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.

The History of Ceylon Tea

by Elena Popec 23. July 2012 13:28

As you might know, ‘Ceylon’ is the former name of Sri Lanka, a large island country off the coast of India in the Indian Ocean. But what’s the story behind Ceylon tea?  Some of ESP Emporium’s most popular black tea blends come from Ceylon. Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Ceylon black tea.

Ceylon’s tea industry is an important part of its economy. In fact, it’s the country’s largest employer. In total, Sri Lanka’s tea industry employs approximately 1 million people, making Sri Lanka the 3rd largest tea producing country on the planet.

Sri Lanka was once a British colony. Contrary to what you might believe, the first major crop in Sri Lanka was coffee, not tea. However, after the island’s coffee plantations caught a serious disease in the 1860s, Ceylon’s residents were left looking for another productive crop.

Tea swiftly replaced coffee as the island’s number one crop. Ceylon’s residents experimented with tea growing methods, cultivation techniques, and leaf manipulation in order to maximize the country’s output. Ceylon’s tea growing efforts were particularly aided by the efforts of a Scotsman by the name of James Taylor. He called Ceylon the “Pearl” of the Indian Ocean and recognized the island’s natural affinity for growing tea.

Because of the efforts of Taylor and other tea enthusiasts, Ceylon tea was soon being prized around the world. International demand grew rapidly over the years, and tea quickly turned into Ceylon’s most profitable plantation crop.

Sri Lanka’s tea estates

Ultimately, Ceylon’s booming tea industry led to the creation of a number of important tea estates in the central part of the country. During the British period, these tea estates were ruled over by a group of landlords called English Tea Barons, and as a result, many of the estates feature colonial Tudor styling and design.

Today, those tea estates provide valuable foreign exchange revenue and offer a reliable source of employment for approximately one million Tamils. The tea estates are located in both highland and lowland areas and offer a picturesque view of the surrounding countryside. Visitors to the country often visit Sri Lanka’s famous tea estates, and the estates continue to be the country’s most important source of revenue.

Sri Lanka tea benefits

Ceylon tea is rumored to have a number of powerful benefits. Namely, Ceylon black tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Like many East Asian teas, Ceylon tea is derived from the camellia sinensis plant, which has been linked to everything from healthy healths to weight loss. Because of all these benefits, Ceylon tea is valued around the world.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Ceylon tea is known throughout the world for its top-quality aroma, flavor, and health benefits. The country has a rich history in tea production that continues to be prominent to this day. Whether you’re visiting Sri Lanka or just drinking Ceylon tea, every sip you take is one steeped in history.

Sri Lanka’s Tea Industry Could Pass $5 Billion In Exports By 2020

by Steven Popec 18. July 2012 11:43

As one of the world’s largest tea producers, we’re used to seeing massive tea production numbers from Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka’s Daily News is reporting that the country’s tea industry could achieve $5 billion USD in exports by the year 2020.

Since the entire country’s GDP is worth approximately $50 billion, the fact that tea could be worth about 10% of that amount is notable. However, the important thing to realize about this news is that the country’s tea production would not necessarily increase, but the price of Ceylon tea would.

Sri Lanka’s Treasury Secretary stated last week that production of tea is only expected to increase by 2% to 3% by 2020. Prices, however, could be raised by as much as triple their current price. The statement was made at the 118th Annual General Meeting of the Colombo Tea Traders Association, held June 29th in Sri Lanka’s capital.

This means that, within the next 5 to 10 years, prices on Ceylon tea could raise dramatically. Ceylon tea is famous for its black tea blends, as well as its connection to various health benefits. Of course, many people find Ceylon tea to have a delicious taste as well.

  The Treasury Secretary also urged Sri Lankan tea manufacturers to work together to ‘brand’ the country’s tea in order to collectively increase its value throughout the world. While Ceylon tea is a name known by most tea drinkers throughout the world, it’s not quite on the level of other famous brands, like Earl Grey tea or Oolong.

Interestingly enough, many in Sri Lanka view tea as a “rich man’s drink.” Most of the country’s tea crops are exported to places all over the world or consumed at higher prices locally. Cheaper teas are often imported, allowing locals to profit off of the high prices paid for Ceylon tea around the world. 

What’s the secret behind Sri Lankan tea?

You might know Sri Lankan tea better as ‘Ceylon’ tea. Ceylon was the name of the country under British rule during the 19th century. The British had a profound influence on the country’s tea production, turning the sub-tropical island nation from a coffee-producing country to a tea-producing powerhouse in an incredibly short period of time.

Today, the investments made by the British government are clearly paying off. Not only does the country earn millions of dollars in tourist revenue due to its beautiful British colonial-style tea plantations (which are scattered throughout the countryside), but Sri Lanka also depends upon the infrastructure and administrative systems established by the British in order to manage the country’s tea resources.

Since Sri Lanka has only recently become stable after the end of its civil war, its tea industry – and the country as a whole – is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years. Some even expect Sri Lanka’s GDP to grow to $100 million by 2020, which means that tea production would account for far less than 25% of that amount.

As of now, ESP Emporium’s Ceylon tea prices haven’t changed, and we don’t expect them to rise dramatically at any time in the near future. If the price of Ceylon tea does change by double or triple its current price at any time over the coming years, our ESP Emporium blog will be the first to let you know.

