Need to mix up some matcha without a traditional bamboo whisk? Here are four ways to get awesome results using four things that you probably already have in your kitchen.Read More
It's finally starting to feel like summer is on its way which means that I've been drinking a lot more iced tea lately. One of my favorite methods of making iced tea is cold brewing. It is easy to do and practically foolproof (I promise!).Read More
One of the questions that I see posted on tea forums and message boards has to do with how long tea stays fresh. In this post, I'll do my best to address those concerns and put you on the path to tea storage success.Read More
Green tea is the one variety of tea that people consistently tell me that they don't like. I always see posts on Reddit, Quora and other websites with similar complaints. Well, I'm here to tell you that green tea is actually pretty awesome! If your cup turned out less than stellar, it's most likely because of one of these four reasons.
1. Your water is too hot.
This one is the most likely culprit. Unlike black tea or oolong, most green teas cannot tolerate boiling water. Tea contains polyphenols called tannins (the same substance that gives you a dry mouth-feel in red wine). Hotter water will release more tannins from your green tea, resulting in a bitter and unpleasant cup of tea. Start with your tea vendor's recommendations and adjust to taste from there. Most green teas will fall within the 160-180°F range.
2. You brewed it for too long.
Just as with water that is too hot, brewing your tea for too long will make for a poor end result. Green tea, especially a high quality one, has a very subtle taste. I've seen a lot tea drinkers brew their tea for a very long time because they want it to be "stronger". In truth, this only extracts additional bitterness and won't really improve the taste in any way. Every tea is a bit different but most green teas should be steeped for no longer than 1 to 3 minutes. Green tea can offer a lot of complexity but your palate may have a hard time discerning that if you are used things like very strong black tea, spicy foods or coffee. Give it time and your patience will be rewarded!
3. The tea is old.
Tea very rarely spoils but the taste can and will degrade over time. This is particularly true of green tea. The greener the tea, the shorter the shelf life. I recommend consuming green tea within a year of harvest whenever possible. Tea bags will degrade faster for several reasons. Firstly, you will be hard pressed to find a tea bag that tells you when the tea was harvested. Your supermarket more than likely has last year's tea on its shelf. CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl) style tea will also oxidize more quickly because there is more surface area exposed to the air.
4. It's just bad tea.
It's also very possible that the tea you have is just simply a bad tea. This occurs often with flavored teas since their bases aren't always the best quality. The artificial flavor can do some funky things when added to hot water. To remedy this, look for a retailer who really knows what they are doing. If they can't tell you where it is from (details like region and approximate harvest time, not just country), then you probably don't want to drink it. If you don't have a reliable local shop, I highly recommend Teavivre for Chinese green teas and Yunomi for Japanese green teas.
Finding a perfect Valentine's Gift for your favorite tea lover is not always easy. Here are my top five suggestions (and hints to my own Valentine).
Nothing says Valentine's Day like a gift of chocolate and these tea infused truffles sound absolutely amazing.
This set of three Valentine's inspired teas offers a little bit of everything with a white tea, black tea and rooibos blend. There's enough to make about 50 cups of tea so your love will get lots of use out of it.
Special occasions call for special teas. This gyokuro comes with three packets of edible gold flakes that can be sprinkled each cup of tea after brewing. It would be a perfect drink to share after dinner with your sweetheart.
I actually got this set of adorable heart shaped cups for Christmas this year but I think they would make a perfect Valentine's Day gift. The pink and red cups are perfect for a tea party for two.
Nothing goes together better than tea and books and most tea lovers I know are avid readers. Your Valentine will love this collection of essays from tea people that come from many different walks of life. They all beautifully illustrate the connectedness and sense of belonging that many of us feel when sipping our favorite cup of tea.
If you'd like to bookmark any of these ideas, feel free to repin them from my Pinterest board that is embedded below.
Today I'm happy to share my guest post on Peony Tea Shop's blog. I'm telling the story of how I made the switch to gongfu. It is an important step in the journey of ever tea lover and I hope that my story encourages others to explore. Derek has written several guest posts for my blog and he is extremely knowledgeable about tea. I definitely suggest giving the rest of his blog a read. While you are at it, check out his teas because they are phenomenal.
Note: Peony Tea Shop has long since closed. I dug up my old guest post though and have included the text here for the sake of posterity.
When I first began drinking loose leaf tea I relied on my trusty ceramic teapot and mesh infuser. They served me well while I was just getting my feet wet and drinking flavored teas. Over time my tastes evolved and I started to drink more traditional teas, especially oolong. Along with that came a fascination with the cultural aspects of tea. I was very intimidated by yixing teapots, gaiwans and all of the equipment used in a gongfu tea service. They all seemed so beautiful and delicate.
I had just started my blog around this time. Although it was scary, I believed that I owed it to my readers to truly explore everything that the world of tea has to offer. After a lot of careful research, I purchased my first gaiwan and a yixing teapot. I was quite terrible at preparing tea when I first started. I was clumsy so there was lots of burnt fingertips, spills, and bad tea. The lid of my teapot still has a chip in it that reminds me of this time. Rather than becoming discouraged, I was determined to learn how to make tea properly using these tools.
I practiced nearly every day until I was finally satisfied with the resulting tea. It was a completely different sensory experience and I was amazed at the difference. The tea smelled and tasted so much better than it did when I used my old teapot. My smaller tasting cups forced me to slow down and really enjoy every sip. The ceremony of it all became a form of relaxation and meditation.
Whenever possible, I now prefer to prepare my tea using the gongfu method. It is a constant work in progress and I try to make each pot of tea the best that I can. I consider myself a student of tea and it is a learning process that does not have an end.