Beyond the Leaf
It’s the season to introduce friends and family to the wonders of tea! Don’t miss the Chai Spice Meringue recipe at the bottom of this post. Crafted by Georgia at our Eden Prairie location- they’re amazing!
‘Teas the season- All year long!
1. Tea of the Month Club It’s like an advent calendar of tea that keeps coming all year! Every month a 4 oz pouch of tea arrives on your doorstep. Is someone you know new to tea? Tea of the Month Club is the perfect gift for newbie and expert.
Great Gifts under $20
2. You, and a mug of Roasted Chestnut Roasted Chestnut is our own black tea blend and was voted best flavored black tea of 2014. Only $6.59 for four ounces! Try it with a swirl of honey and a dollop of milk (or with a splash of Irish Cream!). 3. Basic Brew in Mug and 4 oz. of Fireside Spice Everything the tea novice needs.. The 11 oz. stoneware mug comes with a built-in stainless steel tea strainer and coaster lid for just $10.99. Fireside Spice is on sale: $7.18/four oz. through December.
4. New Seascape Gaiwan Gaiwans are the traditional Chinese way to prepare tea. It’s the perfect vessel for teas that re-steep and the ideal gift for the burgeoning tea geek. $13.99 5. TeaSource Chai Tin Minnesotans survive our frigid winters because we drink a lot of TeaSource House Chai. Share this decadent treat over the holidays with our TeaSource Chai Tin. Comes with 2 oz. of spice blend and black Assam tea $10.99
Great Gifts under $50
6. TeaSource Winter Sampler Box Not sure what to buy? This gift contains 1 ounce each of our five best- selling seasonal blends in a gorgeous botanical Camilla Sinensis gift box. Inner lid has basic brewing instructions. $24.99
7. New! Square Beehouse Teapot Think inside the box with our new square Beehouse teapots. The square teapot comes in three colors with a built in steeping basket, metal lid, and no drip spout. $26.99-$28.99
Memorable Gifts for Tea Geeks
8. Eilong Taiwanese Porcelain Stunning, heirloom quality, and exquisitely functional; we love these Taiwanese tea sets. Take one home. You’ll fall in love with them too! $49.99-$79.99 9. Fabulous Indian Teas TeaSource will be featuring the best teas of India throughout 2015 with teas you can’t find at just any tea shop. Green Darjeelings, exotic estates, and awesome Assams! Try my personal favorite: Darjeeling, Giddapahar Estate 2nd flush, Musk. $23.97/four oz.
A Perfect Holiday Tea Party
10. Jasmine Champagne cocktails
- 1 part cold brewed Jasmine, chilled
- 1 part Champagne, chilled
Fill a champagne flute halfway with Jasmine, then top off the glass with champagne. Adjust to your personal taste. Cheers! Cold brew iced tea instructions here.
11. Fireside Toddy Santa does not want milk and cookies. He wants a Fireside Toddy and Chai Spice Meringues! Hot Toddies were traditionally made with black tea, but this ingredient is often left out of modern recipes. For shame! We are bringing it back with our Fireside Toddy!
- 1.5 oz. your favorite Whiskey (substitute Brandy for a sweeter variation)
- 1 Tbs. Honey
- 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
- Dash of Bitters
- Fireside Spice Tea concentrate. To prepare: use I heaping teaspoon (3-4 grams) Fireside Spice tea. Steep in 4-6 oz. boiling water for 4 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in a tea cup, stir, and garnish with lemon peel.
12. Georgia’s Amazing Chai Spice Meringues Makes Approximately 30 meringues Takes 30 minutes to prep. (45 if you are distracted singing along with Christmas music).
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 2/3 cup White Sugar
- ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- ½-1 tsp. TeaSource Chai Spice Blend (Half a teaspoon makes regular spiced meringues, a whole teaspoon makes them extra zippy!)
- Pre-heat oven to 400
- Separate the eggs so you just have the egg whites in your mixing bowl. In a smaller dish stir together your sugar, spices, and salt
- Add the vanilla to your egg whites and start mixing. Put your electric mixer on the highest setting.
- When the egg whites and vanilla have reached the stiff peak stage, (aprox. 5 min.) keep the mixer going and slowly add in the sugar, spice, and salt blend. Turn the mixer off when everything is fully incorporated.
- Using 2 small spoons, (one to scoop and one to help pry the meringue off the first spoon) spoon bite sixed mounds of meringue onto a well-greased baking sheet. They can be placed close together because they don’t expand or flatten much.
“I’ve never heard of that kind of tea before.”
