25 Days of Tea: Day 16 (White Peony)

img_lg_whitepeonyWe’re stepping into some controversy as we embark into the category of White Tea.

But first, lets have a look at White Peony (or as its also called: Bai Mu Dan or Pai Mu Dan), a very mild, slightly sweet white tea from China. It’s made from harvested leaves (2 leaves and a bud) before the leaves are fully open and still have the fine white, fuzzy “hairs” on the leaf. These leaves are left to wither slowly and air-dry so that there is minimal oxidation as compared to green, oolong and black teas and is not exposed to heat from a flame. The low oxidation and minimal processing yields a very delicate, fresh, crisp brew with mild, light honey flavor.

Now to the controversy: There is overwhelming information on the internet about the caffeine content of white tea – which is generally thought to be lower in caffeine than green or black tea. However, there is evidence that original tea plants from the Fujian, China may have a low caffeine content compared to other other tea plants. That said, there are studies that show that white teas contain as much or more caffeine as green or black teas. I did a blog post in 2009 on this and used the research from Nigel Melican, a tea master and scientist in the tea industry. You can revisit that blogpost information here. . but also check out this post by Cha Do back in 2008.

It’s important to gather as much info from sources related to the caffeine levels in white tea, especially if you are sensitive or allergic to caffeine. I’m still reading and researching the mystery around white teas and caffeine to stay informed and relay the information to my tea followers. Americans in particular are very intent on knowing caffeine levels in tea, often asking for subtleties by percentages. My standard answer is always the same: If you are sensitive or allergic to caffeine, do not drink tea (camellia sinensis). There are so many other options like herbals/tisane and rooibos–which rivals green tea in many ways related to health and wellness benefits and anti-oxidants. And its totally caffeine free. Here are further notes on White Peony (Bai Mu Dan):

• Overview:   A very mild, subtle, delicate and slightly sweet tea.
• Dry Leaf:    Large, unbroken leaves
• Liquor (liquid):   Pale yellow
• Aroma:   Fresh, slightly hay, light floral
• Flavor notes:    Floral, sweet, herbaceous
• Brewing recommendation:     185-190˚F  for 3 to 5 minutes.
• Caffeine: Yes

If you are interested in giving todays pick a try, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas tea shop today and use code: 25TEAS16 at checkout to get 25% of White Peony – today only!

Happy Sipping!
-The Chief Leaf

#tealove
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#teasaveslives
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#teainDC
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#25Teas
#whitetea
#whitepeony
#baimudan

 

 

25 Days of Tea: Day 16 (White Peony)

White Tea and Caffeine

Im pausing and digressing for a moment instead of posting Day 4 of my Taiwan/Japan tea adventure. Here is why…

There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on white tea and its caffeine content. Most people, it seems, believe that it has the lowest. This is simply not true. It can be quite a challenge as a Tea Purveyor to tell people that white tea does, in fact, have a very high amount of caffeine. But because we can do a quick Google search and find information to the contrary, people believe it. Here is an example: http://www.whiteteacentral.com/caffeinewhitetea.html

My first encounter with the “white tea – caffeine” debate was a few years back while I was at an expo. A gentleman had come up to my booth and asked to buy some white tea because he only drank teas without caffeine and herbals because of his religion. He was a Mormon. I tried to explain to him that it did have a lot and that he should stick to herbals. He insisted he was right and went home to look it up on the web, came back the next day and said I was wrong. What could I do? Argue with a Mormon and force him to buy herbals?

My next experience was recently at a local shopping mall. I stepped into a tea store to grab some hot tea. It was around 7pm and I needed something hot and herbal. I tried a couple of samples and decided on one but asked them not to include the white tea that it was blended with. I only wanted the Rooibos blend. Here is how this played out:

The salesgirl, who had extensive training in tea (she said a week) said: “Why not have the white tea? It will relax you.”
I said, “If its white tea, it has a lot of caffeine. I doubt Ill be relaxed.”

She said, “No white tea has the lowest caffeine of all the teas because of how its made. The steaming takes the caffeine out.”
I seriously just blinked in disbelief.

I said, “I’ll just take the herbal infusion.”
She said, “Are you sure about that? You wont get any health benefits from just herbal tea.”
I said, “Why is that?”
She said, “Because herbal teas only have vitamin C.”

