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Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Loose Tea, Part 2: The Brew

A visit to your tea shop will probably lead you to a very reasonable question:  what do I need to brew my loose leaf tea at home?  Tea vendors generally cater to all kinds of customers, from the novice brewer to the veteran tea enthusiast.  If you’re overwhelmed by the array of tea pots, kettles, tea service sets, and mysterious gadgets out there, know this:  you don’t need all, or even half, of that stuff.  With a few (wonderfully inexpensive) tools, you’ll be able to get the most flavor and enjoyment out of your loose leaf tea. 

One of the most important tools, a decent kettle, probably already lives in your kitchen.  Yes, decent:  not top-of-the-line, not fancy, not high-tech, just decent.  If you can fill it with water, put it on the stove, and pour hot water out of it safely, it’s sufficient.  An electric kettle works just fine, too (in fact, you might find the temperature control on an electric kettle to be very useful).  The only other really necessary tool is a tea infuser; these can be purchased for less than $10.  Popular models include a mesh spoon that rests on the rim of your cup, or a mesh ball (or fun shape like an animal) on a chain that hangs in your cup.  Any model, whether you spend a few dollars or a lot more, does the same thing – it allows the tea leaves to float in the hot water, steeping and releasing their color, flavor, and aroma into your cup. 

Yes, a kettle and an infuser are all you need to make a fantastic cup of tea.  You don’t need the kettle with the built-in infuser, or the decorative pot, or the collection of bamboo tea tools.  And unless you’re hosting High Tea, you don’t need the pretty pot with the matching cups and saucers, either.

Now that you have your kettle and infuser, you’re ready to brew.  Start with cold, filtered (if possible) water in your kettle.  For the best flavor, you don’t want to actually boil the water; ideal temperatures are somewhere between 149° F and 210° F.  Generally, the darker the tea, the hotter the water should be.  Most kettles whistle when the water in them is boiling, so listen for hissing and remove it from the heat before you hear the whistle.  While the water heats, prep your favorite cup; add about one teaspoon of tea to your infuser, and set the infuser in the cup.  When the water reaches temperature, pour it gently over the infuser and let it sit for about 1-3 minutes, depending on the tea (generally, the darker the tea, the longer the steep).  For stronger tea, start with more tea leaves, but don’t mess with the steeping time; increasing the steeping time will make your tea bitter, not stronger.  Finally, remove the infuser and enjoy your soothing cup of perfectly brewed tea.  Yes, it really is that easy!

What Are The Largest Tea Producing Countries In The World?

Unlike many crops, tea is produced in only a few specialized locations around the world. Interestingly enough, tea leaves only grow naturally in southern China and eastern India, which means that the crops had to be imported around the world before tea production could begin.

Today, tea is grown primarily in Asia, although significant tea-producing regions have sprung up in South America and Africa. Today, we’re going to provide a brief overview of the world’s largest tea producing regions.

China

China is the world’s most prolific tea producing country by far. In 2010, it produced nearly 1.5 million tonnes of tea, beating its nearest competitor (India) by approximately 500,000. China has a wide variety of popular teas derived from the camellia sinensis plant.

India

India contains some of the world’s most famous tea-producing regions. The country’s most popular exports include Assam, Nilgiri, and Darjeeling tea, all of which are available in black, white, or oolong blends. Assam, located in the western part of India, is one of only two places in the world where tea grows naturally.

Kenya

Coming in at 3rd on this list is Kenya. Tea and coffee are the most popular agricultural exports in Kenya, and the industry has continued to grow at a rapid pace in recent years. Kenya produces a number of different varieties of black, green, white, and oolong tea. 

Sri Lanka

Tea has become popular in almost all regions colonized by the British. The British took over Sri Lanka in the 19th century, rapidly turning it into one of the largest tea producers on the planet. Today, the region’s blends of Ceylon teas are known throughout the world.

Turkey

Moving away from East Asia and Africa, Turkey is also one of the world’s most well-known tea-producing countries. Turkish tea often refers to ‘çay’ – a special blend of black tea. However, a special blend of white tea called ‘Rize tea’ is also popular. Both Rize tea and çay tea are produced around the Black Sea, which is a particularly good spot to grow tea due to its mild climate and high precipitation. Turkey also has an advantage in that its inhabitants don’t usually drink coffee or alcohol, making tea the country’s most popular beverage across virtually all demographics.

