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A Complete Guide to Cast Iron Teapots

It is said that it was during the 17th and 18th century that the first Cast Iron Teapots were made in Japan. However, cure there are accounts of the cast iron teapot being present during the Sen no Riky? period, prostate the historical figure most famous for influencing the Traditional Japanese “Way of Tea.”

Known as Tetsubin teapots in Japan, these were originally used to boil water but after the advent of Sencha Green Tea, these teapots became a household item for tea brewing all over China and Japan. The name “YiXing” comes from the region of YiXing in China where teapots were first made using the clay unique to that region. Historically, YiXing is famous for its clay teapots, whereas the Japanese Tetsubin is known to be the first cast iron teapot.

Avid tea brewers believe the best tea is made in Tetsubin teapots and because this teapot is made with natural iron, the water boiled in them gives off a unique taste, resulting in the tea brewed to taste better than when brewed in other teapots or kettles. These cast iron teapots allowed the people of that time to keep the water warm so they could pour the water over the loose tea leaves. This has led to the Tetsubin becoming a part of traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies.

Five Favorite Cast Iron Teapots

(click on the links or photos to learn more) 

PictureCast Iron TeapotRating
Iwachu Japanese Iron Teapot/Tetsubin, Gold and Black Maple 5
Miya Cast Iron Teapot - Purple Hanabi 3
Japanese Tetsubin Cast Iron 40 oz Black Hobnail Teapot 4.3
primula pci7440 black cast iron teapot 40 oz with stainless (peerless industries pci7440) 4.0
Dusk Cast Iron Positivity Teapot 26 Oz 4.7

(scroll down to see our full review of each of these cast iron teapots)

Benefits of Cast Iron Teapots

Why Cast Iron?

Cast iron cookwares, including teapots, have been used for centuries. With the introduction of cookware made from new materials hitting the market, people started discarding their cast iron cookware in favor of the new and supposedly ‘improved’ cooking products. However, nowadays you will see a trend of people going back to the old ways. With people suffering from different deficiencies and diseases, doctors and health gurus are recommending going back to the way of life of our forefathers. This includes cooking and brewing tea in cast iron cookware.

You may be thinking how old-fashioned cast iron cookware is but, there is a reason why everyone is going back to filling their kitchen cabinets with cast iron cooking products. Even in the modern kitchen, this dependable cookware has more benefits than any other cookware available on the market today.

Cast Iron Teapots Last Decades

There are people who have been using their cast iron teapots for generations, going back as far as the 1850s. These teapots, if taken care of properly, can stay in excellent shape and perform at their best for your children, your grandchildren and even your great grandchildren.

Chemical Free Teapots

Another major benefit of cast iron teapots is that because they are made from pure cast iron, you are able to avoid harmful chemicals that come from teapots made with other industrialized materials. A lot of teapots nowadays are coated with a material which gives off PFCs (perfluorocarbons) when heated. This chemical is known to be damaging to the liver.

Pumps Your Tea with Iron – Beneficial for Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world today. This is a problem that was never faced by our ancestors centuries ago. Because people in the old days cooked and brewed tea on cast iron cookware, their teas and foods were infused with iron that was leached into them by the cast iron pans and teapots.

tea infuser strainer for cast iron teapot

A study by the American Dietetic Association has found that when using cast iron teapots, a good amount of iron is leached into the boiling water. This results in the tea brewed becoming infused with iron and the person drinking tea will receive a boost of iron, minerals and nutrients. People with iron deficiencies can greatly benefit from this effect.

Cast Iron Teapot

Why Choose Cast Iron Teapots

A Traditional Way of Brewing Tea

Those who are not really into the art of tea making will not realize how important a part is played by some of the little things they overlook, such as temperature, steeping time, the equipment, quality of the loose tea leaves and the quality of the water. When it comes to brewing your favorite tea, finding and using the the right tools is important. As all tea lovers are aware, the secret to having that delightfully perfect cup of tea is to know the right method of brewing and that requires the right equipment.

In order to brew tea in a traditional manner, it is important to pay attention to what you are brewing the tea in. Cast iron teapots are the oldest types of teapots which have been used by tea lovers over the years to brew their favorite cup of tea. Apart from the health benefits of using cast iron, tea enthusiasts swear by cast iron teapots as giving a more flavorful tea.

This taste comes, in part, from the same reason why cast iron teapots are recommended for people with iron deficiency. This water, when fused with a good quality loose leaf tea, results in a brew that is unlike any other. What’s even better is a seasoned cast iron teapot will produce tea that is more delicious and richly flavored than the last time you brewed. Old is Gold when it comes to Cast Iron Teapots!

Better Heat Absorption – More Nutrients Extracted

Another reason why you should buy a cast iron teapot is cast iron absorbs heat evenly, ensuring the water heats up steadily over time. This gradual approach, even heating while the loose tea leaves are floating in the water, infuses the tea flavor into the water perfectly. This not only gives the tea a pronounced flavor, but the healthy nutrients from the tea leaves are also extracted and bonded with the water.

When compared to ceramic and clay teapots, cast iron is able to retain heat more effectively. This way, you can keep your brewed tea warmer for as much as an hour. Cast iron teapots are more durable than ceramic or clay as well. If dropped, ceramic and clay teapots may shatter into bits whereas cast iron will not. If properly cared for, your cast iron teapot will last you a lifetime!

What to Consider When Buying Cast Iron Teapots

Why Cast Iron?

When looking for the best culinary for brewing tea, a cast iron teapot is a great choice. Not only does it give your tea brewing (and drinking) a traditional touch, it will also add to the flavor and give your body a healthy boost of minerals.

Origins

When buying a cast iron teapot, you need to make sure of its origins. As you know now from the history, cast iron teapots were first made in China and Japan and to this day, the best cast iron teapots are produced in these two countries. The Tetsubin teapots are considered the first teapots. If you wish to purchase a cast iron teapot, make sure the seller gives you the info on where it was made. Tetsubin teapots are handmade in Japan from solid cast iron.

Quality

The quality of the cast iron teapot depends on where it was manufactured. You can buy a regular teapot from your local store but the chances of it having been made with pure cast iron are fairly low. The best cast iron teapots are made in Japan. Having been used for over four centuries, the Japanese have mastered the art of manufacturing these teapots by having the most skilled craftsmen spending weeks making a single teapot.

Durability

To make sure your cast iron tea pot lasts for years and even decades, the quality of the teapot is crucial. Even though iron teapots are strong enough to resist getting cracked or shattered, the quality of the cast iron being used for manufacturing will decide the life of the teapot. Some manufacturers coat their cast iron teapots with an enamel to prevent oxidation and rusting. This ensures the teapot will last long enough to may even be passed down to your grandchildren.

The Design

Japanese cast iron teapots are handmade by craftsmen/craftswomen, allowing them to design every teapot with meticulous detail. From simple to ornate, a cast iron teapot can be a beautiful work of art with eggshell finishes and beautiful flat handles. They can also be detailed with iconic symbols of the Japanese culture or some other designs and patterns, like the Imperial Dragon, gracing the sides of the teapot.

Choosing a cast iron teapot will add a touch of power and strength to your kitchen. It represents who you are. If you want to feel the ambiance of the traditional Japanese way of drinking tea and get the great flavor as well, then sharing tea made in a cast iron teapot with your friends and family is the way to go.

You can even buy a whole cast iron tea set that comes with a pot and cups. This will make serving tea a lot easier. You can even use this set for decorative purposes as Japanese cast iron tea sets are a work of art and will look amazing in your home.

A Sign of Prestige

A time came when tetsubin iron teapots were coveted items to have in one’s home. Their unique designs and the manufacturers’ who made these fancy and beautiful teapots became a way of showing the stature of households in Japan.

Capacity

Another feature of the cast iron teapot to consider is to choose the right size. There are small ones and there are large ones, which to choose depends on your needs. If you will be brewing a cup of tea for yourself in the mornings and evenings, a 14-ounce cast iron teapot will be suitable. If you think you will be having guests over and may need to serve them tea, having a larger teapot of around 30 ounces will be enough to serve a small group of tea drinkers.

Caring For Your Cast Iron Teapot

Do you love your beautiful Japanese cast iron teapot? Of course you do! Every tea lover loves their tea brewing equipment, especially when it is something that has traditional value. For your cast iron teapot, care is important if you want to keep brewing tea for the coming years.

Make sure that when washing your cast iron teapot, you don’t use any soap or detergent. Only use your hands to clean the tetsubin teapot, rinse it with clean water and use a clean cloth to dry it. If your teapot is old, this method will keep the seasoned mineral coating unscathed and preserve the iron in the teapot from oxidizing.

