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Author Topic: Michi's Tea House  (Read 29303 times)

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Offline Ryven

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #50 on: March 30, 2011, 12:57:19 PM »
Considering it's still rather cold where I am, I'm sticking to hot teas for now...but yes. I do plan on going into iced teas as spring and summer set in more. ^^ Almost any tea can become iced, but a lot of people think of iced sweet tea when it comes to cold teas. While I can make Sweet Tea, I can't drink it. Too sugary for me. So yeah, there will be iced teas. ^^

We have a Disney store in the same mall as the tea store that has the cutest little water/iced tea pitchers that come with jelly Mickey heads that you freeze and keep the drink cold. I am very tempted to get it. >.>

I figured.  It's still pretty cold here.  I was just wondering for future reference and to sate my curiosity.  Not everyone thinks of iced tea as sweet though.  Native northerners think of iced tea as unsweetened.  It's a culture shock going north from down where I am and vice versa for northerners.  Your location really depends on what you get when you ask for 'iced tea.'

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #51 on: March 30, 2011, 01:02:18 PM »
Yeah...I'm from Chicago originally and the first time I I got Iced Tea in Alabama I nearly spit it out on the table after the waitress gave it to me. There was sooooo much sugar in it. You can usually tell if someone is originally from the north or not been down there very long because they will ask for 'Sweet tea' or 'sweetened iced tea' instead of just 'iced tea'. :P Or at least the ones that know better enough to ask for it that way (unlike me).

But, yes, I will be getting into iced teas as it warms up outside. A lot of times it's as easy as plunking some ice cubes in the tea and letting it cool that way rather than just sitting it out on the counter to cool (it just gets bitter that way).

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #52 on: March 30, 2011, 01:11:01 PM »
One tip I've seen with making iced tea is to make a simple syrup (1c sugar, 1c water, heat to dissolve, cool slowly, then refrigerate) and keep that separate so that you can sweeten it to your personal taste without having to try to dissolve sugar in a cold liquid, or presweeten to a 'standard' taste.

Offline Rhedyn

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #53 on: March 30, 2011, 01:21:26 PM »
I must admit I'm not the most adventurous tea drinker, mainly because I have found so many that I dislike that I've kind of stopped trying many new ones. I do enjoy plain herbal teas such as nettle, dandelion, camomile, fennel and peppermint though.

I'm finding your blog really interesting Michi and may well have to reinvest some effort into a few new types, thank you for all the advice and inspiration so far.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #54 on: March 30, 2011, 01:29:17 PM »
One tip I've seen with making iced tea is to make a simple syrup (1c sugar, 1c water, heat to dissolve, cool slowly, then refrigerate) and keep that separate so that you can sweeten it to your personal taste without having to try to dissolve sugar in a cold liquid, or presweeten to a 'standard' taste.

Will have to try that. ^^

I must admit I'm not the most adventurous tea drinker, mainly because I have found so many that I dislike that I've kind of stopped trying many new ones. I do enjoy plain herbal teas such as nettle, dandelion, camomile, fennel and peppermint though.

I'm finding your blog really interesting Michi and may well have to reinvest some effort into a few new types, thank you for all the advice and inspiration so far.

I'll try any tea once. ^^ I do enjoy herbals very much, dandelion being my favorite. Hopefully I'll get a good gathering of chamomile this spring and summer to make tea with.

I am glad you're enjoying the blog. ^^

Offline darkangel76

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #55 on: March 30, 2011, 01:37:44 PM »
Michi, you know I'm loving this!!!

And I'm excited about the iced tea posts that will be coming up once summer is upon us! I'm from the north originally, so I'm an unsweetened tea drinker. Occasionally, I'll drink the sweet tea, but it's not all that often that I'll do that. I just prefer the unsweetened much more so.

Anyway, these past couple posts have been great! I really have to check out this TeaCo. I just buy the brands you can get in the stores like Bigelow, Stash, Twinings and Lipton. I will venture out to the Asian markets to get my plain green teas and ginger teas, however. Though I've yet to find a ginger tea that wasn't a powder. So, if you could do a post about that, that would be wonderful!!! Another would be plum tea. I've only ever found that in powder form at the Asian markets as well.

