Iced tea is the stuff of summer. Everybody knows that. Sweet tea, tea cocktails, tea infused beer, and even tea with ice cream all come to mind as tasty ways to beat the heat. We have regular customers who drink gallon upon GALLON of iced TeaSource Gold in our stores each week, and personally, I don’t know where I’d be without my daily dose of cold brewed Green Mango. I would be hard pressed to find a drink that tastes as good, is actually good for you, and has stood the test of time as well as iced tea. It’s almost as American as baseball and apple pie, don’t you think?
There are so many creative ways to enjoy cold tea that it’s hard to choose just one angle. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to give you some ideas for your next family gathering or get together. Summer is too short to sweat the small stuff, so slow down and enjoy it with a cup of iced tea.
Mix and serve over ice.
Garnish with orange slices.
Dry Champagne (or sparkling water)
4 tablespoons of dry oolong tea (we recommend Green Dragon)
Steep 4 tablespoons of dry oolong tea in 4 cups of cold water in fridge for 6 hours.
Strain, cover, and refrigerate for an hour. Pour half a glass of chilled oolong tea, fill the remainder of the glass with champagne.
Strawberry Arnold Palmer
Take 1 can of frozen lemonade concentrate.
Blend into 1 gallon of cold water.
Cold brew one ounce of Strawberry Oolong in the watered down lemonade overnight.
Remove tea leaves. Serve over ice.
Ohau Iced Tea
8 cups brewed. TeaSource Classic Iced Tea (black tea), at room temperature
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
2/3 cup frozen passion fruit juice concentrate, thawed. Use frozen passion-fruit puree (available at Latino grocery stores), could also substitute passion-fruit juice.
1 cup white cane sugar (if using passion fruit puree only)
Optional: a couple of shots of dark rum.
Combine all ingredients, stir, and serve over ice.
We, at TeaSource, are thrilled to have Ms. Zhang Liumei, one of the founders of Yiqingyuan and one of our great resources in China, in Minneapolis this week. Ms. Zhang is a tea scientist and is known for her botanical expertise. She personally creates new teas and is an expert in the area of Dark Tea, some of which we carry at TeaSource. We are honored to have this close relationship and are excited to learn more about Dark Tea from her.
She will be doing a Livestream demonstration and talk on Dark Tea on Thursday, July 10th at Noon. You will not want to miss this opportunity to listen, learn, and ask questions. We will be doing a short Q&A after the talk. There will be limited seating available at our St. Anthony location during the demonstration. We hope you tune in!
To watch online, go to TeaSource’s Livestream Talk with a Tea Master event page and log in (or create a new account). Enjoy!
Over the last weekend of May, the World Tea and Coffee Fest descended on Long Beach, CA and St. Louis, MO respectively. TeaSource exhibited at both, an exhausting but thrilling experience that we’re still recovering from. Bill, Michael, and warehouse specialist Ryan were in Long Beach while manager Sarah and I went to St. Louis.
Coffee Fest is a fun show to be at, especially as a tea person. I learned a ton about coffee, especially coffee importing, and got to spread the word about how easy it is to make a quality cup of loose tea. I even got to teach a class on the subject on the very first day of the show.
Over the course of the weekend we met with dozens of people in the coffee industry, from people opening new shops to people who have been importing and roasting for a decade or more. While talking with everyone was great, my favorite conversations were the ones that started with someone saying they didn’t like tea and ended with them taking samples because they loved our tea.
Far and away the most popular tea was Iced Red Berries. People were glad of a refreshing, caffeine-free option after all of the coffee samples! Iced Green Tea Mango was another one that people couldn’t stop raving about. The weather was hot and muggy while we were in St. Louis, so people gravitated toward cold teas.
Even though iced teas were popular, we got many questions about how we make our house chai. Making a fresh and delicious chai is an easy way to impress your customers (or your friends!) and can be very easy to do! You can find our recipe here.
Being in St. Louis wasn’t all work, however. Sarah and I got a chance to sample beverages of another kind, including sake, and drinks at a real, password protected speakeasy founded a few years before Prohibition ended in the U.S.
Trade shows are an opportunity for us to learn from other in the beverage industry and bring our passion and knowledge to new people who are thinking about taking the plunge and opening their own tea or coffee shop. All the work of planning a trip of this kind leads up to being able to do one thing: have conversations with others about how great tea is. It’s challenging, but handing a sample to a new tea drinker makes it all worthwhile.
It is said the Zen priest Eisai brought tea seeds to Kyoto in 1191 and popularized the consumption of powdered tea. It wasn’t until the fifteenth century that a new culture around tea evolved into the modern tea ceremony known as Chanoyu (literally translated “hot water for tea”). The tea ceremony is an extremely structured and studied ritual that embodies many philosophical, artistic, and aesthetic concepts unique to Japanese culture.
Uses For Matcha
Traditionally, a powdered green tea called matcha is used during the tea ceremony, along with an array of traditional utensils. Matcha can also be prepared casually and is often used in recipes for ice cream, chocolate, and smoothies. The tea ceremony is just one way to appreciate the act of making and serving matcha, but it is by no means the only way.
