Bubble Tea: Where Did it come from?

Every summer I have a tendency to picture myself in various settings. The top choices tend to be in a hammock between two big trees with an enthralling book and a glass of tea so cold there’s condensation on the glass. The second is on the beach, preferably on the deck of a beach house where the sand is waiting just off the front porch.

I don’t think I’m alone in craving the crisp, refreshing taste of my favorite iced tea in the summer. The chink of ice in the glass is hypnotic. The color when sunbeams hit it just right is entrancing. For me, a chilled jasmine has always been perfection itself.

Nowadays, it’s difficult to think of iced tea without including bubble tea. It comes in a wide range of flavors, and colors, variances of sweetness. If you don’t know what a bubble tea is, typically it’s a sweetened and iced tea most popularly served with milk. The bubbles are traditionally tapioca balls (or pearls) but ever since its rapid spread from continent to continent, the ever-popular bursting boba (clear balls filled with flavored syrup) have made an appearance. Not only in our tea but as a topping at frozen yogurt shops as well.

Despite its growing popularity, few people know where it originated. It’s the sort of story where, at its roots, repeats again and again over the years. A story about turmoil, cultural shifts, and a blending of tradition, fashion, and flavors.

'Vintage Style' image of a World War 2 US fighter plane shooting down Japanese torpedeo bomber over Saipan. (Artists Impression)The Chinese Revolution of 1949 was a chaotic time in the world. World War two was more or less over, but these things have a tendency to leave deep aching wounds behind. For China, in particular, much was already underway before the war, and China is where our story begins.

1926: Chinese communists join with the Nationalist army to eradicate warlords throughout the nation.

1927: The Nationalists turned on the Communists.

1931: The ROC ( The Government of the Republic of China) face the triple threat of Japanese invasion, Communist uprising, and warlord insurrections.

And it goes on.

By the time 1945 rolled around the leaders of the Nationalist and Communist parties, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong met for a series of talks on the formation of a post-war government. The result was a huge failure, resulting in all-out civil war by 1946.

How, you may ask, does this relate in any way to bubble tea?

History focuses a lot on names, dates, generals, military movements, and often neglect the everyday person trying to live their lives the best they can amongst the chaos. In times of great chaos, sometimes the best hope for a well-lived life is to leave your homes behind you. This is exactly what happened during the Chinese Civil war. Many civilians immigrated to Thailand, bringing with them their rich love and tradition for tea.

Cultures melded, as they tend to, and the result was an iced tea known as Thai Cha Yen – a combination of Assam or Ceylon with condensed milk and sugar. Often flavors like star anise, orange blossom and tamarind were added.

It wasn’t until 1988 that bubble tea came about quite by accident. Lin Hsiu Hui, a womanbubble tea and aiyu jelly, Taiwanese drink and dessert working at a teahouse, was eating a dessert with tapioca pearls called fen yuan. On a whim, she added the tapioca from her dessert into her tea during a staff meeting. The rest, as is often said, is history.

Bubble tea today comes in a multitude of flavors including Matcha, and an endless variety of toppings including fruit. But did you know not all Bubble teas are made equal? Over the years of its spreading popularity, this sweet treat changed from brewed tea to powders or syrups with added color, flavor, and sugars, taking away much of its nutritious benefits. We at The Green Teahouse, keep to the tradition of using real tea in all our recipes.

As always stay healthy, and drink lots of tea.

~The Tea Barista.

Social Tea – How to Create Warmth, Welcome and Community with Tea

Let me take you somewhere new for a moment. You’re in India on a crowded street first thing in the morning. Despite the early hour, the air is thick with humidity and that humidity locks all the smells in the air; the dust kicked up from the sidewalk, the spices boiling in the morning dal, and, on every corner you turn, the spicy sweet aroma of masala chai tea.

Let’s try a new place. We’re going to Morocco now. You’re by the ocean, sitting in a café overlooking the sea where you can smell the salt in the air. An elegantly adorner silver pot is put before you, suffused with the unforgettable aroma of sweet, mint green tea.

