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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Mad Writer’s Tea Party—Exotic Teas

Did you know that all teas—white, green, semi-green, oolong and black—are in the same family of plants? Or that many of the world’s finest teas are grown at high altitudes, on misty mountain tops? The mist allows the sun’s heat to reach the plants, but protects them from direct sunlight.

White teas are the mildest tasting and the lightest colored, so I was surprised to learn they have the highest anti-oxidant content—three times higher than green tea. White teas should be steeped for three to five minutes.

Green teas have a stronger taste and deeper color than white teas. They are best brewed with water just before it comes to the boil, It’s important not to oversteep the tea as that will break down the antioxidants and other nutrients. Think about what happens to spinach that has been overcooked. Yuck. The same thing happens to tea.

Although green tea contains some caffeine, it also lowers blood pressure. So unless you’re really sensitive to caffeine, you can probably drink it bedtime and still be able to sleep.

Black teas are high in vitamin A, and they also help to normalize blood sugar levels.

One of today’s giveaways is a package of a tea called Sacred Ember. It’s a white tea that has been hand tied around the flower from a lily.

If you have a clear glass teapot, watch the tea as it blossoms and appreciate the delicate color and suble flowery aroma. A cup of tea becomes a total sensory experience.

Matcha—a Japanese green tea that has been ground into a fine powder—is one of the most unusual teas I’ve ever tasted.

Traditionally, matcha is brewed in a small bowl and whisked until frothy. It’s a strong-tasting tea with an earthy, robust flavor and a seaweedy scent that’s reminiscent of sushi, and not clear like most teas. Matcha contains seven times more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice. I recently attended a tea tasting at which the demonstrator used it to make smoothies. If matcha isn’t your cup of tea, you might enjoy this.

Matcha Smoothie

one banana
a generous spoonful of matcha
one cup of soy milk

Put everything in a blender and process till smooth. You can also add a little ice, or use frozen banana slices for a colder drink.
I’m giving away some great prizes today. To be eligible to win one, simply post a comment. Winners will be announced tomorrow on The Writer Side of Life.

Ready for more tea? Please follow these links to a chat about tea parties on The Writer Side of Life, and then drop by the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog for some tips on making and serving your own Afternoon Tea.


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At 7:31 AM, Blogger Jennifer Faye said...

Tea is the best! And it comes in some many flavors. I have a whole drawer in my kitchen dedicated to my love of tea and it all doesn't fit in it. Oops. LOL. Although I do have to say of all the tea available I still love my Lipton black tea. It's the one I drink every day. In fact, I'm having a cup right now. *G* I also recently had Matcha at Starbucks in a fruity drink. Definitely added it to my favorites list. *VBG*

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

My mother has enjoyed those "blooming" tea flowers and they are very pretty.

Nice to know black tea stabilizes blood sugars.

I watched a bit of a special about London on PBS the other day; a gentleman in a tea shop said television ruined the use of the proper English leaf tea, as commercial breaks didn't allow for the tea to sit long enough, so people started drinking coffee instead. And you should have seen the look on his face when a person asked about tea bags! :)

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Do you drink herbal teas, Jennifer? I'm a big fan of anything with peppermint or spearmint in it. Will definitely have to check out the matcha drinks at Starbucks.

At 9:17 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Gillian, I'm really intrigued by "blooming" teas. Tying them looks like very intricate work, but worth the end result because it is so beautiful.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Our son sent us a box of those exotics, and yes, it's way cool to watch them unfurl in the glass pot. My sister in law is a total tea person. She measures the water temperature for each type of tea (some shouldn't be at the boiling point) and sets a timer for the exact best brewing time.

I'm not quite that gung-ho. And not all 'teas' are really tea. All those herbal 'teas' are infusions. My favorite is rooibos, which is from Africa, but is now available all over the place.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Jennifer Faye said...

Lee, yes, I have a whole selection of herbal teas from commercial ones to homegrown ones I buy at a heritage festival each fall. I have a vast selection of black, green, white, and herbal teas. Oh and I have a slew of holiday teas with peppermint and other holiday flavors. I must say the herbal ones are my least favorite. I drink those in the evening before bed because of their lack of caffeine. I really enjoy the 'Sleepytime' tea when I can't sleep. But my true love is black tea. Plain Lipton rocks but I also like the fruity black teas. I let them steep at least fifteen to twenty minutes to get the full flavor. Oh and in the summer take black tea and mix with pink lemonade, totally delicious. Guess you'd say I'm a caffeine addict or would that be tea addict? LOL. Hmm...after rereading this post I just realized how passionate I am about tea. *VBG*

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

My favorite time for tea is when I have a cold. There's just something comforting about tea and toast.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

LOL, Mo! Totally different response here. Mom always fed us tea and toast when we had the stomach flu. Maybe that's why I'm not a fan of typical black tea!

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Terry, I'm far from being a tea "purist," so I was surprised to learn that I shouldn't pour boiling water from the kettle directly over the tea leaves.

Some tea shops sell little pitchers that help bring the water down to the correct brewing temperature. Then you pour the water from the pitcher into the teapot. Who knew?

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Jennifer, I love some herbals, too. My favorite is a blend called Angelwater, which is one of my giveaways today.

I'll definitely try the black tea and pink lemonade combo. Sounds delicious!

