Friday, November 30, 2007

Tea Videos

Three are tons of tea videos on the internet. I've posted some of them before. Here are a few more. If there's one you'd like me to see, send me the link!

James Norwood Pratt on tea on

A tragic love story about tea bags, feat. The Cure

"Good Eats" on tea

Have a good weekend and be sure to drink lots of tea!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bottled vs. Fresh-Brewed

Whole Foods answers a question on bottled vs. fresh-brewed tea. Excerpt:

When you brew tea yourself, you can control this steeping process in a way that will maximize the polyphenol content of your tea. When you buy a bottled tea, however, you may or may not get a tea that has been carefully brewed. In addition, you are likely to get a tea that includes other ingredients and is not simply 100% brewed tea.

Isn't that the truth! Most of the bottled teas on the market have sweetener, flavorings, and all kinds of other additives. Of course, there are a few exceptions to that, but I usually prefer to brew it myself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tea during Wartime

The New York Times (somewhat) recently started to allow everyone (not just paying subscribers) to see their full archives online. Here are two articles on tea during wartime that I found to be interesting:

The first is from 1916. It's about the German coffee and tea supplies being taken over by the state. There great was concern that when coffee ran out, tea would act as a coffee replacement (in addition to a popular drink on its own) and run out soon after.

The next article is from a year and a half later, when England's tea supply was nearly gone. The man interviewed blamed the shortage on exportation to Germany earlier in the war.

Other notes on tea (and coffee) during wartime:

During WWI and WW2, people in the US often drank chickory in lieu of coffee and rooibos in lieu of "true" tea (from the camellia sinensis plant).

Russian samovars have a bloody history. During wartime, samovars were often melted down to make guns. During times of peace, the guns were melted down to make samovars. Somehow this always makes me think of the scene in Lord of War where they talk about how the militia snorts lines of cocaine mixed with gunpowder. Yikes!

The Opium Wars were waged over tea. Tea had caused an enormous trade imbalance between the Chinese and the British, so the British started growing opium in India and importing it to China, despite laws forbidding it. Soon, the nation was addicted and the government was outraged. And then... wars. Two of them, to be precise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vee Tea Event Photos

A few weeks ago, I visited North Carolina for a tea event. It was entitled "Urbana Nirvana: Teas of India." We had eye candy (in the form of a video of footage from my trip to India, edited by my friend Nathan Bezner of Nightowl Productions), six teas from India (one masala chai, one Assam, one Nilgiri, one Darjeeling first flush, one Darjeeling second flush, and one Darjeeling white), tasty Indian food from a nearby restaurant, and hand massages with Red Flower Indian Jasmine massage oil. Of course, I got to talk about each tea with all the guests, which was great fun for me and, I think, for them, too. See for yourself in the photos!

PS--One of the guests at the event was a yoga teacher who recently visited India, too. You can see her travel photos here. All the folders from India have "India" at the beginning of the title.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving Post

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I did! My menu was as follows:

Endive and Fennel Salad with Feta and Homemade Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato Cornbread
Herbed Baguette with Brie and Camembert
Collard Greens with Cayenne
Broiled Salmon with Mustard-Vinaigrette Glaze
Latkes with Applesauce
Port-Poached Pears, Baked with an Oat-Walnut Crumble, Topped with a Port-Yogurt Granita
Mulled Wine
Honeydew White Tea
Lung Ching
Earl Green

What did you make? What kind(s) of tea did you serve?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tea Art?

I recently happened upon a site for coffee art. Anyone out there making frothy tea-based drinks into art? I'd love to see it!

