Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Introduction to My Tea Snobbery...

One might ask why I am qualified to be a tea snob. Really, anyone who drinks tea on a regular basis might be a self proclaimed tea snob. Frankly though, most people who drink tea don’t know a thing about it. What qualifies me to be a tea snob is that I worked at Teavana off and on for three years. Maybe you are uninformed about the tea world and have never heard of Teavana, maybe you just don’t give a crap about tea, or maybe it’s your favorite store in the entire world. Whatever the case, Teavana is the Mecca of tea. Yes, it is a corporate chain and filled with all the bullshit of a commission based sales team, business plans and managers that make you question the decency of human beings. It is also a place where you can find over 100 different flavors of tea and a sales staff that is knowledgeable about their product. Staff are trained via the store manual, complete with three stage testing system to guarantee the staff’s familiarity with the tea and tea merchandise that they sells. For those employees that are interested in furthering their knowledge Teavana sells several books on the subjects, one of which is provided to staff upon completion of their tests.

For me personally, I loved getting the share my knowledge of tea with the clientele. I have been drinking tea off and on for years and Teavana just cemented my love for the tea. It also reminded me of why I never want to work in retail, especially in a commission based position. Aside from all the corporate and managerial bull shit, I still enjoyed my time there and feel that I have a vast knowledge of tea and tea merchandise. I’ll try not to sell you any teapots, but I can’t promise anything.

Now to share some sweet tea facts with you;

Tea Fact #1: All true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensus.

The difference between white, green, black and oolong tea is how the leaves of the plant are processed. In the order listed, they are each processed slightly more, gaining caffeine along the way. In white tea, the leaves are simply picked and dried and have almost no caffeine. Black tea is picked, withered, rolled, fermented and fired to stop the fermentation process and dry the leaves. A cup of black tea contains as much as 20% of the caffeine of a cup of coffee.

Tea Fact #2: Herbal teas contain no tea!

That’s what makes them herbal, the fact that they are made from herbs and other things including dried fruit. They typically contain no caffeine, unless your tea is made with guarana or red bull and vodka.

Tea Fact #3: Drinking black tea with milk in it may reduce its potential health benefits.

Catechin is a compound found in black tea that is thought to help promote heart health. The casein proteins in animal milk bind to catechins, making them less potent.

Sometimes, you just need a cup of tea with cream and sugar in it, but if you can’t enjoy your tea without it, you’re missing out. A good tea can be just as complex as any wine and far more temperamental than coffee when it comes to brewing.

If your tea tastes bitter, you’re doing it wrong.