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Organic Lavender White Tea from 3 Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 16:00

If you like white tea and/or enjoy lavender I think you will REALLY like Organic Lavender White Tea from 3 Teas!  It’s no surprise the white tea is delicate.  And you may or may not know that it’s lower in caffeine.  Perhaps those are just two of the reasons I find them to be a very appropriate tea to drink in the evening. One thing I will say for this Organic Lavender White Tea from Read More

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Africa’s Jungle Teas – Disease Prevention Has a New Ally

T Ching - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 12:42

Jungle Teas is a North Carolina-based startup hoping to improve the standard of living of impoverished African communities by finding markets for their nutritious wild-harvested herbal teas. I am one of its co-founders. Although scientifically classified as herbal teas, the flavor profiles of these jungle teas are similar to popular black and green teas. The U.S. National Institutes of Health classifies our black tea as Fadogia ancylantha and our green tea as Lippia javanica; their traditional African names are Marange and Zumbani, respectively.

Little-known around the world, lab research data on these teas is published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine for the curative and preventive properties they exhibit against diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, inflammation, respiratory illnesses, and malaria. The CDC projects an estimated 78 million Americans ages 18 years or older to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by 2040 and a whopping 1 in 3 U.S. adults to have diabetes by 2050. The World Health Organization recently reported that just under half a billion people have contracted diabetes and projects that it will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.

With these statistics and others in the public domain, it’s hard for me to understand why people wouldn’t drink more tea; especially teas like Marange and Zumbani, which have extensively verified lab research behind them! I find that, as usual, it probably comes down to tea education. Too many people do not understand the immediate and long-term benefits of including tea in their daily regimen, especially here in the United States. While a scientific correlation cannot be made between countries with more tea consumption and their ‘per capita’ rates of chronic disease, just skimming the numbers and comparing them to U.S. statistics does start to reveal a loose pattern which favors more tea consumption.

For example, Morocco ranks as one of the biggest tea consumers per capita and yet it is ranked 79th in the world for its chronic diabetes rate. While other factors such as healthcare and diet might come into play in this discussion, I think the numbers show a loose correlation between frequent tea consumption and occurrences of these preventable illnesses.

At Jungle Teas, we are focused on not only educating people about our jungle-harvested African teas but all teas in general; the culture and benefits that make them the world’s most popular natural beverage. Anyone can benefit from our teas, whether it’s people looking to manage an ailment, prevent disease and infection or simply enjoy a cup of afternoon tea. We believe tea can change the declining global health trends but above all, it can be a vehicle to uplift economically marginalized communities around the world.

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Rose Marzipan Black Tea from Stylin’ Tea Blends

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 10:57

Oh…I honestly could NOT wait to try Rose Marzipan Black Tea from Stylin’ Tea Blends because of my former love of Teavana’s Rose Marzipan from years ago – and I realize that is a blast from the past but let me explain. Years ago my favorite tea from Teavana was their Rose Marzipan.  I find a lot of their teas to be over sweetened and overuse the dreaded hibiscus!  However I really LOVED that specific tea Read More

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The taste of water

A Tea Addict's Journal - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 04:44

Most of your cup of tea consists of water – and what water you use has a huge effect on how your tea tastes. It is an important thing to remember when trying a tea – what water are you using, and what does it do to your tea?

Most of us rely on some kind of tap water supply for regular drinking. Where your municipality gets its water changes how your tea tastes. When I lived in Pacific Northwest I remember the water tasting very fresh and is often very cold even in the summer – it’s snowmelt so that’s how the water comes out. In places like Hong Kong we get most of our water from a river source in nearby Guangdong, and it’s heavily treated. It’s not that great, but I suppose it could be worse.

Then you have bottled waters, which as bad as it is for the environment, is usually where you can get some pretty good water. A few months ago my cousin-in-law who’s an expert on Japanese liquors brought back a couple bottles of water for me from the Suntory natural water range. There are three sources for this line – Mount Aso, from Kyushu, Mount Oku-daisen, and from the Southern Alps of Japan. I got two bottles – the Mount Aso and Mount Oku-daisen ones. It’s always refreshing to taste different waters and notice how different they can be. Both are fragrant waters – yes, water can be fragrant, not so much in that they smell like anything, but when you drink it there’s an aftertaste that rises up your nose. The Mount Aso is, I feel, a better water – more interesting, more complex, and a bit more aroma. The Mount Oku-daisen is lighter. Turns out the Mount Aso water has more dissolved minerals, which might explain why. This is not to say the Oku-daisen water was bad – far from it. But the Mount Aso water is better.