I felt like Daffy Duck, looking at the camera with that stare of disbelief. I said, “I think Im fine with just having Vitamin C tonight.” I glanced up at the wall of tea and asked her what the most expensive one was.  She said that it was a Monkey Picked tea and brought it over for me to smell.

I said, “Ah yes, Monkey Picked…”
She said, “Yes the reason its called that is because Monkey Picked means that its won championships.”

The Monkey Picked comment I’ll just skip for another blog post and just keep on track with the White Tea – Caffeine Debate. I decided to go the one man I knew would have the correct information: Nigel Melican of TeaCraft. My question to him was:

“Nigel, what is the latest word on the caffeine levels in white tea? Im getting bombarded with questions and conflicting information about this. So many are saying its the lowest. I remember you saying its quite high. Can you help?”

His response is below. Take heed people. Nigel knows his stuff.

“No, despite those who would prefer otherwise, white tea is the highest in caffeine content – the younger and smaller and fresher the bud and the less processing – the higher the caffeine, whatever the color of the tea. It’s facts. It’s sci…ence. It’s indisputable!

Richard Enticott (President & CEO of Martin Bauer US, Inc.) spoke at World Tea Expo 2010 and presented data for caffeine content based on 30 years of caffeine analyses of tea (tens of thousands of actual analyses on actual tea). He says caffeine in China white needles tea is typically over 7% – and this matches my own findings.For another treatment of caffeine with some typical amounts in black tea see:

For a comparison of black, green and white tea caffeine – the best single reference I know is “Characterization of White Tea – Comparison to green and black tea” Y Hilal and U Engelhardt. J. Verbr. Lebensm. 2 (2007) 414-421. The authors are in the Dept. Food Chem, University of Braunshweig, Germany. Around 160 tea brands were sampled from across the German retail market  They show for caffeine:

  • Black tea (50 teas) average 3.5% (range 2.0 – 5.4%)
  • Green tea set 1 (50 teas) average 3.4% (range 1.5 – 5.2%)
  • Green tea set 2 (30 teas) average 2.9% (range 1.7 – 2.9%)
  • White tea (30 teas) average 4.9% (range 3.4 – 5.7%)
A rare website that has accurate data is: http://ratetea.net/topic/caffeine-content-of-tea/21/ on this basis I commend it to you. – Nigel at Teacraft
Thank you Nigel!
White Tea and Caffeine

Local Tea Company Owner Becomes Washington, D.C’s 1st Certified Tea Professional

NEWS RELEASE


New STI LogoWASHINGTON, DC,  May 27, 2009 – Elise E. Scott, Chief Leaf of online tea merchant, Pearl Fine Teas, has completed the Specialty Tea Institute’s (STI) 2 year program and is now the first Certified Tea Professional (CTP) in Washington, D.C. Ms. Scott was one of 8 people who completed the certification during the 2009 World Tea Expo, which was held in Las Vegas in May. To date, STI has certified only 23 Tea Professionals worldwide.

The three level, eight-course certification process, included classes that covered sensory evaluation, white, green, oolong and pu’erh teas and culminated with the black teas of China, India and Sri Lanka.

Upon completing the certification, Ms. Scott said, “It was a long 2 year journey filled with a lot of travel; sipping and study time–basically a total immersion into the world of tea. I loved every minute. More importantly, this training adds to my credibility as a tea professional and I take that very seriously.”

Ms. Scott has studied under many notable tea industry professionals, including Bill Waddington, Owner, Tea Source; Donna Fellman, Tea Education Alliance; Phil Parda, Owner­, Zhong Guo Cha; and Richard Guzauskas of Tea Forte, QTrade, Shangri La and STI Advisory Board Chairman. She also studied under Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and will spend 9 days in Taiwan this June studying oolong teas with Thomas Shu, 3rd Generation Tea Master and Vice President of ABC Tea House.

Pearl_LogoAbout Pearl Fine Teas
Since 2006, Pearl Fine Teas has been providing premium, limited edition and rare loose-leaf teas along with custom creative blends and tea ware to tea lovers worldwide. The company focuses on top notch customer service, education and information about the world of tea. The company’s blog, TeaLove®, was launched on August 2008 and has received national attention for its posts on tea and politics.

For more information, visit www.pearlteas.com, www.tealove.wordpress.com or follow Pearl on Twitter at www.twiter.com/pearlfineteas.

