Summit Brewing Company of St Paul called us to talk about a new beer they wanted to try brewing. Brewer Nick Hempfer, Star Trek nerd, wanted to try brewing an Extra Special Bitter Ale with Earl Grey tea; in honor of Jean Luc Picard (aka Patrick Stewart) always ordering “Earl Grey….. Hot !” from the replicator (ok, we have some Star Trek nerds around here also). It would be #19 in Summit’s Unchained Series and aptly named “Make It So.”
We sent them a few options of Earl Grey tea (as you know, we have a few) for their trial brews. In April, we were invited to Summit for a tour of their facilities and to taste the test batch. (Read more about the initial tastes from that hour-long tasting session at Summit’s .)
Next came the day for the final brew to be canned. We were there for that too.
And then, we celebrated with everyone! Summit hosted a Release Party for Make It So at their Beer Hall. We handed out samples of Earl Grey tea while Summit poured Make It So and Star Trek fans geeked out over the costume contest and real-sized Star Trek props (some had real lights & sounds!).
Now, Summit and TeaSource have teaming up for this month at area liquor stores. We are playing carnival games and giving away prizes in celebration of Make It So and Canned Beer Month! We hope you join us.
All of this talk about tea and beer inspired former TeaSource manager, Jess, to share her experience with homebrewing beer with tea. Before her move to Portland, Jess wrote a about using tea in her brews for Beyond the Leaf. She also sat down with Chip Walton of Chop & Brew to record an episode for his web series on .
We had a lot of fun with Summit Brewing Company and Chop and Brew and look forward to future collaborations!
Have you made your first batch of homebrewed beer yet? If not, I bet you know someone who has. Homebrews are bubbling in many kitchens these days, and brewers are going way beyond the traditional ingredients.
There’s nothing wrong with being a teetotaler, but if you are like me, you sometimes prefer a cold beer over an iced tea on a summer afternoon. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose. Tea and beer – together at last.
I started homebrewing five years ago- the same year I started working at the Highland Park TeaSource. It didn’t take long to start applying what I was learning for a living to what I was brewing in the basement.
What follows are three basic methods for applying tea to your homebrew. I’ve also added a list of my most successful experiments and a few ideas I haven’t gotten around to trying yet. The specifics may not make much sense if you’re not brewing yet, but get yourself a basic home brew kit (Northern Brewer is a great place to start) and soon you’ll be making delightfully quaffable tea-beers (and tea-ciders and tea-meads).
1) Substitute Tea for Aromatic Hops
The most subtle way to apply tea to your beer is to substitute tea for your aromatic hops. These hops are added in the last 5-10 minutes of the boil. They add a lot to the nose but are pretty subtle in the sip. Tea has an intense aroma so a little can go a long way. I typically use one ounce of tea in the last five minutes of the boil, (5 gal. batch) unless I’m making an IPA and then use 2 ounces. You can put the tea in a large infuser tea ball or in a large #4 size T-sac. I find this method works best with straight black teas. Green and white teas are quickly overwhelmed by the beer and any hops you may be using. If you’re not sure what black tea to add to your beer, these basic flavor profiles will give you a place to start.
Darjeeling– Crisp and slightly astringent. Subtle fruit notes. Great for IPAs.
Ceylon– Brisk, medium-bodied tea from Sri Lanka, good for pale ales or IPAs.
Yunnan– Medium-bodied woodsie Chinese black, awesome in Belgian beers.
Keemun– Rich and earthy Chinese black tea. Great for porters & scotch ales.
Assam– Very strong and malty Indian black tea. Perfect for stouts.
2) Put Tea in the Carboy- First or Secondary Fermentation
My favorite way to add tea to beer is to add it to the carboy after the initial fermentation has slowed down or when the beer is moved to the secondary fermenter. This method works great for both straight and flavored teas, both black and green teas, and everything in-between. Just put an ounce or so of tea per 3-5 gallons beer. I find the #4 T-sac works really well here because the t-sac weave is finer than the cloth steeping bags you buy at homebrew stores. Only fill the T-sac a third full to allow the leaves to expand and release their flavor. You can use multiple t-sacs, just staple the top closed. They will typically float on the top of the beer slowly oozing flavor. I like to keep them in for at least a week or two, then taste the beer and take the t-sacs out if the flavor is strong enough. This method will typically give your beer a smooth and strong tea flavor.