Maybe these places are too exotic for you. We can go to France instead, a city where the evenings are filled with music and the plates are decorated with pastries so beautiful it’s difficult to eat them. The tea is dark and familiar even if the sidewalks and architecture are relics of romanticized history.

These are a few examples, but no matter where you go in the world, tea has its own distinct culture. Despite the differences, there’s a common thread uniting these people, cultures, and histories across the globe and that’s community. Where there’ a hub for tea, there are people gathering to share ideas and enjoy each other’s companionship. No matter if you’re drinking tea in India, China, Japan, Pakistan, or right in your own home, you can embrace a world-wide culture of community.

Ever since I began drinking tea, it became bonded to my identity among close friends. If they came over to talk, they knew a pot of tea would be waiting. Sometimes they brought over little sweets in anticipation. All around the world tea houses and tea rooms are places for individuals of like and unlike minds to gather and converse, to laugh, and build a family outside of blood ties.

Inviting someone into your space and offering them a warm, comforting beverage shows an openness and trust that’s easy to respond to in kind. I’ve made countless friends and developed some of the deepest relationships of my life while sharing a cup of tea. It brings out the stories in people; It brings out the laughter. How could it not when tea itself has inspired countless legends- when it’s traveled so far through history to be in your cup?

With a few subtle touches, tea drinking can transform a cozy night into a romantic candlelit evening. Try adding dried rose petals to your favorite jasmine tea. The fragrance will fill the room without the need for heavy scented candles. (And it pairs great with chocolate.) Or, you can try your hand at making the Strawberry Rosé Latte which I’ll tell you how to make in just a bit. Trust me, it’s easier than you might think.

Strawberry Rosé Latte

rose latte small

What you need:

  • 16 oz boiled water
  • 1 tbsp Strawberry Rose Oolong tea
  • Honey or Agave (about 1 tbsp if desired)
  • 4 oz milk of choice
  • Whipped cream
  • Dried rose petals
  • Dried strawberry pieces or powder
  • Lots of Love!

Steep the tea in the water for 3 minutes or longer if you like your tea strong as I do, and add the sweetener you like. While that’s brewing, froth your milk. If you don’t have a frother then heating it up will do just fine. Adding cold milk to tea is fine, but it will make the tea room temperature instead of hot.

Add it all together, and top with whipped cream, roses and strawberries.

This tea makes a great dessert, especially paired with chocolate covered strawberries. Not only is it sweet and warming, but the oolong tea will help you digest the dinner you likely had first.

Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with friends or life partners, I hope you enjoy their company around your favorite tea knowing you’re following the example of cultures and communities around the world.

If you like our tea, I encourage you to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out on our great promotions. You can also like us on Facebook and Instagram.

Stay healthy and drink lots of tea.

Melissa ~ Tea Barista

Mindful Tea and Slowing Down

Not so long ago I visited New York. More specifically, Time Square, and it was nothing short of overwhelming. Everything vied for my attention – the people handing out flyers on the street, the cars laying on their horns, the flashing advertisement signs, the aromas, the buildings, and the endless crowds of people hurrying down sidewalks in massive clusters. There was always something to eat, something new to see, something strange to experience. I had fun but, by the end of my stay, I found I wanted nothing more than to wake up in my quiet apartment, in a sunny room where all I could hear were the birds and I could infuse my morning with the enveloping fragrance of jasmine flowers.

The city may be an exaggerated version of a society taught to rush headlong into hard work, but even if you don’t live smack in the middle of the Big Apple, there’s still much to be distracted by. Our phones are a constant buzz of entertainment; everything from the news to the weather to the daily lives of everyone else. We move tirelessly from one task to the next until finally collapsing at the end of the day. It leaves little time to enjoy the calmer parts of our lives. The little things like having the time for a good breakfast or taking a moment to breathe in the air and shake the stress off your shoulders.Croissant jam coffee orange jice at white wooden table.