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

LOL, Mo and Terry! Childhood associations are so interesting. I used to give my kids peppermint tea for an upset tummy. I've been told it settles the stomach, and they certainly seemed to enjoy it.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I love tea! I always forget that I love tea and reach for my Diet Coke instead.
Some of my favorites:
English Breakfast
Irish Breakfast
Constant Comment
Lady Grey

You can tell I'm a tea bag kind of gal. I'm sure I make tea all wrong. Put a teabag in a mug of water and microwave it for 2 minutes.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Drinking tea has changed my life! I'm in :)

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Diane. I haven't had Constant Comment in years, but I do enjoy it. I've always associated the spicy orange flavor with winter holidays.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Liz, I'm so happy you've found something healthy that works for you. Thanks for sharing it with us.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

LOL, Diane! Your tea-making method made me smile.

My great grandmother used to make a big pot of tea first thing every morning. She used several tea bags because she liked it strong.

She'd set the pot on a little wire rack on the back of the stove and it would sit there all morning - with the teabags - getting darker and stronger by the minute.

At lunchtime, she'd add a few more teabags and fill the pot with boiling water.

Gack! By mid-afternoon, you could practically stand a spoon in it!

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

My husband and I drink tea every day. I love green tea. I like to try different teas too, so all of these recommendations of exotic teas are great!

Thanks, Lee. I think I'll go make a cup right now.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Enjoy your tea, Theresa! Green tea is a favorite of mine, too. I have a nice blend that has a little jasmine it it, which gives it a sweeter scent and flavor than traditional green teas.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Lee - I never knew all that about teas! Just came back from having lunch with my favorite black chai. I love the blooming tea in the water. What a fascinating topic.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Tea is fascinating, Dianna.

I've attended a couple of tea tastings, and the person doing the demonstrations says tea is a lot like wine. The quality, flavor, texture, etc., have a lot to do with the soil and climate in which it's grown, how it's cured, and how it's brewed. Very interesting.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Estella said...

My favorite tea Is Lady Grey, but I ony drink it occassionally.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

A few people have mentioned Lady Grey. I haven't tried it, yet, but I will. Thanks for the recommendation, Estella.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Sara said...

This was a very interesting post - I never realized some of the things that you said about tea. I just love tea...

That one tea is really cool!!!

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

I'm certainly no expert, Sara, but I've always enjoyed tea.

The blossoming tea is really beautiful, isn't it?

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Joe McAnally said...

Instant hot chocalate made with strong mint tea mmmmmmmm

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Jane said...

I mostly drink black tea. My favorites include Assam and Darjeeling.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Lee about one of my very favorite subjects. My relatives compete with each other to see who can find the most exotic tea or tea accessory for me. I have a collection of English bone china tea cups (one for each contest final) and I have a collection of tea balls, teapots, teaspoons, pitchers to achieve the proper water temp - you name it. While I do use tea bags, when I have the time I love brewing the leaves, steeping them in one of my tea balls. On my days off I treat myself to afternoon tea complete with shortbread biscuits, English tea biscuits, scones (if my Mom bakes them and brings them to me)and one of my favorites - watercress sandwiches. My brothers and I still laugh about the time we were invited to the local squire's house for afternoon tea and ate our first cucumber and watercress sandwiches. My youngest brother was about five years old. He bit into one of the sandwiches and announced "Mom, this sandwich has grass in it!" Fortunately the squire hated water cress sandwiches and got a big kick out of it.

I've never tried the tea flowers. I have to try that!

My favorite tea is Earl Gray which some people find completely plebian. LOL I am also fond of Lady Grey.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Cheryl said...

I'm not a very discriminating tea drinker. I mostly have just gotten the tea bags from the grocery store. I occasionally try flavored teas but I live in a small city where there's not much in the way of choices.

Cheryl S.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Right! We haven't made mint hot chocolate in a while!

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Jane, black teas are wonderful, and certainly have a long tradition here in North America.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Loved your comment, Louisa. Especially your brother's response to cress sandwiches! LOL!

You remind me a friend who has an extensive collection of teapots and cups and saucers. Lovely to use, but also lovely to look at.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Cheryl, thanks for joining my tea party!

I love shops that specialize in tea, coffee, and kitchen stuff in general. It's a serious weakness!

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Anita Mae Draper said...

Well, Lee, I wish I'd found your blogs yesterday!

There's a tea shop in one of the city malls that has bowls of those tea blossoms set up. I'd never seen them before and now yours is the second time. Maybe I'll take another look next time I go back to the city. It was supposed to be today but hubby is driving because I'm waiting for the call for the shoot. :)

We drink green tea and herbal teas. My 10 yo's fav is the Sleepytime herbal by Celestial Seasonings. I favor the cleansing teas and the mint ones and my teen daughter likes the lemon, chai or spicy ones. Whenever our eldest daughter visits from BC, she always buys and leaves behind a can of Rooibus tea.

LOL We actually have one 12" sq cupboard shelf devoted to different teas.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Every home should have a tea cupboard, Anit Mae! I hope you have a chance to try some blossoming teas. Rooibus is wonderful, and very high in antioxidants. Good luck with your film shoot!

At 9:25 PM, Blogger robynl said...

our friend drinks many kinds of tea and therefore I have tried some. What wonderful flavors there are to choose from. Matcha, have never heard of it.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks for stopping by the tea party, Robinl!

Matcha is a Japanese green tea, and I think it has only recently been introduced to North America.


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