Spice Things Up for Fall
With the shorter days and crisp mornings of fall, cozy up with one of our best selling teas. Boulder Tangerine Herbal Tea is a spicy blend of tangerine and cinnamon exclusively blended for the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse by Celestial Seasonings.
Boulder Tangerine Apple Cider
- Mix one teaspoon of Boulder Tangerine Herbal Tea
with 4oz boiling water and 4oz apple cider.
- Heat and simmer 5-10 minutes.
- Strain to remove tea and pour into a mug to serve.
- Garnish with Apple slices and cinnamon sticks.
How much do you really know about tea? You know what you like, but maybe with all of the different types of tea it can seem overwhelming to try something new. If you're curious about trying something different but don't know where to start, here is a quick refresher on the main types of tea.
True tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinesis (tea) plant and the various tea types (black, green, oolong, etc) are generally defined by the level of "oxidation" of the leaf in processing. Oxidation occurs naturally when enzymes in the leaf are exposed to air, similar to the way an apple browns once it's been cut.
This complex series of chemical reactions ultimately yields the cup characteristics we anticipate with each style of tea. In general, the more oxidized the tea leaf, the darker the infusion and bolder the flavor.
White tea is the most simple of the tea types to describe, because it basically consists of two steps of harvesting and drying. The leaves are not rolled or allowed to oxidize at all.
Today we can find two major styles of white tea; traditional "buds only" tea, such as Silver Needle, and the "bud and leaf" style, such as White Peony (bai mu dan). The bud and leaf style tea offers a more economical choice and broadens the availability of the tea. The increased awareness and marketability of white tea has influenced other tea producing regions to try their hands at white tea production as well.
This leaves the leaf in a full, unbroken, natural state. Originally, white tea was only produced in the Fujian province of China using bushes that were carefully selected and cultivated to produce this type of tea. Only the newest, downy tips were meticulously harvested to create tea that was used as "tribute tea" for the emperor.
Green Tea is not oxidized. After being harvested, sorted, and allowed to air-dry for a brief period (just long enough to reduce the moisture content about 10% and make the leaf more pliable), the leaf undergoes a process of firing or steaming. This stops any enzyme action or oxidation of the leaves and fixes the juices in the leaf. Many green teas are rolled or shaped using traditional techniques, creating a vast array of leaf styles from which to choose.
Some teas may be lightly "fluffed" such as the Silver Dragon, while others may be flattened during a pan-firing process, like the Longjing (Dragonwell). The taste or character of green tea is heavily determined by the time of plucking, shoot maturity, geographic and weather conditions and cultivation method.
Oolong Tea encompasses all the tea that is partially oxidized, and the manufacture of oolong tea is an art form in its own right. Each farm or tea garden has proprietary methods of making their own type of tea.
The tea goes through the initial steps of harvesting, sorting and weighing, and is then allowed to wither for a brief period. It is the next step that truly defines oolong tea as an artisan product. The leaves are bruised, using a variety of methods, and are then allowed to oxidize. Skillful timing and careful handling during this process determine the final outcome in your cup. The teas can range from 8% oxidation levels, to 80% oxidation levels.
This wide variance creates a spectrum of flavors, colors, and aromas that range from very green to dark full brews. Leaf styles can also range from full, unrolled styles like the Phoenix Oolong, to tightly rolled selections like the Ti Kuan Yin. Although oolongs may initially seem more expensive than other types of tea, they are designed to be infused several times. This quality drastically reduces the "per pot" price, and each infusion yields its own special flavor and characteristic.
Black tea undergoes processing to fully oxidize the leaf, allowing natural and robust flavors to emerge. In the orthodox method of manufacturing, after harvesting and sorting, the leaves undergo the withering step where they are spread in several inch thick layers and allowed to dry, reducing the moisture of the leaf. This process usually takes about 18 - 20 hours and must be carefully controlled to produce the best teas.
