Tea has been growing in popularity recently, showing up next to coffee in cafes, being sold in mall stores, even making its way to the non-alcoholic beverage pairing menus of high end restaurants. I’m a new-comer to tea, having my first experience with it last year during my trip to Japan, and wanted to understand what all the hype was about. So I recently met up with Jason and Kate of the local tea company, The Emperor’s Tea, who offered to teach me about their loose-leaf teas.
The Emperor’s Tea strives to make the best tasting tea by only using natural, organic ingredients from around the world. They don’t add any additional sweeteners so that the authentic flavor of the tea’s specific signature can speak for itself.
These teas are more than just dried leaves, they are artistic creations. The tea leaves are hand-picked in Vietnam and each of their 160 tea varieties are taste-tested and perfected over the course of months. And it’s obvious. A cup of The Emperor’s Tea peppermint tea compared to the pre-packaged kind I’ve had before was like accessing the difference between a stale, months-old store-bought cookie and one freshly-made at a bakery—they are hardly the same thing.
I was shocked that there are so many different flavors of tea. To get a glimpse of the range of flavors, Jason and Kate introduced me to traditional flavors like Gunpowder Green tea (the green tea leaves are rolled in little balls that look like gunpowder, hence the name), Jasmin Green tea (a floral-flavored green tea) and Black Earl Grey (an orange-infused version of the traditional tea), plus exotic flavors like Sicilian Blood (a sweet tea made from Sicilian blood oranges, Hibiscus flowers, rose hips, and Safflower) and peach oolong (a peach-flavored version of oolong, a mix between black and green teas). They even have a mocha flavored tea!
The teas are loose-leaf, which was a bit intimidating at first until they showed me how to put the tea in disposable tea bags. (Or you can use a metal tea ball like this.) The seeping times for teas vary depending on the tea, but as Jason explained, a lot boils down to personal preference. Longer seeping enhances the flavor of some teas while it increases the bitterness of others. You can also drink the teas iced; just double the strength of tea and add ice cubes or whiskey stones. (Perfectly refreshing for summer.)
Jason and Kate opened a whole new world to me by showing me the amazing flavors available through teas. Plus they are healthy, too! The Emperor’s Tea’s motto is simply to be happy and healthy, and after spending an afternoon sipping tasty teas, I felt just that!
The Emperor’s Tea teas are available online or at Sunset Coffee in Sandy, The Store in Holladay, The Chocolate Conspiracy downtown and the monthly CraftSabbath event at the Downtown Library. Stay in touch with The Emperor’s Tea on twitter (@The_EmperorsTea) and facebook.
Thank you to Jason, Kate and The Emperor’s Tea for the teas and tea lesson, plus Chris at Sunset Coffee for hosting us.