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Top Five Strongest Black Teas

Strongest Black Loose Leaf Teas

Black tea accounts for more than 90% of all teas sold in the West. Americans drink black tea hot throughout the day, as an alternative to coffee. We also enjoy iced tea, most of which are made from black tea. Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast are all popular blends made from black teas.

Black teas offer a bolder, stronger flavor range due to their longer period of oxidation during manufacture.

If you like your teas bold and strong you will definitely want to have these teas in your collection:

  • Yunnan – fully bodied and slightly peppery, but with a light maple sweetness. Yunnan comes from a remote region in China.
  • Assam – slightly malty, rich and dark. The Assam region is the largest tea producing district in India, and their black tea is a standard in the industry for its rich, heavy liquor. It’s also a good tea for blending.
  • Ceylon (Sri Lanka) – medium to strong, depending on region. The island of Sri Lanka is known for producing three types of tea depending on the altitude where they are grown: low-grown, medium grown, and high-grown. Teas grown in the higher elevations (5,900-6,500 ft.) of Sri Lanka have a good balance of flavor.
  • Darjeeling – a light tea, with a nutty, fruity, and/or floral flavor. Produced only in the Darjeeling region of India, Darjeeling is also known as the “champagne” of teas. It’s a great tea to enjoy in the afternoon because it’s lighter than many other black teas.
  • Oolong – flavors of apricot and peach – Oolong teas fall between green and black teas, with the lighter varieties being closer to green, and the darker ones closer to black teas. Choose a dark oolong for the strongest flavor. Mid-day is a good time to brew oolong, when you can best enjoy the complex flavors and aromas. Oolongs improve with multiple infusions.
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Three Tips to Brewing Fresh White Loose Leaf Tea

Brewing Fresh White Iced Tea

White teas are a great place to start if you’re new to drinking tea. They have a light fruity flavor with a floral aroma, and they’re sweeter than other teas. White teas are delicate, so water, temperature, and time are important.

  1. Water: Use the best fresh water possible when brewing white tea, since their flavor is so light. Chlorine and other chemicals in tap water can affect the taste of the tea. Bottled water may also affect the flavor because of added salts and other minerals. Filtered water or spring water are the best choices.
  2. Brewing Temperature: White teas need a lower brewing temperature because the leaves scorch easily. A temperature between 175-185° is about right. Special equipment isn’t necessary to get your water to the right temperature. The simplest way is to bring water just to a boil (about 206°F), turn off the heat and let the water cool for 2 to 3 minutes. An instant-read thermometer is a helpful tool to make sure you have the correct temperature.
  3. Brewing Time: White teas require a short brewing time, usually only 1-5minutes, depending on your personal taste preference. As with all teas, the strength of the tea depends on the amount of leaf used, not the length of the brewing time. Over steeped tea will become bitter. Use a timer and adjust the amount of leaf if you prefer a stronger tea.
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Top Five Full Bodied Morning Teas

full bodied morning teas

Full bodied black teas are good morning teas. A black tea will give you a little dose of caffeine to get you moving in the morning. The strong flavors go well with breakfast foods, pastries, or breads served with jam or honey.

Irish Breakfast Blend

  • a full-bodied blend of black teas, most often Assam teas from India
  • strong smooth tea with a malty flavor and an energizing finish
  • good with milk and sugar or a bit of lemon

English Breakfast Blend

  • English Breakfast Blends typically include Assam, Ceylon, Kenyan, and Keemun black teas
  • a rich and aromatic brew – brisk, malty, full-bodied and robust
  • tastes good with milk and sugar – particularly suited for a hearty breakfast

Kenya Blend

  • Kenya produces one of the best quality black teas in the world
  • provides a strong, balanced flavor
  • especially good with rich foods or chocolate

Assam

  • Assam is full-flavored
  • rich, smooth and malty; bold and full-flavored
  • good with milk – a great breakfast tea

Puerh

  • Yunnan province in China has been producing teas for over 1,700 years
  • earthy, robust and assertive with a molasses-like sweetness
  • a good choice for breakfast – pairs well with sweets

TIP: If you find that your black teas are brewing up slightly bitter, steep the leaf for less time or add a little milk and/or sweetener.
For something different, I suggest adding Matcha to your favorite morning tea list. Matcha lowers stress while maintaining alertness.