There are practical limitations to using bottled water. I try to avoid doing it for two reasons – cost, and the obvious wastefulness of using bottled waters. However, these days at work what I do is buying large bottles of either Volvic (another reliable supply) or this Scottish water from the local supermarket and adding it to my office supply. The reason is because our office uses a reverse-osmosis filtered water, which yields a sharp and flat water. If you use RO water for brewing, it is quite easy to get a bad brew – the tea will not be very flavourful and it often appears very rough on your tongue. Adding some of this mineral water in helps round out my tea and makes it much more palatable. Blending it also keeps the dissolved solids in my water low enough so that boiling it doesn’t produce sediments; if your water’s mineral content is too high it will leave a crust of minerals, which is a bit of a problem for an electric kettle. I’m not about to bring my tetsubin setup here for obvious reasons.

Sometimes I see people say things like “I use RO/distilled water because it’s pure”, which is pure nonsense. Yes, it’s pure in the sense that there’s nothing else in it. However, naturally occurring water will never be “pure” water. Tea aficionados of the past have always advocated spring water of various kinds for the best brewing experience – precisely because they contain interesting minerals that make the tea taste better. The famous Hupao spring in Hangzhou, for example, has a pretty high mineral content. Using distilled or RO processed water to brew tea is just a waste of good tea leaves. If you don’t believe it, try it side by side with a good water like Volvic. The difference should be night and day. In fact, even if you do believe it, try it anyway. The differences with using different water is very enlightening and helps any tea drinker understand which part of the tea is coming from the tea leaves, and which part of it is from the water. As I’ve said many times before, the most cost effective way of improving your cup is not buying better leaves, but getting better water.

Colombo Garlic Tea from Mela Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 23:00

Colombo Garlic Tea from Mela Teas is the tea of the moment here at the Sororitea Sisters! I have to start this off by being completely honest…I LOVE GARLIC! No! I don’t think you understand…I LOVE GARLIC! I would throw garlic on cereal if it were more P.C. – that’s how much I LOVE GARLIC! Ok…now that we have THAT out of the way on to the tea review of Colombo Garlic Tea from Mela Read More

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2014 Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian from Wymm Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 17:00

2014 Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian from Wymm Tea is a sheng pu-erh that brews up to be a lovely shade of glowing gold-light brown color. Right away I could smell the outdoorsy aroma – more specifically cotton and hay. As for the flavor 2014 Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian from Wymm Tea has a sweeter-earthy flavor with the aftertaste of subtle almond. I have found that I like the flavor best after the piping hot pu-erh has had Read More

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Golden Leaf Tea Ali Mountain Oolong

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

For some reason, 2015 and 2016 seem to have been an odyssey of Taiwanese tea. I think I've written about them more than any other type. Most of that is happenstance through samples I've received but it's been nice to focus a bit on a particular region. Perhaps my tastes will bend more towards darker teas like Wuyi oolongs as the weather cools.

Having really enjoyed their Honey Red Jade, I was really excited to dig into Golden Leaf Tea's Ali Mountain Oolong. The mouthfeel was thick with an almost creamy texture. Notes of orchid were accompanied by a pleasant vegetal quality that reminded me of lightly steamed baby spinach. The sweet lingering aftertaste lingered on my palate long after each sip. The roast was very subtle but present. It wasn't overdone but I was grateful that it also wasn't neon green as I really dislike that style of oolong. There was next to zero astringency, making this a very smooth and refreshing tea.

Overall this Ali Shan was a very well-balanced sip. It won first place at the 2015 North American Tea Championship. I can't say that I'm surprised. I was able to get at least eight infusions in one sitting. The flavors evolved a bit over time but it never really lost it's strength until the very end. High mountain oolong is definitely a sweet spot for me and this one hit the mark.

Ali Mountain Oolong sample provided for review by Golden Leaf Tea.


Tea Friends Meet Up in Chicago

T Ching - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 12:30

The tea drinking community is an incredibly friendly and welcoming one. I have been a member of a tea forum called Steepster since 2011 and recently became a more active participant. I got to know several members and we started chatting nightly about tea, food, and many random subjects. We also video chat each other many Sundays and often pick a tea theme and all drink a similar tea.

