Friday, August 31, 2012

The Online Tea Shop - So Many Teas Available

Fancy a cuppa of the most refreshing tea you have had in a while? Look no further than different flavours of Oolong Tea. A strange but memorable name and that is exactly how you feel after you have brewed your first cup. The bags are Tung ting temples and that is how we like to think of our bodies!

No matter what your mood there will be a tea bag to help. Whether you are drinking on the go or looking to put your feet up and relax, a helpful mood-o-meter is fun to use and is actually interesting to read, even if you are just researching what to drink when you are next feeling adventurous, bloated or just in a tea drinking rut.

All the traditional tea like green, white, black and oolong comes from the camellia sinensis bush and will naturally contain caffeine. These bushes are grown in quite a few countries all around the world and as such are widely available.

Tea for the temples doesn't just come from China or India which is where we think tea is grown but from other countries such as Rwanda. They are also working towards maintaining the rainforests which makes us all feel better. All tea packaging from fair-trade is recyclable and even the temple bags are made from corn starch and can be thrown on the compost heap when finished with.

For caffeine free drinks, herbal tea does not come from these bushes and there are hundreds of infusion blends to choose from. Herbal teas are drunk black with just hot water and the temple dunked or left in, either for a few seconds or until you get to the bottom of the cup. Strength of herbal tea like any other is personal preference; some are even better iced instead. The only natural non caffeinated tea produced that can be drunk as usual with milk and sugar is rooibos tea. No artificial flavours are used and you can trust its all natural. You will not find dusty tea in flat bags; these are all real whole leaves.

If you are a blogger you can leave your own comments on the website and help others with what is new, limited edition of just the traditional but also exceptional. A few more cafes are now stocking this type of tea and it is also by word of mouth "have you tried the new herbal blends, it's a fabulous refreshing change, and it better than many of the usual brands"!

You can buy a range of teas online including herbal teas and green teas; with various flavours of each available you can find the right tea for the right occasion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tea the Real Story

Everyone knows what tea is, right? Tea, technically, comes from the leaves of one plant: camellia sinensis. Anything other than the leaves from this plant is not actually tea, although "tea" is often used as a catchall word to include all the different herbal beverages used these days.

Legend has it that tea was discovered long ago in China quite by accident. Some leaves from a nearby plant blew into a cup of hot water; a nice brown colored beverage resulted, was found to have a refreshing taste, and tea was born. However it was discovered, tea is very refreshing, whether it is black, green, oolong or white. Tea has been proven in more recent times to have wonderful health benefits. We have all heard of antioxidants in tea, helping to fight free radicals that can cause harm to the body. Tea is far lower in caffeine than coffee. It is refreshing, whether used hot or cold.

There are various types of tea, all beginning with the same leaves. Black tea is created by bruising or crushing the green leaves to expose them to oxidation and allowing them to ferment, then rolling the leaves and drying. This produces a beautifully colored beverage and has the strongest flavor of all the varieties of tea. Oolong tea (pronounced 'OH-long') is oxidized and fermented the same as black tea, but only for about half the amount of time and the resulting product is a lighter, more reddish beverage with a flavor all its own, somewhere in strength between black tea and green tea. For green tea, the leaves are heated immediately, stopping the fermentation process entirely, then dried and rolled. It produces a lovely light colored beverage, and is said to have the most health benefits. The processing of white tea is similar to that of green tea, but only the unopened buds of the leaves are used. It has the same health properties as green tea, but the flavor is the lightest and most delicate.

Good quality tea is a wonderful beverage. Whole rolled or twisted leaves are the best quality; the smaller the leaf, the higher the quality of the tea. The top grades are called Flowery, Golden Flowery or Tippy. Seconds, termed "Choppy," are the leaves that have broken into smaller pieces. They brew a great tea, and are usually less expensive. The smallest particles leftover from the tea process, called "Fannings", are what is used in tea bags. It brews tea of course, but once tasting a tea brewed from a wonderful full leaf Darjeeling Black Tea, for example, it is hard to return to a tea bag for optimal flavor.

"Orange Pekoe" (rhymes with "gecko") is a western terminology applied to a grade of black tea; the word orange in the name has nothing to do with flavor, but could be a reference to the Dutch House of Orange using the name Orange as an implied "seal" of some sort. Pekoe may be a westernized interpretation for a Chinese word meaning "white hairs", referring to the fine white down on the tea leaves.

So, what are herbal beverages called? Herbal beverages are called tisanes, and may be prepared by different methods; usually infusion or decoction. It is incorrect to apply the term "tea" to anything infused or decocted, although tea is actually infused. Infusion is the preparation method of choice for leaves, flowers or buds; plant matter that will release its properties easily into a drinkable beverage. Placed into heated or boiled water and allowed to steep, the herbs release their goodness into the water, and then are strained out. Decoction is the method used for harder or denser plant materials, such as roots or barks that take longer to release their flavors or health benefits. With a decoction, the plant materials are brought to a boil, simmered gently for 15 minutes or more allowing the liquid to reduce, and then straining.

No matter which you prefer, tea or tisane, for pure enjoyment or for health benefits, look for the best quality. Discover your favorites among the different types of loose teas. Taste the different herbal tisanes and discover new flavors. Above all, enjoy!

My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what "A Harmony of Flavors" means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.

My passion is to teach people how to create a "Harmony of Flavors" with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things.