3) Add Tea as a Concentrate at Bottling
The final method I have tried when adding tea to beer is to make a concentrate of tea and add it to the bottling bucket with the priming sugar before you bottle your creation. This works especially well for flavored teas, but it can be used for straight teas too. Use an ounce of tea for 3-5 gallons of beer. Steep this ounce of tea in about 2 cups of water. Use the water temperature and steep time that is recommended on the tea package.
That’s it! If you have questions or comments- or just want to chat about home brewing with tea- I can be reached at our Eden Prairie store. firstname.lastname@example.org
Make It So!
And here’s a bit of fun – Summit Brewing’s brewer Nick Hempfer developed a new beer in their Unchained Series that will feature TeaSource’s Earl Grey White Tip! Some of us had an opportunity to try their pilot batches – you can read more about the inspiration behind this beer (Star Trek!), tasting notes, and our visit to Summit on Summit’s blog.
Finally, below is my personal list – beers I’ve brewed and beers I would like to try.
Eden Prairie manager
Tea Beers (things I made and liked)
Sour Wheat beer with Rhubarb Oolong tea- made 2011
Sour Wheat with Black Beauty Tea- made 2011
Ginger/Hibiscus Petite Saison- made 2012/2013/2014/ and 2015- Favorite!
Petite Saison with Chamomile- made 2012
First Flush Darjeeling India Pale Ale- made 2012
Dark Rose Porter- made 2012
Sweet Ginger Green Tea Shandy- made 2013
London Ale with coriander, bitter orange peel, and Earl Grey tea- made 2013
Montana Gold cinna-mead- made 2014
Cider with Blueberry Fields Black tea and chilis- Made 2013/ 2014
Cider with Rhubarb Oolong tea and Ginger- made 2013/ 2014
Chai Spice Pumpkin Porter- 2014
Irish Honey Ale with Brandy Oolong/ Roasted chestnut/ China Black Special/ and Lapsang Souchong- (four small batches) 2015
Orange blossom honey Mead with orange peel, spices, and Earl Grey tea- 2015
Scottish Ale with Ti Kwan Yin Oolong-Smoked Malt
Lapsang Souchong Smoked Stout
Roasted Chestnut Tea –Nut Brown Ale
Golden Tip Yunnan Belgian Triple
Milk Oolong Cream Ale
Blue Beauty Oolong (ginseng and licorice) Pale Ale
Mango Tango/ Raspberry Beret Black Tea Barley Wine
Candy Apple White Tea Lager
Silver Bud White Tea Kolsh/ Darjeeling Kolsh
We recently spent a week at the World Tea Expo (the WTE is the world’s largest international specialty tea exposition-for the industry, not open to the public).
At this year’s WTE I was teaching (or co-teaching) five classes/workshops.
Sharing knowledge is a fundamental value of TeaSource. It is what many older (and wiser) tea men did with me over the last 35 years, and that is a major reason TeaSource has had some success. So I try to share knowledge with others: customers and new folks coming into the industry.
At the WTE, I started by teaching a class to 70 folks wanting to get into the specialty tea business.
I had the good fortune to teach a tea tasting workshop with Rajiv Gupta on Darjeeling teas (see previous post). This workshop was especially rewarding because the class was composed of other tea professionals.
I also did two demonstrations and tastings of Indian Milk Tea: what it is and how to make it. This was great fun. Since Indian milk tea is pretty much an everyman tea in India, most of the hundreds of people attending the WTE (except the Indians) had never heard of it (we tea geeks tend to focus on the fancier teas). We had a great time doing it and it was wonderful hearing so many people go “Yum!”
Then we did a 2 day class on tea processing; where we fly in next-day-air, fresh tea leaves from Hawaii, and proceed to make black tea, 2 types of oolong tea, 2 types of green tea, and white tea. And every one of them turned out nice.
And then TeaSource was awarded the first ever “BEST TEA BUSINESS” award by vote of the attendees and the exhibitors of the World Tea Expo, ie. our industry peers.
To say I was unprepared for this would be an understatement.
I’m very humbled by this recognition. And I’m convinced that the main reason we received this award is because of our wonderful customers (both wholesale and retail), our incredible employees, our amazing suppliers (the men and women who grow and make our tea), and ultimately the men and women who have taught and inspired me over the last 35 years.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
I actually like the experience of being humbled (this probably has to do with being raised Catholic) especially when this experience results from working with someone who knows a lot more than I do, i.e. a tea master. This past week I had the chance to work with Rajiv Gupta (founder of Lochan Teas) in presenting almost four hours of workshops digging deep into that sub-category of black teas, Darjeelings.
