Greetings from Modern Steep! With our customers spread across at least 48 states, we know this year continues to pose numerous challenges given the continued spread of COVID-19, ongoing civil unrest, political quandaries, weather-related concerns, and more. One thing we’ve learned is that we must continue to take care of ourselves both physically and emotionally.
We have heard from so many of you over the past several months sharing how the simple act of brewing a cup of tea or whisking up a bowl of matcha can provide a sense of comfort and allow for a few calming moments. I can certainly appreciate the sense of tranquility that comes from a walk in the woods, sitting down with a good book, or embracing the all-familiar cup of tea that starts most every day of my life. Whatever your method of finding solace or healing, I wish you a safe and healthy summer and thank you for your continued support.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does that mean for videos? While we don’t have an exact number, we’re hoping they mean a lot. And, for that reason, we have posted a couple of new and very brief videos on our website over the past few weeks. You’re invited to watch some of our newest 1-minute vids on the subject of tea brewing.
- Quick & Simple Iced Tea
- How to Brew Tea in a French (Coffee) Press (which we plan to have back in stock this month)
- Brewing Loose Leaf Tea with an Infuser
We will add more videos over time as we aim to further illustrate the many ways one can easily brew up great tea at home. Also coming is an education page featuring videos focused on various aspects of tea cultivation, tea making and health benefits. If there are subjects you'd like to see highlighted, please send in your suggestions! And, as they say, Stay Tuned.
It's Here: Old Bush Yunnan
Last month we introduced a new item in our black tea category, Old Bush Yunnan. We’re pleased to let you know of its recent arrival and availability. It is another beautiful tea from the Yunnan Province – the acclaimed birthplace of tea. Old Bush Yunnan features full-sized, handpicked leaves with plenty of golden tips. It is a full bodied brew having bold flavor with gentle tannins and low astringency and offers up a hint of honey sweetness. We invite you to read more about it and experience it for yourself.
Tea Talk: What are Tannins?
Those familiar with wine are likely familiar with the term, Tannin. Tannins make their way to a glass of red wine by way of grape skins, seeds and stems and some tannins are derived via oak barrels. Tannins are often associated with astringency and add to the mouthfeel and texture of wine. Tannins can create a drying sensation. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds, called polyphenols. Tannins in wine tend to soften with age and are said to help wine hold up to aging when balanced well from the beginning. In addition to wine, you’ll also find tannins noticeably present in dark chocolate, cinnamon, walnuts, and yes, tea.
In tea, the presence of tannins is most noticeable in heavily oxidized black teas. And, tannins tend to become more present as bitterness the longer the leaves are steeped. While research on the health effects of tannins in tea is relatively young, early research suggests that tannins possess benefits similar to other types of polyphenols by providing anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties.*
Tannins are less present and distinguishable in un-oxidized teas (green) and those undergoing only brief oxidation periods such as white, yellow, and oolong teas. For more on the subject, here’s just one resource for added reading:
*Healthline Article: What Are Tannins in Tea, and Do They Have Benefits?
Introducing: Spearmint Leaf
Brand new to our collection of pure leaf herbal offerings is organic Spearmint Leaf. Grown in southeastern Washington State, our organic spearmint is mild and minty with a gentle sweetness. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a naturally occurring (non-hybrid) aromatic herb containing little to no measurable menthol. In contrast, peppermint has a high menthol content, having great intensity in aroma and sharper taste than spearmint. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is actually a hybrid of spearmint and watermint.
Spearmint is often preferred when pairing with or adding to savory recipes while peppermint is often used for its strong cooling and medicinal properties. Both peppermint and spearmint are widely used for therapeutic purposes as herbal teas. Spearmint is sought for use as a digestive aid, a source of antioxidants, and for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Compostable Packaging Update
Several months ago, we mentioned our goal of introducing new compostable packaging this year. Unfortunately, we have been seriously set back due to a rather troubling and widespread (global) shortage of the plant-based materials (polylactic acid or PLA) needed for such packaging. With unprecedented demand, prices are being driven up and suppliers are facing months-long delays and huge backorders. Ultimately, there has been a dramatic increase in demand for such products in the food industry over the past few years (which, by itself, isn’t a bad thing). In addition, new technologies and products such as 3D printing have entered the market, impacting an already limited production capacity. Frankly, we need more growers, producers and manufacturers to enter the market in order to meet current demands let alone future anticipated growth.
At this point, we’re still committed to making the shift toward compostable packaging and will continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis. We stand by with new labeling designed and ready for the change. In the meantime, know that our current packaging is considered recyclable in some municipal programs. We’ll keep you updated on our developments moving forward.
Fields of Lavender
As we watched our planned tea festivals get canceled one by one this year, we were pleasantly surprised to be able to participate in southern Oregon’s 3rd Annual Lavender Festival & Farm Tour, hosted by Growing Miracles Lavender Garden in mid-July.
Donning masks and with plenty of sanitizer on hand (literally), we enjoyed three days in the sunshine and warm weather passing out samples of both iced and hot teas. In fact, this was the in-person debut of our new blend, Afternoon Soirée. We served it up as an iced tea and were simply elated by the positive reception it got during the festival. It was one of our best “premieres” of a new blend ever! All in all, it was enjoyable to interact with hundreds of tea (and lavender) lovers as they stopped by for samples, chats and loose leaf tea. We look forward to the time when we can be back in the swing of things with regional tea festivals. Until then, we remain grateful for your orders and the kind notes we receive from many of you.