The idea of all sharing tea together came up, and what first started as a joke was starting to come together. We started looking at our calendars and found a week in August that we could all get time off of work. Things got really serious when our friend in the Netherlands found a good airfare to Chicago, so we started trying to make this meetup really happen! Because the primary focus of the trip was going to be to drink tea together, we wanted to make sure to pick a comfortable location, so a hotel room didn’t seem very practical. Also, we have a few friends who live in the Midwest who were last minute decisions, so booking a hotel with a concrete number of people would have been difficult.

We found a great house on AirBnB in Chicago that could be used for the weekend. It was only about a half hour from my house, so I was happy to host everyone. The house had 3 beds, 2 air mattresses, and a couch. The owner allowed guests in the house, there was a fully functional kitchen and the house was in a great neighborhood. Six of us were able to commit, and the tea drinking weekend began! When our other tea friends who could not make it heard about the meetup, they started mailing all sorts of teas to me so that we could share them together!

From the moment I picked the first person up from the airport, it was as if we had been friends forever. We got to the AirBnB around 10:30pm and immediately started boiling some water and had a session of shou puerh that lasted well past midnight. During the session, we got on Google Hangouts and video chatted with about 5 other friends and geeked out about tea together.

The next day everyone else came in town. I got to the AirBnB fairly early in the morning, and as soon as I walked in the door I was handed a cup and was told, “drink this.” I was having flashbacks to college life, except now it was tea! I took a sip, and immediately spit everything out! Apparently, they found some old Lipton bags in the kitchen and decided to brew it gongfu style as a prank. I guess it was a good sign that at least I could tell it was bad tea! The rest of the teas that we drank throughout the weekend were excellent. Many of the teas we had been saving for special occasions, and what better way to share special teas than with friends!

We also did the world’s fastest tour of Chicago. We explored a good part of the North Side and finished by taking a boat tour of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. As tea lovers, we had to bring some tea with us, so enjoyed an excellent aged sheng puerh on the boat. We brought hot water, a gaiwan, pitcher, and cups with us and enjoyed tea gongfu on the boat! Several people commented asking us what we were doing, and they were all very intrigued. One lady asked if it tasted like those tea bags you get in the store, I had to bite my tongue, and just told her “you get a much better flavor.”

The tea drinking continued well past midnight most nights, it was quite a shock to my system, as I usually stop caffeine around 5pm. In total, we had well over 40 sessions of tea between Thursday and Monday! By the end, we didn’t want to say goodbye to each other, even though we talk almost daily online. As someone who typically brews tea by himself, it was fun to drink teas brewed by other people. I learned that everyone has a unique style of brewing. One person remarked that I tend to make my tea really strong. It was fun to have teas that I’m very familiar with brewed by others, as well as try new techniques. The ultimate compliment came on Monday morning when someone asked me to brew their Dancong that they nicknamed “Gollum” because it was their precious tea. She said she really liked how I made oolongs. I was so happy to hear this, I was very nervous going into the weekend to brew for other people!

Being a part of the tea community has allowed me to meet some great people. Although these friends are ‘online friends’ I do consider them friends. We are already talking about the possibility of meeting up in 2017, maybe in a different city! Although tea was the common bond that brought us all together, I have made some lasting friendships from it.

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Wake Up Juice from Geeky Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:00

Good morning, Tea Buddies! I write to you with enthusiasm from the caffeine in Geeky Teas’ “Wake Up Juice,” which absolutely lives up to its moniker. The taste is a malty citrus spice. Malt isn’t my usual jam, but this works really well. I am surprised at how much I like this. It’s a well-rounded, energizing mix. This tea is the perfect fall pick. I am definitely one who savors oversized sweaters, leggings, boots, a Read More

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Banana Split from The NecessiTeas

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 23:00

I despise bananas! I mean…I REALLY hate them! I HATE Bananas! Can’t you tell I’m passionate about my dislike for bananas? Having said that – Banana Split from The NecessiTeas is pretty darn tasty! I’m not sure if it’s just everything ELSE that went into Banana Split from The NecessiTeas but I’m totally digging it! The Rooibos base ‘almost’ tasted like honeybush and I have to be honest I did a double take of the Read More

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Misty Peak Teas - 1 Year Puerh

Notes on Tea - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 17:44

Puerh comes in many forms. There are compressed forms and loose puerh. I've never purchased an entire bing or brick or square but I have had samples from them as well as (mini) toucha. Have you had puerh packed in a bamboo tube or in a tangerine peel? This post is about a young uncompressed raw puerh. It is a Misty Peak 1 year puerh that I purchased at a a stationery shop in Georgetown. Did you catch my post about my visit to Just Paper and Tea?


