Friday, February 21, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Kombucha is a very interesting part of tea culture, with origins that aren't totally clear. The most commonly believed origin says that it started in ancient Northern China. Kombucha is fermented sweet tea. During the fermentation yeast eat the sugar to make achohol, then, bacteria eat the alcohol produced by the yeast. In doing so they produce acetic acid(the thing that makes vinegar, vinegar) among other things and lower the alcohol content to negligible amounts. I won't get too much into the production of kombucha because that is for a later post.
I'm not one to preach the health benefits of tea(or in this case kombucha) or to tell people to go out and buy expensive "health" craze items. So I won't start now. The real reason you're learning about kombucha is because soon I'll be brewing my own and maybe you will as well! I am really excited about this because it's probably the only drink you can homebrew and actually save money. The 16oz GT's Kombucha bottles cost $3.50 each. The gear you need to make your own costs ~$30. It could be more or less depending on whether or not you make your own SCOBY. But homebrewing it a gallon at a time will pay for itself in 2-3 brews regardless of that.
Before I got started I wanted to figure out what I would like mine to taste like so I bought a few to taste and see. These are all GT's Kombucha: Original on the left(just tea, sugar and microbes, no fruit or flavor), Gingerade in the midde(just kombucha and ginger), and on the right is Citrus(just kombucha and lemon juice). I bought these at jewel, they had more flavors, these ones simply appealed to me the most. I enjoyed the original one the most as it was definitely the sweetest and smoothest. The ginger and lemon ones I thought were a little too harsh and lost the tea flavor all together. I think I would enjoy them more if there weren't as much ginger or lemon. Maybe as nuanced flavors instead of these big flavors that conceal the original taste. I'll definitely experiment with different teas and flavors in my own brewing.
Monday, January 20, 2014
If you're on a budget looking for functional tea and coffee ware. Ikea always has your back. The jars are all air tight and really awesome. The little ones were $3 fo a set of two, the medium ones are $3, the big one was $4 and the beaker pitcher was $3 I think. Anyway, you could get cheaper jars than these, but you wont find jars this cool for less.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
This fall I was riding my motorcycle back form a camping trip and I rode strait past Bristol Pottery. My interest had been piqued and I turned around and went back.
I walked up and a man came out to talk to me. He was the artist and the man running the studio. He showed me around and told me about his studio and his work.
I can tell he has an immense appreciation for life and nature, something I think we have in common.
He and his work represents an image very special to me. It's an image of doing what you love, being good at it, and sharing it with others.
To people like us the word "handmade" doesn't mean something is better or more functional. It's a connection between people. When we know where things come from and who made them we feel more connected to the world. It doesn't matter if the object was made 60 miles away, or 6000 miles away.
That't not to say that his work isn't functional or high quality. In fact quite the opposite. All of his work is oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.
I ended up buying two of the cups on the small center table. They are my favorite cups and if he ever decides to make a teapot, I'll buy one.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
I said in an earlier post that I have nothing against tea that isn't "tea" or tea blended with things other than tea. Although I rarely drink blended tea myself that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it once in a while! This is the first time I blended some tea to package up. Usually if I do I stick whatever it is in the pot with the tea right before brewing. This time I had to make sure everything was completely dry and evenly mixed.
I named the blend "Get Up and Go!" as it consists of yerba mate, which contains much more caffeine and theobromine than tea made from c. sinensis, ginseng oolong, known to be invigorating, homemade candied ginger, and dried orange peels. I added little of the last two ingredients as I wanted their contribution to the flavor to be subtle compared to the yerba and ginseng, though I thought their flavor would pair nicely with the overarching character of the blend.
My friend Chase recently gave me some Japanese grown black tea. This was my first time trying it and I was very excited because of how much I enjoy other Japanese teas.
Here is the Japanese black tea(right), next to some broken leaf Assam(left).
The leaves are similar in size and shape, however the Japanese tea lacks almost any scent at all. If anything it smelled like dry ground.
I used my kyusu because it's a Japan grown tea.
I expected to have an astringent vegetal black tea, that would share at least some qualities with sencha as this tea most likely comes from Yabukita (the cultivar or breed of tea tree that 80% of all Japanese tea comes from). This tea met none of my expectations and left me at a loss for why it tasted the way it did.
It wasn't malty like an Assam is or vegaetal like sencha is. The only word I can describe it with is earthy. It was earthy to the point of shu puerh. It had no fishy taste which was a plus, but it was earthy to the point of not being pleasurable to drink. I will try more Japanese black teas in the future as this is probably an exception rather than a rule.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
I've always enjoyed tea. I used to drink tea from teabags. Things simply labelled "green tea" or "Ceylon Tea". Not because I had no appreciation, but because I had no idea how deep and complex a thing tea is. Tea is not only a drink. Tea is a pastime, a tradition, a culture, a way of life, a connection to one other, and a drink. Tea can put us in touch with deep transcendental values that are worth much more than, caffeine value, health benefits, and weight loss.
Last fall I stumbled upon Teavana. I was fascinated by whole leaves and these new teas I had no idea existed. At that point I didn't even know what oolong was. I wasn't however, fascinated with the prices. They were prohibitive and I didn't end up purchasing anything.
I went home, started reading and interest turned into obsession. I would devour every scrap of information I could get and ordered loads of samples of unblended tea from adagio. I couldn't get enough! I started searching for a local tea shop to fuel my new found addiction. I found Tea Harbor and discovered how good Chinese tea can get! Then I discovered The Green Teaist where I learned about Japanese tea.
Now I get most of my tea from specialty websites because I'm always searching for something new and unusual or just really good tea. That's not to say that non-specialty shops don't have good tea, or that good tea is limited to the exclusive or rare. In fact I wouldn't consider tea an exclusive thing whatsoever! Many people obsess over this saying that "True tea only comes from the camellia sinensis,". I say as long as it's steeped in water, and you enjoy it, it's tea! I'll add that I like to say that coffee is arguably a type of tea, however heretical it may be.
The tea was good by the way! It was Tie Guan Yin from Tea Harbor! I think it's not oxidized enough, closer to baozong style than Tie Guan Yin. Great none the less!