Rajiv was born on a tea estate. He managed many of the most famous Darjeeling tea gardens for almost 20 years before opening his own tea brokerage, and his knowledge of Darjeeling and its teas is vast. And it was my privilege and great joy to teach a class with him.
We delivered a 90 minute Darjeeling tasting workshop at the World Tea Expo and then did a two-hour tasting workshop in Minnesota on the teas of India, focusing on Darjeeling. Here are some photos from the Minnesota workshop, where nearly 50 people toured our new warehouse, tasted some amazing tea, and had the chance to mingle with a true tea master.
The attendees got a behind the scenes tour of our entire warehouse facility including the break down room, blending room, and the aisles of the pick line filled with tea and merchandise.
Over the course of the evening, attendees tasted 7 different teas.
When tasting tea, you should spray the inside of your mouth in order to experience all the flavor notes and qualities of the tea. If you’re doing it right, you should hear an audible slurping sound.
The Giddapahar Spring White Peony was one of the favorites. Only 22 pounds of this tea were made, and TeaSource bought it all. (It’s going fast, so make sure to pick up a bag!)
As we guided the group through each new tea, Rajiv provided wonderful context and knowledge about the region, processing, and flavor profiles.
We ended the night with caffeine free chai samples and a shopping experience. We made our famous TeaSource Chai with Rooibos instead of Breakfast Assam, which is a fantastic option for late night chai drinking.
Take note: We are expecting three new first flush Darjeelings to arrive on our dock any day! Make sure to check the website for new arrivals.
Spring produces the highest grade and most sought after white teas; but what about a spring INDIAN white tea?
We have the first 2015 Indian white tea and it might be the best white tea I have ever had, made outside Fujian, China.
It’s a Bai Mu Dan (White Peony) style white tea from the Giddapahar Tea Estate in Darjeeling. They only made about 12 lbs. and we were lucky enough to buy it all.
The Giddapahar tea garden is the smallest garden in Darjeeling, still owned by the same family since the 1880’s, And they make amazing teas. One advantage of being small is that they can experiment, be creative, and break the rules: like making Chinese style white tea in Darjeeling. And they produce some of the most wonderful teas in all of India.
This tea is INCREDIBLY fresh (the leaves were plucked off the bush about 3 weeks ago), powerfully aromatic, sweet, floral, with a long lingering delicious aftertaste.
It will be available in the stores and on the website as of this Wednesday, April 29th.
Check out the arrival of this tea below.
TeaSource is proud to sponsor the TEA MASTERS series. TeaSource will host world renowned tea growers, tea brokers, tea tasters, and tea authorities as part of this ongoing series. We will present forums/settings/workshops where our customers and the general public will have a chance to taste teas, learn from, ask questions, and in a loose sense just hang out for a few hours with TEA MASTERS from across the globe.
DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS ONE TIME ONLY SPECIAL EVENT
Experience a tea tasting tour of Darjeeling, India! Guided by a former Darjeeling tea estate manager, Rajiv Lochan, and myself, Bill Waddington, you’ll explore the flavor differences and quality characteristics of numerous north Indian teas. You’ll learn why Darjeelings are some of the most expensive teas in the world (justifiably so). And you’ll also learn why and how these sensory differences occur.
Rajiv Lochan has worked in the Darjeeling tea industry for almost 40 years, including many years in the tea gardens. His resume includes time at: Longview, Seeyok, Phuguri, Avongrove, Jungpana, Ambootia and many other tea gardens. He has been an independent tea broker for the last 15 years.
Date: Sunday, May 10th, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
*Arrive at 6 p.m. for a tour of our new warehouse facility
Class cost: $15.00/person
TeaSource Main Office & Warehouse
2616 Cleveland Ave N
Roseville, MN 55113 (just south of the intersection of Cleveland Ave N & County Road C)
Registration: Call TeaSource to sign up: 651-788-9971
Space is limited so sign up quickly.
Recently I had the privilege of hosting three guests from the Otsuka Green Tea Co. of Shizuoka, Japan. It was a very short, very fun visit.
The best part of my job is people. Make no mistake, I love tea. I’m obsessed with the leaf. I swoon over the liquor. But the best part of what I do is the people; our customers, our suppliers our fellow tea-travelers. The people are amazing, and sometimes I have a day where it feels like I’ve been wandering around the city of Oz.