Great job!!!

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #56 on: March 30, 2011, 01:46:01 PM »
Actually, DA, TeaCo has Ginger Black Tea with bits of ginger mixed in with the leaves. ^^ Not sure how it is, but I'll put it on my list to at least try at their store...I'm not a big fan of black tea, so I usually just taste them at the store and debate whether I will drink it enough to actually buy it.

And it looks like The Repulic of Tea has a wild beery & plum tea and I found some loose leaf plum too...so that is most certainly on my list. ^^

I, unfortunately, do not have unlimited funds for buying teas, but I know I can make a lot of them at home (at least the none tea plant ones). I could make my own plum fruit tea when the stores get them in. ^^

Bigelow is a good store brand, I have nothing against them. ^^ If you can get Bigelow, it's a good quality tea.

Offline darkangel76

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #57 on: March 30, 2011, 01:50:36 PM »
OH! Even more reason for me to look into them. I have a feeling I'm going to have fun browsing their site. XD

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #58 on: March 30, 2011, 02:08:18 PM »
Like I said before, they are looking into making 'sample packs'. I look forward to them doing that. Hopefully every tea will be available in a sample size for the packs. That would be awesome. ^^

Offline darkangel76

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #59 on: March 30, 2011, 02:26:59 PM »
I will definitely be all over that when those come out! My goodness! Samples are great ways to try a tea, especially if you aren't sure. Though, I've more or less liked most of the teas I've tried. There are a few that aren't as good as others, but I'll drink most. Oddly, the one I cannot drink (and it's because of the smell, not the taste... and the Captain Picard fan in me dies a little because of this) is Earl Grey. >.<

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #60 on: March 30, 2011, 02:40:31 PM »
Michi, you know I'm loving this!!!

And I'm excited about the iced tea posts that will be coming up once summer is upon us! I'm from the north originally, so I'm an unsweetened tea drinker. Occasionally, I'll drink the sweet tea, but it's not all that often that I'll do that. I just prefer the unsweetened much more so.

Anyway, these past couple posts have been great! I really have to check out this TeaCo. I just buy the brands you can get in the stores like Bigelow, Stash, Twinings and Lipton. I will venture out to the Asian markets to get my plain green teas and ginger teas, however. Though I've yet to find a ginger tea that wasn't a powder. So, if you could do a post about that, that would be wonderful!!! Another would be plum tea. I've only ever found that in powder form at the Asian markets as well.

Great job!!!

I have made ginger tea by taking thin slices from fresh ginger root (a potato peeler works nicely for both stripping away the outer 'bark' and making the slices) and boiling to the desired intensity.  With roots and other 'hard' plant parts, boiling or powdering is about the only way of getting the flavor out of them.  Ginger root is commonly available in the produce section of large groceries.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #61 on: March 30, 2011, 02:43:49 PM »
I have made ginger tea by taking thin slices from fresh ginger root (a potato peeler works nicely for both stripping away the outer 'bark' and making the slices) and boiling to the desired intensity.  With roots and other 'hard' plant parts, boiling or powdering is about the only way of getting the flavor out of them.  Ginger root is commonly available in the produce section of large groceries.

I don't like ginger, nor do I have much love for black tea...but I might try that instead of the Ginger Black Tea.

Offline darkangel76

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #62 on: March 30, 2011, 03:26:58 PM »
Hrmm... that might be why I've only ever found it in powder form in the Asian markets. Very interesting. Thanks Oniya and Michi! <3

And I might give that a go, Oniya. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. :)

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #63 on: March 31, 2011, 07:17:22 AM »
As much as I love loose leaf and as much as I don't mind preparing it the 'slow' way, I love pyramid bags. I used my first pyramid bag in my Junior year of high school. A friend gave me a canister of Republic of Tea pyramid bags. For the first time I got to experience whole leaf tea without having to pluck it from my own garden or using a tea ball. I've found no article better for describing the change in shaping tea bags than this one. Be aware that this article has a lot of 'interviews' and quotes from tea company representatives.




