Loose Leaf Teas vs. Filter Bag Tea

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via: Avery Segal / Freepik

Tea lovers don't need any introduction for loose leaf tea. For beginners though, it might feel the same as normal (commercial-grade filter bag) tea, but just not brewed in tea bags. Some might wonder, what difference does that make? Let me tell you now - it actually DOES make a huge difference.

There are a lot of factors in creating a perfect cup of tea. The age of the leaves, the processing technique, and the water temperature. Yes, the water temperature.

The taste of tea is affected by even a 15 degree difference in the temperature of the water you use. Lawrence Zhang of A Tea Addict’s Journal, explains, “The effect of cooler water is a lower extraction rate from the tea, and it also opens up the leaves slower. It means that for teas like puerh, you’re not getting everything out of it at once. This does decrease the amount of bitterness and roughness that you might get from the leaves, but it also means you’re not really tasting everything you can.”

Tips on Preparing Tea

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Tea, being one of the world's most favorite drinks, is loved by people because of its exquisite taste. While it is indeed true that tea offers the body countless health benefits, it is still the taste that established a solid following from generations to generations. With that being said, the quality of tea becomes of utmost importance. Not only because premium tea extracts the most healthy contents, but because it also brings out the finest taste.

It is therefore necessary to properly steep your tea in order to get the best brew possible. It would be a waste not to make the most out of your premium loose leaf tea.

My Favorite New Tea Toy!

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I can never seem to escape Williams-Sonoma without a bag full of something. At $11 I came out of there relatively unscathed.

Here's my new toy:

New Williams-Sonoma Toy

I own a standard mesh tea ball steeper. It gets the job done.

But this...She is a thing of beauty!

Tea Timer

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tea timer

Steeping your tea for the proper amount of time is part of the art and one of the most important steps in enjoying a great tasting cup of tea. Everyone is different and will enjoy their tea with slight differences, but these differences are counted in seconds, not minutes. There are guidelines as to how long each type of tea should be steeped, which will really help you head in the right direction. To find out the recommended steeping time for each of our teas here at California Tea House check out the label on the bag as well as more detailed information at the bottom of each tea product page on our website.

Where to find unique and inexpensive teaware

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It's safe to say that almost everyone is trying to save as much money as possible in this economy. But being frugal doesn't mean anyone should go without entirely!

discount teaware

There are plenty of nontraditional places you may not expect to find teaware that are actually full of inexpensive, unique pieces.

1. eBay. And you thought it was just for textbooks and electronics! But there are always a couple of dozen high-quality sets listed there.

Herb Harvest... Dressing up your tea

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I love growing herbs in with my flowers. When I grow Sweet Basil, the most common variety, I love to toss a small sprig into a pot of tea. It adds a delicate sweet spicey flavor.

african blue basil in teaAfrican Blue Basil

This year I successfully grew two different varieties of Basil, African Blue and Cinnamon Basil. I'm sorry to say that I wasn't successful in growing a Pineapple Basil (beautiful yellow leaves, red flowers and spicey pineapple scent). Also this year, I let my basils flower and go to seed before harvesting. The flowers when dried have a more faint scent and flavor than the dried leaves do. So, since I grew varieties that are a bit more pungent than sweet basil in flavor, I thought that the flowers would be more fitting for my tea.

Why Loose leaf Tea?

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Whether it is packaged in tea bags or is loose leaf, all tea comes from the same plant, the camellia sinesis. So why do some people prefer loose leaf tea?

Tiramisu Rooibos

As it turns out, there is a world of difference between the product found in a tea bag, and that found in loose leaf tea.

First of all, loose leaf tea is typically hand-picked, whereas the tea found in tea bags consists of small pieces of tea leaves. The latter results in a quicker and therefore more convenient brew, but not quite as much flavor. Additionally, tea bags may tend to give a harsher taste than loose leaf tea due to the release of additional tannins. Furthermore, because the leaves are broken up, the essential oils and chemicals that give tea its taste may evaporate, leaving the drinker with a poorly flavored cup.

Sleek Steep Teapot Review

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Sleek Steep Tea Infuser

Thanks to my good fortune in landing my first magazine job, I received an opportunity to review a truly unique and wonderful piece of tea equipment last week: California Tea House's Sleek Steep Teapot.

Sleek certainly is the word for it: It's a beautiful, elegant piece that matches any dining room or kitchen set. And how about ease of use, you wonder? It's incredibly simple: Add your loose leaf tea, add your water, let it steep for the recommended amount of time, and then the magic happens. Lift the two-cup teapot, place it over your mug or cup, and just lightly press a spot on the underside of the teapot: the tea strains itself right into your mug!

How to select the perfect teapot

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All steps of the tea drinking process should be enjoyed as much as possible. To truly appreciate the process and experience of brewing and pouring tea, a tea aficionado must have an excellent teapot.

But with so many different types of teapots and stores to browse, how is one to choose? Let me be your guide!

First and foremost, realize that in your quest for the perfect teapot, looks are important. Pick a design, style, and color that you will want to look at for the next twenty years.

Make Your Own Genmai-cha Tea

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In researching this article, I came across the following legend regarding the origin of Genmai-cha:

genmai-cha brown rice tea

In feudal Japan, there was a servent named Genmai. One day he was serving his master, a samurai lord, some tea. As he served the tea, some grains of rice fell out of his pocket and into the tea. His master, furious at him for ruining the tea, executed him on the spot. The samurai lord decided to drink the tea anyway and loved the flavor that the rice added to the tea. He ordered that his tea be served that way every day from then on and called the tea Genmai-cha in honor of it's accidental creator.

Warmer Weather Brings Back Old Traditions

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There are the obvious signs winter is over — snow melts, sunset after 6 p.m., and baseball season starts.

But here is what makes me think of the warmer seasons:
Open toed sandals,
Late night talks on the balcony,
Nature walks,
And switching from warm beverages, to cold ones.

My roommate is a big fan of sun tea, and since it’s her first year on her own, we were initially skeptical of her brewing abilities.

Cold Brewed Tea for those hot summer days!

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The summer can become unbearable for tea drinkers. The hot heat makes it difficult to sip on a cuppa hot tea for some people. Many resort to iced tea. I have seen many iced tea recipes in the past, and have been an advocate of steeping hot and pouring over ice, until I found this recipe from a twitter friend! Cold brewing tea in a refridgerator is what they suggested. At first, I was unsure if it would even work, worrying over whether the tea would steep a bitter cuppa. Here is the recipe if you are interested!