As I began selecting photos to illustrate the post, I remembered how much I liked the light in this one room of our house in Arlington, VA.


My steeping parameters were 5 grams with 185F water starting with a 10 second infusion and increasing by 10 seconds to the final infusion of 1 minute. The rinsed leaves released a perfume of apricot jam. After the leaves were infused for the first time, they acquired an earthy note. The first liquor tasted earthy with some sweetness and a bit of dryness on the edges of my tongue. There was a fresh hay note, too, alongside green bean, and the liquor thickened in mouthfeel as it cooled.


The 20 second steep was the most complex of the infusions. The leaves were various shades of green and brown untwisting into long and narrow shapes and smelling of blackcurrant liqueur and apricot jam. The liquor tasted of said jam and was thick, nutty (cashew or chestnut), and a bit dry like the inner part of the stone of a stone fruit.


The 30 and 40 second steeps were dry and nutty with a lingering sweetness. Much of the flavor from the 5 grams of leaves had been extracted at this point. A 50 second steep did not yield anything new or robust. I increased the temperature to 195F for the 60 second steep but what I experienced was mostly dryness with ghostly notes of stone fruit. I don't have the postcard any longer but I based my steeping parameters on the instructions printed in a card that accompanied the tea. I think I could have extracted more flavors and extended my session if I had used shorter steep times and a higher water temperature. How do you infuse young loose leaf sheng?

P.S. Misty Peak Teas is friends with the owner of Just Paper and Tea. I was given a 5% discount for mentioning that I follow Misty Peak Teas on social media.

#TeaTeeTuesday: I Love Apparel Shirt

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 17:00

  Yes, I admit it. I’m a pop culture tea drinking geek who loves her realilty shows on CNBC, Discovery, and watching the latest and great horror fun on TV/Netflix.  That is why I Love Apparel is the perfect place for me! I’m slightly addicted to those monthly box subscriptions. For a while, there was a Doctor Who tea shirt club that I belonged to. The shirts were incredibly high quality and fit me perfectly. Read More

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Tuesday Tea and Tomes: Edith Wharton's ' The Age of Innocence', a tale of the Gilded Age

Barb's Tea Shop - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 16:02
Among  Wharton's great books: The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton's 'The Age of Innocence' is a revealing story of the Gilded Age lifestyle. With all its wealth and extravagance, the codified social structure of the well-to-do in the nineteenth century was so stifling it could render a young bride to nothing more than a Stepford wife in a Worth dress. Buck that system and there were consequences.
Edith Wharton knew this system intimately. Wharton was born Edith Jones, to the family that inspired the idiom of one-upmanship  "keeping up with the Joneses" and she  benefited as well as suffered at the hand of the upper-class conventions of her time.
Silver tea service at Ventfort, Gilded Age mansion near Wharton's The Mount
Now, if you know me at all, or have been following my blog for anytime, you know, I'm currently consumed with the Gilded Age. With its many ties to the Edwardian aristocracy, it's a bit of an across-the-pond prequel to Downton Abbey (think Cora's American parents and their outrageous fortune which helped keep the Robert Crawleys and their estate afloat).

Part of my inheritance, amazing books!I became reacquainted with Edith Wharton when I was unearthing part of my inheritance: my Mom's amazing book collection (see blog . . .make it one for the books). Included in this library were the novels 'House of Mirth' and 'The Age of Innocence'.  Both are great reads, but the latter has a twist - the story's free spirit survives the ostracism of the genteel society she was born into, finally moving to, and finding refuge in, Paris - much like the author, herself, did after her own divorce.


