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Boulder Tangerine
Spiced Cider

Posted on September 10, 2016

 

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.

 

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Time to go Back to Tea School?

Posted on August 26, 2016




 

Tea School

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 Teas


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 Teas

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 Teas

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 Teas

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

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?

Try our tea sampler sets where you can try a small amount of a variety of teas.  
 

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7 Ways To Ruin Your Tea

Posted on August 12, 2016
Seven ways to ruin your tea
   
Enjoy the best cup possible by avoiding these common tea brewing mistakes.
   

1. Using Water that is Too Hot

Many types of tea, especially some fine green teas, cannot withstand boiling water. In fact, some of the most delicate and refined teas are best brewed at temperatures no higher than 160°. Water that's hotter than that can actually "stew" the leaves, creating a brew that loses the subtleties of flavor and aroma.

2. Using Water that is Too Cold

Most black teas and oolong teas need water that is boiling in order to bring out the flavor of the leaves. Using water that is not hot enough will leave the tea tasting weak and insipid.

3. Steeping the Leaves for Too Long

Teas are best brewed anywhere from 2 - 5 minutes, (though some herbs are actually best brewed even longer). The longer a tea steeps, the more bitter the brew can become. Following the guidelines provided by your tea vendor will ensure that your tea is brewed to perfection.

4. Using Tea that is Too Old

Most teas are best when fresh, for this is when the flavor is at its peak. Old teas can lose flavor and almost have a 'dusty' flavor in the cup. Properly storing tea will help to lengthen it's shelf-life, but it's a good practice to only purchase tea that you'll be able to drink in the next 6 - 12 months.

5. Over Boiling the Water

The water for tea is that which has been freshly boiled, and used immediately when it reaches a boil. Allowing the water to boil for a long time removes valuable oxygen from the water and can result in tea that tastes flat and listless.

6. Adding Cream Instead of Milk

The proper addition to black tea is milk. Cream is far too heavy for the delicate brew. Not all teas can handle milk, however. Black breakfast teas can often hold up to the addition of milk, but it should never be added to green, oolong or white teas.

7. Using Utensils that Retain Scent from Other Teas

Many flavored teas have flavoring oils added to them, and these oils can remain on utensils and strainers even after being washed. The flavor will then transfer to other teas when they are brewed using the same equipment. It's a good practice to have one teapot for each type of tea, so that you maintain a consistent flavor and don't cross contaminate.
 

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Moroccan Mint Mojitos

Posted on August 03, 2016

 

 

Moroccan Mint Green Tea

Moroccan Mint is a blend of fine Chinese green gunpowder tea flavored with the highest quality peppermint and spearmint. This tea is traditionally sipped in glass teacups with plenty of sugar throughout North Africa and the Middle East, but is also delicious iced for the summer.  

Moroccan Mint Mojitos

For one drink: 

3-4 mint leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
brewed moroccan mint tea, chilled
1 ounce rum *
Muddle the lime juice, mint and sugar together in a glass until the leaves bruise slightly. Fill the glass with ice, then add the rum and tea.  Stir to combine. 



* For an alcohol free "mocktail" version replace rum with sparkling water.  

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Blackberry Sun Tea

Posted on July 15, 2016
Sun Tea is a method of brewing tea that used the energy of the sun to gently heat a container of water and tea slowly over a period of time longer than traditional tea brewing methods - about 1-3 hours.  Sun Tea is a cold-brewing method that results in a smoother brew and - it's FUN!

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Tieguanyin Oolong

Posted on April 03, 2015
Tea in China is strongly infused with social, mythical, and cultural relevance.  One of the most heavenly teas of China is the celebrated oolong from Fujian province, Ti Kuan Yin.  Named for the Iron Goddess of Mercy, Ti Kuan Yin is a variety of tea plant that produces a slightly astringent cup with delicate floral notes and a sweet lingering finish.  (There are many different theories about the meaning of the term “iron” in the title.  It could be the dark, twisted leaf looks a little like iron, or could be that Kuan Yin is often portrayed as being the protector of humanity, perhaps through her iron will.)  Each year in China, an annual tea competition compares the crop of Ti Kuan Yin from numerous farms, and the winning tea has been known to fetch up to $20,000 a pound! 
Clearly, this treasured tea has been sent from heaven, and in their recognition of this, the Chinese have named this tea after one of their most beloved deities, Kuan Yin.
 
