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© Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Earlier this month we presented our first tea of the month for January, Buckingham Palace Garden Party. Our other tea is the China Jasmine Green tea. The description on our website is very brief: “The China Jasmine tea blend from English Tea Store is a green tea with a surprising body with the captivating character of jasmine.” The ingredients are simply green tea and jasmine petals. But like all teas, this one too has a story.

Jasmine tea is said to be the oldest aromatic tea, and is used for soothing and relaxing. Green tea is typically used as the base for the flower addition, though black and white can also be used. There is an inherent, subtle sweetness to this tea brought by the jasmine. As early as 200BC, this tea blend traveled from Persia, through India, to China, where ours is still grown today. Vietnam also produces a bit of this tea.

© Arnon Ayal | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Arnon Ayal | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The jasmine flower is best grown in the higher elevations of the mountains. The tea leaf is picked and harvested when it is ready, and stored until the jasmine flowers are ready in late summer. The jasmine is picked early in the day, when the flowers are closed. Towards nightfall, they open and release their scent. It is at this time that the tea is flavored: the tea leaves are either layered with the harvested jasmine flowers, or mixed together. Over the course of four hours, the scent of the jasmine is absorbed into the tea. This process can be repeated a few times, depending on the tea, before the blend is dried and packaged.

tolstb_grncjs-25p_china-jasmineJasmine tea is a welcoming tea, often served to guests upon arrival. We welcome 2015 with this aromatic blend.

~Your Editor

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© Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos

January brings fresh beginnings and with it, many new resolutions. There are the typical “lose ten pounds,” “make time for family” and other very worthwhile goals. But many of us choose to try new things, or master a hobby or skill. The English Tea Store brings you teas of the month, which is a featured selection offered at a discount. In January it is Buckingham Palace and China Jasmine Green teas. In the spirit of learning and trying new things, we will be exploring the monthly teas in depth here. Today we will look at the Buckingham Palace.

The Buckingham Palace Garden Party tea loose leaf blend is a delicate medium tea with a hint of Earl Grey and Jasmine. This is a lighter afternoon tea.

At least three times each summer, the Queen holds a garden party at Buckingham Palace, as well as one in Edinburgh. Queen Victoria began this tradition in 1860 with what was called “breakfast” but was actually served mid-day. Back then, she hosted two of these events a year; in the fifties the third was added. Originally a prestigious debutante rite of passage, they now include honorees recognized for service. From 4-6PM, the over-30,000 guests are invited to stroll the grounds while royalty mingles through a series of laned walking paths. Each royal family member takes a different path so guests never know whom they will run into. The beginning and end of the event is marked by the National Anthem. According to the British Monarchy website, even though the event lasts only two hours, a staggering number of sandwiches, slices of cake, and cups of tea are served by over 400 waitstaff. Over 27,000 cups of tea are served from long buffet tables.

tolsll_afnbpg_-01_buckingham-palace-garden-party-loose-leaf-teaThe tea that is served is a delicious Palace medley of five teas: Ceylon Early Grey, Jasmine, Assam, Dimbula Ceylon, and Ceylon East of Rift. The intriguing hints of high-grown pure Ceylon Earl Grey blend effortlessly with the soft jasmine from Fujian Province. Couple this with malty Assam (from the estate of Borengajuli), flavory Dimbula Ceylon (from Hatton), and golden cup East of Rift Kenya (from Kambaa and Kagwe); and you have one of the most flavorful teas to come from the British Isles. The flavours present themselves at separate times in the drinking of the tea so no two cups are ever the same.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party tea is available from ETS in either bag or loose leaf.

~Your Editor

Various Teas to Pair With Food

Tea is the new wine! Pairing tea with various foods is similar to pairing with wine. Usually people serve white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat. There is a misguided perception that the color of the wine and food determine how the two are paired together. It is all about providing a flavor adventure for the palate.

Green tea is lightly oxidized forming a perfect pair with foods such as seafood, salads, and fruit. It is ideal to go with foods customarily served with white wine including scallops and  lobster. Chinese green teas such jasmine and dragonwell have a bold flavor and aroma making them an ideal match for salads and chicken dishes.

