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Can Tea Be A Dish?

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.

Why buy Herbal Tea: Part II

Once you try herbal tea, chances are good that you’ll like them enough to keep drinking them.  Herbal tisanes are very flavorful, almost calorie-free, and packed with so many healthy compounds that many herbals are considered “super foods”.  Any visit to your local supermarket or specialty foods store will most likely result in the discovery that whole aisles are dedicated to true teas and herbal tea blends.  There are all sorts of interesting flavor combinations out there, and blends that combine herbals with similar effects to achieve maximum results (for example, just about every major tea manufacturer offers at least one herbal blend that is intended to soothe and relax you before you go to bed). 

These pre-packaged blends are a great place to start.  They give you the opportunity to try out a large variety of flavor profiles and to learn what benefits best fit your needs.  But no matter how big that aisle is, eventually you’ll exhaust all the options available there.  When that happens, skip the supermarket altogether and head for your local tea shop.  If you’re a true fan of herbal tisanes, the tea shop will open up a whole new world of beverage opportunities.  First of all, tea shops generally deal in loose teas and herbals, rather than the pre-packaged varieties.  Loose herbals are much more flavorful, they are comprised of higher quality plant parts, and you have more freedom to experiment and find the perfect proportions in your steeped infusions. 

You’ll also be able to experiment with new blends and adventurous flavor of tea ingredients combinations.  Sure, some combinations are obvious, like lavender and vanilla bean or cardamom and cinnamon, but once you’re familiar with the flavor profiles you love, you’ll have a lot of fun mixing them to discover delicious new blends.  If you’re not sure where to start, ask the proprietor of the tea shop; he or she will undoubtedly have some great blend ideas to get your started.  Are you ready to take your herbal drinking to the next level?  Try growing some of your own herbs.  Many herbs, like chamomile, rosemary, mint, and lavender, grow easily in a variety of different settings.  They’ll thrive in your backyard herb garden, but they’ll also be perfectly happy in an indoor or box garden.  To turn your herbs into herbal infusion blends, simply pick the leaves, petals, or fruits when they’re mature; left alone in an undisturbed area (with little or no direct sunlight), they’ll dry up all on their own.  Different herbs require longer drying times, and can vary from a few days to a few weeks.  You’ll know they’re ready when they crumble easily.  Then, just crush the dried pieces, place them in a labeled, airtight container, and store them in your pantry for up to a year – if they last that long.

The options in herbal tisanes are endless.  Whether you buy bagged blends, mix flavors from your tea shop, or grow your own herbs, you’ll always have several delicious tisanes ready to steep.

Why Buy Herbal Tea?

If you look in your closet right now, you’d probably find a variety of different clothing items.  You may have some shirts that are similar, but your collection is most likely made up of a wide range of styles and fabrics, and a rainbow of colors.  Similarly, your pantry is probably stocked with an assortment of options in each category.  Maybe you have several different snack foods, a variety of herbs and spices, or a selection of convenience foods in different flavors and cuisines.  Whether you’re considering your wardrobe or your kitchen, or any other area of your life for that matter, you acquire a variety of items because you want to be prepared for different situations.  The same outfit that’s appropriate for a day at the office might not work for a nice dinner out.  You may be in the mood to wear black one day, and feel like wearing a bright color the next.  Likewise, you stock your pantry and refrigerator with lots of food options so that you have a choice; you can find something that is appealing, no matter what you’re in the mood to eat.

A well stocked herbal tea collection should be approached just as you approach filling your closet or your kitchen; choose a variety of different options, across a few broad categories, so that you know you’ll always have something to suit your mood.  Not only are herbal infusions incredibly healthy, they are available in a huge array of flavors.  In fact, the choices when it comes to herbals might just be so wide that it becomes overwhelming.  If you feel like there are too many options to consider, you might be tempted to stick to the one brand or blend that you know, and forgo the rest of the possibilities.  But if you stick to only one herbal infusion, you’re missing out on some fantastic flavors, and some really valuable health advantages.  How can you branch out and expand your herbal collection without fumbling through the tea aisle of your supermarket for an hour? 

First of all, think about adding to your collection one herbal at a time.  Try looking for an herbal in a different flavor profile than the one you already have at home.  Look at the options you have, and consider which category each belongs in:  floral (like hibiscus or orange blossom), fruity (like peach, berry, or apple), spicy (like cinnamon or Chai), or earthy (like rooibos or chamomile).  Once you’ve determined what flavor profiles you already have, experiment with a new flavor.  Or, try a new blend that mixes something you know you love with something you haven’t tried yet.  If you’re apprehensive about committing to a big box of prepackaged infusion bags before knowing whether or not you’ll like the flavor, seek out a local tea shop.  They are becoming more common all across the country, and they have huge selections of loose herbals (and true teas) that you can purchase in small quantities to taste.

How Is Yellow Tea Different Than Other Types Of Tea?

