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Old 01-21-2011, 07:28 PM
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Arrow Beyond The Tea Bag

January 2011
by Lisa James and Allan Richter (EnergyTimes)



Move over, coffee: Tea is gaining on you. Tea sales have grown fourfold since 1990, according to the US Tea Association, a growth partially fueled by the brew’s health benefits. Bagged black tea is still the most popular type. However, a growing number of tea enthusiasts, with palates sophisticated enough to discern between an Assam and a Darjeeling, prefer premium loose-leaf varieties.

All tea comes from a single plant, Camellia sinensis (herbal teas are technically called tisanes). The differences among varieties are determined by how the leaves are processed. All teas contain caffeine in differing amounts, although any cup of tea will have less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

According to Lisa Boalt Richardson, tea expert and author of The World In Your Teacup (Harvest House), if you don’t like a certain kind of tea you may be oversteeping it, leaving you with a bitter brew. “Don't blame the tea,” she says. Instead, follow the recommended steeping times and temperatures given here for five teas—green, black, white, oolong and pur-eh, plus herbal—to enjoy a perfect cup every time.

Green Tea
Ideal Steeping Time: 3 minutes
Ideal Steeping Temperature: 175°F


Green, black, white and oolong teas all have health-promoting reputations. So why do all the accolades go to the green variety?

Green tea is still considered one of the least-processed of the teas. That helps explain green tea’s famous and numerous health benefits: During the process, light steaming or gentle heat prevents oxidation caused by natural enzymes in the leaves, observes Lester A. Milcher, PhD and Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, authors of The Green Tea Book: The Science-Backed ‘Miracle Cure’ (Avery). Without the steaming or heat, important natural antioxidants would be lost. Green tea, the authors add, contains ten times the vitamin C, for example, of black tea.

Green tea partly gets its color from health-enhancing polyphenols, which, again, dwindle as exposure to oxygen converts green to, say, black tea. By weight, Milcher and Toews say, polyphenols account for roughly 30% of the green tea leaf after it is lightly processed. “The antioxidant potential of green tea polyphenols has amazed even the scientists studying green tea,” they note. Thus green tea has been linked to cancer prevention, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, better immunity and even healthy cognitive function, among other benefits.

Black Tea
Ideal Steeping Time: 3 to 5 minutes
Ideal Steeping Temperature: A full boil, 212°F


Black tea gets its color from full oxidation, sometimes mistakenly called fermentation. (Run, don’t walk, if you see black tea advertised as fermented.) In China, black tea is sometimes called red tea, notes Boalt Richardson, who describes the flavor of black tea as “well-rounded with a sweet finish.” Some also have a smoky flavor.

This popular tea is grown and processed around the world. The biggest producers are India and Sri Lanka, along with Kenya, note tea experts Robert and Mary Lou Heiss, authors of The Story of Tea (Ten Speed Press). Owing to the influence of England on our new country in the late 1700s, they add, black tea is the most popular in North America for brewing both hot and iced tea.

There are two styles of black tea—orthodox, or whole-leaf, and cut-tear-curl or crush-tear-curl (CTC). Look in almost any cupboard in America and you’ll find a box of CTC black tea in bags. However, orthodox teas are considered the highest quality—“teas of legend,” say the Huesses, “commanding a fair price and representing the skill of the tea artisan.” Darjeeling, “the Champagne of teas,” is among the most famous of the orthodox-production black teas; Assam is another well-known type.

White Tea
Ideal Steeping Time: 2 to 4 minutes
Ideal Steeping Temperature: 180 to 190°F


White tea is lighter in color and flavor than black or green tea, therefore it has less caffeine—or so the thinking goes. Wrong. “People assume that black tea, because it is darker and maybe has a more robust taste, is bound to have more caffeine in it. That’s not necessarily true,” says Boalt Richardson. Because the emerging bud, or budset, is richer than other leaves, a traditional budset white tea from sources in China’s coastal Fujian Province can have more caffeine than other teas, observe the Heisses. They add that a number of other factors—including the age of the plucked leaf, the period during the plant’s growth cycle when the leaf is plucked and the temperature of the brewing water—also affect caffeine levels.

One generalization that is true of white tea is that it is the least processed of the teas, which accounts for its subtle, light and, says Boalt Richardson, fragrant, almost flowery flavor. Because white tea is so light, Boalt Richardson does not recommend adding milk or sugar to it, as one might with black tea, or pairing it with food like chocolate, which would obliterate its taste. “It’s a good standalone tea,” she says.

The Heisses identify three types of white tea: the budset type from Fujian Province, the premier version of which is the Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Flowery White Pekoe or Silver Needle); the “new-style” leaf white tea, from many sources; and the traditional-style budset white tea, also grown in many locations.

Oolong Tea
Ideal Steeping Time: 10 to 60 seconds on first
infusion; add 5-10 seconds for subsequent infusions
Ideal Steeping Temperature: 180 to 200°F


In China, oolong—more oxidized than green, less than black—is the most popular type. Oolong’s relatively complicated manufacturing process allows for a lot of subtle variations, especially as the same leaves are infused multiple times. “Each infusion will speak to you and tell you something different—there’s a mindfulness about drinking tea that way. When people get serious with teas, they eventually end up with oolongs,” says tea authority Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas in Perryville, Kentucky. Another factor in the increasing popularity of oolong among US drinkers lies in studies showing that this tea may have cardioprotective and other healthful properties.

Oolongs fall into three broad categories: open leaf, with large, slightly crimped leaves and pure, bright flavors; semiball rolled, little balls of tea with flavors reminiscent of honey and stone fruits; and strip style, with long, slightly twisted leaves with strong, fruity flavors. Richardson’s favorites are Ti Kwan Yin, a rolled form, and Bao Zhong, a small-leafed spring tea.

Pu-erh Tea
Ideal Steeping Time: depends on infusion; starts at 25 seconds
Ideal Steeping Temperature: 205 to 210°F


Unlike black tea’s false reputation as a fermented tea, pu-erh is the real deal. It comes from China’s Yunnan Province, where the semi-tropical climate nurtures the microbes responsible for pu-erh’s unique taste and smell. “What’s striking is the aroma—it has an intense, rich earthiness,” says Frank Sanchez, operations manager for Upton Tea Imports of Holliston, Massachusetts. Pu-erh is usually compressed into cakes, normally flat disks but also rectangles, squares, domes and other shapes.

There are two main types of pu-erh, the “raw” or “green” sheng, available as a young mao cha or naturally aged; and the “cooked” or” black” shou, available quickly aged or as a wet-pile fermented wo dui. Unlike most teas, pu-erh ages well in a manner similar to wine. In fact mao cha is not meant to be drunk as is, but to be stored away for future enjoyment.

In China pu-erh has the traditional reputation of being a hangover cure. “If people have been out on the town a bit, maybe eating and drinking a little too much, pu-erh is what they would drink to bring their vitals back into balance,” says Sanchez. Modern studies indicate that pu-erh may help support healthy cholesterol and body fat levels.

Herbal Tea
Ideal Steeping Time: 10 to 15 minutes (leaf teas;
root or bark teas need to be simmered for 20 to 60 minutes)
Ideal Steeping Temperature: A full boil, 212°F


While people have been brewing the leaves, bark and roots of various herbs for medicine and pleasure over millenia, tisanes have enjoyed a revival in the US for the past quarter-century or so. “You can go into a restaurant almost anywhere and they’ll probably have an assortment of herbal teas, which wasn’t true 20 years ago. People are becoming aware that herbs may hold the answer to some of their health concerns: calming their nerves, strengthening their immune systems, helping to prevent chronic conditions,” says Brigitte Mars, AHG, herbalist and author of Healing Herbal Teas (Basic Health).

Popular herbal brews include comforting chamomile, soothing peppermint and spearmint, cooling hibiscus, citrusy rooibos (red bush), vitamin C-rich rose hips, sleep-inducing catnip and stomach-settling ginger. “Yerba maté is popular in our culture right now; it has caffeine and people drink it because it’s uplifting,” says Mars. “I drink nettles because it tastes good, is mineral-rich and strengthens your blood.”
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:29 AM
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Great article
Really appreciate the information.

I just started drinking green tea lately and at first I didn't like the taste, but now I really enjoy the taste. I have a question, mostly because of the title "beyond the tea bag":

Is it really better to brew with leafs and not bags? I make my green tea at work with kirkland's green tea which is a blend of macha and sancha and I really enjoy it. I don't see myself replacing tea bags while I'm at work, but at home I'm wondering if I should consider leafs instead?

