Iced… Iced… Baby

 

 

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World’s Fair Poster

• Did you know that iced tea was first “officially discovered” in 1904 at the World’s Fair, St. Louis?
• Or that prohibition and home refrigeration in the 1920s and 1930s helped increase the popularity of tea?
• And that approximately 84% of the tea consumed in America is iced?

 

Welcome to National Iced Tea Month!

The most popular story goes something like this: In 1904 at the World’s Fair, Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner was planning to give away free samples of hot tea to visitors. It was so hot in St. Louis that year and no one was interested in hot tea – so he dumped cubes of ice into the drink. The rest is tea history. That said, there is also some information and a story about a Mrs. Tyree and her recipe for iced tea that was published in 1877 (well before the World’s Fair) in Housekeeping in Old Virginia – which is pretty darn cool. (Pun intended.)

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Mrs. Tyree’s recipe for iced tea

In fact, many Americans were already familiar with and drinking iced tea in alcohol based punches as far back as the Colonial days. There is reference to the Philadelphia Fish House Punch from the early 1700s which was diluted with tea. David Wondrich, a liquor historian wrote that the recipe for Regent’s Punch (1815) “…also packed quite the potent wallop: Not only did it call for green tea and arrack, a rum-like liquor from South Asia, it also threw in citrus juice, sugar, champagne, brandy and rum.” That’s a significant difference from how we drink iced tea today.

 

When Prohibition rolled around and took effect in 1920, nonalcoholic iced teas took off. In 1921, The Spice Mill (a book on coffee and tea industry) wrote: “Since Prohibition has gone into effect, tea has been drunk in places not heretofore thought of.” In order for social clubs, hotels and bars to survive, they looked for substitutes for (hard) liquor sales. Enter the birth of virgin fruit punches and strongly brewed iced teas – both packed with flavor and perfectly legal.  The real tipping point arrived with the availability of home refrigeration and freezers which meant that people didn’t have to leave their homes to attend a social club for an iced cold drink.

 

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Classic Iced Tea

This brings us to America and its 84%. We stand almost entirely alone (American, Canada, Thailand) in terms of tea culture worldwide in that we are prefer our tea over ice – while the rest of the tea drinking world drinks its tea hot.  In countries like China, India, Sri Lanka and Japan, tea is almost always served hot regardless of the season.

Is it because of our early access to ice? Or that Americans were “forced” to drink a strong nonalcoholic beverages during Prohibition? Perhaps! Regardless of the answer, iced tea isn’t going anywhere.

One of the best ways to enjoy real iced tea is to brew it yourself using loose-leaf tea. The quality and taste are far superior than anything you will make from packaged teabags.  What I find most interesting and also surprising is how many people ask me HOW to make iced tea. I get this question almost weekly at markets. It’s really quite easy and takes little effort.

There are 2 ways to make iced tea: traditional hot brew method and cold brew. I’ve made both. My personal preference is to hot brew black teas and cold brew green teas.

For Hot Brew: The proportion I use is roughly 1 oz of loose-leaf tea to 1 gallon of water. I use boiling water for black teas, herbal and rooibos. With any herbal infusion or rooibos you can brew the leaves as long as you like without risking bitterness because there is no Camellia Sinensis (tea) in herbal infusions. You could walk away from rooibos (or herbals) for hours and return to perfectly brewed tea. It’s not the same for black teas. Time matters or you end up with a very strong, sometimes bitter brew. Most iced teas in restaurants are often brewed too long, and I believe it’s why so many people resort to sugar in their tea. Quality tea made correctly requires no sugar!

 

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Ice cubes changed everything

For Cold Brew: As mentioned I like greens (and oolongs) brewed cold. The ratio is slightly different in that you need more leaf to water. My preference is 1.5 oz of tea leaves to 1 gallon of ice/water placed in the fridge over night. When you wake up: Iced Tea!  Depending on the tea, I might even use 2 oz of tea leaves to 1 gallon of water. What’s great about this method particularly for green tea, is that there is little to no astringency or bitterness. Some research even suggests that the caffeine level is lower and the anti-oxidants are higher with this method.

Our summer iced tea menu at our local farmer’s markets rotates between these 6 flavors:

Black Currant
Calypso (summer only)
Lovely Lauren – Apricot
Pirate’s Nest
Ginger Peach (Summer only)
Moroccan Mint Green

For those of you that follow Pearl Fine Teas around the DC Metro area, or are one of our online customers, I’m offering 15% OFF these 6 teas for the rest of June during National Iced Tea Month. Enter code: ICE15 at checkout to receive your discount!