To ensure your cast iron teapot lasts a long time, follow these basic guidelines:

  • When you buy a new cast iron teapot, rinse it thoroughly with hot water
  • Take a dry clean cloth and wipe the teapot inside and out while it is still warm
  • Never use the cast iron teapot as a stove-top kettle
  • Never put it in a microwave, dishwasher, or expose to oil or salt
  • Use it only for brewing tea, otherwise you may damage the fragile enamel lining
  • Never use detergents or abrasive pads to wipe the cast iron teapot, only clean water for rinsing and a clean cloth for drying
  • Never leave the teapot filled with water or tea for long periods of time
  • Try to always wipe the cast iron teapot’s exterior while it is still warm
  • If the teapot is warm, don’t cool it off immediately, let it cool down on its own
  • To ensure years of flavorful tea, never use kitchen utensils that will scratch the inside glaze of the cast iron teapot

Follow these guidelines and you will ensure a long life for your tetsubin cast iron teapot.

Brief Reviews of 5 of Our Favorite Cast Iron Teapots

To help you find the best cast iron teapots, we are providing an overview of five favorite tetsubin cast iron teapots available online. You can easily order these and have them delivered to your doorstep and start enjoying the most flavorful tea, for a lifetime.

Iwachu Japanese Iron Teapot/Tetsubin, Gold and Black Maple

Iwachu is a company with over 100 years’ experience of crafting cast iron teapots, kettles and most famously, Tetsubin. Being one of the finest makers of Japanese ironware, the craftsmen/women at Iwachu respect their tradition and have come up with one of their best Tetsubin maple designed products. The precision and beauty of this handmade cast iron teapot is visible in its intricate exterior maple leaf design.

Providing consistent heat all over the interior, the superior quality of the material used ensures the water is heated perfectly and the tea brewed being the most flavorful. The excellent quality also keeps the tea warm for a long time and the interior coated with enamel prevents the teapot from rusting. Its 22-ounce capacity is perfect for brewing a delicious tea for a nice morning and evening tea.

Cast Iron Teapot – Purple Hanabi

Manufactured by MIYA, a household name for tea lovers in China, this cast iron teapot is a must have for tea lovers around the world. MIYA is known for using the best quality materials and craftsmanship to make their cast iron teapots and this is no different. Coming with a stainless steel mesh infuser and interior coated with enamel, this ensures the teapot remains in use for years to come.

It gets its name from the famous Hanabi fireworks, as displayed on its exterior. Its quality ensures the heat is transferred equally all over the teapot, heating the water perfectly for a nice brew of your choice.

Japanese Tetsubin Cast Iron 40 oz Black Hobnail Teapot

The M.V. Trading Co. introduces this massive 40-ounce Tetsubin teapot with a design that reflects the stature of who owns it. For centuries, Tetsubin cast iron teapots have been known as a work of art as they are handcrafted, giving each teapot a unique design for the one who buys it. With a large space for brewing tea, this is the perfect teapot for when you have friends and family over.

Handmade and hand finished, it is fitted with a removable stainless steel mesh infuser basket to allow perfect infusion. The interior of the pot is lined with enamel to keep it from rusting and allow the user to keep using it for years. However, make sure you take the precautions and not do anything that would damage its exterior design. This is the perfect cast iron teapot for brewing tea for a tea party or ceremony.

Primula Pci7440 Black Cast Iron Teapot 40 Oz With Stainless Infuser

Another big contender in the 40-ounce cast iron teapot market, the Primula Tetsubin can be another graceful addition to your kitchen. Its enamel is made with FDA-approved materials, ensuring excellent quality and durability. Its beautiful black textured design makes it a unique item to have in your kitchen.

With its exceptional craftsmanship, Primula has been providing quality teaware to its customers since 1991. It only takes 3 to 5 minutes for the PCI7440 to heat the water to brewing temperatures, resulting in a tea that is not only served just as fast as in modern electric kettles but also giving a tea that tastes far greater.

Old Dutch Cast Iron Positivity Teapot, 26-Ounce, Dusk

Manufactured by the Old Dutch, this Japanese inspired cast iron teapot is designed in one of the most beautiful possible ways. The elegant craft of the Japanese style is clearly visible on the exterior as it features the looks of the antique Japanese cast iron teapots.

It features a black enamel interior coating that prevents the teapot from rusting. The 26-ounce capacity ensures you can brew tea for a small group of friends and family. The quality materials used for making this teapot ensure the tea remains warm for up to an hour, a sign of high quality cast iron material.

Just like other cast iron teapots, don’t use any detergents or heat it over a stove. Use your hands to rinse and dry with water at room temperature. This is a great Japanese style Tetsubin teapot to have in your house for any tea of your choosing.

Conclusion

When it comes to brewing your favorite tea, finding the right culinary for brewing is important. As a tea lover, you likely desire the items you use for making tea to be in accordance with traditions of tea brewing. This will ensure you are not only making tea the best way, but also giving yourself the traditional flavor that has been around for centuries.

As all tea lovers are aware, the secret to having a delightfully perfect cup of tea is not just in knowing the right method of brewing but also having the right equipment. After reading this guide, you have the knowledge to start brewing tea the way it should be done: as the old ways are often the best ways. And not only that, you also now know about some specific Tetsubin cast iron teapots that can help you achieve the dream of brewing that perfect cup of tea.

tea infuser strainer for cast iron teapot

(Disclosure: These reviews contain affiliate links to Amazon, which helps support the TeaMinded website. We are not compensated by any of the manufacturers for these reviews, and they reflect our honest and unbiased opinions of these products).

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A Complete Guide to Loose Leaf Green Tea

Loose Leaf Green Tea

What is Green Tea?

Green tea is one of the most ancient beverages in the world. Green tea, black tea, oolong, white and pu’er, all are cultivated from the same plant, called the Camellia Sinensis. The unique taste of each tea comes from the regions where they grow and the way they are processed. This highlights the nature of the land on which it grows and the craft that it takes to coax the best from each leaf.

Green Tea Plants

Nowadays, green tea is loved all over the world because of its taste and amazing health benefits (which we will be covering as well). Drinking green tea has become a connection to the land where it is grown, parts of rituals and ceremonies, and an experience of a fine taste. This guide to green tea provides an overview of the history, the types of green tea, the health benefits and the most popular accessories used to brew this tea.

Origins & History

The history of green tea offers great insight into the history of China and the Japanese cultures. According to one popular legend, green tea was first discovered by the ancient Emperor Shen Nong of China in 2737 BC when its leaves were carried by the wind into his kettle of boiling water. After tasting the accidentally prepared brew, he celebrated tea as a tonic and recorded it in his encyclopedia of medicine.

As the legend grew, it traveled the world, conquering the teapots and kettles of virtually every person in the world.

Green tea has become one of the most popular beverages across the globe. And, with its countless health benefits, its popularity continues to grow.

Because of its popularity and soothing qualities, the monks and priests made it an integral part of their religious ceremonies and rituals. It was centuries later that green tea production rose and the common folks were able to enjoy drinking this much revered beverage. This led to the building of tea shops and planting more tea plants to meet the increasing demands of the people.

It was during the Tang Dynasty (7th Century – 10th Century) that green tea was brought to Japan by the priests. The Emperor of Japan loved green tea so much he started a trade with China to import tea seeds from China so they may be grown in Japan as well. People who drank green tea regularly in those days noted they not only felt better and more energetic than those who didn’t, they also lived longer and healthier lives.

What Separates Green Tea from Other Teas?

Apart from its unique green colored leaves and the color of the brew, green tea is one of the most un-oxidized products of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Most other teas are completely or mostly oxidized and are processed to give them their unique flavor. Green tea, however, is lightly processed and not oxidized, resulting in it having the most antioxidants of the entire tea family. It is healthier as it has less caffeine but a higher quantity of EGCG.

Because of the full leaves of green tea, the essential minerals remain. This ensures a superior and distinct ‘grassy’ flavor compared to others. The best way to compare the two types of teas in relation to flavor is to brew a few glasses of green tea and other teas. The aroma alone will help you distinguish the natural quality of the brewed beverages.

Where is Green Tea Grown?

Green tea is among the most famous type teas in the world. It comes from both China and Japan, with regions having their own varieties and their own unique tastes. For example, Matcha tea is the most popular green tea in Japan, while in China the most popular is the Dragonwell green tea. Green tea is mostly grown in the mountainous regions of China and Japan. They are handpicked and thinly spread under a shade and left to dry naturally by air. The drying time is short because the leaves, if left for long periods of time, will oxidize and the leaves will no longer be used to make green tea.

