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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Green Tea - part 3: The final chapter (for now)

Japanese Sencha green tea
There are quite a few claims going around about supposed side/adverse effects of drinking too much green tea.

Several websites on the Internet claim that tea is dangerously high in fluoride -- the level of fluoride in tea is supposedly much greater than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set for safe fluoride content of drinking water. This is technically true: the typical cup of tea (both green and black) contains over one milligram of fluoride, which is well over the recommended amount for fluoridated drinking water. However, the kind of fluoride found naturally in tea leaves is entirely different from the toxic chemically-produced sodium fluoride. when fluorine/fluoride is absorbed from the soil surrounding a tea plant, it is stabilized and rendered no longer dangerous. This information can, of course, all be confusing for someone worried about fluoride poisoning from their tea.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Green Tea - Part Deux

Chinese Gunpowder green tea
Because green tea is very alkaline its natural that it makes a great antacid. It can be very helpful in preventing hyperacidity of the stomach. In addition to this, people who regularly drink green tea are less likely to suffer from arteriosclerosis. The tea helps to keep the blood thin and to prevent coronary diseases, strokes, and even heart attacks. Furthermore, research performed at the University of Osaka, Japan, has proven a tentative link between drinking green tea and death of the pathogens responsible for both cholera and tooth decay. It also has been shown to kill harmful salmonella bacteria before they can even enter the drinker's stomach. The tea contains another beneficial substance called "EGCG" , which has been found to slow down cancerous tumor growth. Research from the Botikin Hospital in Moscow, Russia has suggested that green tea may even be more useful for treating bacterial infection than penicillin-based antibiotics, without the potential harmful side effects.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Green Tea - Part One

green tea
For over thirty years, western researchers have been aware that solid tumor cancers occur is far, far less often in countries where a large portion of the population drinks green tea regularly. As such, cultures with a long tradition of tea preparation and drinking have much to contribute to global health, western health, and probably even your health. But this only applies to green tea -- regular black tea, which is fairly popular everywhere, is lacking in the concentration of beneficial compounds. Green tea comes from the tea plant: Thea sinensis or Thea asoncica, which is not to be confused with herbal teas like peppermint, chamomile or fennel. Herbal teas can also have some beneficial effects, but these are different from real tea.