The Exotic Teapot Blog

Amazing Tea and Teaware to wow your senses.

Tea as performance art: the flowering teas of China

Lotus

Flowering teas are a little mysterious, a little magical, a little vaudeville. The gentle windmill unfurling of the leaves leading up to the crescendo: colour spills into the water as your bloom ‘wakes up’ in a fast-forward recreation of a flower opening. You watch, and then you sip: it’s a complete sensory experience.

We will cover everything you need to know: the origin of flowering teas, the secret of how they are made, and finally a short guide to our unique flowering teas & the teaware to show it off with.

 

History of flowering teas

These Fabergé eggs of the tea world emerged somewhere in the mists of Chinese history. Thought by some to be a creation of 1980s glitz & glam, other historians insist that a basic form of these teas has been drunk for hundreds of years.

The majority of flowering teas are produced in the Yunnan province. This mountainous region is home to the widest variety of flora in China, so naturally the craftspeople here benefit from a ready supply of flower species such as jasmine, chrysanthemum, hibiscus and lily.

hand tied

 

A secret craft: how flowering tea is made

Imagine the patience & skill of a bird piecing together its little nest.

Making a flowering tea is a painstakingly detailed craft beginning with about twenty finest white tea needles being sewn around a dried flower or several flowers with food-safe yarn. This handmade bulb is fired once and then scented naturally, before being fired another five times.

There are several possible shapes to the flowers that emerge from a tea bulb: a large posy, sculpture arches of little flowers & pretty bouquets.

 

How to brew flowering teas

The pleasure principle of flowering teas is watching them unfurl, so we recommend using a glass teapot.

Because some of the flowers are taller, our 700ml Shan Teapot was designed especially to showcase all varieties of flowering teas. As a general rule, any glass teapot 450ml or larger, 3 inches in height, should be ideal.

Due to the process in making blooming teas, they are a little more resistant than green or white tea on its own. Use near-boiling water because this also helps to open the leaves dramatically, giving the best in show.

Another advantage of flowering teas is the fact that they can be steeped for longer without becoming bitter. The teapot can also be refilled several times, so the tea can be enjoyed while you chat with friends.

For the first steeping, use near-boiling water & leave for about 3 minutes, until the leaves have completely unfurled.

For the second steeping, try to avoid pouring the water directly onto the flower so it retains its delicate beauty. You may want to experiment with time for the second & third steeping, depending on your preference for strength.

 

The perfect place to start with flowering teas

We offer two introductory sample sets for you if this is the first dip of your toe into blooming teas (that’s a metaphor, we don’t recommend this):

2xtin PSDFlowering Tea Sample Tin

The best way to try out & enjoy the spectacle of a range of our flowering teas. Each tea unfurls with its own personality, and you get to try 5 or 10 blooms depending on what suits your curiosity.

Sampler 5 tin: contains Vanilla Dreams, Jasmine Fairies, Heart of Gold, Roselle Melody & Orange Osmanthus

Sampler 10 tin: Roselle Melody, Mango Splash, Jasmine Bow, Lychee Snow, Peachy Rose, Jasmine Fusion, Dancing Lovers, Heart of Gold, Jasmine Fairies & Orange Osmanthus

Lotus, Prestige & Classic: Glass Teapot Discovery Sets

We have a number of Discovery Tea Sets that include a glass teapot & a sampler tin of flowering tea. Each set has a choice of two sizes, and comes in a signature handmade box --a unique gift for tea lovers and adventurous minds.

Jasmine FairiesJasmine Fairies

One of our favourites. White petals gently unwrap themselves and float majestically in the water, forming a wreath above orange lily and a nest of silver needles.

Vanilla dreamsVanilla Dreams

A stunning bouquet of colour, with pinks and whites. A beautiful pink peony and white lily petals crowd around a single rose bud. Scented with just a hint of vanilla to complement the Maofeng green tea leaves.

Mango splashMango Splash

White lily flowers dress this delicate flowering tea in a tall stem, combining with the green tea base, scented with fragrant jasmine and jazzed up with a dash of exotic mango.

 

Why choose our flowering teas?

