A confluence of events of the past several weeks has led me to be increasingly interested in teas. I've been taking a pretty simple approach so far - water off the boil into a mug containing a tea bag... steep using "the force" or until I remember to remove the bag. I know I'm missing a lot though. Does anyone have a great web resource that discusses 101 level stuff using loose tea?
Incidentally, if you haven't looked it over, there's a really great teahouse profile in this month's Fresh Cup magazine... the discussion of the shop's "organic" feel and method of growth I think has applications in coffeehouses as well.
There's an entire world surrounding the preparation/storage/growth of tea. We sell fantastic loose leaf tea at our cafe, and the company that supplies our teas provides us with a wide variety. As far online tea resources, wikipedia really does give a very good beginners guide to preparation. Really, tea is just as much if not more delicate than coffee. Using loose leaf tea will increase the flavor (as opposed to the mostly powdered tea in teabags) and the best to brew by far is using a tea brewer. Its basically the french press equivalent for tea. I started drinking tea last year after avoiding it for most of my life because hot, flavorless water that kind of smelled alright wasn't very appealing. But, just like coffee, learning the proper ritual and methods for brewing opened up a whole new world. The organic and green correlations between coffee and tea are undeniable. I personally think selling high quality and organic tea can only help even the most well-established coffeeshop. Good luck with everything and message me if you'd like a list of books on tea that were particularly helpful for me
We exhibit at the World Tea Expo every year and there is a lot to learn about tea! I do participate in a tea based forum on Yahoo Groups - Tea Online that may have some help or at least steer you in the right direction.
Also, I would look at https://secure.worldsourceintl.com/index.htm. This is a web site for Zhong Guo Cha - they are importers of tea. I believe that Phil (one of the owners) is an instructor at the Specialty Tea Institute as well. Also checkout www.seattleteacup.com - this is another customer of ours that is big in the tea world and I think they have quite a bit on the website.
Tea can be pretty fascinating and I think it is a great addition to stores.
Just stopped by Tea Rex, an 11-year-old tea house here in Charlotte, for the first time today at the recommendation of one of my favorite customers. My entourage had a couple of good cups. The tea dude (what do you call a tea bartender?) Chris was very knowledgeable and helpful. Here's a link to their site's tea FAQ which has a very straightforward set of brew parameters for each type: http://www.tearex.com/teafaqs.html
Hope you all are having a good Christmas Eve. Best wishes for a safe and fun rest of the holiday season.
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