The leaves are then taken for the firing process, which dries the leaves and readies them for export. These leaves are processed over burning wood and coal but nowadays, due to the high demand and production, the process is carried out in large ovens and tumblers. Every region which produces green tea has a unique flavor of its own. The season and the soil of the land give the plants a taste of their own and it is because of this there are thousands of varieties of green tea in the world today.

China
China is the birthplace of tea and has the oldest tea traditions known to mankind. Green tea has been enjoyed as both a revitalizing and a healthy drink for more than 3,000 years. The regions of China most famous for growing green tea are the provinces of Zhejiang, Shandong, Shanxi, Fujian and Anhui. These regions have been producing green tea for generations and as a result have some of the best quality green teas in the world.

Japan
After tea leaves and their seeds were brought to Japan during the 8th century, the people of the region have been growing tea plants to this day. The most ancient region where the tea is grown in Japan is the Shizuoka district, the region which lies under the shadow of the Holy Mount Fuji. This is the area where almost half of Japan’s tea plants are grown. Other important regions are Kyoto’s district of Uji and the region of Kagoshima on the island of Kyushu.

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Types of Green Tea

Green tea has the most varieties of all teas and it is said China alone has more than a thousand different versions of green tea. Each has its own unique taste and aroma so anyone who does not like a particular type of tea will have a lot more to choose from. China and Japan are the two biggest producers of green tea in the world. Let’s have a look at their most famous types of green teas.

Chinese Green Tea
Being the foremost producer and exporter of green tea, China is famous for giving the world the gift of this amazing beverage as it benefits the lives of millions. The most famous green teas of China are as follows:

Dragonwell

Also known as Longjing tea, Dragonwell is a type of green tea that is produced by hand and is the most famous tea in China. It is the highest quality tea available coming from China and has earned the status of Gong Cha, or Imperial Tea during the Qing Dynasty. Like other Chinese green teas, it is roasted on pans and left for natural oxidation. They are unfermented and have the highest quantity of vitamin C, catechins and amino acids. There are six types of Longjing green teas namely: Xihu Longjing, Pre-Qingming Longjing, Shi Feng Longjing, Meijiawu Longjing, Bai Longjing and Qiantang Longjing.

Gunpowder

Hailing from the province of Zhejiang, Gunpowder tea is one of the classic green teas of China. It takes its name from its petals being rolled into the shape of gun pellets, giving it a unique shape and look. Its brew is also smoky and smooth.

Gunpowder tea dates goes back as far as the 6th Century Tang Dynasty, where it was revered by the Emperor of the time. The leaves are steamed, withered, rolled and then dried. All the processes are done by hand to make it one of the highest quality green teas in the market. Even though most of the work is now done by machines, there are still parts of China where the work is done by hand. There are 3 famous varieties of Gunpowder tea, namely Pingshui Gunpowder, Formosa gunpowder and Ceylon gunpowder.

Kai Hua Long Ding

Kai Hua Long Ding is among the most famous green teas in China and is quickly gaining recognition in other parts of the world as well. In China, it is also known by the name Dragon Peak. It comes from the province of Zhejiang, the biggest producer of green tea in China. It has a sweet and flowery taste which gives its drinker a relaxing and soothing feeling, the best beverage to wash away the stress of a hard day’s work.

Hou Kui (Monkey Tea)

The Hou Kui, also known as the Monkey King and the Monkey Tea, is grown in the foothills of the Tai Ping county of China. This delightful green tea is handpicked in the mountains that are over 500m ground level. This tea has been cultivated since the 13th Century Ming Dynasty. Unlike other green teas, the leaves are pressed individually between two pieces of mesh, resulting in a tea that is floral, sweet and grassy.

Bi Luo Chun

Another one of the most famous teas in China, Bi Luo Chu tea originally comes from the Dongting mountain regions of the Jiangsu area. First brewed during the 16th Century Qing Dynasty period, the Emperor gave it the name of ‘Green Snail Spring’ due to its floral aroma, fruity taste and delicate appearance. There are seven grades of Biluochun tea, namely Supreme, Supreme I, Grade I, Grade II, Grade III, Chao Qing I, and Chao Qing II, in decreasing order.

Japanese Green Tea
Japan is the 2nd largest green tea producer and exporter in the world. The green tea coming from Japan is of the same high quality as that of China but is unique in its own flavor and aroma. The following green teas are Japan’s most famous products:

Sencha

Sencha is one of the most famous and the best in quality green teas in Japan. They are harvested from the Shizuoka district in the early summer season. It has a clean, brothy texture with a refreshing green aroma which gives it a sweet and tender flavor. There are eight grades of Sencha coming from Japan. They are as follows:

  1. Shincha or Ichibancha. First-picked Sencha of the year
  2. Toku Jô Sencha. Extra superior Sencha
  3.  Jô Sencha. Superior Sencha
  4. Kabuse Sencha or Kabusecha covered Sencha
  5. Asamushi lightly steamed Sencha
  6. Chumushi. Mildly steamed for 30-90 seconds
  7. Hachijuhachiya Sencha. Harvested after 88 days (respectively nights) after springs begin
  8. Fukamushi or fukamushicha. Deeply steamed Sencha for 1 to 2 minutes

Gyokuro

Also known as the Imperial Tea, Gyokuro is a shaded green tea grown under the shade, away from the sun’s rays. It is among the most expensive of all green teas coming from Japan as it is made from the finest leaves. Because it is grown in the shade, Gyokuro teas have high levels of chlorophylls and amino acids. It has a rich, soft and smooth flavor, with little to no harsh flavor. The specialized varieties of Gyokuro are Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai, and Saemidori.

Bancha

Harvested from the same grade tree as the Sencha green tea, it is however harvested between the summer and autumn seasons as Sencha is harvested first during the start of summer. Bancha has 22 grades of teas, having their own unique aroma and taste. The highest quality Bancha has a strong smell and is readily available all over the world.

Matcha

Matcha tea is gaining immense popularity due to its health benefits and amazing flavor. Even though tea is a word that brings to mind images of dried leaves brewing in hot water in a tea pan or a tea kettle, Matcha tea, on the other hand, is a green tea powder that, rather than brewing in hot water, is whisked, which creates an intense version of green tea. The gentle process used to prepare Matcha ensures more than 90% of the antioxidants remain intact, while the EGCG reaches super-charged levels due to the grinding process.

Matcha tea typically comes in three different grades:
• Thick or Ceremonial
• Thin
• Ingredient or Culinary

 (View our full Matcha Green Tea Guide)

 Genmmaicha


Also known as the Brown rice tea because it is fused with roasted brown rice. Originally genmaicha was mostly drunk by the poor Japanese, but is now consumed by everyone, regardless of their stature. It has a mild flavor and the brew is light yellow. It is sometimes sold with Matcha as it adds to the flavor a stronger green brew.

Houjicha

Houjicha differs from other green teas in the way it is roasted. The leaves are kept in a pot and roasted over charcoal. Though most Japanese green teas are steamed, this tea is roasted over charcoal to give it a brown red color. This process started in Kyoto during the 1920s and has become popular among the populace. Houjicha has low amounts of caffeine because of this particular process. It has a mild flavor and is usually served during the evening or before bedtime because of its soothing and relaxing effects.

Kukicha

Also known as Bocha and the twig tea, it comprises of twigs, stems and stalks. These are parts of the tea plant which are discarded when making other types of teas. Therefore, Kukicha was born to utilize those discarded parts to make a brew which stands on its own as one of Japan’s favorite green teas. These leftovers are taken from the production of Matcha and Sencha. This combination of twigs, stems and stalks gives it a sweet nutty taste. It has naturally low caffeine content and does not require any industrial decaffeination.


Health Benefits of Green Tea
The health benefits of green tea have been known and valued in Japan and China since ancient times. With its delicate taste, flavorful aroma and numerous health benefits, green tea is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after teas in the world. Just like its sister teas, Black tea and White tea, green tea is processed from the same Camellia Sinensis plant. However, white tea is the least processed of all teas and therefore packs the most nutrients and minerals. Even though the health benefits of drinking green tea are numerous, here are five benefits which will make you want to drink it on a daily basis:

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√ Better Heart Health
Preventing the hardening of the arteries and the thinning of the blood are two of the most important roles green tea plays to protect your heart. Researchers around the world have discovered people who drink at least three cups of green tea a day have a lower risk of heart related diseases than those who don’t.

√ Cancer Prevention
According to research, green tea is packed with high levels of antioxidants and has shown to be quite effective at fighting cancer. It lowers the growth of cells which may mutate and cause tumors and abnormal growth effectively. Green tea is the least processed of all teas, making it the tea with the highest concentration of nutrients and minerals.