I'm off for a few days to do the Thanksgiving thing. What kinds of tea are you serving at your big meal? (Next week, I'll tell you what I served at mine.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vee Tea Mention

I recently got to visit Amai Bakehouse for some wonderful tea, sweets, and conversation with the owner, Kelli. Christine Rillo of Adagio covered our tasty and fun visit. Check it out!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cold-Weather Teas

Some teas are just perfect for cold weather, and for the holidays. A few of my current favorites:

Masala Chai: creamy, spicy, sweet, delicious

Russian Caravan and Lapsang Souchong: rich, deep, VERY smoky, strong

Vee's Witches Brew: perfect for fighting colds

Pretty much any good, balanced blend with spices and citrus: evocative, indulgent, AND healthy

"Russian Tea*": soothing, citrusy, sweet, spicy

If you try any of these or have any to suggest, drop me a line. Have a Happy Thanksgiving week!

*This is something my mom used to make. It was part of my very early love for tea. The recipe is below.

Vee's Mom's "Russian Tea"

4 cups water
7 teaspoons strong black tea (Assam works well)
1 small can orange juice concentrate, plus 1 can water
1 small can lemonade concentrate, plus 1 can water
1/2 large can pineapple juice
15 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the tealeaves and remove the pot from heat. Brew tea for 5 minutes. Strain leaves. Return tea to the pot. Stir in juices and spices. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes. Strain. Serve hot with a slice of orange or a cinnamon stick for garnish.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tea Books

Getting started on your holiday shopping already? (I know I am! Anything to avoid the holiday rush of NYC.) Check out this new book on Korean tea culture and history. Or, peruse Cha Dao's extremely comprehensive post by Nigel Melican, Ten Thousand Titles: The Teacraft Tea Bibliography and see what jumps out at you. Happy holiday shopping!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Diluting the Benefits of Tea"

The NY Times recently put out an article about howtea may not be so healthy for you. The focus: sugary, high-fat drinks are sugary and high-fat EVEN IF THEY CONTAIN TEA. Wow. Excerpt (quoting a noted NYU nutritionist):

"I see so many educated people who, when I tell them it has calories, look at me and say, 'It does?'" said Dr. Young. "These are people who wouldn’t get the whole milk cappuccino, but they get the venti chai because it’s only tea."

I am amazed by how unaware most people are of their health and what they put in their bodies. Yes, masala chai is delicious, but I NEVER drink it daily, not even when I was in India or when I was writing my masala chai recipes. I ADORE iced tea (I'm from the South), but, once again, it's a treat, not a "healthy" tea. I'm glad the Times is trying to raise awareness on this point, but deeply saddened by the fact that it was so low that it needed to be raised in the first place. Sigh...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cooking with Tea and Tisanes

Interested in cooking with tea and tisanes? There are a lot of recipes out there to try. Most of them are sweet, but some are savory. Here are a few to get you started:


Baklava with Rose Water and Tea Granita (If you dig the whole popsicle-sorbet hybrid, check out more tea granita recipes from one of my previous posts.)

Bittersweet Chocolate Souflee with Earl Grey Custard Sauce

Boysenberries with Black Currant Creme Anglaise

Caramelized Fresh Pineapple Tiramisu

Chai-Poached Apricots and Plums

Chai Pots de Creme (There are more masala chai recipes on VeeTea.)

Chamomile Creme Alglaise

Chocolate Earl Grey Truffles (This is a personal favorite.)

Earl Grey Madelines with Honey

"Exotic" Caramel Sauce

Fig Fluden (Flat Cake)

Green Tea "Cat's Tongues" (From Chocolate and Zuccini--a fantastic food blog.)

Green Tea Cheesecake with Raspberries and Raspberry-Mint Tisane

Green Tea Ice Cream (There are TONS of recipes for green tea ice cream out there. If there's one you especially like, send it to me and I'll post it!)

Green Tea Panna Cotta

Hibiscus "Tea" Sorbet (This is actually a tisane, but it looks delicious by any name.)

Jasmine Tea Sorbet

Jasmine Whipped Cream (This would pair well with a number of other tea dishes here, or with fresh fruit, pie, ice cream, etc.)

