Cathy and I met with Jessica Evans at Zhi Tea for a small tea party where we broadened our knowledge and tasted several different varieties of tea. The tea party began with a cup of Restful Blend, which contains Egyptian chamomile, orange peel, licorice root, hibiscus, lemon grass, lavender, cardamom, fennel seed, stevia leaf and natural plum flavor. The chamomile definitely shines through with a hint of the hibiscus both in the smell and taste. This will be my family's new bedtime tea. The second tea we tried was the Mandarin Orange Oolong. A perfect combination of organic orange peel and Calendula marigold petals. It was very crisp and clean with subtle orange hints. Jessica suggested it as a transition tea from summer to fall. Next, we tried ice cold Geisha's Kiss, which is a blend of Jasmine Green and Cherry Sencha. This tea was very refreshing and elegant and imparted a scent of jasmine with every sip. Finally, after falling into a state of relaxation, then realizing it was time for the after school rush, I asked to try something that would carry me through the rest of my day. Amazonian Guayusa, a traditional drink from Ecuador was the last cup of tea we tried. It was smooth, naturally sweet and very energizing. Below are tea tips from Jessica at Zhi Tea for preparing the perfect cup of tea.
~ Quality of the tea matters. Zhi Tea offers 100% organic, free trade, certified hand picked whole leaf tea. They select only the highest grade, taste and quality of tea leaves each season.
~ Use filtered, bottled or spring water. Tap water and even some bottled water have a distinct flavor due to minerals and metals. Starting with purified water prevents altering the taste of the tea.
~ Measure 1 teaspoon of dry tea leaves for every 6 ounces of liquid.
~ The perfect temperature of the water depends on the type of tea. The perfect water temperature can be anywhere from 195-208 degrees F depending on type of tea (black, oolong, green, white, rooibos, or herbal). For black tea, bring water to a full boil, but do not over boil (remove from heat immediately after full boil begins). For herbal, green, white and oolong tea, the water should be at a pre-boil (small bubbles) not a rolling boil.
~ Infusing time matters. Anywhere between 1-8 minutes depending on types of tea. For example, green tea is delicate and only needs 1-3 minute steeping, while herbal tea may need 5-8 minutes. Check the instructions.
~ For stronger tea, simply add more tea leaves, do not steep longer.
~ To decaffeinate your own tea, infuse for 3 minutes, discard the liquid and steep again. Over 90% of the caffeine is extracted during the first steeping. The second cup still has the aroma and flavor of the tea if using quality tea leaves.
~ The filter is the most important tool. You want the tea leaves to be able to expand at least 3 times its initial size. Therefore if using a tea ball, use the large size, not small ones.
~ Use a timer for steeping.
~ Generally, the shelf life is 2 years for tea leaves if stored in stainless steel, dark, dry, sealed and at room temperature.
~ Zhi Tea recommends loose tea, as opposed to tea bags, for higher quality (and better tasting) tea. This requires an infusing device, tea, and hot water. However, for convenience purposes, Zhi Tea offers the most popular selling teas in organic corn silk tea bags that are decomposable quality.
~ If you would like to transition from coffee to tea but are afraid you won't get the caffeine needed, Zhi Tea recommends Guayusa. Zhi Tea sources this leaf from the Amazon Rain Forest of Ecuador. The taste is described as a wet grassy clover. You’ll get the caffeine rush needed without the spiking and crash you get from coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Zhi Tea calls the caffeine from tea a "relaxed awareness."
~ Tea flavors don’t have to be boring. Zhi Tea recommends some delicious and rich flavors, including: Geisha's Kiss which is a lovely mix of Jasmine Green and Cherry Sencha, both green teas.
~ All of the teas can be served hot or iced. If serving on ice: simply brew and pour over a cup of ice.
I hope you will find time to visit Zhi Tea and embrace their mission of Pause...Reflect..Connect. You can also purchase Zhi Tea online, at Whole Foods, Central Market, and at local restaurants like Cenote and Hillside Farmacy. I look forward to a return visit to try some of the tea-tails. (Gina)