Matcha is made from the tea leaves similar to those grown to make Gyokuro, a high grade tea that is shaded for the last three weeks before plucking. The shading causes the plant to produce more chlorophyll, giving both the leaf and the liquor a brilliant emerald color. These leaves are then stone ground into a powder to make matcha. High grade matcha steeps up sweet and slightly bitter with a taste of the sea. Japanese teas are distinct for three main reasons: they are machine harvested, they are often shaded before plucking (though not always), and they are steamed instead of fired.
How Do I Make Matcha?
It is not difficult to make matcha at home using the traditional utensils. In fact, it affords an opportunity to develop a ritual of your own. You do not have to be a tea master to enjoy preparing matcha.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
-Bamboo tea scoop
-Bamboo tea whisk
-Ceremonial grade matcha
- Heat the tea bowl with a small amount of hot water, the same way you would warm a teapot.
- Using a bamboo scoop, measure two heaping scoops (0.75 grams) into your tea bowl. (NOTE: It is important to sift the matcha through a strainer to remove any clumps.)
- Heat your water to a rolling boil and add a small amount of cold water to bring the temperature down to 175 – 185 degrees.
- Measure approximately ¼ cup of water and pour it into the bowl.
- Whisk the matcha vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Small bubbles will start to appear on the top of the liquid. TIP: The whisking action comes from the wrist; your arm should not move at all. Make “M” or “W” shapes with the whisk, careful not to let it touch the bottom of the bowl. This will fully aerate the tea as it dissolves.
If you’d like to delve deeper into this topic, there are many wonderful resources to tap into. The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo is a good place to start. The Tea Ceremony by Sendo Tanaka is also an extremely detailed and beautiful book that talks at length about the history and evolution of the Japanese tea ceremony. It includes many photos that bring the tea room and the tea ceremony to life.
“Yet what is truly amazing is that nothing special or extraordinary takes place. The host and guests simply engage in the act of making and drinking tea. But it is this act that is important, for in the smallness of the tea room, the whole universe – heaven, earth, and life itself – can be evoked.”
***Tune in on Friday, June 20th at Noon for our Matcha Livestream! We will demonstrate how easy it is to make matcha at home using the traditional utensils.
More than 20 years ago, I phoned a gentleman who had worked in his family-owned tea business (founded in 1889) his whole life and told him I was thinking of starting a tea company. I had never even met this man.
He spent the next 90 minutes on the phone with me talking about tea and the tea business.
This was the first of a succession of incredibly knowledgeable, kind, and gracious tea mentors. Mentors is probably too strong a word: just people who knew a lot, got excited about, and loved to share their passion about tea .
Oh, btw, Hot, Loose, Cheap, and Easy is NOT a reference to this gentleman. It is the name of a workshop we are teaching later this month on serving loose tea in a coffee-house.
Since then I’ve felt a karmic duty to share my love and knowledge about tea. Folks in the Minnesota/Twin Cities know we do LOTS of workshops and tea tastings at our three retail locations, on all sorts of topics.
But, you might not know we do TONS of tea education elsewhere.
Later this month I will be teaching three classes at the World Tea Expo in Long Beach, CA. This is the world’s largest trade show for the specialty tea business. It’s not open to the public. It’s for folks in specialty tea or intending to get into this business.
I will be teaching the following classes:
Tuesday, May 27 - What Should I Charge?
This addresses the question of how to establish a retail pricing structure that ensures your business is fair, competitive, and sustainable over the long haul.
Thursday, May 29 - How to Source & Select Teas
A primer for people who need help finding teas, and equally important, bringing them back to their hometown/business, and ultimately choosing the right selection for their particular business.
Friday & Saturday May 30 & 31 - Tea Processing: An Experiential Lab
(I will be co-teaching this class with Donna Fellman of the World Tea Academy, one of the best tea educators I’ve ever met).
If you’ve never been to a tea garden before, we’ll bring the tea garden to you. We’re flying in freshly plucked tea leaves and then in a 2 day hands-on workshop we’ll teach you how to make black, oolong, yellow, green, and white teas. Read more about this class here.
If you’re in Long Beach for the World Tea Expo, please stop by the TeaSource booth (#950), say hi, and have some tea.
But wait, that’s not all. Timothy Otte, our wholesale manager, will be doing a workshop at Coffee Fest in St. Louis.
Friday, May 30th – Hot, Loose, Cheap and Easy: The Mechanics of Selling & Serving Great Tea
You don’t need to be a tea expert to have a high quality and high profit tea program. This program will teach you the practical steps you need to take to implement a high quality and high profit tea program in any coffeehouse or restaurant. We will answer questions like: what are the most popular teas, how do I do tea without buying more equipment, how should my counter staff make tea, how should I market tea?
Coffee Fest is one of the leading trade shows for the specialty coffee and gourmet tea industries since 1992. Visit TeaSource at booth #326.
We still have a number of classes through May and June in our retail stores; see our website for more details. During July and August we will be developing the curriculum for our fall schedule of classes/workshops. If you have any suggestions for classes, tastings, or workshops you have never see at TeaSource, please let us know in the comments.