During the weekends I use macha powder and make my green tea that way, but I've been wanting to try oolong and wondering if I should go with leafs instead of bags?
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:39 AM
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I love green tea, white tea, many herbal teas. For some reason I do not like regular black tea and my opinion only: It is a sin to flavor teas with anything. Berries? Totally gross and now they rasberry beers GROSS!
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for that post. I wish you could supply the link, so I can send info to family and friends. I was just in an Asian market getting tea with a friend. My friend had never heard of white tea. I tried to explain, but your article explains better.

I have a new Brown Betty teapot. Big enough for 4 coffee mug size cups of tea. 6 cup teapot. Love it. So happy that I found it online for my Christmas present to myself.

I had a pot this morning of a teabag of ginger tea (ginger root, chicory) together with a teabag of green tea. Marvelous.

I was just going to Google which is the best, bag or loose. I expect it does not matter, but I just wondered what others think. Is there something about the bag paper that I should know about? Loose allows one to find more unique teas. For example, I have a loose blueberry and black tea. I have a nice screen diffuser for the pot and I have a single cup diffuser. They are convenient and easy to clean, but the bags are even easier. I also use my French Coffee Press for tea as well as coffee. Coffee in a press is not necessarily better for you, as you get more oils. The oils make it better for taste, but not so good for health. The press is good for tea, but not if you are going to let it sit for a while. Loose tea, directly in the teapot, is no problem either. That's what my grandmother used to do. I then pour it in my cup using a fine wire tea strainer, or just let the leaves pour into the cup. Most leaves stay on the bottom of the pot anyway.

Needless to say, I'm quite fond of tea. I just limit what I do during a day, due to caffeine.
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by jfh View Post
Thanks for that post. I wish you could supply the link, so I can send info to family and friends.
http://www.energytimes.com/pages/features/1101/tea.html
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by jbo View Post
Is it really better to brew with leafs and not bags? I don't see myself replacing tea bags while I'm at work, but at home I'm wondering if I should consider leafs instead?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfh View Post
I was just going to Google which is the best, bag or loose. I expect it does not matter, but I just wondered what others think. Is there something about the bag paper that I should know about?
This is an article about the bags from wikipedia. I use mostly Twinings and Celestial Seasonings, but can't find info about their bags being bleached with chemicals. Bigelow brand is the only one that says they do NOT bleach their bags.

Quote:
Tea bags

Tea BagsIn 1907, American tea merchant Thomas Sullivan began distributing samples of his tea in small bags of Chinese silk with a drawstring. Consumers noticed that they could simply leave the tea in the bag and re-use it with fresh tea. However, the potential of this distribution/packaging method would not be fully realized until later on. During World War II, tea was rationed. In 1953 (after rationing in the UK ended), Tetley launched the tea bag to the UK and it was an immediate success.

Tea leaves are packed into a small envelope (usually composed of paper) known as a tea bag. The use of tea bags is easy and convenient, making tea bags popular for many people today. However, the tea used in tea bags has an industry name—it is called fannings or "dust" and is the waste product produced from the sorting of higher quality loose leaf tea, although this certainly is not true for all brands of tea, especially in the case of many specialty, high quality teas now available in bag form.[citation needed] It is commonly held among tea aficionados that this method provides an inferior taste and experience. The paper used for the bag can also be tasted by many, which can detract from the tea's flavor. Because fannings and dust are a lower quality of the tea to begin with, the tea found in tea bags is less finicky when it comes to brewing time and temperature.

Additional reasons why bag tea is considered less well-flavored include:
Dried tea loses its flavor quickly on exposure to air. Most bag teas (although not all) contain leaves broken into small pieces; the great surface area to volume ratio of the leaves in tea bags exposes them to more air, and therefore causes them to go stale faster. Loose tea leaves are likely to be in larger pieces, or to be entirely intact.

