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The Tea Plant Blog

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cool Down with Cold Tea: How Do You Brew?



As the temperature increases, folks stop by Sip Tea Lounge to cool down.  Some say that drinking hot tea will cool you.  Others like to drink only iced tea in the summer.

There are many ways to make iced tea.  Most people use one of the following methods:

1) Sun Brewing 
2) Brew hot tea first, then pour it over ice
3) Cold Brewing 

Each method has pros and cons.  

At Sip Tea Lounge, we do not brew sun tea.  While this method may be a good way to make delicious iced tea at home, it requires outdoor space and time during the day, when the sun is shining.  Additionally, placing something out in the sun, during such extremely hot weather, may promote the growth of microbes or bacteria so it is very important to be extra cautious when using this method.

Brewing tea leaves hot first is a fast and easy way to make any tea iced.  When there is no time to plan ahead, this method makes the most sense.  The process is simple:

1) Fill a teapot with an infuser with loose tea leaves
2) Pour hot water over the loose tea 
3) Steep the tea for the desired amount of time 
4) Pour the tea over ice  
5) Refrigerate 
6) Serve

When using the above method, some like to use extra tea leaves during the brewing process to make the iced tea result in a stronger brew because the tea may become watered down when poured over ice.  The problem is that the tea can become bitter.  If you have a refined palette, the bitterness is apparent in the finished product.

The third method for making delicious, smooth and refreshing iced tea is to cold brew it:

1) Use a sterilized pitcher or jar (approximately 30 ounces)
2) Place 5-8 teaspoons of tea into the pitcher (the amount depends upon the tea used)
3) Pour cold water over the leaves
4) Refrigerate the brewing tea for somewhere between three and twelve hours (the brewing time depends upon the tea used)
5) Serve

The most difficult part about cold brewing is planning ahead and waiting for the finished product.  Then again, good things come to those who wait.

It is important to note that, the best result will depend upon the particular tea and how long it is brewed.  The best brews come with experience, experimentation and continual tasting.  For example, some tea, such as certain Japanese green teas, get better and sweeter with longer cold brew steep times.  Other teas may be at their best after only four hours.  Once brewed, the tea may also change as the time passes.  

When cold brewing herbal tisanes that do not come from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), it is best to give them a quick rinse in hot water before icing them, particularly if you are harvesting them from your own garden or if they are farm fresh.  The rinsing will help clean dust, dirt and other residue off of the herbs.  We also recommend using organic herbs wherever possible to prevent pesticide residue.  

The rules noted above for brewing iced teas are not hard and fast.  They are just suggestions.  After all, in the end, this is your cup of tea.  No tea is the same, but with anything, practice makes perfect. 
Happy brewing!

SIP TEA LOUNGE
286C New York Avenue
Huntington NY  11743
631-683-5777

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Grit: Who's Got It?

"A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop." 
Robert Hughes 



A few years ago a friend (insecure epicure) shared with me a New York Times Article about the qualities that have been found in successful individuals. More recently, a TED talk appeared on the same subject. The topic of how to be successful is popular. People will tell you that going to a good school and getting the best grades will help you land the perfect job.  Or they will say that finding the right job is all about who you know. Life is not that easy.  Connections are great, but if you do not step up to the plate, motivate yourself, take initiative and follow through on completing a task from start to finish, eventually you will come to a dead end and lose the opportunity for growth. It takes hard work to move ahead.

Whether the goal is to run one mile or 100 miles, find your dream job or lose five pounds, it can only be achieved with hard work, focus, tenacity and a plan. Ultimately, it is not the one college degree, the single connection or the "smartest" individual that achieves the most success.  One must stay on the entire journey and jump all the hurdles along the way.  The real question is: Do you have the grit to stick to the plan, stay focused and reach your goal?  Will you do whatever it takes.  Will you do it humbly?  Will you do it well, no matter the task?

It is easy to make excuses.  Articulating a goal is hard, but dealing with the hurdles on the road to achieving it is harder.  It is tempting to blame others when the going gets tough, but ask yourself, are you tough enough?  


Can you handle criticism?  Can you take advice?  Can you do something with the feedback you are given and become a better person?  Do you have grit?

In my own life, I am getting better at hearing advice I do not want to hear.  It means taking criticism that can be harsh.  It involves thinking until my brain hurts.  It is a lot like running a race or completing a physical activity. It is hard work, but it feels so good when it is done.   To be honest, I also like the process.  After all, the learning is in the doing.  

Luckily, at the beginning and end of the day, I have tea to help me slow down and reflect.  Tea allows me a moment to look at the big picture, stop and make a plan, refocus, reenergize and keep going strong.  

What is your goal?  What tools do you use to accomplish it?  Do you have grit?  

- Nicole Basso 







 

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