Oranges and Prunes in Cardamom Tea Syrup

Pears Poached in Earl Grey with Dried Fruit

Rhubarb Poached in Jasmine Tea with Ginger

Tea-and-Honey Crisps

Tea Brack (Dark, fruity cake with black tea)

Tea-Poached Pears with Tapioca Pearls and Satsumas


Duck Breasts with Orange, Honey, and Tea Sauce (According to my duck-loving artist friend Rajive, this is not NEARLY enough honey. I don't eat meat, so I have no opinion on the matter.)

Green Tea Rice

Green Tea Soy Broth

Grilled Tea-Brined Turkey

Jasmine Tea Rice

Lapsang Souchong Peanuts

Lapsang Souchong Ribs

Marmalade-Glazed Ham with Sweet Orange-Tea Sauce

Traditional Ochazuke (Tea Rice)

Scallop Tea Rice

Soy-Ginger Beef and Noodle Salad

Spiced Green Tea Rice

Tea-and-Lemon Gravy

Tea-Marbled Eggs

Tea-Smoked Chicken

Tea-Smoked Duck Breasts

Tea-Smoked Mushrooms (I had a similar dish in India at a lovely hotel near Makaibari and Castleton Estates, a few blocks down the road from the Darjeeling Tea Research Centre. It was delicious!)

Tea-Smoked Salmon

Tea-Smoked Sturgeon

If you have any recipes you'd like me to post, send them to me and I'll add them to the list.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A GOOD Kind of Tannin Stain

So, we learned in Tea and Iron that the tannin in tea is NOT tannic acid and it is not inherently bad, but it can decrease your iron absorption. We learned from my dentist that tannins can stain your teeth, and that bagged black tea is the worst. What if we could use tannin to our benefit? One artist poses the question and comes up with some cool answers to ponder over tea time. Click the numbers to follow the intentional tannin staining of the teacup. I also like Time for Tea, a series of tea sets that show the time of day as shadows... in the form of plates.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tea Thrifting

I just found the cutest blog on thrifting. The blogger (Kelly) often posts tea-related finds. Here are two of her recent purchases. (LOVE the heart cups and saucers.) She also talks about crafting a lot, which is always fun. Check it out and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Apparently, drinking tea may slow bone loss. Excerpt:

The bone mineral density in tea drinkers was higher than in non-tea drinkers. Tea drinkers also had less loss of bone density over a four-year period compared with non-tea drinkers. These results took into account factors such as smoking history and use of calcium supplements.


"Other variables, such as dietary calcium and coffee intake, physical activity, and smoking did not appear to be important confounders of the relation between tea and [bone density]," write researcher Amanda Devine, of the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia, and colleagues. "Thus, overall our data support the concept that tea intake has beneficial effects on bone structure by reducing bone loss."

Cool. If you're interested in tea and the body, read more about tea and iron absorption on my site.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tea Tattoos

Is tea transient? Ancient wosdom says yes, but at least a few people disagree, and they have the tats to prove it.

I found this image thanks to The Goog.

Seth Goldman from Honest Tea says, "We got an e-mail from a consumer who got an Honest Tea tattoo on his arm." I'd love to see a photo of that!

There's also a short called Tea Tattoo, though I'm not sure it has any actual tea tattoos is it. Anyone seen it?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Whole Foods on Green Tea

Whole Foods talks about the benefits of green tea. Excerpt:

"Green tea drinkers appear to have lower risk for a wide range of diseases, from simple bacterial or viral infections to chronic degenerative conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis. The latest studies provide a deeper understanding of the ways in which green tea."

To read more on the studies, check out their article.

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Article: Masala Chai Recipes

There's a new article up on VeeTea! It's a continuation of last week's article on masala chai. There are 17 masala chai recipes, from "Basic Masala Chai" to "Floral Green Chai" to "Hot and Spicy Chai" to "Yummy Chai Milkshake." Check out "Fusion Tearoom Chai 2" below, and then read more masala chai recipes on my site.

