If you haven’t noticed Tea is basically the new Coffee. Tea fundi’s are popping up everywhere, and it is now the hip thing to drink. With so many different flavours and brewing methods, how do you know what to buy? Thankfully the renowned tea experts are right here at Melrose Arch.
The Tea Merchant opened it’s doors in the Melrose Arch Galleria during December, and ever since the store has been heaving! So, to introduce you to the wonderful world of tea, we will start with the ‘Must Know’ tea slang, by The Tea Merchant’s very own Nico Basson:
The A-Z of Tea
A – “Agony of the leaves”: An expression which describes the unfurling of leaves during steeping. The “dance” of Oolong teas is the most impressive – they expand drastically upon infusion!
B – Black Tea: Generally speaking, black tea is stronger in flavor than its less oxidized counterparts – oolong, green and white. Thus it is excellent for improving mental alertness with its 2 – 4% caffeine content. So if you are studying or working – this should be an absolute go to thanks to its aiding learning and memory! It is also laden with anti-oxidants.
C – Ceylon: Ceylon is a type of tea grown on the island of Sri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon) – now the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. Tea production in Ceylon increased dramatically in the 1880s and now approximately 4% of the country’s land area is covered in tea plantations.
D – Darjeeling: Refers to the Darjeeling region which is describes the terrain around the Himalayas in India. These teas are well known for their crisp acidity.
E – Earl Grey. This kind of tea gets its distinct flavour from the oil extracted from the rind of the bergamont orange. This orange is the size of a regular orange however has a yellowy lemon rind. Incredibly enough, approximately one third of all men’s and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil.
F – Flower Tea: Sometimes referred to as blooming tea, flower tea describes a combination of tea leaves and an array of flowers which are expertly tied together into bundles. These bundles unfurl when brewed, much to the delight of their spectators. Hence they are brewed in glass teapots, to frame their dainty display.
G – Green tea: Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis which have undergone negligable oxidation. Whilst green tea has always been hugely popular in the East, it is gaining popularity in the West thanks to its incredible health benefits.
H – Herbal Tea. Sometime called Tisane, herbal tea is an infusion of plant matter such as herbes or spices. They have many purported health benefits – e.g. some are stimulants, others relaxants.
I – Infusion. An infusion refers to a release of flavours thanks to the extraction of the chemical compound of flavours after boiling water (the solvent) is poured on leaves. It also refers to the resulting liquid. The infusing process is commonly referred to as steeping.
J – Jasmine. Jasmine tea denotes a scented tea which absorbs aroma from jasmine blossoms. It is the most famous scented tea in China!
K – Keemun Black is a black tea of Chinese origin which hints of wine, fruit and honey. It is the most noticeable ingredient of the English breakfast tea blend. Commonly refered to as the best black tea in China, it is a fragranced filled variant whose bouquet never disappoints!
L – Loose leaf tea: This kind of tea uses top quality leaves and herbs to brew a fuller bodied cup that tea bag variations. The latter comprise of smaller pieces of tea (dusts) which lack the rustic subtlety and nuances of the higher quality loose leaves.
M – Moroccan Mint. The peppermint leaves in mint tea are said to ease a host of health problems including nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and headaches
N- Nettle. Nettle leaf tea has 17 vitamins and minerals, and is purported to decrease inflammation and aid an array of ailments (particularly urinary tract disorders) and so is widely cherished. In actual fact, it has been used since 3BC medicinally!
O – Oolong is a type of tea characterized by lighter brews and larger leaf styles. This tea is typically understood as a lightly fermented tea, between green and black tea on a continuum. Some say that the tea was discovered by accident when he was distracted by a deer after a day of tea picking, and the tea had already began to oxidise when he remembered. Whilst this is a quaint story – its truth is unclear. However it is a nice way to remember that it is produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting.
P – Poul Pava is a Danish artist who paints in a spontaneous and childish way. His prints are used to create truly unique pieces, including tea pots, bowls, cups, dishes, and carafesto name a few. A firm favourite of ours!
Q – QDO. QDO is a gorgeous range for the young at heart who believe time in the kitchen should be both fun and funky! Created by a forum of acknowledged Scandinavian designers and young talented designers, this range is an absolute gem for gifting!
R – Rooibos. Rooibos is a South African favourite which is fast becoming more popular in Western countries, particularly among health-conscious consumers, due to its high level of antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin. Furthermore it does not contain caffeine and has low levels of tannin.
S – Sencha is a kind of Japanese green tea. The word means “simmered tea” and is the most popular tea in Japan, making up eighty percent of their production!
T – Tea Merchant – your one stop shop for all your tea time needs and wants! A beautiful destination for gifting or selfish spoils alike.
U – Unfermented. Tea is classed by the level of fermentation undergone in the manufacturing process. Fermentation in tea occurs when the leaves are allowed to undergo enzymatic oxidation (as the leaves dry out). Unfermented teas retain more of their original flavour with the perfect example being green tea.
V – Vanilla tea. Vanilla tea is a soothing way to relax after a hard day of work! Try out our rooibos vanilla tea which is naturally caffeine free!
W – White tea is a gently oxidized tea whose name is derived from the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant, which gives the plant a whitish look.
X – Xiamen is a coastal city in Fujian, China. It means “door to the house” which comes from the city having been a gateway to China for centuries. It is home to Tie Guan Yin, an Oolong tea which is incredibly popular. Although oolong tea has less caffeine than green tea, its high levels of polyphenols means that it is still very energizing and is excellent for restoring balance to your body after a course of anti biotics.
Y – Yixing. Pronounced ee-hsing, Yixing is a region in China is noted for its purple clay, used to produce distinctive unglazed teapots. These beautiful teapots are porous and retain the flavour of the tea is has been used to brew.
Z – Zhisha clay. Zhisha clay loosely translated means “purple sand” however this is a very rudimentary representation of an incredible substance which is not in fact, only purple. It is only found in Yixing, China and it is used to make tea pots which are perfectly porous! Known as nurturing a teapot, natural tea oils build up within a seasoned tea pot, adding dimension and nuance to the subsequent brews. China does not permit the export of raw zhisha clay as it is such a source of national pride.