Monday, February 9, 2009

New Article: Tea in Austin

Some of you may remember my tea and food (and SXSW) trek to Austin last year (scroll down a bit to get to it). Well, my tea research from then (and from the last few weeks... and the last few years...) is now in print in The Austin Chronicle. Here are a few excerpts from my piece on tea in Austin:

(on popular tea types in Austin)
Iced (and often sweetened) tea

Trend starters: Southerners looking for respite from the summer heat

Who's catching on: Northerners and other non-native Austinites who love the icy, refreshing brew's sugar/caffeine boost

Where to buy it: Most restaurants and grocery stores carry bottled iced teas, such as local brand Sweet Leaf Tea. Spots such as the Steep­ing Room, Halcyon, Galaxy Cafe, and Chado Tea Market offer fresh-brewed, specialty versions of the drink.


(aka red tea or red bush tea) and honeybush (a close relative of rooibos), an antioxidant-rich, caffeine-free tisane from South Africa that's often used in fruity, floral, chocolaty, or otherwise sweet blends

Trend starters: South African expatriates and a new generation of tea blenders

Who's catching on: African-Americans who are interested in their heritage, people seeking an antioxidant boost or who love sweet, flavored blends

Where to buy it: Whole Foods' tea bar, Tea Embassy, Chado Tea Market, the Steeping Room

(on switching from coffee to tea)
The trick, said Amy March, tea sommelier and co-owner of the Steeping Room, is to wean yourself off coffee slowly as you replace it with the right teas for your tastes. She added that the mouthfeel, aromas, and flavors of coffee can be paralleled in tea, but "tea has a mellowing effect from L-theanine. It's never quite the same as coffee, even with the same caffeine level. You're clear and relaxed instead of hyper and jittery." Here are her recommendations for making a successful transition to tea based on your current coffee preferences:

Your coffee craving: Pungency, strong flavor, and full body, but not a lot of complexity

Teas to try: Kenyan black teas or Irish breakfast tea, with or without milk

Your coffee craving: Roasty, mellow flavors, as in South American coffees

Teas to try:
Houjicha roasted green tea

Your coffee craving: Extra flavors (vanilla, chocolate, caramel, hazelnut, fruit, mint, etc.)

Teas to try:
Similarly flavored teas

Your coffee craving: The richness of lattes

Teas to try: Malty Assam black teas or tea lattes

(on tea tasting for wine lovers)
Jeffrey Lorien, tea sommelier and co-owner of East Austin's Zhi Tea Gallery, said developing a tea palate can be easier than developing a wine palate because, "wine still hasn't been totally democratized here, but there's accessibility with tea. It's the people's drink." Here are some tasty suggestions for wine lovers from Lorien.

Your favorite wines: Spritzers or other wine-based drinks

Teas you'll love: Tea-infused cocktails or flavored teas

Your favorite wines:
Assertive, full-bodied reds

Teas you'll love: Lightly oxidized oolongs for mouthfeel or Assam/Sri Lankan (aka Ceylon) teas for flavor

Your favorite wines: Mellow, balanced reds

Teas you'll love:
More oxidized oolongs and high-quality, well-aged pu-erhs

You can read the rest of the article in The Austin Chronicle.


Steph said...

I'm possibly planning a trip to Austin myself. This is fabulous!

VeeTea said...

Ooh, have fun! It's a great town. Be sure to tell the tearooms I sent you. :)

Steph said...

I'm in Austin soon for a short work trip. This will be of use! I'll tell them you sent me. I never made it last year.

VeeTea said...

Oh, fun! Did you see the two-part article I wrote in Tea Muse? It has a listing of tea spots in Austin. I hear Tea Embassy is good for loose-leaf tea (packaged, not brewed), too. Have a great trip!