The Tao of Tea Wins New Product in Hot Beverage sofi™ Awards

3,000 Products Competed for Top Specialty Food Association Award

PRESS RELEASE:

Sofi_OMT_img_mdAt the recently concluded sofi™ Awards, hosted by the Specialty Food Association™, Portland company The Tao of Tea was awarded Best New Product in the Hot Beverage category. The product selected was Oregon Mint & Tulsi, an organic herbal beverage packaged in 15 count boxes of biodegradable pyramid sachets.

The sofis, which stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation, is considered a top honor in the specialty food industry. The Tao of Tea was one of 154 Winners selected by a national panel of 62 specialty food experts from 3,000 entries across 39 categories. Every entry is carefully judged on taste, ingredient quality, and innovation.

In December, The Tao of Tea launched its first line of quality, organic tea sachets—a new step after a long history of offering loose leaf teas. Oregon Mint & Tulsi is one of 10 new products being offered. The sachet line has had a positive response as it has made its way to customers and retailers in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

“We’ve been excited to take all we’ve learned from our years selecting high quality teas and apply it to making a really diverse, delicious line of organic tea bags,” said owner Veerinder Chawla. “It is a wonderful thing to see the response and to be recognized by the sofi Awards.”

The Tao of Tea is now planning to embark on a national distribution campaign and is in the process of finding specialty food brokers and distribution across the country. They will be showing their product at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York in late June.

Questions about the new product line can be directed to info@taooftea.com / 503.736.0198.

Specialty Food Association Media Contact: press@specialtyfood.com / 646-878-0130.

Creative Herbal Blends: Staff Favorites

herbal-blog

Around The Tao of Tea, staff are frequently blending herbal concoctions of all kinds for their daily enjoyment — some are strong and pungent brews, the pot packed full of myriad ingredients, while others are a careful mixture of 2 or 3 complementary herbs. In any case, these creations always seem personal and individual, bearing the unique signature of the person making them.

For your own herbal experimentation, we recommend picking up a few staple herbs that you know you like (mint, licorice, lavender, etc.) and some others that intrigue you. Here is a window into what’s being brewed at The Tao of Tea lately in the herbal category:

Alicia’s Brew: Raspberry Leaf, Hand-Ground Fresh Cardamom, Red Rose Petals, Spearmint

Alicia says this blend was inspired by a health book she was reading that discussed the benefits of raspberry leaf, which some say is anti-inflammatory and positive for women’s health. She added some local honey for sweetness and indeed this was a tasty and nourishing infusion.

Sly’s Brew: Green Rooibos, Lemon Balm (base) and Echinacea, French VerveineLicorice, Cinnamon (accents).

Sly uses Green Rooibos and Lemon Balm as the base for a lot of his herbal infusions. “The Lemon Balm coats the tongue and is kind of calming, whereas the Green Rooibos tastes grassy and alive.” From there, he chooses other herbs to accent this blend, depending on what flavors or benefits he is looking for that day. In this blend, the cinnamon bark chips and licorice add a nice natural sweetness to the infusion.sly-blog

 

Matt’s Iced Brew: Hibiscus, Lemon Myrtle and Lavender.

Also known as “Heaven’s Blend” (named by Sonam in our teahouse), Hibiscus, Lemon Myrtle and Lavender combine to make a tasty iced tea. Matt created this blend as the weather started heating up this spring; it was so well-liked that we started sharing it as a special. We find that the lavender offers a cooling and sweet contrast to the bright tartness of hibiscus. The lemon myrtle adds a gentle citrus quality that ties it all together.

Suggested Reading:

The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad features most of the herbs we carry at The Tao of Tea and gives great insight into their uses.

More Staff Recipes:

Jennifer’s Brew: Ginkgo, French Verveine, and Licorice.

Wade’s “Ultimate Blend”: Lemon Balm, French Verveine, Vana Tulsi, Red Raspberry Leaf, Lemon Myrtle and a little Spearmint.

Melissa’s “Tea Room Favorite”: Purple Leaf Tulsi and fresh grated ginger.

We’re Hiring!

Chinese Teahouse Shift Lead

The Tao of Tea is seeking a full-time teahouse staff to work at one of Portland’s greatest attractions, the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Please read the entire job posting, including availability requirements and how to apply as incomplete applications will not be considered. This position will remain open until filled.

Reports to: Chinese Teahouse Manager

Purpose of Position: Provide a high level of customer service to visitors to the teahouse by serving on the floor, working in the kitchen, and selling retail. Monitor and improve flow of service, efficiency, and organization. Report on a daily/shift basis to Teahouse Manager.

