The History Of Tea Time

With high tea happening less on land and more flying high in the sky – have you ever wondered where high tea started? What the history was? Well this amazing info graphic, via confused.com, tells the different customs and history of tea:

This graphic shows the elegance, that pomp and circumstance associated with the tradition of high tea. With big colorful hats and white napkins and dainty little things. With milk and sugar cubes, tiers and tiers of pastries, and a sheer pastel elegance, even in the clothing. The staff and having people pour your tea for you, the elegance – it’s just amazing to think about, that this is what tea is.

So, maybe with this – next time you sit down for a cuppa, you can add that old fashioned elegance again. Have some cute sandwiches, adhere the traditions, and let yourself just be proper, or rather “propah”.

Dunking Cookies In Tea – Now Backed Up By Science

I think we can admit to ourselves that we’re dunkers. It may not be polite, it may be messy – but it is delicious. Dipping the cookie in, just enough to make it warm and awesome, but not so much that it crumbles away – heaven is in that cookie.

 

But does dunking a cookie into a hot tea really make it taste better?

British chef Heston Blumenthal recently set out to discover on his TV show,Heston’s Fantastical Food. With the help of a high-tech gadget inserted, of all places, up his nose -he found that a chocolate-covered biscuit dipped into hot black tea did indeed have more flavor than an undunked one.

Blumenthal writes cookbooks, stars in TV shows and runs The Fat Duck restaurant just west of London. He likes to understand the chemistry behind his food. So to solve the mystery of the tea-drenched biscuit, Blumenthal enlisted the help of food scientists at the University of Nottingham. They’ve developed a device, called MS-Nose, which measures the amount of flavor released in your mouth as aromas when you eat various foods – in this case it measured the combo of tea and dunked cookie.

During the experiment,  the MS-Nose sent data back to a computer screen, where the levels of flavor released are plotted on a chart.They Measured the amount of Methybutanol released when Blumenthal ate the cookies. Methylbutanol is a compound that gives cookies and baked goods a toasty or malty taste. When Blumenthal chews on a dry biscuit, the flavor  registers on the line graph on a screen. But when he then dips the biscuit into tea and takes another bite, the “flavor line” noticeably spikes up on the chart.

The chart showed that the wet biscuit not only released more cookie flavor, but the aromas also burst into Blumenthal’s mouth more quickly. Talking about experiment Blumenthal says, 

“Dunking makes the biscuit taste more biscuity. That’s complete evidence that dunking is better than not dunking.”

This way to study the difference of flavors between a dunked versus non dunked basis works because taste is composed of both the taste of the food and the actual aroma. When a cookie as made warmer, by dunking it in tea, and the aroma reaches the nose, making us taste it faster and more profoundly. And that is why a dunked cookie tastes better than one left dry.
So dunkers out there, and soon to be dunkers, thanks to Blumental we know it is indeed worth it. Worth the cookies that fall to the bottom, the inevitable crumblies at the bottom of the cup, and the dripped tea. It isn’t just something preferred, cookies do actually taste better dunked. So go for the dunk and keep enjoying your tea with cookies, or rather biscuits.

It’s Tea Time – Woof! Woof!

It is not an uncommon thing to take tea with your pets. Curling up with a cup of tea, a good book, and you cat purring beside you, having your breakfast feeding your dog biscuits under the table, drinking tea with your bird on your shoulder. Beatrix Potter apparently drank tea with her bunnies. Well now, for you tea drinking dog lovers, there is tea your dog can drink.

WOOF & BREW is a range of healthy herbal teas for dogs, was launched at Crufts, from March 7-10, by two Huntingdonshire business people – Lisa Goodwin Morton, of Hartford, and Steve Bennett, of Papworth, and two of their contacts Tony Kinch and Nick Gandon.

The initial range of tea included five varieties for adult dogs, with each said to help with a different area of the dog’s wellbeing, such as skin and coat or fresh breath .The tea bags are added to 250ml of hot water for four minutes, then added to 750ml of cold water before served to a canine.

The creators have plans to introduce two more lines to WOOF&BREW shortly, with a range called Posh Pooch and another to help dogs with anxiety. The pouches of 28 bags – a month’s supply for one dog – have also been picked up by a number of wholesalers.

With this, who knows how many other pets you can have tea with? Parakeets, Kitties, Teacup Pigs – the potential for animal themed tea parties is infinite. If not, maybe “it’s tea time” will be just another phrase Fido will  perk his ears to.

