So often I get comments from folks saying that they are scared to try various teas. Or scared of tea altogether…it’s too complicated…it can turn out bitter…it can get oversteeped or have no taste at all… and so on. But don’t let tea scare you! It’s really quite simple. No need for witches’ cauldrons, strange ingredients like bats’ wings, and sorcerers’ apprentices making your brooms and buckets (or your teapots and cups) dance all by themselves. You just need to know a few conjurers’ (that is, steepers’) secrets.

A magic brew! (composite image by A.C. Cargill)

A magic brew! (composite image by A.C. Cargill)

Conjurers’ Secret #1

Make sure your water is free of ghosts and goblins and things that go “bump!” in the night. The better the water, the better start to that pot of tea. And the less likely you will be of getting frightened to the point of having your hair turn white (unless it already is white, in which case you will be shocked into it turning some other odd color such as fuchsia or even mauve). I use bottled spring water to be sure it is free of chlorine and chloramine, but you could use a filter on your kitchen faucet to reduce excess minerals in the water.

Conjurers’ Secret #2

Use a proper cauldron……uh, tea kettle. It needn’t be large enough for Hansel and Gretel to fit in though – just enough to hold the amount of water you’ll need to heat for your tea. They have quite a size range, so just select the one closest to the amount of tea you usually make at any one time. My tea kettle holds about 48 ounces (6 cups) of water, but others are larger or smaller. And no need to start up a roaring wood fire in a forest clearing in the dead of night. There are stovetop kettles and electric kettles so you can heat water for that cuppa any time you feel the urge.

Conjurers’ Secret #3

Employ a proper teapot for steeping that tea. Which is proper will depend largely on the tea you are steeping.

  • Black tea – A ceramic teapot, a Brown Betty (earthenware teapot), a glass teapot, or even a silver teapot.
  • Green tea – Lots of options from a glass (yes, a glass!) to a gaiwan to a Yixing teapot to even a porcelain or ceramic teapot.
  • White tea – same as for green tea.
  • Oolong – gaiwan, Yixing teapot, ceramic/porcelain teapot, even a glass.
  • Pu-erh – gaiwan, Yixing teapot.

Conjurers’ Secret #4

Let the tea dance with the water. You needn’t play any music, though. The dance of the tea seems to go with it’s own music, and it’s not “Night on Bald Mountain,” “Thriller,” the theme from “Ghostbusters,” or even “Monster Mash.” The leaves will float and sink and rise back up. They will become bloated as the cells refill with water that was evaporated out of them during processing. But unlike corpses in a swamp, these leaves become quite lovely as they swell up in that water.

Conjurers’ Secret #5

Watch out for the time. Remember that just as Cinderella’s dress turned back into rags, the coach turned back into a pumpkin, and the horses, coachman, and footmen turned back into little critters when that clock finished striking the hour of midnight, so will your tea turn into something rather unpleasant or even downright monstrous…like those gremlins getting water splashed on them or Swamp Thing becoming a deformed (but still gentle hearted) creature saving Adrienne Barbeau from disaster…if you oversteep. How long you can let your tea steep will be a matter of your own personal taste as well as a matter of the tea you are steeping. Black tea usually goes 3 to 5 minutes while you chant “Don’t be bitter. Don’t be bitter.” (Works every time.) Green teas are generally steeped only 1 to 3 minutes. Don’t forget to chant. However, some pu-erhs can be steeped as short as 30 seconds and as long as 10 minutes and you usually don’t need to chant to avoid bitterness, especially if it’s a pu-erh that has been aged at least 10 years.

Bonus: Your Special Spell for a Perfect Tea Time

Round about the cauldron go;
In the lovely tea leaves throw.
Leaves that on a mount’n did grow
Slept in winter under snow.
Pluck’d and processed while it’s hot
Ready now to steep in pot.
Toss in whole the black Typhoo
Box and all into the brew;
Add in pouch of some Earl Grey
Steep up quick ’fore light of day!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Drink it when the time is right
Drink to make a perfect night!

(My thanks to Shakespeare for the inspiration.)

