Friday, July 23, 2010

The Art of Tea

Mark and I are big big tea drinkers or really I should say enthusiasts! We both love love love tea.

In the morning in our house, you will find a brisk loose black tea brewing in our "coffee" maker. Which we will then turn off and let cool to room temperature and ice...every morning. We then will bottle the remainder and take it off to our work places, so we have fresh brewed tea all day.

We have even been known to stay away from restaurants that serve that "from the fountain" faux ice tea. It is like drinking instant versus fresh brewed coffee. I think you get the picture...good tea is good tea.

There are so many different types of tea in the world but I have a favored taste for the teas of the Orient, Japanese and Chinese. Each has their own distinct characteristics- like fine wines. And each tea can have its own special cup from which to drink it- like fine wine!

Here is a basic list of teas and below each description is the cup we from which we like to drink it.

GREEN- a tea I like anytime. I love the grassy flavor of this tea. We drink this one hot.

Green tea has been enjoyed since ancient times in China (the origin of tea) and Japan, where it is most frequently drunk. Green tea has also gained in popularity among Europeans and Americans in recent years for its health-giving properties. When water is added to green tea leaves, the resulting beverage retains the color of the freshly-picked leaves. Green tea therefore offers an even fresher, more natural flavor. Green teas are categorized according to type and production method, and flavors vary. In general, however, green tea is made in China by roasting the tealeaves in a pot, offering a refreshing, aromatic flavor. In Japan, the green tealeaves are steamed, producing a sweet, delicate flavor.

MATCHA-even more fresh and grassy tasting- Mark and I have been fortunate to experience a Japanese Tea Ceremony. We drink this one hot and cold.

Delicate Matcha powder has a rich sweet taste and is naturally pure . It contains rich in vitamin C, E and many minerals. It also contains an important element of Polyphenols, Although it is possible to use Matcha in a wide variety of recipes, it is important to remember that it originates from Japanese tea ceremony. Therefore, it is a very special type of tea.
BLACK TEA- this is our daily staple! We drink this hot and cold.
Black tea is among the most widely enjoyed teas in the world. Originating in China in the 17th century, tea spread rapidly throughout the world and primarily enjoyed acceptance in the West. Black tea is a known favorite, especially among the British, who have developed a rich culture around tea. One of the features of black tea is its wide array of production areas and drinking methods. Black teas are produced with different characteristics according to the production area, tea estate and the season when the leaves are picked. Although flavors vary, high-quality black teas abound in natural aroma, flavor and nutrients that are reminiscent of flowers, fruits and herbs. Another appeal of black teas is that they can be used to create a variety of different drinks, not only by adding milk or lemon but also with the addition of fruits, herbs, spices and liquors. Iced tea is another popular option.

OOLONG- I love this tea for special occasions from its smaller and taller cup. We drink this one hot.

Oolong tea is a Chinese tea positioned between green tea and black tea. It has a sophisticated flavor derived from complex production methods. Many types of oolong tea with a long history have been passed down by Buddhist priests due to their outstanding effectiveness. Oolong tea is also referred to as an aromatic tea, and it features popular flavors rich in aroma. Depending on the production area, product type, season when the leaves were picked, degree of oxidation and fermentation, roasting and other conditions, a variety of flavors can be enjoyed. These range from refreshing, invigorating flavors to mellow, soothing flavors, all with their own distinctive appeal.

JASMINE- this is my favorite for a nurturing quiet time. Every first sip brings on a relieved sigh and a mmmmmmm. We drink this one hot.
Hand rolled Dragon Pearls pictured below.
Though sometimes referred to as green, jasmine teas are technically oolongs. They are prepared by mixing the delicate flowers of the night-blooming jasmine with tea each evening. With nightfall, the blossoms open and infuse the tea with their sweet aroma. Each morning, the spent flowers are removed and fresh blossoms readied for the evening. This process is repeated a number of times, depending on the grade of tea. For top jasmine grades, the nightly infusion continue for twelve consecutive nights.
And the list can go on and on...nurturing an appreciation for your tea and the cup in which you drink, can be a life time pursuit in its self...and these can be the simple joys of life.

Below is pictured a beautiful jasmine tea
that has been hand-rolled.
As it warms and opens,

it produces a sweet handmade flower!

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