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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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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Why is There Oil in My Tea?

Sometimes when steeping a tea – you may notice a small oil slick floating on the surface of the tea liquor. This is likely to occur when steeping teas that have been pan-fired. The oil comes from the tea-seeds, and is applied to the pan to help the leaves slide around as they are handled as well as to keep the leaves from burning. In Heiss’ “The Story of Tea,” they explain that “the solidified oil is the simple oil expelled from the leaves of tea bushes that are periodically left to grow, flower, and seed. Tea-seed oil is solid
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mint growing in chicago

DIY: Moroccan Mint Tea

The everyday tea served in Morocco consists of gunpowder green tea, fresh mint, and copious amounts of sugar. The mint growing in my yard in Chicago: Giving the mint a rinse: The pot is stuffed with mint and about 2 teaspoons of gunpowder green tea, now I’m adding 1/4 cup of raw sugar. You can find cheap gunpowder green tea at most Asian grocers. It usually comes in dark green boxes:    
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Summer 09 ctd 087

How to Use Bamboo Charcoal

Bamboo charcoal, you’ve heard of it, you’ve heard of the great things it can do. But really, does it work? I think so. I’m not 100% sure, but I allowed several people to try my “bamboo water” and tea brewed with it alongside normal Chicago tap water and the results were positive. I have no scientific evidence, and I don’t need any – I like it, it tastes good, and I’m going to use it — and that’s enough for me (want technical? read this). If you are interested in making bamboo charcoal, Pyro Energen has put together this pretty
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On Proper Storage of Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh is one of the most interesting and sought after teas these days because of its medicinal properties as well as its general collectibility. With pu-erh cakes from decades past going for thousands of dollars these days, collecting pu-erh for long-term storage can be quite an investment. Before deciding where and how to store pu-erh, you have to figure out which type of pu-erh you are actually in possession of. Jump over to Wikipedia to decide whether you have a raw pu-erh or ripened pu-erh. Ripened pu-erh has already gone through a secondary fermentation process to “fake” the aging process,
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Easy Steeping for Busy Folks

Let’s examine the steeping of tea in its simplest form for a moment: when we steep tea, we are making a drink from the leaves of a plant. We take into account the type of tea leaves we are using and the way they were processed along with the water temperature and steeping time. Too many times we end up drinking what Heidi Kyser from TChing [] calls “brew-waste.” This is “when a server ruins a perfectly good tea by brewing it at the wrong temperature, for the wrong amount of time, and/or using the wrong kind of equipment.” And
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Same tea bag after steeping

Why tea-bags and tea-infusers are bad

Tea bags are a product of convenience; they are easy, cheap, and clean. But if you’ve only ever drank tea that was a product of a tea-bag, you are missing out. Tea-bags used to only be filled with dust and fannings which are all the little pieces leftover from different processing methods. Through the years, tea companies have been putting higher and higher quality tea in bags. But no matter how nice the tea, or how innovative the bag is (see nylon bag below), they fail for one fundamental reason: tea leaves must be allowed to flow freely within the
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