 ¼ cups of milk that has been warmed to 110F
  2. 1 package of yeast
  3. 2 teaspoon of sugar
  4. 2 cups flour
  5. 2 Tablespoons of gluten flour or vital wheat gluten
  6. 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  7. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  8. ½ cup water
  1. In a bowl, stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  2. Set aside and allow to rise for about 10 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, gluten flour or vital wheat gluten, sea salt, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  4. Mix the two bowls together for approximately four minutes. You want the mix to be like a thick pancake mix.
  5. Move to a warm place, cover with a towel for one hour.
  6. After an hour, mix together baking soda and water
  7. Remove the towel on your rested mix and add this new creation, mixing well.
  8. Cover and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  9. Heat a buttered pan (cast iron is best) and butter 4” metal crumpet molds. Allow the molds and pan to heat on low while your mix is rising.
  10. After 30 minutes, scoop out some of the batter gently and add inside the ring. You should fill it ¼ of the way so that when the crumpet cooks, it rises to ¾” thickness. Bubbles will form and the batter will dry out. That’s when your crumpet is ready.
  11. Take the crumpet, ring and all, and brown the top over a flame (or use the toaster method we outlined). Flipping a crumpet causes it to flatten out. Instead, be sure to remove the crumpet by gently loosening it from the ring with a knife.
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Crumpets and tea are more of an experience than something that can be described. While they can be enjoyed in so many different ways, whatever you decide, there’s no doubt that mouth-watering flavor of crumpets and tea are a match made in heaven.

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The Best Tea After Yoga

By September 21, 2016 Health & Lifestyle

Do you practice yoga? Well, just like with any workout, rehydrating after a rejuvenating yoga session is essential. But instead of drinking electrolyte soft drinks like many other gym goers do, reach for a delicious cup of hot tea that can be just as relaxing as the yoga itself!

There are countless benefits to drinking tea after a yoga session. But how do you pick the right one for you?


How Much Energy Do You Want?

Tea is a great after-exercise drink. Why? It provides a light pick me up that won’t result in a crash for a simple reason: On average, a cup of tea has half of the caffeine of a cup of coffee. (Different kinds of tea have even less.) In general, the darker the tea, the higher the caffeine content you’ll find in it.

For example, after yoga, the low oxidation of green tea provides a steady release of a low dose of caffeine that make it the perfect meditative and relaxing tea. Those who want no caffeine at all, however, can always find their favorite decaffeinated tea or just opt for an herbal blend.

How Intense Was Your Workout?

Several teas are associated — both through scientific studies and folk-medicine perspectives — with muscle relaxation. These include ginger, green tea, and most of all, chamomile.

Chamomile contains dozens of different anti-inflammatory chemicals and ginger is believed to help with pain relief. Thus, if you tend to push yourself especially hard while you exercise, these could be perfect choices for you.

How Committed Are You?

A number of delicious and healthy teas can actually be grown in your own backyard. If you already have a garden or even just a few pots around the house, growing your own tea can be a highly rewarding experience.

A hugely popular tea that’s easy to make and grow is ginger root tea. By picking up some organic ginger from a health food store or a farmer’s market, leave a portion of the root out until it sprouts and then plant it like a potato. Rose hips can also be made into a tasty herbal blend and  rosemary can make a great drink as well.

In some places, people may have wild chamomile growing in their yard and not even know it; the same goes for mint, another relaxing go-to herbal blend chosen by many yoga experts. (Just make sure it’s properly identified before it is made into tea.)

What More Do You Want From Your Tea?

Are you health conscious (like most people who practice yoga)? If so, then you’ll enjoy the many health benefits of various teas.

Some studies have shown that tea drinkers have healthier bones than non-tea drinkers, despite the fact that caffeine may be linked to bone complications. Experts believe that this may have to do with antioxidant related compounds called flavonoids.

Flavonoids are found in drinks made from tea leaves: Green tea has the most followed by black teas. Tea has also been linked to weight loss, thanks to compounds called catechins, which affect your metabolism. (In fact, no tea has a higher catechin count than oolong, a black tea originating in China.)

While there’s a whole world of tea to choose from, if you’re about to try an after-yoga tea for the first time, green tea may be your best option. Why? Not only does it taste amazing, but it also offers tremendous health benefits.

Give it a shot for your next yoga workout and take your fitness to a new level.

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