I sent my parents a couple tins of tea from Adagio Teas a few weeks ago just to test out my new, online store and some of it's products. My mother, in particular, loves tea. In my opinion, she is a connoisseur so thought she, better than anyone, would be the one to try out this product.
Much to my pleasure, in just a few days, I received a call from my mother stating how timely, delicious and beautifully packaged the teas were. From my end, I was impressed with their above and beyond customer service. I was so impressed with the overall experience, in fact, that I felt compelled to write and thank them. I received a friendly response back the same day offering to send me some teas to try. How could I resist! My mother impressed upon me the enjoyment of tea too, so of course, I accepted their offer. I was anticipating 3 or 4 tins of teas but when the package arrived, it had 21 tins!
As you can imagine, I have been busy enjoying my teas. They came in cute, pale green tins with a simple, well presented label. My favorite one, so far, is cranberry. This surprises me as I don't necessarily claim to like cranberry. The tea is subtle, well balanced and delightful. Some of my other favorites are candy cane (mild, vanilla-mint flavor), Rooibos Vanilla Chai, and Gunpowder (slight but interesting smokiness). The most impressive attribute of these teas is the ability to have very subtle yet perfectly balanced flavors. Even my 7 year old daughter has been taste-testing with me (the best tea parties ever!) and she has enjoyed most of them. Her favorite flavor.....candy cane!
In addition to the wonderful teas, I also received a book from Adagio Teas that had some fun tea facts in it. I learned that all real tea comes from the same botanical, Camellia sinensis, and contains caffeine. Many beverages that are called "tea" are actually not tea but drinks made from infusing hot water with dried flowers, fruits, plants or herbs. These are called "Tisanes" (a French word for "herbal infusion") and are a caffeine free alternative.
One of the more significant benefits that makes tea so popular is it's prowess in relieving fatigue. This is because the caffeine in tea is water soluble which allows the body to digest it easily and pass through your system quickly. The result is a rapid, tangible feeling of relief and relaxation. By the way, caffeine in coffee is not as water soluble and stays in your system longer making you unable to sleep and leaves you feeling restless. And while we're on the subject, there is a myth out there that tea has more caffeine than coffee. While this is true when measuring coffee and tea in dry form, the relationship is reversed when comparing brewed coffee to steeped tea.
Studies show that all teas' benefits are practically equal. That is, that black tea benefits are consistent with green teas and the same seems to be true about oolongs. Slight differences may occur but while white tea may provide a few more antioxidants than black tea, the amount is negligible in relation to the benefits. This makes sense since, as stated earlier, all tea comes from the same plant.
So what does it take to brew a perfect cup of tea? Besides buying the best quality tea you can find, there are three basic steps to follow:
The basic rule is one teaspoon of leaves per cup of water. Use too little tea and your tea will taste weak. Use too much and it will taste bitter. The exception would be light teas such as chamomile which requires two teaspoons of leaves. Keep in mind that dry tea leaves expand up to 5 times their original size so make sure you give your leaves some room to grow so you get as much flavor out of them as possible.
The ideal temperature depends on the tea. Black, oolong and herbal teas require boiling water at about 212 degrees Fahrenheit while more delicate teas like green, light oolong, and white require cooler water at about 180 degrees.
The standard is 5 minutes for most black teas. Dark oolong, herbal and white teas tastes best when steeped for 7 minutes. Light oolong and green teas are more delicate and can only handle 3 minutes of steeping.
One other important note to remember is the water. Good water makes good tea. Most of the water coming out of our taps is poor quality; thus, it is best to use bottled water or a filtration system.
If you wish to make your own "decaf" tea, brew a cup as normal, leaving the leaves in the hot water for about 30 seconds, then drain the leaves, and rebrew. The second brew will contain the flavor but significantly reduce the caffeine. By the way, decaffeinated tea is not really caffeine free - it still contains about 5-10 milligrams per cup.
This is the perfect time of year to brew a cup for yourself, have a tea party with your children or share the gift of tea with someone you care about. And wouldn't you know, Adagio Teas have some great holiday sampler sets! :) Happy Holidays!
*Written with notes used from Adagio Teas book called "A Guide To Teas"