Tea Blog

The Eternal Reality of Jiaogulan, China’s “Immortality” Herb Tea

Did you know? One day, you will die.

Technically, I will, too; but I will be immortalized through blogs.

But, in the immortal words of 5-year-olds everywhere, why must we die? And, in the words of evil magicians everywhere hell-bent on taking over the world, how can we postpone our obsolescence?

Well, tea readers, you’ve come to the right place. For not only do I have a partial answer to the first question, but I also have an equally unsatisfying answer to the second.

For the myriad contributors to aging – cells dying, reduced blood flow, kinks in the complex web of our viscera, etc. – stress is the universal amplifier. Ever resourceful, our bodies have adapted well to handle, with healthy living habits, the every-day stresses of life. But additional stressors like pollution, excessive physical activity, or drugs and alcohol push our bodies further out of equilibrium and beyond our bodies’ natural adaptable range.

A core role of medicine, Western or otherwise, is to help our bodies regain this equilibrium. Herbs that do this naturally are known as adaptogens.

Jiaogulan, like ginseng and ginkgo, is a powerful adaptogen known in its home region in China as the “Immortality Herb” for its uncommon ability to help the body regulate itself in response to all kinds of stressors. In the tea world, the Herb is prized for its mitigating effects (anecdotally and medically) on blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, white blood cell count, heart conditions, liver disorders, and others. And modern medicine is further researching its effects on a wide range of conditions, including obesity.

But jiaogulan also shares some properties with tea as a powerful antioxidant.

You may have heard about free radicals, those pesky byproducts of our metabolism that scavenge electrons from (oxidize) healthy cells, thereby contributing to cancer, diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, and more. More stress means more free radicals.

They are also major players in the aging process: more free radicals mean faster aging.

Our bodies naturally produce the cleverly named anti­oxidants that hunt down free radicals throughout our lives. As we age, we naturally produce fewer antioxidants, while teas like jiaogulan help our bodies to produce more.

So you may not live forever, but a regular cup of jiaogulan tea might help you get just a little bit closer!

And, if nothing else, jiaogulan tea tastes heavenly.

See what I did there? We may not survive, but bad jokes are forever.

Peter McDonough

The Difference Between a Tea Pot and a Gaiwan

This spring Lake Missoula Tea Company looked at the differences between western style brewing with a tea pot versus using a gaiwan, or gong fu style brewing.  The latter can be thought of as eastern style brewing.  I could rehash a comparison, but in our research to describe the differences, we came across a great article.  I highly recommend reading the article Gongfu- (Eastern-) versus Western-Style Tea Brewing — What’s better?  hosted by teasprout.com.

The author makes two two strong points between eastern and western style of tea brewing.

One, if you don’t have a lot of tea or time, use a tea pot (western style).  You will use less tea and time and make more tea.  You can sip and savor your cup of tea.  Or, if don’t have time to sit and sip, take your tea on the go with you if needed.

Two, if you have time and want to experience the changes in tea with subsequent steeps, take the gonfu (eastern style) approach.  You will use more tea and take more time.  You will brew small amounts at a time, adding more time to each additional steeping.  Taking this tea on the go isn’t practical, but is fun to have with friends and is more hands on.

So, if you have time and want a hands on approach to drinking tea, go eastern style.  Or, if you have errands to run and work to do, make a pot of tea and take it with you, the western style way.

Heather Kreilick

Chai is Tea in Pakistan

This spring Lake Missoula Tea Company highlights global tea cultures.  This fits nicely with Zenith Khan’s (with Lake Missoula Tea Company) visit to Pakistan:

Lok Virsa is an establishment within the capital city of Islamabad that focuses on preserving and promoting cultural and traditional folk heritage. It consists of various small shops that carry a variety of artwork, handicrafts, clothing and food. There are a number of small museums, performance stages and gardens throughout the area for people to enjoy. A small outdoor restaurant sits just behind a set of shops which particularly caught my eye. All of the cooking and food preparation is done outside in front of passersby. The seating consists of two charpais (woven bed frames) per table. Charpais are a very traditional type of bed that are still used today, mostly in villages, and are a popular choice because of how cheap and easy to transport they are.

After ordering a hearty meal of flat bread (or roti) and spinach with mustard seed, we ordered two cups of their chai. Our decision was made easy by the fact that this was the only tea they served. This type of chai was a doodh pati chai which is the standard black tea with milk and sugar that’s cooked over a fire. The tea was served in small ceramic bowls (approximately 6oz) alongside two kinds of sugar: granulated white sugar and the cane sugar known as gur (or jaggery). Despite the restaurant being very lowkey and almost rundown, this tea was some of the best I’d had yet. It completely embodied the taste, smell and essence of a traditional Pakistani doodh pati chai. The tea had a very creamy body to it, thanks to the fresh full cream milk they use. It also had the particular taste of just the right amount of cardamom, which adds warmth and a little depth of flavor. To top it all off, a cup of tea cost 25 cents.

Bredemeijer on our Shelves

Bredemeijer on our Shelves

Bredemeijer on our Shelves – we are proud to carry this tried and true Dutch brand on our shelves. Established in 1914, Bredemeijer offers a line of tea ware with exquisite aesthetics and function. We currently carry copper cosy and stainless steel cosy tea pots. Both the copper and stainless steel cosies are removable with a white, ceramic tea pot underneath. We also have grey ceramic and cast iron tea pots from Bredemeijer. Check out this century old line of tea ware at our tea shop in Missoula, Montana!

Bredemeijer in Missoula
Bredemeijer in Missoula

How do you brew – On the road without a tea strainer?