Black tea is completely oxidized giving it its rich and full-bodied flavor. It pairs well with foods normally served with red wine including meats, curries, and pastries. Black tea is an excellent complement to chocolate candy. There are several types of black teas including  flavored black tea,  Assam, lapsang souchong and blackcurrant.

Oolong tea is a cross between black and green tea. Lightly oxidized oolong tea pairs perfectly with foods routinely served with white wine. Medium to dark oxidized oolong teas form an ideal pair with foods that are usually served with red wine such as Chinese, Thai, and grilled foods.

While tea is sometimes regaled as the new wine, there are two significant advantages to switching beverages. A person does not take the chance of intoxication and a perfect alternative for those who do not drink wine. Let us not forget there is an extensive variety of tea. Brew a cup of tea with a meal and enjoy.

© 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 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.

A classic post originally published 02.10.2009

 

Green Tea

Wouldn’t it be great to find a great tasting beverage that has the potential to improve your health? There is such a beverage – tea. Research has indicated that tea is healthier than water. This definitely a positive point since tea has more flavor. So, what are the potential health benefits?

Research has found that tea is healthier for your body than water. Surprising, since popular consensus states water is the healthiest beverage for your body. Findings have been reported that tea rehydrates the body as well as provides disease-fighting antioxidants. Tea may offer protection against stroke, heart disease, and several types of cancers.

Do you want more reasons to drink tea? Drinking tea has potential benefits such as boost the immune system as well as strengthen teeth and bones. Tea may also improve artery function by aiding in blocking LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol).

How about drinking green tea? Research has found that senior citizens in Japan who consumed one or more cups of green tea per day were less likely to present cognitive and memory problems. Green tea contains EGCG, which appears to reduce the production of a toxic protein that clogs the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

All these healthy reasons make me want to get my infuser and brew a cup of tea. Health benefits and delicious taste make this an excellent beverage of choice. If only everything that tasted good proved to be healthy for us.

© 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 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.

A classic OLS/ETS blog entry originally published 01.23.2009

Your first reaction to the article title will be, “Who says I can’t enjoy green tea in the Fall?” And to that I say, “A host of tea experts out there.” Yep, they tell you that green tea is best when fresh, especially if it’s a first flush green tea. Which is usually harvested between March and May, depending on where it’s grown. And said to have a fairly short shelf life, again according to those experts. The reality is a little different. Meaning that yes, you can enjoy green tea in the Fall!

The Myth of First Flush Being Best

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

There’s no doubt that first flush teas (the first spurt of growth on the tea plants after they awaken from Winter dormancy) are special. They have a delicate flavor not matched by later flushes. However, that doesn’t mean those later flushes (2 to 4, depending on the tea cultivar and where they are grown) aren’t enjoyable. In fact, I have often found them to be even more enjoyable – stronger flavors and often totally different profiles. And there is a wide variety of green tea, and getting wider every day due to increasing demand.

Various taste descriptions (for green teas that don’t have flowers, fruits, spices, etc., added to them) of later flushes:

  • a slightly sweet taste with a mild nutty undertone
  • a distinctive nutty/oak taste (Superior Gunpowder)
  • a light taste
  • full and round, with honey like sweetness, mild astringency and notes of orchid (White Eagle Long Life)
  • Various types of green tea taste different, much like how different brands of chocolate taste different. Some taste nutty, others taste earthy, others taste like clear grass without the bite.
  • a full flavor and a satisfying light refreshing character (Gyokuro)
  • light, smooth, with reasonable depth and body (Sencha)

The Myth of the Short Shelf Life

Green teas will often store as well as black teas. Keep them in a cool place, in an airtight container (preferably a plastic pouch, not a Ziploc bag though, so you can squeeze out excess air before resealing), and away from light (unless the pouch is made of opaque plastic). You should be able to open them, take some of the dry tea leaves out for infusing, and then reseal the package (squeezing out excess air) without any degradation of the tea quality.

Bottom Line

Go for a richer flavor, infuse the tea properly (160°F for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the type of green tea – see vendor’s instructions or consult someone), and enjoy that healthy (or so the multitude of claims go) green tea anytime, including in the Fall!

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.