Breaking up the leaves for bags extracts flavored oils.
The small size of the bag does not allow leaves to diffuse and steep properly.
Some tea bags are made using a wet paper strength-reinforcing coating using epichlorohydrin, a known carcinogen.[51][52]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:37 AM
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That does not speak highly of bagged tea. Neither do these links. Too bad. I guess I'll just use up my bags and stick to loose tea.

http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/loose-green-tea.html

http://coffeetea.about.com/od/teabre...looseorbag.htm
The main difference between loose teas and bagged teas is the size of the leaves. That's what effects the resulting cup of tea. Tea leaves contain chemicals and essential oils, which are the basis for the delightful flavor of tea. When the tea leaves are broken up, those oils can evaporate, leaving a dull and tasteless tea. Typical tea bags are filled with the tiniest pieces of broken leaves, called fannings. Loose teas are typically whole leaves or at least large pieces of leaves. On top of the leaf size, there is also the space factor. Tea leaves need space to swell, expand and unfurl. Good water circulation around the leaves is important, which doesn't typically happen in a cramped little tea bag.

And on the other hand:

http://www.theteafaq.com/tea/informa...loose-tea.html
Generally speaking, the tea in tea bags is either dust or fannings. This serves two purposes, the smaller pieces have a greater surface area and steep quickly and efficiently in a bag, and it also provides a market opportunity for tea that will not be accepted in the primary market for 'loose tea' due to the size of the products. While many consider these grade to be low quality, even the highest quality tea can break up and be rendered into dust and fannings. The only real issue with tea bags is that due to the nature of the grades, they infuse rather quickly, and it is easy to oversteep the leaves and produce an astringent or bitter cup of tea. Tea bags were also traditionally limited to only a few varieties, limiting choice, however this is beginning to change as tea becomes more popular and more interesting teas are beginning to be bagged and sold as 'specialty teas.'
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Old 01-22-2011, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saved1986 View Post
I love green tea, white tea, many herbal teas. For some reason I do not like regular black tea and my opinion only: It is a sin to flavor teas with anything. Berries? Totally gross and now they rasberry beers GROSS!
I'm the same way, I can only drink it straight. I made a cup for a friend and he said he had to have splenda in it and I just couldn't get over it.
I'm not that big of a fan of black tea compared to green tea as well. I've never had white tea or at least that I remember.
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Old 01-22-2011, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfh View Post

I had a pot this morning of a teabag of ginger tea (ginger root, chicory) together with a teabag of green tea. Marvelous.
.
I had hot ginger tea for the first time and oh my...... was it good. My wife was sick and her mother came over and swore by a tea recipe of ginger tea mixed with garlic, which my wife drank. I guess the ginger is good for the stomach, nausea,..etc and the garlic maybe because it's a natural antibiotic? I don't know, but to my surprise my wife really thinks the tea helped her more than anything else.

I really enjoyed the ginger tea by itself
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Old 01-22-2011, 02:55 PM
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The tea bag I use at work is the kirkland brand, which contains Nylon Filter Bags so I'm guessing they aren't as bad as the white bleached ones. At work it's just so convenient to use tea bags instead of anything else.

On the weekends I'm using the macha powder, but would like to try oolong tea leafs. I keep reading about it giving your more energy and weight loss, I'm sure it's over done with the weight loss, but wouldn't mind trying it. Anybody drinks it?

Also, any good places online to order the leafs from? So far http://utopiantea.com/ is the only site I've seen somebody recommend from searching around.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:59 PM
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Update on the post:

I ended up ordering some loose leaf from adagio.com that I really like. They are really good priced and give you rewards for ordering, posting reviews and making recommendations. Actually I can email a $5 dollar coupon as well I believe.

I ended up buying some of their sample bags, so for $10 dollars I received 4 green teas and the ooooh darjeeling oolong tea. This was my first experience with loose leaf teas and the oolong I have to say was amazing and with one infusion I ended up making about 10 cups alone. So the sample for $3 dollars is probably going to get me at least 50 cups if not 100 cups at that rate.

Of the sample bags for green tea I tried white monkey, which I have to admit, it was way too light for my tasting.

Of all the tea bags, the kirkland green tea (matcha and sencha blend) is by far my favorite. Matcha powder by itself might been one of the healthiest green teas, but I feel the powder by itself doesn't taste good without lemon juice or something added, so I don't think I'm going to do match powder anymore. On the weekends when I have more free time I am for sure only going to be using loose leaf.
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:37 AM
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Your link, adagio.com, certainly has a large collection. I've used http://www.enjoyingtea.com/ for years. Really good prices too. Well packaged. I'm also looking for a local vendor. I'm sure there is a tea shop in the Austin area. Someone told me of one that is a tea cafe and sells a large variety of tea. I don't exclusively use tea, but certainly more than coffee. I also like to use this stevia that has chromium in it. http://www.iherb.com/Now-Foods-Stevi...110-g/868?at=0

I don't care for cream in tea or coffee, and I only do stevia in one cup. The other cups, during the day, are straight. I just like tea. I normally rotate about 5 varieties during the week.