Re-Defining Tea Bags - The New Shape
BY AMELIA C. LEVY

If you grew up in the United States, or in any of a number of industrialized nations, when someone says the word "tea" to you, visions of a flat paper bag filled with unidentifiable, dark, powdery substance, with a string attached to it by a staple, would inevitably flash through your mind. For many of us, tea, in terms of preparation, has never been anything but another beverage like soda or juice, except for the added step of dunking a bag into hot water. But as we move forward, we paradoxically look back to a time when what we consumed was more identifiable with the original product. Thus, there has been a growing popularity of whole leaf tea in the specialty market. But we still are unable (or unwilling) to take time out to follow the tradition of preparation, even if we love the taste of whole teas and herbs. So, like humans always do, we adjust, and find a happy medium: a teabag that can deliver a brewed whole leaf tea in not much more time it takes to crack open a can of soda pop.

Packers are finding that when unique sizes, shapes and materials are used for tea bags they can give the consumer the "best of both worlds" - they can use whole leaf teas and herbs with convenience, adding value and therefore allowing them to charge higher prices. But what are the challenges of these new technologies, and what do members of the industry feel about it? Are they really worth it or simply a waste of time, a passing fad? In such a traditional market as tea, equipment is set up for how it has been used for decades or more. We went around the world to find out how professionals from all sides of the industry feel.

We chose to focus on the hottest trend in teabags of the moment - pyramid shapes made with silky, food-grade nylon materials, with no glue or staples, and filled with whole leaf tea, fruit, flowers and herbs. A concept that was first launched by NASA/Fuso industries in Tokyo, Japan, in the 1980s especially for green tea, it took until now for the market mature to the point where a large enough group of consumers for it to be profitable were open to such an idea. Today the use of these new bags has exploded, to the point where most specialty packers have at least a segment of their line in a pyramidal shape and/or a nylon material - and changed the shape of the teabag industry.

"Until now the teabag market had been made with the conceptin mind that 'teabags are cheap and convenient.' But we think that the development of these new shapes and materials adds the new idea that teabags can deliver the real taste of tea," says Toshimasa Shiraishi, Manager/Sales, at Yamanaka Industries in Kyoto, Japan.

Tatsuya Hayashida of NASA Corporation says that since pyramid bags have more space inside than the traditional flat bags, it allows room for packers to put what they formerly put in tins, in teabags instead. "When you pack leaf tea in a pyramid bag and put the bag in boiled water, the tea leaf expands and circulates inside the bag, so you can extract very nice flavor from it. Our bag is transparent so it looks attractive to consumers and is better for extraction of tea." The woven mesh filter they use instead of paper has a faster hot water infusion because the size of the openings in the mesh is wider than paper, so that it can extract better taste and flavor. "So there is no need to cut the leaves down into small pieces, and one can enjoy the real taste and flavor of full tea leaves."

The specialty market in the U.S. has really taken advantage of being able to bring whole-leaf tea to consumers who appreciate it, but need a convenient way to enjoy it. Those who look for these types of teas tend to be the high-end, LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) consumer, and often they and the packers are analyzing the origins and ingredients of everything to do with the product. "We pack extremely high quality tea into our infusers, and are attracting very high quality customers," says Peter Hewitt of Tea Forte, a specialty packer in Massachusetts. Tea Forte's tea infusers are a tall pyramid shape, with a square flat bottom, designed with semi-rigid walls to hold whole leaf teas with large leaves, flowers, and herbs. "Our silken infusers [made of food-grade nylon] are filled by hand in the tea gardens of Asia, as to not disturb the fragile tea. We weave our own material to have the proper flow through properties, rigidity, and visual properties…They stand tall in the cup so that the tip of the infuser never dips under water. The string is natural cotton woven around a aluminum core. This flexible string insures that the string and label willnot dip into the water."

