What Is The Best Way To Steep My Tea?

by Steven Popec 1. October 2012 11:29

Experienced loose leaf tea drinkers know that the right brewing process is critical to making the perfect cup of tea. Steeping tea for too long can make it too bitter, while not steeping it for long enough can lead to a thin and watery taste.

Just how long should you steep tea in order to make the perfect cup? What kinds of water should you use? Steeping methods vary around the world, but there are some general rules to follow.

Before steeping

First, make sure you start steeping process of your loose tea with fresh cold water. Cold water has more oxygen in it, and oxygen helps draw out the flavor of tea. To preserve as much oxygen as possible, make sure you pour the water as soon as it starts to boil. Letting the water boil for too long will allow oxygen to escape.

Contrary to what many believe, you don’t have to boil water in order to make a perfect cup of tea. In fact, only black tea should be brewed with boiling water. If you’re brewing oolong tea, try to pour the water just before it reaches its boiling point. For green tea, pour the water when it reaches approximately 180F. At cooler temperatures, green tea tends to release more flavor and less bitterness.

Many tea experts recommend using filtered water to brew tea. Those who live in big cities often have chemicals in the water that can destroy the delicate flavors within complex tea blends. If you want your tea flavor to be as pure as possible, then it’s best to use filtered water.

During steeping

After pouring the heated water into the kettle, timing becomes very important. Different types of tea are steeped for different amounts of time.

Black tea: Steep for approximately 4 to 5 minutes

Oolong tea: Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes or 4 to 5 minutes, depending on stage of oxidation.

Green tea: Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes.

If you want your tea to be stronger, let it steep for closer to the maximum range using more tea leaves. Leaving it beyond that range will cause it to be overly bitter and not as tasty.

Many people believe that steeping their tea for longer will make it have a richer flavor. This is not always true. The best way to extract more flavor from your tea is to add more tea. In general, one heaping spoonful of tea per 6oz tea cup is enough. Add more if you want more flavor.

Other methods

The method we’ve listed above is the traditional method of brewing tea. However, it’s not the only method. Some people brew tea using a special Chinese ‘Gonfu’ method, while others used a Guywan system. Some of these methods require special equipment and unique blends of tea leaves. They lead to slightly unique tea flavors that complement different blends of tea.

Ultimately, you need to choose the tea steeping method that works for you. Some people like their tea flavored using a certain method, while others can’t tell the difference. Test out a few different methods to see which one you prefer most.

Can Tea Be A Dish?

by Steven Popec 6. September 2012 06:38

Most of us think of tea as a healthy, flavorful drink to have at any time of the day. However, tea is one of the most versatile beverages in the world, and different cultures view tea in different ways.

As the oldest tea culture in the world, China knows a thing or two about serving tea. However, what many people didn’t know is that tea plays a central role in many Chinese dishes. The Chinese have used tea as a main ingredient in many classic dishes for hundreds of years. Today, more and more Chinese restaurants have adopted that tradition by serving tea-based dishes.

Instead of just being “infused” with tea or featuring similar flavors to tea, many of these dishes actually use tea leaves in the meal itself. This can draw out all sorts of different flavors from the dish.

Which types of tea leaves can be used for cooking?

Chinese restaurants that have started serving tea dishes do so with all different types of tea leaves. The only limit is the chef’s imagination. Today, modern Chinese cuisine uses some of the most popular varieties of tea leaves as a main dish, including:

-Oolong tea

-Jasmine tea

-Pu-erh tea

-Green tea

-And many more

Many of these tea varieties have been made more interesting by adding certain spices and flavors. For example, some chefs infuse chrysanthemum and kuding into their meals.

What kinds of meals can be made using tea?

Why haven’t more people used tea as a main ingredient over the years? Well, tea is a challenging ingredient because even the most experienced chefs find it difficult to extract flavor from tea leaves. In the past, any tea leaves that were added to dishes were purely ornamental. Most dishes do not fully absorb the elusive fragrance and flavor of tea leaves.

Fortunately, things have started to change today. More chefs are unlocking new ways to extract the flavor from tea leaves. One classic recipe involves adding infusing roasted duck with tea leaves. The duck is smoked using black tea leaves and camphor wood chips. The smoke pierces through the greasy duck skin, giving the meat a distinctly smoky taste. This dish is called “camphor tea duck” and it can be found at many restaurants in Sichuan, a province in China. The dish has even started to make its way to other parts of the world.

Chefs have also started using tea leaves in soups. The tea leaves are left to soak in the hot water, extracting their flavor. One particularly popular dish is called Huaiyang-style chicken soup. In this dish, chrysanthemum petals float around the bowl to extract flavor.

