Archive for February, 2010

Insider’s guide to chinese teas – part 2 oolong

Insider’s Guide to Chinese Teas – Part 2 Oolong

Wiping the sweat from his brow whilst tending his drying tea leaves, a farmer spotted a black serpent nearby. Startled and worried, he ran off and did not return for a few days, thus ensuring the serpent was no longer around. Unfortunately, he had left his leaves in the full glare of the Southern Chinese sun and the leaves had changed colour. Out of curiosity, he brewed them and found that they gave a pleasant, sweet and floral flavour. Oolong tea was born.

OK, that is one of the interesting legends that seem to surround the origins of many types of tea and is probably not literally true. Oolong tea seems to date back only to the end of the Ming Dynasty, around 400 years ago. No one really knows for sure. Oolong is a cross between Green and Black teas, it is processed much more than Green but less than black and is oxidised somewhere between 15 and 70 percent. The first stage of the processing is to bruise the leaves so that they can oxidise more readily. Once oxidised to the extent required, the tea leaves are rolled and fired to halt the oxidation process. Those with less oxidation are sometimes referred to as

“green Oolongs” whilst ones that are at the top end of the oxidation scale are “brown Oolongs”.

The tea therefore is supplied in small balls which expand in the cup to produce their delicate floral aroma and flavour. There are a wide variety of Oolong teas available so if you have tried one, do not think that you know the flavour of Oolong.

In common with all pure, organic Chinese teas, this type is believed to confer health benefits. It has been demonstrated that the polyphenols (anti-oxidant chemicals) that are present in the tea can destroy free radicals. Free radicals are implicated both in heart disease and cancer situations. The levels are less than in Green teas but are still significant, which makes Oolong a healthy drink.

This tea is very often used as the basis of slimming (or weight loss) teas. Certainly it is a low calorie alternative to other drinks as it is taken without milk or sugar, but it would need much more research under strictly controlled conditions to determine if it genuinely helps. Checking on forums about the subject, some people swear by it and claim that it has been very successful whilst others say they have noticed no difference. So maybe it just works for some? Whatever the truth, it would need to used as part of a diet and exercise programme rather than as a silver bullet that solves obesity.

Getting hold of this tea can sometimes be problematical; very few tea shops will offer it, unless they are high-class and sell gourmet teas. Buying it in health shops is not always possible, they tend to stock green teas and mainly teas in tea bags, which are too highly processed to retain the flavour and goodness. However, if you are willing to buy via the internet, there are plenty of retailers. But beware, not all are equal. To have the best experience of Oolong tea, avoid tea bags, avoid the cheap ones. Choose pure, organic loose varieties – these are more expensive but will give you the best flavour and aroma.

To summarise; the complexity, regional varieties and level of oxidation create a variety of different tastes within a single type of tea – try several and you will see what I mean.

Tea production in the us

Tea Production in the US

Tea Production in the US
Taking a Tea Leaf out of the healthy book
This industry will experience significant support off the back of increased health awareness of consumers. Tea is becoming infused into the American diet as consumers become more health-conscious, looking for alternatives to sugar-rich carbonated beverages. The tea industry is experiencing rejuvenated life cycle growth, as many of its drinkers look to rejuvenate their own wellbeing. ( http://www.bharatbook.com/Market-Research-Reports/Tea-Production-in-the-US.html )
Industry Market Research Synopsis
This Industry Market Research report provides a detailed analysis of the Tea Production in the US industry, including key growth trends, statistics, forecasts, the competitive environment including market shares and the key issues facing the industry.
Industry Definition
This industry includes establishments primarily engaged in the production of tea, with their manufacturing operations being based in the U.S. Industry operators purchase tea leaves to manufacture white, yellow, green, oolong, black or iced tea varieties. Manufacturers predominantly sell their finished products to grocery wholesalers, retailers, the foodservice industry and export markets. This industry does not include sale or distribution of tea products to final consumers.

Report Contents

The Key Statistics chapter provides the key indicators for the industry for at least the last three years. The statistics included are industry revenue, industry gross product, employment, establishments, exports, imports, domestic demand and total wages.

The Market Characteristics chapter covers the following: Market Size, Linkages, Demand Determinants, Domestic and International Markets, Basis of Competition and Life Cycle. The Market Size section gives the size of the domestic market as well as the size of the export market. The Linkages section lists the industry’s major supplier and major customer industries. The Demand Determinants section lists the key factors which are likely to cause demand to rise or fall. The Domestic and International Markets section defines the market for the products and services of the industry. This section provides the size of the domestic market and the proportion accounted for by imports and exports and trends in the levels of imports and exports. The Basis of Competition section outlines the key types of competition between firms within the industry as well as highlighting competition from substitute products in alternative industries. The Life Cycle section provides an analysis of which stage of development the industry is at.