- We were one of the first companies to import flowering teas to the UK, and we have retained our carefully selected sources to ensure we have the best products on the market.

- They really do taste as good as they look. Many people are surprised to find that our flowering teas are not just a novelty show: they are premium teas with delicate, scented flavours.

- Our flowering teas are all individually vacuum sealed so they reach you in the freshest possible state and will be perfect every time.

 

Unique flowers for wedding favours, gifts & events

The Chinese artisans who make blooming teas believe they symbolise love, happiness & prosperity. The love they put into their work shines through in every stage and particularly in the dramatic end-result, making blooming teas a heartfelt gift for any occasion.

Our flowering teas are unique wedding favours, a surprise bouquet for each guest that they can take home as a keep-sake. Each bloom comes in a satin pouch with drawstrings.

We can also provide volumes & teaware to cater for large events.

Flowering tea is the show-stopper finale to your dinner party, a visual dance of leaves followed by a fragrant burst of luxurious tea.

 

The Zen of Glass Teapots

glassteapots

 Glass has that ultra-minimalism aesthetic which allows the concave chamber to become a crystal ball of dancing tea leaves, or the stage for a flowering tea to gently unfurl its leaves in animated splendour.

A glass tea set is a glorious set-piece, a modern expression of functionality: let the tea speak for itself; a tea ceremony to end a meal or mark a special occasion.

Glass teapots showcase zen and minimalism matched to function.

We have some very unique, individually designed teapots that we would like to introduce after a quick history of how we make them.

 

Our teapots come with a seal of approval

All of our teapots are made using the highest quality borosilicate glass which is designed to withstand the heat shock of boiling water. Cheaper versions of this process and glass with impurities flood the market; they are thinner & far easier to break.

The base of our teapots are inscribed with an Exotic Teapot seal, guaranteeing the quality and source. We design & make all of our signature glassware: we don’t buy through wholesalers or agents.

 

The details

• Glass teapots are perfect for white, green & lighter oolongs teas
• They are a necessary object to fully enjoy the spectacle of flowering teas
• Our high-grade borosilicate glass is laboratory strength, giving superior clarity, brightness, robustness & longevity
• They are easy to clean; all of our teapots are dishwasher safe
• Because they lose heat more quickly, you might want to use a tea warmer: a base for your tea that heats your teapot with candles
• Another option is the double-walled glass teapot; incredibly this is also hand blown, and the layer of air insulates the tea on the inside: keeping the tea hot but remaining cool to touch
• All our teapots come with either a strainer coil to prevent tea leaves going down the spout, or a matching glass infuser that sits inside the pot under the lid. The infusers are easily removed when you want to brew a flowering tea.

 

How to choose your teapot

One of the first questions when you buy any teapot is how many people. Is this a teapot for one, two or a Gong Fu Cha style pot that should fill many little cups.

Once you have decided this, it’s then simple a matter of style: which design gets you excited? (I get excited about teapots, so I assume there are others who feel the same)

 

The story of a hand-blown teapot

glass

 The world of tea plays host to a range of traditional processes and skilled labour. Glass teapots are no exception. All of our glassware is blown by a master craftsperson.

First a portion of melted glass is gathered several times from the furnace with a long hollow pipe. The glass is shaped roughly into a ball and then blown into a larger, hollow shape. Then it is spun by rolling the pipe on a flat surface so that a centrifugal force further defines the shape. The glassblower uses jacks (tongs) and other tools to manipulate the glass: pinching it while rotating for example. The handle is attached and shaped quickly, with incredible skill as the glass cools quickly on the outside.

A heated rod is used to puncture the glass and it is pulled back to form the spout, which is cut off with shears. An assistant is usually required for part of the process, and the two must work together with complete precision. It is a sort of dance, a dance with fire & glass.

Because of the unique skills and hand-eye coordination involved, no two teapots will be exactly the same. You are buying a unique, handmade creation.

 

The teapot that keeps on giving

Once you have drunk your flowering tea, the pot can be rinsed out and filled with cold water. Your tea flower will keep for a few days if you change the water a few times.

Your pot of tea is thus transformed into a glass bouquet of floating flowers, showing off your teapot as an underwater terranium.