One Direction Drinking Tea Backstage

It is reported that the very popular band One Direction is more British than previously realized. Instead of the typical “rock and roll” mentality for backstage preparation, they and their management have been requesting “to keep their dressing room low-key before the shows and requested tea in there rather than booze”. Their love for tea doesn’t even stop there. Band member Louis Tomilson recently revealed that he had a tattoo of a steaming cup of tea on his arm. Fans are even finding references to their tea in songs: In the song ‘Little Things’, they sing: “You can’t go to bed without a cup of tea; maybe that’s the reason that you talk in your sleep”.

A spokesman for Higher Living speaks on the matter,

“Many professional singers drink tea before gigs to warm-up and repair vocal chords plus peppermint’s menthol qualities also help clear the airways.The lads are so committed to their fans that they don’t want anything to spoil the show and won’t leave anything to chance. We hope the emergency tea kits will give them peace of mind to perform their best set yet”

And with tea on their side, to help their vocals and their mood – they’re  sure to be great helping girls swoon all over the world. While they’re doing it, maybe they’re setting a different direction for what it is live the Rock and Roll lifestyle.

What Does Your Used Teabag Say About You?

People have been analyzing people’s personality through numerous things throughout the years: how you walk, how you write, and even how you stand – but have you ever thought about what your used teabag says about you? As things often are on the internet – if you didn’t think it exists – it does. As BBC wrote in their article,  the different ways to deal with tea bags can be associated with different facets of personalities. Maybe this describes you, maybe it doesn’t – but it’s all in good fun.

Here are some tea bags and tea bag behaviors and their meanings:

  • Left to dry for composting- a person who does this is an environmentally conscious person and may be active in maintaining their home garden. A person like this would live a healthy life with outdoor activities, and even homegrown vegetables on the table… at the same time, they might smell like compost and manure. 
  • Left to dry before dumping in trash –  This type of person is liable to be houseproud; you will not find dust, unwiped drips or anything out of place in their house. 
  • the tea bag is off-white-  An offwhite tea bag means that it is made of unbleached or recycled paper. This person is most likely to be a very keen environmentalist. The tea is also most likely to be a fair trade or organic variety as these teas most often use this sort of teabag.
  • a red tea bag – this is usually an herbal or fruit tea. This person is quite likely to be chilled-out as they are not requiring a caffeine fix at whichever point in the day you discovered their teabag – whether they’re using it as a detox or just a herbal tea drinker.
  • a tea bag followed by a drip trail of tea – The fact that a track, or tracks, of tea lead from the tea making area to the teabag graveyard indicates a serious lack of care from the tea-maker.  This person is liable to be lazy in other areas.
  • a milky tea bag – A teabag that has a milky complexion has in fact been used in a mug which contained the milk before the water was added. This is a pre-laitarian attempt to make tea in the modern non-teapot age. Adding milk before the tea is often, though not exclusively, a sign of someone maybe not polished in tea making.

Whether your tea bag is red, milky or if you leave a drip trail – it is certainly interesting to find out if this guide fits the bill. It is interesting because it makes you look at your particular ritual. Do you leave the bag in for a certain amount of time or do you forget it? Do you drain the tea bag and do you save it at all? Whether or not this is right, how you do your tea says what type of person you are and that’s certainly something to think about. And who even knows with loose tea? Though loose tea has always had real fortune telling.

Tea As Art In Beitou Museum

The image above is an array of tea pots carved from coral forming the character for the word Bai Fu, Chinese for “good fortune”. It is by Lu-Chih-song, not only a great artist but a polio survivor; she spent 2 years carving each tea pot – the smallest being 3mm in length and only capable of carrying one drop of water. This piece is a part of a greater exhibition in Beitou Museum,  as a tribute to the aesthetics of tea;the museum is showcasing over 300 objects used in the tea ceremonies of 13 countries, including Tibet, Japan, China, Turkey and Taiwan.   A Tibetan tea churn made in the 1900s and a Japanese silver teapot from the Meiji period are among the rare pieces in the exhibit. In order to further pay tribute, the walls are decorated with calligraphy, photographs and paintings with the same theme. Saalih Lee , director of the Beitou Museum, describes the importance of an exhibit like this,

“There’s a whole culture and history behind tea drinking, especially in Taiwan, where tea making and the tea trade date back many generations,”

Tea isn’t a recent thing for patrons of Beitou Museum.  Taiwan began cultivating tea as early as 1717. Plantations were small in scale and farmers grew tea only for their own pleasure. It was only when John Dodd, a British tea merchant, began exporting oolong tea overseas in the 1860s did Taiwan gain fame for its tea.  One part of the exhibition displays Taiwan’s role in the international tea market. In the past the nation’s tea leaves were sold under the brand Formosa, which is why the word Taiwan is rarely seen in old western posters or tin jars. Lee adds,

 “If you think about it, tea drinking could be a living form of art that elevates life,”

and it is. Tea is is something that has become casual – served in paper cups and tin cans, when it is something that deserves more. It deserves history and ceremony and delicate beautiful china. It’s all well and good to get that tea fix on the go and let tea be the everyday and unglamorous, but don’t forget that tea is a beautiful thing and every once in a while, it should be put on a pedestal – much as it has been in this exhibition. Maybe in turn, tea will lift you up. So maybe not today, but bring that old tea set out of hiding and allow yourself to remember why you fell in love with tea in the first place.

