Friday, February 27, 2009

Night of Sex or Cup of Tea?

A great statistic about love UK-style, quotes a poll recently conducted by YouGov for UK Craigslist:

YouGov asked 541 single Brits how far they agreed with the following statement: 'If I like someone on a first date, I would rather end the date with a nice cup of tea, coffee or other warm drink than by spending the night with them.' Almost eight times as many respondents "definitely agreed" (45%) with the statement as 'definitely disagreed' (6%). Over four times as many (62%) either 'definitely or strongly agreed' as the number (15%) who 'definitely or strongly disagreed.' Even among single males in the highly sexed 18-24-year-old age range, the lust for sex was no match for the lust for tea: Twice as many (21%) such males 'definitely agreed' as 'definitely disagreed' (11%).

Beyond the obvious, don't you love how they felt the need to specify "a nice cup of Darjeeling, Sencha or other Monkey-Picked White?"


picture thanks to Ralph Lauren!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Simple Steps to Improving your Rooibos Tea

If you're new to loose leaf tea, seeing particles of your tea floating around in your cup isn't necessarily appealing to look at let alone drink. We're a culture that is used to bag tea, no muss, no fuss, nothing floating around in your drink.

The tea, or rather teasane, that is the worst culprit of this problem is Rooibos tea. Rooibos is not actually from the tea leaf, but rather is an South African herb that is very flavorful, has tons of nutrients, is caffeine free, but is VERY difficult to filter when making a cup of tea. It seems that no matter what strainer you use, a metal ball, mesh plastic, a Tuffy Steeper, etc. little bits of Rooibos get out and not only settle at the bottom of the cup, but many of the bits of tea feel the need to float right at the surface, ready to enter your mouth upon first sip. I no longer mind having the tea leaves or herbs floating in my tea, but for those of you who do, I am going to explain to you a fantastic and very simple way of steeping your Rooibos, like our Red Rocks, so that you can have your cup of tea without choking on any tea bits.

Step 1) Boil your water.

Step 2) While the water boils, put your Rooibos tea in an infuser/steeper, like the Tuffy Steeper pictured here.

Step 3) Leave the infuser off to the side, aka. do not put inside the cup, mug or teapot.

Step 4) Once the water comes to a boil, pour the water 2/3-4/5 of the way up the mug.

Step 5) With the water already in the mug, take your infuser with the tea in it, and slowly lower it into the mug.

Step 6) Wait at least 6 minutes for the Rooibos to steep.

Step 7) Pull the infuser out and you have a practically Rooibos free cup of tea!

The important step in this process is #5. Typically with loose leaf tea, our infuser with the tea is already in the mug and we pour the water over it. Normally this is the best way to steep. However, by doing this with Rooibos we're forcing the already fine tea bits right out of the holes of the infuser. Instead what we're demonstrating is that when you slowly lower the infuser into a cup or mug mostly filled with water, the water comes rushing into the holes and pushes the tea into the middle of the infuser. What you end with is a cup of tea with hardly anything floating it in.

I must give credit where credit is due, it was not me, but rather my coworker who came up with this idea and described this simple change in procedure and therefore we can all thank him for a better cup of Rooibos tea!

The Chai-wala of Slumdog Millionaire

Post-Oscars media has me remembering just how much I loved Slumdog Millionaire. I didn't get out to see many movies this year, but I'm so glad I picked the one that walked away with Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, & the list goes on. Although I haven't ventured to India yet myself, I've heard many stories from my Indian-American friends. I had heard about the organized bands children begging to make a living, and about the pimps who exploit them. I'd also heard about the huge disparity between the rich and the impoverished, and about the caste system which is still deeply enmeshed in the culture. I'd also heard about forced prostitution, which was also detailed in the 2004 documentary Born Into Brothels which focused on the children of Calcutta's red light district.