Matcha

  • made from steamed Tencha tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder
  • a thin, frothy, concentrated green drink that has a pronounced grassy flavor
  • pairs well with sweet foods
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Six Popular Flavored Teas

Flavored tea can be either a blend of several teas in order to achieve a consistent flavor, or tea that is enhanced with natural flavorings, dried fruits, herbs, spices, or scented with various flowers like jasmine, rose or lotus. There is no limit to the different combinations of tea and flavorings that can be used.

English Breakfast is a blend of teas from Assam, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. English Breakfast is a full-bodied robust tea usually served with cream and sugar.

Irish Breakfast is a very strong dark blend similar to English Breakfast, but usually with a greater amount of Kenya tea. Irish Breakfast is usually served with cream and sugar or a slice of lemon.

Earl Grey is the most well-known flavored tea in the world. It is usually a blend of China black tea and essential oil of the bergamot orange, which gives the tea a sweet citrus aroma and a light note of honey.

Moroccan Mint is a green tea combined with peppermint leaves that is served throughout the day by the people of Morocco. It has a cool mint flavor and can be enjoyed hot or iced any time of day.

Ginger Peach is a hearty black tea flavored with ginger and dried peaches. Ginger Peach has a sweet peach flavor with a light kick of ginger that is delicious hot or cold.

Jasmine Pearls tea is one of the best known scented teas, made from slender Chinese green tea leaves that have been infused with the scent of fresh jasmine blossoms. Jasmine Pearls tea has a smooth sweet flavor, and is beautiful to watch as it brews. The rolled tea leaves slowly unfurl releasing the intoxicating aroma of jasmine.

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Independence Day and Tea

independence day tea

Independence Day, Friday, July 4th, marks the 238th birthday of the United States of America. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to note how tea has had an interesting and sometimes colorful role in American history.

In the Beginning – Peter Stuyvesant, Dutch governor, brought the first tea to the colonists around 1650. The colonists of the small settlement, New Amsterdam (later New York), loved the beverage so much that they consumed more tea than all of England at that time.

Boston Tea Party – Colonists were angry about the unfair taxation thrown upon them by the King. In June of 1767, the British instituted the tea tax, hoping to capitalize on the colonists’ appetite for tea. When Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the British East India Company an exclusive monopoly on importing tea to the colonists, a brave group of men called the Sons of Liberty, in political protest, boarded three British merchant ships docked in Boston Harbor and threw the contents of taxed tea overboard. The Boston Tea Party led to the colonists’ declaration of independence from the British Crown.

George Washington – Tea became the beverage of choice served during all state functions and occasions after George Washington was sworn in as the first president. The President was known to enjoy three cups of tea each morning with breakfast, a healthy practice that would benefit us all.

Tea Importation Act of 1897 – Due to tea being sold by the pound, England contaminated tea in many ways in order to increase their profits. They included used and re-dried tea leaves, lower quality tea leaves, and even added sawdust and iron filings to tea. The Tea Importation Act was the beginning of a regulatory system for consumable products for the American people, called the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Iced Tea – Tea merchant Richard Blechynden is credited with the popularization of iced tea at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Blechynden’s efforts to give away samples of hot tea during the sweltering summer in St. Louis proved fruitless, so he and his staff served the beverage over ice, and Americans have had an endless thirst for iced tea to this day. Be sure to brew up some delicious iced tea for your Fourth of July celebration this year!

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Splendiferous Rooibos Popsicles Recipe

Splendiferous Rooibos Tea is a healthy blend of organic green rooibos, hibiscus petals, elderberries and peppermint for a burst of fruit flavor with a hint of cool mint.