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Formosa oolong (ETS Image)

Formosa oolong (ETS Image)

There are a few significant tea producing countries or regions that have changed their name since tea began to be a significant industry there. Probably the most notable example is Sri Lanka. It used to be known as Ceylon, and to this day the tea produced there is known by the same name. And then there’s Taiwan.

Formerly known as Formosa, Taiwan is an island nation located directly to the east of mainland China. Unlike the situation in Sri Lanka, Taiwanese tea such as this one is no longer sold under the name Formosa. Much of the tea that’s produced in Taiwan today is one of a number of highly regarded varieties of oolong.

Writing about tea in the early twentieth century, in an article called The Tea Industry of Formosa, journalist Herbert Compton that there were “highly bright prospects” for the future of this industry. He also noted that Formosa, as it was still called, was “a most delightful realm for human habitation.”

Compton recounts that according to some tales wild tea plants were thought to be native to Formosa but suggests that it was more likely that the plant was brought there from neighboring China. Tea historians Victor Mair and Erling Hoh don’t go into the specifics of exactly when and how tea got to Taiwan but apparently there are records of it being grown there as early as 1701.

By 1861, according to a British government report, a fair amount of tea was being shipped from Formosa back to tea’s place of origin – China – but tea production was apparently still a relatively minor industry. Compton credits Englishman John Dodd with doing much to further the tea industry there in the years that followed.

In the half century from 1895 onward Formosa was a colony of Japan, and both sources agree that it was during this time that tea production really began to take off. Which is probably not surprising, given Japan’s long relationship with tea. Of course, Japan is best known for producing green tea and, while it would be interesting to determine how their colony became a hotbed for oolong tea, that’s a question that will have to wait for another day.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Perfect? For me, but maybe not for you. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Perfect? For me, but maybe not for you. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Hundreds and maybe even thousands of articles are written on how to steep tea. Plus a ton of videos. Even so, new information always seems to pop up in discussions with tea-loving friends online. A recent incident prompted me to put down some thoughts on tea steeping instructions, and I hope you will excuse any that are repeats from past articles I’ve written. It can be tough to keep track.

First Things First

People who are new to tea or who want to explore tea beyond their normal morning or afternoon cuppa need a starting point. A general guide will be a good first try with any tea. Use boiling water for black tea and infuse for 3-5 minutes, for example. Use water heated to about 180-195°F for oolongs and infuse for 2-3 minutes, for another example. But after a few times, you will naturally find yourself trying other water temperatures and infusion times. You will leave this first guidance behind.

Moving on to Your Own Preferences

Tea invigorates, and so you will find your brain stimulated to try new things with it. The more you try, the more you will experiment. You will find that oolongs are quite varied, that you can steep them anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. You will notice a difference in your black tea when you use water that is slightly below boiling (about 200°F) and infused for 2 or 3 minutes instead of the usual 5 minutes. You may find that a whole teaspoon of dry tea per cup of water is too much – or too little!

What It All Means

We all need that start, that first instruction in how to do something. Our parents held our hands as we took our first steps and soom we were running. Our teachers started us with the alphabet and soon we knew how to read whole words and sentences and paragraphs. The first flute lesson is about how to hold it properly, where to place your fingers, how to blow across (not into) the opening, and then you can begin learning to play. So it is with tea. Steeping instructions hold your hand, teach you basics, and help you prepare for the experience. Then, you can follow your own way. Life is like that, too. Gee, no wonder tea is so popular!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Teamakers are becoming rather common these days, and there are some models that are quite elaborate, automating nearly every step of the teamaking process and then taking the dog for a walk when they’re finished. I’ve used a number of these gizmos over the years, and they’re quite fine, but I always seem to find myself drifting back to less elaborate methods of preparing tea.

But while I can see the sense of using one of these gadgets, I don’t have any desire to build my own. Apparently, there are those who do harbor such a desire, and presumably it all has to do with the rise of the so-called maker culture in recent years.

So if making your own teamaker is the kind of thing that might grab you, march forth to the Instructables site to check out this article. It promises to show you how to make something called the ATTiny Tea Maker, which shouldn’t cost you more than twenty dollars before it’s all said and done.