One surprising cultural aspect depicted in the movie was the low social clout given to people who serve tea, chai-walas. As a teen, the main character Jamal works at a customer service center as their chai-wala. At work, people treated him with a slight condescending tone. And later, when he sat opposite the game show host, he referenced Jamal's job title as if it were a joke. He repeatedly made fun of him for being seemingly uneducated, by simply calling him a chai-wala. The word "chai-wala" was intended as an insult on his personal status and identity rather than a job title.

A quick Indian tea diversion... Tea in India goes way back, and is still tightly integrated into their modern culture. The most famous Indian tea comes from the Darjeeling region, located in the foothills of the Himilayas. Darjeeling tea, endemic to this region, is known for the naturally slight fruity taste and light astringency for this world class black tea. The other popular region of tea growing is located in the Blue Mountains (Nilgiri Mountains), which also gives name to this tea type - Nilgiri. Our Nilgiri tea is amazingly robust, nearly impossible to over-steep, and remains fragrant and flavorful for multiple steepings - gorgeous burgundy leaves and liquor.

But back to Slumdog... viewers can't help but root for this underdog hero, Jamal. His unwavering heart wins you over from the very beginning. My favorite memory of the whole movie is when he's presented with the opportunity to meet his childhood idol; he jumps into the pit of a public outhouse in order to escape the baracaded door and runs to meet his hero. Covered in sewage, his determination gets him an autograph on the photo of his hero that he carries around with him, and he walks away triumphant. This photo captures the split second before he makes the decision to jump into the sewage pit, full of hope for this chance encounter. I love it!

(photos of the film taken from

Monday, February 23, 2009

Drinking Tea May Reduce Stroke Risk

Drinking at least three cups of green or black tea a day can significantly reduce the risk of stroke, a new UCLA study has found. And the more you drink, the better your odds of staving off a stroke.

The study results, published in the online edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, were presented Feb. 19 at the American Heart Association's annual International Stroke Conference in San Diego, Calif.

The UCLA researchers conducted an evidence-based review of all human observational studies on stroke and tea consumption found in the PubMed and Web of Science archives. They found nine studies describing 4,378 strokes among nearly 195,000 individuals, according to lead author Lenore Arab, a professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"What we saw was that there was a consistency of effect of appreciable magnitude," said Arab, who is also a professor of biological chemistry. "By drinking three cups of tea a day, the risk of a stroke was reduced by 21 percent. It didn't matter if it was green or black tea."

And extrapolating from the data, the effect appears to be linear, Arab said. For instance, if one drinks three cups a day, the risk falls by 21 percent; follow that with another three cups and the risk drops another 21 percent.

This effect was found in tea made from the plant Camellia sinensis, not from herbal teas.

There are very few known ways to reduce the risk of stroke, Arab said. And developing medications for stroke victims is particularly challenging, given that the drug has to get to the stroke-damaged site quickly because damage occurs so fast. Arab said that by the time a stroke victim gets medical care, it's nearly too late to impede the damage.

"That's why these findings are so exciting," she said. "If we can find a way to prevent the stroke, or prevent the damage, that is simple and not toxic, that would be a great advance."

Though no one is certain which compounds in tea are responsible for this effect, researchers have speculated that the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) or the amino acid theanine may be what helps. Antioxidants are believed to help prevent coronary artery disease.

"And we do know that theanine is nearly 100-percent absorbed," Arab said. "It gets across the blood-brain barrier and it looks a lot like a molecule that's very similar to glutamate, and glutamate release is associated with stroke.

"It could be that theanine and glutamate compete for the glutamate receptor in the brain," she added.

Although a randomized clinical trial is needed to confirm this effect, the findings suggest that drinking three cups of green or black tea a day could help prevent an ischemic stroke.

Study co-authors with Arab are Weiqing Liu, a senior statistician in the UCLA Department of Biomathematics, and David Elashoff, associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services search at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The Unilever Lipton Institute of Tea funded this study. This information was provided by UCLA.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Experts Speak out on Green Tea and Breast Cancer

These great summaries and references come from Mike Adams, NaturalNews Editor at They support the claims that the least oxidized teas (Green and White teas) are highest in the Cancer-fighting antioxidants. These sources specifically address the antioxidant EGCG's ability to help protect against Breast Cancer.