 

Our favourite teapots

We are proud of our signature creations, and would like to introduce three of them as guests to your next party.

doublewall teapot

 

Double Wall Glass Teapot

A teapot for science-fiction films, it also mirrors the architectural grace of crystals. The inner diamond shaped wall is, unbelievably, hand blown like the outer wall. Once filled, the coloured chamber of water floats magnificently inside the curvature of the outer glass. The tea is insulated, and remains hot while the surface is cool to touch. This is one of our finest creations in glass.

The teapot fills to 750ml, enough for two large cups or lots of smaller sipping cups in the Gong Fu Cha style.

thistle HIDEF

 

The Thistle Teapot

A beautifully ornate design, recalling 70s cut-glass design: retro & elegant at the same time: a bejewelled ice palace for your tea. This is a smaller teapot (450ml), for one person or used as a Gong Fu Cha pot.

 

Shan 1000

Shan Glass Teapot

Specially designed by us for flowering tea. It is the perfect size & shape to give your tea flower enough room to float and unfurl. This is a vintage design with an elegant lid and clean lines.

This 700ml teapot will serve two large cups, or many little cups in the Gong Fu Cha tradition --for a small group.

 

Ayurveda - ancient healing and sumptuous spice

ayurveda

 

So what’s Ayurveda all about?

Ayurveda is an ancient philosophy of body & mind developed in the Indian subcontinent more than 5000 years ago. It gave rise to many other early forms of medicine & healing, and is a tap root of what we now call complementary or alternative medicine.

Considered by its adherents to be a science for life, Ayurveda is a holistic system that looks at each individual and their condition of being-in-the-world. It involves herbal remedies, diet, and exercise in the form of yoga & yogic breathing.

How does this relate to my health?

In Ayurveda your health rests on a balance between mind, body, spirit & social well-being. Humans are considered to be a microcosm of the macrocosm: all things in the universe are connected and must remain in harmony.

Disease and illness are brought about by imbalances in the body, and between the body and its environment. There are natural laws that we should obey if we want to remain healthy, but everything is always in flux: therefore our routines & diet must strive to reset these imbalances.

Another key aspect of Ayurveda, and an understanding which is also central to Western medicine (but sometimes less emphasised), is the fact that our bodies & minds are well-equipped to heal themselves, but this healing is hindered by many aspects of our lives.

What kind of health tips do you find in Ayurveda?

Some of the lifestyle recommendations in Ayurveda are very relevant to a modern lifestyle, and represent choices agreed upon by health experts across many schools of thought.

A summary of a daily Ayurvedic routine looks something like this:

• Get up before sunrise
• Drink a full glass of water at room temperature
• Have a nutritious breakfast
• Do some yoga and light stretches
• Meditate for 20 minutes
• Have a nourishing lunch between 11am and 2pm
• Go for a walk or run 3-4 times a week
• Meditate in the afternoon
• Have a light dinner at least two hours before you go to bed
• Go to bed from 10pm to 11pm

Stress and imbalance

Ayurveda is a holistic system: it looks at every part of your life, rather than the particular illness or problem in isolation.

One area of growing concerning in Western societies is the connection between stress & disease. In a nutshell, almost any health condition will be made worse by stress. And stress itself is linked to heart problems, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety, and diabetes, not to mention muscle tension, sleep problems and fatigue.

Ayurvedic practices can be a useful intervention, helping to break the cycle, and complementing other approaches. By looking at every factor in your life affecting your day to day levels of stress, Ayurveda seeks balance, diffusing every stressful symptom in your body with its opposite.

This could involve any number of lifestyle changes rather than a particular remedy: finding hobbies & activities that force you to slow down, practising self-care, spending time in nature, getting regular exercise, eating nutritious food etc.

Tea making & drinking can also be part of that routine: mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with taking tea, and the right loose-leaf tea can be mentally calming, as well as containing powerful spices.

What are the benefits of Ayurvedic tea?

Ayurvedic teas are not a replacement for medicinal remedies. However, based on Ayurvedic principles they seek to invigorate, restore balance and soothe with natural compounds.