Only blog readers will have access to this code which expires at midnight on June 30th! Grab some leaves and brew over ice!

Happy Sipping!
~ The Chief Leaf

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Iced… Iced… Baby

25 Days of Tea: Day 13 (Full Moon Water)

fullmoonteapot2As I was thinking about what tea to discuss for today, it occurred to me that talking about rituals around tea seemed timely. So, I’m detouring during our 25 Days of Tea adventure to talk about a ritual of making Full Moon Water during this full moon phase which is today, December 13, 2016. It’s the last Super Moon of the year called the Full Cold Moon, and right before the Winter Solstice. Seems like perfect timing.

Websters definition of ritual is:
1 : of or relating to rites or a ritual :  ceremonial <a ritual dance>
2 :  according to religious law <ritual purity>
3 :  done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol <ritual handshakes> <ritual background checks>

But I like this one: “a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.”

Rituals often bring a sense of comfort, serenity and peace. (Who doesn’t want that). And as we know, rituals and tea go hand in hand. It dates back thousands of years in almost every tea culture. The Japanese tea ceremony, the Gong Fu Chinese tea ceremony, Korean tea ceremony, even the British “ceremony” of teatime affords us the gift of being present and connecting to those we are sharing tea with, our surroundings, nature and most importantly: ourselves. You can read a very interesting article by Richard Carrico in Cultural Anthropology that outlines the concept of ritual. He writes that “Ritual is in fact an inevitable component of culture, extending from the largest-scale social and political processes to the most intimate aspects of our self-experience.”

One ritual that may not be widely known is that of charging water. And since water is as important as tea, this seemed very interesting to me. I’m not sure where it originated (it may be Shaman) and it may sound bit hocus pocus but what the heck. Things thrive under the warmth and light of the sun, so why not the moon? Let’s give it a shot tonight during this last Supermoon and see if we can infuse some good positive vibes into our cuppa and ourselves.

Here’s how it works:

The idea is to take fresh water (without any chemicals) and place it in a glass or crystal bowl and set it either on your window sill to catch the moon rays, or outside (covered with a light plastic wrap to keep out bugs and debris). You leave it there all night. The water is said to be charged in the morning with positive energy having collected the light from the full moon. Some say it even tastes different. Let’s find out by making Full Moon Water tonight and then making our tea in it tomorrow.  Perhaps we’ll feel energized. Perhaps calm and serene. Or maybe we won’t feel anything, but we will have tried something different that involves tea, and that in itself could turn into a ritual: always trying something new.

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Recovery Herbal Blend

Though I already wrote a post about our Recovery Blend in November and the components of the blend, I’m going to offer it up for today’s special since an herbal remedy seems to be right on target for our full moon water experiment.

If you are interested in giving it a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS13 at checkout to get 25% off our Recovery Blend – today only!

If you have a particular tea ritual, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#TeaTent
#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#25Teas
#fullmoon
#supermoon
#recoveryblend
#herbal
#tisane

#pearlfineteas

 

 

 

25 Days of Tea: Day 13 (Full Moon Water)

25 Days of Tea: Day 11 (Ginger Lemon)

gingerlemon.jpegGinger Lemon tisane, is one of our most popular herbal infusions that is regularly sold out due to demand. So in other words: Get it while its hot (and on sale)!

This blend is a combination of strong ginger root, lemongrass, and a sprinkle of linden. Many people find tremendous relief from everything from sore throats to the common cold with this powerful trifecta of herbs. Here is a little breakdown of some of the properties of each ingredient:

1. Ginger root: Spicy, peppery flavor, anti-inflammatory, aids nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. Boosts immunity and has been known to protect against certain types of cancers, especially ovarian (Dr. Liu/University of Michigan).
2. Lemongrass: lemony, tart, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, helps digestive tract spasms, high blood pressure, achy joints (rheumatism), fever, the common cold, and exhaustion.
3. Linden:  earthy, detox, aids colds/flu, inflammation, indigestion, helps with anxiety, natural sedative, heart support.