One starts by creating the circuit that will serve as the brains of the thing, then going on to building the framework, assembling and finishing it all. It seems like a lot of a work to build a very basic teamaker, but as someone who used to pore over Heathkit’s extensive catalogs of DIY electronics projects I guess I can relate, to some extent.

For an even more basic variation on this same theme take a look at this Instructables article about the Little Tea robotic tea brewer. It’s nothing fancy and as you can see from the accompanying photos its made with cardboard and a popsicle stick, among other things. But it you’re clever and ambitious enough to make this plain Jane model, I suspect that you can probably come up with a way to make it a bit more stylish. As for the mechanics of the thing, it appears that its primary objective is to remove the teabag from the cup at the appointed time. Not terribly elaborate, but there it is.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea is the essence of coziness. Cozy isn’t difficult. Tea isn’t difficult. But there are still folks who need some assistance in achieving the state of existence where both are appropriately combined. To that end, I present you with five ways to get cozy with tea.

Golden tea by candlelight by Bannacha on Facebook

Golden tea by candlelight by Bannacha on Facebook

1 The Right Tea

Believe it or not, different teas have different feels in your mouth when you sip them. Some describe it as “buttery,” “creamy,” or “full.” It can also be described as “cozy.” A number of oolong teas have this (let them slightly cool before sipping to get the full effect). Teas from the Dancong area of China, especially those from the Phoenix Mountains, have this quality. Nilgiri black teas are said to have this type of feel to them, also, as long as you remember to steep them lightly to avoid any bitterness. If you like your tea with milk (aka “British style”), then you can’t go wrong with a nice Assam black tea. Just be sure that the tea you choose will warm you all the way through – the essence of coziness.

2 Glass Teawares

Part of the enjoyment of tea is the color of the liquid. It can vary from almost clear to almost as dark as a cup of coffee. Glass teawares like the sipping cup shown above that I saw posted on Facebook can give you a lovely view of that color. Glass teapots can show you those leaves in their “agony” (or as I like to call it, “their dance of joy”) as they spin and twirl and soak up the water around them. Some teas, especially oolongs, can enlarge to many times their dry size.

Nothing like a candle glow to convey coziness. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Nothing like a candle glow to convey coziness. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

3 Candlelight’s Glow

I love candlelight, as I’ve mentioned in a number of previous articles on this blog. The softness, the flickering, the warm yellowish tint – they all create a cozy atmosphere. Colors seem softer, a bit muted, and less brash. Corners of the room in their darkness are mysterious yet enveloping like a warm wool blanket. A cozy atmosphere for tea! (Of course, fireplaces are good for this, too, but not everyone has one.)

4 Comfortable Seating

We can highly recommend a reclining loveseat for the ultimate in cozy and comfortable seating for two. Even if you are having tea all by yourself, the extra space will be great to fill with additional pillows, a warm throw or two, and maybe a stuffed bear. If you don’t have such a loveseat, no problem. Overstuffed armchairs are good, too. Even one of those huge sectional sofas that can seat a throng of relatives during the holidays (or your friends for watching that big football game) can be comfortable and cozy on a chilly evening when it’s just you, the cat, and a good book with that cup of tea.

5 A Peaceful Setting

Plump pillows, a good book, a box of tissues in case the book is a tear-jerker, a cookie, and a good cuppa tea help achieve coziness. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Plump pillows, a good book, a box of tissues in case the book is a tear-jerker, a cookie, and a good cuppa tea help achieve coziness. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

You have the perfect cuppa tea. You selected the perfect book. The candles are lit and casting their magical light. You’re seated comfortably with plenty of pillows and that warm throw tucked around your legs. Time for the final ingredient: mood setting music playing softly and creating that peaceful setting so important to enjoying it all.

May you have many cozy tea times ahead!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Black tea in the cup (ETS image)

Black tea in the cup (ETS image)

If you’re looking for old books about tea there are plenty of them just a click away, thanks to the ongoing efforts to digitize what seems like every piece of printed material ever published. I’ve written about many of these over the years and keep waiting for the supply to run dry, but it hasn’t yet.

