Menu

The Amazing and Versatile Camellia Sinensis

Most true tea comes from one plant, the Camellia sinensis which is part of the evergreen family. The leaves are glossy green with serrated edges. When allowed to flower, the plant produces small white flower with bright yellow stamens.


Flowering is prevented during cultivation by harvesting the leaves and forcing the plant to constantly make more buds. There are two primary varieties of Camellia sinensis used for tea and a third which isn't.


Camellia sinensis

The Camellia sinensis plant strain is from China and is usually used to make green tea and white tea. This variety is also used to make some black teas and oolong teas.


This Chinese grown plant grows the best in cool temperatures on steep mountain slopes. Thriving at elevations up to 9,500 feet, the plant will typically grow to between 5 and 15 feet tall, if left unattended, and produces leaves up to two inches long. The short mountain growing seasons yield a smaller crop of more tender leaves that yield a sweeter, less astringent cup.


To allow easier plucking of the new growth, the Camellia sinensis is usually pruned to be waist high with a flat top. Because of the climate, the growing season is half of the year, at most. The plant will typically yield no more than five pluckings a year. The China plant will be dormant during the winters.


During the dormant winter the plant stores up its energy and nutrients which ensures the spring “flush” of new growth provides some of the finest teas on earth with the highest concentrations of desirable flavors and essential elements that provide the health benefits in tea.


Camellia sinensis assamica

The Camellia sinensis assamica strain is native to the Assam region in India. This strain is usually used to produce black tea, as well as pu erh tea in Yunnan province, China.


High humidity, generous rainfall, and warm temperatures allow this larger, more robust tea variety to thrive. The Assamica plant will grow to between 30 and 60 feet if left unattended and produce much larger leaves.


Under perfect conditions, the Assamica plant can be harvested every 8 to 12 days throughout the year. Because of the tremendous yields, it is the preferred crop in Northeast India, Sri Lanka and Africa. The unique climate in Sri Lanka allows the harvest from this hardy bush to continue year-round.


The Assamica leaf is ideal for producing strong, malty black teas, as well as other Chinese teas that require longer production, as in the case of oolong and pu-erh.


Camellia sinensis cambodiensis

The third variety is Camellia sinensis cambodiensis (Java Bush), which has been crossbred to achieve certain traits in other cultivars. The Java Bush isn't typically used in commercial tea production.


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.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Flavored Tea

The great thing about tea is all of the amazing natural flavors and fragrances that can be added to enhance the natural flavors and to create great drink to suit anyone’s taste. There is nothing wrong with adding natural aromas and flavors to tea. The problem comes with adding artificial flavoring.


We have put together some information on everything you ever wanted to know about flavored tea but were afraid to ask.


Inclusions

Inclusion are, just like the name implies, anything you choose to include in a tea for a visual or sensory benefit. They consist of flower blossoms, pieces of dried fruit, herbs and spices.


Natural Flavoring or Extracts

Extracts are flavorings that are obtained by extracting the essential oils from the leaves, fruits, blossoms, roots or any other part of a plant. The essential oils contain distinctive aromas or flavors that you normally expect to find in the plant being used.


Obtaining extracts can be as simple as pressing a lemon peel to produce the oil, while others require a much more involved means of extraction, as in the case of soaking vanilla beans in alcohol to gain the oils.


Nature-identical

These are flavorings that have been obtained from natural substances but are aided with chemical synthesis. The result of these flavorings is an identical chemical structure to the “Natural” flavor, however, it was obtained by a chemist.


Nature-identical flavors are usually more stable than pure natural flavoring extracts and are normally less expensive. Most flavored products are flavored in this manner, however, the FDA doesn’t have a classification for this method so they consider nature-identical flavoring to be “artificial”, although this isn’t an accurate classification.


Artificial Flavoring

Artificial flavors are created by altering the chemical composition of a naturally occurring molecule to create a different, more pronounced and less expensive flavor. This composition does not exist in nature, which is why ESP Emporium DOES NOT use artificial flavoring in any of their teas.


Usually more than one method of flavoring is used in a tea including adding inclusions, coating with extracts and scenting. Most inclusions will alter the flavor or aroma of the tea in some way, however, this method may not be as pronounced as we would like it. This is why most flavored teas are flavored with natural-identical additives.


Application of the flavoring agent

When applying an extract to tea, the flavoring is poured or sprayed over the dry leaf and then the leaves are blended to make sure there is an even distribution. Large companies will do this procedure in large rotating drums filled with hundreds of pounds of tea. Most teas will obtain proper absorption of the extract in less than 30 minutes, however, some flavors require significantly longer for proper absorption of the extract.


