Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tregothnan Peppermint Tea now carried by Fancy That

Fancy That is now carrying Tregothnan Peppermint Tea. We have had several questions about peppermint tea so we thought we would share a little primer on the newest tisane carried in our Tea Boutique.

Peppermint tea is a tisane (An herbal infusion or similar preparation drunk as a beverage or for its mildly medicinal effect) of peppermint, Mentha piperita. While not actually a “tea”(i.e. not made from the leaves of the bush (Camellia sinensis)), it is brewed like a tea and is sometimes called mint tea. It is naturally caffeine-free. A “tea” made from blending peppermint and spearmint leaves is referred to as double mint tea.

Though there have been no human clinical trials on the health benefits of peppermint tea, some believe it has healing effects because of the menthol that it contains. It is said to ease stomach problems and headaches. It is known that certain chemicals (properties) found in peppermint inhibits the growth of certain bacteria, and can also help relax muscles. Peppermint oil may be good for the skin, produces fresh breath, may be used to treat sinuses, and also is used to fight gingivitis. Drinking it in tea form may help you obtain some of these benefits. Stop by for your 10 sachet box of Tregothnan’s Peppermint Tea! No worries if you are not local- we can ship to you anywhere in the continental USA (call us toll free 1-888-323-2TEA (2832)).

Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again very soon!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brief History of the Tea Infuser

Did the tea infuser go extinct? Why, yes it did actually, for a while at least. Or perhaps it just lost a lot of popularity with the advent of the teabag.

A tea infuser is a small, usually ball shaped or oblong-cylinder container or spoon that is used for brewing a cup or a pot of tea, sometimes referred to as a tea ball strainer. Tea balls have been known to differ by the way they are constructed and how they are lowered into and pulled out from the hot water. Some are made from mesh; others are all metal with small perforations. Tea is placed inside the container of the infuser and then lowered in a cup or pot of near-boiling or boiling water (depending on the type of tea you are making. You can see a post here about how some teas are brewed).

The purpose of the tea infuser is to brew a cup or pot of tea without having loose tea leaves floating in the tea and without having to run the brewed tea through a strainer. Either a chain or a rod is attached to the sphere so it can easily be taken out of the cup or teapot once the tea is properly brewed. If there is a rod, the infuser is often called an infuser spoon and if there is a chain, that usually refers to an infuser ball.

History of the Tea Infuser
The Chinese have been brewing tea for centuries. They simply place the loose leaves into a clay pot and pour boiling water on it. Naturally the leaves swell and often fill up a good part of the small, squat pots. The Chinese developed certain tea accessories that still today make it very easy to take out the wet leaves and dispose of them.

The Brits, however, decided on a different method. They invented silver tea infusers, which became very popular towards the latter part of the 19th century into the early 20th century. Some were made large enough to prepare a pot of tea, others were small one-cup infusers, deliberately designed to fit nicely into a standard sized teacup. With the advent of the industrial revolution, mass production became fairly easy. It was around this era that the silver teapot was mass produced till most households boasted of having a silver tea set. Tea infusers were also mass produced till they also became a very common household item.

By 1910 the teabag was invented, accidentally at first. A tea merchant by the name of Thomas Sullivan shipped tea in small silk muslin bags. The tea was supposed to be removed from the bags, but customers soon found that it was much simpler to dunk the teabag into boiling water. The result was a no-mess, no-tea leaves beverage which was the beginning of the decline of the tea infuser. Teabags use fannings, not whole tea leaves but rather what is left over after processing the tea. While you can buy some teabags that have whole leaf tea inside, the majority of teabags today are still packed with fannings.

With the popularity of Oriental teas and their introduction into Western markets, people are once again turning to the infuser. Chinese teas are usually sold as loose, whole leaf teas. The leaves are dried and compressed, but when placed in water they expand rapidly and unfurl as the tea is being brewed. It is much simpler to place the tea leaves in a tea infuser and brew tea that way than to place the tea leaves into a teapot of boiling water, especially if you do not have the necessary tea accessories to extract the wet leaves from a teapot, or to unclog a teapot spout.

