White Tea is surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China. I am talking really ancient here, as in Tang dynasty 618-907 AD. This delicate tea was proclaimed by the Emperor as “the culmination of all that is elegant” and reserved for members of the Imperial Court. The leaves were picked in early spring when young tea shoots abound and legend has it that the picking was done by virgins wearing white gloves. Well, it is a pure story at any rate!

Tang Dynasty China

White tea is thankfully no longer solely the property of Emperors and Kings! Although originally grown only in the Fujian Province in China, due to its increasing popularity it is now grown in other regions such as Sri Lanka, Taiwan and India. What has remained the same is the process of making this tea!

White teas are the least processed of all the teas. Leaves are delivered to the factory by hand where they are naturally withered and sun dried, no oxidation takes place.

The new buds are picked before they open when they have a white, silvery appearance (hence the name!). This white appearance is the ‘hao” or hair on the bud or baby leaf.

White Mischief

White teas are subtle, delicate and flavorful and are considered by some to have the most health benefits. The appearance of white teas can vary in color depending on style of tea but all have a very natural fresh look which is also very pure and natural in the cup, devoid of any astringency or grassiness.

With more antioxidants than black tea or green tea, research shows white tea has anticancer properties, is strengthening for the immune and cardiovascular systems, reduces high blood pressure and is calming and detoxifying on the skin(anti-sagging!).

So, what about our White Mischief from Local Coffee + Tea? I thought this a very appropriate name on first tasting this tea with a mischievous play on the taste buds. Take a moment to smell this tea when it will also play mischief with your senses!

White Mischief is a type of tea known as Pai Mu Tan which means “white peony” and is produced in Fujian Province from a variety of tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha where only the “two leaves and bud” are used.  The tea is mostly green with silver tips and is quite light and fluffy.  The mischievousness is created by blending with a healthy dose of tart pomegranate and juicy guava!

When brewing White Mischief use one heaped teaspoon per cup with water heated to 180-190 degrees (or just under boiling).  I find this produces a mellow flavor without scalding the leaves which may cause astringency.  The tea can be infused for 2 minutes with plenty of flavor.  A second infusion of 4 minutes and a third of 6 minutes will yield great cooling and refreshing character. See our earlier post on multi-steeping tea. 

I have infused this tea as many as 6 times, but leave you to experiment with this very exciting and actually quite mischievous tea. Sorry couldn’t resist it one more time!

Cheers,
The TeaLady

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You may have noticed our new mantra, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG”. We have tried it on for a few weeks and think it may be time to provide some details about what we are trying to do at Local Coffee + Tea.

During the course of a typical week we sample teas to many visitors at Selby Gardens and the Downtown Farmer’s Market here in Sarasota. We talk tea, and find many tea drinkers thrilled to engage us with their favorite tea tales. Yes, we love our job.

It comes as no surprise that many people use tea bags. But shocking is how many people have never tasted loose leaf tea. Sad to think so many people are missing out on the wonderfully unique experience of loose leaf tea.

And so, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG” our campaign to encourage people to choose loose leaf tea in place of tea in tired old bags. The sub heading is, “Loose leaf tea is fresher, hipper and just darn better for you”. Our intent is to convert tea bag users to loose leaf tea drinkers through tasting, educating and advocating loose leaf tea one sip at a time.

There are several reasons to choose loose leaf over tea bag tea, and we offer them here. If you, our fellow tea lovers have other reasons we failed to mention, please share…

TASTE
There is absolutely no comparison. Most bag tea is the lowest grade of tea (dust or fannings) that comes out of the production area. There are of course some exceptions but generally the tea is very small particles and holds little flavor. Every step in the processing of loose leaf tea is designed to enhance the flavor and taste.

QUALITY
There are also some exceptions and just because you buy loose leaf tea does not mean it will be excellent quality. We, and all of our fellow tea enthusiasts search for teas with exceptional freshness, quality and taste, and you should to. We call this our “tea journey”. Loose leaf tea allows you to examine, smell, listen and sample for maximum quality.

VALUE
Despite what you may assume when first exploring the loose versus tea bag conundrum, loose is more economical. Tea bags are created for one time use! Nearly all varieties of loose leaf tea should be steeped at least twice and some loose leaf teas can be steeped many more times. Work out the math and you will be surprised how little loose leaf costs you per cup.

SOCIAL
Loose leaf tea is perfect for brewing a pot of tea to share with others, the starting point for a meaningful conversation. Offering a cup of properly steeped loose leaf tea is a wonderfully kind gesture, hard for anyone to refuse.

ECO FRIENDLY
Just think how much packaging and bits of string you would save!

HEALTH BENEFITS
Whilst you may still gain some health benefits from tea bags you will gain many more from loose leaf tea. My theory is that you will like the taste better and will WANT to DRINK MORE therefore giving yourself the gift of good health.

Lastly, and for us one of the most important reasons to drink loose leaf tea is the sheer enjoyment it brings into your life. Brewing a pot of tea for one is relaxing and contemplative, watching such majesty. Sharing a pot of tea with a friend is a nod to a more civilised era. The leaves gracefully dance in your pot and tantalize your taste buds with their fresh and fragrant bouquet.

Make time in your life for loose leaf tea and join Local Coffee + Tea in helping all tea lovers to “THINK OUT OF THE BAG”

Cheers,
the tea lady