Green tea is the most popular tea in China and Japan, where the lowest breast cancer rates are found. There are many health-promoting properties to green tea, and thousands of published studies verifying its benefits. Tea is generally high in antioxidants, but green is highest. Green tea is the least processed of all teas (green tea leaves are simply steamed). Oolong tea has some antioxidant effect, but lower levels than green tea, and black tea has the lowest levels of the three.
- The Natural Hormone Makeover: 10 Steps to Rejuvenate Your Health and Rediscover Your Inner Glow by Phuli Cohan
- Available on

Consumption of green tea was closely associated with decreased numbers of axillary lymph node metastases among premenopausal patients with stages I and II breast cancer. They also found that increased consumption of green tea was correlated with decreased recurrence of stages I and II breast cancer. The researchers concluded, "Our results indicate that increased consumption of green tea prior to clinical cancer onset is significantly associated with improved prognosis of stage I and II breast cancer."
- Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Bodywork, and More by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
- Available on

In a study published in 1998, Japanese researchers investigated the effects of drinking green tea on the progression of breast cancer. The study involved 472 patients with stage I, II, and III breast cancer. The results showed that increased consumption of green tea was linked to a decrease in the spread of breast cancer in premenopausal women. In a follow-up study, the researchers found that increased consumption of green tea was correlated with decreased recurrence of stage I and II breast cancer.
- The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs by Nicola Reavley
- Available on

...women who regularly drank black tea, on the other hand, didn't have a reduction in their breast cancer risk. The good news is that this study revealed that you don't need to drink buckets full of green tea to benefit from it. The best green tea comes from the Shizuoka area in Japan; it grows organically and has no additives.
- Timeless Secrets of Health & Rejuvenation: Unleash The Natural Healing Power That Lies Dormant Within You by Andreas Moritz

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Organic Monkey Picked White

Greetings, fair TeaSpot blog followers.

While graduate school and a move across the country to Boston has taken me away from the warm clutches of the TeaSpot’s arms, I have been fortunate enough to convince the powers that be that I’ll never turn down an opportunity to blog for tea.

So, without further ado, welcome to my next blog installment. It’s good to be back, in a fashion.

Tea Tasting: Organic Monkey Picked White

Round One: 3-minute steep, approx. 190°, ‘round about 5:30 p.m., Saturday, February 7, 2009

My day was spent writing, homeworking, going to the gym, and observing a rather dramatic incident with a crazy man on the train—an incident that caused tears for a fellow female passenger, and a rather saddening but justified throwdown on the perpetrator. Needless to say, I was more than happy to have myself a wee tea party after the lactic acid abated and the sun went down. I recruited my roommate Tony to participate, who was more than happy to oblige.

The first thing that surprised me about the leaves was how brown they were--I was definitely expecting your typical downy white tea leaves a la Snowflakes. In any case, this tea is the essence of lightness; smooth, with a subtle and sweet aftertaste. Tony’s word was “silky,” which is probably better than any of the other word combos I will come up with. This tea was confusing to me at first, because I couldn’t detect a noticeable smell, which caused me a bit of worry because it has also recently come to my attention that I seem to be losing my sense of hearing (too many rock shows) as well as memory (I swear, I forget everything. I blame it on my urban environment and constant media exposure). However, I think this had more to do with the water temperature, as I noticed the tea increased in flavor and scent as the temperature of the water cooled.

Round One Steepage: Buttery Golden Liquor

Round Two: 4-minute steep, approx 180°, 11:45 p.m., Saturday, February 7, 2009

After indulging in an amazing and completely unexpected “dessert” of cheese fondue, red wine, and great company (my roommates so awesome you don’t even know), I gave the tea leaves a bit of a sniff, and they were surprisingly fragrant. I convinced my second roommate and former TeaSpot employee Mr. Ross Wrangham to get in on a late-night re-steep with me. The leaves, as well as the re-steeped tea had an amazingly light floral taste and smell. I can’t for the life of me pinpoint what flower it is…something like orchids, but not quite. Light, honeyed, refreshing, with no trace of tannins whatsoever (as one would expect). I have to say, I much prefer the second steep to the first. I was also happy that the low-caffeine content (especially after a second steeping) didn't keep me awake--keep in mind it was almost midnight--I can barely drink a cup of brewed coffee without getting twitchy, and if anything this tea helped me relax before hopping aboard the S.S. La La Land.