Styles of Tea Infusers
Tea Balls
: As the name suggests, the tea ball infuser is a small ball or spherical shaped object, usually with a chain attached so that it can be easily retrieved from the cup once the tea is brewed. There are different styles of the tea infuser ball. The Mesh Tea Ball is a small container covered with mesh. This opens up in the middle, when one half slides open. The Metal Tea Ball, or Tea Egg is a stainless steel tea ball with small holes around it.

Pyramid Tea Infusers: These are pyramid in shape, and are made from mesh. The principle for brewing tea is the same as with the tea balls. These generally open on the bottom of the pyramid.

Snap Tea Infuser, or Tea Tongs: These are attached to long handles that, when squeezed together open the infuser on the end. The infuser part is usually made from mesh. You simply open up the infuser and tap the handle against the side of a trash can. The tea will naturally fall out.

Spoon Infuser: As the name implies, the tea infuser spoon looks like a little covered spoon. This is usually made from metal with small holes. These are often quite a bit smaller than the egg or tea ball infuser and do not always brew a very strong cup of tea.

Nylon Tea Infuser: This does not sit down inside the cup, but rather settles neatly on top of the cup. Water is poured into the top section where the tea leaves are and then gradually drips down into the cup.

Teastick or Teatube Infuser: This is a long pen shaped metal object, with holes perforating the metal. Tea is placed inside the stick and the entire object is submerged into the cup of hot water.

Novelty Infusers: Let’s not forget to mention novelty infusers. These are designed in many different shapes and sizes, usually made from stainless steel. You can find the heart shaped tea infuser, teddy bear infusers, dinosaur infusers, you get the point.

Whirl-Ease Infuser: The newest invention is tea, lightly sweetened with cane sugar, and a little tapioca juice, on the end of a stick. You swirl the stick into hot water and in moments, you have a perfect cup of tea. Whirl-ease tea stick infusers are available at Fancy That's Tea Boutique.

How To Brew A Pot Of Tea With A Tea Infuser
It all depends on the type of tea you are brewing. Regular black teas should be infused for at least three minutes, but no longer than five minutes. Green and Oolong teas are all brewed a little differently depending on the actual tea itself. For a great cup of tea you should carefully follow the directions on the package.

If you are wondering how to use a tea infuser you will be happy to hear that it is very easy to brew tea with a loose leaf tea ball. As a general rule you should only fill an infuser half full with tea leaves as the leaves will swell when they are wet. Whole leaf Chinese teas will need more room than the small leafed black teas, thus you should probably choose a larger size infuser if you are brewing whole leaf oolong or green loose tea. Small leaf teas or teas with broken leaves, such as many black teas, are better brewed in the tea egg as the mesh may allow the tea leaves to escape into the tea, and you will still need to use a tea strainer to get all the leaves out. If you must use a mesh infuser, look for one with a very tiny mesh so the tea leaves cannot get through into the tea.

Fancy That is carrying a tiny mesh ball infuser with two adorable glass “tea leaves” on the end. Perfect for all of the teas we carry at our Tea Boutique. Stop in and take a look! Fridays 11am – 3pm, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5pm. See you soon!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Update on Tregothnan Tea at Fancy That's Tea Boutique

Tea from the Tregothnan Estate in England is being carried by Fancy That in our Tea Boutique. We are an authorized USA retailer for the only tea grown in England. The Tregothnan estate in Cornwall & Kent in England is internationally known for its fine English estate products grown and produced on Tregothnan land. A real working Estate with world renowned botanical gardens, the tea is gown, harvested and produced in England, distributed to the USA and being sold by Fancy That as an authorized retailer.