The latest one I’d like to discuss is a volume with the rather concise title, A Cup of Tea: Containing a History of the Tea Plant from Its Discovery to the Present Time, Including Its Botanical Characteristics … and Embracing Mr. William Saunders’ Pamphlet on Tea-culture–a Probable American Industry. That’s actually the condensed version, by the way, and you get bonus points for saying it three times fast.

The book was published in 1884 and its co-writer, Joseph M. Walsh, also penned a few other books on tea. They are Tea, Its History and Mystery and Tea-blending as a Fine Art, and he also wrote a book on coffee. The book starts, as so many tea books do, with a history of tea, noting how it started in China and spread to other parts of Asia and elsewhere and discussing how it eventually made its way to Europe and the United States.

Next up is a chapter on tea’s botanical characteristics and another on cultivation and preparation. The chapter on Chemical, Medicinal and Dietical Properties discusses the theine in tea, which is another word for caffeine and not to be confused with theanine, a compound that was discovered later. As for its medicinal properties, the author is mostly bullish on these, unlike some commentators of yesteryear who were not always convinced that tea was such a good thing.

The rest of the book is given over to chapters on classification, adulteration and blending. Walsh, an American, close things with a chapter called Tea-Culture, A Probable American Industry. As the name suggests, the chapter focuses on the ins and outs of setting up a tea industry here in the United States. Which, alas, was not really something that came to pass. Tea was already being grown in the US at the time and still is even to this day, but has always been more of a curiosity than a significant industry.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is the teapot tree real? Or is it a myth, a legend, a figment of some moonshiner’s imagination? Time to go on the hunt and find out.

Years ago the most beautiful and youthful Elizabeth Taylor starred opposite the very youthful Montgomery Clift in a movie called Raintree County. It’s a Civil War era romance/tragedy, but the movie title is the key here. What is a “raintree”? And what does it have to do with the teapot tree? First, the raintree was supposedly planted somewhere in Raintree County by John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) and was still out there in the swampy areas growing taller and taller. The teapot tree is said to be where all teapots originate, crop after crop being generated each year.

I know what you’re thinking: “Aw, c’mon, teapots don’t grow on trees. People make them using different types of clay or other materials such as glass, silver, and brass.” I am well aware that those are the common tales told about teapots. But their veracity is a bit up in the air. In fact, it’s up in a teapot tree!

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that teapots come in different sizes, from teeny weeny to super large. They also have all kinds of shapes and colors. This just proves my point. Apples also come in lots of sizes and shapes and colors. Apples grow on trees. Ergo, teapots come from trees. Right? Well, try this…

Once upon a time there was a guy named Johnny Teapottreeseed (no relation to Johnny Appleseed – any similarity is purely coincidental). The location of his birth is a mystery, but some say it was in eastern Canada and others say as far away as New Guinea. He certainly predates our War of Independence against the British Empire and is said to be the founder of the many potteries along Stoke-on-Trent in England. At some point he decided to come to the U.S. and head westward from Philadelphia. He planted seeds for teapot trees in a little town called New Stanton, just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they continue to bear fruit…uh, teapots to this day. He then traveled on west into Ohio and Indiana, finally working his way to the Midwest and somewhere along the way he planted his most special tree – the one that has become that legendary teapot tree!

The location of the tree is pretty secret, but I had a friend who has a friend who went to his high school prom with a girl who heard a rumor that an old woman living on the corner of her street had heard someone talking about having actually SEEN the teapot tree, so I took a chance and went to the old woman’s house but she didn’t live there anymore but the family that did said she had left them a map she’d made based on that conversation she’d overheard and I followed it and found the tree and was able to snap this photo:

Teapots ready for harvest from the teapot tree. (image by A.C. Cargill – no teapots were harmed in the making of this composite)

Teapots ready for harvest from the teapot tree. (image by A.C. Cargill – no teapots were harmed in the making of this composite)

Proof positive that there is a teapot tree still growing after all these years. We owe a lot to Johnny Teapottreeseed!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This sweet tangy treat will look like you paid a pretty penny, instead it was thrown together in not time at all. There is a special ingredient in this called Manuka honey. This honey is harvested from the bees that feast on the tea tree plant. With a spot of tea as well making it tea-rific. Though, it is not necessary to use Manuka honey, it is quite delightful as most things regarding tea usually are.