Position Scope: This is a very hands-on, full-time position, primarily involving regular serving shifts, as well as some managerial oversight. Interacting with coworkers, visitors, Garden members, Garden staff, and Garden volunteers in a positive and educated way creates good experiences for all.

Hours: Varies with the season. Not less than 30 hours a week in the off-season and not to exceed 10 hours a day / 40 hours a week, except under special circumstances such as evening events. Must be available to work on summer-season evenings (March 15 – October 31, until 8:00 pm), on weekends, on holidays, and for after-hours events. The Garden is closed only a few days a year.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Become fully knowledgeable about the extensive menu, particularly the wide variety of teas and tea preparations.
  • Become able to represent both The Tao of Tea and the Lan Su Chinese Garden, providing visitors with accurate information about both.
  • Follow daily financial procedures, including balancing the cash drawer with cash register report and maintaining proper cash and supply levels.
  • Assist in training new employees.
  • Demonstrate skillful manner of solving customer issues.
  • Demonstrate ability to address safety and sanitation concerns.
  • Attend to and assign side-work to keep the teahouse clean and orderly at all times.
  • Ensure that the teahouse is stocked for the oncoming shift.
  • Assist the Teahouse Manager in running a delightful teahouse environment.

Experience & Expectations

  • Enthusiastic about tea.
  • Experience with POS system.
  • Food handlers permit and OLCC certification.
  • Two-years restaurant experience.
  • Able to participate in special events as needed.
  • Able to stand for extended periods of time.
  • Able to multi-task.
  • Able to carry heavy trays.
  • Able to lift up to 30lbs.
  • Able to maintain cleanliness and organization of teahouse, including kitchen and retail.

Application Procedure

Email a cover letter summarizing your qualifications and indicating your interest in this position, along with a current resume to evonne@taooftea.com. No phone calls and drop-ins. Receipt of application materials will be acknowledged. Applications accepted until position is filled.

The Premier Collection: Pyramid Sachets

We are so excited to share our new pyramid sachets, which are now available on the website and in select retail stores. The Premier Collection is a line of 8 organic whole leaf teas with the convenience of tea bag brewing! Check out our offerings below:

Sen-Matcha | Jasmine Pearls | Bollywood | Wild Black

Italian Earl Grey | Oregon Mint & Tulsi | 500 Mile Chai | Darjeeling Heritage

Premiere Collection

Meet Our Partner: Arrowhead Chocolates

Arrowhead Chocolates is one of our partners who truly exemplifies the magic that can happen when tea meets dessert. Founded in 2010, they are a Good Food Award-winning, family-owned business located in Joseph, Oregon. Arrowhead makes small batches of hand-crafted chocolates with an emphasis on sustainability, social responsibility, and authentic, outstanding flavor.

Recently we enjoyed a delicious variety box of chocolates, which included everything from whisky to coconut to lavender-honey flavored truffles, with a quality we could taste. We were pleased to see how our Chai and Earl Grey were integrated in their artisan truffles. The flavors did not disappoint. Here’s what Arrowhead Chocolates had to share about their product:

AC_20TBox_TaliaWhat was your inspiration for adding tea to your chocolates? Our goal is to make delicious, richly flavored chocolates using all natural, high quality ingredients. We’re also a cafe, serving tea, coffee, and chocolate drinks, so it was a natural progression for us to start experimenting with tea infusions in our chocolates. We’ve had so much fun working with different kinds of tea, and we appreciate Tao of Tea’s willingness to provide us with custom blends specifically tailored to our chocolate recipes.

What is your philosophy around the type of chocolates you make? We love rich, authentic flavor and natural, true ingredients sourced close to home whenever possible. Our mission statement is “To make great products in a way that creates joy for our customers and ourselves” and we work hard to stay true to this goal. Joyful chocolate making for us includes high standards, diligence, teamwork, and lots of passion in all that we do. 

Arrowheadchocolates.com – They ship their chocolates everywhere! People can order online, or contact them via their website for custom orders.

Street Address:
100 N Main
Mailing Address:
PO Box 429
Joseph, OR 97846

The Power of Diversity

Staff Image 1

Dear Friends and Tea Drinkers,

One of the most enjoyable aspects of The Tao of Tea working environment is its multiculturalism. It is a place where Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, African Americans, Somali refugees, Caucasian Americans, Nepalis, Indians, Hispanics, and other individuals come together to work, drink tea, share meals and build relationships.

We have learned through tea that celebrating diversity and mutual respect are essential rules for workplaces, not the exception. As a company, The Tao of Tea stands against bigotry and any form of discrimination. More than ever, we want to acknowledge the value and power of diversity and denounce actions that promote exclusivity, such as the recently announced travel ban and any rhetoric that divides people on superficial levels.