Fusion Tearoom Chai 2

This recipe is sweet, savory, and spicy, with the richness of tamarind and the freshness of mint. It’s my Brooklynite-hipster friend Evan’s favorite.

2 cardamom pods, crushed and lightly roasted
1 tablespoon seedless ripe tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon cumin, roasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon green peppercorn, ground
dash sea salt

1 cup milk
3 cups water

4 teaspoons turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons Assam black tea

Boil the spices with water for about 5-10 minutes, add the sugar and milk, remove the mixture from heat, and then add the tealeaves to steep for 3-10 minutes. Strain and serve in prewarmed teacups.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tea & Global Warming

I know I normally end the week with a positive note, but... not this week. Today I'd like to talk about how global warming is changing the world of tea. This approach may sound somewhat trivial, but I feel that narrowing your focus can allow you to see the potential impact of such a large problem much more clearly. It's an important issue and, maybe, you can take some small steps toward reducing your own carbon footprint with a little effort over the weekend.

Tea and Global Warming

Sri Lankan tea growers are dealing with extreme weather conditions, such as abnormally heavy monsoons, which are causing the deaths of large numbers of young tea plants. Droughts and floods are expected, as are problems with inequity between rice farmers (who work as family units on small farms) and tea workers (who are assured of set wages despite occasional low selling prices).

Erosion and landslides due to heavy rains are already major problems in the areas of Darjeeling I visited this summer. According to Rajah Banerjee of Makaibari Tea Estate, the seasons are becoming unpredictable in terms of temperature (stiflingly hot when it should be warm) and rainfall (torrential when it should be drizzling), which stymies tea growth. Invasive pests such as mosquitoes have appeared with the change in climate. Increased mortality rates due to pest-related disease and landslides have decreased worker morale. Very soon, Indian tea producers in Assam and Darjeeling are going to have to figure out what happens when the glacial runoff from the Himalayas dries up. Some are predicting civil war, which makes sense given the already brittle political situation in Assam. All the obvious consequences of this potential tragedy aside, tea would surely take the back burner at best in these circumstances.

Kenya (one of the world's largest tea producers) suffered a major drought last year that caused its tea production to drop by 19%, in a record-setting decline. It is estimated that id the average world temperature rises by as little as 2 degrees C, then large areas of Kenya's tea-growing region will no longer be able to produce tea. Tea comprises about 1/4 of Kenya's current export earnings, and is, at present, essential to the economic growth of this fragile developing nation.

Meanwhile, one of the few tea plantations in the US is in the middle of a major drought. So much for buying local.

The change in climate has caused the beginning of harvest for first flush teas in China to shift from March 10th (when it has begun for hundreds of years) to March 5th, but that's about it. This means that (as the world's top tea exporter) China would actually BENEFIT (financially) from global warming's damage to other tea exporting nations. Not much of an impetus to ratify the Kyoto Protocol...

Of course, England is LOVING the climate change. Hey, at least they can decrease their carbon footprint by buying tea locally. Too bad it had to some to this before most people even knew what a carbon footprint is.

Soon other countries, including Canada, may have increased food production due to climate change. Right in line with Jared Diamond's brilliant Guns, Germs, and Steel, most of the countries that will be hit the hardest are the ones that are already struggling financially. Could those happen to, oh, I don't know... be some of the same ones tht have low enough labor costs to make tea production profitable? Hmm...

And, of course, some of the major tea companies are getting into the game. Lipton came up with this as a quick fix for a Romanian heat wave (brought on by global warming, no doubt). Gee, that's a long-term solution.

In better news, organic tea production is on the rise in India and elsewhere. Still feeling depressed? Read this article on how to "green" your tea and then follow these simple steps for making your life greener. When you're done making all the immediate changes you can, have a nice cup of tea, and then keep making daily decisions with the environment in mind. I promise you'll feel much better.