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What Is Tea? An Knowledgeable Shares Tricks to Brew and Sip This Soothing Drink

Maybe I’m seeing the world by a macchiato mindset, however it appears, within the competitors of cool, espresso tends to drown out tea. Espresso, with its jittery angle, and doubtlessly punchy persona, can intimidate its tea counterpart. Although I’ve gotten away from it through the years, buying and selling cup and saucer for stylish butter-infused cups of caffeine, I’m right here to shine a candy mild on the steeping magnificence behind a soothing cup.

In contemplating my mission, I believed again to tea’s pretty traditions. After I was younger, I not solely beloved to host tea events for my stuffed animal company, however I additionally beloved a correct excessive tea. The scones and clotted cream. The French lace doilies, porcelain cups, and sterling teapot. There have been cucumber finger sandwiches and candy little sugar cubes. I’d put on a costume and a set of pearls for the event. I felt fancy, grown-up, regardless of my ft usually dangling from the too-tall chair I used to be seated in to benefit from the expertise. 

As I’ve grown, so have my style buds. My as soon as Constant-Comment-or-nothing mentality has shifted, and I’ve opened up my eyes to a complete world of teas. Within the doldrums of a Texas summer season, my new refreshing pick-me-up is a green tea on ice, and once I must heat my bones, I attain for a scorching cup of matcha or chai

Whereas I’ve loved studying about teas by myself, I do know there’s a deeper saucer to dive into. I got down to shed my loose-leaf data and up-level my training by the dynamic Billy Weston, Beverage Director and GM at Otoko and Watertrade in Austin. 

Learn on to be taught the kinds of teas, brewing ideas, and which form of tea actually isn’t tea in any respect…

First things first, what really is tea?

Tea is, at its most basic, the Camellia Sinensis plant which is an evergreen shrub/small tree. The leaves are the primary source of tea and there are a handful of other cultivars in the same genus that you can use to make tea as well (Assamica and Crassicolumna) though Sinensis is by far the most prevalent. How you treat the leaves/sticks/plant once it’s being harvested is where we get into the different styles of tea available out there.

What are the types, caffeine content, and health benefits of tea?

This question would take me a MUCH longer time to review in-depth, but I’ll cover the basics that most people are probably familiar with (and some they may not be!) and cover the answers to both below: 

White tea
Delicate, minimally processed teas. Light body and flavor profile, low in caffeine. 

Green tea
Some oxidation, tends to be either steamed or pan-fired in order to halt oxidation. Mild taste, medium caffeine (quarter of a cup of coffee roughly). Japanese green teas tend to have higher caffeine content than Chinese green teas due to the harvesting + firing methods.

Purple tea
Typically found growing wild in the Assam region of India, Kenya is the largest producer of this type of tea. Similar to oolong in harvesting method and drying style from these regions, it can be found coming from China in a much lighter format as well. Caffeine levels are very low but it is high in antioxidants. Lighter bodied, mellow flavor. 

Yellow tea
Very rare type of tea, the process is similar to making green tea but the added step of encasing it prior to steaming creates a milder flavor profile than green. Expensive stuff! Caffeine levels are equal to green tea, mellow flavor. 

Oolong tea
Partially oxidized, more so than green but less than red tea (or black as we know it), they can range widely in how much oxidization a particular tea can undergo. This creates a wide range of possibilities when selecting oolong teas. Oolongs from China and Taiwan are particularly well known to tea drinkers. These teas tend to have a heartier liquor and aroma, their caffeine level higher than green teas. 

Red tea
This is what we know as black tea. Most of the tea-drinking world refers to this style of tea as red tea. They tend to brew a reddish color and be nearly half of a cup of coffee in their caffeine content. Depending on where the tea hails from and its method of preparation, it can have wildly different traits. 

