What’s Brewing at Short and Stout Tea

Return From our Tea Journey:

Tea Estate Visit

Tea Estate Visit

We have returned from Thailand after visiting several tea estates. It was fantastic trip. We learned so much in such a little time and we have a few ways for you to learn about our Tea Journey.

  1. Short and Stout Tea Web Blog: Although I still have more to publish you can share in our experience while flying through Japan to Thailand. Before we made it to any Tea Estate we found that green tea is such a popular flavor to ice cream, candy, snack food and drinks. For ice cream it seems like green tea has replaced vanilla.
  2. Tea Journey Presentation at Short and Stout: Starting at 5pm on Thursday Feb 4th we will have our presentation. The format will be a casual “drop in” talk including a slide show and Q&A. The event is free. Stop in when you can for a few minutes or stay the whole time.

We are Re-Opened for Sundays:

While we were away Samantha did a fantastic job overseeing the day to day duties of the lounge, but we couldn’t ask her to do it for7 days a week. We had a great response for being open on Sundays in 2015, so we are re-opened on Sundays from 11:30am to 4pm, now through May.

Tea Talk at Guilderland Public Library:

In addition to the Tea Journey Presentation at S&S on 2/4 we are continuing our Tea Talk Series at Guilderland Public Library. Our next talk is January 28th at 7pm the topic is Health Benefits of Tea and Tisanes including brewing methods. Registration is free, please sign up on their calendar.

 

New Products:

Although many of our new loose teas from Thailand won’t be ready for another week, our new teaware is available.IMG_2519 (1)

  1. Yixing Teapots: For those looking for a Gongfu Cha teaware, we now have traditional Yixing Teapots with matching cups. Gongfu Cha is a brewing method preferred by the Chinese where several 30 second steepings occur within a small unglazed clay teapot.
  2. Teapot and Travel Mug Cozies: We have partnered with Fibres of Life which is a fair trade handmade fabric design company from Nepal. We offer beautiful teapot cozies made of felt wool with hand printed designs. They are perfect to keep your teapots warm on these cold mornings (pre-warming your teapots help as well). Also, we have travel mug cozies offered in a knit design.
  3. Glass Tumblers: We are excited to finally offer a glass travel tumbler with infuser. This is perfect for the tea drinker on the go. One side has a screw cap with a quality removable infuser and the other side has a screw cap for pouring or sipping. The glass is tempered to handle boiling water and the silicone gripper insulates the heat with ease.

Tea Quote:

When it comes to tea business, it’s more like family than customers- Tea Estate Owner.

Read more

Tea Journey to Northern Thailand: Part 2 of 6

Chiang Rai: First Day in Thailand’s Tea Growing Region

When things are meant to happen, they happen. I had my doubts that my tea journey and garden experience was not going to meet my expectations. When I heard that the owner of our first tea garden was going to pick us up at the airport, I figured that it was a good sign. I was even more excited to hear that they would be picking tea at the farm on that day.

When we met the owners at the airport, we were greeted with the largest smiles, you know the ones that is so joyful

Hand picking of tea leaves

Hand picking of tea leaves

that their eyes closed. They spoke good English and we discussed our respective role in the tea industry. The two sisters described how their four gardens of 100 acres each, 2 shops and 260 employees started with humble beginnings. Their father started with just a small plot of land and the factory was not much more than him in a barn. Each processes was completed by his personal experience and formal training in Taiwan for hand tea processing.  After decades of farming, their father grew the business to a much larger enterprise that utilizes temperature and moisture controlled rooms as well as large pieces of equipment. The business also celebrates accolades including: USDA Certified Organic, certified Thailand Biodynamic, and One Town One Product Champion.

The factory tour was intriguing. Yes, we’ve read all about the processing steps, but it was another to be in the factory

Solar withering of tea leaves

Solar withering of tea leaves

amongst the workers practicing their craft. We had an opportunity to closely observe the process of making Oolong, the most popular type of tea produced in Thailand. The pickers pulled two leaves and a bud between the tip and knuckle of their pointer finger and their thumb. They would slide the picking to their palm to repeat the process twenty times in 10 seconds before dumping their stock into their basket. After their picking they have an hour to lay their tea out for quality inspection and solar wilting. Then the leaves went through seven steps of wilting and tumbling. The tumbling in bamboo chambers causes the leaves to “wake up” and wilting occurs again after letting it stand in humidity controlled rooms. The tea is let to sit longer to continue its withering. This is the process to ensure that the water component in tea leaves get out as much as possible.  Next is another two step process of firing and massaging. Each task is repeated 36 times. The roaster is set at 570 degrees. Final step is the Drying and sorting of leaves of similar size

Tea Roasting and Massaging

Tea Roasting and Massaging

to ensure uniform infusion.

The tea factory includes a packing room for loose and bagged tea. They chop their finished product to make fannings for biodegradable pyramid tea bags. Lesser quality tea producers will use the tea dust left behind the sorting process or finely chop the machine cut fresh leaves before further processing. These shortcuts produce poorer tasting teas.

In all, the owners picked us up at the airport, fed us lunch, gave a wonderful tour and a broad sampling. When we offered to pay, they sternly refused and said that their customers in the tea business are like family.
And the journey continues…

Read more

Tea Journey to Northern Thailand: Part 1 of 6

Our tea journey experience started immediately after takeoff from Chicago bound for Tokyo. As the plane leveled out

Matcha Served In-flight

Matcha Served In-flight

stewardesses walked up and down the aisles offering green tea. This isn’t just any green tea as evident of its bright green jade color. This was indeed matcha. Many passengers took advantage of this Japanese Ceremonial Tea as we start our 14 hour flight over Earth’s largest ocean. The flavor was just as light as the color, no bitterness, but just a nice mild green tea flavor.

Stopping in the duty free shop in Tokyo upon arrival proved to be a trip down tea product lane. Thirty varieties of truffles, chocolate covered wafers, thin pancake like crisps and chocolate cake were all headlined by match and green tea ingredients. In the past 15 years, we have been through Narita Airport 10 times and never have we seen so many tea infused products.

We stopped in between gates to get some sushi. The style was very similar to what we find in Albany, but it was served with three large thick porcelain cups of, you guessed it… matcha. The specialty rolls and two regular rolls came to $10, so we went back for seconds. By time all our food was consumed our table was littered with those black and white matcha mugs as if they were beer cans after a frat party.Hot Taro Latte and Bubble Tea

After settling into Thailand our first business meeting took place at Sila Tea Café. Here the team buckled down for 4 hours on the second floor balcony to do some brainstorming. We first ordered a variety of spring rolls, bubble teas and a hot taro latte (which I have never heard or seen before). The spring rolls were delicious especially spinach and cheese and the hot taro latte was sweet, creamy and so smooth.

And the journey continues…

Read more