Overall, this tea is extremely rewarding in its subtlety and flavor, and of course I must also appreciate its intrinsic ability to keep me healthy and chock full of antioxidants--an absolute must for my current commuter situation, which requires that I share public bus and train space with hundreds of strangers nearly every day. Thank you, TeaSpot!

I heart my Steeping Mug

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Simply Inexpensive- In rough economic times, how loose leaf tea is an affordable luxury!

The economic crisis is scary and far reaching. None of us are impervious to its affects. In these times of budget crunching and watching every penny it is hard to continue the lifestyle we would like.

I'm here to tell you that, at least in the world of tea, that healthy, tasty loose leaf tea is still affordable! Tea bags: Lipton, Red Rose, Celestial, Tea Forte, etc. can range anywhere from 12¢ - 47¢ a cup, averaging around 18¢ a cup. Did you know that loose leaf tea is on average 22¢ a cup!? That means, while the initial cost seems like more, loose leaf tea is actually a luxury that you can enjoy that costs about as much as a tea bag! So even while the economy is hurting, you can still enjoy a healthy, high quality cup of tea!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How I changed a bad habit into a daily healthy luxury (Part 2)

In order to change a so-called ‘bad’ habit I knew I needed to replace it with a ‘good’ habit. I also knew I needed it to taste great, feel good and be fun. Although it took some time and effort we decided to blend a tea specifically for me, a coffee drinker. The blend needed to be bold in flavor, strong in caffeine and aromatic. We started with a Pu-erh (a fully fermented earthy black tea high in caffeine) and blended it with Yunnan Gold, Ceylon, Assam, and added subtle hints of dark chocolate essences to give it a creamy sweet finish. Although the blend (aka BOLDER BREAKFAST blend) was absolutely amazing, I had a real hard time waking up to a cup of tea in the morning instead of my cup of Jo. After I struggled for a few days, I realized I didn’t have to quit cold turkey. I decided to replace my 16 oz cup of coffee with soy milk for an 8 oz cup of coffee and an 8 oz cup of tea (aka BOLDER BREAFAST blend) both with soy milk. After a few weeks, I started to feel better. I noticed I wasn’t crashing or I didn’t feel the jitters but I still felt bloated, dehydrated and a little irritable. The research shows that drinking a cup of coffee and/or tea will stimulate the beta waves in your brain but only tea will also stimulate your alpha waves thus keeping you alert and preventing you from crashing. So, drinking a cup of tea immediately after my cup of coffee kept me going. After about a month of waking up to both coffee and tea, I decided to take the next step and began drinking a full 16 oz cup of tea with soy milk and dropped the coffee. After awhile I realized that brewing a cup of coffee in the morning takes just as much time as steeping a cup of tea but I began to thoroughly appreciate the ritual of making tea and enjoy the health benefits of taking tea. Tune in next week to see how I take tea daily.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do it your way... but pay attention.

I spend a lot of my time in grocery stores. My job requires it. And during that time I’m typically lucky enough to have any number of conversations with a wide variety of folks that range in topic from tea to politics, sports to literature, and even that other tea company that everyone knows about in Boulder. Inevitably I get a lot of questions about “rules” when it comes to tea. “How long should I steep my green tea?” “What’s the best temperature water to use for white tea?” “How many infusions should I get out of an oolong?”

My answer to all of these questions typically varies from one customer and one set of circumstances to the next. However, what I always seem to end up telling folks is simply to, “do what works best for you.”

