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Tea House - A Himalayan Experience

By Sarah Lucas 20 Jul, 2017
Orthodox teas are held up as being the best quality tea available - but why - what sets them apart from your average supermarket or industrial tea?  Well,  it's all in the leaves. 

Orthodox Teas are whole leaf teas crafted using the traditional process of making tea, either by hand processing or rolling machinery that mimics hand rolling.  The small, young tender leaves are plucked from the tips of the tea bush. This is in contrast to CTC Teas, which are made through the Crush, Tear, and Curl method which produces a granular leaf particle.  CTC teas are then further graded by: brokens, fannings and dust.  Dust is the lowest quality  tea you can you and is mostly presented in bags in the supermarket.

Is Orthodox tea better?

Orthodox teas are known for being brisk, bright, and more complex than your average tea.  The nuances and complexities in orthodox teas make the tea drinking experience much more enjoyable as compared with CTC teas.  Orthodox teas are subject to a grading system (more on that in a future blog!) and I guess you could draw comparisons between wine complexities and orthodox teas.  Orthodox teas are essentially handcrafted quality whole leaves. 

All Tea House Teas are orthodox - they are handcrafted and rolled in the high Himalayas of Nepal, on an estate called Sandakphu - operated as a farmer led cooperative.    They are definitely set apart from CTC teas, which are stronger and have a tendency to include bitter tones. 

All quality orthodox tea goes through a production system based on the following stages. 

  • Firstly - the leaves are WITHERED - The leaves are spread out for 14-20 hours to allow the moisture to evaporate.  Some Tea House teas are withered in the sun. 
  • Then they are ROLLED - Rotating and pressing the leaves to release their inherit chemicals and prepare for oxidation.  This is done either by hand or in a rolling machine.
  • Next up is OXIDISATION - The leaves spend 2-4 hours in a controlled environment, allowing the air to react with the chemicals. During this process, the leaves turn darker.
  • Lastly, they are FIRED - A heater or the sunshine is used to stop oxidation and dry the leaves before they are sorted for grading.
Sandakphu tea estate produces many different types of tea - and each one is unique based on what leaves are picked, when picking takes place, and the lengths for each processing stage.    The processing stage also decides whether a tea is white, green, oolong or black with each variety having different treatments in each stage. 

Get to know your teas and then you can decide better what kind of 'tea day' it is!  Do you feel the need for a milky spiced tea?  Well, go for some cheaper CTC leaves which can take the milk well.  CTC tends have have stronger bitter flavours and it releases all of its flavours in the first steep.  Or maybe today you feel like a refreshing cooler tea - maybe served with fresh lemon juice or mint leaves - in that case - go for a whole leaf orthodox tea - which you can steep multiple times.   Whatever you decide just make sure you stop, relax and enjoy your tea moment. 


By Sarah Lucas 28 Jun, 2017

Here at Teahouse, we believe that great tea does not need milk. But why did it become popular to add milk to tea and what do experts say about adding milk to tea?

 

There are different accounts of why it became popular to add milk to tea, with the most often used argument being that it is a matter of taste, especially in regard to overcoming some of the more bitter tasting teas. Another unproven account from history is that back in the 16th century, ceramics were very thin and adding milk to the cup before the milk sved china from cracking (although it is still debatable whether milk was used by the Chinese at all during that period). Another folktake is that it was used by unscrupulous employers, to shorten the length of workers tea breaks, due to the fact they wouldnt have to wait for the tea to cool. Historically, the British have always added milk to their tea but it is unknown whether they were following suit or established it as a habit to counter poor quality tea. Whatever the reason, milk is most often added to black teas in Western countries, along with parts of Asia, including India, Nepal and Tibet, where it was traditionally added to increase calorific intake.

 

So, should you add milk to your tea?

 

It really is personal preference. Green, White and Oolong teas, are most definitely taken without milk, because their aromas are over powered by the dairy flavours. However, black teas are often enjoyed with milk.