TAlogo_NewAbout STI and The Tea Association of the USA
The Specialty Tea Institute is a division of the Tea Association of the U.S.A and is dedicated to serving the needs of purveyors in the specialty tea industry. The primary objective is to provide a credible source of information which will allow merchants to decide if entry into the world of specialty teas is the correct choice along with protecting their best interests, creating an environment conducive to growth, and developing positive marketing and media impressions about the world of tea. The tea industry looks to the Tea Association of the USA, Inc, The Tea Council of the USA and the Specialty Tea Institute (STI) for its wholesale and retail needs.
Website: http://www.teausa.org

 

Local Tea Company Owner Becomes Washington, D.C’s 1st Certified Tea Professional

World Tea Expo: Jane Pettigrew and Rare Teas

wte

This is my third year attending the World Tea Expo so I was able to prioritize and work the show floor in a day which left more time to relax, mingle with my teapeeps and attend a few choice classes. The one at the top of list was given by Jane Pettigrew on Rare Teas. If you haven’t been exposed to Jane, you surely are missing out. She is simply fabulous. Her love, knowledge and passion for tea fills the room. 

I tweeted about each tea during the tasting. I found them interesting and was pleased to be able to sip something out of the ordinary. I will say that my expectation for what I considered RARE was different then what WTE thought. To me a rare tea for example, might be… an aged puerh that was produced in limited quantity 11 years ago and only a 10 people in the world have access to it. This seminar was more about UNUSUAL Teas. That said, I still loved it and was grateful to have atteneded.

Here is a brief recap:

Tea 1: Malawi White Tea (Antlers)
This was the biggest surprise of the 6 for me. While I like white tea well enough its not a “go to” tea for me. It took just one sip and I was, well, in TeaLove. The liquor was sparkly, clear and sweet. There were light notes of fruit. No leaves were used to produce this tea which we all found interesting. A leafless tea made only with the stems. This was my top pick and favorite. 8 grams, Steeped at 176˚ for 5min.

Tea 2: South Korean Spring-Picked Green Tea
Very unusual for a green tea. The immediate smell is nutty which I wouldnt have expected from a green. It was more like a tie kwan yin. The wet leaf had a beautiful aroma that was slightly vegetal and nutty. The color: a bright, vibrant green. Very light colored liquor and taste. This teas is handmade. 8 grams steeped at 14o˚ for 2 min. (The steep should have been longer to bring out the flavor)

Tea 3: Ancient Lotus Green (Vietnam Flavored Green)
An immediate burst of anise both in aroma and taste! Quite unexpected. Dry leaf was dark and long but also rolled. Liquor was light gold. Wet leaf was long and curly. This tea is handmade and infused with Lotus blossoms. Steep time and temp wasn’t given.

Tea 4: Thai High Mountain oolong (Chang Mai)
Most of you know my deep, unwavering love for oolongs, so I was excited to try one from Thailand. The dry leaves were very large, rolled balls. The liquor was golden and had hardly any aroma. But perhaps the paper cups smell was getting in the way. I likened this oolong to an extremely light Jade Oolong. Its a 2 day production for this one as opposed to the usual 1 day for oolongs. 8 grams, Steep time 180˚ for 4 min.

Tea 5: Bolivian Organic Black
Did you know Bolivia produced black tea? I didn’t. This tea endures 18 hours of withering, has a very large leaf that is rolled. The color of the liquor was a lovely medium redish brown. The taste reminded me of a ceylon but with more complexity. It was slight fruity or plumy and very smooth. 8 grams, Steep time 212˚ for 4 min.

Tea 6: Tregothnan Classic Black (Cornwall, UK)
Tregothnan means “house at the top of the hill.” Not a true tregothnan, but a blend. Made locally. The dry leaves are small and cut like a CTC process yet this was all handmade. Impressive. Wet leaf fluffed up and turned brown. The liquor was a lovely shade of deep red. The taste was immediately astringent and made my lips pucker.Steep time and temp wasn’t given.

Today is the last day of the Expo and I’ll be attending Lisa Richardson’s class on pairing tea and chocolate! More posts to come later!

Happy Sipping!

World Tea Expo: Jane Pettigrew and Rare Teas

Give The Gift of Tea… for 20% OFF!

gift the gift of tea
gift the gift of tea

It’s cyber-monday and we are doing our part to stimulate the economy by offering a 20% Discount on tea and teaware from today through December 24th! Just enter Code TLB20 at checkout! And… If you order totals more than $100, shipping is FREE!