Studies have shown that listening to the sounds of nature for five minutes a day can drastically reduce stress levels. (I’m sure I don’t have to mention that stress is known to be the leading cause of a long list of ailments.) This understanding isn’t even a new one.

Think about the culture of tea. Many societies around the world see tea making not only as a healthy beverage but a work of art. Everything from plucking and drying the leaves, to brewing and drinking of the tea, asks for patience, grace, and internalized harmony. It’s a process that asks those participating to put aside the worries of the past and future and delve completely into the elegant and beautiful task at hand.

Every morning I set time aside to brew my favorite tea, to make myself a light breakfast, and to savor every sip. It’s not only greatly improves my focus throughout the day, but it gives me that quiet moment I need to go about my day in a calmer state of mind.

Since this is the month of love, why not dedicate a good portion of it to self-love. Put your phone away on lunch breaks and savor your meal. Go for a short walk after dinner. Or, like me, take some time in the morning to be still and enjoy the simple pleasures your life has to offer.

As always stay healthy, and drink tea.

~ Melissa, Tea Barista.

Gluten Free Tea

In recent years, troubles with gluten have become a very real concern and a very real source of pain for hundreds. For those who don’t know, gluten is a protein found in various wheat products, spelt and rye included. In some cases, the smallest amount can cause those with intolerance a great deal of discomfort.  Since the unveiling of the autoimmune disease known as Celiac, studies have been conducted to show that consuming too much wheat isn’t only unwise for those afflicted by this disease, but for others as well.

Gluten is addictive. Not only for that doughy texture, but because it’s easily broken down as sugar in the body which gives us a boost of energy. The thing is, sugar doesn’t last longgreentea12 as far as energy goes. Gluten may also be linked to leaky gut, depressed moods, insomnia, fatigue, and bloating.

Some with gluten intolerance may have noticed a certain amount of irritation after sipping a cup of their favorite bag tea. Fear not. This is due the glue they use to bind the tea bags and not the tea itself; One more reason to change over to loose tea.

At The Green Teahouse, most of our teas are gluten-free and every leafe is handled and processed with care from the time they are plucked until they reach us at our new location. This is especially true when it comes to our premium teas such as our signature Snow Jasmine and the flavorful and exotic Red Jade black tea. Come in to try a cup. While you’re at it, delight in one of our gluten-free treats from Dee’s One Smart Cookie or shop online at http://www.thegreenteahouse.com.

 

Stay healthy, and drink lots of tea.

Keemun The Black Tea Celebrity

Despite black tea’s worldwide popularity, very little is known about it among the general public. It’s the tea we have in the afternoon with our lunches. It’s the tea we sweeten and ice during the sticky hot summer days of the east coast.

Most, when they think of black tea, think English breakfast the same way most, when thinking of tea in China, think green tea. Not only was Keemun first cultivated in China around 1875 by Yu Ganchen who traveled to Fujian Province in pursuit of educating himself in black tea production and since has been deemed one of China’s top ten teas. Good-Tea_Li-Zhi-Hong-Cha_56B9096_b-800x800It’s also considered a “tea hero” in the British market. That English breakfast you love so much? Keemun in the primary tea in the popular blend.

For some people, the astringency of English breakfast (likely caused by the nutty dark Assam tea) can be too much. What makes Keemun a great alternative is a mellow but complex flavor that still has a little of the bite a lot of die-hard black tea drinkers look for.

The caffeine is sometimes exactly what’s needed half way through the day. It might help boost alertness. It’s worth noting that there’s more to black tea then caffeine. Part of the reason the English drink it at noon is the studies indicating black tea may help in balancing hormone levels. This might just result in a better sleep and an elevated mood.

Our Keemun is traditionally cultivated in the Anhui province. Stop by for a nice hot cup (and maybe one of Dee’s gluten-free chocolate cupcakes,) or buy a bag to delight in a tea renowned in both China and England.