√ Fights Free Radicals
Green tea comes with a whole army of protective agents that hunt free radicals down and neutralize them. Green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants, the most essential and natural cancer fighter in the world. When you drink green tea, the antioxidants fight the free radicals in your body that can go around wreaking havoc to your organs and damaging your DNA.

√ Reduces Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a medical condition that doctors call the silent killer. Known as such because it has no warning signs and people don’t have the slightest idea or symptom they have it or not. The negative effects of this condition can be eased by drinking green tea. This will ensure your blood pressure does not jump up. Because green tea thins the blood, it makes it easier for the heart to pump the blood all over the body. This lowers the blood pressure, resulting in lower risk of a stroke.

As cholesterol is also essential for a healthy body, green tea only does its work on the bad cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol. Another group of antioxidants green tea is rich in are called Catechins. These have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol. This helps in preventing the blockage of blood and hardening of the arteries in the heart.

√ Good for the Gums and the Skin
The free radicals (as mentioned before) are also responsible for stressing out and damaging the skin. The antioxidants in green tea also fight free radicals in the skin to prevent you from looking 40 when you should be looking 30. It protects the skin and helps reverse the damage to the skin.

√ Fights and Lowers Stress
Want to relieve stress? Brew a cup of warm green tea to alleviate your mood and relax. Green tea has levels of natural polyphenols which help improve the mental agility and focus of the person consuming it. This amino acid binds to the places that release the stress chemicals and in turn decreases the excretion of these stress causing chemicals.
Green tea has high concentrations of caffeine which improve one’s performance and mental alertness. If you want to stay alert during work or want to jumpstart your day, sipping a cup of green tea is the best way to keep your mind alert.

What to Consider When Buying Green Tea?

It is better not to buy open green tea from any local store. Chances are the quality of the green tea will not be as good as the supreme quality ones. When buying green tea, go for the purest and highest quality types of green tea. The pure ones will contain all the health benefits mentioned above, whereas buying highly processed green tea won’t be as beneficial as it loses its supreme level quality.

When buying green tea, the most important aspects to consider are:

The location where the tea plants are grown and picked
• The elevation of the plants
• The picking and drying process
• The method of processing the green tea leaves
• The oxygen exposure time

The location where the tea plant is grown is essential to its quality. The upper part of the tea bush needs to be supple and soft to ensure fine texture with high quality. The green teas made from these leaves have the best flavor and are of the highest quality. Unlike other teas, pure supreme grade green tea leaves are left to dry in the sun. All efforts are made to ensure the leaves are not oxidized too much as that will decrease the levels of antioxidants. For this reason, the leaves are mostly dried naturally. This leaves the leaves in a fine green color.

If the tea leaves are not properly roasted, they will be of a poor quality as they will not brew the same quality tea. This is why green tea leaves are roasted at a slow pace to avoid overheating due to the high temperature of the pan or pots. Once the processes have been completed, the green tea leaves are immediately packed and shipped. This immediate packing reduces oxygen exposure time, ensuring supreme quality. When purchasing green tea, make sure the brand/company you are buying from follows the above-mentioned process. This ensures you are buying the highest quality green tea.

Green tea ceremony accessories
Popular Green Tea Accessories/Teaware

The Japanese and the Chinese have been enjoying green tea for both medicinal and spiritual reasons. The accessories and culinary used by the people back then are still being used as they have become a part of the tea drinking culture and the tradition of not only Japan and China, but also for people living in other parts of the world. However, there are some tea brewing culinary items which have been used since ancient times and have been passed down generation to generation to this day.

Yixing Teapots
The name ‘Yixing’ comes from the region of Yixing in China where teapots were first made using the clay unique to that region. Historically, Yixing is famous for its clay teapots, and has been used to brew green tea since ancient times.

(View our comprehensive Yixing Teapot User Guide)

Kyusu Teapot

The word Kyusu simply means ‘teapot’ and it has been used since the first Japanese monks started brewing tea. Most commonly used in Japan, unlike other teapots, which have handles on their tops or backs, Kyusu teapot’s handle is at its side. The side handle is usually quite large to keep the person pouring tea from getting burnt when holding the teapot.

Tetsubin
Avid tea brewers believe the best tea is made in Tetsubin teapots and because this teapot is made with natural iron, the water boiled in it gives off a unique taste, resulting in the tea brewed to taste better than when brewed in other teapots or kettles. These cast iron teapots allowed the people of the time to keep the water warm so they could pour the water over the loose tea leaves. This has led to the Tetsubin becoming a part of traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies.

Traditional Matcha Green Tea Accessories

• Bamboo Scoop
• Whisk & Whisk Holder
• Hand Strainer
• Natsume
• Strainer Can
• Matcha Bowls

Matcha Tea Accesories

Conclusion

Apart from regular use, green tea has become a part of the culture of people all over the world. What started out in China and Japan is now a part of the global community, transcending all barriers and part of everyday lives across the globe. Drinking and enjoying green tea is a ritual which can performed throughout the day.

For a lot of people, the time they take out to brew tea is how they relax during and after their hectic/busy days. The preparation itself is just the first step in the natural wellness green tea offers. The best part comes after a nice brew: the joy of the perfect aroma and taste of your favorite green tea.

Regular consumption of green tea is one of the reasons the people of Japan and China live long and healthy lives. For thousands of years, green tea has been benefiting the people of Japan and China and its neighboring regions. Now that it is available all over the globe, it is time for you to start benefiting from the numerous benefits of drinking green tea.

What is your favorite green tea? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Best Teas for Surviving the Cold and Flu Season

Traditional Medicinals Peppermint Tea

With the cold and flu season in full swing, we’re all at greater risk of getting sick (or having to take care of someone that isn’t feeling well). So, allow us to give a little bit of friendly advice; reach for some of the best teas around and get brewing!

For years, herbalists have been using teas to successfully combat everything from nagging coughs and stuffy noses to chest congestion and body aches. And, even though some herbal blends aren’t officially defined as “tea” in the purist/traditional sense, we’ll be using the term for easy reference in this post.

Here’s a list of our “top five” teas for surviving the flu and cold season:

1) Ginger Lemon Tea with Raw Honey

First on our list of best loose leaf teas for surviving cold and flu season are ginger lemon blends. When combined together, the natural ingredients will traditionally clear the nasal passages and give an ailing body’s immune system some much needed assistance. Why? Ginger is a very effective anti-inflammatory and lemons contain Vitamin C. To up the ante even more, add a spoonful of raw honey. It will likely help calm the tickle in your throat and help your body fight bacterial infections.

2) Garlic Infused Green Teas

Next up are garlic infused green teas…and if you can find one that also contains lemon, all the better. Like ginger, garlic has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities. In addition, it has the ability to reduce the viscosity of mucus and act as an expectorant. Thus, it’s excellent at helping people cope with chest colds, sinus infections and the like.

3) Elderberry Teas

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s research, elderberry teas are wonderful when it comes to easing the discomforts that go along with having sinus infections and chest colds too. More often than not, the elderberry teas also come with helpful additives like echinacea, blackberries, pomegranate and cranberries.

4) Peppermint/Eucalyptus Teas

Since we are still on the topic of expectorants and decongestants, there are two other teas to consider. They are peppermint and eucalyptus blends. Both are also sold individually. When choosing peppermint or eucalyptus blends, look for ones that have additional cold fighting ingredients. The list includes, but doesn’t end with fennel, chocolate, ginseng, licorice and green tea extract.

5) Thyme Infused Teas

Finally, we can’t forget about thyme infused, loose leaf tea blends. A 2011 study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggested that the herb is beneficial when it comes to addressing congestion, coughs and other seasonal ailments. Furthermore, over the years, many people have used the herb to fight gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections too.

Do you have any favorite teas you rely on to get through cold and flu season?  If so, please share in the comments section below.

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How to Brew Tea Using a Traditional French Press

French press for loose leaf tea

Tea has been a popular drink for centuries. And, pills as noted from the many articles here on TeaMinded, hospital there are variety long-standing traditions surrounding the brewing and drinking of loose leaf tea. Various cultures have different customs and tools deemed most proper for preparing and drinking tea.

French press for loose leaf tea

And, clinic while often overlooked (and not traditionally considered), one method of tea brewing involves the use of a special pot called a French Press. Despite the name, this pot was first patented by an Italian designer named Attilio Calimani. Essentially, a French Press is a cylindrical pot often made of glass or stainless steel, with a plunger and attached screen inserted from above. It can be used to prepare tea or coffee.