Reading about Newland Archer's visit to St. Augustine while in St. Augustine!
In my pursuit of all things Gilded, this past April I traveled from Florida to North Carolina, stopping at homes and vacation spots of the wealthy Americans of the late 1800's. I was also reading 'The Age of Innocence' on this journey and, I kid you not, I was in St. Augustine the night I was on page 140 when Newland Archer decides to surprise his fiance in the very same city.  During our stay in St. Augustine, we toured Flagler College, which began as the Hotel Ponce de Leon in 1888, a luxury hotel for the very rich. It's very likely that this may have become a vacation spot for the  Archers and their ilk a decade after Newland's impromptu visit to his intended, May Welland.
The Mount (from The Mount's webpage)
There are many more Gilded Age locations on my travel wishlist, including Newport, Rhode Island and Lenox, Massachusetts, both cities where Edith Wharton had homes. My friend, Pam B., just visited Lenox in May and toured several  Gilded Age domiciles including  Ventfort (home of J. Pierpont Morgan's sister) -  where the silver tea service is displayed (photo credit, Pam B) -  and The Mount, a home that Edith Wharton not only lived in but helped design. Per Pam, The Mount was the best of the  Berkshires tour.
Wharton's Gilded Age tales show the underside to the life of leisure, where too much money and not enough occupation left the one-percenters seeking to  outdo each other with lavish parties and ostentatious mansions. If cable TV had been around back then, it could easily have become a reality show, "Keeping up with the Jonses". If only that didn't sound so familiar.

Teas in Peru

T Ching - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:30

Tea has always been popular in Asia, Europe, and North America. What about tea culture in other parts of the world? In my recent travel to Cusco and Lima, Peru, I learned that they too drink quite a bit of tea. I saw much more tea being sold than coffee. A lot of the teas have been enjoyed as a beverage since Incan times but more tea is being sold because healthy products are experiencing rapid growth in Peru as well.

Here are some of the popular teas I had the opportunity to try in Peru, coca leaves and muna being the most popular in many restaurants and hotels.

Muna

This is an Andean Mint. Its aroma is pretty strong. I would say more strong in aroma and taste than peppermint and spearmint. It is very minty with a subtle sweetness and more herbal taste than peppermint or spearmint.

Manzanilla

This is Chamomile in Peru. They taste sweet and are not as potent in taste and aroma as the Chamomile from Egypt. The flavors are well balanced and smooth.

Cedroncillo

A medicinal herb found in the Andes. It smells amazing and with hints of lemon, it is calming as a tea.

Cacao Husks

It has a smooth taste and the aroma of chocolate without the calories. Great to satisfy that chocolate craving without the guilt that normally goes with it.

Coca Leaves

Coca leaves are very popular and can be found everywhere. It is used to help with altitude sickness in Cusco. The taste is unique. It has hints of dried grass and fresh hay and reminiscent of yerba mate, but something else entirely.

Although these teas are popular in Peru, it was also interesting to find a lot of cafes serving camellia sinensis teas as well. It was a wonderful experience to learn and see what teas are being enjoyed around the globe, especially those we may never have been exposed to before!

image

 

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Holistic Hearts (Black) Tea from Beleave Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 10:22

Holistic Hearts (Black) Tea from Beleave Teas is the second tea I have had from this company and I have to say both impressions have been positive ones!  As soon as I opened the package of this Holistic Hearts (Black) Tea from Beleave Teas I could smell a fruity yet crusty combo – much like a jelly croissant!  As you can see from the photo above Holistic Hearts (Black) Tea from Beleave Teas comes in the shape Read More

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Just Paper and Tea, Georgetown, Washington DC

Notes on Tea - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 23:23

Paper is one of things I collect. It started with stationery -- I really enjoy hand writing letters -- then branched out to notebooks of which I keep several at a time including a personal diary, a tea tasting notepad, and a projects journal. Plus, I always carry a small notepad in my handbag. I am not sure how I learned about Just Paper and Tea, a stationery shop in Georgetown, but I was nudged to visit it after seeing a photo of the mural shown above on Steep Thoughts Instagram feed. As you might know, I lived in Arlington, VA last year so it was theoretically easy for me to visit the shop, but despite the proximity, I only visited the shop once though I was in Georgetown several times throughout the year.


Did you see the #ShopSmall tag in the mural shown in the first photograph? This shop is roomier than I expected but its layout creates a cosy atmosphere. I would say it it equally dedicated to both paper products and to tea though you can probably tell from the photos that I spent much of my time looking at the teas. Paper and Tea carries teas from the French luxury brand, Theodor.


There were private-label blends in the inner room of the shop using wholesale tea from China and other countries.


