Monthly Archives: February 2014

Drink Me: Adagio, Ginger Peach

I know I posted about visiting the Tea Market, but I’m also still working through my box of samples from Adagio.

Another of the teas I received in my initial order was Ginger Peach which is available in a sample size for $2, 3 oz for $6 and 6 oz for $19.

From the website, the Ginger Peach tea includes black tea, ginger root, natural ginger flavor, natural peach flavor, natural apricot flavor and marigold flowers.

When I first opened the bag I definitely smelled the tangy ginger above everything else. Under that there was a hint of peach and apricot.  This particular tea smelled very strongly of ginger and I wasn’t sure I would like it.  But again, it was deceiving because when it was brewed it was much milder. I could definitely still taste the ginger, but the black tea and the peach and apricot flavors mellowed it out quite a bit.  I won’t say this is a favorite of the ones I have gotten, but I did enjoy it.

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Universi-tea: Caffeine

Instanbul Tea & Spice Market

Last week I was asked by several people to talk about caffeine in tea. Now I preface this by saying that I’m no expert and that I try to look to reputable sources for information.

There is lots of information out there, and a lot of it is put out there by the tea companies. While I’m finding that there are some tea companies that I really like, I haven’t done the real research yet, so I’m hesitant to place my trust in the information that they are providing.

The first place I found that had a bit of information that I trusted was the Mayo Clinic, in an article titled “Caffeine Content for coffee, tea, soda and more.”  They list a variety of beverages and include their caffeine contents, but the ones that are particularly relevant are:

  • Black Tea – 14-61 mg per 8oz
  • Black Tea Decaf – 0-12 mg per 8oz
  • Green Tea – 24-40 mg per 8oz

The same article suggests that adults should strongly consider cutting back on caffeine if their total daily consumption equals or exceeds 500 mg and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get no more than 100 mg per day.  For younger children, they recommend that they should not consume caffeine on a regular basis.

Another article at the Mayo Clinic titled “Caffeine: How Much is too Much” recommends that adults limit their caffeine intake to 200-300 mg per day.

I also found a paper that was published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology titled “Caffeine Content of Brewed Teas” which came out of the University of Florida, College of Medicine.  This paper seems to validate the Mayo Clinic’s estimates of caffeine in black tea, both regular and decaffeinated.

Now for the other sources.

Part 4 of The Republic of Tea’s Tea 101 discusses caffeine and tea.  Technically all tea has caffeine because to be considered tea, the leaves must come from the Camilla sinenses plant.  Decaffeinated teas generally retain a small portion of the caffeine, but the amount is reduced considerably.  The amount of caffeine in any given tea really varies depending on the amounts of tea leaves used (as opposed to other things added to the blend) and the method and length of brewing time.  Generally the longer the brewing time, the more caffeine in the beverage, which does explain why black teas (at higher brewing temperatures and longer steeping times) usually contain more caffeine than white or green teas (lower brewing temperatures and shorter steeping times).

Adagio Teas has some nice information about caffeine and tea as well, and seems to agree with much of what is presented by The Republic of Tea.

I also found this really beautiful infographic on LifeHacker which tries to lay out the benefits of coffee versus tea.  While the format is impressive looking, I can’t necessarily verify the information presented.  I will say that the caffeine listed per cup of tea seems to match other sources, most notably those from the Mayo Clinic.

Ultimately, most of what I have read, in both the journal article and the tea sites listed above, suggests that if you are truly hoping to avoid caffeinated beverages entirely you must stick with the herbal blends and tisanes, because they don’t contain any actual tea (Camilla sinensis) leaves and therefore are naturally decaffeinated (barring adding another substance that normally contains caffeine like chocolate for instance).

In the future I’ll try to review decaffeinated and herbal (naturally caffeine free) options and I’ll add a “decaf” tag to the categories so anyone wishing to avoid caffeine can find only those reviews!

Drink Me: Tea Market, Japanese Cherry

Another one of the teas that I picked up when I visited Tea Market was a Japanese Cherry tea.  From Tea Market, the tea includes “exquisite Sencha with dried cherry pieces.”

I purchased one ounce for $4.70 (you can purchase it, as with her other teas, for the same price per ounce) and was instructed to brew at 160F and steep for 2-3 minutes.

When I first opened the bag, all I smelled were sweet tart dried cherries.  Once brewed I smelled a milder cherry smell, with an undertone of the green tea, but it wasn’t grassy or overly strong.  It was very sweet and light and I really enjoyed it. It’s perfect for a mid-afternoon unwinding.  Tea Market claims it’s one of its best sellers and now I know why!

Teacessories: Tea Cozies

I don’t generally drink my tea in ceramic pots, but there are many people who do. As I said in my post about mug cozies, one of the ways to keep your tea warm longer is to add some extra insulation with wool!

