The Exotic Teapot Blog

Amazing Tea and Teaware to wow your senses.

The best way to make matcha tea

Japanese tea ceremony
It is no secret that matcha tea is great for you. There have been plenty of studies into the power of matcha, and just what this powerful green tea can do for you. But one thing that is a bit of a pain about matcha, is making sure that it is made perfectly. Just to make sure that you can enjoy your delicious cup of frothy matcha as and when you want to, we have put together our top tips on the best way to make matcha tea.

Have the right tools
When you see matcha being made in a traditional tea ceremony in Japan, they often have a vast array of different tools to hand. Whilst you can recreate this in our own home, the truth is that you really only need a good quality bamboo whisk, a tea strainer and a bowl to make the ideal cup of matcha.

Sift the matcha
Not a big fan of finding lumps in your matcha? If not, then you need to make sure that you sift the powder in. This can be done using a tea strainer, placed above the bowl. The powder can be popped into the strainer and sifted through, making for a smooth and lump free mixture. You should aim to use around 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder.

Add the water
For the best matcha, it is a good idea to use water that is just past the boil, that way it is still nice and hot, but that it isn’t going to scald the powder. You will need to add around 20oz of water to your teaspoons of matcha.

Whisk it up
Once you have added your water to the powder, it is time to get mixing. Whilst a spoon is okay with normal tea, matcha needs something a little more heavy duty to make sure that it is perfectly mixed up. This is where the whisk comes in handy. You should try to whisk nice and vigorously, using a zig zag motion. This will make sure that the tea becomes frothy, which is exactly the result that you will want to achieve.

Drink it
The last stage is probably our favourite. After all that prep it is time to dive in and enjoy your perfectly made matcha! You have definitely earnt it.

If you are in a hurry, then you can make matcha in a cup, simply mixing the powder with hot water. However, if you really want a high quality cup of matcha, then take the time to prepare the matcha and you will really feel the benefit.

The world’s most expensive teas

Dahongpao tea leaves
What could be better than a nice hot cup of tea? No matter what the situation, the problem or the issue, the British way of approaching a problem is to grab for the kettle. For the majority of us, the idea of a simple cup of tea is enough to satisfy, but there are those around the world who have much more expensive tastes when it comes to their favourite brew. Wondering just how expensive tea can be? Here are some of the world’s most costly teas.

Da-Hong Pao
Thought to be the rarest tea in the world, the tree that grows the Da-Hong Pao tea is few and far between. The ones that are around are to be found perched high up on the Wuyi Mountain, protected by armed guards on temple land. It is thought that this powerful tea is highly medicinal and in fact cured the mother of the Ming Dynasty emperor from her illness. During 2002 a wealthy tea-collector paid almost £22,500 for just 20g of the original form of this tea. It is valued as much as 30 times its weight in gold and a single gram of this Chinese Oolong tea is worth £1,359.

PG Tips Diamond
PG Tips may not be a name that is instantly thought of as being an expensive beverage. However, during 2005 the British tea company decided to celebrate their 75th anniversary in style. They launched a range of hand-crafted tea bags, each of which were studded with 280 diamonds and filled with Silver Tips Imperial Tea. This tea is grown in the Makibari Estate and is the most expensive Darjeeling tea in the world. Sold for charity in Manchester, these diamond studded tea bags cost £12,000.  

Panda Dung Tea
Not every expensive cup of tea is one that you may want to sample for yourself. As the name suggests, Panda Dung Tea is one of these options. As the name suggests, one of the main ingredients of this particular type of tea is Panda poo. The pandas eat the wild bamboo and only absorb around 30% of the nutrients, it is this dung that is used to fertilise the tea crops and adds in the health boosting properties of the tea. For 500g of this tea you will be expected to pay as much as £28,000. Which means you should try your best to use this tea sparingly!

Vintage Narcissus
A rare form of the popular Oolong tea, named after Narcissus which is a famous mythological figure. It is only fired once every two years and harvested from the Wuyi Mountains. It is oxidized to about 60% and has a floral, wooden and chocolate flavour. A flavour that improves with age. A kg of this tea costs £5,000.