They are little distillations of Ayurvedic knowledge, producing a spicy tea that will boost your energy levels, alleviate stress or more generally to help address imbalance and hydrate at the same time. All of our blends contain ingredients that are thought to promote & soothe digestion.

What kinds of Ayurvedic tea blends do you have?

We have our own signature Ayurvedic blends, and we are very proud of their taste. They balance earthy fire with sweetness and nutty tones.

All of our herbal infusions are caffeine-free.

Ayurvedic Harmony Tea (Pitta)ayurvedic harmony

This all-round goodness blend is designed to bring body & mind back into alignment. Based on Ayurvedic principles, the perfectly balanced spices promote digestion with ginger & cinnamon, then pepper for cleansing, liquorice for the immune system and finally rose for cooling, and to complement the fiery nature of the other ingredients.

 

Ayurvedic Energy Tea (Kapha)ayurvedic energy

Pick yourself up without resorting to caffeine. This spicy blends zaps you awake with earthy fire and the stimulating effects of natural spices. Ginger, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cloves & nutmeg all combine is a harmonising wake up call. Drink any time of day.

 

Ayurvedic Anti-Stress Tea (Vata)ayurvedic antistress

The ultimate chill-out tea. We’re proud of this one. Cinnamon, fennel, liquorice, a dash of ginger and strong notes of fresh orange peel make for a brew that smooths out the creases and levels the spikes. Let those earthy spices do their work under the bonnet while you take a break.

 

Ayurvedic Yoga Teaayurvedic yoga

This is a sweeter, herbaceous tea, designed to be drunk hot or cold any time of day. We dialled down the spice with this one, and added some nettle, a natural source of iron, to boost the immune system, some blackberry leaves containing tannins & flavonoids (like black tea) plus white peppercorns for their mineral content. This is a very special tea with complex flavours.

 

 

 

Discover the world of tea with our beautiful tea sets


I love introductory sets. Everything is there for you. It’s a gift in the truest sense because the essential ingredients for an experience have been assembled with care and knowledge for you to receive or give. With this in mind, we’ve put together a range of Discovery Tea Sets, pitch-perfect introductions to loose-leaf tea combining an artisan teapot with a tea of your choice --and cups too if you wish.

How to pick a tea set

Your first question: what kind of teapot?

To answer this you should start with the main type of tea you want to brew, or the type of gift you are giving. We’ve put together a guide to help you:

- Glass teapots: essential for flowering teas, but they can also be used with any type of tea. Bear in mind they lose heat more quickly than ceramic or cast iron teapots, so if you are buying a larger teapot you might consider a teapot warmer stand. They are dishwasher safe. All our teapots have either a strainer coil or sit-in glass infuser, to prevent tea leaves getting into your cup.

- Ceramic teapots: a classic all-rounder. They conserve heat but don’t tend to over-brew delicate teas. They are less fragile than glass teapots, and lighter than cast iron teapots. They are not dishwasher safe, but are easily cleaned by hand.

- Cast iron teapots: they keep the tea warmer for longer, and you can use them directly on a gas stove, brewing the tea directly. Our cast iron pots have an enamel lacquer, so they don’t damage the flavour of more delicate white and green teas. They are easily cleaned by hand. They are extremely durable and will be a long-standing tea companion.

Your second question: what size teapot do I need?

A Teapot for one is approximately 300 - 450ml, and for two, 600ml. 900 - 1000ml is for groups of four to enjoy. Remember the size of your cup also affects the amount of tea you get from a pot. Chinese tea cups are naturally smaller, and a Gong Fu Cha style tea set will include even smaller cups for sipping (traditionally a Gong Fu Cha teapot is about 450ml but it can be larger if there are more people).

Our Lotus, Prestige and Classic glass teapots come in two sizes, either small, medium or large (400ml to 1000ml). The double-walled glass cups to accompany these teapots are 80ml each.

Our ceramic teapots, Jun and Ru Crackle, are both 700ml, ideal for 2-3 150ml (large) cups.

Our cast iron teapots range in size between 600 - 900ml. Cups are sold separately and are 100ml each.

