Monday, July 28, 2008

Making Tea in Your Steeping Cup

The Water Dragon Steeping Cup makes is easy to enjoy fresh whole tea leaves without a teabag. Basically, you just treat your little ceramic basket like a teabag.

Why whole leaves and steeping cups are better than teabags:
Most teabags are very low quality tea to begin with. People drinking really good tea don't want it to be stale and they don't want to taste paper or have ink and staples floating around in their tea. Of course, glass or pottery is recommended for pure tea flavor; plastic, wood, paper, metal and other materials that add flavor are "boohao"-- no good!

How to use it:
These traditional steeping cups have been used for centuries in China, where top-grade tea is never put into teabags. All you do is:

1) Put tea in the basket. Always use fresh whole organic tea leaves; cheaper teas will usually be stale and less flavorful and often have impurities like pesticides and lead.

2) Add hot water. Use pure hot water... about 170 to 190 degrees is fine. (If you use more tea, steep less time; use a smaller amount, steep longer.)

3) You can easily re-steep just by putting the basket back in and adding more hot water. For decaffeinated tea, pour out the first steeping, which removes up to 50% of the caffeine (in tea it's called theine).

You can steep whole tea leaves 3-5 times, and the second and third steeping are usually considered the best. (Hong jokes "Pour out the first steeping...or give it to someone you don't like.")

More about steeping
See the video

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Get Tea News on Your Mobile Phone

Now you can get weekly tea news updates from our organic tea blog. Just Sign up at PlusMo and you can see a preview of what the news updates look like on your model.

Why would you do this? If you want to follow our current tea news stories and tips, sometimes it's convenient (and kind of fun) to get content you want to view while you're waiting at the airport, the doctor's office, a long car ride (as a passenger, of course)... or anytime you've got some time.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recycling Tea Containers

We use a LOT of tea containers! We serve thousands of samples at trade shows, tea tastings and events, so we go through a lot of containers.

Some of our customers might notice a sticker at the bottom of the container indicating it's a recycled container. We put new tea in the containers (each in its own bag) in order to reduce waste, because these containers are still new and usable and we hate to throw them away.

The tea is always fresh!

Other things you can do with the tea containers after you've used them:
  • Put other tea in them.
  • Put nuts or other dry foods in them.
  • Use them to keep dry herbs or spices fresh.
  • Organize small items like buttons, batteries, tacks
  • Use them in the garage to store your nuts, bolts and nails
Got other ideas? Send them to us, and if we like it enough to implement it, we'll send you a free T-shirt.

The Perfect Iced Tea, Naturally

"Why is bottled iced tea so different from home-brewed?"
everyone asks. The answer is not singular, but the main reason is usually the acidity.

Unless you add lemon, bottled tea will be much higher in acid--about a 4 on the pH scale. Compared with natural brewed tea, it tends to have a sharp tartness to it... unless it's loaded with sugar, as many of them are. (Tea you brew naturally has a pH over 6, closer to the body's natural alkalinity level.)

Now, you might ask why all the tartness and why all the sugar. It's simple: FDA regulations require a high acidity for bottling shelf-stable products to avoid the potential for the bottles to develop botulinum toxin.

So one of the big advantages you have when you make tea instead of buying bottles is that you don't have to drink ANOTHER acidified beverage (check the labels; bottled iced tea aways has citric or ascorbic acid).

Now cola, on the other hand, is highly acidic and contains enormous amounts of sugar. The new Coke 42 ouncer has about 100 grams of sugar-- about the same weight as our oolong tea container! (It has no sugar, just pure tea leaves).

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Besides being closer to your body's natural pH level, home-made iced tea requires a lot less sugar to taste sweet. (And what bottled tea is very good compared to fresh-brewed?)

How to make the perfect iced tea:

1. Use fresh, whole leaf tea. We always recommend organic, because many teas contain impurities like lead and pesticides. Cheaper teas also tend to be powdered or crushed; this causes them to lose their potency and flavor as the air makes the tea stale.

2. Brew it triple-strength. This will provide a stronger extract to make a base from so it's not too light when you add ice. The easiest way to do this is to add three times the "normal" amount (which is about 2 grams, so use about 6) to your steeper and add hot water. Let it cool as much as possible before pouring over ice.

3. Add the extract and ice to your pitcher, then add water and/or sugar to get the desired flavor.

Fresh Iced Tea Varieties
  • For black tea, try adding pumpkin spice, sugar and milk for a delicious chai style tea
  • For people who like straight tea with no sugar, oolong and white tea are ideal
  • For the perfect iced green tea, try the jasmine pearl green with a little organic sugar
Decaf Iced Tea, Naturally
Any whole leaf tea can be decaffeinated by steeping it in water for 30-90 seconds, then pouring out the first infusion with up to 50% of the caffeine removed but the flavor still intact.

Sun Tea
Tea will brew at any temperature; the hotter the water, the faster it infuses. Raw tea is great, but do be very careful using non-hot water methods since bacteria can grow. We recommend a pre-rinse with boiling water (just for about 30 seconds) to ensure the purity of the brewed tea. To use this method, after rinsing the tea and adding any fruit (add juice or sugar later), and set the tea in a jar with a lid in direct sunlight for 4-6 hours, the refrigerate or pour over ice, depnding on how strong it came out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dragon Pearl Tea Wins Sofi Award

OUTSTANDING BEVERAGE AWARD: The annual Sofi Awards, formerly known as the NASFT Product Awards, was held in New York this week and Dragon Pearl Tea was awarded a Sofi Silver. (The one Gold award went to a hot chocolate product, which was apparently the best in the world. We might've been bummed if another tea company got the top award, but how do we complain about chocolate? : )