So, have these teas whetted your appetite for a nice brew? Why not look at the teas we have in our range and see if you can find a lower cost, but also just as delicious brew?

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The history of tea production in India

tea india
We love to enjoy a warm cup of tea, but how many times do we pay attention to where they come from? Chances are... not very often. Tea is grown around the world, however if China have the biggest tea production in the world, India isn’t far behind!

When did tea production start in India
Tea production in India was introduced under British Rule, when a native variety of plant was discovered in the state of Assam by a Scottish traveller Robert Bruce.
Bruce worked with a local merchant who was called Maniram Dewan, looking at the way that the local Singpho tribe cultivated and enjoyed these wild plants. The tribe would remove the leaves from the plant, before allowing them to dry in the sun, as well as being exposed by the night dew for 3 days.  They would then place the dried leaves inside a hollowed out bamboo tube and develop the flavour using a smoking process.
Bruce realised that these local plants could be the ideal alternative to the Chinese production, and set about transferring the process used by the local tribe, transforming it into a more commercial process. With his efforts, the first British led commercial tea plantation became established in the Assam region during 1837.

The rise of the tea industry
It didn’t take long for the tea industry in India to take off. In fact, the industry took shape in 1840. This saw the introduction of Chinary tea plants to the more elevated regions of India, such as Darjeeling and Kangra. These tea plants hadn’t been able to flourish in the Assam region, but it seemed that they really took root in these regions, growing healthily.
From 1841 onwards more and more people in the area tried to grow their own tea plants, with even the first superintendent of Darjeeling planting some for himself. It was during 1847 that the first official tea plant nursery was established in Darjeeling and 3 years later, in 1850, the first commercial plantation, the Tukvar Tea Estate was created.
The production of tea in India and China have both flourished since this time and recognising the benefits of both local varieties of tea, there have even been attempts to create hybrids between the two types. These are grown in the low-lying tea regions of India and enjoyed throughout the world.

So, now when you sit down to enjoy a steaming hot cup of tea, why not spare a thought for where it came from, and the process that has gone into creating that delicious mug?

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The history of tea in England

tea in england
If you think about the English way of life, then chances are that one of the first things that comes to mind is a good old fashioned cup of tea.
Whilst tea has been claimed as an utterly English drink, it did not start in England. In fact, whilst the Chinese were enjoying tea as early as the 3rd Millennium BC, it didn’t make its way over to England until the mid 17th century. Tea drinking spread across Europe from China but it was a slow process. It eventually landed in Venice around 1560, and we have to thank both Portuguese and Dutch traders for first introducing and importing our precious tea into Europe.

London, the home of tea
It may be a surprise, but England was first introduced to tea via London coffee houses. One of the very first merchants who offered tea was Thomas Garway in around 1657. He sold not only dry tea, but also liquid tea to the public and he even created advertisements selling tea to help with keeping the body “lusty” and “active”. It comes as no surprise to those who love a nice cup of tea that it soon became a popular choice at those coffee houses. By 1700 over 500 coffee houses were known to offer it to their customers.  However, not everyone was a big fan of the introduction of tea, tavern owners in particular, were irritated and frustrated that their sales of gin and ale were reduced due to the availability of an alternative (and non-alcoholic) drink. By 1750 tea was the drink of choice for the lower classes, and the government noticed that their revenue from liquor sale taxes were significantly reduced.

Tea tax
After noticing the lack of sales for liquor, the government realised that they needed to get on board the trend for tea. Before this, however, they decided that they would try to halt the growth of tea sales, by first forbidding it to be sold in private houses. When this never took off, a 1676 act was put in place to tax tea and also make sure that anyone selling it would need to apply for a licence. As it rose in popularity, so did the tax that was charged. In fact, by the mid 18th century, when tea drinking was to become an increasingly common habit, the tax duty was a rather ridiculous 119%. This tax was not dropped until 1784, when it was realised that tea smuggling was a much larger problem than the loss of money from tax and the level was dropped from 119% to a much more manageable 12.5%.