Vietnam

Vietnam is a close 5th behind Turkey in terms of tea production. Tea is one of the most popular drinks in Vietnam. Being located right next to southern China, tea has a rich and storied history in Vietnam, and it has been produced for thousands of years in one form or another. Vietnamese tea is produced in both the highland and lowland regions of the country. The most popular blends are jasmine tea, artichoke tea, and lotus tea.

Conclusion

Rounding out the list of the world’s top 5 tea producing countries are Iran, Indonesia, Argentina, and Japan at number 6, 7, 8, and 9 respectively. However, tea production can be found in varying amounts all over the world, from the United States to Brazil to Nepal, making it one of the world’s most popular beverages

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Loose Leaf Tea, Part 1: The Tea

So you’ve decided to make the switch from bagged to loose leaf tea.  Great!  Now what?  With so many options, becoming a loose tea aficionado may seem intimidating.  Don’t worry – with a little know-how and a few good tools, you’ll be brewing and enjoying your loose leaf tea in no time.

The first step is finding the tea leaves to brew.  You may have noticed that they’re not as prevalent as packages of pre-bagged teas, but you’ll be surprised how easily you can get your hands on loose tea leaves if you look for them.  You can start with a look around your area for an independent tea shop.  Finding a local shop is great because you’ll be able to get information, guidance, and brewing tips from the owner.  You’ll also be supporting a local business and contributing to your local economy.  If you can’t find an independent tea shop in your area, make a trip to the nearest shopping mall.  As the popularity of whole, less-processed foods has grown, so has the demand for loose tea.  Tea shops are popping up in malls all over the country.  If your mall doesn’t have a tea shop (yet), and you can’t find an independent shop in your area, there’s one easy and convenient option – the Internet.  A quick search will reveal countless suppliers, across the country and the globe, offering countless varieties for you to try. 

Once you’ve found your tea supplier, your next step will be picking out the type of tea you want to try.  Most teas come from the same plant, and are categorized by the processing (usually a combination of wilting or steaming and oxidization) needed to arrive at the finished product.  White teas are the least processed and the lightest in color and flavor.  Black teas, the traditional alternative to morning coffee, are darker, bolder, and have higher amounts of caffeine than other teas.  Green teas have a pleasant, light but distinctive flavor that pairs well with many fruit flavors.  Oolong teas, which you’ve probably had if you’ve ever ordered tea in a Chinese restaurant, have a bold and unique flavor and are known for their weight-loss properties.  Unlike conventional teas, herbal, rooibos, and maté varieties are made from a combination of dried herbs, fruits, and flowers.  These blends come from plants around the world and have flavors as diverse as their origins.  Their light, fruity flavors (and the fact that they’re caffeine-free) attract many tea enthusiasts to the herbal family.

Loose teas give you the freedom of buying small quantities.  You can sample many types and varieties, without committing to a whole box of a tea you might not prefer.  Most tea shops have samples brewed; many are even happy to brew up a special taste of something you’re curious to try.  Ask your tea vendor how to store your favorite tea to best preserve its flavor (usually an airtight container), and you’ll be ready to brew!

The Benefits Of Drinking Fruit Blend Teas

If you’re looking for tasty, aromatic tea, look no further than ESP Emporium’s wide selection of fruit tea blends. Our online store features everything from cranberry fruit teas to watermelon fruit teas and virtually everything in between!

Today, we’re going to tell you about the benefits of fruit tea. We’ll also talk about how to make fruit tea for yourself, as well as how to use fruit tea as a treatment for some of the world’s most dangerous diseases – like cancer and diabetes.

The most popular benefits of drinking fruit tea

Fruit tea has a number of unique and powerful benefits that make it popular among all types of people. Here are a few reasons why fruit tea is in such high demand around the world:

Sugary-drink replacement: Instead of having a sugary fruit drink, why not pick up a mug of fruit tea? Fruit tea tastes similar to fruit drinks although it has a fraction of the sugar content and almost no calories. Whether you’re on a diet or just trying to live a healthier lifestyle, fruit tea is an excellent cravings-quencher. 

High in Vitamin C: Just like fruit itself, most fruit teas contain exceptionally high levels of Vitamin C. Vitamin C benefits everything from our immune system to our eyes.

