Australian International Tea Expo – It’s almost here!

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Hey everyone! If you haven’t already heard, we are currently in the throws of organising the first ever Australian International Tea Expo!

Of course, with this massive event comes a few sacrifices to our other commitments, one being this lovely little blog. So we apologise for our lack of activity these past months.

Everything is slowly coming together for the Expo – we have sold nearly all our exhibitor stalls and all our activities are slowly getting confirmed and prepared. Time is ticking away and we know it is still going to be a mad rush to the finish line but it will all be worth it in the end; the first year is always the hardest, we’ve just got to make sure it is a massive success!

We have some many amazing Exhibitors for the event, who will be showcasing off teas from all around the world!

The classes are filling up slowly and we are looking forward to teaching everyone how complex and amazing tea is.

That’s all we really have to say right now, we will try to give a few more updates in the coming months (If we get a spare second!)

So, fellow readers, if you are planning to be in Australia, or near Geelong around October, please make sure to attend our expo – it is going to be brilliant!

http://australianteaexpo.com.au/

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Australian Tea Expo website is up!

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Exciting news! Our website for our upcoming event in October is now up! Please check it out and read all about our event. You can now purchase tickets, book into classes, register as an exhibitor, submit an entry into the Golden Leaf Awards and lots more! http://www.australianteaexpo.com.au

Orange Pekoe is Not Supposed to Taste Like Oranges

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If you’re at all interested in tea, you’ve probably heard the term ‘orange pekoe’ (or OP) before. This is a tea grade; for instance, a tea may also be graded Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (or FTGFOP), which is one of the highest grades a tea can achieve (which is probably why FTGFOP is sometimes known instead as ‘Far Too Good For Ordinary People).

Interestingly, and rather contrary to what some will tell you, orange pekoe doesn’t have anything to do with orange notes, orange flavouring, or any oranges at all. It is instead a quirk of language use, and actually only tells us that the tea is a basic medium-leaf variety of average quality. Teas carrying this grade are plain tea; the herbs that may have been combined with them later are not a part of this grading system, and have no effect on the overall grade of the lone tea.

This grading system is used for the tea trade that occurs in the West, and applies mostly to teas that have been grown in current and former British colonies such as Sri Lanka and India. Black teas are the only types of tea that use this system. It is relatively unknown in most parts of China.

The term ‘pekoe’ refers to silver downy hairs found on both the buds of camellia sinensis, and the leaves. It is possible that it originated as a mispronunciation of the Chinese word that was used for a tea called “white down”. ‘Orange’ seems to have come from either the fact that finished black tea can have a bright orange tinge to it, or due to the Dutch marketing the tea as orange when they transported it to Europe, so as to make the tea sound royal (after the House of Oranje Nassau).

 

Tea for Stress: Caught up in Cortisol

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Tea has long been known as a sort of meditative drink.

Focus and attention span are very relevant topics in our currently busy days and lives; often we bustle about so much that we are doomed to forget the simple joys of just sitting and thinking, perhaps, yes indeed, with a cup of tea in hand. Tea is neither a boisterous nor abrasive drink, but instead is good at promoting alertness, a sense of calm and relaxation.

Perhaps we could stress a little less if we all took that ten minutes, every so often, to sit down, close our eyes, and drink up that warm, beautiful taste.

In any case, I’d like to take a moment to talk about a hormone called cortisol. As many of you may already know (especially those of you involved in sciences to do with the human brain and body, or who have suffered from an anxiety disorder), cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. Your body releases cortisol in stressful situations to help you deal with the problem; for instance, it will cause a function called gluconeogenesis, which increases your current blood sugar so that you have more energy to work with than in normal situations. It also gives you the typical “stressful” mental state.

However, our current lives are a breeding ground for cortisol, and as anyone with an anxiety disorder will tell you, too much stress is never any fun. Excess anxiety can both be caused by and result in cortisol release, and once in this state even small events can cause distress. Many Westerners who have no such disorder still present higher levels of stress than they should, simply because of the current complexity and speed of the western lifestyle.