No matter where tea came from, it has become a part of everyday English life. Relaxing after a busy day, catching up with friends, or simply waking up in the morning has all been made better thanks to the delicious cup of tea that we are all more than happy to have!

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Tea Bricks, a Chinese currency

tea brick
It is no secret that here at The Exotic Teapot we love drinking a variety of different teas. After all, when they taste this good what else would you do with them? The same can’t be said for the rest of the world. Whilst many countries do enjoy their own take on a cup of tea, there are those that have found alternative uses for tea. One example of this are Tea Bricks, they have been used as a form of payment since the 9th Century. Some of the places that used tea bricks include Siberia, Tibet, Russia, Mongolia and Turkmenistan. However, one of the most well known countries that used this alternative currency is China. In fact, the Chinese Emperor himself was known to be a driving force behind the production of tea bricks.

The quality of tea bricks
There are 5 different types of quality of tea brick. They vary in colour, proportion of wood to leaf and their fermentation too. Each one is represented with a particular stamp. The best quality tea brick are those that are dark brown, these bricks contain fermented tea leaves. The poorest quality is dark yellow, these will contain soot, wood shavings and twigs. The most common tea brick that was seen was the third level of quality.

How tea bricks were made
It takes a number of different stages to make tea bricks. The first stage is picking the tea leaves and leaving them in the sun to dry naturally. Once they have dried out, the leaf is removed from the stem and then they are sifted through to make sure that they are separate. These separated leaves are put into a bag, which is steamed over boiling water. These perfectly steamed leaves are then placed into a metal mould, where rice water will regularly be used to moisten them, and avoid any air bubbles from forming. During this stage, beef blood, flour or animal dung is added to bind the mixture and keep the brick in its form. The final stage is to place the brick through a fire, which ages it and gets it ready to be used.

How tea bricks were used
As a tea brick was split into sections, it could be used bit by bit, not all at once. It was also popular because it was easy to keep fresh and easy to carry around. They were perfect for trade across regions, and because they were edible, they were a popular and useful method of payment. Whilst they were more commonplace in the areas where they were produced, decreasing their value, as the production centres became further away, the value of tea bricks significantly increased. Tea bricks were often the standard which other trades were judged against, and were a huge part of trade across different countries and communities.

They may be a fascinating part of history, but here at The Exotic Teapot, we think that we may stick with simply indulging ourselves in a delicious cup of tea, rather than using it to buy our shopping!

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Some tasty Matcha Smoothie recipes for you to try

matcha smoothie
One of the best things about matcha is that it is really versatile. Not only can it be used to make a warm or iced cup of green tea, but it can be used in a variety of different recipes. A great way to enjoy the benefits of matcha is in a smoothie. Stuck for smoothie ideas? Why not try out some of these amazing recipes and see if you can feel the benefit of matcha?

The still tasty basic smoothie
Want something quick and easy to make and delicious to enjoy? If you do, this basic green tea smoothie is great for you.
All you will need is 1 cup of milk (you can choose whatever variety you prefer), 1 banana, 5 ice cubes and 1 teaspoon of matcha.
Blend the banana with the ice cubes and then add the milk and matcha, blending it until it is smooth.

Fruity fresh blueberry and coconut smoothie
Blueberries are known to be a bit of a super fruit, packed full of antioxidants that are known to boost your health and immunity. They are also tasty little beasts! Want to enjoy matcha and blueberry together? A great smoothie idea is to blend 1 cup of frozen blueberries with 1 cup of coconut water, 1 banana, ½ cup of fresh spinach and ½ teaspoon of matcha.
You just need to blend all these ingredients together and you will have a fruity and flavour packed smoothie that you are sure to enjoy.

Immunity boosting green tea and ginger smoothie
There is a reason that ginger is used to treat a variety of different illnesses such as the common cold and arthritis, it is known to be a good boost to your immune system. When used in this smoothie recipe, not only is it great for your health, but it tastes pretty awesome too.
To create this smoothie you need to blend together 1 teaspoon of matcha, 2 tablespoons of ginger (fresh, grated or chopped will be fine), ½ juice from a lime, honey to taste.

