My mom and dad brought me Republic of Tea‘s limited edition Valentine’s blend, Queen of Hearts. I’m sipping it right now and it is very yummy. It smells like potpouri…so I was a bit unsure of how this would taste once brewed. This is a black tea with rose petals and whole rose buds. It’s beautiful! Once steeped, the rose aromas do not really affect the flavor that much. There is a bit of spiciness to it and a delicate rose taste. It’s not overwhelming, though. I steeped it for five minutes but may do a little less next time.
Fall is fast approaching and many children have already started back to school. Once they step off that school bus, they are often running to the kitchen and foraging for food. You don’t have to serve them the typical “kid foods” like chips and soft drinks. Why not offer them tea? And if you really want to do it up right, give them some yummy scones.
Rooibos tea is a great alternative to juice or soft drinks. Whole Foods has a great selection of rooibos products and carries a line that I love: The Republic of Tea – Children’s Tea. A kid I know pretty well will drink this any time that I offer it to her! Flavors like strawberry and mandarin orange are sure to please. Add a bit of pure cane sugar or German rock sugar if they like it sweet. One teaspoon of sugar has about 15 calories and a little bit goes a long way in terms of sweetening tea.
If rooibos tea isn’t your thing, then go the traditional route and serve a black tea mixture with mostly sweetened milk. This is like Irish children drink it. You can also serve traditional tea foods with your tea, such as egg salad sandwiches – which are full of protein or fruit based scones. If you don’t want to bake, you can pick up a pack of scones at many grocery store bakeries. Whole Foods bakery has great blueberry scones …and I have even found cranberry orange varieties at the Wal-Mart bakery!
A Brief History of Iced Tea
Image courtesy of Harney.com
Have you ever wondered where that iced tea you are sipping originated from? Most people just slurp it down and probably have no need for exploring the history of it. But — if you are on this site, then you are probably a tea lover like me and might just find a bit of iced tea history interesting.
The first iced tea recipe was probably made with green tea leaves instead of black tea like today. In 1879, a Southern based magazine printed an iced tea recipe by Marion Cabell Tyree. She advised to boil the leaves and then steep all day. After doing so, she told readers to fill goblets with ice, throw in 2 teaspoons of sugar and then pour the steeped tea in and add lemon. Not a lot has changed over the years except for the type of tea leaves used.
Culinary instructor, Mrs. D.A (Mary) Lincoln released her recipe for iced tea calling for cold black tea to be poured over cracked ice, lemon and exactly two sugar cubes. Interestingly enough, we think of sweet tea as staple of the Southern United States. Lincoln’s version of the tea drink was developed, however, at her cooking school in Boston.
Near the turn of the century, iced tea became more of a necessity than a planned beverage of choice. Tea vendors looking to make a quick buck in the sweltering heat would simply serve their tea cold rather than hot. The result showed up not only as a rise in sales but also as a beverage phenomenon that is still popular today.
Ask any tea drinker about Earl Grey tea, and they will more than likely know what you are referring to. Many won’t know exactly WHO you are referring to, however. If you drink Earl Grey, then why not learn all there is to know about it? Here are some facts that every Earl Grey tea drinker should know.
Earl Grey is a black tea (English) blend flavored with Bergamot oil (orange). Earl Grey is very smooth and drinkable and easily handles a bit of milk and sugar. It’s popularity even extends outside of tea circles, making it one of the most beloved and recognizable teas out there. It also has an interesting history.
In the 1830s, British Prime Minisister, Earl Grey was given the gift of tea. This was not just any tea, though. In fact, it was unlike any tea the Earl had ever tasted. He liked it! This tea was flavored with bergamot oil from Southeast Asia and was a hit! English tea with an exotic twist!
“According to one legend, a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of Lord Grey’s men first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803 (Wikipedia).”
Some sources say that this legend has absolutely no truth to it. It does, however, make for a very sweet story.
The 2cd Earl Grey
Loose Earl Grey Tea
Twinings Earl Grey Tea
Trying something new is always fun. My husband came back from Trader Joe’s with a tea treat for me: Tejava iced black tea. It is cool, refreshing and full-bodied. The best part for me is that it has absolutely no sweeteners or sugar so it is calorie free…I can drink these all day and not feel guilty. You can buy Tejava at Trader Joes and Whole Foods.
Although my tea collection is quite extensive, I have a few old standbys that I just have to keep in my pantry. When I’m out of these, I make a sudden dash to the tea shop/online site and make a purchase so I can quickly restock! The guys I consistently support are Franklin Tea, Teavana and Adagio. Teavana and Adagio are huge companies. Franklin Tea is the local tea shop close to where I live. Teavana has crazy blends…some so covered in fruits and spices that you can’t taste the beauty of the leaf. Tea is very complex. White, green, oolong, black…all have distinct flavors that can be covered up and easily subdued when mixed with too much other “stuff.” Blends are great, as long as they don’t obscure the real flavor of the tea.
Here are a few of my all time favorites:
Hojicha Tea from Japan
Hojicha – This is a roasted green tea from Japan. I hoarded this tea after the awful Tsunami that destroyed parts of Japan earlier this year. I was so afraid of nuclear radiation leaking from the plant and into the soil of the tea farms that I bought this tea in bulk. (I have so much of it that I will never use all of it in my lifetime). All that aside, hojicha is a wonderful green tea that works well with sushi! SAVORY — that’s the best word that I can use to describe it. It’s roasty and malty also. This is a tea that only works well when sipped hot. I also prefer it stronger rather than milder. I’ve experimented with this tea and I brew it completely different from the norm. Ideally, you would use one teaspoon for an 8 ounce cup. I double it for this tea.
Genmacha Tea from Japan
Genmacha – Another green tea from Japan. This one is tossed with roasted brown rice and like hojicha, it’s a savory tea. The roasted brown rice adds a nutty flavor that pairs nicely with the vegetal flavor of the green tea. It works well with sushi and asian style dishes as well. I bought this one in bulk too after the Tsunami. I can’t be without it. This one is a bit more delicate than hojicha. When steeping, pay attention to the thermometer and the clock. Don’t steep too hot for too long or you’ll have a bitter brew that you will not enjoy.
Smoky Lapsang Souchang
Lapsang Souchang – This is a black tea. It’s dried over pine and the result is an extremely dark, smoky brew. This one is not for the faint of heart. If you are a beginner to loose leaf tea – don’t try this one. This tea was once called a “gentleman’s tea” because it was way too strong for the ladies. If you are reading this and are from the South, then you have probably caught a whiff of dark fired tobacco curing in the barn in the Fall. This tea smells just like that! That’s the only way I can describe it! I absolutely love this tea in the Fall and Winter! This is another savory tea; consequently, it pairs wonderfully with pork and beef dishes. I once concocted a marinade using olive oil, salt, pepper, and this tea (not in liquid form…but the actual leaves). I drowned some pork in it and let it hang out for an hour or so, then threw it on the grill. So good!
Ti Quan Yin Oolong Tea
Ti Quan Yin – An oolong tea that is more on the green side of the oolong spectrum versus the black side. Oolongs come in two types: green and black. This is due to the level of oxidation of the leaves during the fermentation process. The green oolongs are less oxidized. Ti Quan Yin will surprise you when you brew it. In the tea tin, you’ll see small bits of tea. In the infuser you will see huge leaves unfurled. This is a mild, mellow oolong that is always a staple in my tea pantry. Ti Quan Yin is also a great base in which to mix and mingle other teas. Many really good blends use Ti Quan Yin as a foundation.