Monday, March 19, 2007

Cool Tea Topic: Tracing Tea

Greetings, readers.

It seems there have been an unusually high number of entries to this in the past month or so. I hope this makes up for the long periods of inactivity that this blog has sometimes seen. :) You might also notice that the contributor list of this blog is growing. There is a specific purpose for this. More on that later.

First of all, I must make a note to thank the Mellow Monk for his very enlightening entry about green tea and caffeine. It was great to have him write for us here, and he was oh-so-willing and eager to do that for us, so thanks to him for that.

I now have a fascinating topic to tell you about, which I was quite thrilled to learn about, and which I feel deserves a great mention here. People sometimes wonder about the legacies or history behind the things they enjoy. Very few people, however, go to such great lengths to unearth this history as the group of seven students who have launched an international project called "Tracing Tea."

Tracing Tea ( is a large-scale project involving a 15,000 km journey in small open vehicles known as "Tuk Tuks" or "autorickshaws." The journey traces many of the old trading routes, and also tracing the history of tea in a semi-academic fashion from Calcutta, India to London, England and everywhere in between.

The end product of this massive journey by seven ambitious college students will be a book detailing their research findings and travel adventures, which promises to be a very fascinating reading experience.

The primary motivation for this journey of discover is nothing more than a deep and lasting love of tea - one which inspires them to do great and marvelous things. To paraphrase a comment from their website, they really love a good cup of tea, and find it appropriate to travel thousands of miles to get one.

So, I encourage you to take a look at the website, and follow the team's progress. I also encourage you to take a look at the finished book once it is published. I am sure you will find this a very interesting tangent from your everyday dealings.

Have a Marvelous Monday,
R 0 R

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mellow Monk Talks About Green Tea and Caffeine.


First of all, I’d like to thank Relznuk for the opportunity to post here. This is a great venue to talk about green tea—and put in a plug for my own tea, which of course is the finest in the land. (Who says monks have to be modest?)

One topic I’m asked about a lot is green tea and caffeine. Java junkies are worried it doesn’t have enough, and caffeine-sensitive folks are worried it has too much. But the fact is that green tea, magical drink that it is, is in the Goldilocks Zone when it comes to caffeine: not too much, and not too little, but just the right amount. Not only that, but you can adjust the amount of caffeine to suit your own personal tastes—to feed your need for speed, or to let you sleep soundly at night.

First of all, a cup of brewed green tea contains roughly one-third the caffeine as the same amount of brewed coffee. Some people say they’ve heard that green tea contains more caffeine than coffee does, but that’s true only if you’re talking about dried tea leaves versus coffee beans. By weight, dried green tea contains more caffeine than coffee, but tea goes a lot longer than coffee does: A pound of dried green tea leaves would brew enough liquid tea to fill a hot tub, whereas a pound of coffee wouldn’t come close. In other words, you use a lot less green tea by weight to brew a cup of tea, which is why an infusion of green tea ends up containing roughly a third of the caffeine.

If you really need a caffeine fix, you can always brew your tea on the strong side. Simply use more tea leaves—say, two teaspoons per 8-ounce mug instead of one. One of the many nice things about green tea is that it’s not acidic like coffee is, so a strong infusion won’t upset your stomach the way coffee can.

Green tea, mellow beverage that it is, is also a gentler way to get your caffeine fix. That’s because green tea’s oh-so-healthy polyphenols regulate the body’s uptake of caffeine. Consequently, the caffeine load is spread out more evenly and over a longer period. That means no jump-out-of-your-chair jolt, but it also means no crash-and-burn, either. Like a gentle lover, green tea lets you down easy.

But let’s say you’ve been restless lately and are worried about getting a good night’s sleep for a big interview tomorrow. What you can do is decaffeinate your green tea yourself. That’s right: There’s no need to buy industrially decaffeinated green tea, which can contain trace amounts of ethyl acetate, and who wants any of that in their body?

All you need to do is let your green tea steep for about 30 seconds, throw out that infusion, and then re-steep the tea as you normally would. Since caffeine seeps out into hot water much more quickly than the tea's "good stuff," the second infusion will contain 80 percent less caffeine than normal. Since green tea already contains about 66 percent less caffeine than coffee, that comes out to less than 7 percent the caffeine in a cup of coffee, if my math is correct.

(And if you let that first infusion steep for a full minute, you will have removed essentially all of the caffeine from the tea leaves.)

Also, instead of throwing away that caffeine-rich first infusion, you could save it to drink later, or water your houseplants with it, or even store up a pitcher full in the refrigerator and then give it to someone whose body runs on caffeine (we all know a couple of those).

If your tolerance for caffeine is very low, you could also try hojicha, which is simply green tea that has been roasted briefly. The roasting not only imparts a smoky aroma but also eliminates a lot of the caffeine. Oh, and Mellow Monk happens to sell some, too.

Well, I think I’ve written enough, so I’d like to wrap this up by thanking Relznuk again for time in his forum, and by inviting you all to try our authentic Japanese green tea. Mellow Monk buys directly from small, family-owned and -operated tea farms located in the foothills of Mt. Aso—an ideal tea-growing environment, with its volcanic soil, clean air, and natural spring water. Our growers are also certified environmentally responsible under the local “Eco Farmer” program, and they vacuum-seal their tea on site for freshness. For more info, please visit us online at

Mellow Monk

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Brewing the Perfect Pot of Tea

The following is a guest post written by Veralicious, a new contributor to the blog who lists the steps required to make a perfect cup of tea. I find this to be quite informative. As you'll note, it supports my long-held notion that loose-leaf is the way to brew the best possible cup of tea. So, a big thanks to Veralicious for this fantastic entry, and on that note, please enjoy the entry.

- Relznuk

Brewing the Perfect Pot of Tea

  • begin with your favorite loose tea.
  • add cold water to your kettle and bring to a boil.
  • fill your teapot with hot tap water to warm it.
  • before pouring in the boiling water empty the hot tap water from the pre warmed teapot.
  • add 1-2 teaspoons of tea leaves to your infuser, for every eight ounces of hot water
  • pour the boiling water directly onto the leaves and steep the tea according to the directions below.

note - quality tea can be steeped more than once, save the leaves and re-steep, adding one minute for each additional brew.

black tea and herbals:
- bring your water to a full boil and remove from heat.
- allow tea to steep approximately 3-5 minutes and strain.

green teas:
- bring your water to a pre boil.
- when little bubbles start to form on the bottom of the kettle, remove from heat.
- allow tea to steep 1 1/2 - 3 minutes and strain.

oolongs and white teas:
- bring your water to a pre boil.
- when little bubbles are coming to the surface (a bit hotter then you would need for green tea) remove from heat.
- allow to steep 4-6 minutes and strain.

* when using a tea ball, fill only half way to allow the leaves room to expand *