When the withering process is complete, the leaves are then rolled using modern machinery that rolls, twists, and compresses the leaf. This action bursts the cell structure, releases the juices of the leaf and promotes the start of the oxidation process. Black tea is allowed to oxidize fully, a process that is carefully controlled and monitored by experienced tea experts.
When oxidation is considered complete, the tea is then dried with hot air to stop any further enzymatic breakdown of the leaf. The oxidation that takes place is largely responsible for the flavor, color and strength of black tea.
Herbal teas are teas (or tisanes) that are made from botanicals other than the Camellia Sinesis like herbs, leaves, roots, spices, berries, or dried fruit. Sometimes herbs can be mixed with tea to make tea blends as with our Namaste blend that contains a mix of botanicals and a small amount of white tea.
Rooibos tea is also a popular herbal tea that is made from the leaves of the aspalathus linoaris plant, or "red bush" and grows only in South Africa. The flavor of rooibos is very similar to true black tea however it is caffeine free and high in vitamin C.
Where to Start?
1. Using Water that is Too Hot
2. Using Water that is Too Cold
3. Steeping the Leaves for Too Long
4. Using Tea that is Too Old
6. Adding Cream Instead of Milk
7. Using Utensils that Retain Scent from Other Teas
Moroccan Mint Green Tea
Moroccan Mint Mojitos
3-4 mint leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
brewed moroccan mint tea, chilled
1 ounce rum *
The Story of Ti Kuan Yin
What is Pu-erh Tea?
Pu-erh tea is a traditional style of tea made in the Yunnan Province in Southwestern China. Pu-erh tea is unique because it is aged, and is often pressed into various shapes to form coins, bricks, mushroom, or other shapes. It has a long history, dating back to the Han Dynasty (25 – 225 AD) and was often used as currency. During the long travels on the backs of horses, donkeys or men along the traditional trade routes like the Tea Horse Road, the tea would be repeatedly moistened with water to keep it from becoming over dry. This practice, along with a diverse range of weather and climactic conditions during the trip, allowed the tea to continue to ferment during the long trip and it’s believed this is how the first pu-erh teas were discovered. Today, the process is carefully handled from start to finish. This aged tea is prized for its multitude of health benefits and has become a highly sought after collectible for connoisseurs around the world, especially in Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, often fetching outrageous prices.
Why is Pu-erh Tea valued for age?
As the tea ages, the natural fermentation process allows the growth of beneficial microbes in the tea. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganism, involving the giving off of heat. Some of the more recognizable of the microbes found in Puerh include Aspergillus niger, (also found in yogurt or sour dough bread), and Penicillium (a bacteria that stops the growth of undesirable bacteria, used to make cheese). These beneficial microbes, along with a multitude of others, help to create the many health benefits of pu-erh tea that have been cherished for centuries in Chinese medicine. Modern science has found truth to the claims of aiding in weight loss, preventing heart disease and hardening of arteries, reducing high blood pressure, controlling inflammation in the body, and supporting healthy digestion.
Where does it grow?
Pu-erh tea grows amidst the Six Famous Mountains in Xishangbanna, Yunnan where there are excellent growing conditions. Each mountainous area has its own “terroir”, with unique growing and climactic conditions attributing to a unique taste profile of the tea grown there. Located on either side of the Mekong River, the tea is harvested both from wild tea trees and from cultivated plants. The teas made using leaves from the wild trees are more highly prized.
Types of Pu-erh
There are two main styles of puerh; green puerh, also called raw, or Sheng Cha, and black puerh, also called cooked, ripe, or Shou Cha. Each is carefully harvested by hand in the traditional way, plucking only the top two leaves and a bud. After the harvest, the leaves are carefully sorted, with inferior leaves being removed. The leaves are then spread in the sun to be allowed to wither gently to reduce their moisture content, and then they are pan fired to halt any further oxidation. The leaves are then rolled into long strips and left to fully dry in the sun.