Here are some notes on this herbal blend:

• Overview:   Powerful healing blend known to aid wellness and recovery from illnesses like sore throats and colds.
• Dry Leaf:    Mixture of herbs including dried ginger root, lemongrass stalks and linden.
• Liquor (liquid):    Very pale yellow
• Aroma:   Ginger is upfront and the lemongrass wafts in the background
• Flavor notes:    It’s got a nice peppery kick from the ginger root and yet is easy to sip. The tart lemongrass is a nice compliment to the ginger. Smooth.
• Brewing recommendation:     Rolling boil / 212° Fº / 5+ minutes.
• Caffeine: No

If you are interested in giving this herbal infusion a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS11 at checkout to get 25% of Ginger Lemon– today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#TeaTent
#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#25Teas
#gingerlemon
#herbal
#infusion
#wellness

25 Days of Tea: Day 11 (Ginger Lemon)

25 Days of Tea: Day 10 (New England)

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New England Seasonal Blend

New England isn’t what you would normally expect for a tea blend, but boy is it good. The black tea base is complimented by bits of cacao, red and black peppercorn and dried maple bits. Sounds like a cavity in the making, however, even though the aroma is strongly sweet maple, the brew is not. The maple mixes with the cacao and pepper and it all comes together for a balanced cup of tea that is seriously rich and as comforting as a big bear hug. We have found that many people interested in transitioning over to tea from coffee, find this blend a good first cuppa. I believe its because its similar to the “weight” that coffee seems to offer. It is also caffeinated (as all black teas are), but does not give the caffeine rush that most people seem to experience with coffee.

We unleash this rich, satisfying and warming blend each fall and winter. It’s got a cult following by some of our beloved tea customers and there’s typically a line waiting for it’s re-entry. Here are some notes on this limited edition/seasonal blend:

• Overview:   A very rich, weighty cup of tea that pays respect to the beautiful New England region of the United States.
• Dry Leaf:    Small twisted leaves and stems, peppercorn, maple, cacao nibs
• Liquor (liquid):    Dark reddish-brown
• Aroma:   Strong sweet maple
• Flavor notes:    Balanced, rich and full of flavor. Maple upfront but not overly sweet. Cacao sits in the background as does the pepper and it all comes together on the palate. Long finish.
• Brewing recommendation:     212° Fº / 2-5 minutes.
• Caffeine: Yes

If you are interested in giving this Seasonal a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS10 at checkout to get 25% of New England Blend – today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#TeaTent
#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#25Teas
#newengland
#blacktea

25 Days of Tea: Day 10 (New England)

25 Days of Tea: Day 9 (Jasmine Dragon Pearls)

cropped-pearl_blogheader_jaspearls2.jpgJasmine Dragon Pearls are a classic: green tea leaves scented with jasmine flowers and rolled into small balls the size of pearls. At many of our farmers markets, I often over hear people confuse this beauty with the tea that unrolls into a flower. At that point I admit to ease dropping and take the opportunity to explain that what they are talking about are display teas and not Jasmine Dragon Pearls. While it’s true that these go through a similar process during steeping often referred to as the “agony of the leaf” (where the leaves slowly unfurl in water) display teas are often a lessor grade green tea where leaves are sown together with a flower that seems to pop-up or grow as it steeps. Jasmine Dragon Pearls are actually individually rolled leaves that open gently during steeping.

Leaves are harvested in the early spring and stored until summer; waiting for fresh jasmine flowers to come to full bloom sometime around late July. These Jasmine flowers are gently gathered very early in the day when the petals are closed and kept in a cool place until evening when hot summer days wane. That’s when the magic happens. After the jasmine buds relax, they gently open to release their distinct aroma which the tea leaves absorb. This is often done in 1 of 2 ways: alternating the flowers with the tea leaves (like a  lasagna), the other is to just blend the flowers in with the tea leaves. It takes many hours for the tea leaves to absorb the fragrance from the blossoms and is usually repeated many times (as much as 6 or 7 in higher grades.)  The tea leaves are then dried again to remove any moisture it took on during the scenting process.

The next step is truly amazing.