Need suggestions on what teas to give? How about…

Earl Grey de la Creme or Earl Grey Lavender
Perfect for the Earl Grey lover who might be interested in trying something different. de la Creme is smooth and creamy with notes of vanilla. Lavendar is light, refreshing and very aromatic. Both blend nicely with the oil of bergamot!

Counting Sheep
Know someone who needs to chill? Having trouble relaxing and falling asleep. We aren’t sleep doctors, but we have to admit… Counting Sheep seems to relax the TeaPeeps here at Pearl Fine Teas. The blend is light and fresh and has strong notes of citrus. The aromatherapy alone should have you sawing wood. Caffeine Free to promote total relaxation and a peaceful end to your day. Just don’t sip and drive with this blend… you could fall asleep behind the wheel!

Bora Bora
Did your plans for a tropical vacation fall by the wayside this year because of the economic climate? No worries. Sip Bora Bora and imagine yourself on a tropical island… sun warming your skin… We know its no substitute for a real vacation, but why not sip this healthy green tea blended with passionfruit to warm you from the inside out?

Ceylon
One of the most outstanding Ceylon teas you will ever drink. Our Ceylon is from Shawlands Estate in the Uva region of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Takes well to milk although best drunk black. Full bodied, soothing and complex. Superb!

Maojian
Maojian is one of China’s most famous green teas, grown high in the mountains in misty tea gardens with brief sunlight and cold nights. The difficult conditions yield strong leaves that can withstand rolling and high roasting which creates its wonderful rich flavor and aroma. If you haven’t tried this green tea, you are missing something special.

Silver Needles
Long, soft and downy, Silver Needles are the first spring buds of the Da-Bai tea plant. It comes from Fuding, a serene region with soothing waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. The peaceful setting is reflected in the flavour: soft, mellow, with the sweet freshness of honeydew melon. A classic not to be dismissed.

How about a teapot to go with all this loose leaf tea? We’ve touted the virtues of the wonderful iPot and still stand by our recommendation. Choose from a 17 oz version in Scarlet, Jasmine, Pink, and Eggplant Damask. Or a 24 oz version in Scarlet, Pistachio, Ocean Blue, and Sky.

There’s a lot more tea on the website so have a peek!

Happy Sipping! Happy Shopping!

Give The Gift of Tea… for 20% OFF!

Steeping tea. In a Gravy Boat?

gravyboat-girlAs you may remember, we were at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining Show 2 weekends ago. I met so many wonderful tea people! It was a great event. These two lovely woman who’s names have escaped me were so interested in tea so we stood and spoke for quite a long while. They ended up buying a few bags of our super fabulous loose leaf. During the course of the discussion one of them asked me about tea pots and methods for steeping. I immediately went into teapot mode and shared with them some of most beloved pot, infusers and tea pillowcases. As I’m deep into my passionate conversation on pots, the woman on the right says, “I don’t need any of those. I steep my tea in a gravy boat.”

Dead silence. Disbelief. Followed by more silence, with a quick scan of the room and then…

24 oz Scarlet iPot
24 oz Scarlet iPot

A recommendation for an actual tea pot. I had never heard of anything like it! So creative! So unusual! And just a little bit odd, but in a good way. I believe I steered her in the right direction. We have a few nice options for steeping tea. The first being the fabulous iPot. Comes in many colors and 3 sizes. We carry the 17oz and 24oz. The larger of the two seems to be moving off the shelves pretty quick. We also have the Universal Infuser and the Ceramic Mug with Infuser. Both great investments. Now and again we carry the Globe British Tea pot, but they aren’t easy to find. They are classic. I happen to believe that investing in a good pot and/or infuser is really worth it if you are a true tea lover. Part of the fun and delight is not just the liquid, but what the liquid is held by.

I haven’t counted how many pots I personally have collected over the years, but I know its quite a bit. They are hidden all over my house and sometimes I’ll open a cabinet and be joyfully surprised that I forgot I had that particular one.

Whats not to love about a teapot??

If you have a teapot you love, send us a picture and we’ll post it on the blog!

Steeping tea. In a Gravy Boat?

Obama v. McCain Tea Tweets on Twitter

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Obama v. McCain Tea Tweets on Twitter