Introducing a Friend to Tea

Women Having Tea
Did you know that tea is the second most consumed liquid on earth, only after water? It also contains a plethora of health benefits from increasing our metabolism, to helping prevent cancer, to controlling cholesterol levels.

I’m the first to admit- walking into my first teashop was quite an intimidating experience. There were all types of cool canisters along the wall with teas I had never heard of, some of which I wasn’t even sure of the pronunciation. Yes, I was actually scared. My eyes quickly darted over all of the tea names and landed on one I had heard of and knew I could pronounce- Earl Grey.

So when a friend of mine asked if I could be her tour guide into the world of tea, I was elated! Two years since that first Earl Grey, I felt like I had a much better grasp on the fabulous world of tea. Here are some simple tips when introducing yourself or a friend to tea!

First and foremost- have fun! Don’t take it too seriously. It should be an enjoyable experience to try new teas. The first step is to get the necessary supplies. They will include a tea infuser, a tea kettle and a nice mug to enjoy your tea in.

As a tea tour guide, the best thing to do is to not be overwhelming. Sure, let them know that the world of tea is so much bigger than this cup or this variety, but also bring it to a level that they can relate to. Show them what tea can do for them. Whisk up a Matcha tea and ask if they feel like they have more energy. Have them take notes when trying new teas. It’s hard to remember all of the types/flavors later on.

If possible, visit your local tea store during a slow time of day. A weekday afternoon might be a good time. Start out slow, maybe order a tea flight with 3 or 4 sample teas. The staff will be able to spend more time with you talking about some store favorites along with answering all of your questions! Make sure to try the store samples too!

Enroll together in a tea class! Tea 101, Matcha Madness, and Introduction to Green Teas are offered at the Tea Smith and are all great choices to learn more about tea.

If you’re unsure about where to start with all the different tea types, try a tea sampler box! Tea samplers include (6) seasonal loose teas. Another great option is to check out a tea subscription box. The Tea Smith hand-picks blends and flavors to best complement each month of the season, from spicy and comforting teas during the wintertime, to fruity teas for icing on long summer days.

In the end, show your new tea drinking friend that tea is something worth paying attention to, not just a hot drink for when you’re under the weather.

Spring Teas have Sprung

Tea Smith Tea and white cup

With the arrival of spring and its ever-warming weather, there are a plethora of bright, floral and herbal teas to match what’s happening outside. Spring teas are among the most beautiful, colorful, and delightful flavors available at any time of year. And for tea-lovers, the start of spring is pure enjoyment!

In Japan, the season of spring is marked by the aromatic, pink blossoms of cherry trees. The sense of renewal is captured in our Cherry Blossom Green Tea, marked with dried cherry bits. http://www.theteasmith.com/product/Cherry-Blossom-Green-Tea.html

Spring is most arguably the high season for Chinese tea. Some of the nation’s best and most sought-after teas originate in spring, when the first buds on tea plants are harvested after the winter.

Jasmine Pearl is comprised of Fine Pouchong leaves, scented with jasmine blooms, then rolled into pearls that unfurl in your cup. These slender green leaves produce their entrancing aroma for three, four, five infusions. http://www.theteasmith.com/product/Finest-Jasmine-Pearls-Green-Tea.html

Black tea is widely known for its wealth of benefits, from increasing energy to boosting immunity. Simply Strawberry Black Tea has a subtle aroma and flavor when hot, but a slightly stronger aroma and sweet flavor once it has cooled making it a treat that can be enjoyed all year long! http://www.theteasmith.com/product/Simply-Strawberry-Black-Tea.html

Perfect for a sunny spring day is The Tea Smith’s Orange Blosson Rooibos tea. This is a light, orange-scented tea with curls of orange zest. When infused, the rind imparts a splash of citrus that comes together with the crispness of rooibos. http://www.theteasmith.com/product/Orange-Blossom-Rooibos-Tea.html

If you’re looking for something soothing after a long day, the natural oils in Lavender White Tea promote relaxation even before you take that first sip. White teas are enjoyed for their floral notes. Add natural lavender flowers and you have a tea that is uplifting and at the same time relaxing. http://www.theteasmith.com/product/Lavender-Spring-White-Tea.html

The short time between spring and summer brings about the new first flush Darjeelings from India. First flushes are regarded as the “champagne of tea.” Stay tuned! We will be announcing the arrival of our 2017 Darjeeling- 1st Flush- soon!