So…if you are not near your gaiwan or kyusu (or want to try something a bit different), here are the suggested steps to make a cup of tea using a French Press:

  1. Thoroughly clean the pot and plunger. If the press has recently been used for coffee or is new, this is especially important. The residue of coffee flavor must be completely gone or it will impact the taste of the tea. Many households keep a separate press for each to avoid the cross-flavoring.
  2. Remove the plunger from the press, set aside.
  3. Add your loose leaf tea. Measure according to the tea brewing directions provided by the tea merchant.
  4. Boil water in a tea pot…only the amount that is needed to make the number of servings you are brewing.
  5. Pour the water into the French Press pot.
  6. Re-insert the plunger, but do not depress completely.
  7. Allow the tea to brew for the appropriate amount of time.
  8. Depress the plunger to separate the tea leafs from the tea brew.
  9. Pour tea into your favorite drinking vessel.
  10. Enjoy!

Have you brewed tea in a French Press? Any additional tips to share? If so, please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.

 

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Bookmarked: A Beginner’s Guide to Green Tea

A Beginner’s Guide to Green Tea

 

Traditional methods used in China and Japan generally call for a larger amount of leaf, prescription look a smaller amount of water and short steep times. Vessels can be small glass pitchers or clay side-handled teapots but the basic principles are the same.

This is a great piece written by Nicole Martin for The Daily Tea. Check out the distinctions between the Eastern & Western styles.

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Guide to Buying, Preparing and Enjoying the Best Loose Leaf Tea

Gaiwan and tasting cups of Teavivre Dong Ding Oolong




 

We’ve created this guide to loose leaf tea to provide a brief history of tea, along with tips on the buying and preparation of quality loose leaf tea.  So, let’s start with the very basic of questions…

What is Loose Leaf Tea?

Tea is, without a doubt, among the world’s most popular (and oldest) beverages. According to one very popular legend, tea was first discovered by the Shen Nong, a legendary emperor from China. He was boiling water in a kettle when the wind blew and transported some tea leaves into the kettle. After tasting the accidentally prepared brew, Shen Nong realized the potential benefits of the beverage and recorded it as a tonic. Black tea, white tea, pu’er, green tea and oolong, all originate from Camellia Sinensis, a plant native to China. The reason these teas all have different tastes is because of the way they are grown, as well as the location and how they are processed. Interestingly, the main reason why tea originally gained popularity was because of its caffeine content. You may have read some of the historical accounts of the Buddhist monks drinking cupfuls to keep themselves up when performing long meditations. Tea is appreciated all over the world because of the range of tastes and textures people enjoy, despite the different teas all coming from the same plant. The taste and texture of any type of tea is a reflection of the land on which it was grown and the craft of the tea maker. For example, I recently enjoyed a GongFu tea session with my wife and 3 young children, and one of the greatest joys was looking at a map of Taiwan and learning more about where the tea was grown. In this way, drinking tea can be a considered to be a ritual through which you can connect to the land, and savor the tastes and aroma.

Rich History of Loose Leaf Tea

The history of tea offers great insight into the history of the world. Since tea was first discovered in China, it has traveled the world, conquering the thirsts of virtually every country. Tea is the most popular beverage in the world as well as one of the healthiest. Tea has captured the hearts and minds of virtually every person in every corner of the world. According to legend, tea was discovered by the ancient Emperor of China in 2737 BC. He inscribed it in his medical journal as an herbal medicine and it was used as such for centuries. Because of its popularity and soothing qualities, the monks and priests turned it into a religious offering. It was because of this that tea became a beverage only for the rich and religious royalty. It was centuries later that tea production increased and the lower class and common folks were able to enjoy drinking this much revered beverage. This led to the setting up of tea shops and planting more tea plants to meet the increasing demands of the people. It was during this time that tea was brought to Japan by the priests. There as well, tea was limited only to the rich and priests. The Emperor of Japan loved tea so much that he started a trade with China to import tea seeds from China so they may be grown in Japan as well. It was during the 17th century that tea finally arrived in England during the reign of King Charles II. He married a Portuguese princess who made tea for her King and soon, tea became the drink of royalty in England as well. This prompted Britain to import tea via the East India Company. Even though tea is imported in large quantities, the high taxes prevented the common and the poor to enjoy a cup of tea. In order to make more profit, the East India Company started importing tea to America. There as well, the tea was taxed heavily, something that contributed to the famous Boston Tea Party.

Why Loose Leaf Tea Is So Great

Higher Quality

When buying loose leaf tea, it comes with all essential nutrients intact. In comparison, the leaves that go into teabags are mere fragments of the tea leaves that have been left over during the picking and processing (often referred to as “dust”). Teabags lack essential oils whereas loose leaves are far superior in quality.

Flavor

Because of the full leaf, the essential minerals remain when purchasing loose leaf tea. This ensures superior flavor compared to teabags. The best way to compare the two types of teas in relation to flavor is to brew two glasses of green tea, one with a traditional teabag and the other one using loose leaf tea. After the brew is ready, a sip will let the taste buds determine which gives the better taste. In most cases, people tend to choose loose leaf tea as it gives a far better and stronger aroma and taste. This can be better attained if fresh loose tea leaves are used when preparing tea as old leaves tend to lose their health benefits and flavor. Typically, if well-stored and sealed, a period of 6 months is regarded as the maximum time for the loose tea leaves to be consumed. Consumption after that means you don’t enjoy the freshness, aroma and taste you desire. There are exceptions of course (i.e., with regard to Pu’er and other types of teas).

Price

Loose leaf tea is a lot cheaper as compared to teabags. Lower quality teabags cost less while high-end, better quality teabags will generally cost more. However, even high quality teabags do not come close to the quality of loose leaf tea in taste and aroma. Due to the high quality of loose leaf tea, it can be used for infusing up to three times and it still will have enough strength to provide a strong flavor and scent when prepared for the fourth time (or, many more steeps, depending on the tea and how it is prepared and enjoyed). Typically, the only reason people prefer using teabags over loose leaf tea is the ease with which they can prepare tea using teabags. In reality, the tools and tea accessories available nowadays to help prepare loose leaf tea quickly and easily are numerous, something that makes using teabags a sign of laziness. Read on to find out the different methods of preparing loose leaf tea quickly and easily.

Preparing Loose Leaf Tea

Preparing loose leaf tea is not as intimidating as it sounds. Some people think it may be difficult or require a specific method that has to be followed as they are used to just placing a teabag in a cup of hot water. That is not the case. Preparing loose leaf tea is simple. Loose leaf tea has been prepared and consumed for over a thousand years. It only requires the use of some simple utensils that can be easily found in stores. No tea can be made without water so it is vital to ensure that the water being used to prepare tea is good quality, clean and filtered.

Using an Infusion Basket

The easiest way to prepare loose leaf tea is to use an easy tea infuser. These lightweight tumblers have made brewing loose leaf tea very easy. All that needs to be done is to fill the infuser pitcher with hot water and add the tea leaves in the infuser basket. Immerse the infuser basket in the water. Depending on the tea leaves being used, the infuser should remain immersed for the required time and then removed.

Jumbo Cup & Infuser Jumbo Cup & InfuserPreparing tea for one need not be a hurried affair. Just as easily, it may be a leisurely break. A moment to relax and unwind with a soothing cup. And what a cup it is. Stylish and large, big enough for 10oz of tea. It comes with a matching glass saucer and lid. The sturdy metal infuser is the perfect way to prepare tea right in the cup. In short, everything you need to enjoy a beautiful cup of tea anytime. Dishwasher safe. Made in China. 12oz. (0.35L)


Another among these infusion based products is the Breville One Touch Tea maker. This tea maker can accurately measure and prepare tea at five different temperatures. This makes the tea preparing process as simple as touching a button. With just a touch of the finger, the benefits of an electric temperature controlled tea maker are numerous. From ease of use to ease of cleaning and most importantly, brewing the perfect tea is something that makes having Breville One Touch Tea maker an essential part of any tea lover’s kitchen.

Grandpa Style

Another way of preparing loose leaf tea is called Grandpa Style. This method of preparing loose leaf tea is even simpler as it only requires a large cup, loose tea leaves and hot water. The tea leaves are placed in the large cup and a small amount of hot water is poured in it. This allows the tea leaves to soak and settle at the bottom. After 2 to 3 minutes, more water is added and the tea is sipped. This is the way the Chinese have been preparing and drinking tea since ancient times, therefore the name ‘Grandpa Style’, symbolizing its old age.