We send good wishes to all and remain an open and inclusive company.

-Veerinder Chawla, Founder of The Tao of Tea

Making Terere (Iced Yerba Mate)

This summer we have had some intense heat waves here in Portland — so it’s been perfect weather to explore different styles of iced tea. Lately we’ve been drinking Terere, or iced Yerba Mate, which is popular in South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

In the video below, Cinthia gives an introduction to brewing Terere. The method is quite similar to brewing Yerba Mate hot. If you haven’t yet seen our guide to brewing Yerba Mate, which also features some information about the social and cultural practice of drinking Mate, check it out here.

Recipe:

  1. Fill your cup about 1/2 full with our Mate Mint blend.
  2. Tip the cup to position the Mate against the side of the cup. Place your bombilla against the bottom of the cup so that it is not resting on top of the Mate.
  3. Add ice water infused with lime and fresh mint.
  4. As with hot Yerba Mate, the person who prepares the Mate drinks the first cup, then prepares it for their companions.
  5. The Mate leaf can be reused several times — just keep adding water!

Featured in this video:

  • Mate Mint: Hand-blended Organic Green Argentinian Mate and cooling spearmint leaves. A cool, minty aroma and smooth, herbaceous flavor.
  • Bombilla: The filtered straw used for drinking Yerba Mate.

Some alternative recipe ideas:

  • Try preparing terere with our other mate offerings.
  • Prepare your terere with cold orange or grapefruit juice instead of ice water.
  • Add herbs such as fennel, lemon balm, coriander or chamomile: put fresh herbs into your water, or blend dried herbs with the Mate leaf.
  • Prepare terere in a French press, or cold brew it overnight.

Let us know what delicious recipes you come up with!

Cold Brewed Iced Tea

As things heat up in the summer months and we begin craving iced beverages, one of the easiest ways to brew tea and herbs is to cold brew overnight in the fridge. Recently we tried this method with three offerings from The Tao of Tea — Hibiscus Ginger, Golden Tips Assam, and Moroccan Mint. The results from an overnight steeping in cool water were full flavored, fresh and delicious — truly steeped to perfection. Below is a guide to cold brewing.

Step 1

DSC_0521iced-tea-3

All you need is a container for brewing, your desired tea, some water and a strainer. We used a half gallon jug of cool filtered water and half an ounce of tea/herb in our brew (in other words, 1 ounce of tea per gallon). You can play with the ratio, but we’ve found this to be a great starting place.

We chose Hibiscus Ginger because its tart-sweet flavor is ideal as an iced beverage. This is well-known throughout countries like Mexico, Honduras, Egypt and Cambodia. Few things are as refreshing as iced hibiscus.

Similarly, Moroccan Mint (gunpowder green tea and peppermint) has a long tradition of being served iced in Morocco, Algeria, Libya and other countries across the Middle East and beyond.

For those looking for a classic black iced tea, Golden Tips Assam is a favorite at The Tao of Tea because of its smooth, sweet flavor. Other full bodied black teas like Malty Assam and Gyan’s Favorite make great iced tea as well.

Step 2

Leave in the fridge overnight.

iced-teas

Step 3

Use a strainer to serve your tea. If you are not serving all of it in one day and are concerned about it over-brewing, you may consider transferring the the iced tea into another container. Over-brewing is less of a concern when steeping tea leaves in cold water, however, because cold water does not extract as many tannins from the tea leaves as hot water does. Therefore the brew will not become bitter or astringent.

Pour your tea over ice, add a garnish like a sprig of mint, lemon or freshly grated ginger. Enjoy!

Some Other Iced Tea Ideas:
Rose Petal Black
Flower Blend (Rose Petals, Hibiscus, and Lavender)
Jasmine
Malty Assam
Gyan’s Favorite (we’ve enjoyed blending in a little Red Raspberry Leaf)

Inside Our Tea Brewery: Bottled Tea Production

Bottles at the Tao of Tea BreweryFor those of you who enjoy the sights and sounds of a factory in action, we recently made a video of our micro tea brewery during a production run of The Tao of Tea bottled teas. We brew our ready-to-drink teas in small batches at our North Portland facility, using only whole leaf teas and herbs rather than concentrates. See the process from the brewing stage to packaging.

We currently offer 11 flavors: Gunpowder Mint, Oregon Berry Black, Osmanthus Oolong, Tippy Assam, Tulsi Lavender, Tulsi Pure, Tulsi Ginger, Cape Town Rooibos, Lemon Myrtle, Lapsang Souchong, and Darjeeling.

