January 2010


In Florida we never really experience the depth of winter weather that the rest of the US must endure. Consequently we continue drinking iced tea all year round. According to USA Tea Council, 85% of Americans choose to drink their tea iced so there is still a lot of iced tea drunk this time of year. And as Hot Tea month comes to an end, I want to share a great way to make iced tea that it works really well for us at Local Coffee + Tea. We think you will love it too.

Cold brewing loose leaf tea is simple and yields consistent results with little effort involved. This method of brewing is for true teas, it may work for some herbals but in our experience is not a suitable method for making iced Rooibos as this requires hot water to release flavor.

Jasmine Green tea makes a wonderfully floral iced tea

Do not limit yourself to a particular tea. We cold brew black, oolong, green and white tea with equally good results. You may be surprised at an Earl Grey and even our Lapsang Souchong is excellent cold brewed.

Let’s get started.
1. Good water always makes a difference. If your local water is heavily contaminated with chlorine this will affect the final taste. Choose filtered water for best results.

2. Quality loose leaf tea will give you the best taste but this is also a good way to use tea bags you have had in your pantry for too long. Life is too short to drink lousy tea, so mix and match and use it!

3. Next you will need some T Sacs. Put your tea in the T SAC, but don’t pack it too full to allow room for infusion and flavor to release. Use a second T SAC rather than overpacking. A tea maker such as the Timolina or Magic Filter works exceptionally well.

4. The quantity of tea will depend on your personal preference but as a guide we use 30gm or around 1 oz of tea per gallon. This works out to a teaspoon for 8-10oz of water in case you are making a smaller quantity. We suggest you try different measurements and times to achieve the taste you like the best.

5. Fill a sealed container with cold water and place the T sac with the tea in cold water and then straight into the refrigerator for a period of 10-18 hours or longer. The tea will be deeper in color and flavor if infused for a longer time. Take the tea out of the water after 24 hours as we have found leaving the tea in the container will cause the tea to spoil faster.

This slow, gentle process results in a much smoother, naturally clear, clean and sweet tasting tea that will last for 3 days. Do not be tempted to keep your tea too long and risk the possibility of spoilage. We are confident this is unlikely to happen as you will love the taste so much you will want to drink more!

Make up a gallon right now and enjoy it tomorrow.
Cheers,
the Tealady

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When we offer samples of tea at Selby Gardens or at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market, many people respond with “I don’t like the taste of tea”.  Our standard cheeky response is, “Because you have never tasted our tea?” After probing a bit, people describe the bitter taste of tea.  The root cause is typically oversteeping, which is why we are so specific with steep times at Local Coffee + Tea.  Loose leaf tea offers so much flavor, and when prepared incorrectly will become astringent.

What causes astringency in tea?

Astringency is that dry, puckering sensation that follows a sip of strong tea, an assertive red wine or a bite into not quite ripe fruit.  Tannins are responsible. They are polyphenols or natural defensive compounds which actually help deter bacteria and fungi growing on the tea leaf. The sensation of astringency is caused by the ‘tanning’ of the proteins in the saliva and mucous membranes of the mouth which in turn cause the surface tissues to actually contract and reduce lubrication.
Tannins tend to get some bad press because they are often confused with tannic acid which is derived from oak leaves and is used to tan leather! When I was young I remember well the threats from Dad that if I misbehaved I would “get a good tannin” and I guess that is where the phrase originated from. Just to set the record straight I do not have a leathery bottom now, the threat served its purpose and I was always a good girl!
The Camellia sinensis tannins found in loose leaf tea are responsible for the wonderful flavor and color in tea and a little astringency is nice, giving your drink some body and briskness (I love that word!) and cleansing your palate after eating. That’s why a cuppa always tastes so good after dinner. You will find tannins very evident in green tea and especially black tea if steeped too long.
I will let you into a little secret now which you may already know about if you drink your tea like the Brits (or was it the French that first stated this custom?). If you add milk to the tea, the tannins attack the proteins in the milk rather than those in your mouth and you have a less astringent taste.
Last but not least, Tannins are said to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth and help impede dental cavities.  So celebrate Hot Tea Month and make your Dentist happy, by drinking lots of tea!
Cheers,
the TeaLady

January is National Hot Tea Month and all over the country we are experiencing some chilly weather, even here in Florida.  As everyone is much more appreciative of the benefits of drinking a nice hot cuppa, I can think of no better way to celebrate hot tea month than drinking the hottest of teas, Masala Chai.

Chai is the generic word for tea in much of the World. The British adapted the word as slang and ‘cha’ or ‘char’ became the meaning for a cup of tea.   So what is true Masala Chai?

This is a beverage from the Indian subcontinent made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic spices and herbs.  The traditional process of making chai involves actively boiling the tea leaves over sustained heat with spices.  Whilst there are many variations of preparation today (some not too good either!) there are four components which remain true to the original idea of chai tea.

Chai starts with black loose leaf tea

1.) Strong black tea, usually Assam but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong so spices and sweetener do not overpower the flavor.

2.) Sweetener, usually white sugar, palm or coconut sugars. A large quantity is required to bring out the flavor of the spices. You can use honey or agave also. Condensed milk can be used which also adds sweetness.

3.) Milk, usually whole milk for richness but alternatives like Soy can be used. 1/4 to 1/2 parts are required.

4.) Spice, usually warm spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorn and cloves with cardamom being predominant flavor. Other possible additions are nutmeg, rose, liquorices root, almond and saffron.

At Local Coffee + Tea we offer an outstanding Cochin Masala Chai which is authentic and gives a warm traditional flavor. It bears the name of a busy port which also has a long history in trading spices. We like to drink it without anything added and have been sampling our chai in the Tea Room at Selby Gardens, and probably one of these Saturdays at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market.  Go ahead and try the different options and see which one you like the best.  Then put your feet up, stay warm with a cup of Cochin Masala Chai and celebrate Hot Tea month!

Cheers,

the TeaLady

Happy New Year Tea Lovers!

January is National Hot Tea Month and also the height of the “cold and flu season”. So what can you do to help prevent coming down with the cold and flu?

Drinking hot tea is sure to help you stay healthy.

There is plenty of research which indicates that theanine, an ingredient found naturally in tea, supports the immune system. A cup of tea contains an average of 20- 25 mg of theanine and drinking at least five cups per day will boost your natural resistance to infections.

Tea also contains flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe damage elements in the body and contribute to many chronic diseases.

There is also a herbal tea which has great properties in the war against cold and flu: Zingibar officinale the tart, knotty spice we know as ginger. The oils in ginger will create warmth in your body helping to fight infection as well as easing nasal and chest congestion. Ginger root makes a tea with nice clean notes and of course the familiar hot finish! Anti-inflammatory properties also make ginger a good sore throat remedy. A touch of honey or lemon makes an even more soothing tea when you are feeling unwell.

Why not go for a double dose of prevention and combine ginger with your favorite black tea or green tea such as Nilgiri or Pinhead Gunpowder. This is an invigorating infusion. I like to infuse the ginger root first (it needs at least 10 minutes steeping) and then add to the prepared tea. If you are living in a warmer climate like Florida (where we hardly notice it is winter!) and really do not want to drink hot tea, try serving this combo iced. It really is delicious.

Local Coffee + Tea offers a wonderful dried ginger root from Thailand as well as a Fair Trade Chamomile from Egypt.

While drinking tea may not keep you from getting sick this season, it can certainly help your odds of staying healthy. So do something good for your body and enjoy a hot cuppa every day! Have a Happy Hot Tea month and stay well.
Cheers,
the TeaLady