You might have come across yellow tea as you navigate around the ESP Emporium website. Yellow tea is a popular blend of tea that can be compared to oolong or green tea. However, it features its own unique taste and a powerful stimulating effect that many people find enjoyable.

The history of yellow tea

Yellow tea has been used by Buddhist monks for hundreds of years. In fact, due to its stimulating effects and other pleasant qualities, the consumption of half-fermented yellow tea was a privilege of Buddhist monks for many years.

In ancient China, the term ‘yellow tea’ actually referred to any tea given to the emperor of China. The term didn’t refer to a specific blend of tea, but it was called ‘yellow’ because that was the royal color at the time. Tea was often taken as a form of tax from the surrounding countryside.

The manufacturing process for yellow tea is similar to that of green tea. The main difference is that yellow tea is allowed to oxidize slightly longer than green tea (which is hardly oxidized at all). In addition, yellow tea leaves are dried more slowly, which ultimately leads to a light green or yellow appearance. Yellow tea leaves are also harvested earlier in the year than green tea.

When looking at yellow tea leaves, it’s easy to confuse them for white tea leaves. The only difference is that yellow tea leaves are not covered in white down. When steeped, yellow tea is a rich, golden color that many tea drinkers find appealing. Because the color is so unique and attractive, many people prefer to drink yellow tea from glass mugs. Some people even steep their yellow tea in glass tea pots to show off the color.

Health benefits and flavor of yellow tea

Since there are only a few popular blends of yellow tea, limited research has been done on its health benefits. However, since yellow tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, it features similar health benefits to green tea, black tea, and white tea. Those health benefits include reduced cholesterol buildup and increased weight loss. Since yellow tea leaves are oxidized only slightly longer than green tea, many of the health benefits of green tea can also be linked to yellow tea.

One of the best health benefits of drinking yellow tea is the antioxidant properties. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental disorders, and other serious diseases.

Yellow tea appeals to a niche market of tea drinkers. For that reason, ESP Emporium only carries one type of yellow tea. That tea is called Kekecha Yellow Tea, and it features a unique coloring and a complex, smooth flavor. Many describe Kekecha Yellow Tea as fruity, as it contains hints of papaya, apricot, and an underlying spiciness. In short, Kekecha Yellow Tea is one of those teas that you should try at least once, just to see if you like it.

Chamomile Herb Tea And Its Powers

Historical evidence suggests that chamomile was valued for its medicinal properties as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. It was commonly used to treat a host of ailments, from anxiety to indigestion.  Chamomile herb tea continued to be highly regarded throughout the Middle Ages, when it became indispensible for other reasons, as well.  Its strong, pleasantly pungent aroma made it the ideal “strewing herb”; it was scattered on the ground in public places as a primitive air freshener.  Chamomile was also important in breweries, and was used prior to the wide availability of hops to give beer its characteristic bitterness.  Throughout centuries of use, across several continents, chamomile continued to be valued and respected as an important part of medicine.

Many ancient “healing” techniques have been proven ineffective, or even harmful, by modern science; bloodlettings, the use of leeches, and magic spells have all been replaced by treatments that actually work.  Chamomile, however, is quite different.  Ancient healers trusted it, without any real knowledge of how or why it worked.  Instead of proving it ineffective, scientific research has instead led to documented evidence of the properties of chamomile that make it a legitimate wellness remedy for a number of conditions.  Perhaps most commonly known for its soothing properties, chamomile contains compounds that can relieve muscle spasms and relax the nerves.  These compounds can ease the discomfort of mild aches and pains and provide an effective relief from stress and anxiety.  Research has also shown that chamomile metabolizes into phenolic compounds, which have antibacterial and immune-boosting properties.  It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  The active components in chamomile make it an ideal remedy for the symptoms of ailments like the common cold, allergies, insomnia, and arthritis.  A topical salve made from chamomile can also be effective in treating conditions like eczema and hemorrhoids. 

Chamomile has powerful medicinal properties; when consumed regularly, its effects are compounded.  However, consuming a chamomile infusion won’t ever be confused with taking medicine.  It has a distinctive flavor; it’s light, slightly tart, and fruity.  If the flavor of chamomile by itself doesn’t suit your palate, you can still enjoy this healthy beverage in one of the many flavor blends available from a number of different brands.  Chamomile mixes very well with many fruit infusions like peach and berry, as well as earthy herbal flavors like jasmine and lemongrass, and floral flavors like orange blossom and hibiscus.  No matter what your taste preference is, there’s a chamomile tea that you will love.  Enjoy a chamomile tisane any time you want to relax and feel better; consumed regularly, chamomile is an important part of your natural journey towards a healthier life. Because it’s an herbal infusion, chamomile is completely caffeine-free and a great way to encourage a restful and restorative night’s sleep; steep a cup of pure chamomile or an herbal blend and drink about half an hour before going to bed.  Healthy, natural chamomile is a daily treat for a better life.