Don’t forget: We’re giving away some free tea! While you follow along on Beyond the Leaf, be sure to read about Bill’s India trip. Leave a comment on any (or all) the posts titled “Travels in Tea: India” and you will be eligible to win a selection of five of our best Indian teas (2oz package each), including some tea from Bill’s trip!
(Each commenter, from every post about Bill’s India trip will be entered into a drawing until April 30th, 2014. You can enter multiple times by posting comments on different “Travels in Tea: India” posts. Winners will be announced on May 1st, 2014.)
“I’ve never heard of that kind of tea before.” Bill Waddington
It’s not very often that I say those words. But it happened while I was in India last month. Almost every tea place I stopped in – street stalls, tea broker’s offices, tea gardens – I would be asked if I wanted tea. Of course I would say “yes.” I would be asked if I wanted “black tea” or “milk tea.”
And this gave me pause.
At first I thought they just meant a black tea served with milk on the side. But it became clear this was not what they meant. “Milk Tea” was a completely different/unique concoction: not black tea, not tea with milk, not “Royal Milk Tea,” not boba or bubble tea, not chai tea (or masala chai). I already knew all of those. Milk tea is its own thing.
So of course I asked for it. Then asked for it at the next place, and the next place … It’s reaalllly good. It is strong, sweet, smooth, milky (duh), and the method of preparation totally took me by surprise. In the interest of full disclosure my wife did not like it, but EVERYONE at TeaSource did.
This is one of the things I most love about tea: almost every culture in the world drinks tea-and almost all of them do something different with it. Tea snobs be damned.
In Kolkata I ended up staying in a very cheap, barebones, locals-only hotel, in a neighborhood where I was the only westerner for miles; because it was the closest hotel to the convention center, only 3 km away. I could walk to the convention. All other hotels (re: higher rated and more expensive) were all 6-10 km away from the convention center.
The moral here is never trust the pictures you see on internet travel sites. I certainly got a chance to see “authentic” Kolkata, not just the touristy parts, although I saw some of that too.
The most annoying thing about clichés is that they are often true.
Kolkata, a teaming mass of humanity …
Lots of people, noisy crowded streets, mullahs chanting, music constantly being played over public loudspeakers, public ablutions, the poorest poor-the richest rich, friendly/helpful people-lots of stares ‘what’s he doing here.’
Smells: spices-people-industry-motor fumes-trash and litter.
Hot-dusty-dry, mosquitoes, livestock all over the roads (not just cows), dirt roads, CRAZY drivers, push carts, stalls with all manner of goods, lively, thriving, throbbing, pulsing … Kolkata – City of Joy.
For the record, this was not the roughest hotel room I have ever stayed in – that would have been in Guthrie Center, Iowa.
Fruit and vegetable stands were all over India, this was a larger one. These are in lieu of what we call traditional grocery stores-the product looked great and was very fresh-think of our farmer’s markets.
It took a long time, but I finally found some tea in Kolkata. I hadn’t even seen a chaiwallah. The Cha Bar was located inside Oxford Books, the best book store in Kolkata, of course in the touristy section of town.
It actually was a pretty neat layout. A pretty good selection of 50 or 60 teas.
And they offered food, not a full blown restaurant, but sort of like a café or diner.
I was going to order some Indian food, but then I noticed this which unfortunately really reminded me of something back in the States.
This, along with a pretty good Assam black tea from the Khobong Tea Garden (of course with the assumption that sugar will be used), actually wasn’t bad.
Later on I did run across a real McDonalds, but they don’t serve hamburgers (this is India after all; cows are wandering around the streets-not residing between two pieces of bread). Why are the most ubiquitous American exports those things that we are kind of embarrassed about?
Kolkata is very cool, a little unsettling, and definitely can make you feel like a stranger in a strange land.
Up next, the hills of Darjeeling.
With the return of Bill from his India trip, TeaSource is taking the month of April to shine a light on this tea producing country. We will have a number of special events, discounts, and education revolving around the Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri tea growing regions.
Visit our store or shop online and take advantage of a 20% off discount on a variety of featured Indian teas.
Keep your eyes on Beyond the Leaf for Bill’s musings about his trip to India. He traveled through the streets of Kolkata, to the mountains of Darjeeling, and to the wide fertile plains of Assam. See photos from tea estates, learn more about India’s tea culture, and hear about Bill’s personal experiences while traveling.
While you follow along on Beyond the Leaf, leave a comment. All commenters will be entered into a drawing for some free tea! More details here …
Travel in Tea: India workshop
Have the unique experience of hearing about Bill’s trip first hand, while tasting Indian teas. Attend a special workshop to hear more about meeting tea growers and brokers, staying at tea gardens, and tasting some wonderful early first flush Indian teas. Outside of the Twin Cities? We will be broadcasting the workshop on Livestream on Wednesday, May 7th. Learn more here…
What is Milk Tea?
Bill discovered a different way to prepare tea, a technique that the Indian culture has been using for more than a hundred years. On April 17th at Noon (CST), Bill will be demonstrating how to make this popular tea beverage in a live broadcast on Livestream.
We hope you join in and discover the world of Indian teas!