It’s not very often that I say those words. But it happened while I was in India last spring. Almost every tea place I stopped in – street stalls, tea broker’s offices, tea gardens – I would be asked if I wanted tea. Of course I would say “yes.” I would be asked if I wanted “black tea” or “milk tea.” At first I thought they just meant a black tea served with milk on the side. But it became clear this was not what they meant. So of course I asked for it. Then asked for it at the next place, and the next place … It’s reaalllly good. It is strong, sweet, smooth, milky (duh), and the method of preparation totally took me by surprise. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife did not like it but EVERYONE at TeaSource did.
-Bill Waddington Owner, TeaSource
Watch and learn how this traditional Indian tea is made... [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJq6URhCarA[/embed]
Shop Ms. Zhang's tea collection HERE.
I don’t think of myself as a tea master, I’m just a long-time student of tea. But I get to hang out with tea masters. For three days this month I got to be with Ms. Zhang Liumie, who is a co-founder of Yiqingyuan Tea LTD, Changsha China, and a tea scientist respected throughout China. Ms. Zhang and her daughter (aka charming translator) were in the Twin Cities for three days this month to share some new teas, talk opportunities, and teach about Dark Tea. We had a great visit and had a chance to taste a bunch of new teas and show Ms Z and Joy what tea stores in the U.S. are like. We started by visiting the TeaSource in Eden Prairie, MN and Ms. Z asked if she could try something she had never had before. To me this is a sign of a really smart person, someone who looks to experience something new and unfamiliar. So we shared a pot of Ceylon Burning Sun from the Lumbini Estate. Ms Z and Joy were very impressed. The next day we talked a lot about Dark Tea. Then I invited Ms Z and Joy to help us evaluate about 30 Indian teas we had just received from this year’s harvest. This was kind of fun because, despite her brilliance Ms Z. wasn’t that familiar with Indian teas. But it was still a learning experience, cupping teas with her. Ms Z and I getting ready to cup and evaluate around 30 very fresh Indian teas. She really makes me think I have to re-evalutate the TeaSource dress code A whole lot of slurping going on; with Michael and Joy in the background.[/caption] The real highlight of their visit was a 30 minute Livestream broadcast by Ms. Z and Joy, talking about Dark Tea. How often do folks get the chance to listen, learn, and interact with the person who actually made the tea they are drinking? We opened this presentation to folks in the Twin Cities region to participate; so folks could actually listen to a tea master, they could taste (real-time) some very cool unique dark teas, and also so Ms. Z had someone to talk to (Livestreaming by yourself is not as easy as it seems). Getting ready to do the Livestream; Ms Z, Joy, Sarah C, and me. I had only given Ms Z about 2 days notice she was doing this presentation. Talk about grace under pressure Here we go !!![/caption] Just a reminder to everyone; this Livestream broadcast should be available in the Livestream archives through mid-August 2014. And please remember we try to do at least one of these Livestream events every month, and they’re interactive. Ms Z tearing into a log of 100 Taels tea. This is a compressed tea that is hand-wrapped with bamboo and then left to age. Everyone was learning a lot and tasting a lot of teas. I’ve known Ms Z and Joy for around six years. Joy has spent Christmas with my family. Lovely, kind, and smart people. Ms Z reminds of Michelle Yeoh (the female lead in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-with a dash of Margaret Thatcher thrown in). I am very glad to have her as a friend and teacher. And we were having, maybe, too much fun. I guess you call this a mother-daughter routine. Everyone was really having a good time; it’s so much fun to learn from people who really know what they are talking about. A couple of the teas we tasted, 100 Taels tea (in the background) and our Fu cha brick (in the foreground). This is our Hei Cha dark tea cubes, from 2011 (remember all Dark teas get better as they age), and this really impressed Ms Z. The golden flowers were very prominent and the flavor was very smooth and meadow-y. Ms. Z commented that it was better than the Hei Cha she had back in China, which is ironic since I had bought this from her in 2011. So I sent her home with some. That felt good. Joy, me, Ms Z, and Michael
A lot of people assume the coolest part of my job is playing with tea all day (and that is definitely very cool). But the absolute best part of my job is all the people I’ve met along the tea road. -Bill
Dark tea is unique because it is the only deliberately aged tea that undergoes a secondary fermentation process. Because of this additional step, it contains an active micro-organism called Golden Flowers (Eurotium Cristatum). This micro-organism is present specifically in Dark tea made in Anhua County, Hunan Province, China. Golden Flowers is actually visible in some Dark teas and looks like tiny yellow flecks. If you want to experience Golden Flowers up close and personal, check out our Fu Cha brick.