Tea Tasting

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a tea taster?

People train for years to develop their palettes enough to be professional tea tasters, but you can have general knowledge enough to taste tea with the best of them, if not just to know what it is exactly in tea that you like.  When tasting tea, it is important use both your taste buds and your sense of smell to discern flavor and quality. Professional tea tasters slurp the tea and quickly swish it around their mouth to get  the tea’s body and flavor profile and  then they  spit out the tea as they quickly move down the line, tasting several teas one after another. You don’t have to spit out your tea, at least hopefully not near your computer.

The first step is to smell the leaves dry and then steeped, to judge the quality and “nose” of the tea. In dry tea, some of the terms to describe it include

  • Adhesive: Well-rolled, wiry leaves that tend to cling together when picked up.
  • Attractive: Well-made, uniform in color, size, and texture.
  • Bloom: Leaves look lively and have a lustrous quality.
  • Brown: Leaves are brown in color. Although black is a desirable color for black tea leaves, tippy teas are never totally black due to the presence of the lighter-colored tips, which are desirable.
  • Dull: Lacking bloom

In wet or infused tea, some terms are

  • Aroma: Leaves have a fragrant smell.
  • Bright: Leaves have a lively reflective quality rather than looking dull.
  • Coppery: Leaves have a coppery color, usually denoting a good quality tea.
  • Dark: Leaves are dark or dull in color, sometimes denoting a lesser quality tea.
  • Dull: Leaves that lack a bright, reflective quality.

and finally, when the tea is brewed you can taste the actual tea or liqueur as it is often called. Here it is important to pay attention not only to the flavor but to how it looks. You can describe it in some of these terms

  •  Hungry: When the characteristics generally associated with the tea variety or region of origin are not present.
  • Light/Pale: Liquor that does not have depth of color but may be flavoury or pungent. Darjeeling tea is a good example of this.
  • Malty: A desirable malted barley taste often found in Assam tea.
  • Mellow: Tea leaves which have matured well produce a mellow tasting tea.
  • Muscatel: Grapey taste. This is an exceptional characteristic found in some Darjeeling tea.
  • Point(y): A desirable brightness and acidity often associated with Ceylon teas.
  • Pungent: A bright liquor that has pronounced briskness and a strong, astringent flavor. Highly desirable.
  • Rich: A pleasantly thick and mellow liquor.
  • Round: A full, smooth-tasting liquor.
  • Stale: Tea that has an unpleasant taste because it is old or has been stored in damp conditions.
  • Strong: Liquor possesses strength of body and flavor.
  • Thick: Tea that has good body as opposed to being “thin”. Assam tea is known for producing a thick liquor.
  • Thin: Tea that lacks body. This is not necessarily undesirable as certain tea growing regions, such as Darjeeling, are celebrated for their tea’s thin, flavoury liquors. However teas from Assam should never have a thin liquor.
  • Tired: Tea that is past its prime and consequently has a flat or stale character.
  • Woody: Tea that has a sawdust-like character.

And now you know some vocabulary in which to taste your own tea to. You can find out what qualities in tea you want to seek out and which you enjoy – you can even impress your friends. So drink on, maybe you can hold your own tasting.

Tea Infusers: Or How I Learned To Dump The Teabag And Love Loose Tea

Movie references aside, I think we can all admit to ourselves that loose leaf tea is better. There is something about the taste – there is something richer and more beautiful about the tea. It tastes real. More real than that grocery store variety black tea ever did. It’s because it’s free. I don’t mean it in some magical metaphor of a way, but when a tea is free it can literally be that much more the tea.  “Whole leaf tea”, which you can sometimes get when you buy loose leaf tea, is made of whole unbroken leaves while tea bags are usually made from low tea grades, like dust and fannings. Dust and fannings are small pieces of tea and because they have more surface area, some of the essential flavors and oils can evaporate from it – making it more dull and bitter. Even if the tea in the tea bag is whole leaf, the size of the teabag can limit what the tea could be. Tea leaves expand as they take in water to infuse the tea, and if they are crammed into a smaller tea bag – it limits the flavor of the tea. For those still clinging to the tea bag,  there are now pyramid tea bags and bigger tea bags made by companies to make the taste better and truer. Even more, the standard tea bag is just that… standard. Year after year that same brand of tea will taste exactly the same, while in loose leaf tea there tends to be nuance. You can get something different and more compelling in your cup every time you get a new tin of the stuff.