Ah, the wisp of steam from the cup as you strain the last drop of tea from the leaf. You brew with your teapot or brewer at home, and your tea system is undoubtedly perfected to make the perfect cup for you. In your own space….

But how do you get your fix while on the road? or globetrotting for fun and or business? You find yourself 10 or 1,000 miles from home and realize you’ve either forgotten your tea, on the road tea strainer, travelling tea set, or tea to go mug…at home. Many a traveler has overcome this challenge using the environment and resources they find themselves in.

If your travels take you to a culture that drinks tea regularily, then your tea craving is easily met. Popping into caffes, tea shops and even pubs can fulfill your tea fix while enjoying the ambiance designed for the perfect tea drinking experience.

But find yourself in a culture or place that sips coffee, yerba mate, rooibos or some other non-tea beverage, and you need to get creative! If you forgot your tea, you’ll need to resort to bagged tea. If you have your tea but no brewing vessel, the options are as boundless as your imagination. Two paper cups and use the lid to strain your tea. A saucepan, cup, and spaghetti strainer. A saucepan, cup and sieve. Hotel pan and and strainer. Just a cup, no strainer.

How do you brew, on the road without a strainer?

Warning, images may not be aesthetically pleasing!

by Heather Kreilick

Thank you for a swell year in tea and Happy New Year!

Thank you tea lovers for a fabulous year in tea for 2017!  We are sincerely grateful for your love of tea and using us as your tea source.  Lake Missoula Tea Company is excited for what the new year will bring with tea.  We are enthusiastic about new teas and blends we plan to bring to the menu.  Cheers to you, LMTC, fabulous tea and the New Year 2018!

Partners with the Colombian Tea Farm

We are proud partners with Bitaco Tea, the Colombian tea farm north of Cali, Colombia!  A visit to Missoula, Montana from Andres Velasco, Bitaco Tea CEO, and Santiago Gonzalez, Bitaco Tea International Sales, solidified this relationship.  Lake Missoula Tea Company has sold four varieties of their tea for the last few years.  In addition to retailing Colombian tea and selling regionally, we now sell an expanded line of Colombian teas and distribute their tea to small to mid sized tea companies, coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores.

Learn more about Colombian teas and the farm.  Interested in selling Colombian tea?  Create your WHOLESALE ACCOUNT or email [email protected] or call 406-529-9477.

Missoula is Falling in Love with Tea

Missoula is falling in love with tea, what do we mean by that?  Well, after five years, we’ve noticed a remarkable increase of cups of tea served at the tea bar.  This includes glasses of chilled tea, top shelf teas, matcha, tea and scones, teas at the market at our booth, and our House Chai.  And of course a cup of tea!

Not only are Missoulians drinking more tea, but they have a lot of patience, too.   As many of you know, a cup of tea usually takes about 3 minutes to brew, and sometimes it can take as long as 7 or 10 minutes.

This graph only shows the cups at our tea bar.  It doesn’t account for the many cups of Lake Missoula Tea Co tea consumed all over town!

Some of you were already in love, and some have taken it slowly, while others have been swept off their feet.  However you arrived, we are committed to a long term relationship and love you all back!

Tea Drunk, Really a Thing (sort of…)

Hey… Hey man. Look, I jusgottasay… I love youguys. Yer really great, you know? Yer, like, SO great, I love you, man. Hey! You know whaweshoudo? Dude! We should… we should getsome TEA! Lesgetsome TEA!

Ok, so maybe this isn’t exactly what “tea drunk” looks like, but there is some truth to the term! Under the right conditions (including a good meal beforehand), drinking enough tea can give the sensation of having a couple glasses of wine.

The inebriated reality of “tea drunk” lies at the root of what separates tea from, say, coffee, or any other caffeinated drink. Caffeine by itself produces a sharp rise and then precipitous drop in energy, which is why many coffee drinkers become accustomed to drinking regularly throughout a work day, and others can become addicted. It can sometimes feel like the jittery, bubbly feeling associated with being tipsy.

But this isn’t what we’re talking about.

What makes tea different from other beverages is L-Theanine, a compound first found in green tea that gives it that savory quality and tempers the effects of caffeine. It is also at the root of “tea drunk.” Theanine is known to reduce mental and physical stress, promote “wakeful relaxation” and, in conjunction with caffeine, boost your mood.

Sound familiar?

So whether you stop by the tea bar to sip a smooth Earl Grey or slam some shots of Puerh, we just want you to know… we love you guys. Like, SOOO much.

Lesgetsome TEA!

by Peter McDonough

Cacao Kisses or Cocoa Kisses Tea – what’s the difference?

We recently added Cacao Kisses, a new Colombian blend, to our tea list.  Cacao Kisses is a blend of Colombian black tea with cacao nibs and cacao husks.

This new blend took me on a little chocolate lesson.  I didn’t know if cacao and cocoa were the same thing.  It turns out they are and they aren’t.  Cocoa comes from the cacao tree.  Cocoa is made by heating the cacao bean at a very high temperature.  The heat creates a sweet version of cacao.  On the other hand, cacao has a slightly bitter edge.

You may have heard that cacao is very healthy for you – that’s tue – it’s another plant that provides tons of antioxidants and is referred to as a Superfood.  However, cocoa, or the heated version of cacao, doesn’t carry as much of an antioxidant punch because some of its nutrients are lost in the heating process.

All of the Colombian tea blends integrate ingredients from Colombia.  Cacao Kisses uses cacao from Tumaco, a port city in northern Colombia.  Tumaco is world reknown for it’s cacao and cocoa products.

Keep this in mind as you sip Cacao Kisses, notice the play of sweet black tea with the whisper of bittersweet cacao.

Learn more about our Colombian teas.