I have a stainless steel screen infuser for my teapot. Very convenient. I can remove it after 3 to 5 minutes and it cleans easily.

This has become a ritual. Morning only. I seldom take the time for tea in the afternoon.
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfh View Post
Your link, adagio.com, certainly has a large collection. I've used http://www.enjoyingtea.com/ for years. Really good prices too. Well packaged. I'm also looking for a local vendor. I'm sure there is a tea shop in the Austin area. Someone told me of one that is a tea cafe and sells a large variety of tea. I don't exclusively use tea, but certainly more than coffee. I also like to use this stevia that has chromium in it. http://www.iherb.com/Now-Foods-Stevi...110-g/868?at=0

I don't care for cream in tea or coffee, and I only do stevia in one cup. The other cups, during the day, are straight. I just like tea. I normally rotate about 5 varieties during the week.

I have a stainless steel screen infuser for my teapot. Very convenient. I can remove it after 3 to 5 minutes and it cleans easily.

This has become a ritual. Morning only. I seldom take the time for tea in the afternoon.
Thanks for the link, I'll try it out as well. After trying so many tea bags, many different leafs and matcha powder, I have to say that matcha is my favorite. Matcha is supposed to be the best green tea from what I've read, because you consume the entire leaf, but it's really expensive is the only problem, but I really enjoy the flavor.
The green tea leafs are a little weak for my liking, but it does remind of what I mostly drank when I was in Japan.
I did notice that the oolong and black tea loose leafs seem to be amazing, but the green tea loose leafs just don't seem to offer the strength or taste that I enjoy from matcha powder. I guess it could be the ones I tried though to be fair.

I'm thinking about making a mix blend
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:43 AM
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You might also consider white tea. It is an even younger leaf than green. I find it to have an even milder taste too.

Quote:

New studies conducted at Pace University have indicated that White Tea Extract (WTE) may have prophylactic applications in retarding growth of bacteria that cause Staphylococcus infections, Streptococcus infections, pneumonia and dental caries. The effect of WTE was determined by observing zones of inhibition of bacteria grown on Mueller Hinton II Agar (Kirby-Bauer technique).

White tea was more effective than green tea at inactivating bacterial viruses. Results obtained with the bacterial virus, a model system; suggest that WTE may have an anti-viral effect on human pathogenic viruses. The addition of White Tea Extract to various toothpastes enhanced the anti-microbial effect of these oral agents.

Studies have also indicated that WTE has an anti-fungal effect on Penicillium chrysogenum and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the presence of WTE, Penicillium spores and Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast cells were totally inactivated. It is suggested that WTE may have an anti-fungal effect on pathogenic fungi.

"Past studies have shown that green tea stimulates the immune system to fight disease," says Milton Schiffenbauer, Ph.D., a microbiologist and professor in the Department of Biology at Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts & Sciences and primary author of the research. "Our research shows White Tea Extract can actually destroy in vitro the organisms that cause disease. Study after study with tea extract proves that it has many healing properties. This is not an old wives tale, it’s a fact."

Several findings in the new study are of particular interest:
White tea good for health The anti-viral and anti-bacterial effect of white tea (Stash and Templar brands) is greater than that of green tea.

Health beneficial white tea The anti-viral and anti-bacterial effect of several toothpastes including Aim, Aquafresh, Colgate, Crest and Orajel was enhanced by the addition of white tea extract.

White tea health benefits White tea extract exhibited an anti-fungal effect on both Penicillium chrysogenum and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

White tea healthy for the human body White tea extract may have application in the inactivation of pathogenic human microbes, i.e., bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Milton Schiffenbauer
Pace University
New York, NY, United States
Website: www.pace.edu
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:35 AM
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"Because fluoride can be high in teas, especially in black tea and less so green tea, I recommend white tea, which has very low levels. white tea has the highest antioxidant levels. An additional benefit of tea is that the epicatechin flavonoids have been shown to bind tightly to the collagen in tissues, including in blood vessels, protecting the collagen against destruction. This improves blood vessel strength."
- Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., Health and Nutrition Secrets
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