There are tons of tea cozy patterns out there for those of you that knit.  My particular favorite is one that my friend Ana knit:

Grannie’s Traditional Tea Cozy pattern, Knit by Sugaroni on Ravelry.

Other patterns I think are fun are the Ribbed and Ruffled Tea Cozies by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas:

Ribbed and Ruffled Tea Cozies (pattern) by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

Or Sheep Carousel by Kate Davies:

Sheep Carousel (pattern) by Kate Davies

I also really love a whimsical collection called Really Wild Tea Cosies by Loani Prior that includes this one called Coral Punk:

Coral Punk (pattern) by Loani Prior (included in Really Wild Tea Cosies)

For those who aren’t crafty but want a tea cozy, I searched etsy and found these (just click on the photo for a direct link to the shop):

Scarlett Tea Cozy by ButterfliesandBluebi, $25

The Claret Garden by Tafferty Designs, Small $16.84, Medium, $33.68

Wool Needle Felted Tea Cozy, Robin Hood Fox and Toadstool Mushrooms by The Moon Goat, $85.00

Knitted Tea Cozy with London Skyline by Linda Ann Bingham, $117.88

Drink Me: Tea Market, Birthday Tea

Almost all of the shopping I do these days, tea and yarn included, is primarily online. However, you just can’t beat going to a local tea (or yarn) store to get to view, smell, or touch the goods in person.  I was excited to learn that there is a little tea shop in Brookside, a neighborhood in Kansas City and that it was right near work.

Tea Market, Brookside (Kansas City, Missouri)

Last week a coworker and I went over at lunch time to check out the Tea Market, and I have to say we were not disappointed.

The store is super cute and staffed by the friendly owner. She personally selects and blends about 100 tea varieties in the store, as well as selling a really good selection of prepackaged teas and accessories (mugs, paper filters, infusers of various sorts, teapots, etc).

The loose leaf tea is set up in canisters on one wall. Each canister contains a description of the ingredients in the tea and a price per ounce. There’s also a tiny smelling jar for each canister so you can view and smell what you’re selecting. My coworker and I stood there for several minutes just smelling and enjoying the varieties.

Once you select what you would like, the owner weighs and packages it in either a foil ziplock pouch (1oz) or a tin (2oz and up).  She also told me that if I bring the tin back, she’ll re-use it for my next order and take 10% off the price.

I purchased several teas which you’ll see here over the course of the next few weeks.

Today’s selection, Birthday Tea is described as a celebratory blend of black tea with raspberry, passion fruit and marigolds.  I purchased a 2oz tin for $4.00 an ounce.

When I smelled this tea it smelled fruity and sweet and reminded me of tea party cakes.  I could definitely smell the raspberry and there was something else unidentifiable.  Once brewed it still smelled deliciously sweet and fruity. I wish I had a full ingredients list so I could tell you more of what is in this tea. I can identify the marigold flowers, and there are also some pretty blue flowers that turned pink when steeped in hot water.  The tea did not disappoint – it was a good black tea, but also had a sweet, tart and fruity taste. I’m betting this would be fabulous iced in the summer.

Universi-tea: The basics of tea.

If you’re like me, the first tea website you started browsing had all these different varieties of tea and you were quickly overwhelmed for choice.  I thought I’d take a moment to share a bit of knowledge about tea.  What the heck is tea anyway?

I started my education with a popular Kindle download called 19 Lessons on Tea: Become an Expert on Buying, Drinking and Brewing the Best Tea.  While I wouldn’t call this the definitive source on tea (and trust me, I’ll be doing more reading as we go along) it was a nice, quick read that gave me a basic education.

19 Lessons on Tea, Amazon.com, $2.99 Kindle

I also subscribed to The Republic of Tea – Tea 101 which came in a series of 6 emails.

Tea 101, Republic of Tea, Free if you’re willing to give them your email!

Again, this is by no means a definitive guide, but it provides a little bit of basic information if you’re lost like I was. The downside of both publications is that they are created by people intending to sell something or direct traffic to their site.  However, if taken with a grain of salt, I found the information useful.  All of the information I’ve shared below has been taken from these two sources, and I hope to supplement it later on with more!

Virtually all tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Raw tea leaves and buds are harvested from the plants and then processed.  They are processed through a variety of methods that include crushing, bruising or breaking the leaves.  As the leaves are crushed, bruised or broken enzymes in the leaves come in contact with air and oxidize. This process is called oxidation.  How much oxidation the leaves undergo determines what type of tea is produced.

Camellia sinensis, San Francisco Botanical Garden

Teas usually fall into six broad categories:

* White – White teas are not oxidized at all, and are white because they include fresh buds rather than leaves from the plant.  White teas are delicate and should not be brewed with overly hot water, and should only be steeped for a short period of time.

