Summer of Tea Segment ONE

Summer of Tea Segment 1

Intro  + Tasting Notes – Creamy Earl Grey + history + definition  

Introduction

I’m so excited to begin this journey into the world of tea and even more so that it is happening with one of the women in the world I admire most, Angela Macke. What she has built from the ground up on her Traverse City farm is incredible. Farming is hard work and on top of that, the administrative work that goes into being certified organic and biodynamic plus all the other day to day tasks of running a business…this is not some hobby farm, this is the real deal! All that and I love the fact that Angela had a career in nursing prior to this venture so her claims on the health benefits of tea are rooted in science. Walking around her farm is like being on a field trip with your favorite college professor who combines extensive product knowledge, a respect for the environment, and a boundless energy…and it’s contagious.  So, in a nutshell, that’s why I’m so stoked to be spending the next three months immersing myself in her world and improving my health in the process. All that said, I highly encourage tea lovers and those that are curious to try the Light of Day tea experience…because they really do elevate tea to a higher level!

Tasting Notes + Creamy Earl Grey

Well first off, using loose tea in a tin rather than dropping a tea bag in hot water really elevates the tea experience…especially with tea from Light of Day that is SO aromatic! Then filling the tea bag, lowering it into the infuser then steeping in hot water, it makes the process an experience, forces you to slow down, and the reward awaits.

I’m starting my immersion with Creamy Earl Grey that is made up of Black Tea, Vanilla Bean Extract, Bergamot (a citrus fruit native to Italy), Cornflower (a flowering herb plant used to make medicine), Lavender and Calendula (another flowering plant used medicinally). Angela has blended these ingredients with the touch of master chef creating a delicious recipe. The best tea experience I’ve ever had…and I’m just getting started!  Order tea and accessories here.

History of Tea 

Yikes, this could be a semester long course in culinary school! I’m going to point out some highlights and encourage you to learn much more by  clicking here   where the Light of Day website will take it much deeper.

 The tea plant is most likely indigenous to southern China’s Yunnan province.  It has been estimated that tea drinking goes back 5,000 years.  According to legend, around 2700 BC the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was boiling drinking water over an open fire and a  few leaves from a Camellia sinensis plant fell into his pot. The emperor, known as the “Divine Healer,” drank the mixture and from then on, declaring it gave one “vigor of body, contentment of mind, and determination of purpose.”  By the 8th century, commercial cultivation of tea had spread throughout the Chinese provinces. Brought to Japan from China by Zen priests returning from studying in the monasteries, tea was first the exclusive domain of Japan’s Buddhists who served it to the nobility.

 In the early 17th century, Dutch traders brought tea from China and Japan to Europe.

Historically, we know that by the mid 1600s, tea had been introduced to Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, Russia, and America.  In 1657, Thomas Garway, an English proprietor, got the bright idea of offering tea to the public, and the beverage quickly became the drink of choice.  The British Queen Catherine of Braganza was a tea drinker and she set an example for all of Britain’s subjects to indulge in the new fashionable drink.

 Across the Atlantic, the colonists were inflamed by the excessive tax on tea and other restrictions on the shipping and receiving of tea in America. Disguised as Native American Indians, they emptied 342 large chests of precious tea into the harbor. “The Boston Tea Party”, as it became known, caused the British Parliament to pass a series of unjust acts that were the direct cause for the convening of the First Continental Congress, which ultimately led to the Revolutionary War.  

Americans have contributed to the evolution of tea with their own distinctive traditions, like iced tea and the tea bag. Iced tea was created at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. The temperature was soaring and the staff in the Far East Tea House couldn’t get any fair-goers to even look their way, let alone sample their tea. They poured the hot tea over ice cubes and the drink quickly became the exposition’s most popular beverage!  At about the same time, an enterprising New York tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan, began sending out samples of tea in small silk bags to win customers who thought tea in tins was inconvenient. Before long, Sullivan was swamped with orders for the easy, pre-measured tea sacks, and thus, the tea bag was born.

Today, iced tea accounts for 75-80% of America’s tea consumption. Of the more than 200 million pounds of tea packaged for consumption in the United States, more than 65% comes in tea bags.

Definition

So basically all tea comes from the same plant, specifically the leaf of Camellia Sinensis that is native to Asia but now grown globally. That said…and part of my early confusion, is that herbal “tea” is a term meaning any hot drink made from a variety of botanicals including flowers, bark, fruit, leaves, etc. and does not have to include Camellia Sinensis.  Light of Day produces varieties of both and they are all fabulous.

The Components of tea

Essential oils – these yield tea’s subtle but delicious aroma.

Polyphenols – these provide tea’s “briskness,” or astringency in the mouth, and provide many of the health benefits in tea.

Caffeine – like coffee, chocolate and colas, this provides tea’s natural “energy” lift.   

 Basic Tea Classifications   

All tea starts out as a green leaf on the bush.  It is then made into a variety of types by manipulating the shape and the chemistry of the leaf in different ways. 

  • White tea: Unrolled, full withered-dried, essentially this tea is unprocessed.
  • Green tea (China style): Pan-fired, non-oxidized.
  • Green tea (Japan style): Steamed, non-oxidized.
  • Oolong tea: Partially oxidized.
  • Black tea: Fully oxidized.
  • Pu-erh tea: Processed, fermented and aged.
  • Herbal infusions and fruit tisanes: Terms for botanicals other than tea.

 

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