Now, here’s something interesting; several studies have shown that tea, both green and black, can help reduce cortisol production in stressful situations. Although the affect is minimal, every bit of reduced cortisol production can benefit those that suffer from having too much of the hormone, and should be considered.

This affect, however, may not even be tea’s greatest asset towards stress reduction. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, tea is a meditative, zen-like drink. Meditation, or at the very least quiet reflection, has shown to be helpful in people suffering from anxiety, and tea is the perfect drink to promote both of these. The caffeine in tea helps keep the mind alert, while the action of drinking keeps you from annoying, distracting actions like fidgeting.

Maybe it’s time you sat down and took a step back from life?

Longing for an Oolong

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Oolongs are an interesting breed of tea.

Many tea drinkers have only heard of “Black” tea, “Green” tea, and herbals, as that is simply what is stocked most commonly on the supermarket shelves. But there’s another extremely viable, extremely delicious form of tea that everyone should appreciate at least once in their lives: oolong tea.

Oolong teas are a vibrant in-between of green tea and black tea, offering qualities of both but never reaching either’s extremes. The reasoning for this lies in the process used to create oolong teas.

When the camellia sinensis (tea) leaves are picked off the bush, they are subjected to a process that gradually (or sometimes very rapidly) increases the oxidation levels in the leaves. Green tea is usually described as unoxidised or very lightly oxidised; typically the levels are very low or non-existent. Black tea, on the other hand, has been fully oxidised, which gives it its blackened colour and fuller taste.

So where does this leave oolong tea?

Oolong tea is right in the middle of green tea and black tea on the oxidation chart. It encompasses a wide range of oxidation percentages and can have more characteristics of green tea, or more characteristics of black tea, as a result. Typically, increasing the oxidation level of a tea will lower its catechin count and increase its caffeine levels.

Taiwan and China are especially famous for their oolong teas, and produce a large range for consumers to pick through. Some are among the most highly revered teas in the world.

Exhibitor Registration – Melbourne Tea Fair

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Exciting news regarding the 2014 Melbourne Tea Fair – Exhibitor Registration is now open! You can download your Exhibitor Registration Form and Exhibitor Information Package from our website, at http://australianteamasters.com.au/blog/melbourne-tea-fair

Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity! Exhibitor registration closes on July 18, 2014.

No Cup Like Home

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If you are lucky enough to explore the world, why not explore the world of tea? There are so many different types of teas you can try. I don’t mean just black, green, puerh, oolongs or white teas (or even yellow, blue or red teas). Try a first or second flush Darjeeling from India, a high grown tea from Ceylon, silver tips from China or an oolong from Taiwan.

Try to avoid flavoured teas as they don’t allow you to taste the real essence of tea you are trying. Each tea has it’s own natural flavour profile.   Next time you go for something new, close your eyes and inhale the smell of the dry leaf, and then the wet. Drink in the aroma of the steaming cup of choice before you taste it. What can you smell? Do you notice any stone fruits or a nutty roasted flavour? Is it sweet or savoury? Now taste it. Does it taste the same as it smells?

If you are feeling adventurous, try a tea type you have never tried. On a recent trip to Europe I discovered a white Darjeeling – the flavour was so delicate with hints of peach and the leaves were downy and soft. It was so refreshing and light but full-bodied at the same time if that could be possible. It was wonderful to try something new. Discover your own new favourites. Or if you’d prefer to stick to something similar to what you are used too, perhaps just go for another type of black tea. How about a Keemun, Assam, Nilgiri or Yunnan?

Having discovered several new teas on my travels, it was even more delightful to come home to my usual daily cup.

Hint: Next time when you are out and about I encourage you to try something different. Ask for a loose leaf, and go for something you wouldn’t normally have. It makes your favourite cup of tea at home all the more special.

 

Words and image contributed by Tea Master, Suzi van Middelkoop from Tea by the Sea.

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