Tea also mixes well with seafood. One dish called salted tieguanyin mixes oolong leaves with deep-fried shrimp. Shrimp are fried to a point where they become crunchy, and the crisp tea leaves add to the crunchy texture of the dish.

To learn about more tea recipes and to find out where you can sample some authentic Chinese tea cuisine, click here. Or, if you’re ready to start preparing meals, check out ESP Emporium’s selection of green tea, oolong tea, and black tea varieties.

What’s The Story Behind Formosa Oolong Tea?

by Steven Popec 20. August 2012 14:02

While browsing the ESP Emporium website, you may have come across a special type of tea called Formosa oolong. What is Formosa oolong? And where does it come from? Today, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about Formosa oolong tea.

What is Formosa oolong?

Formosa oolong refers to any oolong tea that has been grown and produced in the country of Taiwan. It is also referred to as Taiwanese oolong. In years past, Taiwan was called Formosa (meaning ‘beautiful’), by Portuguese and Spanish sailors, which is why tea from the region is known as Formosa to this day.

Tea trees do not grow naturally in Taiwan. Although the history of Formosa tea is not 100% certain, it appears that tea trees were planted in Taiwan at the beginning of the 18th century. Evidence suggests that Chinese settlers brought tea plants over to Taiwan and planted them in the Taiwanese highlands.

Over the past 300 years, Taiwan has perfected tea production. Today, the country is known mostly for its oolong tea, which comes in a variety of blends.

Types of Formosa oolong tea

At ESP Emporium, we offer several types of Taiwanese oolong tea. Here are the blends that we have to offer:

Oolong Tea Lemon Basil: This blend is flavorful and serves as a perfect dessert to end a dinner. Some have also suggested using Oolong Tea Lemon Basil as an iced tea by mixing it with a pinch of lime and honey.

Flower of Asia (Mango) Oolong Tea: This blend is more complex and combines the flowery soft notes of the Lotus Oolong with the soft, spicy flavor that accompanies many Chinese teas. In short, it combines a pleasant mixture of different Asian flavors into one single blend.

Formosa Butterfly of Taiwan Oolong Tea: Creating this tea requires a strict adherence to quality standards. The blend can only be produced in the Taiwanese highlands, and fermentation must be stopped at the critical moment. During the fermentation process, the edges of the leaves darken while the center of the leaves remain green, giving this blend a pleasant sweetness and a fleshier drinking sensation. 

Formosa Oolong Tea: This is the classic Formosa Oolong Tea. Produced in the Taiwanese highlands, the leaves in this blend are fermented until about 50% wilted. During this process, growers use bamboo baskets to dry the leaves, which ultimately leads to a light-tasting tea with hints of flowery and spicy flavors.

Formosa Superior Fancy Oolong Tea: This is our finest quality Formosa oolong tea blend. Creating this blend requires a careful fermentation process. Once the blend is complete, it offers a noble taste that tea connoisseurs will appreciate. Formosa Superior Fancy Oolong Tea also provides an intense flowery bouquet and highly aromatic scents.

Ultimately, Formosa oolong tea tastes similar to oolong teas from nearby China. This makes sense, since the leaves were imported from that region in the first place. If you’re looking for a unique oolong flavor appropriate for any occasion, then we have a number of Formosa teas waiting for you to try.

Herbal Tea Blends - The different choices

by Elena Popec 27. July 2012 15:39

Although it is most commonly referred to by the moniker “herbal tea blends”, the vast varieties of steeped herbal beverages that are enjoyed all over the world are not really teas at all.  In fact, tisanes (the more accurate term for herbal teas) don’t even come from the same plant as true teas.  Black, white, green, and oolong tea have the same source:  the camellia sinensis plant.  The distinctive appearance and taste of any type of true tea comes from how the leaves are prepared once they are harvested.  Altering the amount of time camellia sinensis leaves are given to dry and oxidize determines the style of tea that will result; the more time tea leaves spend in the curing process, the stronger and bolder they will be. 