At ESP Emporium, all of our teas contain only flavorings which follow the respective flavor guidelines for flavors used in food. Our goal is to provide you with the best quality premium tea possible. We never cut corners to offer a lesser grade product just to save money. We are tea lovers who want to supply other tea lovers with amazing teas.



Does Decaffeinated Green Tea Retain its Health Benefits?

We have received several questions asking if decaffeinated green tea loses its health benefits due to the decaffeination process. The answer is yes, if the wrong decaffeination process is used.


Several studies have shown that drinking green tea can decrease a person’s risk of cancer and heart disease. The tea’s naturally occurring chemical compounds called polyphenols provide these health benefits.


The main polyphenols in tea are catechins, which include EGCG, the compound epigallocatechin gallate. EGCGs inhibit unhealthy cell growth and play a role in programmed cell death, both of these actions are crucial to the prevention and control of cancer.


Other polyphenols, contained in the tea, are potent antioxidants which help prevent damage to healthy cells, as well as preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol caused by free radicals. These preventative functions are critical for inhibiting the formation of plaque in the arteries or atherosclerosis.


Decaffeination Process

The decaffeination process does affect the amounts of polyphenol in tea, including catechins. There are two decaffeination methods used on teas imported into the United States, ethyl acetate and CO₂ (effervescence).


Ethyl acetate is the most commonly used method, it consists of a chemical solvent that is applied to tea to extract the caffeine. The tea is then left with a residual amount of the solvent which is considered, at certain levels, to be safe for human consumption.


Green tea that has been decaffeinated using ethyl acetate retains minimal health benefits, at only about 30% of EGCG and other catechins.


CO₂ (effervescence)

CO₂ (effervescence) processing consists of carbon dioxide and water to remove caffeine from tea. This is the only type of decaffeinated teas that we sell at ESP Emporium because they keep an impressive 95% of the polyphenols and catechins in the tea.


Being able to keep the most amount of the tea’s good health promoting benefits makes the CO₂ method of decaffeination the only option in our opinion since we strive to provide the most beneficial and wholesome selection of teas available.


Don’t let the Wording Mislead You

Most decaffeinated teas don’t state which process is used. Several tea packages will contain the wording “naturally decaffeinated”. This is a term that can mean ethyl acetate decaffeination was the method used, since trace amounts of naturally occurring ethyl acetate exists in tea leaves.


Even though this isn't a false statement, it isn't informing the consumer of what was lost in tea. The statement makes the process sound like all of the health benefits were left intact in the tea.


This is why, as with anything, you need to be cautious about who you are purchasing your tea from and the quality they are providing. ESP Emporium has become an industry leader by gaining the trust of our customers.


We have a reputation for offering only the best quality teas that have been processed, packaged and shipped to retain their natural benefits.


Tea: A New Rise in Popularity

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, second only to water. That is a pretty serious statement and one that can be a little hard to believe, especially in the United States where you can’t walk two feet without running into a coffee shop or a pop machine.


Tea is steeped (pun intended) in centuries of tradition in regards to ceremonies, health benefits and the abundant selection of flavors. Take that coffee, “Who’s Yo Daddy”.


Now in complete fairness coffee does have its own adhering qualities. There is the increased energy you get from the high levels of caffeine. Then there is pick-me-up you get from the caffeine in coffee. Then don’t forget what an eye opener your first cup of Joe gives you in the morning. So just about the only thing coffee has going for it is caffeine.


It’s pretty obvious that as a society we have fallen in love with caffeine, and this is the main reason people drink coffee. Americans in particular would probably run caffeine intravenously if we could. I admit we are a bit of a high strung country, and I say that lovingly.


But what other solid qualities does Java have? In comparison to tea the offerings are pretty slim. According to the medical community “moderate regular coffee drinking in healthy individuals is either essentially benign or mildly beneficial”.


Tea offers several benefits to your health, mind and soul, here are just a few of the great qualities you will find in every cup of tea:


A pick-me-up

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a lot of times we need a boost to get the gears going again, especially in the morning. This is one of the main reasons that coffee is so popular in our society, it does infact give you that shot of energy you need to start the day.


However, a new study, that was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that, while providing several health benefits, tea can also help improve memory and cognition in men.


Researchers took 12 healthy men and divided them into two groups. One group was given a drink that contained a green tea extract and the second test group was given a placebo drink that didn't contain the extract.


After drinking the concoctions each subject was hooked up to an MRI machine and scientists studied the effects of the two drinks on the men’s brains while performing a memory test.


Yes, all of the men kept having thoughts of bacon, however, the scientists just put that down and a normal male thought. What was interesting was how the green tea drinkers experienced an increase in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with working memory. We use this area of the brain for problem solving and focus.