Strong black teas cope well with the addition of milk and often the milk will negate the more bitter qualities that strong teas can have. Lighter black teas such as Darjeeling or our own Himalayan Honey Gold are most often enjoyed without milk, as the milk can mask the subtle flavour characteristics.  Some black teas are so light in colour that the addition of milk produces a mild tasting warm milky flavour with very little colour at all.  Many people have been conditioned all of their lives to take milk with their tea and simply cannot imagine enjoying it black.  I myself, took milk in my tea for years, until I found myself in a thrid world country with no reliable safe source of milk.   After trying tea without milk, I found I really enjoyed the refreshing characteristics, and I found the tea more thirst quenching. I now enjoy all tea without milk and simply won't add milk because it ruins the flavour.  Don't be afraid to give milk-less tea a go - you might be pleasantly surprised.

Many tea experts or 'purist' insist that rare loose leaf teas like Tea-House teas should not have the addition of milk, but it really is a personal preference. Try it without, enjoy it with, just make sure you sit, relax and breath whilst sipping away at your favourite tea.

 

Tea House teas are fairtrade organic teas, hand tendered, hand picked and hand processed in the high hills of the Himalayas. Support this farmer led cooperative by shopping for our tea today.


By Sarah Lucas 18 Jun, 2017

Tea House teas are rare and exquisite. Follow the rules of thumbs below and you will be rewarded with the best cuppa ever.

 

How much tea should you use?

 

This depends on how you like your tea but usually it is a teaspoon of tea and one cup of water per person.

 

Don’t throw away those leaves just yet!

 

Rare teas from Sandakphu are of such high quality that the same leaves can be infused several/many times. Every steep will give you different take on the tea. These teas can be kept alive for days, just make sure to not let the leaves stew, and drain completely between brews (just prevents the tea from becoming bitter). Many people enjoy the second or third infusion the most!

After the first brew, the steeping time becomes less as water has already been absorbed by the leaf and flavour release is more immediate.

 

Temperature

 

The water is best freshly filtered and should not be re-boiled because this diminishes the oxygen content.

For good leaf tea the water should be below boiling. This is because the amino acids (which produce the tea's flavour) dissolve at lower temperatures than tannin. Tea made with water at 100°c will be more astringent and less sweet.

You can either stop the kettle just before water comes to the boil, or leave the water to cool slightly before steeping the tea. General rule is 1 minute for black teas, 2 minutes for oolongs and 3 minutes for white and greens.  

 

What kind of Teapot should you be using?

 

The most important rule is to use a clean pot. Every time. This makes for a fresh and clean tasting brew, not flavoured by days of previous stale brews.

A good quality infusion pot is great, or a pot with a grill over the inside of the spout. Tea House has some beautiful pots available on their website – these are perfect for the leaves we sell.

Pour only enough water onto the leaves that you need. That way you won’t have water sitting over the leaves stewing.

 

Using a Cup?

 

That’s fine, just use with a generously proportioned cup infuser.  

Steeping Times

 

Steeping times differ between different teas, and you will discover your preference through experimenting.

 

White Tea

White tea is the purest and most delicate of all teas. It needs longer brewing time than other teas. Allow to steep for  up to 3 minutes.

Green Tea

Green teas should be brewed for 1-2 minutes for the first brew. If you are going to make iced tea or to sweeten the green tea with sugar you may want to let it steep a little longer to bring out the more robust tannic flavours.  

Oolong

Traditionally, oolong is drunk from tiny cups and each sip savoured. The best results are achieved by making it in small quantities with a high leaf to water ratio and quick, 30 second infusions. The number of infusions depends on your own taste but oolong is often re-infused over six times revealing different subtleties of flavour each time.
Black Tea

 For black tea the steeping times really differ with preference. If you want to drink the tea on it's own (without milk) 45 seconds-1 minute is ideal but if you want to build the strong tannic flavours you may want to leave it longer for 2-3 minutes.

 

What about Milk and Sugar?

 

White tea, green tea and most oolongs are not traditionally taken with milk or sugar. Sandakphu teas are of such a high quality that they need to be taken alone to appreciate the various flavour profiles. With the black tea, milk and sugar can be added if preferred
By Sarah Lucas 04 May, 2017
White tea has been consumed for centuries in some parts of the world, and it is now also becoming popular in many Western countries. White Tea is from the same plant as all other teas, from greens through to black and oolongs. It is the way that White Tea is processed, that give it its special characteristics in look, taste and health benefits.  