Visiting at our Roseville, MN warehouse/office, was the wife of the Chairman of Otsuka, Mrs. Hiroto Otsuka (a Japanese tea ceremony expert), and 2 other Otsuka employees, Kokei Sugihara, export manager and Haruyuki Nagata, sales manager.
This visit was a chance to build a growing relationship, learn from folks who know more than I do, and party hearty with fellow tea geeks (this involved drinking a lot of tea, and four flights of Minnesota craft-brewed beers).
Otsuka Tea Co. was founded in 1869 in Shizuoka, Japan. It’s owned and run by the same family, for five generations now. I met these folks two years ago, when I was in Japan looking for tea growers. Their teas and their warmth bowled me over from the beginning.
We started off with an exchange of gifts, of course. From me to Mrs. Otsuka, a copy of The Book of Tea, Bruce Richardson’s edition with never before seen photos of early 20th century Japanese tea workers.
And I received one of the most beautiful ceramic pieces I have ever seen. A tea bowl, for use in the Japanese tea ceremony. Mrs. Otsuka apologized because it was not very traditional, but kind of modern and edgy. It has hand-made papers infused into the glaze.
Then it was time to taste teas.
And then the most amazing part of the visit, Mrs. Otsuka serving tea –Japanese tea ceremony style – to myself, and a number of TeaSource employees.
Then it was everyone else’s turn to be served tea.
Then I took our guests to visit our stores.
The whole visit was just a great time, strengthening an already healthy relationship.
Wonderful people who make amazing tea. And if you haven’t tried their teas, do yourself a favor.
We will follow up this post with another about this Otsuka visit: How to be the recipient of a tea at a Japanese tea ceremony (who knew this was a thing?). Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading. Comments are very welcome.
The tea plant is native to India, but the Indian tea industry began when thousands of tea seeds were smuggled out of China in the 1840’s. Today, India is the second largest tea producer in the world (still trailing China). There are four officially-designated “traditional” tea growing regions in India – Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgri, Kangra, and one officially-designated “non-traditional” tea growing region – Bihar.
Last spring I spent three weeks wandering around northern and eastern India, searching for great teas. This is the fun part of my job.
I had the honor of visiting one of the smallest tea gardens in India: the Doke Tea Estate in Bihar. There I was able to taste hand-made teas which were just a couple of days off the bush.
The Doke Tea Estate is one of the newest and smallest tea gardens in India. Begun 26 years ago by Rajiv Lochan (a life-long tea expert, who managed many of Darjeeling’s most famous tea estates), Doke began with just 25 acres on the banks of the Doke River in the state of Bihar. All the teas are hand-processed in very small batches, supervised by Rajiv’s daughter, Dolly Lochan, using family and local villagers to help.
TeaSource is proud to offer the hand processed Black Fusion and Green Diamond from the Doke Tea Estate in our stores and on our website. Driven by passion and a generation-spanning love of tea, this tea estate is producing some of the most unique and special teas coming out of India. We look forward to welcoming more of these teas at TeaSource!
Our homemade chai is one of my favorite beverages. Ever. Since we make two gallons of it at each store every day, it seems to be one of yours too. It’s the perfect cold weather drink — sweet and spicy with a thick creaminess. Delish. However, many customers can’t have dairy — therefore, no TeaSource Chai (so sad). Recently we received an email requesting a non-dairy chai solution. So I’ve come up with some possible solutions for those chai-deprived souls.
It would be great if it was as easy as using your favorite non-dairy milk, but the consistency of the milk is so important. First of all, it gives the final cup a creamy thickness. Secondly, it helps evenly disperse the spices. We can’t mix the spices straight into milk because they would sink to the bottom. So, I needed to thicken some non-dairy milk.
Bill Waddington, owner of TeaSource (and lactose intolerant) suggested using almond milk. I made a sweetened condensed milk (see recipe below) by adding sugar and reducing it on the stove. After it cooled, I added a tablespoon of spices and stored it in the fridge overnight.
Another popular non-dairy substitution for sweetened condensed milk is Cream of Coconut, which is usually used in alcoholic drinks like Pina Coladas; it’s naturally very thick and sweet. I added a tablespoon of spice mix to 1 cup of cream of coconut and refrigerated it overnight.
