An introduction to Camelia sinensis and all things TEA

All ‘Tea’ comes from the same plant. Whether you get black, green, or white tea is a matter how the leaf is processed!

Herbal Teas come from any variety of other plants that are not Camelia sinensis, but we still love them!

Credit: TEA HIVE

A Crash Course on Caffeine…

The caffeine level in your cup of tea is based on two things:

  • type: black is highest, then oolong, green, and white
  • steeping time: the longer you steep, the more caffeine you extract.

Note: Tea bags (containing crushed up leaf particles) will infuse more caffeine than loose leaf tea.

Not only does tea have just the right amount of caffeine, but its chemically designed for all of the benefits without any of the negatives.

Coffee: 70-180 mg caffeine/cup
Tea: 20-70 mg caffeine/cup

The antioxidants in your tea allow for a slower & longer absorption of caffeine into your system providing a gentler wake up with no crash at the end!

Tea contains a special chemical, L-theanine, that has relaxing & de-stressing properties which complements the caffeine in your cup, allowing you to feel both alert & calm.

Our Guide to Steeping Teas

Credit: TEA HIVE

Tea = Leaves + Hot Water + Time.

The above table is based on a traditional Western-style mug of tea. We’ll save the approach to brewing gong-fu style tea for another post.

Tea Leaves
All teas vary in shape and size so serving size for one type of tea will not be the same as another. If you want to get really precise about it you can measure 3g of tea per 8oz of water but we like the thrill of adventure so we prefer to eyeball it. Like everything, practice makes perfect, after a few dozen mugs you’ll get a pretty good sense of how much you should use.

Water Temperature
Some teas prefer higher temperatures in order to extract all their best & complex flavors, others (particularly green teas) will burn and get bitter. Please, don’t get a thermometer out to test your tea water. Estimating is perfectly acceptable! Our preferred way to gauge temperature is the amount & size of water bubbles as your kettle heats!

Steep Time
So much of a good cup of tea is based on personal preference. These times are guides. The more tea you drink the more you’ll figure out what length of time works for you!

It’s your cup of tea. Drink it however you want it!

Like Weaker Tea? Reduce leaf amount or steep time (or both!)
Like Stronger Tea? Add more leaves or steep longer (or both!)
The perfect cup of tea is all about personal preference. We fully support experimentation to see what works for you. The above are simply our suggestions.

Chai Society

And ode to one of our favorite tea varieties, Chai!

Photo Credit: Tea Hive

History of Chai

Chai literally means tea in India, but in English it is an abbreviation for its namesake Chai Masala, an Indian spiced and sweet black tea with milk. The earliest chai dates to about five-thousand years ago, an Ayurvedic tonic of milk and spices created for its cleansing and digestive-supporting benefits. Once tea came to India in 1835 it was incorporated into chai recipes and became a staple in Indian culture.

The Spices of Life

Traditionally, chai masala contains assam black tea, fresh ginger, and a variety of spices including cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and peppercorns.

Other popular spices include: nutmeg, star anise, lemongrass, saffron, allspice, fennel, coriander, vanilla, and cacao.

Chai it, you’ll like it.

How to brew the perfect cup of chai?
The key is to make it strong and sweet (but not too sweet). Chai is best consumed milky (a milk-substitute works too!) so we recommend steeping your tea extra strong and then adding it to warm or frothed milk.
You can infuse your chai blend as you would any other black or green tea or you can simmer it over the stove low-and-slow (approx. 6-7 mins) for an extra amount of oomph.

The Chai’s the Limit

There’s an infinite variety of chais just waiting to be crafted and sipped.

All about that Base:

-Black tea, green tea, white tea, and rooibos will produce completely different tasting chais. Each are wonderful in their own way.

Class up the Milk:

– Try coconut milk or condensed milk for a different flavor!

Make it Boozy:

Chai Russian: Chai + Cream + Vodka
Chai Fashioned: Whiskey + Chai-infused Simple Syrup + Bitters + Orange Twist
Chai Libre: Chai + Simple Syrup + Lime + Rum
Spiked Chai: Chai + Baileys
Apple of my Chai: Chai + Hot Apple Cider + Rum

Chai has stolen our hearts and become one of the most popular teas in the world with countless varieties each and every one delectable. We’ll leave you with a parting note of wisdom true both in tea and in life…

If at first you don’t succeed, chai, chai, again.

Tea + Mindfulness

A Guide to Tea Drinking as a Mindfulness Exercise

Photo Credit: Tea Hive

Mindfulness: the process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.

The Benefits of Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness rests the analytical mind and brings peace to the whole body. Studies show that a mindfulness practice:

  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • improves flexibility and response to unexpected stressors
  • promotes better sleep
  • supports the physical body including lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, and alleviating indigestion

Tea Mindfulness Practice

– The key is to do every step of the process from preparation, to pouring, sipping, and cleanup with complete attention.
– Find a nice quiet place and simply sit with your cup of tea for a moment. Observe your surroundings.
– As the leaves and the hot water come into contact, use every sense to observe what happens.
– Make every movement, whether its pouring the hot water or reaching for your cup, with intention and awareness.
Take your time with it. Really savor every sip. Notice the feelings and sensations you experience in your hands, mouth, nose, mind etc.
Let any thoughts enter into and then pass through your mind without engaging with them.

Our Tips

Pick the perfect tea-ware: Using a clear glass teapot (or cup) so you can watch the color change or the tea leaves swirl as you steep.

Be strategic with your tea choice: Think teas that are particularly beautiful to look at (petals or pearls) or have a strong aroma and flavor to boost your multi-sensory experience. Alternatively, choose a tea with relaxing properties to quiet your mind and enhance the wellbeing benefits of your mindfulness ritual.

Tea + Zen Buddhism

Tea first found its way to Japan from China in the 12th century when a Japanese monk Eisai Zenji, discovered tea while studying in China, and brought tea seeds back to Japan with him upon his return. Tea was planted within buddhist monasteries and was incorporated into Zen meditation rituals eventually evolving into the elaborate tea ceremony traditions of Japanese culture today.

A mindful cup of tea as part of your day pays homage to this history.

Photo Credit: Tea Hive
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