In places like the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent here in the United States green tea is still something of a newcomer, although it’s gained a great deal of popularity in recent years. In Japan, the equation is flipped. While black tea and other varieties are not completely unknown there, the Japanese are best known for growing and consuming one kind of tea – and that would be green.

Japanese teas (ETS image)

Japanese teas (ETS image)

So perhaps it’s not surprising that The World Green Tea Association makes its headquarters in Japan. At their home in virtual space, which thankfully has an English version, they describe themselves, in part, as, “an organization established by the government of Shizuoka Prefecture to further the development of green tea production, culture, and understanding through the spread of green tea’s traditions and knowledge of its healthful and commercial properties.” The Shizuoka Prefecture region, as they remark, is Japan’s top producer and distributor of green tea.

One of the events the group sponsors is the World O-CHA (Tea) Festival. The spring festival was held in May 2013 and the fall festival in November and was the fifth such event. Presumably there will be more. Among the events that made up the festival were a green tea contest, a trade fair, and tea industry and culture exchange tours to various points throughout the region. Find out more about past and future events here.

While trade organizations often tend to be geared more toward members of the industry they serve, The World Green Tea Association’s web site is worth a look even if you’re a more casual observer. I made a quick skim through the site and found a variety of articles on various aspects of tea. Some are rather basic, such as cooking with tea or making desserts using tea. Others are kind of off the wall, including brief primers on using tea trees to make a fence, doing bonsai with tea trees and cooking with tea leaves that have already been used to make tea. All that and much more is located right here.

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.

Jasmine Dragon Tears Green Tea (ETS Image)

Jasmine Dragon Tears Green Tea (ETS Image)

While many of us tend to reach for the word depression any time we feel “blue” or “down,” the truth is that real depression is a serious medical issue. The National Institutes of Health describes the problem in the following terms: “Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder.”

It might be grasping a bit to suggest that drinking a few cups of green tea are enough to resolve such a significant problem, but a group of researchers have found that green tea may be of some help in alleviating the symptoms of depression. The study was carried out by Chinese researchers at Shandong University in Shandong, China, and their results were recently published in the Nutrition Journal.

Researchers referred to previous studies that found that green tea “reduced the prevalence of depressive symptoms, as well as produced antidepressant-like effects in rodents.” However, it appears that no rodents were used in this latest study. Instead the study was conducted on 74 healthy human being types over a period of five weeks. Some lucky participants in the study were given a powdered form of Chinese green tea and the unlucky ones had to make do with a placebo.

After all of this researchers came to the conclusion that “chronic green tea increased the reward learning and prevented the depressive symptoms. These results also raised the possibility that supplementary administration of green tea might reverse the development of depression.” Researchers focused more on the polyphenols in tea, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), as the compounds that provided these benefits and did not mention theanine (except in a reference to another study). However, given that the theanine in tea has been found to produce feelings of relaxation and calm in tea drinkers, it’s not totally unreasonable to assume that it can have some benefits in fighting depression.

For the Reader’s Digest version of all of this, take a look at the abstract. If you’re made of stronger stuff you can look at more detailed results from the study, here.

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.

Map of Sri Lanka.

Map of Sri Lanka.

A vendor posted on Twitter that they carried in their product line a sencha that was grown and processed in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, that raised a few eyebrows, especially among those carrying and selling sencha from Japan. Time to take a closer look.

First, what is “sencha”? Some sources say it simply means “common tea.” It’s a staple in many Japanese households, a favorite due to its tang, freshness, high uniformity of the leaves, and deep emerald hue. Once roasted as part of the preliminary processing, it is now steam treated, processed further, and finally pan-fried. So, can you get this type of tea with the same quality (or even higher) from leaves grown elsewhere? It seems so. But that’s not the only question here.

Why even bother? Apparently, there are still folks out there who are concerned with radiation in tea leaves from Japan. Whether that concern has merit or not I cannot address here, and it’s immaterial except to explain the mushrooming of Ceylon Sencha options now available. Those who are really into sencha and feel that radiation is still an issue need an alternative to the Japanese sencha. They are, in essence, creating a demand in the tea market. The producers seem to have heard them.