Republic of Tea, specialty tea packers in California, offers a line of "open and airy fine gossamer mesh pyramid tea bags that allow top-quality leaves to reach their full potential, unfurl, and expand for even and flavor-rich infusion," says Marideth Post, "Minister of Enlightenment" at Republic of Tea.

For at least the higher-end segment of the retail market, pyramid and nylon tea bags seem to be a great way for connoisseurs to enjoy without the convenience factor removed. This also holds true for higher-end restaurants and hotels. What better way to serve up fine quality tea without having to train staff and use up their valuable time? Nylon and pyramidal bags are indeed making a splash at these fine establishments. "Some restaurants and cafes don't have the resources or the staff to serve full-leaf tea in the traditional format, so this is an ideal solution," says Post.

While these innovative designs and materials attract customer's sense of taste and aesthetics, they also present challenges to everyone involved.

IMA is a manufacturer of teabag machinery in Italy. Paola Dalla Casa of IMA warns that new designs can be costly. "Any time a new teabag shape or design is required, a new machine has to be designed and manufactured. This involves a great economic commitment by the purchaser and a great resources commitment by the producer." He adds that one great limitation for machinery producers is that machines already dedicated to a certain packer (e.g. for a special shape) are almost always covered by exclusivity rights and therefore can't be placed on the market to be used by other customers.

Marc Broeking of Schoeller & Hoesch, manufacturer of teabag paper in Germany, warns that "Packaging machine characteristics typically bind manufacturers to a specific range of shapes. The machinery speed and the maximum utilization of paper rolls are economic factors for all designs of shapes." The production speed of pyramidal bag machines is considerably slower than the traditional single or double chamber bag machine, and due to the triangular shape, production scrap is increased, adding to the bill. The shape also uses up more packaging materials, says Volker Brueck, global sales manager at Teepack, a teabag machinery manufacturer based in Germany. "Therefore, production of these new shapes is less efficient and more expensive and may not be cost / price competitive to traditional tea bags."

However, Shiraishi says this price difference evens out in the end: "Since the triangular teabag is used for high-grade teabags, the slow production rate can be absorbed into benefit by higher prices."

NASA says another challenge in the manufacturing of the bags is that there are no sealing seams on a pyramidal bag. So they use an ultrasonic device (instead of a cutter and heater bar) to cut and seal the nylon and non-woven fabric.

While everyone we spoke with felt positive about the new innovations, manufacturers remained wary, sure that this will remain at least somewhat of a niche market, with the traditional bags making up the bulk of their business.

Volker of Teepack says: "The influence on the machine business may not be very dramatic, at least not at the moment. Only new bag shapes lead to a need for new machines. But only some packers see their chance to create or enter a profitable niche by going into a new bag shape. Many others try to innovate the tea, infusion or flavor, but stay with their established bag shapes."

Dalla Casa of IMA agrees: "Generally speaking, packers in the teabag sector stay with a standard teabag, which means in most cases with a double chamber one, and do not change their whole production very easily…They might decide to dedicate a small part of their production to a niche product, but they would always keep the standard teabag for the major market." Dalla Casa goes on: "The most innovative packages represent in most cases a luxury product which is with no doubt dedicated to a particular and small consumption."

Volker of Teepack feels similarly: "We see these new shapes as one of the tea packers' approaches to establish in profitable market niche…Tea business is still traditional, brand logos seem to be long lasting. However we monitor a steadily growing rate of product innovation in some markets, especially in central Europe." He adds: "We see [these shapes] more as the packers' tool to resist to the retailers' price pressure."

Broeking of Schoeller & Hoesch says that while his company "always supports manufacturers, especially brand companies, in looking for something special and extraordinary", he feels there are "no facts to go on for added value created by these atypical shapes" due to the extra cost.

"We do not see these new shapes as a mainstream change in the industry, but more of a temporary variation because packaging machine characteristics typically bind manufacturers to a specific range of shapes…[for us], the typical square size shape is the established design for teabags and it fulfills most of the demand of the market."

