By Claire Hou
Black tea, as opposed to Pu’erh, is more common in Western countries and widely consumed. Beloved variants such as iced tea and sweet tea are usually made using lack tea.
Tea is known to have originated in China, but thriving trade routes and abundant exports meant that people all over the world could get their hands on tea. Demand for tea, and strong black tea in particular, spiked in England in the 1700s.
Black tea production increased significantly in the 19th century, when the Camellia sinensis assamica tea plant variety was discovered in a region of India. In 1835, the English started planting tea gardens near Nepal, and these different varieties of black tea became popular in England. The well-known English Breakfast and Earl-Grey teas are made from black tea leaves.
How is it made?
What differentiates black tea from green tea is that the leaves are fully oxidized before applying heat and being dried. This oxidation gives black tea its dark color as well as a distinct smoky flavor, depending on the variety of tea.
What are its health benefits?
Tea is well-known for its health benefits, and black tea in particular has antioxidant properties, which help decrease cell damage in bodies. One study showed that theaflavins in black tea reduced cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and therefore risk of diabetes, obesity, and other related heart problems.
Black tea can also provide a small caffeine boost. It contains less caffeine than green tea, and significantly less than coffee, so if you are looking for a small energy boost but not to pull an all-nighter, black tea is a great fit!
How should it be brewed?
Check out our previous article about the right way to brew tea, and bon appetit!
by Claire Hou
Xiaohusai is a place brimming with stories, buried away like treasures, that reveal the humanity in us all.
This is the story of Wang Fang, a student at Mengku High School—the secondary school closest to Xiaohusai.
We stand on the patchy field of Mengku High School, Yunnan. Rubber soles pound against the turf as students race around the track like an angry stampede. A boy wearing a neon yellow t-shirt runs far ahead of the others, arms pumping furiously.
“My name is Wang Fang,” he says to us later when we find our seats in a hastily cleared office, harsh fluorescent lights beating down from above. “I’m sorry I’m late. I came here as soon as I could after class ended.” A glance at my phone tells me that it is just past 10 p.m. “I’m no good at school,” He laughs bashfully when we ask him about his academics. Instead, he wants to be a policeman, he says, so “Then I can beat up bad guys.”
By Claire Hou
We all have that one friend who is addicted to bubble tea (and if you don’t, it’s you). While this means that there are as many bubble tea stores as Starbucks around now, it also means that sometimes you have to wait up to 15 minutes or even an hour just to get a taste.
Luckily for us, it’s now possible to treat ourselves to a nice cup of bubble tea without even stepping outside. And I don’t mean ordering take-out– save yourself the calories, additives, and time by making some bubble tea at home!
Tapioca pearls can be store-bought and prepared at home, but can also be made from scratch. Here is a handy recipe for homemade pearls: https://thethingswellmake.com/how-to-make-boba-tapioca-pearls-from-scratch/
The tea itself is much more simple, it is as the name suggests, a mixture of milk and tea. Bubble tea is commonly made from black tea, but green tea is also a popular variant. Bubble tea really depends on personal taste, from the sweetness to the type of tea used to the toppings. If you feel so inclined, you can also add flavor with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or flavored syrups.
There is also no correct recipe for the amount of sugar and milk used, as taste varies from person to person. Here is a general recipe to follow: https://www.cupandleaf.com/blog/thai-iced-tea
Enjoy the rest of summer with an ice cold cup of homemade bubble tea!
By Claire Hou
Pu Erh tea is amongst the most popular varieties of tea produced by Xiaohusai, and subsequently consumed all over China. What makes it stand out, and why are people so crazy about it?
How is it made?
First we have to understand, what is Pu Erh tea? It is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, and exclusive to Yunnan. It is unique as it goes through an oxidation process after it is dried. The tea leaves are slightly fermented during drying, and the moisture causes the growth of microbacteria, which oxidize the leaves. The longer the oxidation period, the higher the quality of Pu Erh tea.
Buying Pu Erh
Like wine, there are tea enthusiasts all over the world looking to add rare teas to their collection. Some vintage compressed teas that are over 100 years-old are widely sought after. No worries, though, as there is definitely affordable Pu Erh out there for casual drinkers. Only the varieties that have been oxidized for over 50 years are considered rare and expensive.
Check out our article from last week for some tips on how to correctly brew all kinds of tea: