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Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Sichuan Dew

May 7, 2017

Hello and welcome to a special May instalment of the Tea Journey. I want to break with the structure we’ve been following for the Tea Journey so far to really focus on the experience. Following on from last week’s Health, Happiness and Hustle post, I really wanted to take my time over this tea, to enjoy it mindfully and allow myself a break to drink it (after I’d finished running around taking photos of course!).

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Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Two Green Teas

February 20, 2017

Welcome back to the Tea Journey and here we’ve taken an excursion away from tea bags into loose leaf green tea. I’ve been a little trepidatious about tasting green tea. It’s the one tea I’ve always wanted to like for the health benefits, but I could never get on with the teabags my mum bought from the supermarket.

After that experience I never quite believed that all the people espousing the amazing-ness of green tea could actually like it, or was there something wrong with me and my taste buds? I was keen to find out.

Here I am trying two types of green tea by Jing Tea. The first is Organic Jade Green Sword, Jing’s best-selling entry level green tea; the second is Dragon Well, China’s most famous green tea.

The preparation

To make the loose leaf tea I used Jing’s Tea Infuser, a glass mug with a glass infuser that sits in the top. Quite often loose leaf teas can be a bit too faffy for everyday use – you need a lot of equipment and it’s very fiddly to clean the teapot out after use. The Tea Infuser is just as easy as making tea with a bag – spoon in the tea, pour over the water, wait 3 minutes, then lift the infuser out. Done!

Green tea must not be made with boiling water as it will burn the leaves and make the tea taste bitter. If you haven’t got a thermometer, I tend to leave the kettle about 10 minutes after boiling to let it cool down to 80 degrees.

The experience

In the infuser the tea colours slowly over the three minute infusion time to a vivid-yellow green, the leaves dancing as the water is poured in before settling nicely to stew. With the lid on the cups steams up, the flavours percolating and building , and when you remove the infuser both teas look like patches of freshly mown grass.

Jade Green Sword

As I took my first sip, all my nervous fears were immediately allayed. I can totally see why this is the most popular and introductory green tea. It’s bright and fresh and completely unexpected on the tongue; I expected it to be more powdery after my earlier experiences. It has citrus notes, like grapefruit or maybe a sharp green apple rather than being lemon-y.

As bright and fruity as it is there’s a richness that settles on the tongue that is almost like coffee; it’s difficult to describe, it doesn’t taste like coffee, but the sensations in the mouth, that ‘settling’ feeling is very similar to the sensations of coffee drinking.

It is so refreshing and easy to drink that it’s almost like a light cordial; it feels like a spring morning. Whereas the flavours of jasmine and peppermint matured and altered in the mouth, this is bright and zingy the whole way through.

Dragon Well

So onto to Dragon Well with its bright green, long leaves. This is a very unexpected flavour. It has the same sort of brightness as Jade Sword, but as if it had been smoked. It has a much, much deeper flavour which is smoky and sophisticated; it feels more grown up, like the father compared to Jade Sword’s busy pre-teen.

There are still touches of fruit but they’re in the background compared to the smokiness that dominates the mouth. While the flavour is deeper it is similar to Jade Sword in that it is still light and doesn’t mellow or sophisticate on the tongue.

I’ve said repeatedly here that Dragon Well has a ‘smoked’ flavour – to clarify, the tea hasn’t actually been smoked, and the more sophisticated palates at Jing would call this nuttiness.

The freshness is still undeniable, but it is a wintery freshness as opposed to the early summer vibes of Jade Green Sword. This is definitely a February drink.

The rituals

Green tea has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, both to treat individual illnesses and also as a general health tonic. There are studies that show it can help to speed up the metabolism and reduce cholesterol. Tea was also used by Buddhist monks to achieve better results while meditating.

I’ve always thought that green tea is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a beverage. Having tried it, it is certainly the perfect tea to sit with, to take time over and to feel revitalised with. Why not use it to aid meditation and mindfulness? On a quiet weekend afternoon I can’t imagine much better. Jing have this short guide to tea meditation and I heartily recommend it.

 

You can view all of Jing’s green teas here – and if you’re not sure which green tea is for you, they have lots of guides online to help too.*

Are you a green tea lover? What’s your favourite variety?

*please note that these products were sent to me by Jing Tea to review – however, the words are all mine and from the heart.

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Peppermint Leaf Tea

February 6, 2017

Welcome back to the Tea Journey and to our second instalment, Peppermint Leaf tea. I think we all have this vague idea that mint tea is good for you in some way, easing digestive complaints, reducing bloating and whatnot. However, my only experience of mint tea was in Morocco where a tiny portion is served with around 6 sugar cubes, so that kind of defeated all the health benefits.

Since then, I’ve not really had mint tea. I must admit that I’m not actually the greatest fan of mint full stop, apart from the mint sauce in a jar you used to have with your nan’s roast dinners that doesn’t really taste like mint. However, I am keen to test out the health benefits and to see if I can acquire a taste for it.

The preparation

The preparation of Peppermint Leaf tea is easier than Jasmine. Simply pour fresh, boiling water over the bag and infuse for 3 minutes.

The experience

The Jing Peppermint leaf tea leaves no holds barred when it comes to strength of flavour. Forget watery mint teas, this one punches you in the face with a minty hurricane as soon as you open the packet. Once the water is added, the smell softens somewhat. It smells a little like Murray mints – smooth, creamy and sweet with the mintiness, rather than the harshness of a humbug or Polo.

It almost immediately turns a vibrant, golden yellow. It’s almost unbelievable that a little bag of dried herbs can exude so much colour in so little time. As you waft and drag the bag through the water you can see the dried mint unfurl and enliven so that it ends up looking like a clutch of freshly mown grass.

And then you take a sip.

I’ve honestly never had a tea like it. There is just so much going on in there that you immediately take another one just to work out what the hell just happened. At first it’s really mellow, the flavour coming mainly from the smell that wafts towards your nose. It’s slightly sweet (although maybe that’s my brain tricking me into thinking it’s a Murray mint…). Then after you swallow, a spicy heat lies across the back of your tongue. It’s tingly and peppery, like the sensation you get from a clean, chilli-based meal (I’m talking Thai rather than Tikka).

The more you drink, the tingle spreads around your mouth making you feel refreshed, clean and cool (I’m honestly not trying to make this sound like a toothpaste, it’s not!). Unlike other teas where it can start to feel claggy in your mouth after half a cup, this one just keeps getting fresher.

The rituals

As peppermint tea is caffeine-free and has digestive-easing properties, it is traditionally drunk as an after dinner palate cleanser. Peppermint helps the movement of gas through the body, thereby reducing bloating and speeding up digestion. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so is popular with IBS-sufferers to soothe their tummies.

Similarly to jasmine, peppermint also has stress relieving properties and is commonly used in aromatherapy. A natural sedative, its anti-inflammatory nature can reduce blood pressure and body temperature, allowing you to unwind and relax.

Why not start drinking Peppermint tea before bed? Have an early night with a favourite magazine or a new book, fluff up your pillows and curl up with a soothing peppermint tea. Particularly if you’re a bad sleeper or have tummy trouble, it could help you relax and sleep more soundly.

Peppermint Leaf is certainly the surprising tea. I hadn’t, to be honest, expected to enjoy it. I thought it would be too minty, or not minty enough. I thought it might be dusty or synthetic tasting. I didn’t expect the freshness, I didn’t expect to, well, enjoy it. Having learned a little about it’s health benefits, I think I’ve found myself a new bedtime drink.

Check out Jing Tea’s peppermint range here*.

Come back next time when I’ll be dipping my toe into the ocean of green tea.

What are your thoughts on peppermint tea? And how are you enjoying the Tea Journey so far? Let me know in the comments if there’s anything more you’d like to see!

*please note that these products were sent to me by Jing Tea to review – however, the words are all mine and from the heart.

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Jasmine Silver Needle Tea

January 22, 2017

I’m starting the Tea Journey with Jasmine Silver Needle. But why jasmine? It doesn’t seem like an entry level tea, with its exotic connotations and the fact that it’s made with flowers. But it’s a natural start for me, as I love all things jasmine – scented candles, shower gels, the tiny white climbing flowers and their scent in summer. I have tried jasmine tea before, and it’s the only herbal tea I’ve enjoyed rather than struggled through.

So at this stop in the Tea Journey I dip my toe at the shallow end of the pool. If you’ve not tried jasmine tea before, or you’ve been put off herbal teas by those dusty-tasting fruit versions, I really recommend it as an introduction to the world outside of milk and two sugars.

Here I’ll tell you how to make the perfect cup, how it tastes, and how to really enjoy it.

The preparation

First of all, jasmine tea deserves more than a novelty mug. For the best flavour and temperature, use a glass cup, or exquisitely thin china. The tea deserves it, you deserve it.

Heat the water to 80 degrees. If you don’t have a fancy thermostat kettle, you can use a meat thermometer, or any type of thermometer. If you are thermometer-less, add a little cold water into the cup just to take the temperature down.

Infuse the tea for 3-5 minutes. I prefer to infuse for the shorter amount of time as it keeps the flavour lovely and light. You can also re-use the Jing teabags a couple of times, so don’t just bin them!

The experience

Preparing this tea is mesmeric. Watching the sands dribble through the timer while the tea gently stains the water like watercolour paint, building a kind of ritualistic tension. Making it properly, with time and attention, definitely adds to the overall experience.

The first thing you get, as you cradle the cup under your chin, is the aroma. It’s otherworldly almost, hypnotising you into thinking, for just a second, that you are elsewhere. It evokes gardens and greenhouses and the act of parting leaves and flowers as you explore deeper. It smells like a memory I can’t quite place – happy, yet mysterious.

The taste is gentle and floral, but in a really decadent way (I always think ‘floral’ as a flavour makes it sound soapy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth). It is a multi-faceted tasting experience, where the first sip feels light and clean, yet it mellows into a rich heaviness which lingers on the tongue. This makes it feel totally luxurious. When drinking this, you know how good it is for you (see below), but the flavour tricks you into thinking it’s sweet and naughty.

The rituals

In northern China it is customary to serve jasmine tea as a welcoming gesture to guests. How lovely is that?! I think it’s a wonderful ritual to adopt. Why not plan a slow afternoon with friends, to craft, chat and drink tea in a beautifully jasmine-scented room?

For centuries jasmine tea has also been used for stress relief and as an anti-depressant, which makes sense when you think that jasmine is also commonly used in aromatherapy.

Perhaps if you’re not feeling particularly social, you can drink your jasmine tea meditatively. Feel the warmth of the liquid in your hands, and take long, deep breaths of the fragrant steam. Allow the aroma to seep into you, and lose yourself in it. Spend a little time doing something for you – get out of your head with a craft project, or a new book. Let the tea do it’s work.

The story

Jasmine tea is first recorded in the Song Dynasty in the 13th century, but then it was reserved for royalty alone. Nowadays it is still made in the traditional way.

The tea is picked in April in dried in the sun in Yunnan province in the south of China. In August, the tea is laid beneath a bed of jasmine flowers (I wouldn’t mind lying in a bed of jasmine flowers…) for seven nights, infusing the fragrant aroma with the tea.

If you’re looking for something to help you detox (without lowering yourself to diet teas), jasmine tea is pretty perfect. It’s a natural anti-oxidant, it increases your metabolic rate to burn fat faster, and its anti-bacterial properties can help prevent and relieve colds. What a super tea.

Over the course of exploring, I’ve come to think of jasmine as a happy tea. From the dainty little white flowers of the plant, to the light, bright flavour of the tea, through to its social connotations and stress-busting properties, it’s definitely a drink that embodies and promotes happiness. It may seem summery, but this makes it perfect for this dark, wintery days.

Get some happiness for yourself and check out Jing’s jasmine range here.*

Come back next time when I’ll be drinking proper Peppermint Leaf tea.

What are your thoughts on jasmine tea? And how are you enjoying the Tea Journey so far? Let me know in the comments if there’s anything more you’d like to see!

 

*please note that these products were sent to me by Jing Tea to review – however, the words are all mine and from the heart.

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

Welcome Aboard The Tea Journey

January 8, 2017

Tea is having something of a renaissance. The supermarket shelves of my youth sold six or seven varieties of English Breakfast, with the bigger places perhaps stocking a dusty box of Earl Grey. Not so anymore. Long aisles of brightly coloured boxes boast myriad varieties of fruit, herbal, green, white and black teas, with brands ranging from supermarket’s own to passionate start ups to the stalwart tea corporates trying to elbow their way into this newly booming market.

The trouble now is, where do you start? How do you know which of those brightly coloured boxes is for you? And are these supermarket teas even the best introduction to the world outside of builder’s brews?

This is where The Tea Journey comes in.

Proper tea drinking forces you to slow down: testing the water temperature, timing the brew, pouring from kettle, to pot, to cup. There is a nostalgia about tea drinking, a sense of taking part in rituals that have been repeated around the world throughout time. It grounds you, connects you to the world. This is what makes it such an easy way to embrace a slower pace of life.

I’ve always loved the idea of being ‘into’ tea, of drinking something other than English Breakfast. Every time I’ve caught a whiff of speciality teas they smell so exotic and enticing, but I’ve never known which one is for me. I want to know how to choose the right teas for my taste buds, I want to learn how to properly prepare them, and I want to engage, in some small way, with the ancient rituals and customs that have accompanied tea drinking over the centuries.

All this, and more, we’ll cover on our Tea Journey this year, all thanks to Jing Tea. Each season I’ll introduce a new set of teas, with interesting insights, how to’s, and, most importantly of all, the taste verdict.

Whether you’re already a tea aficionado, or, like me, you love the idea of becoming one, the Tea Journey will have something for you.

About Jing Tea

I’m working with tea specialists Jing Tea to bring you The Tea Journey. Suppliers to 70 Michelin starred restaurants around the world, Jing are true connoisseurs. On a mission to inspire the world to enjoy tea at its best, they believe tea should be as delicious as it is uplifting the spirit. Tea drinking to them is all about the experience. Their teas are authentic and pure, and perfect introductions to the very best of modern tea drinking.

 

Find out more about Jing, and don’t forget to check back here for our first stop on the Tea Journey in 2 weeks time.