In just the few short weeks since our last newsletter went out, the world has become a very different place for many of us. While our operations continue to push ahead (see our COVID-19 message), we are reminded each and every day of the impact this pandemic is having on our customers, supply chains and so many of our valued wholesale clients who have been forced to take unprecedented measures to “flatten the curve,” protect staff and local communities. The road ahead is long and, for many, difficult to envision.
During this unique time, each of us is given an opportunity to identify and celebrate the things for which we still own control. Often, these are routines and rituals. Most of all, they can be things that are simple and accessible. For me, tea is one of those things I can turn to for comfort and familiarity.
Regardless of the day’s headlines, feelings of isolation or uncertainty, my day can still begin with the practice of whisking up a bowl of healthful matcha. The moments of whisking are tactile, productive and familiar. Then, I can embrace the warm bowl, take in the aroma, and sip the drink that, for me, begins most every other day of the year. For you, it might be a cup of tea and a brief read or time for reflection. And if tea is not yet part of your regular routine, perhaps this is a great time to introduce such a healthy moment into your daily routine.
Thank you for being part of our Modern Steep family. Please read on for other updates and tea tips. Be well. Christopher
Tea Spotlight: Super Anti-Ox
Categorized as one of our “wellness” teas, Super Anti-Ox is our custom blend of organic white tea, pomegranate, blueberry, sage, rosehips, cornflower, safflower and astragalus.
White tea, the least processed of all tea types, has been the focus of numerous research studies, especially as it relates to health. White tea has demonstrated slightly greater potential than other tea types in regard to antimicrobial properties known to fight infection, properties to reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and protect or enhance immunity. Even more telling are studies calling white tea a powerful anti-oxidant that fights and kills cancer-causing cells – more so than any other type of tea.*
In addition to beneficial white tea leaves, Super Anti-Ox is composed of ingredients sought for their powerful antioxidant properties, many of which have been used for thousands of years in Chinese and/or Ayurvedic medicine. Great tasting blueberries are loaded with anthocyanin, a flavonoid with strong antioxidant effects. Sage, a natural diuretic and stimulant for both the liver and kidneys, helps to eliminate toxins through urination. Sage also contains several powerful antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenolic acids, as well as antioxidant enzymes. Rosehips are a source of vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenols and catechins. Safflower petals are another source of antioxidants used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Astragalus root has been used as an immunity booster in various traditional remedies. It contains high concentrations of flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides, which provide strong antioxidant protection.
Once brewed, Super Anti-Ox has a slightly fruity taste with a subtle sweet earthiness. The blend is fairly low in caffeine and, for many, can be enjoyed at any time of day.
*Source: Pacific College of Health & Science
It's All in the Bubbles
A Guide to Heating Water
Proper water temperature during the steeping process can make or break your tea tasting experience. For those with a programmable kettle, it's easy to reach the optimal temperature for brewing. For the rest of us, there are other methods using visual (and aural) methods, as such:
Tiny Bubbles 160-170 F Degrees
Pinhead, “shrimp eye” sized bubbles beginning to rise to the surface and pop.
This range is ideal for delicate green teas such as Gyokuro, Kabuse, and Sencha.
Getting Bigger 175 F Degrees
Bubbles the size of crab eyes that rise and emit small wisps of steam.
This temperature is often recommended for many Chinese green teas, twisted (not tightly rolled) lighter style oolongs and delicate white teas.
Fish Eyes 180 F Degees
Bubbles the size of small pearls, rising steam and the start of “noise” from the kettle.
Use 180-185 Degrees for many oolongs, white teas, and more robust green teas such as gunpowder.
Rope of Pearls 200-205 F Degrees
Bubbles are streaming to the top of the pot but not at a rapid boil.
This is generally our recommended stopping point for most herbal, black and shou-style pu-erh teas.
The Boil and Rest Method
Another method for achieving the optimal tea brewing water temperature is the Boil and Rest process. After reaching a full boil, turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the water rest for a specific amount of time to reach the desired temperature.
1 Minute Rest = 195-205 F
2 Minute Rest = 180-190 F
3 Minute Rest = 170-180 F
5 Minute Rest = 160-170 F
Tea Travel Update
Spring is generally a very special time in the life of tea growers and makers. It is also an incredible opportunity for us to travel to tea growing regions in celebration of the first flush (initial spring harvest) during which the most prized teas are picked and enter production. However, due to current restrictions and advisories regarding travel due to COVID-19, we have had to cancel our visit with tea makers in Japan originally scheduled for mid-April.
We are happy to report, however, that our friends there are doing quite well with no reported illness in their somewhat remote communities. We do look forward to receiving samples as they become available and hope to re-schedule the trip once things return to more normal conditions. As for our planned trip to film on location in Nepal this summer, the verdict is still out at the moment as they currently experience a full shut down of work and other activities. We will certainly be keeping a mindful watch of the situation in that part of the world over the next few months. If nothing else, this is reminder that we're all in this together, regardless of borders, age or political belief.
"Ah Ha" Moments
In our March 2020 Newsletter, we introduced two of our newest teas, Dragonwell Qing Ming and Huangshan Mao Feng. Choosing new teas for our collection is no easy feat as there are simply thousands upon thousands of teas made around the world to consider. After checking for organic certification, sourcing ease, pricing and such, we then put our taste buds to work. This is where things get serious! We estimate that only about 2-3% of the teas we sample will ever make it to our menu. And, for those that make the cut, the tasting experience is usually one of those fun “Ah Ha” moments!
Given the amount of work preceding the intro of new teas, we’re thrilled to then see orders come in. Even more exciting is receiving positive feedback from folks after they, too, experience the joy of tasting something new and delicious. With that, we have been riding on cloud nine with feedback received thus far on the new Dragonwell and Mao Feng teas over the past couple of weeks. Thank you for sharing such kind words!
We continue to fill orders each day while being sincerely grateful for our wonderful supporters like you. We wish you all the best as you work to stay healthy and to protect others in the community. As always, thanks for reading. Now we invite you to enjoy a calming, healthful cup of tea!