Yogurt is a great source of calcium and phosphorus, especially good for the bones of growing children.

Yogurt is an amazing food that is high in protein, and Greek style yogurt has about double the protein of regular yogurt and is high in probiotics. Good quality live bacteria yogurts are beneficial to your digestive tract.

These popsicles are a delicious healthy snack that you can feel good serving to your family.

Splendiferous Rooibos Popsicles

Makes about 10 popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 2 C water, heated just to boiling (about 208°Farenheit)
  • 3 T Splendiferous Rooibos Tea
  • 1 C chopped fresh strawberries
  • 2 T honey or Agave syrup
  • 1 C Greek style yogurt

Directions:

  1. Steep the Splendiferous Rooibos Tea in the 2 cups of hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain tea and pour into blender.
  3. Add honey or Agave, strawberries and yogurt.
  4. Blend until well combined.
  5. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until hard, overnight is best.
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Visiting Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon was built by Chinese artisans and is the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. The mission of the Garden is “to cultivate an oasis of tranquil beauty and harmony to inspire, engage, and educate our global community in the appreciation of a richly authentic Chinese culture”.

On our journey to discover all about loose leaf tea, I recently visited the Lan Su Chinese Garden. We were both completely captivated by the beauty and tranquility of the Garden, feeling as though we had been transported back in time to the 16th century in the spiritual land of China.

Entering the Garden we were greeted by two large Dragonfish on the roof, poised to swallow all evil influences and protect the building from fire.

Lan Su Chinese Garden Dragon

Anyone who knows me knows I always have my camera at the ready to get beautiful and unique photos. The Garden is a carefully arranged progression of scenes that unfold one after another, so there was ample opportunity for some pics.

Penjng are arrangements of miniature trees and rocks that replicate natural landscapes, with some containing trees that are over one hundred years old.
Wandering through Lan Su Yuan at a relaxed pace allowed us to take in all the soothing sounds, scents and sights:

Lan Su Chinese Garden Bridge

Still ponds with colorful koi swimming in the quiet water contrasted with the sound of rushing water spilling over tall rocks.

Plum, bamboo and pine trees add to the texture, color and story of the Garden, being the ‘Three Friends of Winter’.
The abstract natural sculpture of Taihu stones provide unusual architecture.

Hibiscus, orchids and plum blossoms are among the hundreds of plants that emit exotic fragrance throughout the Garden.
An intricately detailed panel carved from gingko wood has this inscription in calligraphy on the back:

“Most cherished in this mundane world is a place without traffic: Truly in the midst of a city there can be mountain and forest.” ~Wen Zhengming (1470-1559)
I spotted this duck huddling in a quiet spot close enough that we could have touched her, and she didn’t seem to mind our presence at all.

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The Legend of Ti Kan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong Tea

Ti Kuan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy

Ti Kuan Yin is one of the few teas said to have been created through divine inspiration. There are a few different versions of the story of Ti Kuan Yin.
My favorite version tells us that a poor farmer named Mr. Wei passed a temple on his way to work in the tea fields every day. The temple held an iron statue of the Buddhist deity Guanyin, a female bodhisattva of compassion, or Goddess of Mercy.

Mr. Wei observed that the temple was falling into disrepair and he wanted to do something about it. Being a poor farmer, Mr. Wei did not have the means to repair the temple. Instead, twice a month he brought a broom from his home to clean the temple and burned incense as an offering to the goddess.

Mr. Wei continued this for several months when one night the goddess came to him in a dream. To thank the farmer for cleaning her temple, she told him to look for treasure in a cave behind the temple. Mr. Wei looked in the cave the next day to find a single tea shoot which he nurtured and cultivated and soon it grew into a large bush. He shared cuttings of the bush with his neighbors. The community soon became very prosperous selling this fine tea under the name of Ti Kuan Yin, in honor of the goddess.

Today, Ti Kuan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea, and is one of the most highly praised oolongs in the world.