Ceremonial Tea

Tea has been a part of the Chinese and Japanese cultures for centuries. The Chinese tea ceremony, also known as Gongfu Tea Ceremony or Kung Fu Ceremony, and the Japanese tea ceremony, known as Chanoyu or the Way of the Tea respectively, are a part of the culture of the people of those regions. These involve preparing and drinking of various types of teas with their own specific methods and utensils. Matcha Tea Accesories

Purchasing Loose Leaf Tea

Tea is easily one of the most popular beverages in the world. It is gaining popularity and its drinkers are increasing day by day. When something grows in such high demand, chances are there are going to be plenty of people trying to make a quick buck by selling low grade loose leaf tea disguised as high quality. It is important to buy good quality tea to fully benefit from the prepared brew. Finding and buying loose leaf tea (good quality of course) is not hard as the internet is full of companies and brands that sell premium grade tea. There are companies that strive to give their customers only the purest, high quality tea. These teas can be easily ordered online as there are numerous e-tailers offering home delivery through online purchase. Here are just a few of our favorites (clicking the banners will take you to their sites).  These sites also feature detailed guides on recommended steeping times and water temperatures for a variety of teas: Matcha Source for matcha green tea powder TeaVivre Authentic Chinese Teas Art of Tea

Types of Loose Leaf Tea

The best loose leaf tea typically comes in five different varieties:

White tea

Silver Needle White TeaWhite tea typically comes in four different varieties: White Peony, Silver Needle, Long Life Eyebrow and Tribute Eyebrow. While steeping times and and temperatures vary, a common preparation of white tea requires the tea leaves to be steeped in the hot water (almost 185oF) for 3 to 4 minutes (again, it’s important to note here that there are various approaches with regard to the water temperatures and steeping times, this is just a guideline). The Silver Needle is the finest white tea and is made of silvery white buds. It is not only delightful to drink but also has a beautiful silvery-look. Most people describe this tea as having a sweet, light and delicate flavor, making it one of the most famous of the white teas. White Peony is the next in line in high quality white teas. It has a stronger taste and darker color as it is prepared from the buds and leaves. The Long life Eyebrow is made with the leftovers of the White Peony and the Silver Needle tea leaves. The Tribute Eyebrow is another lesser quality white tea. Its processing is quite different than other white teas, giving it a unique taste of its own.

Green Tea

Mandarin Green Tea Green tea is among the most famous type teas in the world. It comes from both China and Japan with each region having different varieties of their own. For example, Matcha tea is one of the most popular green teas in Japan while in China a very popular variety is the Gunpowder green tea. Again, steeping times and water temperatures vary, but in general green teas tend to taste best when steeped at lower temperatures (to avoid astringency or bitterness). Be sure to check out our Guide to Matcha, and our recent review of Matcha Source’s Kama Matcha.

Oolong Tea

Jade Oolong TeaMostly grown and processed in China and Taiwan, Oolong tea has a taste of its own. It is different from both black and green tea, but Oolong tea leaves also come from the original tea plant, the camellia sinensis. Oolong is a semi-fermented, semi-oxidized tea that is, unlike other loose tea leaves, processed immediately after harvest. Among the famous types of Oolong tea are the Ti Kuan Yin from China and the Tung Ting, often considered the best tea from Taiwan. One of our favorites here at TeaMinded is TeaVivre Taiwan Dong Ding Oolong.

Black Tea

Black Yunnan TeaOne of the most popular teas in the world, black tea is grown primarily in Sri Lanka, China and India. Due to its rising popularity, black tea undergoes processing as the demand grows, especially for the Assam Black Tea. Yunnan Tea is China’s best offering in the black tea market while the Indian Assam black tea rules the market. The Ceylon black tea comes from Sri Lanka and is mostly used by those desiring black tea with a lighter flavor and crisp aroma.

Pu’er Tea

For more than 1700 years, Pu’er has been a tea unique to China alone. It is picked from the large tea tree species found in the Yunnan province of China. Pu’er has often been referred to as China’s “mystery tea” as its manufacture was historically closely guarded. The most amazing aspect of Pu’er tea is its quality and its fine wine-like nuances. Just like wine, its quality improves as it ages. Rather than green tea, which is best when the leaves are young and fresh, Pu’er tea gets better when it is aged for decades. Pu’er is typically made in loose leaf or ‘cake’ form, and tends to generally have an “earthy” taste and aroma (with that said, there are many Pu’er teas that are wonderfully subtle/mellow in taste and aroma as well).

Loose Leaf Tea Blends

Oriental Spice TeaBlending more than one type of tea to create something truly unique is the art of loose leaf tea blending. This combination of different teas can give a totally different aroma and taste. These teas are brewed by Teaologists who brew special blends of tea. However, this is something that can be easily done at home using the electrical infusing devices mentioned above. Trying out different tea combinations to make unique blends for boosting the taste and aroma has taken the art of tea making to a whole new level. There are many teas that have been infused with different herbs and fruits to enhance their health benefits, taste and smell. This can add more antioxidants to the tea, making it an even more beneficial beverage.

Conclusion

While historically very common in regions such as China, Japan, Taiwan, India and others countries, drinking tea is also now becoming more commonplace in America as well (what we like to think of as a Tea Renaissance  in the States). It can be considered a ritual that is enjoyed in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. For a lot of people, the time they take out to prepare tea is something that that can help them slow down and relax during their hectic/busy and “plugged-in” day. The preparation itself is just the first step in the natural wellness that tea offers. The best part comes after a successful brew: the joy of the perfect aroma and taste of the tea. Being a tea lover also makes a person a part of a community that enjoys this ancient and great beverage. Tea is one of those drinks that are not only an important part of welcoming guests, but also an important part of a person’s everyday life. Apart from the regular use, tea has become a part of the culture of people all over the world. What started out in China and Japan is now a part of the global community. Regardless of country, race and religion, tea transcends all and is now a part of the culture and heritage of almost every human who lives on this green leaved planet today. What are some of your favorite tea rituals, or favorite types of tea? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate)

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What is Matcha Tea? Our Complete Guide to All Things Matcha

We’ve prepared the following guide to answer the question: What is Matcha tea?  This includes a look at the origins (and rich history) of the beverage, as well as detailed information about the different types and qualities, accessories, rituals and what to consider when buying matcha. We hope you find this guide useful, and please be sure to post comments below if you have any questions of feedback to share with others from the TeaMinded community.

What is Matcha Tea?

Originating from Japan, matcha tea is gaining immense popularity due to its health benefits and great flavor. Even though tea is a word that often brings to mind images of loose leaves steeping in hot water — matcha, on the other hand, is a ground tea leaves that, rather than steeping in hot water, is whisked, which creates an intense version of green tea.

Matcha Tea Accesories

Origins of Matcha Tea

Green tea was first cultivated in China. From there it made its way to Japan in 1191 where it has been cultivated since. The methods of preparing powdered green tea were adopted by the Japanese as it is an essential part of Zen Buddhism. It was during the 14th century that matcha tea started gaining recognition among other echelons of society, especially the upper class.

There was a time when this tea was not readily available and was used only by a select few. Thanks to the efforts of a monk named Eisai, green tea was introduced to the common public and the samurai warriors. The people of China and Japan have known about the health benefits of this beverage for centuries. It’s even been used as a medicine to treat and prevent ailments.

At first, matcha tea was used for medicinal purposes only, but with time its use became more widespread and it became a favorite beverage of the local people. This is what led to the inception of the commonly known Japanese tea ceremony. The ceremony involves the gathering of people to enjoy both the making, and drinking, of tea.

Matcha Tea Bowl Whisk

What Separates Matcha from Other Tea?

All green teas come from the same source, but the one thing that separates matcha from other teas is the processing method. The method utilized for preparing the leaves for consumption is what really sets it apart. Normal green tea leaves are fried, roasted, sundried or baked after harvesting. These leaves are then rolled a few times to remove moisture before they are packed and shipped to consumers. In order to prepare matcha, the tea farmers utilize a specific way of harvesting. For a number of weeks, typically three, the plants are shielded from the sun (shaded) to promote a naturally sweet flavor before the leaves are picked. Once picked, the leaves are steamed and left to dry. It is often during the month of May when the matcha green tea leaves are hand-picked by the farmers. To prepare the best quality, only the tenderest parts of tea leaves are selected after they have dried. They are then grounded into fine powder, packed and shipped for consumption.

To prevent fermentation the tea leaves are steamed. This is done because if the leaves are allowed to ferment, they lose their original and vibrant green color. Make sure that when buying matcha tea the color of the powder is bright green and not dull or damp green.

Once the tea leaves are picked, they are dried in the shade. After this, they are transferred to airtight tea jars where they are stored for a number of months (typically six). In November, the leaves go through the grinding process. This long and arduous process of making matcha tea is the reason why it is more costly, but it also ensures that it is of the best quality possible. This method of preparing matcha ensures that a huge amount of EGCG remains rather than going to waste (EGCG is a potent antioxidant and is an abundant catechin found in matcha tea).

