First Flush Darjeelings, Margaret’s Hope and Gopaldhara Queens have arrived!

Darjeeling is a special place, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, home to over seventy different tea estates. In order protect the reputation of Darjeeling tea, these estates have been given special status by the Tea Board of India, which guarantees the source of Darjeeling tea. (Source: www.teaboard.gov.in)

The taste of Darjeeling is ultimately what has given it its unparalleled reputation for quality worldwide. The most renowned Darjeeling tea either comes from the first or second flush. The first flush includes harvested teas from late Feb. to mid April. Harvested in June, the second flush teas are more fully developed. Both flushes are as wonderful as the other but hold different flavors. The tea which is harvested in spring – when the leaves are small – hold a light and floral flavor and those pulled in the second flush hold a strong and bold taste.

The taste most commonly associated with Darjeeling tea is that of ‘muscatel’, a grape that is commonly used in wine production. The liquor of Darjeeling tea is a golden, bright color, while the flavor is bright and aromatic, with notes of warm spice. Darjeeling teas also feature fresh citrusy, fruity notes.

Each season, The Tea Smith staff spends a considerable amount of time sampling the Darjeeling offerings until we find teas that we are proud to offer to our customers.

Margaret’s Hope is a world famous name when it comes to Darjeeling tea. Planted about a century

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ago, the unusual name ‘Margaret’s Hope’ was given to the garden in 1927, by the owner Mr. Cruikshank. His daughter, Margaret, captivated by the beauty, had a deep attachment to the garden. Unfortunately, she died of a tropical disease while traveling years later. Her father named the garden in her memory. Margaret’s Hope, is as romantic a place as its name suggests. Occasional views of the Himalayan peaks, the abundance of trees, the wild flowers and streams appear to beckon the China bushes to create some of the most exquisite teas in the country. Once you experience the flavor and sweetness of this tea, you will understand why Margaret’s Hope is listed among the very top of Darjeeling estates and boasts of a very devoted following.
Located in Mirik Valley, Gopaldhara is one of the highest tea estates in Darjeeling and is known for exquisite quality teas.

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In 1881, the original planters started planting teas on lush green fields that belonged to a person named ‘Gopal’. As the fields were combined with numerous natural streams, called ‘dharas’ in the local language, a combination of the two gave the name ‘Gopaldhara’ to the planted tea fields.
An exquisitely aromatic and floral spring black tea, Gopaldhara Queens has energizing notes of sweet fruits and subtle grassy hints of coriander in the background. The leaves display beautiful shades of green and the liquor is light golden. The finish is smooth, long and sweet. An excellent, must have first flush tea.

Tips for Making the Perfect First Flush Cuppa

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Add one teaspoon per person, plus ‘one for the pot’, to a warmed teapot. Bring water to the boil then wait for the water to cool about 30 degrees, then pour over the leaves. Allow to brew for 3-5 minutes and stir prior to serving. First Flush Darjeeling is best drunk without milk. First Flush Darjeeling is a perfect afternoon refreshment, and the ideal accompaniment to a freshly baked scone.

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!

The Tea Smith’s Cooking With Tea Contest Winners


Cucumber Lime Sorbet with Moroccan Mint Tea Simple Syrup


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Submitted by Tricia Chaves

• 1 Tbsp The Tea Smith Moroccan Mint Organic Green Tea

• 3/4 c granulated sugar

• 3/4 c water

• 2 c cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

• 1 lime juiced, seeds removed

• 2 T clear liquor (optional, for texture)

Make a simple syrup by combining tea, water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove top over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves without allowing the liquid to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain into the blender. Peel, seed and coarsely chop cucumber. Add to a blender with liquor and lime juice, then blend on high until smooth. Distribute evenly into two metal loaf pans and put into the freezer, stirring with a spatula every hour until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Typically, four hours. Serve within 24 hours or transfer into a covered container up to three months. Garnish as desired with grated lime peel, cucumber slice or mint leaf. This versatile sorbet makes a refreshing dessert, intermezzo – as a palate cleanser between courses, or even as a base for a frozen cocktail.


Spicy Peach and Pecan Sweet Tea Rice


Spicy Peach Pecan Tea Rice

Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

• 2 cups prepared Tea Smith Peach Paradise Black Tea

• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

• 1 cup uncooked long grain rice

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2 tablespoons butter

• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

• 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

• 1 large peeled and diced fresh peach

• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Prepare tea as directed and place in a 3-qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir in rice and salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until tea is absorbed and rice is tender.