 

Meet Our Partner: Lewis & Clark’s Fields Dining Hall & Maggie’s Cafe

946471_10153864035908584_5689840657946721128_nLewis & Clark College, located on a beautiful campus in Southwest Portland, Oregon, offers a great dining experience to its 2,000+ students. Food is served in the main cafeteria, Fields Dining Hall, and in Maggie’s Cafe, where students can enjoy tea, smoothies, espresso, and various grab-and-go snacks. Both are run by Bon Appétit Management Company, which has a reputation for promoting greater sustainability in food service. The Tao of Tea is part of Bon Appétit’s Farm to Fork Program — an initiative that requires chefs to obtain a percentage of ingredients from local sources — and our tea is served in both the main dining room and at Maggie’s.

We asked Bonnie Von Zange, Manager of Fields Dining Hall, about her experience serving food to the Lewis & Clark student body and working with The Tao of Tea.

Tell us about your Farm to Fork program.
Our Farm to Fork Program is a company wide effort which asks chefs to buy at least 20% of their ingredients from small farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food producers within 150 miles of their kitchens. 

What are some of your nutritional goals in providing food to the student body at LC? 
We serve anywhere between 500-900 people at breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week. Each meal is made from scratch, utilizing local ingredients and stealth nutrition. We take great care to consider different food preferences and concerns. At each meal period, we offer vegan and vegetarian options, as well as items made without gluten-containing ingredients. We are sensitive to the individual needs of the students. 

How do you go about choosing which teas you’ll serve in the dining hall?  Do students or staff make the selection? 
In the dining hall, we order a variety of teas. Students do make requests on occasion. I make sure to always have the ever popular Hibiscus Ginger in house. 

What do you enjoy about working with the Tao of Tea?
Jeanne Quan, broker for The Tao of Tea, is my favorite part. She is very helpful and full of information. She is quick to share knowledge about the tea, and has offered guidance in choosing certain varieties. She is so pleasant, and the product is so tasty. 

Do you find that there are a lot of tea drinkers in the LC student body?
We go through several gallons of tea a day. This leads me to believe the students are crazy for tea. 

http://www.lclark.edu/

0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd.
Portland, Oregon 97219

  bsug1a57imjro19gimgres

Meet Our Partner: The Cup & Crow at Marylhurst University

cup-crow-seating

The Cup & Crow is the campus store at Marylhurst University. It’s a place that fosters intellectual community, offering delicious tea, espresso, baked goods, salads, sandwiches and snacks, as well as gifts, cards, office and art supplies, and all campus essentials. They are supporters of local businesses, serving The Tao of Tea and Portland coffee company, World Cup, in their cozy campus store. The Cup & Crow stocks 20+ Tao of Tea products, served iced or hot.

Tell us about The Cup & Crow.  Is this a popular place for students/professors to hang out and study?
The Cup & Crow is the go-to place to recharge – that’s true of our university employees, as well as our professors and students. There isn’t a coffee shop within walking distance, so our espresso cart and tea bar gets a lot of traffic, particularly during class breaks. We also host small groups for events – several store employees are musicians, songwriters and storytellers, and so we have a lot of talented artists in our midst.

Which teas do you serve there?  Is there a most popular tea?
It really varies. We like to introduce new styles and blends to keep things interesting for our regular customers. Jeanne Quan, our Tao of Tea representative, educates us about good tea choices and best ways to prepare them. Our baristas love experimenting with new teas, and our customers love tasting them!

What have you enjoyed about working with The Tao of Tea?
The same thing we love about working with all our local business partners – friendly and knowledgeable service. It’s a high quality product with top-notch service.

marylhurst2

www.marylhurst.edu/espresso

The Cup & Crow
Marylhurst University
17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy 43)
Marylhurst, OR 97036

MULogo-display-blue

 

 

Meet Our Partner: The Arbor Lodge

Tao of TeaLocated on the corner of Interstate Avenue and N Rosa Parks Way, The Arbor Lodge is a mission based coffee shop that has been serving Arbor Lodge and the surrounding commuter communities since 2011. As residents of Arbor Lodge, owners Jolynn and Scott Davison realized that the neighborhood was under-resourced with walkable spaces to gather. As a mission based organization, profitability and social responsibility are weighed out in every decision. The Arbor Lodge emphasizes local coffees and teas as well as organic milks. We asked them to tell us a bit about their business and their focus on community. Here’s what they shared:  

What we love most about our business is hands down the customers. We opened the shop with the help of many neighbors. Folks helped create the space from helping paint, the branding was done by our neighbor and co-owner of Jolby Design and the majority of the furniture was build by neighbors.

I love entering the space and seeing people meeting face to face over a beverage. Many neighborhood projects have had their genesis at the shop. It’s a matter of hearing the dreams and passions of people and bringing the right people together to make things happen.