Green tea is full of polyphenols, which widen blood vessels, speeding up the supply of blood to the brain, like EGCG, a strong anti-cancer chemical. Researchers have found that these health giving chemicals may be behind tea’s benefits.


Health benefits


Tea offers several health benefits including:


  • It helps burn fat by speeding up the metabolic rate.

  • It can help lower blood pressure by tackling an enzyme which triggers hypertension.

  • Tea also helps protect against diabetes, since it contains polyphenols which inhibit starch, and helps to lower blood sugar levels.

  • Tea can also prevent food poisoning since it can kill harmful bacteria.

  • Tea can prevent bad breath by killing oral bacteria that causes cavities and bad breath.

  • Green tea guards against hepatitis by decreasing iron levels throughout the body, including those in the liver, the cause of viral hepatitis.

  • Tea can protect against cancer since it contains a compound called epigallocatechin=3-gallate (EGCG), which helps inhibit blood vessel growth.

  • It can help prevent arthritis, working in much the same way as anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • A study has also found that 96% of people who drank ten cups of green tea a day showed no signs of the cognitive impairment linked to Alzheimer’s, compared to only 12% who didn’t drink tea at all.


Good for the soul

As the legendary eighth-century tea master Lu Yu, author of The Classic of Tea, claimed:


“Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness.”


Many modern-day tea aficionados agree. “In the midst of the rush of everything that can happen in a day, taking the time to drink a cup of tea is a delight for both the mind and the body,” says Aurélie Bessière, head of the US branch of the Parisian tea school Le Palais des Thés.


Tea is the perfect remedy that knows exactly what you need, when you need it. You can drink tea when you need a pick-me-up or when you need to relax and unwind.


We already mentioned how tea can rejuvenate and energize, but tea can also be relaxing and soothing, beneficial to your mind and your soul.


A calming tisane can be the perfect way to relax your mind and your body. For example, a blend of chamomile and lavender or rooibos with lemongrass will sooth you without making you sleepy.


With so many benefits, it’s no wonder tea has been a favorite for centuries to cure whatever ails you, and now it is again finding its spot in modern society.

The Secret of Peppermint Herbal Tea

As more Americans become interested in a more natural and holistic lifestyle, many are turning to herbal tea remedies instead of pharmaceutical options for treating minor ailments.  With its aromatic and health properties, as well as a pleasing flavor, peppermint is a popular and readily available herb.  One of the most common preparations is peppermint tea, although peppermint tea isn’t a true tea.  This herbaceous plant is completely separate from camellia sinensis, the plant that produces all varieties of true tea.  The more accurate name for peppermint tea would be peppermint infusion, or peppermint tisane. 

A peppermint infusion is made by steeping the dried leaves of the peppermint plant in boiling water.  The essential oils in peppermint leaves provide a wealth of health benefits; for the strongest concentration of these oils in your peppermint infusion, cover the cup while it steeps.  A cover traps more of the essential oils in the cup, creating a healthier and tastier infusion.  These essential oils are packed with compounds that have a relaxing effect on the digestive system; the peppermint tisane is effective in, and perhaps best known for, its ability to calm an upset stomach.  Regular consumption of peppermint tisane has been shown to reduce the symptoms of certain chronic digestive conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome.  The analgesic properties of peppermint aid the associated discomfort, while the relaxing effect is calming and soothing.  Peppermint also has some anesthetic properties that may be effective against a number of other conditions and disorders.

Menthol, a main component of peppermint, is a powerful compound with multiple benefits.  Its strong and refreshing aroma has an invigorating and energizing effect; it can help to increase mental alertness and fight fatigue.  The physiological impact of menthol can bring welcome relief from the symptoms of allergies and the common cold.  The menthol in peppermint thins mucus; the steam from a hot peppermint tisane can be inhaled to clear the nasal passages, and ingested to break up congestion in the throat.  It also acts as an expectorant, and can soothe the pain of a sore throat.  In fact, frequent consumption of peppermint infusions may be more effective at easing the suffering of a cold or allergies than pharmaceutical remedies.  It’s also safer, gentler, and presents with far fewer side effects.

A peppermint tisane is also a great source of antioxidants, which can keep you healthy.  It’s hot and comforting in cold weather, and can be served over ice for a refreshing summer drink.  If the flavor and aroma of a pure peppermint infusion is too strong for you, there are plenty of options out there.  Peppermint is nicely complemented by a variety of other herbal flavors; berries, vanilla, cacao, and earthy herbs like jasmine taste great when blended with peppermint.  It’s easy to find a blend from the many brands on the market, or to create your own favorite combination with loose dried herbals.  Treat yourself to great flavor, energizing aroma, and countless health benefits with a refreshing and invigorating peppermint tisane.