All teas are different. As such, your methods of preparation from one tea to the next will obviously vary. At Tea Spot we recommend 3 minute infusions on our greens and whites and about 4 and a half on our black teas.

But I often tell folks that these guidelines are simply that… guidelines. And with that said, they are not necessarily what works best for all teas.

What’s important to consider is that you take the time to figure out what specific method of preparation works best for you and how that method effects the taste, quality, and overall experience from one cup to the next. Personally I find that many black teas (Pu’erh for instance) taste better to me with short, quick infusions < 2 minutes. And there are certain green teas that yield excellent results when infused for < 1 minute with water that never fully boils. So if you happen to find that boiling water, 6 minute infusions, and Chinese Dragonwell are the keys to unlocking your perfect cup… (ummmmmm… you didn’t hear it from me)… than say go for it!

In my eyes there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to tea. The sheer fact that tea takes so many different forms and comes from so many different countries makes it one of the most customizable beverages that we consume. With time and experience what you’ll find is that tending to your tea and paying attention to the leaves as they unfurl in your cup or pot will ultimately yield a more satisfying experience… and hopefully a better tasting tea too!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Check Out Our Tea Spot Chef!

Here's the video our very own Tea Spot Chef, Karen Harbour, submitted to be The Next Food Network Star. She made it to the final rounds of elimination on her first attempt. Check out the magic she works. As a co-founder of our tea company and a passionate tea chef by night, we really luck out as frequent recipients of her amazing dishes that incorporate cooking with tea - so tasty!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Simply in Love – Time with My Sweet(tea)

A new Valentine’s Day idea: Sharing tea with the one you love

If you’re anything like me, you like the idea of Valentine’s Day: the affections, the romance, taking extra time with the one you love, but don’t really care about the hype: the build up, the expectations and particularly the eventual but inevitable letdowns of the day.

Even if you’re not like me, what I am suggesting is something that you can do with anyone you love. Be it your partner, your husband or wife, your best friend, whomever it is that you want to spend time with this Valentine’s Day, do it, over a cup of tea.

On this holiday, it is hard to think outside of the box, the chocolate box if you will. We all know the standard scenario: a darkly lit restaurant, a small candle and maybe a rose between you and your loved one, an expensive dinner not without champagne or a bottle of wine, and the hope that something extraordinary will come of the night.

This year, instead of doing the typical Valentine's Day celebration, why not surprise the one you love with a new holiday celebration. I’ll paint the scene: A cozy blanket, some soft music (be it classical, jazz, meditative, etc.), a semi-lit room (maybe one light on), a cushy couch or bed with lots of pillows, a warm soothing cup of tea and you and your loved one. A recipe for one of the most romantic, memorable and possibly even soulful Valentine’s Days you’ll ever have.

Take this time with your loved one to enjoy each other’s company and conversation. Realize that you are simply sitting down to take in life, to take time for each other and to give into relaxation and comfort. Talk about anything and everything, laugh a little, cry if you need to, listen to your love's thoughts, dreams, hopes and desires. In this space, in this frame of mind, you will then find that what you really want on this day of love, quality time with each other. A cup of tea in hand, someone you love by your side, and just for a night, the rest of the world--gone.

(photo from

Good News on the Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea!

From Today's Marie Claire UK:

Three cups of hibiscus tea a day are enough to reduce the blood pressure of people at risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, a study has found.

The tea is made with extracts from the hibiscus sabdariffa flower, which contains antioxidants that help to rid the body of harmful free radicals.

The research carried out by nutrition scientist Diane McKay and presented to the American Heart Association's annual conference showed that hibiscus tea reduced blood pressure by an average of 7.2%. A placebo group recorded a 1.3% drop.

Studies have long linked antioxidants to many health benefits, including protection against heart disease and cancer.

Health campaigners cautiously welcomed the research. A spokesman for the Blood Pressure Association told the Daily Express: ‘This is an interesting but small study, and more work would need to be done to gauge whether drinking hibiscus tea can actually sustain a lowering in blood pressure.’

