Saturday, September 19, 2009


Haven’t posted in quite some time, it was a difficult summer losing my father. But fall is in the air and Dad would not want us to wallow so back into the drink I go, and by drink, for me anyway, I mean tea!

I love tea. In my catering we use premium and outstanding teas from Revolution and Harney and Son along with the often requested Lipton. (I must admit, there are times I also crave a cup of Lipton.) But for my own personal consumption I have indulged my passion for tea with Adagio Teas. The three most often in rotation are Jasmin Pearls, a two leafed “pearl” of light oolong teas that unfurls during brewing; Golden Yunnan, a light oolong tea that tastes like Lipton’s rich uncle and Silver Needle, a white tea that is one of China’s best and so amazingly fragrant you will wish you could wear it. That is not to say I don’t drink the Revolution and Harney teas, we do and plenty of it, but when I am looking for that solitary cup to sooth and refresh me, it is Adagio these days.

Some tea facts. Tea is the second most consumed beverage, following water. All the varieties of tea, green, black, white and oolong come from one plants leaves, the Camellia. How the varieties are derived is from the processing these leaves receive with the main difference being how much oxygen the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing. White tea is the only tea that is unprocessed and is considered the apex of teas in the west but never drunk in the east.

While being the second most consumed beverage worldwide tea is still not considered in the same class as coffee in the US. Coffee has the cache of the connoisseur what with Starbucks and the attention paid to coffee in the US. But that is a recent conversion, remember when we drank Sanka? No one would dream of that swill now and the same will happen with tea as these new smaller tea companies infiltrate our American psyche. That brings us to Bag vs. Loose. The worst tea has been bagged for US consumption. That is until the boutique tea companies came about which is why their tea costs a little more. The tea is loose tea quality, the bags are better quality for no transference of that nasty under flavor you couldn’t quite put your finger on.

The brewing of the tea is as important as the quality of the tea you are choosing. For black tea, dark oolong and herbal teas make sure your water is at 212 degrees (boiling) and do not brew your tea longer that 5 minutes or a bitter cup will result. For the more delicate teas such as white, green and lighter oolong, a cooler water temp of 180 degrees (in between simmering and boiling) is better as to not burn the leaves, thereby dampening their flavors. A longer brewing time of 7 minutes is optimal for these teas. As we approach winter I also suggest pouring a little hot water into your cup or teapot and then discard that before you brew your tea. Your brewing water will stay the optimal temperature.

My Mom just called with a new decaf tea she is crazy for and we will do some research on that. Decaf presents some challenges for the tea crowd and the process of decaffeinating often takes out the delicate flavor of the tea leaving us with a cup of hot water basically. I promise to add to the following collection of websites when we find new companies with a worthwhile product.

All of these tea sites have retail capability.

Another nice site to learn about teas is:

Till next time….bottoms up!

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