Puer, which is a sub-category of Dark tea, contains a different micro-organism called Asper Nigellus. This is due to variation in growing conditions, soil, and geography. Golden Flowers is a relatively new discovery, having just been identified in the last 30 years. To this day, the process of making Dark tea is a closely guarded secret. Here are some quick facts about Anhua Dark tea for all you biochemistry buffs out there:
- Significant polyphenol content
- Significant L-Theanine content
- Significant thearubigin & theaflavin content
- Significant polysaccharide compounds
Dark tea is a critical source of minerals and nutrients to people in many areas of China. Over the past several years TeaSource has had the opportunity to work with Ms. Zhang Liumei, tea scientist and co-founder of Yiqingyuan Tea company in Hunan Province. Ms. Zhang created one of our most popular and unique teas, Dark Rose, which is pressed into a small heart shape. She describes it as “a spa in a cup” and she’s right. It’s a perfect introduction to this fascinating category of tea.
CON was very fun this year, lots of good costumes, theme rooms, and theme cocktails! TeaSource provided tea for the convention and I gave a Geek Tea Presentation. We had 100 people in the room, but there were another 50+ outside that wanted to get in. (We brought them tea samples!) People asked lots of great questions, took home some fantastic prizes, and sipped some great classic British-style blends.
Geek Tea Presentation and Tasting
Here is a list of the teas we tried and the ones we gave away loose leaf samples of.
Teas we sipped:
East India Blend- For Arthur Dent From Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (because he references the E. India Co.)
Scottish Breakfast- For the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who (because David Tenant is Scottish and also the best Dr.)
Lapsang Souchong- For Sherlock Holmes (because it’s the best tea for Brilliant deductions)
Teas we gave out samples of:
TeaSource Spice- For Jessica from Dune (The Spice must flow!) (P.S. I am named after this character and will probably dress up as her for next year’s CON! Does anyone have a stillsuit I can borrow?)
Pi Lo Chun, Supreme- For Princess Leia from Star Wars (because the leaf is curled up into a little ball- like her hair)
Milk Oolong- For Princess Buttercup from the Princess Bride (Milk…butter…yup)
Green Dragon Oolong- For Danerys Targarian from Game of Thrones (She has Dragons and one is green)
Strong Assam- For Professor Snape from Harry Potter (because Prof. Snape is awesome…assam)
Earl Grey White Tip- For Captain Jean luc Picard from Star Trek (Earl Grey, Hot…tea of the 24th century)
White Tip Silver Needles- For Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings (elegant, floral, silver, just like a she-elf)
Can't wait for next year's event!
It is said the Zen priest Eisai (pictured right) brought tea seeds to Kyoto in 1191 and popularized the consumption of powdered tea. It wasn’t until the fifteenth century that a new culture around tea evolved into the modern tea ceremony known as Chanoyu (literally translated “hot water for tea”). The tea ceremony is an extremely structured and studied ritual that embodies many philosophical, artistic, and aesthetic concepts unique to Japanese culture.
Uses For Matcha
Traditionally, a powdered green tea called matcha is used during the tea ceremony, along with an array of traditional utensils. Matcha can also be prepared casually and is often used in recipes for ice cream, chocolate, and smoothies. The tea ceremony is just one way to appreciate the act of making and serving matcha, but it is by no means the only way.
Matcha is made from the tea leaves similar to those grown to make Gyokuro, a high grade tea that is shaded for the last three weeks before plucking. The shading causes the plant to produce more chlorophyll, giving both the leaf and the liquor a brilliant emerald color. These leaves are then stone ground into a powder to make matcha. High grade matcha steeps up sweet and slightly bitter with a taste of the sea. Japanese teas are distinct for three main reasons: they are machine harvested, they are often shaded before plucking (though not always), and they are steamed instead of fired.
How Do I Make Matcha?
It is not difficult to make matcha at home using the traditional utensils. In fact, it affords an opportunity to develop a ritual of your own. You do not have to be a tea master to enjoy preparing matcha.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
-Bamboo tea scoop
-Bamboo tea whisk
-Ceremonial grade matcha
- Heat the tea bowl with a small amount of hot water, the same way you would warm a teapot.
- Using a bamboo scoop, measure two heaping scoops (0.75 grams) into your tea bowl. (NOTE: It is important to sift the matcha through a strainer to remove any clumps.)
- Heat your water to a rolling boil and add a small amount of cold water to bring the temperature down to 175 – 185 degrees.
- Measure approximately ¼ cup of water and pour it into the bowl.
- Whisk the matcha vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Small bubbles will start to appear on the top of the liquid. TIP: The whisking action comes from the wrist; your arm should not move at all. Make “M” or “W” shapes with the whisk, careful not to let it touch the bottom of the bowl. This will fully aerate the tea as it dissolves.
“Yet what is truly amazing is that nothing special or extraordinary takes place. The host and guests simply engage in the act of making and drinking tea. But it is this act that is important, for in the smallness of the tea room, the whole universe – heaven, earth, and life itself – can be evoked.” -Yasushi Inoue