Tea, Tea Articles, Traditional Teas, Uncategorized

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.

Teamaking 101

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

If you were to look, you’d find legends for nearly every variety of tea throughout the east. It’s been steamed and ground into powder, plucked and pan-fried, oxidized and aged deep inside caves. It was a beverage suitable for rulers and only after trade boomed did it start to spread far and wide until we come to where we are today.

Despite this vast history, tea is a relatively new fad this side of the world, and very few people know much about it. Studies are being done to show all the health benefits of green tea, pu-erh, and the like, but these are tidbits of knowledge that have many cultures smiling our way and saying, “we tried to tell you.”

There has been a small setback with this trend and that is, people want tea. You might be thinking, well that’s a good thing, isn’t it? I’d have to agree to an extent, but because the industry focuses so much on the benefits and so little on everything else, what can be an indulgent, potentially life-changing daily ritual, has many people pinching their noses and throwing it back like medicine.

Every type of tea has unique characteristics and qualities. The leaves can be picky, and to get it right there’s a bit of know-how that goes into it. I’m going to cover a few tricks to help make sure you can enjoy a near perfect pot of your favorite tea.

Green and White Tea

Specially selected early in the morning fresh white tea leaves spread curing in bamboo basket tray after harvest.Chinese silver needle white tea of premium quality. Tea orchard in the background.

Green tea tends to be the most notorious for being bad, bitter tea and that’s usually because it can be the most finicky when it comes to brewing it. Green tea can be popularly categorized in two. On the one hand, we have Chinese green tea which is harvested, pan-fried and quickly dried to prevent oxidation. Then, there’s Japanese green tea which is harvested, steamed and quickly dried. Chinese green teas are often a bit sweeter and more fragrant while Japanese green teas tend to be a deeper green color and have a grassy taste.

One of my favorite green teas is our Snow Jasmine. It’s a sweet green tea that’s very fragrant and easy to brew. But the Starfruit green is one of our most popular summer drinks. We blend some tropical fruit in with a delicate Chinese green tea. It makes a refreshing and tantalizing cup.

To make the best cup of green tea, you want to make sure to use hot water that’s at most 170. A good way to tell this without a thermometer is to keep an eye on the bubbles forming at the bottom of the pot. If they’re small and a few are starting to zig-zag to the surface, that’s perfect.

You also want to keep an eye on the time it steeps for. Green tea is great for many infusions, but you only want to steep it for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

White tea, on the other hand, is primarily a Chinese tea. It tends to be sweeter and much more delicate than green tea. That’s because white tea is made from the soft, new buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant – the tea plant. It’s quickly pan fried to prevent oxidation and then dried. Because the leaves are so young it tends to be delicate and boiled water will scorch the dried leaves. For this reason, like green tea, you want to use water at about 170. Unlike green teas, many white teas won’t get overly bitter if left to steep for long periods of time.

One of our most popular white teas is our Pink Cherry Cider. We blend our silver needle with a collection of fruits to make a pot that’s subtly sweet all on its own.

Oolong Tea

oolong green tea in olive bowl

Oolong tea tends to be the most complex flavor wise. It’s designed for multiple infusions, and for having a gradually maturing flavor as the infusions progress, and the leaves fully open. You can use fully-boiled water with this tea and steep it for about three minutes every time. Some have a tendency to get bitter, so keep an eye on it.

My favorite Oolong is our Buddha’s Favor, also known as Ti Kuan Yin. If you want to know the legend behind it, click the link here. But, by far the crowd favorite had been our Blackberry Oolong. We mix premium rolled oolong leaves with dried blackberries, elderberries and more to make a deep red elixir. It’s sweet and tangy and fantastic iced.

Black Tea

Good-Tea_Li-Zhi-Hong-Cha_56B9096_b-800x800

Black teas are typically very strong and dark teas. The leaves have been fully oxidized after harvesting which gives the leaves their dark color and flavor. You can use boiled water but only steep it for two minutes. Some black teas can get very bitter if over infused. Our Keemun is a traditional Chinese black tea. If you want to learn more about it, you can read a little here. It’s a robust black tea with some nutty, chocolate notes and pairs wonderfully with warm milk and honey.

Pu-erh

Black pu-erh tea

Pu-erh tea is one I consider to be right up there with herbal teas in terms of how easy it is to brew, especially if you like your tea as strong as I do. This is a fermented tea that actually came about by happy accident.

You can use fully-boiled water. Pu-erh is a dark tea without much of the bitterness and astringency of a black tea. Some can get bitter if left in the water too long, but I find a good quality of pu-erh will often get deeper and darker the longer it steeps. If you want more infusions out of it (and this tea can go for a long time,) then steep it for about four minutes before removing the leaves.

