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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.

How to Make Tea Sorbet

PC: Tea Hive

Sorbet is a dairy-free, fruit-loving form of ice cream that is easy to make, and delicious! We make it year-round but it’s particularly perfect for getting your tea-fix in the hot, sunny, summer months.

How to Make Tea Sorbet

Ingredients

3 c. liquid*
3 heaping tablespoons dry tea
1 c. sugar
citrus zest + 2 tbs juiced citrus (optional)

*Liquid options: You could do straight tea for this sorbet and go with 3c. H20, or you could do 2c. water and 1 c. of a complimentary juice.

The Process

Picking your flavors

Really the sky’s the limit when it comes to your tea-sorbet adventure, but we recommend picking something fruity or floral. You can choose to go all-tea or you can pair your tea with a complimentary juice. We used Rose-Roiboos for our sorbet and paired it with cherry juice for a floral, fruity sorbet with a great tart kick.

Looking for some tea-sorbet inspiration? We’d recommend:

Infusing Process

  • Bring liquid and sugar to boil on stove and stir till dissolved.
  • Add tea leaves, turn off heat & steep 5-8 mins
  • Add citrus, if using.
  • Strain liquid.

For a boozy twist… Add 3 tbs of your favorite alcohol at the citrus step in the process. For our Rose Rooibos sorbet we used vodka. An added benefit of adding alcohol is that it lowers the freezing temperature of your infusion and keeps your granita/sorbet from getting too solid in the freezer.

The Freezing Process

  • Place liquid in fridge to chill completely.
  • Transfer to ice cream maker & freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Don’t have an ice-cream maker?
Make granita instead! Either pour your liquid into a glass baking dish and scrape it down with a fork every few hours until you have the right semi-frozen consistency, or pour the sorbet infusion in a large ziploc bag and massage the mixture until you achieve the desired consistency!

Or, go crazy and make popsicles in your favorite popsicle molds.

Bon Apetit!

We’d love to know what flavors and pairings you come up with for your tea sorbet creations. Tag us in your photos on Instagram or Facebook at: @myteahive!

A Recipe for Comfort: Tea + Chocolate Truffles

Photo Credit: Beth’s Chocolate

Recipe and contribution by Beth Kirsch, Beth’s Chocolate

Sometimes all it takes is a piece of dark chocolate or a steaming cup of tea to brighten my mood. Eating chocolate after sipping hot tea is even better—the chocolate melts more easily, releasing all its wonderful flavors. My love of both tea and chocolate led me to create several tea-inspired chocolate bonbons, each with a unique flavor, including jasmine, pomegranate, matcha, and spiced honey orange.

Make your own Tea Infused Chocolate Truffles

All you need is 4 ingredients: chocolate, heavy cream, tea, and cocoa powder.
Some tea and chocolate pairings work better than others; try a few different ones to see which you like best. You may need to adjust the recipe depending on the ingredients you use; don’t be afraid to experiment.

It’s all in the Ingredients

Beth’s recommendations…
for Chocolates: Valrhona Guanaja, Guittard, Callebaut, Theo
for Cocoa Powder: Valrhona, Guittard, Cacao Barry Extra Brute, Penzey’s
(To stock up, check out: www.chocosphere.com and/or Whole Foods.)

Tea Hive’s Tea Recommendations: Jasmine, Orange Spice, Chai, Lapsang Souchong, rose tea, or earl grey. Truly, the sky’s the limit and experimentation is the name of the game. Check out what’s in stock in the marketplace for other great options.

Tea Truffle Recipe

What You Need

4 oz. dark chocolate
(chopped into small pieces)
6 oz. heavy cream
2 TB. tea
cocoa powder

small saucepan with lid
cheesecloth
measuring cup
whisk
rubber spatula

Step 1: Infuse the Cream

  • Scald 6 oz. of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the tea.
  • Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a measuring cup.

Step 2: Make the Ganache

  • Wipe the saucepan with a paper towel to remove any loose tea.
  • Pour 4 oz. of the tea-infused cream back into the saucepan and reheat (do not boil). 
  • Turn off the heat and add the chocolate, making sure it’s covered by the cream.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes on the stovetop.
  • Briskly whisk the mixture, starting in the middle and moving toward the edges only after the chocolate and cream have begun to thicken and emulsify.
  • The mixture should become smooth and shiny. Use a rubber spatula around the edges and bottom to make sure all the cream is incorporated.
  • Transfer the ganache into a bowl and let it cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Make the Truffles

  • Use a spoon to scoop out rough (3/4”) balls of the ganache and place them on a plate. Give them a quick roll in your hands and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  • Roll each into more evenly-shaped balls. (If the ganache gets too soft to roll, put the truffles back in the fridge for 10 minutes and try again). 
  • Pour cocoa powder into a bowl. 
  • Drop each ball gently into the cocoa powder and roll it around to coat. Place it on a clean plate and continue with the rest of the truffles.
  • Now enjoy a few—with a cup of tea!

(Makes about 20-25 truffles. Store in the fridge, uncovered. Remove them about 15 minutes before serving. Eat within a few days.)