We host two annual neighborhood parties: Our Anniversary Party is in September and the Wild & Woolly: A Sasquatch Themed Art Show that happens each spring. During the month of the art show customers vote on their favorite Sasquatch interpretation, we culminate the month by awarding prizes and gathering with neighbors, with sidewalk chalk drawing, temporary tattoos and adult beverages.

What qualities do you look for in the coffee, teas and other items that you serve? You seem to have an emphasis on serving local.

At the Arbor lodge we have a commitment to serving high quality locally made products.

What teas are popular at Arbor Lodge Coffee?

Tippy South Cloud and Sencha Shinrikyu.

arborlodge

www.thearborlodge.com
1507 N Rosa Parks Way
Portland, OR 97217

Meet Our Partner: The American Local

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Our Tao of Tea partners, Jenny and Chris, planned The American Local for five years, collecting tasty American dishes during their many cross-country road trips. At The American Local, they combine their love of great regional American specialties with warm hospitality. Inspired by the attentive service of fine dining and the lively energy of their favorite dive bars, Jenny and Chris have created a space for their fellow travelers of the American West.

How long have you been open? We opened in January 2014.

Which Tao of Tea Products do you carry? We carry six looseleaf teas, and your line of bottled iced teas.

What qualities do you emphasize in your food and drink choices for The American Local? We always look for seasonal and local products first (small farms, small businesses), and we create both our drink and our food menus around the best products available to us.

What do you enjoy about working with the Tao of Tea? Veerinder is awesome; he sold me on The Tao of Tea!

The American Local is located on SE Division St. in Portland, Oregon.

_DLR2340

AmericanLocal

http://www.theamericanlocal.com

3003 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97202

Meet Our Partner: Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op

Elizabeth & Niece_webLocated in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mississippi Market has been a cooperatively owned natural food store since 1979. At their three locations, they offer local and organic produce, fresh cheeses, an extensive deli, local and sustainable meats, and wide wellness and body care selections – plus, classes on what to do with it all! Everyone’s welcome to shop, and anyone can join the co-op. 

We asked our friends at Mississippi Market Co-op a few questions about their experience with The Tao of Tea products.

What type of criteria do you have for the food and beverage items you carry? We have a product policy in place that prioritizes vendors whose products are certified organic, produced using sustainable agriculture practices, fair trade certified, free of GMOs, fairly priced, and packaged minimally. We feel that Tao of Tea meets many of these priorities and our customers have been delighted by the quality and flavors of the teas.

What do you enjoy about working with The Tao of Tea? One aspect of the company that I truly appreciate is the great care and dedication Tao embodies in sharing the original location and method of process for each tea. This gives the teas a unique depth beyond the flavor, honoring the process from plant to cup and paying credit to the wisdom, people, and history — and some secrets — involved.  -Rachael, tea buyer

Mississippi_Market_0020

http://msmarket.coop/

740 E. 7th Street
Saint Paul, MN 55106

622 Selby Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104

1500 W. 7th Street
Saint Paul, MN 55102

msmarket

Yerba Mate Brewing

Yerba Mate was first used by the Guarani Indians, who believed it could cleanse and heal the spirit. Now millions enjoy it in South America. In Brazil, the drinking of Yerba Mate is practiced as a social ritual. Friends and family gather in a circle as the host prepares the beverage in a gourd and drinks the first infusion with a filtered straw called a bombilla (Spanish) or bomba (Portuguese). The gourd is refilled and passed to each guest in the circle. Everyone shares the same gourd and bomba, joining in a bond of acceptance and friendship.

In the following video, Cinthia demonstrates how to brew Yerba Mate while talking more about the tradition behind it. Cinthia comes from Southern Brazil, not far from the border region with Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, where Mate is enjoyed on a regular basis.

Implements used for brewing Yerba Mate

  • Bomba or bombilla: This filtered straw is used to drink the Mate. They are often made of bamboo or stainless steel.
  • Gourd: Mate cups are often made from natural gourds or wood.

Curing your gourd

  1. Fill your gourd 3/4 full with Mate leaves.
  2. Fill the gourd with hot but not boiling water (around 165 – 175°F) until it is full.
  3. Let the Mate sit overnight. Top off the gourd with more water as the water absorbs.
  4. Rinse out the gourd thoroughly.
  5. For natural gourds (ones not made of wood): Your gourd may have seeds and a natural membrane. Some of this may wash out when you cure it; this is normal but there is no need to excessively scrub the inside.
  6. Let your gourd air dry.

Cleaning your gourd

Always rinse your gourd after use with warm water. Do not use soap because it will absorb into the gourd and flavor your mate. Never use boiling water, as it may crack your gourd.