While there are obviously obstacles to change in an age-old industry, innovation is a part of our culture - and if it tastes better, is convenient, looks better, and is interesting and new, this trend is sure to play a role in the future of the tea industry. Says Teddy Treu Gronbech of Dansk Tefilter, a tea filter manufacturer in Denmark: "I know the tea filter market is growing due to the increasing interest in all sorts of loose tea... However, the teabag will always be there. As my grandfather once told me: 'Any investment in consumer convenience (laziness) will pay back.'"  -Source



Now, that article is from 2005. The tea market has obviously changed a bit since then. To the point where pyramid bags are much more readily available from a large number of companies. I can even find Lipton tea in pyramid bags now. Pyramid bags may never outsell the old, flat bags, but they are (thankfully) becoming more cheaply available on the market.

And, to point out, the flat bags and pyramid bags are not your only options. You can make your own bags or some are coming in 'square' or 'circle' shapes that just float in your water without a string. In fact, my next review is a Sleepytime tea that comes in a stringless, square shaped bag.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #64 on: March 31, 2011, 10:19:18 AM »
A utensil that I've found surprisingly useful in fishing out those stringless bags with a minimum of lost tea:  A fondue fork from that inevitable wedding gift. (Fondue pot has never been used, but damn, those little forks can come in handy some times!)  The bag sort of folds in half over the fork, dripping just a little bit without wringing out the tannins.

Offline crystaltears

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #65 on: March 31, 2011, 10:21:30 AM »
I loved the article, Michi. And.. unsurprisingly.. I'd never thought of the possibility even of having differently shaped tea bags! Thanks for sharing.  ;D

Offline Paradox

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #66 on: March 31, 2011, 10:21:39 AM »
I'm going to have to pick up some of these pyramid tea bags.

Do they make Egyptian tea in them too? Seems like the perfect combination.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #67 on: March 31, 2011, 10:29:24 AM »
A utensil that I've found surprisingly useful in fishing out those stringless bags with a minimum of lost tea:  A fondue fork from that inevitable wedding gift. (Fondue pot has never been used, but damn, those little forks can come in handy some times!)  The bag sort of folds in half over the fork, dripping just a little bit without wringing out the tannins.

We don't have a fondue fork, but I usually just grab them with a regular fork.
I loved the article, Michi. And.. unsurprisingly.. I'd never thought of the possibility even of having differently shaped tea bags! Thanks for sharing.  ;D

Glad you liked it. ^^ And yeah, when I first saw them I kind of stared at them questioningly too. :P

I'm going to have to pick up some of these pyramid tea bags.

Do they make Egyptian tea in them too? Seems like the perfect combination.

Like I said, most tea can be found in a pyramid bag these days (if you look hard enough). One of the teas we have in the cabinet that I'm going to 'review' is a Lipton tea in a pyramid bag. Bavarian Wild Berry Black Tea. As for Egyptian Tea *chuckles* not sure, you'll have to look that one up. :P


On another note...I've decided my next 'big' tea purchase is going to be Flowering Teas (which I need a glass teapot for to get the full effect). They start out as little, tightly wrapped balls of flowers and leaves and turn into this as it steeps:


Offline crystaltears

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #68 on: March 31, 2011, 10:31:13 AM »
On another note...I've decided my next 'big' tea purchase is going to be Flowering Teas (which I need a glass teapot for to get the full effect). They start out as little, tightly wrapped balls of flowers and leaves and turn into this as it steeps:



That... is so cool. Same premise as the sort where you see flowers in the bottom of tea cups, I suppose.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #69 on: March 31, 2011, 10:34:43 AM »
That... is so cool. Same premise as the sort where you see flowers in the bottom of tea cups, I suppose.

Actually it's the same exact thing. ^^ Flowering Teas/Blooming Teas can be put into a pot or into a cup. It blooms and flavors the water in your cup or pot and looks pretty while doing it. Supposedly they can be used more than once before losing their flavor (kind of how some tea leaves can be used for 2-3 cups before becoming bitter). I'll have to test that out when I get my hands on some. Amazon has a few 'sets' for them on their site. It comes with the flower balls, glass tea pot, and clear cup....I'll probably look into one of those.