An online search for “Ceylon Sencha” turned up page after page of results. The typical description was:

Delicate, sencha-like green tea from Sri Lanka. Naturally sweet taste, best steeped for no more than 2 minutes at about 180 degrees F.

Reviews range from raves to revulsion. Not surprising. There are those who drink sencha as their daily cuppa green tea and accept a level of quality that may be a bit more ordinary. And then there are those for whom sencha is almost sacred, that the quality and flavor are almost more important to them than the grades their kids get in school, being promoted at work, or having their IRA actually grow in value. For them, this green tea being touted as “sencha” is high blasphemy. Thus it is with tea, no matter what type you are talking about. There are teas that get popular and then get “copied” to take advantage of that, and there are tea terms that get used in a more general way than some of us think they should be. (See my article on Silver Needles posted recently.)

Here, it seems to be the tea growers in Sri Lanka and the vendors who are both addressing a demand in the tea market, using “sencha” as the draw among green tea lovers. You, the tea drinker, will be the one to determine if they have been successful. Based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews out there, I would say they have been.

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.

The notion that tea might be of some use in fighting against Alzheimer’s disease is not a new one. I first wrote about it at this site several years ago and then touched on the subject again early last year. As I noted in that first article, the Alzheimer’s Association says there are 5.2 million people in the United States who suffer from the disease and they now expect that by 2050 that number may nearly triple.

Green Tea May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Say Four New Studies (screen capture from site)

Green Tea May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Say Four New Studies (screen capture from site)

The first article cited four studies that looked at the beneficial effects of tea on Alzheimer’s while the second investigated how green tea and red laser light might be of help in fighting the disease. And while I don’t follow the links between tea and health as much as I used to, I couldn’t help noticing a report in Forbes recently that cited several new studies that explore the link between green tea and Alzheimer’s.

A Swiss study which was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested “the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation in humans” who performed working memory tasks following the consumption of the extract. Their results “suggest that green tea extract may modulate brain activity in the DLPFC, a key area that mediates working memory processing in the human brain.”

In a study reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry British researchers at the University of Leeds examined the EGCG from green tea and reservatrol, a component that’s found in red wine. As noted in a release from the university, which spells things out in layperson’s terms, “researchers identified the process which allows harmful clumps of protein to latch on to brain cells, causing them to die” and “were able to interrupt this pathway using the purified extracts of EGCG from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.”

Another study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that’s so common in green tea helps to prevent “the accumulation of amyloid plaques that scientists believe cause the brain deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.”

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.

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

If you look at this nifty chart, you’ll see that the interest in green tea – at least as measured by Web searches – peaked in early 2005, dipped a bit over the course of the next few years and has been mostly on the rise since then. It’s also safe to say, though I don’t have the research at hand to back such a statement, that green tea is by far the most popular of the major types of tea. The article I’m about to discuss makes the same claim so there’s obviously something to it.

It’s also no secret that much, if not most, of the flurry of interest in green tea has to do with its beneficial effects on health – be they real or alleged. So it was interesting to see recently that one of our national papers of record – the New York Timestook a look at how well different types of tea stack up when it comes to the compounds that make tea healthy.

The article was based on findings by ConsumerLab.com, which you can access (for a price) here. According to the summary in that national paper of record, the study found that “green tea can vary widely from one cup to the next.” Which might be a case of restating the obvious more than just a bit, but let’s look into things a little deeper.

One of the findings of the study, which might interest newcomers to tea drinking but which shouldn’t be too surprising to old hands, is that loose leaf teas are the “most potent source of antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.” Tea bags made by “big” tea companies are said to be a more cost efficient source of said compounds although I’m among those who often find them to be a bit lacking in the flavor department.

As for the bottled teas, well, many of these are just the thing if you’re looking to meet your daily intake of sugar but when it comes to allegedly health-giving compounds they don’t always stack up quite so well. One bottled variety that was examined contained almost no EGCG, while another actually contained about one-third of the catechins promised on the label. By comparison a single serving of a high-quality Japanese green tea contained more than twice as much catechins as the latter.

Other concerns about green tea included the relatively high concentrations of lead found in the leaves, though scientists noted that the way tea is prepared and consumed this is not as much of an issue as it could be.

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, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. 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, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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