Let the gourd air dry, preferably at a 45° angle, to prevent mold growth.

Yerba Mate featured in this video

  • Argentinian Yerba Mate (Argentina): Crisp, herbaceous, vegetal aroma and taste.
  • Chimarrão (Iguaçu Valley, Brazil): Powdered Yerba Mate that is strong, herbaceous, grassy, and slightly smoky.
  • Rio (Iguaçu Valley, Brazil): Cooling, clear, bittersweet flavor notes.
  • Roasted Mate (Southern Brazil): Toasty, smooth, and full-bodied with light cocoa notes.
  • Our other Mate choices

Look out for more Yerba Mate videos in the future!

Tea Brewing Guides Masterlist

Steep-3Get Instructions for the Following Brewing Methods:

Gaiwan Brewing
Gongfu Tea Ceremony
Sencha Brewing
Yerba Mate Brewing
Single-Serving Loose Leaf Brewers
Simple Teaware Demonstration
Cold Brewed Iced Tea
Terere (Iced Yerba Mate)

 

 

Coming soon:
How to Brew Compressed Tea (Zhuan Cha and Bing Cha)
Chai Brewing

Powdered Teas:
Traditional Matcha Brewing Guide
Matcha Latte
Matcha Chai
Iced Matcha
Genmaicha Latte
Iced Genmaicha

Steep Times:

Every tea behaves a little differently, even within the same general category. Many green teas, for example, will get bitter if steeped for too long, while others may need a little extra time to reach their full flavor potential. Some teas are undesirable after the first few infusions, while others seem to endlessly produce a delicious flavor. While it is useful to have guidelines for how long to brew, how many times, and at what temperature, experimenting with your tea will help you become familiar with the unique character of your tea and the brewing methods that bring out the best flavor. The following chart is therefore not a hard-and-fast guide to brewing, but rather a place to get started.

Style of TeaWater Temp

°F (°C)

Steep Time

(minutes)

Number of InfusionsQuantity of Leaf

(tsp / 8oz water)

White170°F (77°C)2-42-32
Green
(Chinese style)

160 – 180°F (71 – 82°C)2-3 2-32
Green
(Japanese style Sencha, Matcha, etc.)

140°F (Gyokuros) –
180°F (some Senchas)
(60 – 82°C)
1.5-2 2-31
Black185 – 200°F (85 – 93°C)3-51-31
Oolong180 – 200°F (82 – 93°C)3-43-41
Puer200°F (green puer) – 212°F (dark puer)
(93 – 100°C)
1-34-51-2
Herbal190°F (88°C)3-51-22

Sencha Brewing (Senchado)

unnamedSencha is a type of steamed Japanese green tea that requires different brewing techniques and temperatures than Chinese greens. “Senchado” refers to the way of drinking and enjoying Japanese green tea, and the following will be a guide to doing just that.

In the production of Sencha, the tea leaves can only be harvested for a short time each spring. Shortly after plucking, leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation (rather than fired, as is often the case for Chinese green teas), and then they are rolled and dried until they take on the long, thin shape. Next there is a sieving and cutting process, at which point the cut leaves are sorted according to color and shape.

Senchas tend to be more vegetal and salty than Chinese green teas, with a very pleasant umami flavor. Sencha leaves should be steeped at a temperature slightly cooler than most teas–anywhere from 160-185°F (71-85°C). The tea can be steeped three times, and steeping times will vary from around 15 seconds to a minute and a half. In the following video, Alicia demonstrates one approach to brewing Sencha:

Implements used for brewing Sencha:

  • Kyusu teapot: Kyusu pots are the traditional option for brewing Sencha. The teapot featured in this video is our Edo teapot, a Tokoname clay teapot with a built-in fine mesh strainer. Its round shape allows enough room for leaves to expand.
  • Kyusu leaf holder: The leaf holder can be used to hold discarded tea leaves and to receive the water used for waking up the tea leaves.
  • Water cooler (Yuzamashi): The water cooler is used to hold the cool water that wakes up the leaves. It is also used as a pitcher for the tea once it has finished steeping.
  • Tea caddy/tin: An airtight container is ideal for storing loose leaf tea.
  • Bamboo scoop: Useful for scooping small leaf teas.