While tisanes packaged, sold, and prepared in the same way as true teas, their origins could not be more different.  True teas are made exclusively from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant.  Tisanes can have a variety of sources; the most common sources are the South American yerba mate plant, the South African rooibos bush, and any number of herb plants native to all parts of the world.  They can be made by drying different parts of the plants from which they come.  Tisanes are typically categorized by the part of the plant that is used to make them.  Many tea drinkers would be surprised to learn that a large number of the most common “teas” on the market today are actually tisanes:  mint and lemongrass (leaf tisanes), chamomile and lavender (flower tisanes), peach, raspberry and apple (fruit tisanes), ginger and Echinacea (root tisanes), cinnamon and black cherry (bark tisanes), and fennel and cardamom (seed or spice tisanes).  Unlike camellia sinensis, the plant sources of tisanes are used for much more than their leaves.  Because they come from such a wide range of plants and plant parts, tisanes offer many more options in flavor than true teas.  The wide variety of tisane flavors is often used to create flavored tea blends; true teas are mixed with tisanes to create varieties such as Chai.

Tisanes of all kinds have been steeped for centuries.  The ancient civilizations in Egypt and China left behind documented uses of tisanes for medicinal purposes as well as their general consumption for enjoyment.  Either in pure form or blended from various plant sources, tisanes were thought to have had a wealth of healthy properties that could ease anxiety and help to restore health.  Tisanes continue to be popular for both their delicious flavors and health benefits today.  They are naturally caffeine free (even decaffeinated true teas still contain trace amounts of caffeine), rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and are available in a broad array of flavors and blends.  No matter what your taste preferences are, you’re sure to find at least a few tisanes that satisfy your palate.  Tisane varieties are just as readily available, easy to prepare, and maybe for some even more tasty than true teas.

The Ancient Chinese Origins Of Oolong Tea

by Steven Popec 28. June 2012 10:27

Like many types of loose leaf tea, oolong has been used for thousands of years. It was first cultivated in China thousands of years ago, and to this day, oolong tea plays an important role in Chinese culture. In fact, its name translated to English means ‘black dragon tea’.


Making oolong tea

Oolong tea has a complicated cultivation process. Before it can be used in tea, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant must be placed in the sun and oxidized. During this process, the leaves wither, curl and twist to form the recognizable shape that we know today from popular blends like the Flower of Asia (Mango) Oolong Tea

The preparation process for oolong tea is known as gongfu tea-making, an ancient Chinese art that originated in the Fujian and Guangdong provinces of China. Its name literally translates to ‘making tea with efforts’, and the entire process of making oolong is very controlled and labor-intensive.

Ultimately, the process used to make oolong tea means that it tastes surprisingly similar to green tea and black tea. Since oolong tea ranges between 10% and 70% oxidation, it can be placed between green and black tea varieties on the oxidation scale. The tea itself has a dark brownish color.

Health benefits of oolong

As with many Chinese teas, oolong tea is rumored to hold a number of powerful health benefits. Here are just a few of the suspected benefits of drinking oolong tea:

Reduce cholesterol build-up: Many people believe that oolong tea reduces cholesterol build-up in the bloodstream, making it a very healthy drink for anybody who struggles with high blood pressure.

Eliminates digestive problems: Oolong tea has been shown to clear up all sorts of digestive problems. As a whole, it’s a very gentle drink for the digestive track to handle, making it a popular tea for people of all age groups.

Healthier bones: Some researchers have suggested that oolong tea can protect people from diseases like osteoporosis. Overall, oolong tea has been shown to promote stronger bones and prevent tooth decay.

Immune system booster: Like other types of Chinese tea, oolong is rumored to boost the functioning of the immune system, making our bodies stronger and helping prevent all sorts of diseases.

Weight loss: Many people drink oolong tea on a regular basis due to its weight loss properties. Along with all of the other benefits listed above, oolong tea has been rumored to increase metabolism and help reduce fat buildup throughout the body.

Overall, oolong tea has a number of ingredients that can benefit your health. Its antioxidants will repair the damage done by free radicals, for example, while the high potassium content improves brain functioning and aids your nervous system. Oolong tea has even been used to treat diabetes, as it often contains ingredients that help to regulate insulin levels in the body.

Conclusion

Overall, oolong tea is one of the healthiest types of tea on the planet. It is regularly drunk throughout China and the world due to its health benefits. Today, oolong tea is growing in popularity and is a healthy drink for people of all age levels and demographics.

Tea Culture in Taiwan

by ESP Tea Lover 21. February 2012 21:52

In Taiwan, loose leaf tea was first used as a medicinal plant. However, over the years it has developed into much more than that. The main reasons why tea has developed into something meant for relaxation is mainly because of who inhabited Taiwan in its early days. The Taiwanese tea culture can be traced back hundreds of years and has similarities to Dutch, Chinese and Japanese tea cultures.