White Tea is made from new growth buds and young leaves only. On a quality plantation these leaves are very carefully picked to prevent bruising and they are usually quickly steamed to prevent oxidation. Most white teas are under 20 percent oxidised. They are then dried. This is in contrast to blacks which are completely oxidised and greens which are usually not oxidised at all. 

No plantation produces the same white tea - white teas are similar to wines in that they all have different characteristics and tastings depending on region, handling, soil and processing. Even the weather can impact on the delicate final product and tea farmers often look for particular conditions to prevail during the picking and processing period.  

Tea House stocks a Sandakphu White Orange tea which is only prepared during the mid summer. A Silvery bud and one tender first leaf are plucked early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun either welcomes you or bids farewell. During this time Sandakphu foot hill plantation displays a glitter of silver. The very first summer or autumnal leaf and a silvery bud is hand plucked with precision, the leaves are then withered (removal of excess moisture from the tender bud and leaf) from the remaining hours of the day including overnight stay at withering troughs with a constant supply of natural air. Early in the morning freshness, the leaves are hand rolled for about half an hour and then allowed to rest for 1-2 hours depending on the weather conditions at the garden. Once the rolled leaves start changing color, they are lightly machine rolled for 15 minutes and then dried immediately under low heat as a start up process for peak oxidation. Low fired tea is then allowed to breathe out the heat and allowed to rest for about 5 hours. Final high heat drying is given so as to increase the flavor profile and shelf life of the tea. They are then hand sorted and packed. This laboriously hand-plucked leaf yields a light yellow infusion and a sweet, refreshing liquor reminiscent of cucumber and honey. A whisper of woodsmoke in the finish completes this satisfying tea. This robust and full bodied white tea also has a very mild citrus flavour.

Here at Tea House, we consider white tea is best enjoyed as a whole loose leaf organic tea, as opposed to cut and torn tea which is usually placed in tea bags. The cutting and bagging severely affects the taste sensation and the small nuances and characters of the delicate leaves is lost.

By Sarah Lucas 04 May, 2017
Since tea House was opened, I have learned that many people did know know that Green Tea , White Tea , Oolong and Black Tea are all from the same plant! So what is this plant that so many of us have only known as ‘tea’? And how is it able to produce a multitude of various teas? Let me fill you in....

Camellia Sinensis – thousands of teas from one plant.
 
Camellia Sinensis is the scientific name given to the tree, that has its leaves harvested and processed for tea.   It is native to East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Today however, it is cultivated in many places across the globe, mostly in tropical and subtropical areas. Each tea growing country produces it own unique tea with individual qualities differing between regions, and even plantations.
Did you know that tea trees can become fully grown? In most circumstances however, they are kept pruned at waist height to allow for ease of picking and harvesting.
The leaves are usually 4–15 cm long and 2–5 cm across. Fresh leaves contain about 4% caffeine, as well as a phethora of compounds.  The young, light green leaves are preferably harvested for tea production; they have short white hairs on the underside. Older leaves are deeper green. Different leaf ages produce differing tea qualities, since their chemical compositions are different. Usually, the tip (bud) and the first two to three leaves are harvested for processing. This hand picking is repeated every one to two weeks.
Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a large tap root, and it does flower every year.
 
Green, Black, White or Oolong?
 
It is incredible that one tree can produce so many varieties of product. What sets different teas apart is the unique processing involved. Bear in mind though that country, regional and even plantation variances occur. Tea is similar to wine in that small differences in harvesting time, harvesting techniques, timing and processing can turn the humble tea leaf into something unique and delightfully different. The five main factors in tea production are:

1. Region, taking into account soil and altitude.

2. Time of harvesting the leaves - early, middle or late in each season.

3. Method eg picking only buds or buds with leaves.

4. Processing – withering, rolling, oxidizing, drying, fermenting and aging.

5. Preparation - how it is prepared just before drinking.
 
Generally speaking, it is the process that happens after picking that dictates what type of tea is produced. The tea that Tea House stocks is processed in many differing ways - one things that remains the same however, is the fact that the leaves are left whole and not cut or torn. But that is another blog - watch this space for more in depth information of how the different processing produces different tea!