Going back to the main room, I noticed a bing from Misty Peak Teas. I had been following Misty Peak on Instagram so the company was not new to me. However, I had not drunk any of their puerhs at that point. I did not want to invest in a cake so asked if the shop carried smaller quantities of puerh and lucky for me they did.


I was shown a 1 year mao cha or loose puerh from Misty Peak and purchased several ounces. Stay tuned for my review.

Tea Steeper from Dave and Solomons Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 23:00

One of the ever going battles with loose leaf tea drinkers is how to drink their tea on the go. There are so many options out there now that it is sometimes hard to pick just one. I have a few in my collection and I love them all for different reasons. This particular tea steeper from Dave and Solomons Tea is unique. Here is why. Most of the steepers that are portable that I Read More

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#MusicandTeaMonday: Mango Rose Daiquiri from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 17:00

“What’s a daiquiri?” A daiquiri is a concoction involving rum, sugar, and citrus. So this tea means I’m supposed to be on the lookout for: 1) Mango 2) Rose 3) Rum 4) Citrus 5) Sweetener When I drink this, I mostly just get rose on a black base. I have no idea what happened to the other ingredients. Which is okay, actually, because mango isn’t my favorite, and I have no concept of how “rum” Read More

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The Truth about Instagram Diet Teas

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 16:00

The one thing I get asked about the most, particularly from my non-tea-ish friends, is weight loss. People want to know if tea can really help them magically lose weight. I've written about my feelings on this subject a bit before (see The Trouble with Dr. Oz and Why He is Bad for Tea and Health Benefits...Smealth Benefits) but this time I thought it might be helpful to focus on a very specific source.

Instagram has become inundated with a deluge of scammy diet teas that promise to turn all of us into runway supermodels. As a woman, I find the way that these teas are marketed extremely offensive. Being healthy is one thing but drinking laxative teas in order to conform to social constructs in a whole other story. As a tea lover, it saddens me to see so many people misled in the name of my beloved leaf.
I will not name any brand names here because I don't want to give them any more publicity than they already get. Racked published a very thorough article that is worth checking out if you'd like to read more on the subject.
There are some truths that I feel must be made clear:
1. Celebrity endorsements are paid marketing campaigns! Influencers get paid to do what they do best, influence their followers to buy whatever product it is they are endorsing. Whether the person you are following is a Kardashian or the hot foodie blogger of the moment, if they share these types of products it is because they are compensated for doing so. I distinctly remember laughing a bit too hard when Scott Disick accidentally copy and pasted the instructions from a "tea" company's marketing department. Anyone can take their picture with a product and post about how much they love it. Is that really proof that they use it in their everyday life? I could do that on this blog if I wanted to but then I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.
2. True teas, those made from Camellia Sinensis, are not a magic cure for anything.As I've mentioned in other posts, many people don't realize that tea is a very specific type of plant. Any infusion that is made from something other than Camellia Sinensis is not actually tea. And since all tea comes from the same plant they all contain some levels of caffeine, antioxidants, and other substances. Oolong and puerh are often heavily marketed as magical weight loss cures. Anecdotal evidence from studies (often using animals, not people, as subjects) is extrapolated in order to make boost sales.
3. Diet teas can be downright dangerous.As mentioned about, Camellia Sinensis alone is not the equivalent of waving magic wand. What they means is that these companies must add additional ingredients in order to achieve the desired effect. In most cases that something special is senna, a laxative made from seeds of the cassia tree. That's right. The only reason why these "teas" work is because they make you poop your brains out. Laxatives dehydrate the body, making it appear that weight has been lost but in reality, all you're really shedding is the water that your body needs to survive.
4. Dietary supplements and teas are a largely unregulated industry.Contrary to popular belief, companies are not required to obtain FDA approval before selling a supplement. The herbal ingredients in diet teas are largely unregulated because of this loophole. While we might hear of occasional lawsuits, these things usually don't happen until it is proven that real harm has been caused by the product. All natural does not mean the same thing as safe.
5. Detoxing is not a thing.If I hear the phrase teatox one more time...Detoxification is a natural bodily function performed by organs like your kidneys and liver. No amount of juice cleanses, activated charcoal, antioxidants or diet teas is ever going to remove toxins from your body.
People have been consuming tea for thousands of years. If the leaves held some secret property, wouldn't we have discovered it by now? Drink tea because you like the way it tastes. Drink tea because of how it makes you feel. Drink tea because it connects us in so many ways to other human beings. Drink tea because the culture and history that surround it is fascinating. Just don't bring diet into this.
A post like this one usually results in my inbox being flooded with emails from companies who don't realize I'm trying to rally the troops against them. It was worth the risk, though. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this in the comments!

