From an early age I have been an avid tea drinker. My mum even says she used to put it in my bottle instead of milk (at least I know who to blame for my addiction!) I don’t know whether it’s the comfort and relaxation that comes with a good brew or the fact that you can get a speciality tea for pretty much any problem, emotional or physical, that you may have! In the depths of winter, we drink it to warm us up. In summer, we drink iced tea to refresh and cool us down. However you like to look at it, tea really is the perfect drink.
It all began in China 1700 BC, during the Shang dynasty, as a medical drink. Today, every country in the world has their own special way of drinking their cuppas. After some extensive (and quite frankly shocking) research, I have gathered a few different tea traditions from all around the world. So, lets begin with the obvious: us Brits love our brews milky and with a nice biscuit (or six!), but believe it or not, some countries still cant get over the ‘disgusting’ fact that we use milk in our tea. Little do they know, eh?
Ever wondered why the beautiful women in Japan have such flawless and glowing skin? Well, let me put your minds at rest. The Japanese actually drink a special kind of powdered green tea called Matcha Tea. This thick, paste-like drink has 137 times the antioxidants that come in a regular cup of green tea! Matcha is grown in the shade to ensure its high levels of L-theanine, which is an amino acid proven to aid physical and psychological stress and boost focus and memory; it was even used by Samurai Warriors during battle to help them perform. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Where oh where can I locate this magical green powder?!’ Well, its actually available from many speciality tea companies. Although it’s not the most budget friendly brew, Matcha from The East India Company Matcha Tea will always be a personal favourite of mine!
How To Make Matcha Tea:
Ideally, you should drink your matcha from a bowl. But if you prefer a teacup, then why not try one of our beautiful new Price & Kensington Speciality Tea collection teacups?
1) Take your Matcha tea ladle and scoop 1½ teaspoons of the tea powder. Scoop the tea into a sifter and swirl the Matcha around so that no clumps form in your tea.
2)Pour near boiling water into your teacup. If you have a whisk, use this to foam up the tea. If not, a fork will do the job.
You may be surprised to learn that foamy Matcha tea and smooth Matcha tea have slightly different tastes! The flavours and the aromas differ a little. Just make sure to whisk for 10-15 minutes until the tea gets a vibrant green colour.
3)Then, pour the tea in your teacup and drink immediately. This is something you have to remember about Matcha tea, you always have to drink it immediately after making it. Otherwise, the Matcha tea powder will settle at the bottom of the teacup after some time.
Moving on: Tibet! I won’t pretend that I’m some super-tea-guru and know all about every type of tea there is. This one blew my mind as much as it will blow yours! Bitter butter, salt and tea all mixed up to make a steaming, bright yellow cup of Po Cha. Yes, you heard me correctly, butter…in tea! The Tibetans brew a crumbled serving of ‘brick tea’ for several hours to get the signature ‘bitter’ taste (erm yum?), its then churned with butter and salt before serving. It’s most popular in the high altitude areas in the mountains of Tibet, most likely due to the high calorie count which keeps energy levels up. Its also said that it prevents chapped lips and aids digestion. In my opinion, this tea is not for the faint hearted (probably due to the cholesterol in the butter..), but if you’re feeling adventurous, why not give it a try?
You Will Need
- 4 cups of water
- 2 black teabags
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup half and half or milk
- one Churner
This Po Cha recipe is for two people — two cups each, more or less.
1)First brew four cups of black tea and leave for a couple of minutes.
3)Add a heaping quarter teaspoon of salt to the tea and then take out the teabags.
4)Add 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of milk to the mixture, then add about two tablespoons of butter and put it all into your churner.
5)Churn, blend or shake the mixture for two to three minutes then drink your steamy Po Cha!
This next tradition really has taken the world by storm, it’s now served in cities everywhere: Taiwanese ‘Bubble Tea’. The name Bubble Tea is not actually from the bubble-like balls of jelly that sit at the bottom of a glass of Boba, it comes from the bubbles that form at the top after shaking the mixture. The balls are soft and chewy Tapioca Pearls, cooked in a sugar syrup; this is then mixed with any tea of your choice and finished off with a splash of milk. This tea is delicious but very sweet, so unless you have a strong sweet-tooth this may not be your new go-to cuppa. So, whilst I’ve been going on about all the health benefits of Japanese Matcha and Tibetan Po Cha teas, this Bubble Tea actually has a bad reputation for its ‘health properties’. It has been believed to contain lots of harmful chemicals and questionable substances. In April 2015, an incident occurred at a Bubble Tea shop in the Philippines, resulting in the death of two customers! It was originally suspected that the ingredients of the tea caused the incident to occur, but was later discovered that the syrup used contained lethal amounts of Oxalic Acid! Although it may not actually be the tea’s fault, I think I’ll stick to tea with out jelly balls for now.