 

 


Tea House - A Himalayan Experience

By Sarah Lucas 20 Jul, 2017
Orthodox teas are held up as being the best quality tea available - but why - what sets them apart from your average supermarket or industrial tea?  Well,  it's all in the leaves. 

Orthodox Teas are whole leaf teas crafted using the traditional process of making tea, either by hand processing or rolling machinery that mimics hand rolling.  The small, young tender leaves are plucked from the tips of the tea bush. This is in contrast to CTC Teas, which are made through the Crush, Tear, and Curl method which produces a granular leaf particle.  CTC teas are then further graded by: brokens, fannings and dust.  Dust is the lowest quality  tea you can you and is mostly presented in bags in the supermarket.

Is Orthodox tea better?

Orthodox teas are known for being brisk, bright, and more complex than your average tea.  The nuances and complexities in orthodox teas make the tea drinking experience much more enjoyable as compared with CTC teas.  Orthodox teas are subject to a grading system (more on that in a future blog!) and I guess you could draw comparisons between wine complexities and orthodox teas.  Orthodox teas are essentially handcrafted quality whole leaves. 

All Tea House Teas are orthodox - they are handcrafted and rolled in the high Himalayas of Nepal, on an estate called Sandakphu - operated as a farmer led cooperative.    They are definitely set apart from CTC teas, which are stronger and have a tendency to include bitter tones. 

All quality orthodox tea goes through a production system based on the following stages. 

  • Firstly - the leaves are WITHERED - The leaves are spread out for 14-20 hours to allow the moisture to evaporate.  Some Tea House teas are withered in the sun. 
  • Then they are ROLLED - Rotating and pressing the leaves to release their inherit chemicals and prepare for oxidation.  This is done either by hand or in a rolling machine.
  • Next up is OXIDISATION - The leaves spend 2-4 hours in a controlled environment, allowing the air to react with the chemicals. During this process, the leaves turn darker.
  • Lastly, they are FIRED - A heater or the sunshine is used to stop oxidation and dry the leaves before they are sorted for grading.
Sandakphu tea estate produces many different types of tea - and each one is unique based on what leaves are picked, when picking takes place, and the lengths for each processing stage.    The processing stage also decides whether a tea is white, green, oolong or black with each variety having different treatments in each stage. 

Get to know your teas and then you can decide better what kind of 'tea day' it is!  Do you feel the need for a milky spiced tea?  Well, go for some cheaper CTC leaves which can take the milk well.  CTC tends have have stronger bitter flavours and it releases all of its flavours in the first steep.  Or maybe today you feel like a refreshing cooler tea - maybe served with fresh lemon juice or mint leaves - in that case - go for a whole leaf orthodox tea - which you can steep multiple times.   Whatever you decide just make sure you stop, relax and enjoy your tea moment. 


By Sarah Lucas 28 Jun, 2017

Here at Teahouse, we believe that great tea does not need milk. But why did it become popular to add milk to tea and what do experts say about adding milk to tea?

 

There are different accounts of why it became popular to add milk to tea, with the most often used argument being that it is a matter of taste, especially in regard to overcoming some of the more bitter tasting teas. Another unproven account from history is that back in the 16th century, ceramics were very thin and adding milk to the cup before the milk sved china from cracking (although it is still debatable whether milk was used by the Chinese at all during that period). Another folktake is that it was used by unscrupulous employers, to shorten the length of workers tea breaks, due to the fact they wouldnt have to wait for the tea to cool. Historically, the British have always added milk to their tea but it is unknown whether they were following suit or established it as a habit to counter poor quality tea. Whatever the reason, milk is most often added to black teas in Western countries, along with parts of Asia, including India, Nepal and Tibet, where it was traditionally added to increase calorific intake.

 

So, should you add milk to your tea?

 

It really is personal preference. Green, White and Oolong teas, are most definitely taken without milk, because their aromas are over powered by the dairy flavours. However, black teas are often enjoyed with milk.