Mug infusers

Another option you may want to consider is a mug infuser. Our bespoke glass infuser mixes modern aesthetics with function: the infuser sits in the mug snugly, so its roomy enough for flowering tea to unfurl, and afterwards you simply remove the infuser and drink straight from the mug for a longer tea.

A mug infuser might suit someone who doesn’t have much space, or who wants to enjoy their tea at work or on the go. It’s neat & tidy and melds traditional tea drinking with a modern lifestyle.

Tea flask

We even have a thermal flask infuser perfect for enjoying loose leaf tea at work. The Wushu porcelain tea flask is hand-painted in traditional porcelain art. A flask fit for emperors commuting to London.

Accessories, gift wrap & personal messages

All of our Discovery sets come in a handmade flower-pressed box, an exquisite object in itself made by a skilled craftsperson.

You can have your box gift-wrapped by us for a small extra charge. We can also include a personal message on a card from you.

The final choice

The final choice may just come down to a particular teapot you really like, or what looks best on your dining room table. That’s fine too. We’ve included some photos and links to some of our most popular tea sets to get you started.

Iron Dragons - Tetsubin cast iron kettles


Called tetsubin in Japanese, these heavy, ornate kettles are intricately linked to Japanese culture & history. Centrepieces of the household, these artisan objects were handed down generation to generation: they were central to social life, and the handicraft & care put into making them shows how revered the customs of tea were in early to modern Japan.

I like to think of them as the iron giants of the tea world. They dominate the breakfast table, throwing out heat, pouring out steaming hot tea into your cup --the weight of the pot and the ornate design lending a certain pomp to the occasion (it’s certainly hard to make adding milk to Weetabix as ceremonial).

In order to understand the cultural significance of the cast iron teapot, we need to first look at the invention of sencha tea in Japan.

The relationship between tetsubin and sencha

Tetsubin arose in Japan on the back of a highly significant innovation in tea production: sencha green tea. Green tea was introduced to Japan from China by travelling monks, and was initially only drunk in the form of matcha (powdered tea leaves whisked into hot water).

An elaborate tea ceremony grew up around matcha, called chanoyu, and it was adopted by the ruling military class. The objects used in this ceremony were very expensive & rare, and consequently the tea ceremony became a loci for receiving important guests, conducting business and political negotiations.

Tea even spread to the samurai, and its disciplined rules for serving were valued for focus and meditation. It wasn’t all about strictness however; a thirst for tea parties grew where it was common to compete in tea-naming --imagine drunk samurai hitting quiz show buzzers, but without the buzzers.

Eventually a new way of processing green tea was invented in the 17th century; this method created whole leaf tea that was steeped in water. After plucking, the green tea leaves were steamed to prevent oxidation (the step that differentiates green tea and black tea), creating a fragrant tea that required much less preparation.

All because of a monk - Baisao and the rise of sencha tea

The popularity of sencha was cemented by a nomadic monk nicknamed Baisao (the old tea seller). He would travel the countryside with his tea utensils slung over his back. He only asked people to pay what they could afford for his tea, and the ease of making infused tea lent itself to his trade on the go.

This new method began to spread across Japan. It was also adopted by the intellectual class at the time, in a cultural move against the ruling shogun class where chanoyu was still predominant.

Sencha tea became, to an extent, a tea for the masses. It was drunk informally in households. A range of teaware was developed that was inexpensive compared to the luxury items used for matcha tea. Over time, sencha became the informal cuppa you offered guests who came to visit.

And so the tetsubin was born…

A beverage of such social importance required a new kind of kettle, and so the tetsubin was born. Many believe that the tetsubin were based on copper water kettles in use at the time, but adapted for the new method of infusing tea leaves. Cast iron kettles were originally heated over charcoal or a fire. Some of the iron leached out into the tea and it was realised this improved the flavour, making a sweet fragrant tea.

Tenshi TeapotChoose your unique teapot and let it be your companion

Cast iron teapots are made by pouring molten iron into a mould. This method allows for a huge variety of styles, patterns and symbols. There is a teapot for every taste. Colour can also be applied to the outside relatively easily, further expanding the range of designs.

