Friday, October 14, 2011

Preventing Stale Tea

I often have issues with buying too much tea -- I get carried away at the store, or think oh, I won't order again for a couple months online and the result is 3 oz each of 5 different teas!

Fortunately, teas very rarely truly "expire." Even left out, tea can last for years and never (assuming it isn't left in a particularly moist environment.. mold and mildew can ruin any dry good) become dangerous to consume.. but that doesn't mean you'll want to consume it. When exposed to light and air for a long period of time, tea dries and begins to break down, leaving you with a stale-tasting, crumbly, weak mess.

You can always test a tea that has been left out and forgotten. Brew a small cup, depending on how long it has been out and your personal tastes you may find the tea to be perfectly fine. Even if it is drinkable, you will definitely be able to tell it is a bit old, especially in black teas.

Tea tins on the counter
So how can you prevent stale tea? Store it in a dry, dark place, preferably in an airtight container. My preferred online tea retailers each have their own specialized tins: Adagio Tins, Teavana Tins, but in reality you don't need expensive tins.. any airtight plastic container will do as long as you keep the tea in a closed cupboard. I use a combination of containers; Adagio tins for the tea sitting on my counter and plastic containers for anything kept in my cupboards.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Adagio triniTEA Tea Maker

A stock photo of the triniTEA
Today I am reviewing an interesting contraption, which belongs to one of my relatives, the Adagio Teas triniTEA Electric Tea Maker. While I prefer using a regular tea kettle and mesh basket (or my modified french press), many would rather have an all-in-one solution.. and this fits the bill perfectly.

The triniTEA is really a glorified coffeemaker, but with a few key differences. It features precise temperature, making it easy to get the right temperature for greens or white teas. Instead of relying on a thermometer and time or guesstimating the when the water is appropriately cool, you can just turn the dial. It also uses a clear reusable filter instead of relying on paper coffee filters. When the triniTEA runs, the filter basket fills up more quickly than it can drain into the teapot, and the tea leaves are allowed to unfurl and float freely. Another helpful feature: the teapot sits on a hot plate which stays on for several hours after brewing, keeping the tea warm for quite a while.

The only problem I have found with the trinTEA is that is can only make 2-3 large cups of tea at a time. This is normally fine, but if making tea for multiple people you may quickly find yourself having to start the machine again to brew some more.

triniTEA Electric Tea Maker
Looking to simplify preparation of loose tea? Our electric tea maker is the answer. Say goodbye to kettles, teapots and over-steeped cups. This wondrous appliance does it all - heats water, steeps leaves, and keeps tea warm so you may enjoy it all day long. Variable timer and temperature control lets you adjust the strength of an infusion, ensuring a perfect cup of tea each time. Works well with all tea varieties. Made in China. 32 oz (1L).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: Adagio Black Dragon Pearls

Today I am reviewing a tea I purchased at the beginning of the summer, photographed and documented, but never posted online: Adagio Teas' Black Dragon Pearls.

8 delicious dragon pearls
This tea is clearly different from your standard loose-leaf.. The leaves are hand rolled into half-inch balls before they are dried, making the term "pearls" very fitting. The advantage of this packaging technique is that it's easy to use! There is no bothering with measuring, just drop 2-3 of these into a cup and you're good to go.

3 black dragon pearls
10 oz water, 200 degrees Fahrenheit
4 minutes
sugar to taste (if you must)

Although I have been drinking mostly greens lately, I can never turn down a great cup of gourmet black tea. This tea is strong without being overpowering, a little bit malty without being uncomfortably so, and sweet enough to drink without any sugar. This makes a great breakfast tea -- miles ahead of bagged breakfast fare.

After two minutes of steeping
Done, and pouring
Ready to drink!

Black Dragon Pearls Black Dragon Pearls
Hailing from the Yunnan province, this black tea version of the popular Dragon Pearl is naturally sweet and smooth with a touch of earthiness. Comprised of only the highest quality leaves and buds, expertly rolled into a large pearl