The chocoholics matcha smoothie
Do you love a chocolatey treat? This smoothie is a great way to sate your sweet tooth, without worrying about over indulging.
Take 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, ½ cup of oats, 1 banana sliced, 1 cup of almond milk and 2 teaspoons of matcha powder. Blending them together you will create a sweet and delicious smoothie that you will love to enjoy. You can even add a pinch of vanilla or sea salt if you want to make a delicious alternative flavour.

Here are some ideas for you to create your very own amazing matcha smoothie. There are a variety of different recipes for you to try out there, in fact, you can use matcha as a base to create a wide range of smoothies and drinks that you can enjoy!

How much caffeine is in your tea?

How much Caffeine

A healthy adult should never consume more than 400mg of caffeine every day. But the chances are that you simply do not know how much caffeine you drink. Especially if you are a fan of a variety of different teas. Tea comes in a variety of different forms. Oolong, white, black or green. All of which are different in their flavours. This is thanks to their oxidation which is how the enzymes in the leaves react to the oxygen in the air. It is down to different production processes such as steaming, rolling or firing the leaves. The oxidation process doesn’t have an impact on the amount of caffeine that is in the tea.

So, how much caffeine is actually in your favourite tea? We have put together some of the most common beliefs on the caffeine in tea, and look at whether they are true or not, as well as which tea contains the most caffeine.

White tea is caffeine free

Many people believe that white tea doesn’t contain any caffeine at all. But this isn’t true. White tea contains caffeine in some form, although some varieties have a much lower level. White tea in general contains 15-39mg of caffeine per cup.

Steeping the tea removes the caffeine
This is in part true, however, it would take around 8 minutes to get rid of the caffeine in your favourite cup of tea. This means that you will be likely to have got rid of all of that beautiful flavour too! Not exactly what you will want to achieve when you settle down to enjoy a brew.

Which is the most caffeine rich tea
Want to know how much caffeine is in your favourite cup of tea? Then read on.
    •    Black tea contains around 16-58mg caffeine per cup
    •    White tea contains 15-39mg
    •    Oolong comes with 12-49mg
    •    Fruit and Rooibos are caffeine free

It is important to remember that caffeine isn’t always a bad thing. If you drink below the recommended amount for an adult, then it can help ensure that you stay focused and alert. It is when you reach the levels or go over that you can start to encounter some of the associated problems often seen with caffeine intake.
Here at The Exotic Teapot we are proud to offer a variety of different teas for you to sample. Most of our teas are perfect for everyday drinking, whilst others you will want to save up for a special occasion. No matter when you drink them, one thing is for sure, tea is a delicious treat and a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful day!

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How to make the very best cup of black tea in a teapot

Pouring tea
Making a cup of tea seems to be something that divides people around the UK. Whether you add milk first or last, how many sugars to have and of course the strength of your tea. All these are questions that are hotly debated.

One thing is for sure though, the majority of people will agree that the best way to make and enjoy tea is to make it in a teapot. But even then, we may not be entirely sure on the best way to go about making your brew. Never fear, here at The Exotic Teapot we are here to help. So, to guide you on the way we have put together the beginners guide to making a cup of tea in a teapot.

1. Get the water right
You may wonder how hard it can be to run the tap into your kettle and get a pot of tea ready. But what you may not realise is that a great cup all starts with the water. Ideally you would use spring or filtered water in your kettle. If you must use tap water, run the tap before you put the water in the kettle, just to make sure that it is perfectly aerated with oxygen to enhance the flavour. You should also aim to only boil the water once, as this will keep the oxygen levels up.

2. Make sure it is warm
Tea and hot water are best friends, which means that it will become slightly disgruntled if your teapot is cold when the water is added. Make sure that you add a touch of the freshly boiled water to the empty pot and swirl it around before you make your tea. This means that your pot will be beautifully warm and ready to welcome your tea!

3. Add your ingredients
A regular teapot will need 2 teabags to make the perfect strength tea. However, if you are using loose tea you should allow for around one teaspoon per person that will be enjoying a cup. Once you have added the tea, it is time to pour in the hot water and give it a bit of stir.

