Why is There Oil in My Tea?

Sometimes when steeping a tea - you may notice a small oil slick floating on the surface of the tea liquor. This is likely to occur when steeping teas that have been pan-fired. The oil comes from the tea-seeds, and is applied to the pan to help the leaves slide around as they are handled as well as to keep the leaves from burning. In Heiss' "The Story of Tea," they explain that "the solidified oil is the simple oil expelled from the leaves of tea bushes that are periodically left to grow, flower, and seed. Tea-seed oil is solid at [...]

Why is There Oil in My Tea?2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

An Introduction to James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary

James Norwood Pratt is best known for his book, New Tea Lover’s Treasury. Considered an authority on tea and tea lore, he has spent much of his life disseminating the way of tea to America and the West. His latest book, the Tea Dictionary includes terminology for the cultivation, manufacture, tasting, trading, marketing, and classification of tea: some of which has not been translated to the English language until now. Pratt collaborated with Dr. Chen Zhongmao (now Honorary Chairman of China's Tea Research Institute), Devan Shah and Ravi Sutodiya to create this 370-page book. The dictionary also includes a  timeline of tea [...]

An Introduction to James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Pu-erh Ice Cream Float

Alright, I know I'm not into ridiculous flavored teas -- the kind where the taste of the tea is lost. But I am a fan of using teas in recipes where tea compliments another food, or another food compliments a tea. So while drinking some of my Green Elephant Pu-erh, I was thinking that it would go great with vanilla ice cream. So I filled a mason jar with a nice chunk of my beencha and filled the jar with boiling water, I sealed the jar and left it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. The resulting tea was completely black, like coffee [...]

Pu-erh Ice Cream Float2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Tea 4:20 Edition: Smoking Tea

[adrotate banner="7"] Smoking tea. There has been some information circulating the internet about a growing trend of smoking tea from tea-bags. Chances are someone has mentioned this to you at some point, or talked about smoking other herbs and spices in your kitchen (especially if you’ve ever been a teenager). After all, clove cigarettes are a thing right? Doing a quick search will show you that there is a bit of information online about the healthful effects of smoking tea leaves. I do not condone this, I would not try this if I were you, I’m not telling you to try this — smoking anything is harmful to your health. But… [...]

Tea 4:20 Edition: Smoking Tea2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

A First Taste of New Zealand Oolong

There is a certain scent that I often smell when in the wilderness, the freshness of the open air coming down from the mountains, the cool feeling of the wind carrying this scent through the trees -- the smell of New Zealand. I have traveled to both the North and South islands of this beautiful country twice and every so often I'll get a wiff of that scent here in the states when I'm out in nature and it puts me right back to New Zealand. I smelled this scent when I opened my pack of Aromatic Oolong from New Zealand. [...]

A First Taste of New Zealand Oolong2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

The Gong Fu Cha Institute at Penn State

I had a chance to speak with Jason Cohen, president of Penn State's new "Gong Fu Cha" institute. The institute aims to: "build a tea library in order to document the vintages of tea and to propagate through instruction the art of GongFu Cha." If you go to Penn State, you can join the institute every Wednesday from 6-9 in the HUB-Robeson Center. I asked Jason a series of questions... here we go: What got you started in tea? I got started in tea in the summer of 2007. I was in China for about 2 months, during which I lived [...]

The Gong Fu Cha Institute at Penn State2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

What is a HOB? And how does it keep my tea warm?

I received a curious package in the mail last week. It contained "hobs" from Thistledown.com. What is a "hob" you ask? Their site defines hobs as: "a shelf in the back of a fireplace on which to place things to keep warm"; and "hob" is a British colloquialism for a stove top." Thistledow's hobs are not shelves in the back of fireplaces, rather -- they are cozies for your tea. Not one of those old-lady Victorian style cozies either. It looks cool. They have all sorts of designs on the site. But, the big question... do they work, and if so, [...]

