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Matcha!

Matcha!

Matcha originated when tea was introduced to Japan by Japanese monks that had returned from studying Buddhism in China. At the time of their return, the style of preparing any tea was to grind it into a fine powder and then beat it in a bowl to create the tea infusion. Over time, China moved away from powdered tea while Japan held onto some of these methods. Over time the process was improved and mastered resulting in the matcha powder we know. Today in addition to the traditional method of drinking matcha, it can be found in smoothies, baked goods and lattes. What hasn’t changed through all this time is the quality and benefits of those powdered green leaves.

Matcha is created from the highest grade tea leaf in Japan known as tencha. To create tencha, the tea bushes are grown in the shade. The process to cover acres of plants with large cloths is very laborious. Reducing the exposure to sunlight increases the chlorophyll content of the tea leaves , creating the much sought after umami /vegetal flavours of the tea. Like all Japanese green teas, the leaves are steamed at a high temperature to stop the oxidation process, preserving the lush green flavour of the leaf. However unlike other green teas, these leaves will not be rolled. Instead the stem of the leaf along with its veins will be removed so that the leaves can be ground into a fine powder. Stone mills are used to turn the tencha into matcha powder as no other process grinds the leaf as precisely as a stone mill. This method of stone milling is extremely time consuming taking up to an hour to create 30 grams of matcha powder.

Of all green teas, matcha offers the highest level of antioxidants and caffeine. Unlike a typical tea where you steep the leaves and then remove them, with matcha, because the leaves have been finely powdered, you are ingesting the entire leaf, therefore receiving all of the antioxidents and vitamins that the leaf offers.

The Naked Leaf we are pleased to offer Calgary three different varieties of matcha. The first is our pure Premium Organic Grade Matcha. This is for when you will be enjoying your tea without adding any sugar or other ingredients. Wonderfully flavorful on its own. The second is our Culinary Matcha. A slightly lower grade of tea that is fine to drink on its own, but is perfect for cooking. This tea can be used in baking, sauces, meat rubs or any other way you may want to add matcha into your diet. Our third is a Sweet Matcha powder for adding to smoothies, lattes or sprinkling on your yogurt. More tea than sugar, this is not an overly sweet blend.

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JASMINE!

JASMINE!

Its scented tea month at The Naked Leaf and what better tea to highlight than the classic, flowery and aromatic jasmine tea. With a beautiful scent and delicate balance of flavour between the flower and the tea leaf, jasmine tea truly is one of a kind.

Making fine jasmine tea requires precision, expertise and a great deal time. The highest grade of jasmine teas come from the Fujian region of China. Jasmine and other scented teas have existed in China since the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The most crucial part of making jasmine tea is obtaining the best jasmine flowers as they bloom. During the Fujian provinces sweltering summer the jasmine flowers will begin to bud. During the night the flowers will open, and their aroma hits its peak potency near the middle of the evening. Experienced pickers will set out at night and choose only the best flowers based on their color. Getting the best flowers requires some serious dedication as pickers will have to stay out until 4:00 AM! The Jasmine will then be left in a heated room for four hours as their aroma evolves, and buds open further.

After the buds have opened fully, the flowers are ready to be mixed in with tea leaves, heated and monitored for up to twelve hours as the leaves absorb the aromas from the flowers. The process is not over yet as the jasmine leaves will need to be scented more than once to achieve the desired aroma and taste. The old jasmine flowers must be removed, and new flowers introduced, the leaves will be scented again and again until the scent master is satisfied with the teas’ aroma. For premium jasmine teas the leaves may be scented up to five times and the entire process can take up to a month to complete. A good sign of a high-quality jasmine tea is the lack of jasmine flowers mixed in with the tea as the jasmine flower loses its aroma only four hours after it is used to scent the tea. Lower grade Jasmine teas may leave the flowers in the blend to add bulk to the tea but will not add any benefit to the flavour.

At The Naked Leaf we are proud to serve high-quality jasmine teas and offer four varieties. The Jasmine Leaf is our classic jasmine that stands well above the average restaurant jasmine tea. If you’re looking for that classic jasmine taste this is certainly the tea for you. The Jasmine Pearls are a more premium tea and after the scenting process has been completed, the leaves of this tea are hand rolled into small pearls. The rolling process preserves the oils of the tea leaf that would normally evaporate if the leaf were left open. The result is a sweeter jasmine tea with a more textured and robust jasmine flavour. Our Premium Jasmine Oolong combines an extended jasmine scenting process with a premium oolong tea. This tea provides a complex and balanced flavour as the darker tones of the oolong counterpoint the sweet floral aroma of jasmine. For those looking for an exceptional treat, our Silver Needle Jasmine (pictured) is amazing. The leaves must be picked by expert hands to ensure the tea is composed entirely of the delicate downy buds of the tea plant. The beauty of this tea lies within the light, bright and smooth flavour provided by the tea-leaf that works in tandem with the jasmine scent to provide a velvety texture that coats the entire mouth. Try this tea if you are looking for an extremely refined jasmine experience.

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ICED TEA!

ICED TEA!

It's iced tea season and every summer people ask us how to make the perfect refreshing brew. Learn how to MAKE PERFECT ICED TEAS every time with our tasting event on June 6th. See all the details and information for this evening here!

According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., iced tea accounts for roughly 85% of all tea consumption in America. Especially in the southern states, iced tea or “sweet tea” is a staple component of common hospitality. The first documented recipe for iced tea is in a cookbook written in 1839 called The Kentucky Housewife, where the author, “Mrs. Lettice Bryan,” labels it as “tea punch.” It calls for making a “very strong tea” and adding “one pound and a quarter,” or approximately 2 and a half cups, of sugar. This is to be served either hot, or cold. With Kentucky’s scorching summers, cooling off your household favorite with ice is a no-brainer.

Thankfully, there are so many amazing high-quality teas and herbal blends today that we no longer need to compensate with sweetness! We always recommend that if you enjoy a tea hot, you should try it iced. The cold versions open up countless possibilities for parties, picnics, work, or even just relaxing at home. You can go for the classic, using a strong Assam black tea (such as our Assam Blend or Irish Breakfast), which gives you the dark brew that goes incredibly well with fresh lemon. We find that fruity, minty and floral teas also work well.

“But how do I make iced tea?” This is always an excellent question, and we are always happy to provide a few different answers! A go-to method is to steep twice the amount of tea for the recommended time, pour over ice, and top off your glass with more ice! The strength comes through, while the first round of ice cools the tea, adding more ice on top chills it to a refreshing temperature.

Another favorite is the cold-brew method. This strategy takes more time, but is shockingly easy. Place a tablespoon of tea into a vessel (like our Cold Brew container), add cold water, and place in the fridge. Depending on the tea, it will be ready in 30 minutes to 1 hour. Because you don’t use boiling water with this method, you don’t run the risk of extracting bitter flavors from the leaf and results in a wonderfully simple crowd-pleaser. Also, all of the teas you know and love from brewing with hot water will give up different flavors and continue to impress (psst... my favorite is Lime Ginger)!

Another favorite is learning to make instant iced tea with our tea grinder  from Japan. Simply grind your favorite tea and shake into a water bottle! Its that easy!

And so, we hope to have proven to you that tea does not need to be shelved for Stampede season. With an abundance of ways to create it at home, and our ice machine running through summer, you can continue to get that tea fix and be prepared to brave the sun.

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