What do Teapots Have in Common with McDonald’s?

T Ching - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 12:43

Tea and McDonald’s? It might sound strange, but follow along with our L-theanine fueled logic.

A customer asked if certain tea pots should be used with different teas. For the purposes of this discussion, we will rule out talking about Yixing tea pots since they are specifically made to take on the flavor of the teas brewed in them. We will also assume that you wash the pots after each use.

We are talking about the other 99% of pots that most people use – ceramic, glass, iron, steel or porcelain.

Not a huge amount of pots are made from stainless steel, mainly because they are costly. Some people say that certain drinks taste better out of a bottle than a can. The craft brew industry uses cans, not to mention the entire beer industry brews in stainless steel. Almost all meals prepared in restaurants are made using stainless steel vessels. This taste difference is a myth.

Porcelain and ceramic are both made from clay. The difference is that porcelain is more refined and purified, making it harder and offering more design flexibility. That is why fancier cups and pots are made of porcelain, allowing them to make thinner and more elaborate designs.

We all know glass, and the teapots made from glass are generally on the thin side. Aside from a level of fragility, they are flavor neutral like everything else we’ve mentioned.

Iron pots are coated with enamel, and thus the metal never comes in contact with the tea.

From a pure taste perspective, none of the aforementioned materials will make any difference with regards to the taste of the tea.

But what about heat? There are some that recommend certain pots from a heat transfer perspective. For example, glass pots are generally thin so they do not insulate and therefore lose heat faster. Some say green tea would be better suited in a glass pot since it is consumed at lower temperatures versus black tea.

Iron has a higher heat transfer rate than ceramic. This is true, although you still can’t pick up either at the bottom with your bare hands. One writer mentions, “Due to their composition these pots transfer heat easily (they very quickly lose the temperature of the tea liquor)”. This is true only if you pour hot water into a cold iron pot. Think of a cast iron radiator. It holds heat for hours right? It takes a while to heat up, but once all that metal is heated – it stays warm. So simply filling up an iron pot ahead of time with hot water will ‘prime’ the pot. Once warmed up, your tea will stay warm for a long time.

Heavy ceramic pots can also be pre-warmed, especially during the winter. Incidentally we tested an insulated ceramic pot (it has a built in tea cozy) and found only a limited improvement. At the end of the experiment I asked myself who takes so long to drink tea anyway? There are other solutions – an insulated tumbler which can hold tea for a few hours or a tea candle.

In practical terms, regardless if you drink green or black tea, and assuming you are not brewing in an ice cold pot, your tea will taste exactly the same when brewed in any of these pots mentioned. Even if you switch tea types, assuming you wash the pots you should not taste remnants  of previous brews.

So how does this compare to McDonald’s?

Back in the mid 80’s McDonalds tried to solve a problem that didn’t exist and came up with a novel concept that ultimately flopped. It was the McDLT.

The goal of this concoction was to keep the meat side and the toppings side in separate chambers so that you would have an extra fresh and crispy burger. The concept never took off, and people found that a big mac in the regular box sufficed versus a cumbersome box that you had to then assemble. They developed this product and spent a lot of time on a non-issue. The customer just wanted a burger, already made in the standard box they were used to. The customer never noticed any change in taste to make it worth the trouble. Although it proved to make entertaining and catchy commercials!

Back to the tea pots. Ultimately, there is no reason to over think this. Do what feels natural. Would you drink a nice vintage of wine in a thick water glass? No. The same applies to tea. Brewing a pot of Gyokuro in a thick and stout ceramic pot will taste exactly the same as glass, but lets be honest – doesn’t green tea look better in glass?

One could brew a chai frothed with milk and sugar in an iron pot,  but it wouldn’t feel natural to serve chai from a heavy iron pot into a fancy porcelain tea cup.

For new tea drinkers, getting something that isn’t too “out there” would be ideal. A standard ceramic pot is just fine. And as your tastes expand, you’ll find yourself compelled and drawn to certain pots for certain types of teas. Use the pot that feels naturally good for the tea you are drinking.

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