As nice as they look, I'm not going to buy a bunch of them just for looks if they don't taste good too.

Offline crystaltears

Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #70 on: March 31, 2011, 10:43:40 AM »
It comes with the flower balls, glass tea pot, and clear cup....I'll probably look into one of those.

As nice as they look, I'm not going to buy a bunch of them just for looks if they don't taste good too.

That makes perfect sense to me. I'll look forward to that review. ^^

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #71 on: March 31, 2011, 10:47:10 AM »
That makes perfect sense to me. I'll look forward to that review. ^^

This one looks promising. It's not too expensive (I saw one listed for over $300!), and it's green tea with jasmine. Also, if I don't like the tea, I got a neat looking teapot. ^^

Primula Black 40-Ounce Teapot Set with Loose Tea Infuser and 3 Flowering Green Teas.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #72 on: April 01, 2011, 11:13:49 AM »
Tea Storage

Since Spring will, eventually and hopefully, be on us...that means that it's almost time for me to start getting out there and picking flowers and such for home made teas. For this, if you choose to do it as well, you'll need proper tea storage. Whether it be for loose leaf, bagged, or home made...proper storage is essential. Why? Because tea is suspected to 5 things: air, light, odor, heat, and moisture. When exposed to these elements for a long period of time, it will start to lose it's flavor and become stale.

To help prevent this, you will need something to store your tea in. The best place to store it would be in double-lidded, airtight tin canisters or ceramic containers. Another very important rule to remember is to always keep tea at cool and dry places. The most common tea storage are these types:


Anytime I buy a tea in these canisters and finish the tea inside, I wash it and keep it put away for when I need it for a homemade tea or a loose leaf that comes in a bag.

If you tend to buy more bagged tea than loose leaf, then a Wooden Tea Chest is always a nice option. Instead of having a bunch of little tea boxes laying around, you can organize all your bagged teas into one big box with different compartments for the bags:


You can find these in all sorts of wood and bamboo with as many as 2-24 compartments (each compartment holding any number of bags depending on the bag). And some places even offer hand-painted tea chests as well. But if that is not for you either, there are other options. Such as Wood Tea Caddies, which are the same as the canisters, but wood and has nice carvings. You can also get the caddies/canisters in silver, pewter, and brass. There are also tea tins and jars, some even made specifically for loose leaf. Not to mention porcelain.

Now, just because there are all these fancy, made-specifically for tea storage devices doesn't mean those are your only options. Anyone that watches Alton Brown's Good Eats knows that if you can find a multitasker kitchen tool, it's generally better than having an entire kitchen of single task items. Any air tight kitchen storage device can hold tea! Anyone still use these:


I bet you have at least one in your kitchen somewhere or at least your mother does/did. Those jars can hold damn near anything! So why not tea? I see no good reason not to throw your tea bags in there or your loose leaf or you hand picked leaves. Or why not these:



Tea storage is not complicated and it will help you in the long run. How? Ever found a box of tea in the back of your cabinet and decided 'Hey, I want some of that' and brewed a cup only to realize it tastes like stale garbage? If you properly stored it, it can last and keep it's flavor for up to 3 years. Also, putting it in a storage container usually means you're not going to shove it in the back of a cabinet to be lost forever. You're more likely to stick it next to your coffee tin or toaster (not everyone is like that, but that's been my experience).

In short...store your tea properly and you can enjoy it for years to come.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #73 on: April 01, 2011, 12:31:35 PM »
Ooh more useful tips, thanks hun :) This is a great blog so far, loving it.

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Re: Michi's Tea House
« Reply #74 on: April 02, 2011, 10:40:14 AM »
Celestial Sleepytime Tea

Quote
"In 1969, Celestial Seasonings began blending fresh herbs picked in the Rocky Mountains, transforming the best of nature into delicious and healthful teas. Today, our veteran team of tea experts source more than 100 varieties of the finest quality teas, herbs, spices and fruits from more than 35 different countries to craft our distinctive blends.