Sencha Terms:

  • Fukamushi:  “Deep steamed” Sencha, known for a creamy, buttery texture and beautiful green color. Fukamushi Senchas tend to have some broken, dusty particles of tea along with larger pieces, which is a natural byproduct of the deep steaming process. This is not an indicator of low quality, and rather contributes to a desirable creaminess in the brew.
  • Asamushi: “Light steamed” Sencha. Leaves do not break down as much as they do in the Fukamushi process. Therefore, they may be larger, producing a very clean, crisp and clear brew.
  • Kabuse: Kabuse is a Sencha that is shade grown for a week before plucking, which aids in the production of chlorophyll, increases both caffeine and altheinine (an amino acid that has a calming effect), and can add sweetness and reduce astringency, making for a very desirable smooth, sweet and vegetal tea.

Related Teas:

  • Gyokuro: Shade grown Japanese green teas. Gyokuro shares some flavor similarities with Sencha, such as the umami flavor characteristic of Japanese green teas. However, Gyokuro is its own category and can benefit from different brewing methods, such as using a lower temperature water (in fact, gyokuro tastes great when cold-brewed, or even somewhat lukewarm with temperatures as low as 125-150°F)
  • Tamaryokucha: Tamaryokucha is produced using similar methods as Sencha, but is finish dried in a tumbler, giving the leaf a curled, wavy shape, rather than the straight and needle-like shape of Sencha leaves. This tea can be brewed like Sencha.

Gongfu Tea Brewing

gongfuchaGongfu brewing is a ritualized form of preparing tea that works well with oolongs and puers. The Gongfu tea ceremony originated in the Song Dynasty and by the Ming Dynasty had become more widespread, used especially in Fujian and Guandong. “Gongfu” refers to something done with skill, and indeed brewing in this way can bring out the best flavor in a tea, as one controls variables like water temperature and steep time. In addition to producing a great brew, it is a beautiful ritual and certainly can heighten one’s enjoyment when drinking tea with others.

Implements used in Gongfu Tea Ceremony

  • A Tea Boat – The tray on which the tea is brewed.  The boat has slats or holes in the top that allow water to fall through into the lower tray or vessel below.
  • Tea Leaf Holder – Holds the dry tea leaves and displays them before brewing.  Usually designed for easy pouring of the leaf into the pot.
  • A Gongfu Pot – Often made of clay, which retains heat well as the tea brews.
  • Pitcher or “Fair Cup” – The pitcher will hold the brewed tea once it is done steeping in the pot.  The name “fair cup” refers to the fact that everyone will get exactly the same brew if the tea is decanted first.
  • Cups – A small set of cups is given to each tea drinker.  One is a tall aroma cup, and the other is a shorter drinking cup.  Tea is poured first into the aroma cup and, from there, into the drinking cup.  Take a look at the video below for a demonstration.
  • Other small implements may be used like a bamboo tea scoop, a brush for wiping down teapot and teaware, etc.

Gaiwan Brewing Method

gaiwan_bamboo_webThe Gaiwan is a traditional Chinese cup used for tea brewing. It has been used in China since the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Gaiwans consist of a lid, cup, and saucer. The tea is brewed inside the cup, and the lid is designed to strain out the tea leaves. Once the tea is steeped, one can drink from the Gaiwan, or they can pour the tea from the Gaiwan into another cup or pitcher. Check out the video below for an example of the Gaiwan brewing method.

 

Tea Sourcing from Assam and Beyond

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Recently the BBC published an article about poor working and living conditions at an estate in the Assam region that supplies some of the largest tea companies in the world. Naturally, this has led to an influx of tea drinkers questioning the tea sourcing practices of the companies from which they buy their tea.

We recently discussed this issue internally at The Tao of Tea. One perspective that came up was that it is not simply the onus of the estate owners to improve the conditions, but also (and perhaps especially) of the large companies that buy from them. Many of the major tea companies pay around $5 per kilo (1000 grams) of tea from an estate like this. There is a huge profit margin for that company and not for the estate. When tea companies are ordering massive quantities and making massive profits, one way to look at it is that that they have an opportunity to do something right by paying a higher price per kilo.

assamA note about tea sourcing and economics: Doing the math on what a tea company can make paying $5 a kilo is rather alarming! Consider 1000 grams parsed out into tea bags that each contain 2 grams or less. In the US, a typical box of teabags may only contain 15 teabags (28 grams) and sell for $10 or more. This can translate to the customer paying roughly $320 for the same kilo of tea that started at $5. Could some of this money be used to fund improvements and repairs for tea workers? Also worth noting from all of this is that full leaf teas tend to offer a better value for consumers than bagged.

We are proud to work with many well known tea gardens in Assam. Among them is the Putharjhora Tea Garden. The owner, Binod Mohan, has been a pioneer in the organic and biodynamic tea movements of Assam. There are good things happening in Assam, just as there are problems that affect this and every tea region. We buy our teas in smaller batches, often paying more than $75-$100 / kg and not the typical $5 / kg. We have a relationship with our farms and examine each new tea we order for quality and flavor.