The rolling and drying process of normal green tea leads to a large amount of EGCG going to waste. Some manufacturers put the green tea leaves through the process of fermentation, something that also changes and negates the power of the tea leaves. The gentle process used to prepare this beverage ensures that more than 90% of the antioxidants remain intact, while the EGCG reaches super-charged levels due to the grinding process. Such positive benefits can only be boasted by matcha tea.

Types, Grades, Quality of Matcha Tea

The higher grade of matcha is usually naturally sweet with a nice smooth finish and almost little to no bitterness. This type of is best consumed with just water, as it is not meant to be used for cooking purposes. The standard of high-quality matcha and low quality can also be discerned by the price. Matcha is one of the more expensive teas as it requires hard labor to cultivate, harvest and manufacture. Moreover, the time period for processing and refining it is quite extensive.

Another way you can determine the quality of this tea is sight. Matcha should be of a vibrant green color, similar to that of Japanese jade green. Lower grades can be sighted as brownish/yellowish. High quality gains its jade green color due to the presence of natural chlorophyll that gives it a green glow. Ingredient grade is made with leaves that are older and are also exposed to sunlight for some time. High quality matcha can also be determined by its smell as it gives off a pungent but sweet vegetal smell. This smell comes from the high amounts of amino acids, namely L-Theanine. This high level of amino acids is due to the tea plants being grown in the shade. If the green tea leaves are left in open air, they lose amino acids as they are converted into catechins.

High quality matcha has a natural sweet taste as the amino acids are preserved due to being grown in the shade. High quality also has a silky and fine feel to it, almost like baby powder. When the tea is prepared and whisked, it will leave a frothy layer on the top — whereas lower quality matcha will have less of a frothy layer, and instead it will give off large air bubbles.

Matcha tea comes in three different grades

  • Thick or Ceremonial
  • Thin
  • Ingredient or Culinary

All three are considered premium quality Matcha.

Thin matcha, also known as usucha, requires adding more water and less tea. This grade has the highest percentage of amino acids. This adds complexity to the aroma and taste of the prepared tea.

The thick matcha, also known as koicha, is made using more tea and less water. In order to make koicha, only the tenderest and youngest leaves are used to prepare the tea. This matcha is of the highest quality and often used in Japanese tea ceremonies.

Culinary grade matcha, also known as ingredient grade, is made from the leaves that lie below the plant’s top leaf and the bud set. These leaves found in the lower parts of the tea plant are less delicate and older than the rest. When grounding these leaves into powder form, the stems are not removed (as they are with premium grade). Culinary grade, as the name suggests, is excellent for making drinks and ice cream, as well as cooking sweet and savory recipes. Its bolder and less complex taste makes it the perfect ingredient grade matcha.

Health Benefits of Matcha Tea

Matcha tea’s health benefits have made it an important ingredient in a lot of health food products. Energy bars, frozen yogurts, lattes and cereals have started incorporating matcha as a healthy ingredient. Matcha has been found to have at least three times more anti-oxidants and EGCG than other teas and fruits like blueberries and pomegranates.

The biggest reason why this tea has these health benefits is due to the fact that it consists of the whole leaf, unlike other teas where only the steeped water is ingested from the tea bags. Other teas are brewed from the leaves and only the water that remains is consumed, the remaining tea is thrown away.

However in the case of matcha, its preparation consists of stone grounded tea leaves, providing you the most powerful minerals, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. This also gives matcha tea higher levels of catechins and chlorophyll. In comparison, it’s been reported that roughly ten cups of green tea equal one cup of matcha tea with regards to health benefits.

Other health benefits of Matcha tea include:

  • High in Antioxidants
  • High in EGCG and Catechin
  • Calms the Mind
  • Boosts Memory and Concentration
  • Boosts Memory and Concentration
  • Increases Energy Levels and Endurance
  • Detoxifies the Body
  • Burns Calories
  • Strengthens the Immune System
  • Lowers Bad Cholesterol and Raises Good Cholesterol
  • Helps in Fighting Cancer and Alzheimer’s

Matcha is likely one of the reasons why Japanese people live long and healthy lives. The one place where the people live the longest is Okinawa, Japan. The people there consume this tea on a regular basis as it is the most popular green tea. As the word of mouth about matcha’s health benefits spreads, health and fitness gurus throughout the world have started to incorporate the green tea in the diets of their athletes and clients. With more and more studies being conducted, the positive health benefits of matcha just keep pouring in from all corners of the world. No wonder matcha is quickly becoming one of the most popular green teas.

What to Consider When Buying Matcha Tea

It is better not to buy open tea from any local store. Chances are the quality of that matcha will not be similar to the premium quality levels. When buying matcha, go for the purest organic variety possible. Pure organic matcha contains all the health benefits mentioned above, whereas buying processed matcha won’t be as beneficial as it loses its premium grade quality.

When buying matcha, the most important aspects to consider are:

  • The location where the tea plants are grown and picked
  • The pre-grinding process
  • Calms the Mind
  • The method of grinding
  • The oxygen exposure time

The location from where the tea plant is grown is essential to its quality. The upper part of the tea bush needs to be supple and soft to ensure fine texture with high quality. The matcha tea powder made from these leaves has the best flavor. Unlike other teas, pure premium grade green leaves are left to dry in the shade rather than in the sun. All efforts are made to ensure that the leaves are not exposed to direct sunlight.

For this reason, the leaves are mostly dried indoors. Even though the drying process can be done outdoors, the risk of rain ruining the tea leaves is too high. This leaves the leaves in a fine green color. If the tea leaves are not properly grounded, they will be of a poor quality as they will appear dark and burnt. This is why matcha leaves are stone grounded at a slow pace to avoid heating due to the constant friction between the stones.

In Japan, the tea manufacturing plants are equipped with granite stone mills in order to grind the tea leaves into fine powder. Once the grinding process has been completed, the matcha tea powder is immediately packed and shipped. This immediate packing reduces the oxygen exposure time, ensuring premium quality.

When purchasing matcha tea make sure that the brand/company you are buying from follows the abovementioned process. This ensures that you are buying the highest quality tea.

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Utensils Used to Make and Drink Matcha Tea

The Japanese have been enjoying this variety of tea both medicinally and spiritually for almost 1,000 years. The utensils used by the people back then are still being used as they have become a part of the matcha tea drinking culture and the traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.

Traditional accessories include

  • Bamboo Scoop
  • Whisk & Whisk Holder
  • Hand Strainer
  • Natsume
  • Strainer Can
  • Matcha Bowls

The Bamboo Scoop: This simple utensil is used to scoop or pick up the tea powder from its airtight container into the matcha bowl. Nowadays these bamboo scoops are made to measure almost one gram of tea powder. In Japanese tea ceremonies, two bamboo scoops are used instead of one.

The Whisk & Whisk Holder: As the name suggests, the whisk is used for whisking the tea. This utensil is perfect for creating the foamy layer at the top of the tea, just like a latte. These whisks are made from the bamboo tree and are an essential part of whisking matcha tea in the traditional Japanese way. At first look, the whisk’s center prongs will be intertwined while the outer ones will be curled. The first thing to do after buying a new whisk is to soak the whisk in hot boiling water for a few of minutes. This helps in removing any aroma of the bamboo and also unravels the whisk’s prongs. The whisk holder’s purpose is simple, to hold the whisk when it is not in use. This way the whisk will dry evenly and also maintain the whisk’s shape.

The Hand Strainer: When making matcha tea, the hand strainer is used to ensure that the tea powder does not clump. Its purpose is to smoothen and evenly mix the powder in the water to make the perfect matcha green tea. Every time you make a bowl of matcha, you should use a strainer to sift the tea.

The Natsume: Typically used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, the natsume is used as a tea caddy, to hold the tea powder after it has been sifted.

Matcha Strainer: Can The Matcha strainer-can houses the natsume and the hand strainer. The sifter is placed in the top portion of the can while the sifted matcha is kept at the bottom. As a rule of thumb, it is best to sift a week’s worth of sifted tea powder in the can. All the while the can can be stored in the fridge. After filling the can with a week’s worth of sifted matcha, store the rest in the freezer whilst using this for your drinking pleasure.

Matcha Bowls: The traditional matcha bowls are used for drinking matcha green tea. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Traditional Japanese matcha bowls come in three shapes and are meant to be used during different seasons

  •  Shallow
  • Deep bowl with narrow mouth
  • Normal shaped bowl

The shallow bowl has a wide mouth and is used during summer. Their wide mouth allows the matcha to cool quickly during the summer heat. Deep bowls with narrow mouths are used during winter seasons. The narrow mouth helps retain the heat during the cold winters as the small surface allows less heat to escape. The normal shaped bowl is a general bowl and can be used throughout the year. They are typically used during autumn and spring seasons as traditionally the winter and summer seasons have specific matcha bowls.