Pu Erh tea
Aged and partially fermented, Pu Erh and aged teas are what most of the tea world knows as black teas. These are the richest, deepest teas. The leaves are harvested, steamed, and pan-fired to halt oxidation as all teas are, but they undergo the additional treatment of being aged and fermented and always coming from Yunnan province, in China. Think of Pu Erh tea like you would Champagne—it has to be from Yunnan to be called Pu Erh!

Tisane (herbal tea)
Not *technically* a tea as it’s not from the Camellia Sinensis plant, herbal teas are actually referred to as tisanes. Very rarely do they contain caffeine, as they tend to be made of herbs and spices blended together.

How do tea pairings work with food?

Tea pairings are just like any other pairing, though they work particularly well with Japanese cuisine as their flavor profiles are far more delicate. You either want to complement a flavor profile or provide an opposing profile that refreshes the palate.

Should tea be consumed hot or cold?

That depends entirely on your mood and what you want to get from your tea. Try all sorts of different ways! One of the most interesting aspects of tea is the way it transforms if you brew it cold, hot, Gong fu style, Western method. It’s quite the adventure for the palate.

What is the difference between the Western Style tea and the Gong Fu brewing method?

The difference between these two methods is a matter of time. The Western method operates with a single infusion (or steeping) of tea over the course of a minute to several minutes depending on the type of tea. This style of brewing is great for a one-and-done scenario. If you really want to experience what tea can be, try the Gong-fu method. This takes the tea by a number of steepings, together with an preliminary rinse in scorching water to awaken the leaves’ potential. It’s a really zen expertise and I extremely advocate taking part in a tea ceremony with a educated tea skilled typically. The tea progresses over numerous steepings, relying on the model of tea. Darker teas may be steeped longer and over the course of many infusions. Every steeping sees a change of the flavour profile, possibly an added trace of one thing that wasn’t there earlier than. 

Inform us about your Yoshi-cha tea you created.

Yoshi-cha! That is the tea that Yoshi (Okai of Austin’s Otoko restaurant) and I created with Smith Teamaker. Yoshi had labored with them earlier than at Feast, favored their tea, and obtained to see their headquarters when he was in Portland. The pandemic hit and blew our plans to excessive heaven, as they did for everybody! We lastly got here again round post-pandemic and I steered we reopen the dialog in regards to the tea with Smith and it was off from there. We wished to encapsulate the right sushi accompaniment that mixed components of Yoshi’s numerous influences—Texas and Japan being the first! The wonderful crew at Smith met with us remotely, mentioned our ideas (we knew we wished a Hojicha-style tea), and added in some solutions based mostly on the dialog. We settled on some key components of sansho pepper and yaupon being within the combine, with sage and yerba santa making up the remaining stability of the mix.  

What food pairs best with Yoshi-cha and how do you like to drink it?

We pair the Yoshi-cha with the latter end of the sushi portion of the meal at Otoko. This pairs it up with uni and madai, as well as with some composed sashimi dishes. The bolder nigiri and the multi-faceted flavors of the sashimi dishes work really well with how dynamic the Yoshi-cha is. It’s bold yet calming, refreshing but earthy and grounding too. 

What is your favorite way to drink Yoshi-cha at home or at the restaurant? 

I love it as a cold brew when I’m drinking it casually though adding it into a cocktail or a punch is amazing! Try it in a Philadelphia Fish House Punch to essentially wow your subsequent get together company. 

Teabags or loose leaf?

Loose-leaf if you have the time. Get yourself a tea infuser! It’s so price it. 

Fave teapot? And teacups?

Teapots
Literally, anything I can find, ha. I love thrifting for cute vintage ones where I can. 

Teacups
The more the merrier! I get my fix by shopping for teacups for the pairing set, so come check it out at
Otoko someday and see my new finds. It’s all about Etsy!

Another insights you need to go away us with?

Don’t be scared by tea, simply drink it. It’s a enjoyable beverage and regardless of what some tea elitists could inform you, you possibly can get pleasure from it nonetheless the hell you need!

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