High blood pressure afflicts more than 16 million people in Britain or one in three of the population. It also increases risks of heart disease by three fold and causes 60% of strokes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How I changed a bad habit into a daily healthy luxury (Part 1)

I started drinking coffee about 17 years ago in high school, when my friends and I used to hang out at Starbuck’s. Being so young, I didn’t really understand how coffee affected me, all I knew is that it woke me up. About 3 ½ years ago I started tuning into the way coffee made me feel. The more I focused on my coffee habit the more I realized that although coffee helped wake me up, it didn’t keep me awake or help me to focus. In doing some research I found that coffee has, on average, 150 milligrams of caffeine, which stimulates the beta waves (flight & fight) in your brain. Stimulating the beta waves will wake you up but won’t keep you going, which is why I would crash a couple hours after my first cup and would want another cup. I also realized that coffee made me feel irritable, bloated, dehydrated, jittery and although it might have immediately suppressed my appetite it actually made me hungrier as the caffeine wore off. Tune in next week to see how I weaned myself off coffee.

(photo from

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sharky, the savage tea steeper

This is the coolest looking tea steeper I've seen in a while. I saw it featured on The Green Head, then snagged the photo from boing-boing to share with you. It was designed by Pablo Matteoda and won a design contest on Design Boom. It just made my day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some good lovin this V-day

The holiday of love is coming up, so I wanted to tell you about our V-day offerings this year. Most importantly, we've even added tea-infused chocolates made with, and paired with, ours teas. Yumm! Here's the low-down...

CLOUD 9... TEA & CHOCOLATE! combines two of life's greatest gifts - premium tea & gourmet chocolates! These custom tea-infused chocolates are perfectly paired for mouthwatering synergy.

3 LITTLE WORDS - the new way to give flowers & chocolate! a 3 pack bundle of tea for 15% off their retail price, includes Meditative Mind, Red Rocks, & Bolder Breakfast.

TEA LOVE is a sure way to the heart of your tea-drinking sweetheart. Give your honey a cup of true relaxation with jasmine & roses in an all white Steeping Cup - it even smells like love!

Tea Pairings by Season

Green tea is to black as spring morning is to winter night, or flute is to cello, or as white wine is to red. Even though each type of tea has a very different character, all teas come from the same Camellia sinensis plant. The difference in type of tea produced has everything to do with how the tea leaves are processed once they are picked. The most natural, and often most successful, pairings in gourmet food are those which take advantage of seasonal and regional splendors. The same is of course true for tea. The newest, freshest leaf tips and buds are most appreciated in Spring, when we step outside and are reminded of fresh growth by budding vegetation, increased sunlight, and birds calling. This is also the time, of course, when fresh green and white teas are available from the current year’s harvest. Summer calls for gracefully scented teas and fresh floral oolongs. Fall is most interesting, as this is the season that brings the most complexity to food products, as they ripen and age. And Winter is the time to best present the richest, darkest and most robust of teas.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tea 101 by Alton Brown from Good Eats

Maybe it's the geeky biologist in me, but I *love* the host of Good Eats, Alton Brown. I watched this video on another blog, The Ivy Keep, and want to share it with anyone and everyone who appreciates a good cuppa. He gives the skinny on Tea 101. And even though he gives props to Tazo tea bags, I'll forgive him since the episode is packed with good info. So sit back and enjoy a cup of tea while you watch. But don't blink or you'll miss something good. He even digresses to quickly explain superheating explosions that can occur when using the microwave - Scary! Now I digress. Enjoy...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Show Us Your Tea Spot!

We want to feature you & your favorite place to enjoy a cuppa tea. Send us a photo of your garden, kitchen nook, driver's seat of your car, or wherever you find solace with your tea.

We'll feature the photos here and our favorite 3 submissions will receive a free Tuffy Steeper & Tea Spot t-shirt.

Email your tea spot photo to In the body of the email please include your name & a short description of Your Tea Spot (50 words or less). We'll be collecting submissions throughout this month. Have fun with it!