Conclusion

Hopefully this Matcha Tea Guide provides you with useful information. Matcha is a wonderful tea for so many reasons — great taste, stress-reducing, metabolism-enhancing, cholesterol-lowering, immune system boosting, and cancer-fighting (just to name a few).

 

Matcha Source for matcha green tea powder

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Yixing Teapot User Guide

Throughout history, Yixing teapots have been used as effective and magnificent tools in which to brew tea. Dating all the way back to the time of the Chinese Sung Dynasty in the year 960, these pots have maintained their superior status when it comes to the art of tea making.  We’ve prepared the following Yixing teapot user guide to provide you with a complete overview, including tips on how to properly care for your Yixing teapots.

Yixing Teapot User Guide
Photo by Ilya Yakubovich

A Bit of History

Pottery during the Sung Dynasty was being produced from purple (zisha) clay found in the Yixing (pronounced yeeshing) region of China. Before yixing pots came along, the Chinese were accustomed to drinking tea out of bowls. People started using zisha clay to make the teapots during the Ming Dynasty, from 1368-1644. “The dissemination of YiXing teapots greatly influenced not only the forms of teapots found throughout the world, but also prompted the invention of hard-paste porcelain in the western world.

Yixing pots are so revered because they’re perfect for brewing. What makes them so great is the porous material, which is excellent for absorbing the flavor of the tea.  If used for numerous years, one could brew tea just by pouring boiling water into the empty pot (although, it may be a bit weak). Other features of the Yixing teapot include “a fine and solid texture, a four percent water absorption rate, a very low thermal conductivity, and a double air hole design which enhances the pot’s brewing properties.”

The zisha clay can manufacture light buff, purplish brown, and cinnabar red colors on its own, and other colors are created by mixing these three or adding mineral pigments. Yixing pots are made one at a time, by hand. The Chinese take their tea very seriously, which is reflected in the tradition of using the yixing pots.

Yixing Teapot User Guide
Photo by Debunix

Caring for Your Yixing Teapot

This is perhaps one of the most important considerations of any Yixing teapot users guide — proper care and seasoning. Since the teapots are delicate, they require special care.  After purchasing a Yixing pot, it’s not recommended to brew in it right away.

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the air holes are functioning properly.  It’s also recommended to boil the teapot itself in hot water to remove any stray bits of clay or glazing (since these are artisan teapots).  And, although not required, some people prefer to soak it in tea for a few days to “break it in.”

Another recommended step-by-step method is to first fill the pot with boiling water and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. After draining that water, it should be filled a second time, but with one teaspoon of tea leaves. This should also sit for the same amount of time and then drained. The final step(s) before enjoying your tea of choice from your new Yixing gets a bit complicated. Here are the recommended steps:

  • Fill your teapot with freshly boiled water to heat up the pot
  • Drain the water
  • Put one teaspoon of tealeaves into your pot
  • Again, fill the teapot with freshly boiled water
  • Drain the water quickly to rinse the tealeaves
  • Fill the teapot a third time with boiling water, allow it to steep for at least [one] minute and enjoy your tea

After sipping the high quality tea, you should avoid rinsing your Yixing teapot with detergents or soap. In fact, this would damage the vessel. It can be rinsed with hot water or wiped with a soft cloth and then air-dried. What you’ll want is to end up with a fully “seasoned” teapot.  Cleaning solvents such as dish soaps and detergents will prevent this seasoning and will likely be absorbed into the teapot itself.  Remember, if stains begin to appear overtime, it’s normal and part of the yixing aging process.

Yixing Teapot User Guide
Photo by Laughingrat

Getting the Most from Your Yixing Teapot

The Yixing teapot is best for teas that are steeped at higher temperatures – such as oolong teas or black teas.  For example, to make oolong teas in the yixing pot, it’s recommended that you fill the teapot one-third of the way with water that’s between 185 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit combined with two to three teaspoons the loose leaf tea.  Steep for one to two minutes (depending on the type of oolong and your tasting palette).

Prices for yixing pots vary…anywhere from $40 to collectable ones which can cost thousands of dollars.  To determine if a pot is the real deal, it may sometimes come with a certificate of authenticity and include the artist’s signature, writes Lynn Flewelling of Teaviews. One of the most important aspects to consider is that the lid should fit well. “Fill the pot with water, put on the lid, and start pouring” to investigate this, says Flewelling. “If, when you cover the air hole in the lid knob with a fingertip, the water stops, that’s a perfect fit and perhaps one of the best tests of a pot’s quality of workmanship.”

Yixing teapots may be pricey and require delicate care, but for a tea enthusiastic, they’re worth it, and can last for many years. In fact, they only mature and get better with age (just like many pu-erh teas and fine wines). We hope this Yixing teapot user guide is helpful, and we encourage you to share any of your own thoughts in the comments section below.

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Fair Trade Tea – A Complete Guide

Fair trade is a topic that comes up often in discussions about the business and culture of tea. Simply put, viagra sale when consumers buy fair trade tea, they are supporting a better quality of life for the workers in the fields. Tea companies that participate in fair trade practices are going above and beyond for the people behind the product. Just one example is Rishi Tea – a company that has been at the forefront of offering Fair Trade Certified loose leaf teas.

Just like any other industry, the lower-ranking employees of tea businesses may face mistreatment and unreasonable working conditions.  Employees of tea growers pluck the leaves by hand, taking on other responsibilities such as hoeing, weeding, spraying, and fertilizing, says the United States Department of Labor.

Although child labor is not common in the tea fields, it does occur, according to the DOL. In the countries where the tea is grown, such as China, India, Brazil, and Kenya, women, who are the main tea pluckers, do not have access to child care. They bring their children along with them to work, which often results in the children themselves taking on responsibilities. “Most allegations of child labor in the tea industry involve the functions of plucking, weeding, hoeing, and nursery work. Some argue that children make good pluckers because of their ‘nimble fingers;’ others argue that plucking is too arduous a task for children to perform. Child labor may also be preferred for functions that require moving about between bushes on hands and knees.”

In addition to the child labor issue, workers in the tea fields can encounter medical problems because the work is so demanding. In countries that are impoverished and have a lack of good health care, these problems are amplified. The DOL says that many times, workers are not given the proper footwear or clothing to complete their work, and are exposed to hazardous chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides.

When fair trade tea comes into play, these workers receive the proper compensation and treatment they deserve. In general, according to Fair Trade USA, which certifies brands as fair trade, “For farmers and workers in developing countries, Fair Trade offers better prices, improved terms of trade, and the business skills necessary to produce high-quality products that can compete in the global marketplace. Through vibrant trade, farmers and workers can improve their lives and plan for their futures.”

Fair trade tea guarantees that employees receive more than minimum wage, that they are not too young to be working, and that they receive international and national protection (source: Learn-About-Tea.com). Also, workers won’t be exposed to the harmful chemicals, and they have the ability to organize amongst themselves if they please. These countries also receive premiums, which has led to the creation of library facilities in China, as well as a new medical center in Tanzania.

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In the United States, fair trade first emerged in the 1940’s when organizations in North America and Europe “reached out to poverty stricken communities to help them sell their handicrafts to well-off markets,” according to Fair Trade USA. “Later, a fictional Dutch character, Max Havelaar, was developed as an advocate for exploited coffee pickers.” Fair Trade Certified Tea was then established under Fair Trade USA, formerly TransFair, after USA Today ran a story about the coffee industry and poverty in 2001.

Tea importers and brands that wish to become fair trade in the United States are required to adhere to certain regulations. They must pay certification and licensing fees, set the minimum fair trade price on products, submit quarterly reports, and undergo routine audits. For manufacturers, every single ingredient in the tea has to be fair trade certified.

More than 90 companies selling tea in the United States are certified by Fair Trade USA, and, in 2011, the sales of this tea jumped 38 percent. Overall, in 2011, fair trade products saw a 75 percent increase in sales. One of the major players in fair trade, Honest Tea, represented a “37 percent increase in Fair Trade ready-to-drink beverages.”

A survey by Core Communications released in 2011 found that the reason Fair Trade products are selling better is that 91 percent of consumers claimed they would buy items that help out a cause. Sixty two percent of consumers did just that last year.

Fair trade tea is beneficial to everyone involved. Workers receive the respect and treatment they deserve, along with a chance to improve their communities and lives. Consumers can feel good about their purchases, knowing that with one swipe of a credit card they’ve contributed to the enrichment of peoples’ lives. And, considering the ever- growing market, fair trade tea importers and manufacturers will be part of an exciting and profitable movement. As the saying goes, “tea is the cup of life,”—in more ways than one.