Despite all the fuss, Boba/Bubble tea is still delicious, and if you do want to make it at home, you can be sure that it is Oxalic Acid free. Try this:
You Will Need
- 1/4 cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving
- 1 to 2 tea bags per serving, any kind
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
- Fruit juice or nectar (optional)
Bowl for holding the cooked boba
- Measuring cups
1) Combine the boba with water: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.
2)Cook the boba: Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit.
3)Prepare the sugar syrup for the boba: While the boba are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
4)Prepare a strong cup of tea: This can be done either while the boba are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag (or bags); use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.
5)Store the boba until ready to assemble: Once the boba have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba are submerged. Let sit until the boba are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
6)Make the bubble tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.
Not so Tea total? – Green Tea
I’d like to say huge congratulations to all those avid new years resoloutioners who’ve managed to sail through Dry January with out even a sip of alcohol. You really do deserve a pat on the back! I however, have suffered the dreadful self-inflicted pain of the “beloved” hangover. There’s only one way for me to actually relieve a little of the pain, yes you guessed it, tea of course! I remember one particularly groggy Sunday morning, when my wonderful friend Elliot insisted on me downing a large cup of green tea. I did as I was told and 20 minutes or so later, to my amazement, I really did feel 100 x better! So, by this point I was thinking the only explanation must have been that green tea was sent from the Gods to cure the hangover; sanity then kicked in, so I decided to do some research into why it actually made me feel so great.
Before you read on, may I suggest putting the kettle on, you’re going to want a brew after reading this…..
In green tea there are special antioxidants called Catechins or epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) and they mop up free radicals in the blood, preventing weight gain. Scientists at Penn State University have done many experiments on the effects of green tea on weight loss, they found that one cup a day can have some effect. We personally love anything that the more we consume, the more fat we lose!
Yes, thats right, Cancer. The Catechins I just mentioned have been shown to shrink cancerous tumours by 50%. If thats not a reason to stock up on green tea then you may as well stop reading this blog, because I really can’t top that.
Despite what your Granny told you, tea isn’t going to make all your teeth the colour of soil. In fact, studies show that drinking green tea can fight the bacteria that cause cavities, due to an antioxidant called Polyphenols. This also prevents bad breath, so smile, its a win-win eh?
What was that?
EGCG (that antioxidant I keep going on about) was given to mice in an experiment by Chinese scientists. The mice were trained to find a hidden object in a maze; the mice that did not have EGCG took more time to complete the task than the ones that did.
The study suggested that the EGCG boosts learning and memory by improving recognition of objects and spatial memory.
And that’s just green tea. there’s a whole world of different flavours and brews out there. Personally, I think Green tea is a gateway tea. Once you start drinking it, you get the herbal tea buzz. One of our favourite companies, Price & Kensington have just launched a Speciality Tea collection. They are renowned for their beautiful teapots (I’m sure whether you realise it or not, you will have come across one at some point!) So when I heard that they were launching a collection specifically for herbal and loose leaf tea, I could barely contain my excitement. It includes everything from tea strainers, drip trays, teapots and teacups. My personal favourite piece is the novelty infuser, you simply fill it with your loose leaf tea of choice and plop it in your teacup then leave it to infuse! It looks great and works even better.
So, you’ve got access to all the tea drinking equipment you could possibly need, now you need some tea! Out of all the millions of companies selling herbal tea’s, two really stand out from the rest. The first is The London Tea company. Founded in 2003, they pride them selves on their diverse range of beautiful brews, top top it of, they are also a Fair Trade company. My particular favourite of theirs is the loose leaf chunmee tea, “A delicious pure green tea with a fresh clean flavour.”
The other company that I’m slightly obsessed with is The East India Tea Company. A little more pricey than your regular brands, but totally worth splashing the cash for. In beautiful packaging, with an even more beautiful taste, their collection of teas will blow your socks off. If you enjoy the occasional coffee as well, they have a great range. Check out their biscuits and preserves whilst you’re at it.
Whilst doing my Christmas shopping a few months ago, I went into their little shop in Covent Garden, London. The staff were extremely helpful in assisting me to find the prefect tea for me. Admittedly, I spent far to much of my savings on their range, but it was totally worth it (dont judge me, I told you about my addiction). My absolute favourite tea of theirs is a range specifically designed around there Chakra. ‘A holistic system of caffeine-free herbal infusions’. The Chakra is the seven centres of spiritual power in the body, this collection has a tea designed for each energy. Bliss, Intuition, Expression, Love, Balance and Life-Force. These teas are designed to restore the balance of your mind, body and soul; and let me tell you, they work! Check them out here!
So, there you have it, may you all inherit my obsession (addiction) with tea. Check out the beautiful Price & Kensington collection for some speciality tea equipment, be sure to message us on Facebook or Twitter with your creations/favourites. I’m off to go have a brew, thanks for reading! -Emmie