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Infuse your life with organic, fair trade tea

Infuse your Life with Organic, Fair Trade Tea

Coffee isn’t the only morning beverage that needs a green makeover. Many of the same social and environmental problems faced by java drinkers are also prevalent in the tea industry, making the choice of what tea you sip every day an important part of any green lifestyle.

Organic farming has many benefits, not only for the farmers, but also for the future generations of the communities dwelling there. Organic methods protect the soil and water against infiltration by cancer-causing pesticides and other chemicals so that many more generations can lead healthy lives. According to a National Cancer Institute report, farmers who use herbicides regularly were six times more likely to contract cancer than other people. Organic tea also ensures that soil erosion is prevented, water quality remains good, and biodiversity is preserved.

Biodynamic farming is another green method of getting delicious tea leaves without harm to the planet. The biodynamic method is a closed-loop one, requiring that no “outside” influences (like pesticides and herbicides) be used. Instead, these farmers make use of things like cover crops to improve soil health. They also employ homeopathic preparations (containing plants, animal manure extracts, minerals, and compost) to the soil, while following the natural rhythms of the cosmos to determine when to seed and when to harvest. In many ways, biodynamic is one step more serious about environmental-protection than USDA Certified Organic options. Demeter US is the certifying body for this type of gardening.

Like coffee drinkers, tea sippers are serious about flavor and the quality of their tea leaves. Here again, organic has the advantage since organic teas are said to have better flavor. The smell and taste of a delicious cup of organic green tea or mango berry tea is richer and deeper than conventional options.

Additionally, organic tea is often also fairly traded. The Fair Trade Federation, which helps to certify organic teas, ensures that farmers are given a fair wage (at least $1.26 per pound), that workplace safety laws are in place, and that families of farmers receive education and health care. It also helps to stimulate local economies so that they can develop self-sufficiency.

When shopping for your organic tea, look for a total of two labels: one for how the tea was grown, and one for how it was traded. Either the Demeter US label or the USDA Certified Organic will ensure your tea is grown in an earth-conscious fashion, and the Fair Trade logo will guarantee that farmers were treated fairly in the trade. Together, you’ll have a truly sustainable morning (or evening) fix.

So add organic, fair trade tea to your organic food shopping list this year to make a difference for farmers and the planet, too.

Insider’s guide to chinese teas – part 1 pu-erh

Insider’s Guide to Chinese Teas – Part 1 Pu-erh

Pu-erh is a town in the Yunnan province of China. In former times, it was the centre of the tea trade for the region and so gave its name to Pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea has a distinctive flavour and produces a reddish-brown brew, a little like the conventional black tea. But that is where the similarities end. It is thought that tea production dates back almost 2000 years in the Yunnan region and some very old trees (getting on for 2000 years of age) are known and still produce tea to this day.

The tea that most people drink, black tea, is fermented and has lost a lot of the original nutrients that are reported as being beneficial. So although it is most definitely better for one’s health than coffee, it is not as beneficial as teas that have been fermented less such as pu-erh, or in not at all such as green tea. In common with most teas, it contains antioxidants that can help your body combat disease, including cancers. It is an accepted herb in traditional Chinese medicine which is perhaps why it attracts so much attention now in the west as awareness of complementary medicine is increasing.

The health benefits of drinking pu-erh have been researched and evidence suggests that it is particularly effective in the reduction of cholesterol. The tea seems to attach itself to the cholesterol molecules and somehow seems to prevent the absorption of these. It that is true, then drinking this type of tea is a must for those with high cholesterol levels as it may reduce the quantity of cholesterol entering the bloodstream from the diet.

Pu-erh and Oolong teas are both reputed to aid weight loss. The theory is that it increases the metabolism and therefore burns off food faster. To be honest, a bit of exercise is probably better! Still, even if it only has a placebo effect then that is an important part of any weight loss programme. Whatever the truth in this, there is a big market in slimming teas – it is a bit like selling carrot as a slimming vegetable!! If they are drunk instead of higher calorie drinks, then again they could help, a tastier alternative to water on its own.

Traditionally, Pu-erh tea is compressed into a variety of blocks for easy storage. The reason for this tradition is that it improves with age. Like a good wine, it is a ‘living’ tea; it contains active microbes which subtly and slowly change the flavour. The trouble is, that long storage times can make it quite expensive, in fact some of the older varieties (between 30 and 50 years old) change hands for ridiculously high prices – perhaps it is worth buying some as an investment!! The more affordable less aged Pu-erh teas are still expensive by tea standards but are affordable. By the time it reaches 50, it starts to go downhill, so you seldom see any that is older than this.

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