Green pu-erh (Sheng Cha) is then either pressed into one of the traditional shapes, or stored as a loose tea, and is then allowed to age naturally. The environment is carefully controlled to create the most ideal levels of temperature and humidity and there must be a healthy flow of air to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. The conditions of the storage facility are paramount to the quality of the final product. Over time, the astringent characteristics of the tea mature into a smooth, complex flavor with slightly earthy aromas and tastes. The longer the tea is aged, the greater its value, and naturally aged, green pu-erh teas are considered more valuable and superior to the artificially aged, black pu-erhs.
Black pu-erh (Shou Cha) was created to meet the demands for pu-erh tea that came after the cultural revolution of China in the 1970’s, and the introduction of this tea to the world markets. In an effort to speed up the aging process, the tea masters developed a technique to mimic the characteristics of the naturally aged tea. After being processed in the traditional method, black pu-erh is then arranged in a large pile in a warm and humid area. The pile would then be misted with water, and carefully, periodically turned in a method similar to composting. The pile must be carefully monitored so that the leaves do not begin to decompose but to maintain conditions under which the growth of the beneficial microbes and bacteria are encouraged. Once deemed ready, the tea is then either stored in cloth bags as loose pu-erh or pressed into shapes. Once the processing is completed, further aging does not necessarily benefit the black pu-erh.
Pressing into Shapes
The most common forms of pressed pu-erh are the Bing Cha (disc) Tuo Cha (bowl or nest), or Zuan Cha (brick). Other common shapes are the melon, square, and mushroom. Sometimes, the tea is tightly packed into a citrus fruit or bamboo stalk to age.
When pressing into shapes, the tea is first gently steamed to make the leaves less brittle and more pliable. It’s then weighed into the proper weight for the final shape, and then usually placed into a cotton or linen bag and formed into a ball. A paper ticket that indicates the origin of the tea is usually included. The bag is twisted shut, and the coiled area of the bag is turned into itself and forms the little dimple in the disk or bowl. The tea ball is then pressed, either by hand with heavy stone cylinders, or with a mechanized press.
Once pressed into the desired shape, the tea is then removed from the cloth bag and placed on open shelves to dry naturally for a number of weeks, or until the tea master has determined that the moisture content is correct for it to be carefully wrapped in air permeable paper and stored on the shelves.
How do I brew it?
Pu-erh tea is best brewed in Chinese style, either using the Gung Fu Ceremonial style of preparing in a small, Yixing (traditional clay) teapot, or in a gaiwan (a lidded, handleless tea bowl). Without going into depth to describe these methods, here are some general guidelines for brewing pu-erh tea. After assembling your brewing utensils, cut a small amount, about the size of a quarter, of tea from the cake. The general rule is about 1 gram of tea per oz. of water, but feel free to increase or decrease amount based on personal taste. Pressed pu-erh tea can be quite hard, and the best way to break off a bit of the leaves is by using a pu-erh knife. Carefully insert the knife in a horizontal manner and gently pry some of the leaves off the pu-erh cake.
Next, put the leaves in the already rinsed and heated teapot or gaiwan. Pour some hot water onto the tea and take 3 relaxed breaths. Pour the water out. This step is called “rinsing, or washing” the leaves. Not only does it rinse away any extra dust from storage, but it awakens the leaves. Now, pour the hot water over the leaves (about 190° for green pu-erh, and about 210° for black). Allow the tea to infuse for only about 20 seconds for the first infusion, increasing the time slightly for each successive infusion. High quality pu-erh teas can be infused many times.
Pu-erh has flavors that are unique and unlike those of other, more common styles of tea. The natural fermentation process creates a depth and complexity of aromas and flavors that are sometimes an acquired taste, much like other forms of fermented foods and beverages, such as beer, kombucha, or kim chee. The rich, moist earth aroma of pu-erh tea is often reminiscent of taking a walk in the forest, and in the cup, a quality pu-erh should offer no astringency, and should have a smooth, rich, earthy flavor. With green pu-erh, the older the tea the more it will develop a smooth, sometimes sweet finish.
The wide variety of pu-erh tea available today offers the tea connoisseur an endless choice of flavor.
Modern Tea: A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage, Lisa Boalt Richardson, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2014
Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic, Jinghong Zhang, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2014