Friday, May 30, 2008

Summer Storytelling Event at The Hill Tea Bar!

When: June 27th
Where: The Hill Tea Bar's Garden
Time: 7PM

Join us in our garden for "Sultry Stories for a Starry Night"

Come sip a taste of Love's Enchantment as you sample a romantic tea blend and dark chocolate. Be transported to a wondrous world among the stars...where romantic magic is fully alive. Enjoy an evening of love's splendor with local storyteller Annie Hart's special story blend.

About Annie Hart: Annie Hart is a fun, dynamic and entertaining Story Artist who has been featured on TV, radio and at conferences. She was once told by a psychic that she would be famous...after she dies.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tea Steeping Guide

While there are no set rules regarding the amount of time to steep loose tea the typical recommendation guidelines are:

Black Tea- 3 to 5 minutes

White Tea- 4 to 5 minutes

Green Tea- 1 to 3 minutes

Oolong Tea- 4 to 7 minutes

Herbal Infusions- 5 to 7 minutes

Water temperature also plays an important role in making an exceptional cup of tea. Generally, the larger and more delicate the tea leaf the lower the water temperature should be. White tea is best if the water is around 175 degrees F whereas black tea requires hotter water approximately 195 degrees F. Herbal infusions and Rooibos require the hottest water and 208 degrees F is recommended. If you don't have time to montior your water temperature don't sweat it! For white or green tea that require cooler water simply boil your water as usual and allow it to cool a few minutes prior to pouring over the tea leaves.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time For Iced Tea

Today it is very humid in Philadelphia and I am excited that iced tea weather is finally here! A simple way to make the perfect iced tea from loose tea leaves (for approximately 1 1/4 quart of iced tea):

1. Place tea leaves in a brewing bag such as Finium slim unbleached bags. (1tsp tea per cup- if using Finium slim bags put 2 tsp of tea in each bag)
2. Bring 1 quart of cold water to a rolling boil.
3. Remove from heat and add 8-10 teabags for 1 quart of water.
4. Steep the tea for 5 minutes and pour over 3 cups of ice cubes.
5. To serve pour into tall glasses filled with ice and sweeten as desired.

Today I made iced tea from Rooibos Bourbon and it is delicious- the vanilla bean flavor is very prominent and creamy. I believe that a shot of rum would turn this into an elegant cocktail.

PS- I love the Finium unbleached bags; I use them in my tea bar for all of the tea "by the cup" that I sell.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tea Tasting Favorites

The overwhelming favorite from the tea tasting we held at The Hill Tea Bar on Saturday was the apricot black tea. We also had iced apricot tea which was popular; it had a nice hint of fruit without being overwhelming. On Sunday we tasted pu-ehr and a rooibos bourbon and the rooibos was the pick of most customers-(I should add that this was to my dismay since pu-ehr is my favorite tea). I have not met many pu-ehr lovers...but would like to. Today we brewed vanilla black tea for the iced flavor of the day and it is delicious with a shot of vanilla syrup.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Buying Loose Tea

One question I have been asked numerous times is how to know the amount of loose tea to buy. As a general rule of thumb for purchasing loose tea:

* 1 ounce will make 10-12 six-ounce cups of tea
* 2 ounces will make 20-24 six-ounce cups of tea
* 4 ounces will make 40-48 six-ounce cups of tea

After you arrive home with your loose tea there will be a few options for brewing. You can use an infuser such as a brew basket or a teapot with a built-in strainer. If you are in a hurry, or just like to keep it simple, try putting your loose tea in a Finium filter bag. If you consider using a tea-ball make sure to find one that is large enough to give the tea leaves room to uncurl as they brew~ a small tea-ball is not the best choice for tea brewing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tea Tasting Selection for Saturday 5/24/2008

The theme for the tasting this Saturday will be fruit flavors.
We will be tasting: Ginger Orange Peach Tea, Green Lemonade Tea, Orange Oolong Tea and Apricot Spice Tea. Stop by between 10 am and 12 noon to try all four selections.

Tea and Caffeine

Do you ever wonder why you don't get a "buzz" from tea like you experience from coffee? The amino acid L-Theanine, which promotes physical relaxation without drowsiness, is found in tea and counterbalances the caffeine. L-Theanine also supports cardiovascular heath and provides important antioxidant properties (Polyphenolic antioxidants) that combat a wide array of neurological diseases. The amount of caffeine in tea can be influenced by numerous factors such as the amount of time the tea is steeped or the quantity of tea used per cup but in general a cup of tea has about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. If you want to limit your caffeine intake but cannot find your favorite tea in decaffeinated form you may want to try this natural caffeine reducer:
1. Brew/steep your tea as usual or based upon the instructions that accompany the tea.
2. After brewing the tea discard it. Yes, pour it down the drain. Most of the caffeine in the tea will be released in the first brewing of the tea.
3. Brew the tea a second time- this is the tea you will drink.

Caffeine Content of Tea and Coffee per 8 ounce cup(source: Linus Pauling Institute)
Green Tea: 9-50 mg of caffeine
Black Tea: 42-72 mg of caffeine
Coffee: 72-130 mg of caffeine

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Weight Loss With Tea

I wanted to recommend two books to those trying to lose weight- "Lose Weight with Green Tea" by Patricia Rouner and "The Ultimate Tea Diet" by Mark Ukra. Both of these books give exceptional information regarding the benefits of tea when dieting. In 2007 I lost 40 pounds and used both of these books to help navigate the way. I found that drinking tea at least 1/2 hour before mealtime helped curb my appetite which allowed me to reduce my calorie count. As a part of my weight loss effort I gave up coffee and found that I actually had more energy from drinking tea.

Recycling Used Green Tea Leaves

Steeped green tea leaves can be used for a variety of purposes but first you must make sure to dry them thoroughly. Lay the tea leaves out on some clean wax paper and turn them a few times until they are dry. Once dry the tea leaves are called "chagra". Chagra can be used in the refrigerator to absorb odors, it can be scattered in your cat litter box to keep the odor in check, or chagra can work as a carpet deodorizer. To use chagra as a carpet deodorizer: sprinkle dried chagra on the carpet, allow to sit a few minutes and then vacuum. If you prefer teabags instead of loose tea the used teabags can be cooled and used as eyepads to soothe tired, puffy eyes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Web Blog Directory

Answer to question about black tea counteracting anthrax

I found the following article regarding black tea and anthrax. Cheers!

The Hill Tea Bar Grand Opening

Hi! We had our grand opening on May 17th and it was a smashing success. I met so many interesting folks with a passion for tea~ it was great fun. We tasted a selection of specialty teas including an Organic first flush Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Choco Coco and Bianca Camomile. The Choco Coco was the overwhelming favorite. The live Jazz music was performed by Jim Dragoni, who has a studio in Chestnut Hill, and many folks enjoyed their tea in the garden while enjoying the music. I have a few items I was asked by customers to research such as the ability of tea to counteract anthrax...I will report back on my findings on that one. We have scheduled our first wine class which will be held on June 13th at our location in Chestnut Hill, PA (6 East Hartwell Lane, Philadelphia) ~ we have 12 seats left. The class will be a West Coast Pairing with a tasting of 8 exceptional wines paired with cheese. Call 215.381.2226 for tickets ($40 each).