The Dutch occupied Taiwan for about forty years in the 1600’s. They used the area as a trade post between China and Europe. Importantly, tea was introduced to Europeans by the Dutch and simultaneously left an impression on the people of Taiwan. Tea was grown by the Dutch on a very small scale in Taiwan during the time that they occupied the area but most of the tea that the Dutch consumed in the area was imported to them. At the time of the Dutch occupation, it is thought that there were a large number of Chinese immigrants that began to move into the area. These immigrants were believed to bring with them a good supply of tea seedlings in addition to their unique tea culture. Mass production of tea did not begin in Taiwan until the mid to late 1800’s. The local Chinese farmers began to grow the tea in large volumes and even established a tea factory in 1868. Believe it or not, shortly thereafter tea was exported to New York in the United States. Because of this, tea was one of the most important export commodities for the people of Taiwan. Tea simply became a daily beverage and way of life to the people. Like in other cultures, it is always offered on special occasions such as family gatherings or birthdays.


Much of the current tea culture in Taiwan comes from Japanese influence. The Japanese occupied the area from around 1900 to the end of World War II. While there, the Japanese organized the production of tea as well as the industry as a while. They were responsible for the promotion of Taiwanese tea to the world and expanding its market. At this time the Japanese inhabitants developed testing facilities for tea that were responsible for developing some of the world’s most popular flavors. To this day many of them are still very popular all around the globe. At the end of the war the Japanese had to give control of Taiwan back to the people of China. The Chinese further developed the tea culture from that point in time until present day. This unique culture is what has helped to make Taiwanese tea as popular as it is today.


In Taiwan, the typical family owns a minimum of one set of teaware that is used at home. In fact, many families own more than one set for use depending on the occasion. The teapots are used to brew tea until the surface area of the pot becomes a bright color. This is raising the teapot, which is all part of the culture. Raising the pot is a tradition that is believed to add beauty to the process. A nice collection of teaware can generally be found at any store in Taiwan. It is important to note that there are many other pieces of teaware that are important in addition to the pot.


Things such as a decanting vessel are necessary and used to make sure that the tea has the proper flavor as well as level of consistency. Other things such as a tray should be present in order to hold spills should there be an accident. All of these items are necessary in order for tea to be served properly. Since the tea culture is so important it is necessary to get the process of making and serving tea correct. In fact, serving tea in Taiwan is thought to be something that is done to show respect to your guests. That said, getting the process correct is of the utmost importance. Depending on who your guests are it may even be necessary to serve the tea with your finest teaware as you want to make a good impression on them.


Tea culture in Taiwan is something that has been influenced by other cultures all across the world. These influences have helped create a totally unique culture that is valued by the people that live in this country. The culture of tea in Taiwan is ever developing and will remain strong for years to come.

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Traditions

Drinking Loose Teas While Pregnant

by Elena Popec 18. February 2011 09:35

Loose teas are delicious and healthy for you. But is it safe to consume while pregnant? Caffeine is not a safe substance to consume, but are the levels in tea low enough not to cause any harm?

Caffeine
   
Some studies do show that moderate intake of caffeine may be completely harmless while pregnant. Moderate intake would translate to about three cups of black tea a day. But to be more cautious, you can drink green or white tea, or even decaffeinated tea. White and green teas do not contain nearly as much caffeine as oolong or black teas. These types of teas are completely safe to consume while pregnant, unless you drink more than three cups in a day.

A healthy choice?
   
The effects of white and green teas can actually be healthy for your baby, as they contain a powerhouse of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Rooibos and honeybush

Both African Rooibos tea and Honeybush teas are considered decaffeinated herbal teas.Anemia is a common problem during pregnancy. Many teas prevent the body from absorbing iron due to an ingredient called tannin. Rooibos and Honeybush teas contain low levels of tannin, so they are less likely to interfere with iron absorption.

Herbal options
   
There are also some herbal teas that you may find to be delightfully flavored that are safe to drink while pregnant. Learn a lot about the different types of herbal teas, for there are some that could have negative side effects on your baby, as would caffeine. But explore all your options.

Decaffeinate your tea
   
Decaffeination is always an option. But pay attention to how the tea has been decaffeinated. It’s important to know about the process the tea has undergone, as some decaffeination processes can be dangerous and inimical to your health. Decaffeinated tea can also be more flavorful than caffeinated tea. Many people prefer decaffeinated tea for the obvious reasons; there's no giddy after-effects, as some people experience from caffeinated beverages. Decaffeinated tea is a great option for those who love tea, but have high blood pressure, or a health related aversion to caffeine.

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Pregnancy

Black Tea Health Benefits

by Steven Popec 11. January 2011 12:37

All types of tea have some health benefits, and while green tea and white tea are praised for being powerhouses of healthy compounds, black tea is excellent for your health as well.

