07 March 2012

Is your tea organic?

Picking tea leaves at Zealong
Tea of course originates from China, where tea trees can be thousands of years old. Older tea trees are naturally resistant to pests, but outside of China it can be hard to come by trees that old! Last year around this time, I visited New Zealand’s first tea plantation, Zealong. Their teas are single source, chemical and residue free and carry the ISO22000 HACCP food safety standards certification. There’s no machine picking here, everything is done by hand. Zealong General Manager Vincent Chen, whose own family came to New Zealand from Taiwan, brings expert tea pickers from Taiwan whose nimble hands pick about 30-50 kilos of dry tea leaves each day during harvest!

The plants themselves are harvested beginning at just three years old and Vincent explains that he uses organic soyabean fertilizer and sometimes even a milk spray to naturally protect the plants from pests.

And the taste? Zealong teas tend to have a remarkably clean, crisp and fresh quality to them. You can find more of my reviews on Teaviews. The main thing to remember when buying organic is of course to check for the certification. If you can’t find this, then it’s a good idea to find out which region the tea comes from and how it's grown. 

24 February 2012

Loose leaf tea made easy for the office

Now there's no excuse not to drink loose leaf tea at work! Check out this great little teapot which brews tea leaves in the strainer at the top. Once you've steeped for the right amount of time, a simple push of the read button on the top lid releases the brewed tea into the bottom - making it easy to pour straight into your cup! Perfect for all of those tea addicts who want to enjoy a quality cuppa at their desk throughout the day! Currently on sale at My Tea House, Neutral Bay.

02 February 2012

Caffeine levels in tea

I've met quite a few people recently who are committed to starting the New Year by cutting caffeine for awhile. And many are unsure of just how much caffeine is in tea and how it compares to coffee. I found this great chart recently at Sanctuary T which I think explains it pretty well.

It's also important to note that caffeine levels in tea decrease with each successive steeping. So for instance, if you are brewing loose leaf oolong tea, the first steeping will have the most caffeine. So you can either throw this away or simply drink less. Oolong is a great choice if you want to use the same tea leaves for multiple steepings. On average, 1 tablespoon of high-quality oolong tea leaves should yield about 5 standard cups of tea (measured at about 1 standard cup per steeping in your teapot) . Enough for you to decide if you want to just drink the last few cups, which of course should have less caffeine!

23 January 2012

Travelling with tea...

...is alot easier than you might expect!

Now that I've built up my tea addiction, there really isn't anytime or anyplace that I'm not craving a cup! So I've started packing my own loose leaf tea to brew while travelling - yes, even on those 24-hour flights from New York to Sydney. I also started using Stash Tea's tea filter bags, which are so small and thin, they could fit inside your wallet. These super lightweight mesh bags are easy to fill, with a flap that folds over and closes off the top so your tea leaves don't escape. They are so durable I've used them for multiple infusions, so now all I need when travelling is hot water and a cup (which of course are provided just about everywhere). And since they are disposable when done, I don't have to worry about putting away a wet strainer when I'm on a long flight.

I've looked for them here in Oz but have yet to find any, which is a shame given how long the travel times are to most places! That said, a metal strainer is also an easy option, especially at hotels when drying them isn't as difficult.