4. Wait it out
The best tea takes time to brew. So, you need to be patient. It takes around 4-5 minutes to make sure that all that amazing flavour is properly infused and ready to be enjoyed. Why not dig out a few biscuits whilst you wait? Or load up the washing machine?

5. Make it your own
Now the time has come to make that tea taste like you want it to. Add milk, a lot or just a splash, or just have it as it is. You can also choose your sweetener, sugar, honey or even a dash of lemon. The best thing about tea is that you can make it anything that you want it to be.

For this guide, we have used a more standard teabag form of tea, however, if you look at our website you will find that we have a variety of different teas on offer. So, why not take a look at the different teas that you can buy from us and discover a whole new world of tea?

The Art of Tasseomancy or how to read your brew

Tasseomancy
One of the best things to do with tea, is of course drink it. Whether you take it with milk, no milk, sugar or as it comes, we all love nothing more than settling down with a warm cup of tea. 

But, that isn’t the only thing that you can do with your brew. The art of Tasseomancy has been around for centuries. the Romans, the Greeks and even the Chinese have been known to take a look at the loose leaves in the bottom of the cup in order to ask for guidance, or simply to peek into the future.

Fancy having a go at it yourself? Well we have put together our guide to Tasseomancy, how to prepare for a reading and what kind of things that you should look out for.

What you need for a reading
The best news about reading tea leaves is that you will need to make yourself an amazing brew first. You will need the loose-leaf tea, not a tea bag. You want to keep the leaves nice and free in the cup, which means that you can work with them once you have enjoyed your tea.

Whilst you are drinking your tea you should relax and think about the things that you want to “ask the leaves”. You should aim to drink the majority of the liquid, leaving just enough at the bottom to give those lovely leaves a good slosh around.  It is probably a good idea to use a lighter coloured mug or cup, one that has a wide opening. This will mean that you can easily see all of the patterns.

Thinking about what you want to know, you should gently swirl the cup around 3 times so that the leaves stick to the sides. Some people say that it is best to move the cup in a clockwise motion as this represents moving towards the future, but really it is up to you.

After that, you need to turn the cup upside down on the saucer and tap it three times, so that most of the leaves drop out of the cup.
Now it is time to look in the cup and see what you find.



What to look out for
There are a variety of websites out there that can help you to decipher what you have found in your tea. Rather than delve into all this information now, we suggest you check out: the AuntyFlo Dictionary for great hints on reading tea leaves. Or there is also a great book called Little Giant Encyclopaedia: Tea Leaf Reading.

Both of which can help you to make sense of the patterns and shapes that you have found.

If you are not feeling the idea of looking into the future via your brew, why not just sample some of the amazing teas that we have in our store? You might not be able to ask for guidance about where your life is going, but with our help you can relax and unwind, if only for 10 minutes.

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Our Top Three Health Teas for 2017

Try these three healthy tea's, guaranteed to help you start your New Year the right way!

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1. Get Healthy Go Green

Our delicious Green Tea is packed with antioxidants. Made from unoxidised leaves, that are heated shortly after picking to destroy the enzymes that cause oxidation and fermentation. Green tea has been used as a medicine for generations, its low caffeine levels and beneficial antioxidants have led to it being viewed as a health drink and the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water. Explore our range

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2. Can't go wrong with Oolong

Oolong tea is a semi-oxidised tea from China or Taiwan. Oolong tea contains high levels of polyphenols & antioxidants which reputably help promote health, weight loss and beauty. It is also believed to help with high cholesterol and skin allergies such as eczema. Explore our range

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3. Way to go with White Tea

White tea is the least processed of all teas and therefore offers the most health related benefits.  They are high in antioxidants, contain very little caffeine but most importantly of all, they're simply delicious. White tea contains antioxidants, fluoride and flavonoids. These properties are said to help the repair and recovery of damaged skin, be excellent for anti-aging, help decrease blood pressure and may reduce the risk of various cardiovascular disorders. Explore our range

 

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