Who is this Chinese Goddess, Kuan Shih Yin?   Kuan Yin is the most worshipped deity of the Chinese world.  She is the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, She Who Hears the Cries of the World, and Bringer of Children.   Kuan Yin is the embodiment of kindness and human compassion. Unique in world mythology, she transcends all religious boundaries.  She can be found in Buddhist temples, on sacred Taoist mountains, and in Shinto households.  She even has a place in Christian homes. She is worshipped throughout China, Korea, and Japan, (as Kannon) as a deity who speaks directly to the common people.  She is the one to be invoked in times of sickness, hardship, or danger, the one to whom to pray for children, or for deliverance from suffering.
Kuan Yin is believed to have “evolved” from the Buddhist Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, described in the Lotus Sutra as Lord who Hears the Cries of the World.  When translated into Chinese, the title Avalokitesvara became Kuan Shih Yin.  Slowly, over time, this male form of Kuan Yin evolved into a female form, perhaps to address the need of the people to recognize the divine feminine as patriarchal Buddhism gained popularity, overriding the older, more shamanic traditions of China.  The gentle, loving nature of this deity touches the hearts of all who meet her, and today her image can be found in most homes in China.  Countless legends and stories are told about the mercy of this deity, and her manifestations are many.  But one such story tells of the origins of the famed variety of tea, Ti Kuan Yin, today considered one of China’s Ten Most Famous Tea’s. 
 

The Story of Ti Kuan Yin

As retold by Sara Stewart Martinelli
Many many years ago, in the ancient days of China, there lived an old man named Wei.  Wei was a devout follower of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, and proved his loyalty by maintaining a dilapidated old temple to the Goddess. The temple was hidden deep in the forest, where few travelers ventured, but despite his loneliness, Wei continued with his devotions.  Each day, he swept and cleaned the entire temple, polished the old, chipped statue of Kuan Yin, and burned incense in her honor. Each night he spent time in meditation with Kuan Yin, and when he could, he left an offering of rice and fresh spring water to her at the altar.
Wei was old, and very very poor.  Even in his extreme poverty, he managed to save a little to offer Kuan Yin, but he often went hungry and in those times, he would leave only a little flower blossom.  On one such night, with his empty stomach and only a wilting blossom in hand, he stood in the flickering candlelight in front of the statue and prayed to Kuan Yin to alleviate his hunger and poverty.   He told her of the illness and starvation that had befallen him and his neighbors. 
That night, in a dream, Kuan Yin appeared to Wei.  He dreamt he was floating on the sea in a small boat, with no oars or sails.  Overhead, the night sky was filled with twinkling diamonds, and no land was in sight.  The gentle waves lulled him softly as they lapped against the sides of his boat, and he felt no fear.  After some time, he noticed a tiny star right on the horizon line.  It slowly grew brighter and brighter, and as it rose into the night sky, it turned into the brightest moon that Wei had ever seen.  As he stared at it, it slowly changed into a shining image of his beloved goddess, Kuan Yin.   In her melodious voice, she told him that she had heard his cries for help and had come to offer her mercy.  He must follow her instructions carefully, and his suffering would be alleviated.  She told him that when he woke from his dream, he must climb the nearby mountain to its peak, where he would find a cave.  Inside, he would find the means to improve his condition, but he must share this treasure with his neighbors in an act of generosity and compassion, just as Kuan Yin would do.
Wei woke early, before the sun rose above the horizon.  He bundled himself in his warmest clothing, and set out upon the path.  He began to slowly climb the steep mountain, painstakingly picking his way up the rocky trail toward the summit.  As the sun rose in the sky, and the day passed, he stayed on his path, never wavering, but moving very slowly, for he was a very old man.
Finally, late in the afternoon, he reached the entrance to the cave.  Upon peering in, all he could see was blackness.  His faith for Kuan Yin gave him great courage, and he lit a candle and ventured in to the cavern.  The cave seemed to twist and turn, as it went deep into the womb of the mountain.  Finally, he came to a larger cavern that seemed to be the end of the cave, lit by a tiny shaft of light from a hole in the ceiling. There, growing on the cave floor, sitting amidst a tiny pool of dim afternoon light, was a tiny tea shoot.
Wei was disappointed that there was no treasure, but again, he trusted in his beloved goddess.  He gently rocked the roots of this tea shoot from the rich soil of the cave floor, and wrapped it delicately in his cloak.  He then began the long journey home to the temple, which took most of the night, as the darkness slowed him even more.
When he arrived home, the sun was just beginning to rise, and he carefully planted the tea shoot in the garden of the Temple of Kuan Yin.  He nurtured the shoot like the gift of Heaven that it was, and it grew into a tea plant that produced a unique leaf.  When Wei harvested this leaf and infused it, it gave off a magical aroma.  The taste was like the ambrosia of the Gods.   Wei knew that he had a tea like no other, and named the tea after his patron goddess, Kuan Yin.  Word of this extraordinary tea spread, and eventually Wei was even processing tribute tea for the Emperor.  Wei was generous and freely gave the seeds of the plant to his neighbors. Today, the Ti Kuan Yin variety of camellia sinensis grows all over this area of Anxi province and is beloved the world over.
              

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About Pu-erh Tea

Posted on February 16, 2015

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.

 

Tasting Pu-erh

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.  

 

Sources:

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

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