Experimenting with Breakfast Teas

46650905_m

English, Irish, Organic China, or Blacksmith Blend… why are these considered “breakfast teas” and is there really any difference between them?

First… what are they?

Breakfast teas are generally big bold black teas that are intended to accompany a hearty morning meal and therefore require a more robust flavor profile to accommodate typical morning flavors. Breakfast teas with their rich and bold flavors also blend well with milk and sugar, a morning staple for many, and they most certainly pack a decent punch of morning caffeine.

So which one do I want?

Well it probably requires some testing and experimenting but if you start with English, Irish and China you most likely will find the tea that best helps you shake away the morning cobwebs.

English breakfast is a classic black tea and may be the most widely drunk blend in the world. It has its roots in a tea that hailed from tea’s birthplace, China, in particular it was a tea called Keemun, exclusively produced in the county of Qimen. More likely today, English breakfast blend includes teas from Ceylon The Tea Smith’s English Breakfast Black Tea is a bold yet smooth blend that is as refreshing to the mind as to the body. English Breakfast should be in everyone’s pantry.

Irish breakfast as compared to English Breakfast should be stronger and bolder.  Assam teas from India combined with other styles of black tea reach an extremely rich and full bodied flavor. Some Irish breakfast blends can have a distinct earthy, almost coffee like quality. The Tea Smith’s Irish Breakfast Black Tea  stands up very well to the addition of milk and sugar.

Our China Breakfast, unlike its English or Irish counterparts which are made primarily from Assam and various other sources of black teas, comes from Yunnan black tea. These teas are note for their rich flavor and  pleasant earthy notes. The Tea Smith’s China Breakfast is an Organic  blend of  Yunnan teas that makes this a remarkable tea while remaining familiar and comforting.

So the common theme for breakfast teas is the bold robust flavor that they provide. As you can see beyond that the possibilities are really limitless. The best way to find your favorite cup of morning tea is through experimentation and in that vein you might try the Tea Smith’s exclusive Blacksmith Blend Black Tea.  Though it is not strictly a breakfast, our special blend is bold enough to stand with the breakfast teas but with a hint of Darjeeling to add a hint of sweetness to the cup. Happy experimenting!

The Tea Smith’s Cooking With Tea Recipe Contest October 15- November 15 2016

teasmithwritingcontest

Who is eligible for the contest?

The contest is only open to all US residents. All contestants must be 18 years or older.

 

What are the recipe categories?

Original recipes should be submitted in one of 4 categories:

  • Breakfast
  • Main Course
  • Side/Small Plates
  • Dessert

There will be one Grand Prize winner, plus one winning recipe for each category, which makes a total of 5 winners.

 

What makes a “Stand-Out” submission?

  • Stand out submissions are recipes that inspire us to buy locally and start cooking!
  • We like original recipes that are simple but creative and easy enough for a beginner/intermediate cook to prepare.
  • We also love a great photo. A stand-out submission will include an engaging photo of the finished product; of the work in progress; or with you and your creation.

 

How do I submit an entry?

  • All original recipes must be submitted via emailchiefleaf@theteasmith.com before November 15, 2016 at 11:59pm Central time. Submissions submitted after this time will not be accepted.
  • As this is a contest aimed at community engagement, we encourage you to post your creation on a blog or social media for the world to see and include the tags #theteasmith. This is not a criteria for entry, but a fun part of sharing your recipe and hard work with your friends and community.

 

What can I win? What are the prizes?