Tea Lemon Raspberry Tart (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

Tea Lemon Raspberry Tart (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

1 cup water heated to 212°F
1 tbsp quality black tea
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup white chocolate pieces
1/3 cup cold butter

Steep the tea for 5 minutes. Remove ¾ cup to reserve for later. Place ice cubes in the remaining tea. In a food processor place flour, baking powder, white chocolate and cold butter cut into small cubes. Pulse together until the texture is mealy. Continue pulsing while streaming in 1-2 tbsp of the iced tea. Only pour in enough liquid just until the dough pulls together in to what resembles a crumble and is slightly moist but not sticky. Place dough into a parchment lined 12 inch tart pan. Press the dough down to compact it, creating a shell. Try to disperse it evenly over the pan as well as up the sides. Place in the freezer for a few minutes until ready to bake.

12 oz frozen raspberries
3 tbsp corn starch
½ cup Manuka honey (sub: a mild flavored honey)
¾ cup reserved black tea

In a small sauce pan bring all the ingredients to a simmer then reduce heat and let cook for about 8-10 minutes or until it resembles raspberry jam. In a blender or with a hand mixer, make sure all the berries are pulverized. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer to remove seeds. Take once cup of the cooled berry mixture and spread it evenly over the uncooked tart shell. Place in a 425° oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

10 oz lemon curd
¼ cup Manuka honey
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp lemon zest
2-8oz packages cream cheese room temperature
1-8oz package mascarpone cheese room temperature
6 oz fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar for dusting
2 cups cool whip topping (for recipe bonus)

Combine lemon curd, honey, sugar, zest cream cheese and mascarpone cheese with a hand or stand mixer until combined. Place enough of the lemon cheese mixture into the cooled tart shell to fill it completely. Using a bag with a small hole cut into one corner stream more of the berry mixture in circles around the circumference of the tart. Repeat spacing the circles 1-2 inches apart until you reach the center. Using a knife pull from the center outward evenly around the tart then in the middle of each of those lines pull a knife inward from the outer edge of the tart to the center. This will create a wonderful design. Place fresh berries around the edge and dust with powdered sugar.

Baking bonus: Take remaining berry and lemon cheese mixture then combine it with the 2 cups of cool whip. This makes a wonderful raspberry lemon mousse. Place in clear glasses, dust with powdered sugar and top with a raspberry.

See more of Janet Sanchez’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You see tea blends all over the place (for purposes of this article, I will include those “blends” that include non-tea substances). There are ones with marigold petals and ones with peppermint. There are some with dried pieces of apples and berries. Some have spices added such as cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom. There are also blends that are all tea, mixing the right balance of a rich black tea from Sri Lanka with a milder black tea from Kenya or Nilgiri. But it’s pretty easy to create some of your own custom blends (believe it or not, in spite of the wide array of choices, you may not find a blend that suits you – sort of like shopping for shoes, neckties, hats, etc.).

All set to blend! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

All set to blend! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

1 Select Your Base Carefully

Your base will be a single tea, a blend of teas, or even herbals such as Rooibos and chamomile. And just like when you want to select the main color of your palette before painting a room, you want to select the basic tone of your blend. A green tea sets a different tone (often grassy, a bit bitter, and possibly flowery or nutty) than a black tea does (richer, astringent, malty, raisiny, etc.), and herbals are a whole different experience.

2 Select the Proper Flavors to Blend

This applies even if you are blending several teas together and not including any non-tea items. Blend the right teas together. Or blend in the proper flavorings. Part of being “proper” means being top quality. Part means being good flavor pairings. You can blend a milder flavored black tea with a stronger flavored one, a green tea having a more grassy taste with one that is more nutty, and some even say you can blend together different styles of tea (green with black or oolong).

3 Give Them Some Time

I find it’s good to let the blend sit a day or two. You might even want to shake the container once or twice during that time to make sure the flavorings affect things evenly. Of course, you can also do some ad hoc blending. We do this at home all the time. We’ll cut open some bags of Typhoo, for example, and dump the contents in a small bowl and then add a teaspoon of another tea, stirring them together and them pouring into the teapot. We find that English Breakfast Blend No. 1 is a great flavor enhancer, adding its bold bright taste to the Typhoo.

