Friday, October 26, 2012

World Tea East is a Success!

We had a great time at the World Tea East show in Philadelphia earlier this month. We made our debut at this show in 2011 so it was really special for us to return to the expo center a year later, having expanded our place in the US tea market and learned a lot more about the business.

One of the things we like best about being in the tea business is the people - we meet such warm, passionate, smart people at these events! As much as we are sharing knowledge about our product, the attendees and exhibitors at tea shows like World Tea East are really teaching us. This year's show had about 100 booths and more than a thousand attendees.

We're already looking forward to next spring's World Tea Expo and next fall's World Tea East show!

Our founders, Rob & Amy Milo, at our booth at World Tea East!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Night of Tea, Friendship and Learning

Last month we headed over to nearby Ana Beall's Tea Room in Westfield, N.J. for a tea tasting event.
The two of us who represented Best International Tea had never been to a formal tea tasting so it was a great opportunity for us to learn more about various varieties of tea and share our product with the other guests.

Nancy Baker, the owner of Ana Beall's, is extremely knowledgeable about tea and she put together a great program that included tasting six different teas in a progression from the lightest White Tea to a strong Pue'rh. In between we tried Green, Oolong and two different Black Teas including our English Breakfast tea. Nancy's method included a full sensory evaluation of the tea that included passing it around for everyone to experience the appearance and aroma of the dry leaf, smelling and tasting of the brewed tea and finally appearance and aroma of the infused leaf.

We learned a lot about tea harvesting and processing over in China and India from Nancy as well as one of the attendees who grew up in India. She gave us some great firsthand insight into how the tea plantations work.

Ana Beall's offers a large variety of teas and has delicious food and sweets. They also host tasting events like this and cooking courses throughout the year. We highly recommend paying them a visit if you are in the area! Check out their website here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Plus for Black Tea

It seems like we always touting the benefits of black tea but the good news just keeps rolling in for our favorite beverage. The latest study notes that black tea enhances relaxation and mental focus.

 Multiple studies by the Lipton Institute of Tea revealed that drinking a few cups of tea a day increased alertness and enhanced daily activities. After drinking two to three cups of tea, participants improved performance across all attention tasks and felt an increased sense of alertness.

Researchers attributed the key ingredients in black tea — Theanine, Caffeine and flavanoids — help improve the ability to focus attention. "Attention is an essential aspect of cognitive functioning in that it allows us to process a combination of continuous and complex information," said researcher Dr. Jane Rycroft. "Hence, the attention benefits of tea are very relevant to everyday life."

Read more about this study here and brew a cuppa for your brain today!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bagged vs. Loose Tea - Is it All the Same?

There's some debate over the flavor and quality of bagged tea versus loose teas. While we are partial to loose teas, we do carry seven flavors of bagged teas and think if the product is of a high quality, it can taste just as delightful.

Because of its convenience, bagged tea is by far the more popular format in the United States — it is quick and easy to brew and it's portable. New products are entering the market daily and with unique flavors such as fruit-infused green teas or unique takes on traditional black tea, the market is becoming saturated. Bagged tea is available for purchase nearly everywhere you go, from the grocery store to the convenience store.

Loose tea, however, can be more difficult to find — tea stores or specialty grocers are most likely to carry it — and takes a little longer to brew. One must measure out the tea and use a strainer or special tea pot to catch the loose leaves. However, it's widely accepted that the flavor of loose tea is just plain better. The larger leaves hold up much better to the hot water and infuse it with a richer flavor than the smaller bits that fill tea bags.

We are excited about the new trend of larger tea bags, often triangular shaped, that hold much larger leaves than the bits in traditional tea bags. There's a place for loose and bagged teas in our lives — for when we have the time to brew or when we're really on the go! And the bottom line, as long as you are drinking quality tea like our S.D. Bell teas, you can't go wrong with loose leaf or bags.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Decaffeinate Your Own Tea

Sometimes we want a cuppa when it's late at night but don't want to be kept awake by the caffeine. Our favorite loose teas contain caffeine, but there are some easy ways to decaffeinate your own tea without sacrificing flavor and quality. It's not possible to remove 100% of the caffeine, but you can get nearly all of it out and since a cup of tea contains much less than a cup of coffee, we think you'll still have no problem sleeping.

Here's a simple way to decaffeinate loose tea:
1. Boil water for your tea — twice the amount that you'd normally use
2. Put your tea leaves in the cup or teapot and pour enough hot water over them to cover the leaves
3. Steep the tea for 30-45 seconds, making sure all the leaves are saturated. 80% of the water soluble caffeine in tea is released in the first 30 seconds of brewing.
3. Pour off that water using a strainer to catch the tea leaves
4. Put the leaves back in the cup/pot and steep with fresh water as normal. You may want to add a little time to ensure the tea is at your favored strength. It should still taste perfect!

This trick also applies to bagged teas — just steep the bag in hot water for 30 seconds before pouring it out and adding fresh water. You can also share a tea bag with a friend, brewing your cup first and then giving it to the person who does not want caffeine. There's plenty of flavor to go around.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tea After Dark

There's been a lot of fun discussion lately about the use of tea in cocktails. Teas contain so many unique flavors that infusing them into alcoholic beverages can make for some unique tasting beverages. While it's not a new idea — it dates back to the British Empire — bartenders and restauranteurs are taking it to a new level.

Some interesting new takes include an Earl Grey MarTEAni, black tea infused cognac and fruit flavored tea spiked with champagne.

“When it comes to infusing tea into a cocktail, there are actually myriad ways to accomplish this,” suggested tea sommelier Chris Cason, co-founder of Tavalon Tea. “But also, it is important to remember that any good cocktail is about balance, and you don’t want to pair a light tea with a strong spirit or it will overpower it and vice versa.”

Here are a few suggestions for your own tea-based adult beverages:
- Make tea as you normally would and use it as the mixer: warm for a hot toddy or cold for a cool beverage
- Steep tea leaves in the alcohol itself, but not for longer than 45 minutes
- Tea-infused simple syrups can be made my brewing tea then adding sugar and melting it together