* Green – Green teas are only slightly oxidized, resulting in green leaves. Most green tea comes from either Japan or China. Green teas should also not be brewed with boiling water and should be steeped less than 3 minutes.

Glow Cloud, Green Tea Blend, Adagio

* Yellow – Yellow teas are only slightly more oxidized than green teas, and are allowed to turn yellow for flavor.  Yellow teas are only grown in China and only a small portion are exported, meaning they are fairly uncommon.  Yellow teas should be prepared like white teas.

* Oolong – Oolong teas are partially oxidized, resulting in darker green leaves.  Oolong teas should be prepared with water that is closer to boiling temperature and steeped for slightly longer.

Almond Oolong, Adagio Teas

* Pu-erh – Pu-erh teas are processed like green teas, however they are allowed to undergo a fermentation process which results in a dark reddish leaf.  Pu-erh teas should be prepared with boiling water and steeped 3-5 minutes.

Pu-erh, Tea Market

* Black – Black tea leaves are fully oxidized, resulting in black color.  Black teas are grown in both China and India. They should be prepared with water that is close to boiling and steeped for 3-5 minutes.  There are many varieties of black tea including Orange Pekoe, Ceylon, Darjeeling and Assam to name a few.

Blood Orange Black Tea, Kent & Sussex

However there are a few other varieties of tea:

* Scented – Scented teas are made by blending one the above teas with flowers, herbs or sliced fruit or peels.  This category includes teas like Breakfast Teas, Earl Grey, Chai, and Jasmine.

Maharaja Chai Oolong & Samurai Chai Blend, Teavana

* Herbal – Herbal teas do not actually contain any of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), but rather include a variety of other leaves and flowers that are processed and brewed or steeped similarly to tea.

* Rooibos – Rooibos is actually an herbal tea, but it has become popular enough that it is often placed in its own category. Rooibos derives its name from the South African plant from which it is harvested.

Rooibos, Tea Market

I hope that introduction will at least help you understand what you’re looking at when you’re looking for tea. I’m sure I’ll write more about the specific varieties in the future. For now I recommend trying a bit of each variety to determine which ones appeal to you.

Holiday

A day off from work means a little bit of this:

The Mug: My favorite Kansas joke, available here.

The Tea: The Republic of Tea, Hibiscus Key Lime

The Knitting: Heart of the Mesa Mittens by Grace Schnebly, knit out of my handspun from fiber dyed by Southern Cross Fibre

The Entertainment: Olympics!

Drink Me: Adagio Teas, Grapefruit Oolong

One of the teas in that I received in the Orchard Sampler Oolong pack from Adagio is a Grapefruit Oolong.

From the website this tea contains oolong tea, natural grapefruit flavor, orange peels and marigold flowers.

The Grapefruit Oolong is available in a sample size for $2, 2oz for $6 and 16oz for $29.

When I first opened the packet I would have sworn that someone near me cut into a fresh grapefruit.  All I could smell was that unmistakeable sour tang.  I could see pieces of peel and bits of marigold petals.  Once brewed it smelled a little sweeter, but still very much like grapefruit.  It tasted sweet, but also a little tart. I didn’t get much of the marigold, which I think is good given my dislike of flowery teas, but I got plenty of fresh tart grapefruit.  Again, I think this would make a nice iced tea in summertime, but I enjoyed it hot as well.

Knitting: Tea Inspired Patterns

Several designers find tea inspirational to their knits.

Kateryna Golovanova’s Spearmint Tea

Spearmint Tea by Kateryna Golovnova (pattern), free

Thea Colman’s Charleston Tea

Charleston Tea by Thea Colman (pattern), $6.50

Melissa LaBarre’s Tea Leaves available in baby, child or adult sizes!.

Baby Tea Leaves by Melissa LaBarre (pattern), $6.00

Or Laura Chau’s Afternoon Tea Volume One which includes 4 tea inspired sweaters: Oolong, Pekoe, Samovar and Matcha.

Oolong by Laura Chau, available as a single pattern for $7 or as part of the Afternoon Tea Volume One for $18 (all prices in Canadian dollars)

Drink Me: Adagio Teas, White Peach

I really like anything peach, from fresh peaches in the summer to peach flavored Jolly Ranchers and everything in between.  So when I saw that Adagio had a White Peach tea I had to give it a try.

From the website, the White Peach Tea includes white tea from China, apricots, natural peach flavor and marigold flowers.  It’s available in a sample size for $2, 1.5oz for $6 and 8oz for $19.

When I first opened the envelope all I could smell was peach. Once brewed, the tea scent came through.  The tea was really light and sweet, like a diluted peach nectar.  I really think this tea would shine as an iced tea, particularly during the summer months. It’s definitely something I would add to my collection, especially on these cold winter days to remind me that summer is coming!