There is a teapot out there just for you and because they are so hard-wearing, it will accompany you through many years of tea drinking.

Modern production methods

The modern cast iron teapot isn’t strictly speaking a tetsubin (which was almost always used primarily to boil the water), and modern variants have a enamel coating on the inside. This layer spreads the heat out evenly, extracting excellent flavour from the tea but ensuring that it does not damage more delicate teas.

Dedicated craftspeople make our teapots, and there is quality control at every stage. Just enough modern technology has been injected into the process to speed it along, meaning you get a high-end, artisan product at an affordable price.

Modern tetsubin-style cast iron teapots include a steel infuser, that sits in the pot under the lid, preventing tea leaves from travelling down the spout into your cup.

Advantages of cast iron teapots

• They keep the tea warmer for longer
• Heat is distributed evenly, extracting better flavour from the tea
• They are very durable
• They are stunning, aesthetic objects to handle & enjoy
• They give a grandeur to tea making, encouraging you to get the most out of the experience
• Surprise guests when they come for tea, making your own tea ritual with friends & family
• They can be used on a gas stove like a regular kettle
• Because of the enamel lining no iron will leach into the water (although for some this may be considered a disadvantage)

Kasumi TeapotSome of the teapots in our classic tetsubin-style range

Kasumi Cast Iron Teapot
Available in a rich orange, black, or dark emerald this striking teapot has a subdued grace, decorated in just a bold, expressionistic pattern of lines. This teapot is 800ml, enough for four large cups.

Guzu Cast Iron Teapot
A recent addition to our cast iron clan, this grand & stately pot has a copper sheen, giving a slight metallic shine against the otherwise burnished look. This teapot is 600ml, serving 2-3 large cups.

How to look after your teapot

• Clean with warm soapy water, but don’t be abrasive
• The infuser is dishwasher safe
• After it has been washed, pat dry the inside and place it upside down to dry out
• If, after a long period of time, you notice some rust on the outside, don’t worry. This is natural and won’t affect your tea on the inside
• If you want to remove some rust, use a mix of water and vinegar and scrub lightly with steel wool
• Our cast iron teapots can be used on a gas or wood stove but not on an electric hob
• We highly recommend using a trivet to stand your teapot, as they get quite hot during use

How to make the perfect ice tea

iced tea
As the weather starts to warm up, most of us will be looking at ways to cool down and refresh ourselves. One great way to combat the heat is with a glass of iced tea. Iced tea can come in a variety of different flavours, and unlike its warm and milky cousin, it is a refreshing and thirst quenching drink for a hot summers day. One thing that often puts people off the idea of making an iced tea for themselves is that they are not sure how to go about it. So, we are here to help. We have put together our top tips for making the ideal iced tea. Making sure that you have a tasty and cool drink to enjoy out in the sunshine.

The basics of making iced tea
What is great about iced tea is that it is pretty much personalised to your tastes, you can make it just how you want to.

Before you start to get creative with your iced tea, you should make sure that you understand the basics. It is best to make your iced tea in a heat proof pitcher, as this means that you don’t have to worry about transferring the liquid between different containers. The perfect ratio is 2 teabags to four cups of boiling water. This needs to be left for around 3 to 5 minutes to properly infuse. After removing the teabags, you can sweeten the iced tea with sugar (adding as much as you want). After this it is time to add in 6 cups of ice cubes, stirring them until they have melted (or 4 cups of cold water if you don’t have any ice around).
Fancy some citrus zing? If you do, then add some lemon slices for a citrus zing and then pop the mixture into the fridge to cool down.

Experiment with flavours
Okay, so now you know how to make the basic iced tea mixture, you might want to make it your own, adding different flavours. Fruit works perfectly with the basic flavours of iced tea. If you want to make it tropical then you can add fresh peach, kiwi or pineapple as well as a half a cup of sugar syrup. You could also make the ideal summer drink by adding fresh strawberries, lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Ultimately, iced tea can have a variety of flavours added into the mix, using up your fruit bowl and creating a beautiful drink that you will love to enjoy! So, grab your kettle and teabags and see what you can create!

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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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