Gate leading into the Tregothnan Estate in England

While you can get the teas in loose leaf (call ahead to inquire – toll free 1-888-323-2TEA (2832)), the following are the offerings that you can purchase: (If you are not local to our Tea Boutique in Walpole, Massachusetts, call toll free 1-888-323-2832 to place your order, or email us! We can ship your order to any part of the Continental USA! or if out of stock, can order and have it in our Tea Boutique for your in a few days!)

Tregothnan Afternoon Tea – a fine Tregothnan Tea blended with Darjeeling.(Box of 10 Sachets or box of 25 sachets)

Tregothnan Classic – blended black tea. (Box of 10 Sachets or box of 25 sachets)

Tregothnan Earl Grey – a 200 year plus tradition of this black tea (box of 10 sachets or box of 25 sachets)

Tregothnan Green Tea – delicate and refreshing blend of Chinese Green and Tregothnan teas (Box of 10 sachets)

Tregothnan’s Royal Blend – a limited production of an exclusive Royal Wedding celebratory tea (loose by the ounce)

Chamomile (Box of 10 sachets)

Echinacea - grown on the Tregothnan Estate (Box of 10 sachets)

Eucalyptus (Box of 10 sachets)

Lemon Verbena – aloysia triphylla is grown on the Tregothnan Estate and yields the Lemon Verbena Tea (Box of 10 sachets)

Manuka – Infusion of Tregothnan Manuka honey (Box of 10 sachets)

Nettle – non-stinging of course! :) (Box of 10 sachets)

Peppermint (Box of 10 sachets)

Can you ever over-indulge? When enjoying this fine imported tea actually grown in England, we think there is no way to over-indulge. Start your day with Earl Grey, have Green Tea for Elevenses, Afternoon Tea at 2pm, then Manuka with dinner, and Nettle or Peppermint before bed. Now THAT’s what we call “A DAY”!
Call ahead to check on availability, or to pre-place your order. Call toll free 1-888-323-2TEA(2832). We can help you with your Tregothnan Tea Order now, and in the future! We hope to hear from you soon!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love Affair Rooibos Tea is back in stock - tastes like chocolate covered strawberries

Love Affair is back in stock! One of our favorite teas sold out during our recent open house celebration. We are pleased to announce that the Rooibos Tea that tastes like a chocolate covered strawberry, is back in stock! A creamy, sweet combination of heavenly chocolate, dried strawberry tart and irresistible rhubarb accented with red sugar hearts all go into making this tea one of the favorite of Fancy That and customers alike!

Stop by this Friday (11am – 3pm) or Saturday (noon to 5pm) and pick up a tin or two of Love Affair!

(If you would like your own ½ ounce tin that makes about 5 cups of tea for $2, and you cannot get into the store, contact us. We can ship anywhere in the Continental USA.)

Love Affair Tea is back in stock!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seriously, where DOES the salad fork go?

Salad forks are the fork (other than an ice cream fork, which was the subject of a prior post!) that seem to move around more than any other fork. How many times have to seen a table, and wanted to move the salad fork to the outside of the other forks? Well, there may be a reason the salad fork is closest to the plate. Continental Settings assume the salad is being served AFTER the entrée.

Continental Setting

American Settings assume no such thing! If there are multiple courses, there will be multiple forks, spoons and/or knives depending on what is being served. The first utensil on the outside edge will be the first you will use, regardless of the style of settings. If the first course requires a fork, use the first one on the far left. If it requires a spoon, use the first one on the far right. The knives are used in the same manner ~ the first from the outside edge moving in closer to your plate as the meal progresses.

American Setting

Settings and etiquette are two different things, of course. The difference between American and Continental silverware etiquette is , for American style, you have your fork in your left hand, tines up, and the knife in the right. When you are done cutting your food, you lay the knife down and put your fork back in your right hand. For Continental style, you keep your fork in your left hand the whole time, tines down, and your knife in your right hand. The knife is used to cut food, of course, but is also used to maneuver the food onto your fork.

So now, you can simply look at the place setting, and know if your host is European (using the Continental Style) or if your host is using American Settings. Simple, isn’t it? So where DOES the salad fork go, really? :)