It is admittable  that loose leaf tea is somewhat tricky. That’s the reason that tea is still sold by and large in those bags they’ve been in for years. You put it in a teapot and you could forget to strain it and all of a sudden you’re coughing up soggy leaves, you could live dangerously swallow a leaf or two drinking it straight up loose – a bag doesn’t require this commitment. You stick it in, wander off, take it out and throw it away. Luckily for tea drinkers everywhere the idea of strainers was expanded into tea infusers. There are even teapots built with strainers in them as well. These infusers, when you put the leaves in them, take the same amount of time that a bag would take and you have your tea. It doesn’t get too strong over time. The tea just is. The same amount of commitment. So with a tea infuser in hand or living dangerously (the other loose tea routes) live a little looser. After all, we don’t buy coffee in bags. We buy the ground stuff, even if it is store brand. So give your tea the same amount of dignity. Put a tea infuser in your life and love  that loose honest to goodness tea.

Tea Technology – Innovative Tea Cups

There is something lovely about that perfect tea cup – that one that you always want to be clean and will use again and again. Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect warmth. Inside that cup lies your home, your safe place. It is the cup from where your creativity flows forth, It is the cup that tells you that everything is going to be okay, in that cup is ritual and solitude – the tea cup is about as important as the tea you put in it.

Everyday innovators are making a better tea cup, another cup to add to your collection that can take tea drinking to the next level. Here are some examples of people making that new perfect tea cup,

tea

First there’s the Dunk Mug with biscuit holder, top left image, that allows for you to store biscuits or other treats within the cup you are drinking from. How many times do you eat cookies with your tea? It practically goes with tea, especially on cold winter nights – getting the warmth and sweetness at the same time.
The top right image, MyCuppaTea, has a color guide along the inside of your mug so that you know what color the tea should be according to the type and according to the amount of milk or creamer you put into the tea. It’s like the interior design method of tea drinking.

Another interesting thing is the self stirring tea glass, bottom left, where if you swill the glass a little, the ball at the bottom of the glass will mix tea – no spoons required. It is an elegant and interesting design. There is even, now, glassware that you can write on. You can write to-do lists, bottom middle, on your glass mug when you start thinking about your day and then erase it later.

Last but not least, there is a mug, bottom right, made in an elliptical shape and with the handle shaped differently so that the center of gravity closer to the hand – making it easier to carry and move around.

The possibilities are endless and new innovative tea cups and mugs are happening every day. So next time you’re drinking that perfect cup of tea in that perfect cup – maybe think about experimenting with some more experimental mugs – or even do some designing yourself – that cup of tea could be even more awesome than it already is.

Where In The World Is That Tea From?

Tea is not just something nice to drink, but an international commodity. Have you ever wondered where that tea in your tea cup came from?

Tea was first grown and cultivated  in China. Before long, it spread to Japan and then was transplanted far and wide. Today, tea is cultivated on lush hills, high mountains and coastal regions in a geographic belt that runs from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. The great teas of the world are grown and processed in a handful of countries: China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka , and Taiwan.

In China,  tea is mostly produced  in the southern half of the country. They produce some of the world’s rarest green teas, but they export mostly black tea. On an interesting note, the oldest living tea tree resides in China where it is said tea was discovered in the 5th century A.D. Though China exports a lot of black tea, many other teas are present and exported from there.

India produces more tea than any country in the world. Home to many major tea-producing regions, the most celebrated are Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri. From these regions come some of the most exquisite teas in the world.

Japan is renowned for producing green tea and elevating its consumption to a fine art.  Its three major tea-growing regions are Shizuka, Kagoshima, and Mie. Shizuoka, between Mt. Fuji and the Pacific Coast, is the country’s most prolific tea-growing region. The Republic’s Spring Cherry and Big Green Hojicha are perfect introductions into the world of Japanese Green Tea. Bright green powdered matcha – a rare Japanese tea — is the star of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It is also commonly used around the world in making green tea themed desserts, like Green tea Cheesecake or Green tea Cupcakes.

The hills of the island of Sri Lanka ,formerly Ceylon, are planted with some of the world’s finest teas. Most Ceylon tea is  black tea, fully oxidized. Tea was once a rarity in Sri Lanka – until the coffee crop failed and British grocery magnate Thomas Lipton converted coffee plantations to tea-growing in the 1880s.

The island of Taiwan was once known as Formosa, so you will hear the teas grown there still referred to as Formosan oolong teas. Cultivated at relatively low altitudes, most all of the teas processed on the island become oolong, a semi-fermented tea.

So next time you’re enjoying that cup of tea, whether oolong, green, black or herbal – you can know where it’s from and how that cup fits in the global picture.