While rice is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet. Add pecans and saute 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Add minced jalapeno and saute for one minute. Stir in rice, diced peaches and chives. Toss to mix well and serve. Serves 4.


Spicy Orange Herbal Tilapia


Spicy Tea Coated Tilapia
Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

 • 2 tablespoons Tea Smith’s Ginger & Sweet Orange Herbal Tea

• 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder

• 2 teaspoons dried thyme

• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

• 4 5-ounce tilapia fillets

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 fresh lemon

• Chopped chives for garnish

Grind tea to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or use an electric spice grinder. Place ground tea, 5-spice, thyme and salt in a shallow bowl. Mix well.

Pat fish dry with paper towel and gently coat each side with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Coat each tilapia fillet with about 1 teaspoon of tea mixture and let rest for 10 minutes.

Warm remaining oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place fillets in pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until fish is opaque throughout. Place on serving dishes and squeeze fresh lemon juice on each fillet and garnish with chives. Serves 4.


Breakfast Peach Tea Smoothie

Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

• 1 16 oz. package frozen peaches

• 4 cups brewed Tea Smith Peach Paradise Black Tea, chilled

Place ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately. Serves 4.


Finest Lady Grey Ice Box Cookies


Lady Grey Cookies

Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

 • 2 tablespoons Tea Smith’s Finest Lady Grey Black Tea

• 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

• 8 ounces butter, softened

• 2 eggs

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 3 cups all purpose flour

• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Grind tea to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or use an electric spice grinder. Divide in half. Place half of the tea powder into a large measuring cup. Add brown sugar and mix together well. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar/tea mixture and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Divide dough into three equal parts. Shape each into a roll about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Cookie dough can be wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen at this point for up to 3 months.)

After dough is chilled, heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place granulated sugar and the remaining tea powder on a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Roll each cookie log in granulated sugar and tea and cut dough into 1/4 –inch slices. Place slices one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack immediately. Makes 7 dozen cookies.


Chai Caramel Almond Tartlet


Chai Caramel Almond Tartlet 1

Submitted by Hidemi Walsh

 Ingredients:

For Crust:

• 1/2 cup Corn flour

• 3/4 cup All-purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon Granulated sugar

• 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold and diced

• 1/3 cup Water

• 1 Large egg

For filling:

• 2/3 cup Whole almonds, roasted

• 4 tablespoons Dried cranberries

• 2 tablespoons Chai tea leaves

• 1 cup Unsweetened almond milk

• 1/2 cup Granulated sugar

• 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter

• 2 tablespoons Honey

• 1/8 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

  1. Butter and flour 4 tartlet pans (4-inch in diameter each). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Make crust. In a food processor, pulse egg, cornmeal, flour and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar until combined. Add water and 4 tablespoons of butter, pulse until dough holds together. Divide the dough into four and place the dough in each tartlet pan. Poke holes in bottom of the crust and place the pans on a baking sheet. When the oven is ready, put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Make filling. In a microwave safe cup, put almond milk and warm it up in a microwave (don’t boil). Take the cup out of the microwave and add chai tea leaves. Let stand 6-7 minutes. Then strain the almond milk tea into a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, honey and salt. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently. When the large bubbles start to appear, reduce heat to medium-low and keep cooking stirring frequently until slightly thickened (30-35 minutes). Then stir in almonds and cranberries, and keep cooking stirring frequently for another 4-5 minutes or until thickened.
  4. When the crusts has baked and cooled enough to handle, remove each crust from the tartlet pan. Put the filling into each crust equally and place the pans on the baking sheet. Bake in the oven (350 degrees F) for 12-15 minutes. 4 servings.

Berry Lavender Sorbet

Submitted by Alexie L. Herrmann

Ingredients:

• 2 Tbs. Lavender Spring Loose Leaf Tea

• 2 Tbs. Agave or Honey

• 1 Can (about 14 oz.) of Full Fat Coconut Milk

• ⅔ Cup Mixed Frozen Berries

• 3 Tbs. Frozen Aronia Berries

Method:

  1. Steep tea in 8 oz. boiling water for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. (This can be done the night before or a few hours in advance and put in the fridge)
  2. Shake can of coconut milk well then open and add half of can to bowl. Add the cooled tea to bowl and put rest of coconut milk in fridge.
  3. Whisk or blend tea and coconut milk until well combined and smooth
  4. Pour mixture into ice tray and freeze overnight.
  5. Once frozen pop ice cubes into blender.
  6. Add frozen mixed berries, aronia berries, agave or honey, and the rest of the coconut milk.
  7. Blend on a low medium speed stopping often to scrape sides until all ingredients are well incorporated. Length of time depends on blender power and personal texture preference.
  8. Scrape into shallow dish (I used an 8×8 baking dish) and put into the freezer.
  9. Stir every 20 minutes until scoopable or preferred consistency.
  10. Scoop into personal dishes and garnish with fresh berries when available.

