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The Definitive Guide to Tea Cocktails

The following is an interview I conducted with my good friend, Tyler Fry. Tyler is a bartender at Chicago’s famed “The Violet Hour.” The bar was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s 2015 award for Outstanding Bar Program. In this article, Tyler shares with us his knowledge surrounding tea cocktails. Is there any history to using tea in cocktails? Absolutely! There certainly is old, historical precedent for tea in booze and mixed drinks, dating as far back as 1727. While we don’t necessarily see tea in old cocktails or being used in the mixological sense that we think of today,
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Tealet's Michael Petersen took this photo of tea sun drying

Drying in Tea Processing

In all of our talk of tea processing thus far, we’ve been dealing with tea leaves that contain some water. In order for processed tea leaves to be shelf-stable, they must be dried. There are two reasons for drying tea though, to dry the leaf, making it shelf stable, and to enhance the flavor. At times, these can be two distinct steps in processing and at other times, it can be seen as more of a continuum, and sometimes teas are only dried for shelf-stability. For our discussion here, I’ll explain each separately. Most common drying methods: Commercial dryers: where
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Chemical Compounds in Tea

Tea chemistry is complex. Just how complex? Well, on the bush, tea leaves contain thousands of chemical compounds, when they are processed, these compounds break down, form complexes and form new compounds. When we steep tea leaves, our senses are tingled by the thousands of volatile compounds (collectively known as the “aroma complex”) from the tea liquor and the thousands of non-volatile compounds and the complexes between them, not all of which are water soluble, and the ones that are water soluble are soluble at a function of the properties of the water used for steeping like temperature, total dissolved
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World Tea Expo 2015 Highlights

World Tea Expo here in Long Beach has been a blast! From the moment James Norwood Pratt cut the ribbon, it’s been an action packed expo. There were a few stand-out exhibitors and sessions that are worth mentioning but the best part about these events is being together with thousands of fellow tea-lovers. I cover some of my favorite things from the expo below. To see more photos and happenings, check out my Instagram feed. The Need for Standards in Specialty Tea A much anticipated panel moderated by Austin Hodge starring Dan Bolton, Kevin Gascoyne, Jennifer English, Elyse Petersen, and Anshuman
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Tea Processing Chart

Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, oolong tea, black tea and post-fermented teas all begin as fresh camellia sinensis leaves and go through different processing steps. While there are an infinite number of variations that result in an infinite number of tea styles, the same underlying processing methodologies largely define the tea’s type. There are many tea processing charts that attempt to accurately depict the tea process, but many of them add unnecessary levels of complexity, or skip steps. The goal here was to depict very
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How to Store Tea

The Six Immutable Laws of Tea Storage

Storing tea can be very simple. If you keep your tea in an airtight container and then store your container in a dark, cool, dry place free from strong odors, you will likely consume it before you begin to notice any degradation in aroma or taste. Looking a bit deeper into tea storage opens up a bit more complexity and in this article, I break it down for you. When we talk about a tea deteriorating, what do we mean? Mostly oxidation. For teas that are prevented from oxidizing during production (see tea processing chart here), or that are not
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Guide to Tea in the Bay Area

Since I recently moved to the Bay Area (for a job in tea), it’s only appropriate that I post a guide to the area’s rich tea culture. You may not be aware, but the Bay Area is a hotbed of tea culture, nowhere else in the states can seem to support such a slew of high-end tea shops. What set the stage for such a great tea-scene? Well nearly a quarter of people in the Bay Area are of Asian descent and in the 1990s, David Lee Hoffman and Roy Fong began importing Chinese teas, the likes of which Americans
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Wedding Tea

How We Used Tea in Our Wedding Ceremony

Because tea is what brought Katie and I together, we thought we’d use it in our wedding ceremony. Let me explain first how tea brought us together because some people seem to think this kind of thing just doesn’t happen. Geoffrey Norman aka “Lazy Literatus” has a “standing ‘scientific’ theory that tea and dating don’t blend.” I asked him what he thought of our relationship and he said that it “seems to exist in stubborn defiance of my theory” and that Katie and I must have “sold our souls to Guan Yin… or something equally plausible.” All joking aside, Katie was working
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Engineer's Guide to Tea

The Engineer’s Guide to Tea Preparation

The bulk of tea produced in the world is commodity tea, meaning that it is actively traded and it’s price is determined by the markets. Commodity tea is relatively cheap, with the worldwide average price of commodity black tea typically in the area of $2.85USD/kilogram. Many of the world’s famous tea cultures1 are famous because they are promulgated by common man and are thus largely based on cheap commodity tea. There is however, a larger amount of high quality tea being produced every year, what some are calling the specialty tea industry. One way to think about the difference between commodity
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Fermented Tea Classification

Fermented Teas China Hunan Heicha 湖南 黑茶 (Anhua) Fu Zhuan 茯砖  “fu brick” Qian Liang Cha 千两茶 “thousand tael tea” (sometimes called Hua Juan) Bai Liang Cha 百两茶 “hundred tael tea” Shi Liang Cha 十两茶 “ten tael tea” Hua Zhuan 花砖 “flower brick” Hei Zhuan 黑砖茶 “dark brick” Xiang Jian 湘尖 “hunan tips” Tian Jian 天尖 “sky tips” Gong Jian 贡尖 “tribute tips” Sheng Jian 生尖 “raw tips” Qu Jiangbo Pian 渠江薄片 (coin shaped) Sichuan Heicha 四川 黑茶 Nan Lu Bian Cha 南路边茶 “south border tea” Xi Lu Bian Cha 西路边茶 “west border tea” Kang Zhuan 康砖 “kang brick” literally “peaceful brick”
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