ARTS & CULTRUE
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FOOD & DRINK
From Assam to Oolong, submerge yourself in tea WORDS MEGHAN GRIBBEN PHOTOGRAPHY STELLA KIM
is the second most popular beverage in the world after water. It is thousands of years old and harvested throughout the world. The tea bag is not the only tea on the block—but with so many varieties, where does one start?
Oolong Tea Oolong tea is oxidized at 20%-70% and is right in the middle of green and black tea, so it can have similar characteristics of both. “You can have oolong teas that sort of taste like a green tea because it might have been oxidized at 30%, and then you can have an oolong tea that tastes a lot like a black tea which will be oxidized at 90% or more,” Richman says. Oolong tea is very diverse in its taste. It means “black dragon” in Chinese. Try: Above - The Skinny (organic), Vanilla Orchid
What is tea? Most teas come from the camellia sinensis plant. The type of tea depends on the originating country and the processing, which is oxidation of the tea leaves before they are dried. Teas that do not come from the camellia sinensis plant include rooibos, herbal, and Yerba mate. Riley Richman, a tea sommelier, explains the different types of teas, with comments from David Segal, co-founder of David’s Tea. Maté Yerba maté is an Argentinian tea from the maté plant, known for its weight loss properties and communal aspect: a gourd is usually shared between two people and drank through the same metal straw. Try: Above - Chocolate Rocket, Honey Bee
Green Tea Green tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. “Green tea has been oxidized between 0-20% and that is literally just the chemical reaction between air and a product,” says Richman. “If you take an apple and you cut that apple and it starts browning, that’s the oxidation process.” Segal enjoys Sencha, which is a Japanese green tea. “What a lot of people don’t realize [about green tea is]…you really want to let the water cool before you put it over your tea leaves, and you only want to steep it for about a minute or two. Sencha Ashikubo,a blend from David’s Tea, is really buttery and very vegetal—it’s a beautiful tea but if you over steep it or the water’s too hot, you’ll burn the leaves and it will taste really bitter.” Try: Sencha Askikubo, Above - Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine
White Tea White tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, but is processed differently. The leaves are left in the sunlight to whither and are then processed to prevent oxidization—this tea generally tastes like grass and leaves. Try: Above - Mango Madness, Secret Weapon
ARTS & CULTURE
Where to tea? For the novice tea drinker, there is good news: artisan tea stores are popping up all over Toronto, so it won’t be hard to give it a try. Teavana, Tea Emporium, and David’s Tea are all great places to begin the journey. Segal wanted to make tea “fun and accessible: that’s what David’s Tea is about.” Started in Toronto in 2008, David’s Tea will have 105 stores across North America by the end of this year. One of the great things about David’s Tea is how accommodating they are. “You’re always going to be helped out by someone who is passionate about tea,” says Segal. “You don’t really need to know anything about tea —everyone is welcome….we’re going to show you how easy it is to make loose leaf tea.” Tea is a journey, and a very personal one. “Grab tea from different places and go for it. See what happens,” says Richman. TEA SHOPS TO VISIT TSAA TEA SHOP FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED, WITH OVER 100 DIFFERENT TEA BLENDS AVAILABLE, ALL UNIQUE TO TSAA. THEY ALSO DO SANDWICHES! 412 DANFORTH AVENUE
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Herbal Herbal teas “are often just a mix of dried fruits, herbs, spices and flowers,” Richman says. Try: Forever Nuts, Above - Mother’s Little Helper (organic)
HEALTH & LEISURE
Rooibos Richman says, “[rooibos] comes from the African red bush, which grows in South Africa...it’s kind of like one of those cool stand-alones; depending on whom you’re asking, some people will say it’s not [part of the tea family]. I say it is part of the family.” It’s also caffeine free! Try: Coco Chai Rooibos, Above - Crème Caramel Rooibos
Pu’erh Tea Also from the camellia sinensis plant, Pu’erh is known for helping with weight loss and digestion. This tea is cooked and aged in burlap sacks, and like wine, it gets better with age. Try: Above - Coffee Pu’erh, Cinnamon Heart
FOOD & DRINK
Black Tea Oxidized at 90% and above, black tea is extremely popular in North America and the UK with bagged orange pekoe and Earl Grey. There is more to black tea than meets the eye: “North America is late to the party,” says Segal. “[Tea has] been around for thousands of years... I think North Americans are starting to realize there’s so much more to the tea bag [than] what you can get in a grocery store.” Black teas are usually heavy enough for milk and sugar and are very energizing. Try: Above - Read My Lips, Cream of Earl Grey (organic)
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Published on Feb 28, 2013
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