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The Importance of Teaware to a Great Cup of Tea

While enjoying your favorite cup of tea, the teaware you use is just as important as the tea leaves you choose. I’m not talking about your “morning eye opener, I gotta wake up before I get to work” cup of tea, although there are plenty of fantastic travel mugs available for that, I’m talking about the “sitting on the back deck at the end of a hard day relaxing” cup of tea.


Teaware refers to the various tools and equipment used in the brewing and consumption of tea. Along with the obvious teapots and tea cups, teaware also includes tea strainers, tea trays, kettles, tea warmers, tea tins, tea trivets, travel mugs and other tea accessories and tools.


There is a varied range of material used to produce tea pots and tea cups, from cast iron made in Japan to porcelain and clay made in China, along with glass and glazed stoneware among others. The most highly regarded are the Yixing clay teapots produced in eastern China.


An important factor to consider when selecting teaware should be the particular thermal qualities of the material. It is recommended that each type of tea should be brewed at a specific temperature to taste its best. This will be affected by the ware’s level of heat conductivity.


Teas that are either lightly fermented or unfermented are better brewed in lower water temperatures. Glass and porcelain are both good choices for these applications because of their high heat conductivity.


However, heavily fired and fully fermented teas like Pu-erh should be brewed in higher water temperatures. Yixing stoneware and porous teapots with low heat conductivity are great ideas of these types of tea.


Whatever material your teaware is made of, taking proper care of it will ensure its longevity and enjoyment for years to come. Each type of material has its own care requirements. However, as a general rule of thumb, teaware should never be scrubbed with abrasive pads or washed with harsh detergents or soaps. Microwaves and dishwashers are also major no no’s.


Shape Matters

Wine connoisseurs understand that the shape, and the material of your glass influence how you taste a beverage. This is also very true with tea. However, unlike with wine, teaware comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Whereas most wine is consumed from glass, tea can be consumed from a variety of different materials.


The shape of your cup influences how you will enjoy the tea, because it controls the way you smell the tea while you are drinking it. The Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago states that “90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell”.


Similar to wine glasses, the size of the rim your cup has, the angle at which it opens from its base, whether it is flared outward or inward, all affect how you taste the tea. Here are some of the ways that cup shape influences the taste of your tea.


Shape:


Narrow Rimmed

If you are drinking out of a tall and narrow teacup, as in the case of a whisky tasting glass, the smell will be funneled in a very concentrated channel straight into your nose. This is why aroma cups are tall and narrow, and not flared.


Wide Rimmed

A wider rimmed cup, something which opens up from the base and ends with the top being wider than the bottom. This allows the hot air, containing the aroma to diffuse quickly into the air.


Material:


Glass

One of the reasons glass is used to drink tea is that it is usually perfectly smooth, the tea has nothing hinder its movement. This means that the flavors and aroma remain fairly condensed.


Glass is also a neutral material, so it won’t add any of its own flavor to the drink. Have you ever noticed when you drink something in a plastic container it will taste different than the same drink in a glass? This is because the plastic leaves its own taste behind in the drink, usually a synthetic taste.


Ceramic

Ceramic is the most basic material for a teacup. Since the ceramic is glazed, it is usually free of imperfections. These imperfections mean that, when they are present, the tea will bump up against them and gives the drinker a more flavorful and aromatic experience.


Clay

Clay is very porous, with tiny imperfections in the surface. As with ceramic, just on a larger scale, the imperfections allow the flavor and aroma to be much more pronounced. Rather than offering the drinker a subtle experience it is much more robust.


Although none of the imperfections in a teacup, made of any material, are easily visible, the difference can be very noticeable in the taste. When you brew the same type of tea, at the same temperature and under all of the same conditions, you will notice a difference in the flavor and aroma based on the teacup you are drinking out of.


You will find that a clay teacup gives you a much fuller, more robust flavor and aroma then you will receive from one that is made from glass or ceramic. This is why choosing your teaware is just as important as choosing the tea you put into it.


At ESP Emporium, we believe that there is a big difference between brewing a cup of tea and brewing a relaxing cup of serenity.


Whether it's your “morning eye-opener” cup of tea or the “after a hard day, let the stress drain from my body and soul” cup of tea, We have exactly the right blend for you.


Our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


How to Make a Perfect Cuppa Tea

It is a debate that has raged for years, if not centuries. How do you make a perfect cuppa? It seems writer George Orwell took on this debate in 1946 with his essay “A Nice Cup of Tea”, which is still used today. And why shouldn’t it be? He did, after all nail what the future would be like in his still popular novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.


Some of the steps may seem a little dated but you can’t argue with the overall methods Orwell offers in his essay, he was obviously a tea lover who knew how to brew a cup of tea. Here are some of the steps Mr. Orwell lays out for us, with a bit of a modern twist that is sure to only improve your cup of tea.


When reading Orwell’s first tip you need to keep in mind that he wrote this, right after World War II, during a period of severe food rationing in England. He states:


First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical...”


However, lucky for us, today we don’t have to settle for teas that are available, there is a whole selection of premium teas to be found at ESP Emporium that will be kind to any wallet and pleasant to any palate.


Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware...”


Here again we don’t have to settle any one type of material for our teaware, nor do we have to deal with cauldrons, which really doesn’t sound appealing at all since they were probably used to wash socks in the morning.


“Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.”


Several guides to making the perfect cup of tea claim that it is crucial to warm the pot before you boil the water for your tea. Never boil the water for your tea in a cold pot.


“Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right.”


This step, now more than ever, seems to be one of taste more than actual requirement. We also need to take into consideration that when Orwell wrote this essay severe rations were in place throughout England and they didn’t have the wide variety of teas that we are lucky enough to have available to us.


Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea.”


In a lot of ways this becomes a case of ease or necessity. If loose tea does make the best cuppa, then sometimes this may need to be sacrificed because it is more convenient to use a tea bag because, we don’t always have the convenience of being in a place where we can easily use loose tea to make our brew. In cases like these, it is perfectly fine to use a tea bag.


This step has also been questioned because many people believe that the tea should meet the boiling water only in the cup, not the teapot. However, everyone believes that a very high boil should be used to brew the tea


“Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.”


Everyone also believes in this step as well. After “warming the pot”, you should dump the water used and start out with fresh water to start the boil for your brew.


“Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.”


Well this could be a little messy, but hey who am I?


“Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.”


Here Orwell is suggesting that you should always drink tea out of a large mug. I’m all for that the more the better.


“Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.”


When was the last time you ever had to pour the cream off the milk before using it?


“Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.”


This one also makes a lot of sense to me because we judge how much milk we want to add by how light the tea becomes as we are stirring it in. Otherwise, it is very possible to add more milk than you intended.


“Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.”


I personally have to agree with Mr. Orwell on this point. However, I’m not going to summon the other villagers to grab their torches and pitchforks and run the tea drinkers who prefer sugar out of the village.


Although it will be difficult not point at them and laugh. Tea is a drink that has an amazing flavor all its own. That flavor can be whatever you want it to be, it can be subtle and earthy, it can be fruity and it can even be bitter if you like. Don’t ruin it with sugar. Come on folks you wouldn’t add hot sauce to mom’s apple pie would you!?!


I hope you found these tips about making the perfect cuppa tea helpful. It only goes to prove, not only could George Orwell freak out generations of people with tales of our government watching us and offer an idea for an awesome reality show like “Big Brother”, but he also knew how to make a great cup of tea.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


Which is Healthier, Iced Tea or Hot Tea?

It’s that time of the year again, and what goes best with a hot summer day, when the sun is high and burning your skin to a nice crispy red? You got it, ICED TEA!


Nothing is more refreshing and lowers your body temperature better than a cold crisp glass of premium loose tea from ESP Tea Emporium. Actually, many people enjoy iced tea in place of soft drinks all year round. It’s cold refreshing and much healthier than soft drinks, energy drinks or yes even iced coffee.


However, the question always comes up. Which is healthier, iced tea or hot tea? Does tea lose any of the many health benefits, including antioxidants, that are plentiful in hot brewed tea?


Research has shown that for the most part, iced and hot tea both contain the same antioxidants and, as a result, the same health benefits. However, even though the results do vary a little depending on the tea.


A 2012 study conducted by Professor Jeng-Leun Mau of the National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, showed that cold-brewed green tea that was steeped for 12 hours had a high level of polyphenols (the extremely healthy antioxidants in green tea) that were equal to or greater than tea steeped in hot water for 5 minutes.


The study does note that steeping tea for at least 12 hours has better extraction abilities than hot water brewing. Cold-brewing tea does contain between half and two-thirds of the caffeine content of a hot cup of tea.


Cold-brewed tea displays more of a delicate and subtle flavor than hot-brewed tea which is very refreshing in its own right, but exceptionally so for people who don’t prefer a strong and robust cup of tea.


It goes without saying that drinking iced tea in place of soft drinks is much healthier and beneficial to a healthy lifestyle. Ice tea also contains zero calories for weight conscious people and doesn’t have the same nasty effects of tooth decay (depending on whether you use sugar or not) as soft drinks.


Hot or cold tea can have a huge impact on improving your health in several ways since tea is packed with antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals. Tea is credited with boosting your immune system, boosting your energy and is excellent at helping fight off illness and even cancer, as well as several other health problems.


So keep cool during the dog days of summer, keep a pitcher of premium Iced Tea on hand. Sweetened or unsweetened, flavored or straight you can’t go wrong. Feed your body, fight off health problems and chill.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


To Bag or Not to Bag: Tea Bags vs Loose Tea

To bag or not to bag, that is the question that causes heated debate in the wonderful world of tea. In the United States, we have grown accustomed to going to the grocery store and picking up a box containing a hundred tea bags of the commercially popular blend of tea. Well, in the rest of the world this isn’t norm, in fact it is even frowned upon.


So where did these cute little tea bags come from, and what is the difference between tea bags and loose tea? I’m glad you asked, here is a little history on, one of the worst inventions known to tea, the tea bag.


Tea bags were actually invented by accident, as with several other inventions we currently use every day, giving credence to the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”.