What Are The Largest Tea Producing Countries In The World?

by Steven Popec 13. July 2012 12:07

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

What Is White Tea? And How Does It Improve Your Health?

by Steven Popec 5. July 2012 08:25

White tea is a popular type of tea originated in southern China. It is only lightly oxidized, which distinguishes it from more heavily oxidized strains of Chinese teas like oolong and black tea.

White tea has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its rumored health benefits. Today, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about white tea. We’ll also show you how white tea can help treat all sorts of serious conditions and diseases.

A basic guide to white tea

As far as teas go, white tea is a relatively new invention. It first came into use around two centuries ago. When white tea started to be shipped abroad, it was mistakenly labelled as black tea by people outside of China due to their similar manufacturing processes.

Eventually, people around the world started to appreciate the lightly sweetened flavor of white tea. The taste itself is not prominent, although there is a slightly malty flavor and a vague natural sweetness. Since white tea is neither bitter nor acidic, its weakened flavor makes it an ideal drink for anybody who’s experiencing tea for the first time. It also doesn’t have the strong herbal taste of green tea.

Despite what the name suggests, white tea is not white. Instead, it’s a pale green color. The name ‘white tea’ comes from the unopened leaf, which is covered in distinctive, silvery-white hairs. In China, buds are plucked before they open and then sun dried and lightly fired to make white teas like Silver needles.

White tea leaves have a light green color when dried. Since they don’t spend as much time oxidizing in sunlight, the leaves aren’t as withered as other Chinese teas.

You might notice some of the leaves have a fine, silvery fuzz on them, which comes from the hairs on the white tea plant. When drinking white tea, it’s not unusual to see these white threads floating on the surface of your drink.

Is white tea healthy for you?

Since white tea is derived from the same plant as black and green tea (the Camellia sinensis plant), it has similar health benefits. Here are just a few of the reasons why people love to drink white tea:

-Anti-inflammatory properties

-Reduces cholesterol

-Decreases blood pressure

-Boosts the immune system

-Reduces the effects of aging

Several official studies have been performed on the health benefits of white tea. A 1984 study at Pace University suggested that white tea has powerful anti-bacterial qualities that slow the spread of viruses and fungal growth. That study also concluded that white tea improves the strength of our teeth.

Further studies also reinforced the belief that white tea boosts the immune system. In 2009, a study at Kingston University proved the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of white tea. That study concluded by stating that white tea is a healthy way to treat conditions like arthritis and heart disease. The antioxidant properties also make it a great anti-aging drink.

Conclusion

Some people like the light, unobtrusive taste of white tea, while other people appreciate its health benefits. Check out ESP Emporium’s full selection of white tea.

Loose Leaf Tea: The Oldest Health Food

by Elena Popec 3. July 2012 10:56

Tea, which comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, is well known around the world for its health benefits.  Although no one knows for sure how it was first discovered (one tale asserts that wayward leaves were carried by wind into the Emperor’s cup of hot water), there are records of tea being consumed in Asia as early as the 10th century BC.  Even then, it appears that tea was highly valued for its medicinal properties.  Early European explorers, interested in this new beverage, quickly spread tea cultivation west.  By the late 19th century, tea had become an important daily ritual across Britain and Ireland.  It spread with European immigrants to America, and its popularity around the world continues.  Today, peoples all over the globe have put their own unique stamp on tea, and it remains an important part of many cultures. 

Modern science proves that the ancient belief was right; tea does, indeed, pack a healthy punch.  Tea leaves contain over 700 compounds that contribute to and support a healthy body.  With cancer of all kinds running rampant and no cure, many people have turned to a more healthy and natural lifestyle as a form of defense against the devastating disease.  Tea, particularly green tea, contains a number of known anti-oxidants, which have proven to help protect against many cancers (including breast, prostate, skin, and lung cancer).  Several types of teas aid in the prevention of other chronic diseases, too.  Because it can help to moderate blood sugar, regular tea consumption can help protect against type 2 diabetes.  Green tea can also help lower cholesterol, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

The abundance of vitamins and amino acids found in tea are essential in maintaining good health.  It can help boost your immune system and improve intestinal microflora (crucial for proper nutrient absorption, metabolic function, preventing conditions like IBS, and repressing microbial growth).  Catechins, a flavanol found in tea, provide anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to suppress uncomfortable sensations like pain and nausea.  Another powerful compound in tea, L-theanine, has been shown to encourage a calm yet alert mental state in the human mind. 

Perhaps the greatest concern, at least for many Americans, is maintaining a healthy weight.  Dozens of fad diets come and go.  Some are effective for a short time, some are ineffective, and some are even proven to be unsafe.  One safe, effective, reliable weight loss tool is tasty, convenient, and inexpensive:  green tea.  Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea stimulates fat oxidation.  Additionally, tea is an almost calorie-free way to indulge in warm, rich flavor without compromising your diet.  While green tea won’t miraculously take off those extra pounds, it will certainly contribute to your healthy diet.  With its ability to help you maintain a more fit body, not to mention its delicious flavor, a few regular doses of this ancient Asian medicinal wonder is the natural addition to a healthful lifestyle.

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