Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Loose Leaf Tea

Tea drinkers have their own preferences when it comes to preparing a cup of tea, but the steps are similar. Here are the basic steps for brewing with loose leaf tea

Loose leaf tea is a different experience because you use a teapot in addition to a kettle. Many people prefer loose tea.

Step 1: Water
Rinse out your tea kettle and fill it with one cup of fresh water. The amount of oxygen in your water makes a big difference. Ideally, the water should be cold. It's fine to use water from the tap but filtered water is even better.
Step 2: Heat
It's time to bring the water to a boil. Some people prefer to heat their water in an electric kettle but it is not necessary. A stovetop kettle will get the same results- hot water for a delicious cup of tea. When the tea kettle whistles, your water is ready.
Note: If making a cup of green tea, it is best to use water that is just at the boiling point.
Step 3: Prepare teapot 
Pour boiling water from the kettle into the teapot and cover with lid. Refill the tea kettle and bring to a boil. Remove the kettle from heat.
Step 4: Cool
Let water sit for one minute, to bring it just below the boiling point. While water cools, empty the teapot. When kettle water is cool, pour it into teapot.
Step 5: Add loose tea
Add a teaspoon of loose tea into teapot for each cup of tea plus one extra teaspoon for the pot. If you prefer, use an infuser or tea ball- both require the same amount of tea.
Step 6: Steep
Let the tea steep. See chart below for approximate times.
Time (minutes)

Step 7: Pour

After brewing, sweeten and stir tea and pour into warm cup.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What are Flavonoids and Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are plant-based molecules in unprocessed raw fruits and vegetables. They have antioxidant properties which offer a wide range of health benefits. Because there are over 8,000 polyphenols, they are divided into several main subclasses. Tea contains polyphenols from two of the main subclasses: flavonoids and tannins.

Flavonoid compounds contribute to the taste and color of tea. They have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. They also lower the risk of cancer and help maintain normal heart function. Black, white, green and oolong teas are from the Camellia Sinensis plant and contain about 100 to 300 mg of flavonoids in each serving. The actual amount of flavonoids depends is determined by how it is processed. For example, black tea is fully fermented and green tea is undergoes minimal fermentation.


Tannins are compounds found in tea. Black tea is particularly high in tannin compounds or "tannic." Tannins called theaflavins are responsible for the dark color and strong astringency of black tea. Without them, black tea would be bland and watery. However, even lighter teas, such as green tea, can be highly astringent due to chemicals called catechins. It is the catechins which provide cardiovascular disease fighting and anti-cancer properties in teas that are not fully fermented.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has the same benefits of black and green tea due to its catechins, theaflavins and thearubigins. Lightly fermented oolong tea is also high in tannins. Furthermore, recent studies have also shown oolong tea to promote weight loss because of the other polyphenolic compounds it contains.

In addition to eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, drinking tea each day is a great way to make sure you are getting enough antioxidants. With so many teas to choose from, it is easy to find one that you enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

How Do They Make Tea?

Tea flavor varies depending on the method used for processing. There are two main methods of tea production: orthodox and crush-tear-curl (CTC). Most teas follow the orthodox method.

Orthodox Tea Manufacture
There are five main steps to orthodox production. The time spent on each step is adjusted based on the type of tea being produced.

1.  Plucking. First the trees are pruned to the right height so that the tea leaves can be plucked. Next the tea leaves are harvested by hand. Then the leaves are sifted into clean piles.

2. Withering. After harvesting, the leaves are spread out to dry for several hours to prevent them from crumbling during the next step.

3. Rolling. When the tea leaves have dried completely, they are rolled. This breaks the cell walls so that oxidation can begin.  

4. Oxidation. The leaves are laid out once again. When they are exposed to cool, humid air, the oxidation process begins.

5. Firing. Finally, the leaves are heated to end oxidation. As a result of firing, the leaves become darker. When the leaves are brewed, the flavor will be richer.

CTC Method
The CTC method was created for processing black tea and is much faster than the orthodox method. Instead of rolling the leaves which keeps them whole during the orthodox process, the leaves are passed through machinery rollers which contain hundreds of sharp teeth. Then the leaves are crushed, torn and curled.

The Orthodox method results in a wide range of aromas and flavors. That’s not possible with the CTC method because of the fast oxidation process. Teas made with the CTC method can remain fresh for several months. Orthodox teas can last up to two years if stored properly. It is always a good idea to check with the manufacturer for storage guidelines and expiration dates because they can vary so widely.