The Tea Smith is offering the following prizes for the 2016 Recipe Contest:

 

Grand Prize: $100 gift certificate to The Tea Smith. Category recipe winners will each receive a $50 gift certificate to The Tea Smith.

 

Category Winners: Breakfast, Main Course, Side/ Small Plates, and Dessert winners

 

How will we pick the winner?

Submissions to the Tea Smith 2016 Recipe Contest will be scored on a point system, as follows:

  • Recipe Presentation (photo) – Does the picture inspire us to cook? (10 points)
  • Simplicity – Is it convenient and simple enough for anyone to try making? (10 points
  • Originality – Do you use tea in a creative or unique way? (10 points)
  • The Story – Tell us what inspired your recipe. (10 points)

 

The names of entrants will not be visible to the judges. Top entries will be short listed and prepared for by students attending Metropolitan Community College’s Culinary Institute. A panel of judges will determine the winning recipes by giving a final score for flavor (10 additional points). The entry with the highest points in each submission category will be the winner. The Grand Prize will be the highest scoring entry.

 

Submission Release

All 2016 Recipe Contest submissions, including photos and recipes will become the property of The Tea Smith. We reserve the right to publish an eBook containing both the winners and other selected submissions.

We will feature a variety of submissions and winners from the 2016 Recipe Contest on our website and in social media between December 2016 and February 2017. We will provide recognition for the submissions by acknowledging the person’s full name, place of residence and link to their food blog if applicable. All submissions MUST be original recipes.

 

How will the winners be announced?

2016 Recipe Contest winners will be announced in mid December via direct email notification to the winner and public notification on The Tea Smith website and social media channels. The Grand Prize winner and 4 category winners will also have their recipes featured in The Tea Smith’s January 2017 Newsletter.

 

 

 

Tea Sourcing; How and Why

Choosing quality, delicious and beneficial tea and bringing it to tea lovers is a rewarding and enjoyable task.  Tasting teas and visiting beautiful tea gardens all over the world, bringing joy to customers, what’s not to love?  But there is a serious side to selecting tea and making sure tea sources are reliable, ethical and provide quality product.  Tim Smith does just that through his relationships with vendors and continuing education.

Tim has been providing area tea lovers with great ingredients and craftsmanship of a wide and exotic variety of loose-leaf teas from around the world for over ten years.   From the beginning, he was set upon working with and sourcing from only the best.  “When I first started I called around to other businesses and distributors getting good information on sourcing tea.” Once Tim had enough knowledge he started to source closer from gardens and producers directly and that yielded not only quality tea but special opportunities. “Some vendors that I have a long working relationship with will offer unique teas in small quantities that other buyer may not be able to get as they appreciate our art of blending tea.”

Tim adds that sourcing tea is a continual journey and his work takes him to gardens all over the globe as well as regional and world tea expos. “I have gone to tea gardens in Japan, Taiwan  and China, I do not go as often as I would want.” Tim is also is in contact on a regular basis with people who want to build relationships and source tea.

As a Tea Smith (a name that Tim coined that blends that meanings of great ingredients and craftsmanship) his  success comes from  constant and continuing education. “Tea flavor for me is naturally fascinating. Teas have a vast palate, from white tea to oolongs to black teas; there are thousands of tea varieties and I am always learning, there are so many aspects to tea. There are always new teas to discover as well as blending techniques and preparation.”

The Tea Smith employees are also in on the continuing education process as they are all familiar with the teas and each has a Tasting Book in which they keep notes about each tea they drink so that they can share flavors with customers. Tea lovers too, are able to share in tea knowledge as tea classes are offered throughout the year.

What does all this sourcing and education mean to customers? Well, they are the beneficiaries of The Tea Smith’s continual devotion to providing the utmost in quality tea especially in the upcoming months.  “We are introducing new flavored tea for the fall and winter season.  Some  customer favorites that all seem to love is the almond  apple delight, which people start looking for in late summer.  Pumpkin spice will be available for a short time and for the adventerous we have developed and blended a South-of-the-border black tea with chocolate and chili peppers.”