Around the turn of the last century, Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee merchant from New York City, in an attempt to cut sampling costs, started sending out his loose tea in small, hand-sewn silk pouches (instead of the costly tins, which most other merchants used).


The idea was for customers to open the bags and steep the loose tea as they normally would, however, most potential clients were confused by this new packaging and wound up throwing the bag right into the hot water to steep.


Sullivan soon realized he had something when he started receiving several requests for his “tea bags” and, as they say, the rest was history. The quick and simple clean up of the leaves, that were still contained in the bags, made this option much more favorable to several of his customers.


Around 1904, the first tea bags began appearing commercially and were quickly picked up around the world.


However, with the tea bag came a problem, flavor. Using tea bags was a problem because the tea leaves didn’t have sufficient room to expand completely while steeping and couldn’t release their full flavor, so tea quality paid the price.


Since the tea was now hidden in a difficult to see through silk bag, smaller leaves were used, so the leaves had more room to expand. To add to the decline in tea quality, since the size of the leaves no longer mattered, merchants began purchasing much cheaper grades of tea called “fannings” or “dust”.


These are the lowest grades of tea there are. They are quite literally “the bottom of the barrel”, nothing more than the dust which is left over in the bottom of the tea barrels after all the leaves are removed.


This “tea” will change the color of the water in your cup, but doesn’t have nearly as much flavor as full tea leaves. To add insult to injury, companies began wrapping the “leaves” in paper filters, a much cheaper solution for them, however, it limited the flow of water through the bag, further lessening the quality.


All of the harm done to the quality of commercial “tea” has lead people to believe that this is as good as it gets for tea. This is why, at ESP Tea Emporium, “What you see is what you get”. We only offer premium quality loose tea leaves that provide unbelievable flavor and aroma.


If you are only familiar with store bought, commercial tea bags you owe it to yourself to find out how truly amazing tea really is by trying some of the amazing blends only found at ESP Tea Emporium.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


Caffeine: Tea vs Coffee

Caffeine is a big part of the lives of many adults. It’s the main reason coffee is so popular. Most people would find it very hard to believe that coffee gained its popularity because people actually enjoy drinking a cupful of bitter sludge. But hey, there’s no accounting for people’s taste.


More and more, we seem to be a civilization running on overdrive, trying to go faster, produce more and stay up longer. This is evident by the wide selection of energy drinks, energy pills and an ever increasing dosage of caffeine.


According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, an 8 oz. cup of Black tea contains 14-70 mg of caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine. Quite a difference.


Now, before you start thinking you need to forgo your favored morning cup of tea for coffee, just so you can get that jolt you need to get the engine going again read on.


It’s true coffee does contain quite a bit more caffeine than tea, however, tea contains other natural stimulants that are similar to caffeine including theobromine, theophylline and xanthine.


With this being said, even though the overall stimulants in tea and coffee are technically identical, tea affects us in different ways.


An amino acid called L-theanine, found only in tea, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It works with caffeine to calm the body without reducing the alertness caffeine produces. This allows tea drinkers to have the benefit of mental alertness and focus, without the jittery nervousness that caffeine is known for.


The next benefit tea holds over coffee is, the high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow down caffeine absorption. This provides a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and allows for a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.


There is a myth that tea contains more caffeine than coffee. This is actually true if you measure coffee and tea in their dry forms. However, it is false when you are comparing the two after they have been brewed.


This is because we normally use 2 grams of tea to produce an 6 oz. cup because 8 oz. of water makes the tea too watered down. However, 10 grams of coffee is used to make the same size cup. This is the main reason there is such a difference in the amount of caffeine contained in each drink, you are using more coffee to produce the same size cup.


The amount of caffeine in either coffee or tea depends on several different factors, including the method and length of brewing and steeping. In regards to tea, studies also show that the location of the leaf on the plant affects the content of caffeine in that tea. The newest leaves, highest up on the plant, contain the greatest concentration of caffeine and antioxidants.


Water temperature and length of steeping time have the greatest impact on caffeine content in tea. With this being said, a tea that is steeped for five minutes in boiling water will transfer a lot more caffeine than tea that is steeped for two minutes.


Another myth, promoted by several tea retailers, is that oxidation increases the level of caffeine in tea. There is no scientific proof that this is true. This claim results from measuring the caffeine in the cup after typical brewing methods and incorrectly attributing that to the tea itself.


There is a lot of recent concern in the United States about the possible dangers of caffeine. Caffeine tolerance varies a lot among different individuals. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It is a common misconception that people who are caffeine sensitive should only drink decaffeinated tea.


In fact, same as with coffee, decaffeinated tea is not caffeine free. It still contains 5-10 mg of caffeine per cup. A way to completely eliminate caffeine intake, is to drink herbal teas. All real tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which contains caffeine naturally.


Herbal infusions, such as Chamomile, Rooibos and Peppermint, are made from botanicals which aren’t related to Camellia sinensis, and are naturally caffeine free.


There are a lot of different factors to consider if you are caffeine conscious in regards to coffee and tea. However, if you are looking for a pick me up, coffee isn’t your only option and that is what a lot of people are being lead to believe. You can get your daily pick me up, while still enjoying an amazingly flavorful drink.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.