You can also use coconut milk. It’s already pretty thick, so I sweetened it up with ¼ cup of honey and reduced it to 1 cup. Then, I added 1 tablespoon of chai spice followed by a night in the refrigerator.
The next morning, I took my mason jars of chai goop into our St. Anthony store and steeped up some Breakfast Assam as the base for my chai experiments.
Let me pause for just a minute and say this: none of these non-dairy solutions will have the same taste and feel as the original dairy TeaSource Chai. It can’t be the same because we can’t use the same ingredients. So, from here on, let’s try not to compare it to the original.
1) Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (made with honey) – I had the most hope for this since it was a naturally thicker milk while still tasting and looking creamy. The reduced milk also had the closest consistency to the dairy sweetened condensed milk. It was creamy and sweet, but the least spicy of them all.
2) Sweetened Condensed Almond Milk (made with sugar) – This one was the first one I tried, and at first it felt thin. But after sampling it and the others multiple times, it grew on me. It was the spiciest and the creamiest of the three.
3) Cream of Coconut – I was so nervous about this one because of the strong coconut smell. However, I was really surprised with how well it cupped. It was creamy and spicy. This one had the closest mouthfeel to the original chai (oops, we’re trying not to compare to the original). Of the three, this one was the sweetest with a fun tropical hint that didn’t annoy me.
In the end, my favorite of these non-dairy chai mixes was the almond milk. Now this is only my opinion and I recognize that we all have different preferences and tastes — I tend to prefer less sweet and more savory things. However, if I wanted to go with the easiest solution (because let’s face it…I am a working mom of young children and have little time) I would make the cream of coconut and save myself from standing over a stove for 45 minutes constantly stirring milk while it reduced.
I would be curious to hear about what you think of these suggestions. Have you tried any other techniques for adding some sort of non-dairy milk or cream to your tea? What’s your favorite way to make Chai? Tell us in the comments below!
**Something else to note: Because of space and health code restrictions, TeaSource is unable to offer these non-dairy options in our stores. Bummer, I know.
TeaSource “Tech Guru”
Non-Dairy Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 3 cups non-dairy milk of your choice
- ½ cup of sugar (or try your favorite sweetener)
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
Mix in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook (don’t forget to stir the pot occasionally!) until the milk has reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat and let cool.
To make Chai “Goop”: Add 1 tablespoon of TeaSource Chai Spice Mix to 1 cup of non-dairy sweetened condensed milk. Refrigerate overnight (or 8 hours). Add “goop” (to taste) to a cup of strong black tea – we suggest Breakfast Assam. Cheers!
As everyone tends to do this time of year, we are reflecting back on the past twelve months. We have seen many teas come and go, but these teas, were voted your favorites of 2014. We can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring!
Breakfast Assam – This is a great everyday Assam, very hearty and malty, but with a nice clean taste. This tea is our first choice for using as a base tea for Chai.
Roasted Chestnut -This is a deep, dark, rich black tea blend with a delicious aroma. It has a roasty nut flavor with a little sweet silkiness. This is a perfect cooler weather black tea blend. Contains: China black tea, roasted mate, Houjicha, flavor, and sliced almonds.
Dark Rose – This dark tea from Hunan province of China, is medium to full-bodied, very smooth, with a delicious dusty rose flavor and aroma. Contains dark tea and rose petals.
Blue Beauty Oolong – This greener oolong from the Fujian province is a regional specialty tea rarely seen outside of China. It brews up very aromatic, sweet, floral, and slightly spicy with a pronounced silky texture. The leaf is sprinkled with ginseng and licorice root, and then folded many times so you will get many steepings from the same leaf.
Gyokuro – Japan’s finest green tea. Also known as “Precious Dew.” This Japanese tea produces an incredibly luminescent tea with a very intense, complex aroma and taste, with traces of sweetness, a slight bitterness, and the taste of the sea.
Green Tea with Mango – Sweet, smooth, and summery. Those are your first impressions when you sip this sencha based green tea. The aroma of fresh mangos rises from the steeped cup, and the tea itself is smooth, sweet, and silky and brings to mind tropical breezes on desert islands. This tea is wonderful when made hot, and incredible when made iced.
Machu Peach-u – This white tea from China has a prominent peach aroma and a flavor that is very smooth, very very peachy, with lots of body for a white tea. If you’re looking for a white tea that is a little silky, a little sweet, and has a little something extra — this is the tea.
Thanks for a great year!