Some Blend Suggestions

  • Black tea with any of these: true cinnamon from Sri Lanka, cardamom seeds (crack their shell open slightly), freshly crushed black peppercorns, vanilla (slice the bean pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the blend), cocoa (or even cacao), rose petals, dried berries.
  • Green tea (other than matcha) with any of these: citrus in either dried peel form or zest (grated fresh peel), lemongrass (gives that citrusy quality in a milder form and imparts a full mouthfeel – very pleasant), mint (preferably in the form of fresh leaves that you slightly crush), ginger (preferably in the form of fresh gratings off of ginger root), fennel seeds and licorice (don’t overdo unless you are a real ouzo fan), and jasmine petals (this is one item, though, that is better in the versions you buy ready made since the process of scenting the tea with the jasmine imparts a floral flavor that is more infused into the tea leaves than when you just throw some in with them at home).
  • Rooibos, an herbal, is good with any of these: cocoa (a personal favorite pairing), ginger root, peppermint (in oil form), coconut (shredded), saffron, and rose petals.
  • Tea Blend with Orange and Cinnamon: start with a top quality black Ceylon tea (about 4 ounces), add some diced orange peel (well dried) to suit your taste, and add in a half ounce of ground cinnamon, mix together, put into a storage jar, and let sit a day or two. Steep as you would any black tea.
  • Blend with Rose Hips and Lemon: put some crushed dried rosehips (that bulbous shape that forms after the bloom has died and the petals have all dropped – if you have roses at home, you can gather these after the bushes have finished blooming, or else you can get them at a store selling fresh herbs) and some dried lemon peel into a container, shake a bit to blend, and let it sit for a day or two. Infuse in boiling water for about 8 minutes. Full of vitamin C. You could have some as a nice non-alcoholic hot toddy.
  • Classic Masala Chai (Spiced Tea) Blend: the idea here is to start with a strong black tea (typically a lower quality tea in CTC form) so it will still taste like tea with the spices and milk added in, then add in various spices (typically cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cumin seeds, allspice, and nutmeg – each is best if you use the whole ones slightly crushed). Let the mix sit in its container a day or two, shaking it once or twice. Steep in boiling water in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, then add milk to the pan and let it simmer, strain into cups.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I have to admit that I was only vaguely aware of the Seychelles until recently and really only due to its reputation as a vacation destination. For those who also might not be that familiar with it, the Seychelles is a nation off the east coast of Africa that is made up of more than 100 islands. It’s a balmy place with photogenic beaches and, as a matter of fact, tourism is indeed the primary industry there.

The Seychelles are not really the first place you’d think of when you think of tea production, but then again you could say the same thing about the United States or England, two other unlikely places where tea is grown in relatively small quantities. Tea is indeed such a minor part of the economy there that it doesn’t even merit a mention in the country’s Wikipedia entry.

It’s actually not all that improbable that the Seychelles grow tea, given that Africa as a whole is one of the world’s top tea producing regions. Additionally, one Africa’s top tea growing countries – Kenya – is located directly to the west of the Seychelles.

While the population of the Seychelles is relatively small and tea production there is quite modest, it’s interesting to pause for a moment and note that its citizens can hold their own when it comes to tea consumption. On a per capita basis, they rank sixth among the world’s top tea drinkers, just after the United Kingdom, which is no small feat. Per capita tea consumption there averages just over four and a half pounds, which is about a pound less than they drink in the United Kingdom.

As for tea production, here’s a page from the government’s official tourism site about a tea factory located in Sans Souci, Mahé. As the description notes, “Established in 1962, this unit is responsible for growing and manufacturing tea in the Seychelles.” For more specifics, take a look at this article from the local press, which focuses on the Seychelles Trading Company and its SeyTe brand of tea, which is a mix of the locally grown product and imports from Sri Lanka. According to the article, tea growing in the Seychelles began relatively recently, in 1960.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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