One of the many things I love about working with my colleagues here at Romantic Homes is that everyone here appreciates a good cup of tea. One beloved staff member even keeps a little collection of beautiful china cups in the office, and she will perk up your work day with a hot cup of tea when she sees you looking stressed.
While visiting the International Home & Housewares show recently in blustery Chicago, I was pleased to meet some folks from Adagio Teas. They gave me a nice warm cup of peach oolong and encouraged me to visit their tea class blog when I returned home.
I did visit the blog, and it’s a great place for tea lovers to hang out and become full-fledged tea aficionados. Here are 10 fun facts about tea to perk up the conversation at your next tea party.
1. Tea is good for you. Among other things, it contains “polyphenols”—antioxidants that repair cells and in doing so, may help our bodies fight help us fend off cardiovascular diseases, cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus and other maladies. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just green tea that’s good for you. Black, white, and red tea also have health-giving flavonoids and polyphenols.
2. It takes around 2,000 tiny leaves to make just one pound of finished tea. Tea plants grow wild in parts of Asia, but it can also be farmed. The very best tea comes from high elevations and is hand-picked.
3. Some tea grows in the United States. There is an island tea plantation off the coast of South Carolina and also in Hawaii.
4. You are less likely to get a “caffeine crash” when you drink tea (as opposed to soda or coffee). Why? The high levels of antioxidants in tea slow the absorption of caffeine, which results in a gentler increase caffeine in your system and a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.
5. Do you store your tea near your coffee or in your spice cabinet? Don’t. Store your tea away from “strong, competing aromas” so that you keep the tea’s own delicate flavors intact.
6. Americans tasted their first “iced tea” at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Originally, exhibiting tea merchant Richard Blechynden had planned to give away free samples of his hot tea to attendees. But when a heat wave hit, no one was interested. Parched from the temperature, visitors would pass his booth in search of a cooler refreshment. To save his investment of time and travel, he dumped a load of ice into the brewed tea and served the first iced tea. It was (along with the Egyptian fan dancer) the hit of the Fair, according to the Tea Class blog.
7. Some tea lovers ponder ideal food-and-tea pairings, just as wine lovers pair food and wine. For your next tea party, check out the suggested pairings on this page.
8. To steep the perfect cup of tea, timing is crucial. And ideal steeping times vary depending on what variety of tea you’re making. For black tea, steeping time is 3-5 minutes. For other steeping times for other varieties, go here.
9. People were using ceramic teapots 11,000 ago in Asia and the Middle East. Tea didn’t reach most Europeans until the late 16th century.
10. Genuine “Darjeeling” tea is grown in an area of India at the foot of the Himalayas that’s less than 70 square miles large. For this reason, Darjeeling is highly prized and known as the “Champagne of teas.”
By Erin Mascercola