I prefer classic pu-erh blocks myself. I can’t resist the deep woodsy notes and the full mouth flavor. Our Strawberry Slim comes in at a close second. The strawberries give you a slash of summer flavor that’s mellowed out by the lingering effect of pu-erh tea.

Herbal Tea

Cup of herbal tea

Most people think boiled water when it comes to Herbal teas, but did you know some are prone to burning the same way a white tea would? When you have an herbal tea with lots of flowers it’s best to use under boiled water like with white or green tea. The good thing is, it’s difficult to make a bad cup of herbal tea. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor.

A few more tricks for the road

One of the biggest downsides to tea bags and tea balls if the lack of room the leaves have to move around. Tea likes to breathe and it likes movement. You’ll get the best flavor by steeping your tea in a pot where it can move, and to stir the leaves around while it’s steeping.

For Iced tea, the trick is to make a tea concentrate first. You add a heaping tablespoon of leaves to the pot and steep it in about half the amount of water you normally would use before pouring it over a cup full of it. That way, when the ice melts, it’ll dilute the concentrate and give you a fully flavorful cup of refreshing iced tea.

If you have any questions about tea leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer! We sell our teas online too, just click this link here to visit our website and check it out.

~Tea Barista

Tea, Uncategorized

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.

Health

Infuse Your Life with Health

With the beginning of a new year many of us are looking for a fresh & healthy start. If your goal is to live a healthier lifestyle, drinking tea is great place to start.  There are many different types of loose leaf teas that can help with detoxing, weight-loss, boosting immune system & more. The guide below will help you choose which teas are right for you. Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 3.25.44 PM

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward,” – Chinese Proverb

~HEALTHY LIVING TEA GUIDE~

OOLONG TEA: (15-25% caffeine)

  • Boosts Metabolism – increases process of lipolysis which allows body to burn more fat
  • Lowers Cholesterol – contains properties that lower triglycerides
  • Combats free radicals – slows down aging process
  • Improves oral health – inhibits growth of bacteria & fights tooth decay
  • Detoxing/Improves digestion – rich in antioxidant polyphenol which lowers risk of diabetes, detoxifies, & aids digestion

GREEN TEA: (10-20% caffeine)

  • Improves exercise endurance – catechins in green tea make the body use carbohydrates at a slower rate allowing you to workout longer
  • Reduces fat – polyphenols help the body dissolve excess fat
  • Boosts metabolism – Epigallocatechin (potent antioxidant) stimulates metabolism & increases weight loss process
  • Reduces stress – amino acid theanine provides relaxing & tranquilizing effect on nerves
  • Regulates Insulin – inhibits the movement of glucose in fat cells & prevents sharp increase in insulin levels

PU-ERH TEA: (‘poo-air’) (3-8% caffeine)

  • Detoxing  – compounds produced from puerh tea’s fermentation process remove toxins from the bloodstream
  • Aids Digestion – increases healthy bacteria flora in the stomach & intestines *A great tea to have after heavy meals*
  • Aids Weight Loss  – suppresses fatty acid synthesis & blocks body from producing more fat
  • Cleansing – enhances level of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) which is an enzyme that unlocks & empties fatty cells
  • Lowers Cholesterol – lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) & increases HDL (good cholesterol)

WHITE TEA: (1-5% caffeine)

  • Antioxidant Rich – white tea is dried naturally in sunlight which makes it rich in polyphenols
  •  Aids Weight Loss – simultaneously increases the breakdown of fat & blocks formation of fatty cells, & helps liver turn fat into energy
  • Boosts Immune System – contains anti-viral & anti-bacterial properties

BLACK TEA: (5-15% caffeine)

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health – the flavonoids prevent damage to blood stream, prevents blood clots, & lowers risk of heart disease
  • Stimulates Nervous System – its lower amount of caffeine promote blood flow to brain, improve mental awareness & concentration
  • Aids Digestion – the tannins in black tea combat gastric & intestinal illness, and reduce intestinal inflammation

ROOIBOS TEA: (caffeine free)

  • Relieves Stress & Tension – contains naturally soothing properties that promote relaxation, & improve quality of sleep
  • Nutrient Rich – rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, & iron
  • Anti-Inflammatory – rich in polyphenol antioxidants which fight free radicals, & have natural anti-inflammatory properties

If you are seeking to live a healthier lifestyle this year, incorporating tea into your daily routine is extremely beneficial. Tea has been used for centuries as a natural way to promote health & wellness. Infuse your life with the benefits of tea!

SHOP IN-STORE OR VISIT US ONLINE FOR YOUR TEA TODAY!

http://www.thegreenteahouse.com/