What is black tea?
   
Black tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, the same as green, white, and oolong tea. But it is oxidized for far longer than the others. This gives it a rich, strong flavor, and a delightful aroma, and also gives it its dark color and name. It contains more caffeine than the other types of tea as well. But the claim is that it doesn’t leave it with as many antioxidants and nutrients as other types of teas. But it does, actually, contain a great deal of nutrients and antioxidants, and is far healthier to drink than soda pop or sugary fruit drinks. It contains no calories, fats, or carbs, and contains vitamins in every cup.

Black tea benefits
   
In the East, green and white teas are far more popular than in the West. But in the West, black tea has always been more popular than the other types of tea. It’s inexpensive and convenient to find.
   
And it does contain nutrients and antioxidants. It can help to strengthen your immune system and fight off colds, illnesses, and the flu. By drinking a few cups of tea every day, research has shown that you may improve your immunity to certain viruses and illnesses.
   
Black tea has also been shown to increase cognitive functions such as memory, learning, and concentration. It can benefit the circulation of blood in your body and help to alleviate many ailments. And even though it contains the most caffeine of the varied types of tea, this can help to energize you throughout your busy day.
   
Tea in general has health benefits, and black tea is not excluded. Drinking black tea every day can help improve your health overall and your quality of life.

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Black Tea

Great Reasons to Drink Loose Leaf White Tea

by Steven Popec 24. December 2010 13:00

Loose leaf Chinese white tea is amazingly healthy for you. It’s a delicious way to enjoy many health benefits. It may be even better for you than green tea! And green tea is excellent for you, so white tea must be some sort of miracle drink.

What is white tea?
   
White tea comes from the same plant, camellia sinensis, as does green tea, and the other two types, black and oolong tea. The process of oxidation is what changes the flavors of teas, creating these four distinct types. White tea doesn’t undergo the oxidation process, and so these leaves it packed full of more antioxidants that the other four types.

The flavor
   
It also gives white tea an airy, elusive, but fruity taste. It can be enhanced by various fruits, and it can be a fun process to mix and match to see what tastes best to you. This tea can be a flavorful dance along your taste buds, and it has many ways to improve your health as well.

The nutrients
   
White tea also contains a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate, which is more commonly known as EGCG. This catechin is known to fight off harmful free radicals that are involved in causing illnesses and have other harmful effects on the body. It has been shown to have anticarinogenic effects as well, and studies show that it may help to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and numerous other illnesses and disorders.
   
EGCG may help to slow the aging process, and fight the effects of aging. It can help against a myriad of other inimical conditions. All the different types of teas contain this catechin, but white tea has the highest quantity. It contains even more of it than does green tea.

Tooth health
   
Loose leaf white tea is also good for your teeth. It contains a substance called fluoride which is a product in toothpastes, and typically the main active ingredient. It has antibacterial effects which has been studied and measured in white tea. This will help you to maintain healthy teeth. This tea also doesn’t stain the teeth, which coffee and teas with higher periods of oxidation can do.

Hydration
   
White tea can help to fend off dehydration. Dehydration leads to dry, chapped lips, dry skin, and if it becomes severe can cause you to become seriously ill. White tea helps to restore the balance of fluids. It contains the least amount of caffeine out of the four main types of teas and so it doesn’t lead to your body losing a lot of water. It helps to hydrate you by taking in more fluid than it releases, which is not necessarily true of highly caffeinated drinks.

Energy
   
It does contain some caffeine though, and in this way it can help to energize you. White tea will stimulate brain activity and increase your alertness, and give you more energy for exercise. White tea will also give your metabolism a boost, which will help your body to burn off more calories faster. It will help you slim your waistline if that is a goal of yours, and is far superior to drink than sugary soda pop or sugar packed fruit concentrates. In this way, by replacing your typical soda pops or sugary fruit drinks with white tea, you can lower the amount of calories you are taking in. White tea doesn’t have any calories, so drinking up its deliciousness has no effect on your waistline. And by drinking this you can reduce your intake of sugar, which has a tremendous effect on weight loss. High sugar intake can lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Purify your body
   
White tea can also help to detoxify substances that can cause your body harm. The antioxidants in this tea help to do this, and there are more antioxidants in this type compared to the other three main tea types.
   
Drinking a few cups of loose leaf white tea every day is an enjoyable, relaxing experience. It can help to alleviate anxiety and relax you. And it’s a luxurious treat that will improve your health tremendously.

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White Tea

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