What is a HOB? And how does it keep my tea warm?2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

DIY: Moroccan Mint Tea

The everyday tea served in Morocco consists of gunpowder green tea, fresh mint, and copious amounts of sugar. The mint growing in my yard in Chicago: Giving the mint a rinse: The pot is stuffed with mint and about 2 teaspoons of gunpowder green tea, now I'm adding 1/4 cup of raw sugar. You can find cheap gunpowder green tea at most Asian grocers. It usually comes in dark green boxes:    

DIY: Moroccan Mint Tea2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

An Authentic Milk Oolong

Nai Xiang, literally "milk fragrance" is a characteristic of a Taiwanese high-mountain oolong made with the Jin Xuan cultivar of camellia sinensis. Jin Xuan is known not only for it's milk-like mouth-feel, but also for it's cream like flavor and aroma. Many so-called "milk oolongs" have popped up on the market having been artificially flavored. In 2010, Roy Fong, owner of the Imperial Tea Court traveled to Taiwan and  discovered several variants of it's production. From what he discovered, I am seeing three different things all being called "milk oolong" in order of legitimacy: True Jin Xuan oolong with natural creamy mouth-feel. Jin Xuan [...]

An Authentic Milk Oolong2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

How to Use Bamboo Charcoal

Bamboo charcoal, you've heard of it, you've heard of the great things it can do. But really, does it work? I think so. I'm not 100% sure, but I allowed several people to try my "bamboo water" and tea brewed with it alongside normal Chicago tap water and the results were positive. I have no scientific evidence, and I don't need any - I like it, it tastes good, and I'm going to use it -- and that's enough for me (want technical? read this). If you are interested in making bamboo charcoal, Pyro Energen has put together this pretty neat [...]

How to Use Bamboo Charcoal2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

Interview: Yunnan Sourcing’s Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson is an American who settled in Kunming China and founded the tea export company Yunnan Sourcing. He spends his days working on the floor of one of the largest Pu-erh trading centers of the world. How did you come to love tea? It all started with Yunnan. I traveled for about 5 months in Yunnan province in 1998-1999. At that time I started to drink Pu-erh and other Yunnan teas. I had this idea that I would try and introduce it people in the USA. I purchased and shipped back more than 80 kilograms of Pu-erh tea at that [...]

Interview: Yunnan Sourcing’s Scott Wilson2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

The redundancy of "Chai Tea" (Masala Chai)

We've all said it, "chai tea" -- the greatest redundancy in the world of tea. In the Hindi language, "chai" means "tea", so saying "chai tea" is the same as saying "tea tea." Just think about that the next time you are in a coffeeshop and hear someone order a "chai tea latte" -- whatever that is. Granted the popularized form of "chai tea" in America is syrup or powder based anyway - so calling what most drink in America "masala chai" would be a bastardization.  Masala refers to a mixture of spices; in masala chai, usually cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star [...]

The redundancy of "Chai Tea" (Masala Chai)2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

Easy Steeping for Busy Folks

Let's examine the steeping of tea in its simplest form for a moment: when we steep tea, we are making a drink from the leaves of a plant. We take into account the type of tea leaves we are using and the way they were processed along with the water temperature and steeping time. Too many times we end up drinking what Heidi Kyser from TChing [http://www.tching.com/index.php/2009/03/12/down-with-brew-waste/] calls "brew-waste." This is "when a server ruins a perfectly good tea by brewing it at the wrong temperature, for the wrong amount of time, and/or using the wrong kind of equipment." And if [...]

Easy Steeping for Busy Folks2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

Why tea-bags and tea-infusers are bad

Tea bags are a product of convenience; they are easy, cheap, and clean. But if you've only ever drank tea that was a product of a tea-bag, you are missing out. Tea-bags used to only be filled with dust and fannings which are all the little pieces leftover from different processing methods. Through the years, tea companies have been putting higher and higher quality tea in bags. But no matter how nice the tea, or how innovative the bag is (see nylon bag below), they fail for one fundamental reason: tea leaves must be allowed to flow freely within the brewing [...]

Why tea-bags and tea-infusers are bad2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

A Visit to the BOH Tea Plantation in Malaysia

In July 2008, I was backpacking through Malaysia and was able to visit the largest tea plantation in Southeast Asia-the BOH tea plantation. It was a great experience. If you find yourself in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, be sure to visit a tea plantation. There were rows and rows of tea plants as far as the eye could see. I took a tour of the processing plant and was able to see their process. Their process was described to us as we walked through the factory; they broke it down into each stage: plucking, withering, rolling, fermentation (oxidation), drying and [...]

A Visit to the BOH Tea Plantation in Malaysia2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00
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