CREATING A TEA EXPERIENCE WITH THE EXPERTS AT FAR LEAVES TEA

When I think of making and drinking tea I get warm + fuzzy feelings from my childhood. Memories of my mom making herbal tea before bed, having a conversation with my Grandma over a cup of green tea, and growing up in the mountains, I enjoyed countless cups of hot tea after a long day in the snow. As I’ve grown up (and required more caffeine) I’ve developed a true love of coffee as well, but have realized that too much coffee is not good for me. The high caffeine makes me anxious and twitchy, and as my passion for health and wellness grows so does my love of tea and its many benefits. 

Although I still love a good cup of coffee, especially iced when the weather warms, I’ve really re-started my exploration of tea, and have Amy and the Far Leaves Tea team to thank! Tea time is sacred time. “Traditionally called “Cha Dao”, or the Dao of Tea, it is the harmony of tea, water, utensils, preparation, environment and conversation to create the perfect moment–a moment that can last for hours.”(2) Far Leaves  places a strong emphasis on this process and by taking part in a few tea tastings and watching them put their heart and soul into the tea process. So basically, I’ve been doing it all wrong, tea is a lot more than tea bag in tea cup! I am so excited to to take my tea drinking to the next level and dive in head first!

Here are nine important ‘tea experience best practices’ that I’ve learned in my explorations as a tea newbie:

  1. Invest in the right pot: Not all pots are created equal and finding the right one for you can require some testing and research. In terms of size, buying a larger or smaller pot will depend on how much tea you’re drinking during the day and whether or not you like to make tea for large groups of friends. Tea pots are made from several different materials as well; from cast iron to clay to glass and each has it’s own pros and cons. Far Leaves recommends glass tea pots as they allow the drinker to see the color of the tea they’re drinking and for pourability (see #3). My husband bought me a gorgeous cast iron pot for Christmas (see photo) and I absolutely love the aesthetic of it it, plus it keeps my tea warm for a long time!
  2. Water quality matters: I’m always preaching the importance of good, clean water and that rule still applies when it comes to making a perfect pot of tea. Start your brew with fresh, filtered water to really bring out the truest flavor in the leaves and avoid adding minerals and chlorine.
  3. Don’t pour poorly: See what I did there? Pouring method is really important and lends to the overall experience of tea drinking. During my tastings with the Far Leaves team I learned how to properly pour from a glass teapot with a large handle; hold the pot up high and gently rotate your wrist to to create an even pour, allowing the air and water mix for a lovely smell and perfect pour into your cup. According to Far Leaves, to properly pour tea “Pay attention not to drip, distribute the tea equally to all those who are present and pour tea for yourself last.”
  4. Reuse! Don’t waste your leaves: Tea leaves vs. tea bags allow you to re-brew the same leaves 2-3 times so remember to save leaves after the first steep and simply add them back in when you’re ready for round two!
  5. Ditch the bag: Although using a tea bag may be an easy method, it’s not the best way to drink tea. Tea bags break down tea leaves, resulting in less well-rounded flavors and are often left in the cup too long resulting in over steeping and bitterness.
  6. Temperature matters: Different teas require different water temperature to create the ideal brew. Through trial and error you’ll find the right temps for your favorite teas but here’s a quick guide to start you out:
  • White + Green Teas: 170-185°F
  • Oolong Tea: 180-190°F
  • Black + Herbal Teas: Full boil 208-212 °F

       7. Use a Timer: According to a British study, only 16% of tea drinkers steep their tea for the correct amount of time, and the British know their tea! While tea steeping is largely a matter of preference, be sure to do some research for your preferred tea type.

8.  Know the origin: Knowing where your tea leaves come from and whether or not they are organic is extremely important, but can be tricky to prove. If pesticides are used on tea leaves they’re generally not rinsed before drying, washing the pesticides right into your cup, yuck! Far Leaves places a strong emphasis on the sourcing and farming practices of their teas, and have trusted sources in China and Japan dedicated to keeping the taste and quality of the tea while skipping  the use of pesticides.

9.  Slow Down and Enjoy: This is the most important part of any tea ceremony and where the real benefits lie! Taking time              out of your day to spend with friends or family over a pot of tea is extremely important. We never make take the time to                  slow down and relax and the process of brewing, pouring and enjoying tea is the perfect opportunity to do so!

My Favorite flavors: Herbal (PM)- Lemongrass Medley | Green (AM)- Lavender White | Black (AM or afternoon)- Rose Grey

Read more about the insane health benefits of tea here, and if you’re in Berkeley, check out the Far Leaves tea room and share your favorite teas in the comments

**Far Leaves provided me with samples but as always my opinions are my own.

Resources:

  1. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/milk-first-then-tea#.wlNWmexMd
  2. http://www.traditionalstudies.org/the-art-of-chinese-tea/