Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Delicious Tea

While staying at a local hotel for my daughter's 16th birthday, we made a pleasant surprise. This hotel is part of an upscale shopping center. Inside this shopping center, we discovered a most wonderful tea store. The owners were very kind and brewed us fresh cups of hot tea to let us sample their wares. While drinking the tea, the owner told us about how they grow and prepare their tea.

The name of the store is Shang Tea Company. They grow all their own tea in the hills of their homeland, China, on land they own and farm. The tea is all grown without chemicals and is hand picked when it is ready. They air dry the tea and then gently toast it to preserve a perfect flavor. This also allows you to brew from the same tea leaves numerous times, all you have to do is let the leaves air dry out and you can reuse them. My families favorite tea was jasmine snow dragon, this is a white tea infused with jasmine. Their white teas are grown in the mountain tops of the pristine Tai Mu mountain. They also informed us that it is a misconception to think white tea comes from the same plant as green tea. These teas come from different plants, like different apples come from different apple trees.

Another tea that my husband enjoyed was high mountain green tea. It was grown on the top of a 2700ft mountain. There is only a few places this type of tea can be grown, it must grow in very high elevations.

They offer numerous different varieties of teas. For those of you not lucky enough to be able to stop by their store and have them brew you a cup, they offer a sampler on their website.

Here are their recommended steps to brewing a perfect cup of tea.

Tips to brewing the perfect cup of tea:

  • Heat the water in a kettle on the stovetop rather than the microwave. Although either method works, it is easier keep an eye (or ear) on the stovetop kettle and remove it before the water gets too hot.
  • Measure the temperature of the water. If it is too hot, the tea will be bitter. If it is too cold, the tea will not have much flavor. After boiling a few pots and testing the temperatures, it’s easy to measure the proper time to take the kettle off the stovetop (hint: it’s somewhere between the tiny bubbles and a rolling boil).
  • Rinse your tea leaves. The proper way to rinse tea leaves is to pour the appropriate temperature of water over the tea leaves and let them steep for a number of seconds (see chart below for details), then discard the water. This allows the tea leaves to open slightly so they release more flavor.
So, put some water on, grab a good book and have a perfect afternoon. Knowing that you have bought your tea from a family that grows, processes and sells their own tea.

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