The comforting aroma and flavor of spearmint from the Pacific Northwest blends with soothing Egyptian chamomile to make this the perfect cup of tea for bedtime. The ingredients come from all over the world --and all over the world, generations have wound down their day with this classic blend. With herbal ingredients that have been soothing for centuries, Sleepytime helps you relax by blending the best of nature. There's no time like Sleepytime!

Blended in Boulder, Colorado." -Celestial

Ingredients: Chamomile, Spearmint, West Indian Lemongrass, Tilia Flowers, Blackberry Leaves, Orange blossoms, Hawthorn Berries, and Rosebuds.

"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." -Henry David Thoreau

First things first, if you look at the ingredient list for this tea you will notice that there are no rooibos or Camellia sinensis leaves. That is because this is a herbal tea, not a 'true' tea. It is not made from any parts of a tea plant or tea bush. In truth, even rooibos is considered more of a herbal tea than a true tea. Most herbal teas are made from fruit, flowers, and herbs. These are the kinds most people make when they make homemade teas, mostly because a camellia sinensis or rooibos plant would be rather difficult to grow in your backyard.

Since this is a sleepy time tea, that means it is caffeine free. Also, the great thing about it is that you can drink it during the day. There is no reason not to drink it. Unless you, like many people, find chamomile (or some spell it Camomile) to be sleep inducing. I am lucky enough that it does not do this to me and I can drink this wonderful brew all day long.

Camomile itself is a wonderful plant. For one, I think it's pretty. And if your yard is like mine, then you probably have wild camomile getting ready to poke it's little yellow buds through the ground. It looks like this. Not as attractive as the flowering camomile types, but it works just as well. When it comes to tea...camomile is camomile. Caffeine free camomile teas (whether it's blended with other stuff or not) is great for restlessness in children and flatulent related colic. It's also a good wash for open wounds or sores, though I don't recommend that. In nature, these flowers/buds can be seen blooming mostly in June and July, so keep your eye out.

This is my first bagged tea review, but the instructions are pretty much the same. Instead of 1 tsp of loose leaves, you're going to plop 1 bag of tea into your hot water and let it steep for 4-6 minutes. This tea doesn't really go 'bitter' if you let it sit too long or even if you squeeze the bag, but it does get cold and can give you that dry mouth feel.

The color is really nice for a bagged tea. It's a very lovely golden color. Almost as bright yellow as the camomile flower itself (though not the petals).

As for the taste and smell. Even though I feel the camomile is the real player in it being a sleepy time tea, the biggest scent and taste is the spearmint. Spearmint is, of course, a mint plant. The Mentha spicata plant. Spearmint, like many mints, is very fragrant and aromatic. It is also not very hard to grow. It can grow in full sun shine or the shade and likes wet soil, so if you can get your hands on some, go a head and stick it in your garden. The bright green color is always a nice addition and so is the lovely smell. Drinking this tea is like nibbling on a spearmint leaf (which you can do!). A neat little fact/being proven tidbit about spearmint tea is that it is used as a treatment for hirsutism in women.

The taste itself, other than the spearmint, is actually rather thick. It feels dense on your tongue as it goes down your throat. Personally, I wouldn't add anything to this tea, but honey wouldn't be bad. Also, since it doesn't have any tea leaves in it to get bitter, it does well if you drink it slow or iced.

Over all, this is a lovely tea. Not as good as fresh made or loose leaf camomile and spearmint tea, but a very good substitute and for use in a pinch. It's a nice way to unwind for the day. Sit with a nice, hot cup of sleepytime tea and a good book while cuddled up in a nice thick blanket after a hard day of work or dealing with a cold or rainy day...I can see nothing better than that.

This is a tea that shouldn't be too hard to find at your local grocery store, but if not you can easily get it on Amazon:

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime from Amazon.