You Can Also Try…

  • Instead of steeping the tea in hot cream, let it steep overnight, covered, in the fridge (this requires a few more ounces of cream).
  • Omit the tea, and just use 4 oz. of scalded cream with the chocolate to make dark chocolate truffles. You can mix in some cocoa nibs for a crunchy texture.
  • For vegan truffles, use coconut cream instead of heavy cream.
  • If you prefer milk chocolate, use half the amount of cream to make the ganache.
  • Instead of cocoa powder, try grated chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, finely chopped nuts, toasted coconut, or other toppings. Roll the truffles in your hands to warm them before rolling in the toppings, pressing gently for them to stick.
  • Add a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, freeze-dried fruit powder, cinnamon, or cayenne.

Try it out and let us know what you think and what amazing tea and chocolate pairings you came up with! Don’t forget to share your photos with us on social media @myteahive!


About Beth’s Chocolate

My goal when making artisan chocolates is to create confections that look beautiful, taste extraordinary, and offer a moment of pure bliss when you experience them. I use high-quality French chocolate and fresh ingredients, and I make everything in small batches, all by hand. My chocolates have won more than 10 awards, including 6 International Chocolate Awards (Americas competition), 3 international awards from the London-based Academy of Chocolate, and a Gold Truffle Artistry award from the International Chocolate Salon. Explore my selection of chocolates at: https://www.bethschocolate.com/  and follow me on Instagram (@bethschocolatenewton) and Facebook (@pureblisschocolate).

Sip Tea. Be Happy

Our guide to boosting your mood with tea.

PC: Tea Hive

Meet the Happy Chemicals in your Brain

dopamine is the fast acting- feel good sensation, that motivates us to create habits. When we accomplishing your goals and achieve our desires we are rewarded with pleasure thanks to this brain chemical.

oxytocin is the type of pleasure you feel from healthy relationships and social connection, physical contact, and gift-giving/receiving.

serotonin is the type of happiness you experience when you feel significant or important. Helping others or accomplishing important tasks will release serotonin.

ENDORPHIN is the positive sensation you feel from exercise, the cause of the infamous ‘runner’s high’. Deep belly laughs also release endorphins.

Benefits of Being Happy

  • lower blood pressure & heart rate
  • better heart health
  • increased immunity & healing
  • experience less stress & pain
  • live longer
  • sleep better
  • improved digestion & metabolism

Building a Habit of Happiness

Put some tea in a thermos and head outside for a walk. Exercise releases endorphins that improves your overall sense of well-being and reduces anxiety.

Τreat someone to a cup. The sense of accomplishment you feel when you help others releases serotonin which makes you happy AND improves digestion, bone growth, and organ development.

Sip tea in good company. Positive social interactions release oxytocin which improves the immune system. Physical contact is a major oxytocin booster so follow that cuppa with a hug!

Set attainable goals, like… finishing that bag of tea you’ve had for ages. Accomplishing your goals triggers the release of dopamine, the fast acting- feel good sensation, that helps us to create habits.

Practice Meditation, Mindfulness, & Gratitude during Tea Time. Studies show practicing these techniques will strengthen the parts of your brain wired for happiness and shrink the parts that manage fear,anxiety, and stress responses.

Fake it ’till you make it. Studies show the act of smiling may actually make you happier.

Happy Teas Start with These Ingredients

SAFFRON is high in antioxidants and contains chemicals that improve mood, fight depression, irritability & anxiety. It’s anti-inflammatory and studies suggest it even improves brain function and memory.

CITRUS Not only is the scent of citrus mood- boosting but the high levels of Vit C & B, as well as zinc and magnesium are key soldiers in the quest for bliss. Vit C is essential for your brain to create dopamine & serotonin and B vitamins help to regulate them. Magnesium is powerful for fighting stress, depression, & anxiety.

TURMERIC is beloved for its anti-inflammatory benefits. By reducing chronic inflammation turmeric encourages the production of melatonin and seratonin. Turmeric stimulates the production of new brain cells and relieves stress and brain fog.

GINGER contains the same chemical that is responsible for the incredible health benefits of Turmeric, curcumin. Plus its zingy flavor is invigorating and stimulating for the whole body, mood included.

GINSENG is an adaptogen, meaning it regulates stress and supports the adrenal system. It also contains mood boosting properties, regulates serotonin levels, improves brain function & memory, and increases overall energy.

CHOCOLATE triggers the production of endorphins, and contains both mood boosting flavonoids, and tryptophan which produces serotonin. Dark chocolate is better than milk for soaking up all these mood boosting benefits.

BERRIES contain mood boosting flavonoids and Vit C which is essential for the production of both dopamine and serotonin.

ROSE this aroma triggers the release of serotonin in your brain.

LAVENDER is soothing to your nerves and its scent, in particular, encourages your brain to produce endorphins.

VANILLA triggers the release of endorphins in your brain.

PUERH contains GABA a chemical that reduces stress, and since it is a fermented tea also contains probiotics which supports gut health. Balanced and diverse gut flora reduce stress hormone levels in the body and fight chronic inflammation which contributes to depression. And since 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, a healthy gut is one of the keys to happiness.

ROOIBOS is high in antioxidants (actually more than green tea) which are good for your body and contains chemicals that support and improve brain function.

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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