Easy to drink before bed: Fruit tea doesn’t contain caffeine, which means it can easily be consumed before bed without causing you to stay up all night shaking.

Strong and flavorful taste: Some tea blends do not feature a strong flavor. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – indeed, many people prefer weakly-flavored teas. However, weakly flavored teas can dissuade beginner tea drinkers. Fortunately, fruit teas often contain strong flavors that are instantly noticeable. From the moment that fruit tea touches your tongue, its unique flavor is obvious. This makes it an ideal tea for those who are just trying tea for the first time – like children.

Energy boost: You probably feel a big energy boost after consuming a fruity drink. However, that energy boost is mostly the result of sugar consumption. And heavy sugar consumption almost always leads to a crash. Instead of sapping your energy, most fruit teas give you a clean, natural energy boost that can help you get through the day. And, since fruit teas don’t contain caffeine, they’re still safe to drink before bed.

What are fruit teas made out of?

Fruit tea manufacturers have become increasingly creative over the years. When it was first created, fruit tea mostly consisted of fruits like raspberries, oranges, and blueberries. Today, fruit teas can be found in flavors like cherry, apple, blackcurrant, and peach, and there are hundreds of different types of fruit tea blends that combine these flavors with popular herbs and spices.

Fruit tea can also be made at home quite easily. The most basic type of fruit tea blend involves brewing a cup of tea as you normally would before adding a splash of fruit juice to it. Or, make a pot of your favorite tea, add some fruit juice to it, then leave it in a pitcher in the fridge overnight for a refreshing summertime beverage.

Conclusion

How you drink your fruit tea is entirely up to you. Fruit tea comes in all shapes, sizes, blends, and flavors, which means that you can easily customize it according to what you like. Take a look at our wide selection of fruit tea blends today!

Loose Leaf Tea: From The Plant To Your Cup

When you’re enjoying a cup of your favorite loose leaf tea, you’re probably giving little thought to the process those leaves went through on their way from nature to your kitchen.  The journey of your loose leaf tea, from plant to brew, takes several years and a lot of work.  The family of plants used for tea, Camellia sinensis, grows mainly in tropical and sub-tropical regions, where it can be cultivated either by seed or by cutting.  Unlike the plants or flowers in your garden, it takes years for a new tea plant to bear seed, and at least 3 years before that same plant is ready for harvesting.  Once a plant is mature enough to harvest, workers pick the flushes (the leaves from the top 1-2 inches of the plant).  Because loose leaf tea is comprised of the premium quality tea leaves, hand-picking is the only way to ensure that the quality of the leaves isn’t compromised during the harvest. 

Once the leaves are painstakingly harvested and the best of the harvest are selected, the processing begins.  Because most teas (with the exception of herbals) come from the same plant, the processing is largely responsible for determining which variety the tea will become.  For all tea varieties, the process begins the same way; leaves are laid out, often in the sun, for wilting (also called withering).  This important first step allows for the leaves to dry out a bit, concentrating and strengthening their essential oils and flavor.  If the leaves are to become white tea, the process ends here; white tea leaves are then dried, rolled, packaged and ready for shipping.  For other varieties, there is still much work to be done.  The leaves begin the next step, fermentation (or oxidation); the reaction of the leaves when they are spread out and exposed to oxygen allows the leaves to brown.  It is this step in which the leaves will adopt the unique color and flavor familiar to tea drinkers around the world.  Different varieties of tea require different lengths of oxidation; leaves that will become black tea are left to oxidize the longest before moving on to the next step.

Because the length of oxidation is so important in determining the final variety of the tea, oxidized leaves are then heated and dried to stop the oxidation process.  Green tea, which requires no oxidation, skips that step and goes straight from wilting to heating and drying.  Finally, dried leaves are graded; only the finest, most perfect large leaves will go on to become loose leaf tea.  Leaves that have been broken or don’t meet the strict standards of loose leaf tea will be sent for grinding and packaging as bagged tea. 

Throughout the years-long process, tea leaves are meticulously supervised to ensure proper color and flavor.  From the plant to your cup, you can be sure that your loose leaf tea has been carefully cultivated and diligently monitored so you know you’re enjoying only the highest quality loose leaf tea brew.