Preparation time: 20 MinutesTotal time:  Varies by blender and freezer quality but about 8 hoursServes: 4

Variations:

  • This also makes a great smoothie

Inspiration:

Being pregnant has increased two things for me. My cravings for sweet frozen foods and my anxiety. This recipe helps alleviate both! This is a bit healthier than ice cream in my opinion (especially with the antioxidants from the local aronia berries) so I can satisfy my craving without much guilt. I try to incorporate lavender into my life as much as possible to ease my anxiety often visiting local lavender farms or drinking lavender tea which does just the trick

Smoky Vegan Chili

Submitted by: Shelly J Schmidt

Ingredients:

• 4 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong Tea Leaves

• ⅓ cup (about 6 mushrooms) Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

• 2 Tbs. Olive Oil (can substitute vegetable oil)

• 1 Large Onion Diced

• 6 Garlic Cloves Minced or Pressed

• 1 Large Carrot Shredded

• 2 Jalapenos Seeded and Diced

• 2 15 oz. Cans of Diced Tomatoes

• 2 15 oz. Cans of Kidney Beans, Drained and Rinsed

• 1 15 oz. Can of Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed

• 2 Cups of Vegetable Stock

• 2 Tbs. Chili Powder

• 2 Tsp. Cumin

• 1 Bay Leaf

• Salt to Taste

Method:

  1. Use a tea bag or loose leaf tea basket to steep 2 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong in 6 oz. boiling water for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Use a spice grinder or blender to grind the mushrooms and rest of dried tea leaves to a fine powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium high heat add oil, onion, and pinch of salt. Cook until translucent.
  4. Add carrot and jalapenos. Sauté for 10 minutes
  5. Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in dried mushroom tea mixture, chili powder, cumin, and pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add diced tomatoes with juices, kidney beans, black beans, vegetable stock, brewed tea, and bay leaf.
  8. Bring to a simmer and stir.
  9. Continue a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  10. Remove bay leaf and serve with your preferred garnishments.

(Suggested garnishes jalapenos, guacamole, cilantro, cheese, fresh Nebraska corn when available, and your favorite chips.) Preparation time: 30 minutes

Total time:  1 ½ -2  hours. Serves: 8

Variations:

  • This could also be cooked on low for a longer time to enhance flavor
  • Works well in the crockpot as well

Inspiration:

  • After my daughter became vegan I had to rethink my chili recipe. She discovered the Lapsang Souchong tea at the Tea Smith and it quickly became one of her favorites. At her suggestion we added this tea along with the dried mushrooms to my basic vegan chili recipe. The mixture adds a deep umami flavor to replace the typical meat flavor of chili. I made this for my vegan daughter who loves spicy food, tea, and campfires.


Smoky Vegan Cornbread

Submitted by: Bud Schmidt

Ingredients:

• 3 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong Tea Leaves

• 1 cup whole wheat flour

• 1 ½ corn meal

• 2 Tsp. baking powder

• ¼ cup fresh cut Nebraska corn (in season) or frozen

• 2 Tbs. maple syrup

• 1 ½ cup tea made with Lapsang Souchong

• 2 Tbs. Olive Oil (can substitute vegetable oil)

Method:

  1. Use a tea bag or loose leaf tea basket to steep 3 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong in 12 oz. boiling water for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Grease loaf pan
  4. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl
  5. Mix all wet ingredients in another bowl
  6. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until moist
  7. Put into loaf pan, cook for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out dry
  8. Remove from oven and serve with your preferred garnishments

Preparation time: 15 minutesTotal time:  45-60 minutesServes: 6 people or me alone

Variations:

  • Instead of corn you could add chopped home grown jalapenos

Inspiration:

  • After my daughter became vegan I had to rethink all the things I ate. I needed to make things that she and I could eat together. She discovered the Lapsang Souchong tea at the Tea Smith and it quickly became one of her favorites. I noticed the smoky aroma and thought that might be a nice addition to cornbread. She and I both enjoy cornbread very much. It is a great addition to chili or soup.

Experimenting with Breakfast Teas

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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!