Strong black teas cope well with the addition of milk and often the milk will negate the more bitter qualities that strong teas can have. Lighter black teas such as Darjeeling or our own Himalayan Honey Gold are most often enjoyed without milk, as the milk can mask the subtle flavour characteristics.  Some black teas are so light in colour that the addition of milk produces a mild tasting warm milky flavour with very little colour at all.  Many people have been conditioned all of their lives to take milk with their tea and simply cannot imagine enjoying it black.  I myself, took milk in my tea for years, until I found myself in a thrid world country with no reliable safe source of milk.   After trying tea without milk, I found I really enjoyed the refreshing characteristics, and I found the tea more thirst quenching. I now enjoy all tea without milk and simply won't add milk because it ruins the flavour.  Don't be afraid to give milk-less tea a go - you might be pleasantly surprised.

Many tea experts or 'purist' insist that rare loose leaf teas like Tea-House teas should not have the addition of milk, but it really is a personal preference. Try it without, enjoy it with, just make sure you sit, relax and breath whilst sipping away at your favourite tea.

 

Tea House teas are fairtrade organic teas, hand tendered, hand picked and hand processed in the high hills of the Himalayas. Support this farmer led cooperative by shopping for our tea today.


By Sarah Lucas 18 Jun, 2017

Tea House teas are rare and exquisite. Follow the rules of thumbs below and you will be rewarded with the best cuppa ever.

 

How much tea should you use?

 

This depends on how you like your tea but usually it is a teaspoon of tea and one cup of water per person.

 

Don’t throw away those leaves just yet!

 

Rare teas from Sandakphu are of such high quality that the same leaves can be infused several/many times. Every steep will give you different take on the tea. These teas can be kept alive for days, just make sure to not let the leaves stew, and drain completely between brews (just prevents the tea from becoming bitter). Many people enjoy the second or third infusion the most!

After the first brew, the steeping time becomes less as water has already been absorbed by the leaf and flavour release is more immediate.

 

Temperature

 

The water is best freshly filtered and should not be re-boiled because this diminishes the oxygen content.

For good leaf tea the water should be below boiling. This is because the amino acids (which produce the tea's flavour) dissolve at lower temperatures than tannin. Tea made with water at 100°c will be more astringent and less sweet.

You can either stop the kettle just before water comes to the boil, or leave the water to cool slightly before steeping the tea. General rule is 1 minute for black teas, 2 minutes for oolongs and 3 minutes for white and greens.  

 

What kind of Teapot should you be using?

 

The most important rule is to use a clean pot. Every time. This makes for a fresh and clean tasting brew, not flavoured by days of previous stale brews.

A good quality infusion pot is great, or a pot with a grill over the inside of the spout. Tea House has some beautiful pots available on their website – these are perfect for the leaves we sell.

Pour only enough water onto the leaves that you need. That way you won’t have water sitting over the leaves stewing.

 

Using a Cup?

 

That’s fine, just use with a generously proportioned cup infuser.  

Steeping Times

 

Steeping times differ between different teas, and you will discover your preference through experimenting.

 

White Tea

White tea is the purest and most delicate of all teas. It needs longer brewing time than other teas. Allow to steep for  up to 3 minutes.

Green Tea

Green teas should be brewed for 1-2 minutes for the first brew. If you are going to make iced tea or to sweeten the green tea with sugar you may want to let it steep a little longer to bring out the more robust tannic flavours.  

Oolong

Traditionally, oolong is drunk from tiny cups and each sip savoured. The best results are achieved by making it in small quantities with a high leaf to water ratio and quick, 30 second infusions. The number of infusions depends on your own taste but oolong is often re-infused over six times revealing different subtleties of flavour each time.
Black Tea

 For black tea the steeping times really differ with preference. If you want to drink the tea on it's own (without milk) 45 seconds-1 minute is ideal but if you want to build the strong tannic flavours you may want to leave it longer for 2-3 minutes.

 

What about Milk and Sugar?

 

White tea, green tea and most oolongs are not traditionally taken with milk or sugar. Sandakphu teas are of such a high quality that they need to be taken alone to appreciate the various flavour profiles. With the black tea, milk and sugar can be added if preferred
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