Thanks to the customers who have asked questions about sourcing and awakened an interesting and important discussion.

Free Gift While Supplies Last

Currently on the Tao of Tea website, we are offering a free gift to retail customers with every online purchase.  This offer is for as long as supplies last.  Gifts may vary.  Keep an eye out for a possible surprise with your next order of tea or teaware, and thanks, as always, for enjoying the wonderful world of tea with us.

“I just received my latest order of tea with a surprise gift inside.  Thank you so much!  It was so unexpected and so delightful. I just wanted to thank you for providing such a large assortment of the most delicious and interesting teas.  I am trying a new one this order, and look forward to many more ‘tea adventures’.  There is nothing like curling up with a book of interest and the gentle Oregon rain outside, with a yummy cup of your tea.  Thank you for leading such joy and good health through your products.”
 -Laurie Marzell, N.D.

 

 

McMenamins Craft Brewing with Teas from Tao of Tea

Over the years, teas and herbal infusions have been used in many culinary (and mixology-related) endeavors, from cocktails to ice creams, soups, cakes, etc.   Recently, Drew Phillips, a brewer of delicious ales at McMenamins Crystal Brewery in Portland, has done some particularly fun experimenting with Tao of Tea products in his craft brewing.  He writes:

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Jeanne (Quan, a wonderfully enthusiastic broker for the Tao, pictured left) deftly navigated the Tao of Tea’s product line for me when I was looking to diversify my ale offerings. I’ve since used green cardamom, the hibiscus-ginger blend, lemon myrtle, and pine smoked black tea for five distinct brews, all of which have been featured in festivals and special events. Though using ingredients outside of hop varieties is not a new concept, it’s pretty staggering to think of all the new styles and flavor profiles that a brewer could create with even a quarter of the herbs and teas Tao offers. I’m only five deep into the catalog, and can’t wait to revisit and tweak the beers I’ve already made, much less move on the next ones. Tao of Tea basically eliminated the chance of me ever getting in a rut with my recipes.

The Wild Fermented Raspberry Hibiscus ale (pictured above) will be featured at the upcoming Organic Brewers Festival in Overlook Park, August 13-16, here in Portland, OR.  Visit Drew the brewer there or at McMenamins and give it a try!  We think this is a tasty sweet-tart fruity beer perfect for a summer day in Portland.

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From the McMenamins site: Lloyd “Drew” Phillips is a member of the team at Crystal Brewery. After working at McMenamins for a few years as a pub worker and assistant manager at East Vancouver Pub and Kennedy School Courtyard Restaurant, Drew moved to Edgefield in 2012 as a seasonal brewery assistant. Shortly after, his passion and desire to learn carried him into a full-time brewing position at Edgefield until 2014, when he moved to the Crystal Brewery.

New Tao of Tea Website!

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We are excited to share our new website and blog. We hope it will make it easier for tea lovers to learn about our teas, teahouses, and to use our online ordering system. If you are familiar with our old site, there are a number of new features to be aware of when using the new one.

  • Improved Tea Ordering – Many features have been improved for better navigation and ordering. Drop down menus in our shop make it easy to search teas by style and origin. Previous customers will see that past orders and Leaf Point usage are now tracked with a history in your account settings.
  • Wholesale Quick Order Form – We’ve added a quick order form so that our repeat Wholesale customers may place an order all from one page.
  • A New Blog – A place for musings on new teas, videos from our travels in tea-producing countries, maps of tea regions, information on tea processing and brewing, etc. Along with our other social media (Facebook ,Twitter, and Instagram), our blog will offer a window into the happenings at our home base here in Portland, Oregon.
  • Teahouse Calendar Our Portland teahouses and retail store offer a variety of events such as cultural music, tea tastings, tea talks, etc. Check our calendar for upcoming events.
  • World Tea Club – We will offer World Tea Club teas again in the future. All previous World Tea Club memberships will still be honored.

 

 

Khurja: “Village of 100 kilns”

khurja1-cmpKhurja is a village east of New Dehli, India, known for its 100 kilns and its distinct style of clayware. Traditionally, dishes like bowls and plates have been made. However, in 1997, we began working with local artisans on designs for teapots and other teaware. Veerinder, founder of the Tao of Tea, had much help from his brother Harpreet in the design of this teaware. Harpreet worked closely with these skilled Khurja artisans and even drew up some of the patterns and images that are painted and etched into the teapots and cups.

Each product made by the Khurja potters is truly unique and handmade. This means there may be variations from one pot to the next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Khurja Potters

 

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Specially made Tao of Tea Teapot

 

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Colorful Khurja Pottery