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Red Blossom Blog

Tasting Notes: 3 Reasons to Slurp Your Tea

Tasting Notes: 3 Reasons to Slurp Your Tea

One of the biggest divides in the tea world concerns slurping, and whether or not it improves the flavor of a tea. While considered rude by proper English rules, we always advocate slurping your sip for the best flavor experience. Our favorite technique is to sip a small amount, then gently draw air in through pursed lips to aerate the liquid. While it can take a little practice to get right, we’ve got three good reasons for you to give it a try.

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Why Are Bug Bitten Teas Naturally Sweet?

Why Are Bug Bitten Teas Naturally Sweet?

Though Chinese tea has a history that spans thousands of years, tea farmers and crafters continually come up with techniques for making new and interesting teas. In the early 20th century, one farmer in Taiwan experimented with using leaves that showed damage from bug bites, and created the first Eastern Beauty tea. The commercial success of this risky experiment proved there was something special about this novel processing choice, but it was only recently that modern science has shed some light on the reasons behind the unique flavor.

Today, bug bitten leaves are used to make many different kinds of tea, in what seems like a wider variety every year. While some famous styles use bug bitten leaves by definition, others use the phrase mi xiang to denote a bug bitten version. This title translates directly to “honey fragrance”, and describes the naturally sweet characteristics of many bug bitten teas. As strange as it may sound, the attacking insects play a big part in the flavor of the final tea.

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Types of Flavored Tea: 3 Ways of Adding Flavors

Types of Flavored Tea: 3 Ways of Adding Flavors

Across the world, flavored teas are some of the most popular. Famous styles like Jasmine GreenMasala Chai, and Earl Grey are all made with a base of Camellia sinensis tea leaves and added flavor. Despite the occasional snobbery of purists, flavored styles come in a wide range of quality, from mass produced tea bags at the grocery store to whole leaves flavored with organic ingredients. To check the quality of flavored teas, it is important to ask how the extra flavors were added.

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Benefits of Tea: L-Theanine

Benefits of Tea: L-Theanine

Though health benefits claimed in tea marketing are often exaggerated or just plain untrue, a cup of tea does contain many natural compounds that are good for the body and mind. One of the most fascinating is L-Theanine, an amino acid first isolated from tea in 1949. Found in only three plants across the world, theanine is key to the unique characteristics that have made tea so popular for thousands of years.

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What Makes Tea Bitter?

What Makes Tea Bitter?

Most tea drinkers expect at least a hint of bitterness in their cup. While not all teas are prone to bitterness, it is a common component of tea flavor, especially in mass produced teas. There are many ways to mitigate the bitter taste of tea, like lowering water temperature, shortening the brewing time, or simply adding milk and sugar. But what creates the natural bitter flavor in tea leaves, and why are some teas more bitter than others?

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Seasonal Traditions: A Guide to Tea Harvest Dates

Seasonal Traditions: A Guide to Tea Harvest Dates

The harvest date of a tea is one of the four main components of any tea’s identity, influencing the final flavor profile and often determining the level of quality. In many regions, tea is harvested all year round, but the differences between harvest seasons can be so great as to make a completely different tea. On the other hand, the growing conditions required for many premium teas limit output to just one or two harvests per year.

Regular readers and tea aficionados may know that spring harvested teas are often desirable for their naturally sweet flavors, but not all tea styles prioritize sweetness. Each tea has a unique set of standards for judging quality, and each has a distinct harvest season with ideal conditions for meeting those standards. Here, we’ll offer a quick overview of the teas and characteristics to expect from each harvest season.

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Which Tea Has The Most Caffeine?

Which Tea Has The Most Caffeine?

Understandably, many tea drinkers are concerned with the amount of caffeine in their cup. While some of us rely on a dose of caffeine to get moving in the morning, others need to limit their intake for a good night’s rest. Either way, estimates of caffeine level based on broad tea categories may seem both logical and convenient. As with flavor, we are psychologically predisposed to associate caffeine levels with a visual cue like color.

Unfortunately, the basis for these estimates is flawed. Despite the wide range of colors, aromas, and flavors, all tea leaves have their origins in the same species, and caffeine content remains relatively stable throughout the crafting process. Therefore, black tea does not have the most caffeine, nor does white tea have the least. 

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Tea Myths: Do Darker Teas Have More Flavor?

Tea Myths: Do Darker Teas Have More Flavor?

It’s been proven many times that color can dramatically influence our perceptions of flavor. For example, adding dye to a white wine causes tasters to describe the flavors of red wine. This psychological quirk makes sense in the context of ripening fruit or vegetables, but doesn’t apply equally to all foods and beverages in our modern world.

In the context of tea, the association between color and flavor seems logical enough at first. You may know, for instance, that steeping tea leaves in hotter water, or leaving them to brew for a longer amount of time, will generally increase the intensity of both color and flavor in the cup. But this logic breaks down as soon as we start to consider a broader selection of teas. While the varying levels of oxidation between tea categories does produce a wide range of flavors, the differences between them can hardly be compared on a linear scale, much less one based on color.

In fact, despite the fact that some of the finest green and white teas barely have any color to the liquor at all, the impact of flavor is undeniable on the tongue. For these teas, the lack of color in the brew is actually a sign of high quality flavor.

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