Each one of those scented leaves are then hand-rolled into a little “pearl.” Each and every individual leaf. And… there’s a person (an actual human being) who sits all day long at a table and rolls each tea leaf into a that little round ball.  The first time I saw how this was done I was humbled and it’s why I am so diligent not to waste ANY tea leaf, but especially a Jasmine Dragon Pearl. Someone spends their entire day sitting at a table rolling 1 leaf at a time, so that we can enjoy a gorgeous cup of green tea. Something to remember as we reach for a cup of tea to sooth our less then perfect day: it’s because someone else made it possible. Watch this video made by our friends at QTrade to see the hand rolling of the leaf. In the meantime, here are some notes on this blend:

• Overview:   A classic, jasmine scented Chinese green tea from Fujian Province.
• Dry Leaf:    Plump round balls
• Liquor (liquid):    Brownish yellow-green
• Aroma:   Floral and green
• Flavor notes:    Immediate jasmine floral notes. Green tea is almost secondary at first and then marries on the palate. Faint hint of smoke at the end. If steeped too long, this tea can become astringent and bitter.
• Brewing recommendation:     175° Fº / 2 minutes. (Steep multiple times)
• Caffeine: Yes

If you are interested in giving this classic a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS9 at checkout to get 25% of Jasmine Dragon Pearls – today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#TeaTent
#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#25Teas
#jasmine
#greentea
#jasminepearls
#pearlfineteas

25 Days of Tea: Day 9 (Jasmine Dragon Pearls)

25 Days of Tea: Day 4 (Gunpowder)

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Gunpowder/Temple of Heaven Green Tea

The question I’m most often asked when this tea is in our weekly farmers market rotation is: “Is it really gunpowder? Like from a gun that you shoot?”  Only once did I say yes and asked if he was a hunter and in need of ammo. The look on his face was worth the karma I think I took on for that fib that clearly was meant for my own entertainment. I came clean after I stopped laughing, and he (luckily) thought it was really funny. I mean it when I say: I have some of the best tea customers around. So what exactly is this crazy tea called “Gunpowder” or “Temple of Heaven”?

It’s a classic green tea – usually from Zhejiang province, China and because the leaves are hand-rolled into tiny pellets, it was given the name: Gunpowder tea. Its often mildly smokey and has a very long finish. This is a robust green tea and if steeped too long can become very astringent and even bitter – which for some is preferred. Gunpowder is the base used for Moroccan Mint tea and the smokiness of the green tea paired with mint leaves is a brilliant combination which will be featured later in the month. In the meantime, below are some notes on this robust brew:

• Overview:   A classic green tea that is more robust then most greens. It has weight.
• Dry Leaf:    Tightly rolled “pin head” size leaves, shiny green
• Liquor (liquid):    Darker then you would expect – almost a dark greenish brown
• Aroma:   Vegetal, hints of smoke from a chiminea
• Flavor notes:    Pungent, astringent, hint of smoke, long finish
• Brewing recommendation:     175° Fº / 2-3 minutes. Be sure to use water that is under boiling in temperature.
• Caffeine: Yes

If you are interested in giving this tea a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS4 at checkout to get 25% of Gunpowder Green Tea – today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#TeaTent
#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#25Teas
#morningkickstart
#kenyablackCTC
#pearlfineteas

25 Days of Tea: Day 4 (Gunpowder)

25 Days of Tea

It’s the last day of Novembgiftoftea-smaller for 2016 and as I sit here sipping our new batch of Jasmine Yin Hao, it occurred to me that many tea lovers are still unfamiliar with so many teas available (like Jasmine Yin Hao – a Pouchong).  Mention Earl Grey, Chai or Chamomile and heads nod, but mention Dian Jin, BaoZhong or even Aged Tea and I often am met with a stare.

It’s not easy to step into trying a new tea – it does take a sense of adventure and a real love of trying something new. Often people will defer to mainstream blends and well known names (like chai) and hopefully work their way into what those of us in tea are deeply connected to: TeaLife.

For die-hard tea drinkers, tea isn’t just a beverage, it’s a really important part of daily life. More then just routine, its ritual. And there’s a big difference–most notably related to intention and often has more meaning. (More on that later.)

So as I sit in my sunroom on the last rainy day of November, surrounded by Buddhas disguised as cats, I decided that starting tomorrow (December 1) and for the next 25 days leading up to Christmas Day, I’ll blog a short bit on a different tea each day and offer a discount on that tea for purchase on our shiny new website to give as a gift to yourself or someone else. I hope it will inspire you to try a new tea or at the very least, learn something new.

So keep an eye out here, on Facebook and on the website for tomorrows First Gift of Tea and the discount code to buy for that day.

Happy sipping!

– The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#teatent

#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#pearlfineteas
#teagirl

25 Days of Tea