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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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GREEN TEA

GREEN TEA

Happy Green Tea Month at The Naked Leaf! As it turns out, one of the world’s most talked about teas is also one of the most diverse.

Green tea, grown predominantly in China and Japan, has undergone the least amount of “withering” in its preparation process, and therefore carries an incredibly fresh, vegetal taste in all its forms. That being said, the variety in flavor between countries––and even within countries––is staggering. China’s green tea is known for its nutty, earthier taste and has a preparation process differs from Japan’s. The teas are usually panfried in a large wok, heated underneath by a fire. This cooking of the leaves imparts a slightly deeper taste making them bolder. A perfect example of this robust falvor is our Teng Chong Hui Lang Zhai. It perfectly embodies a nutty Chinese green tea taste, and leaves a full-bodied taste in your mouth. Alternatively, a representation of a lighter Chinese green tea on our shelves is our Emerald Needle green tea. This early-spring harvest tea is wonderfully light with vegetal notes, but still maintains some of the richness often sought after in Chinese greens.

Unlike China where a dry heat is used to stop oxidation, Japan’s preparation of green tea often uses intense steam heat. Using water to heat the leaves imparts little to no additional flavor on the leaves, and brings out the grassy, ‘umami’ flavor Japanese greens are best known for. This process is best represented in our Sencha teas. Our Fukumushi Sencha and Sencha Fukamidori are in all year, and are the perfect standard of Sencha quality. If you want to find more refined experience, we  have the Asanoka Sencha (an exquisite higher quality Sencha tea), or our Premium Kabusecha. Kabusecha uses higher quality leaves altogether, and has a more pronounced umami taste. On a different end of the spectrum for Japanese green teas is our Houjicha, which is made from the stem of the tea leaf and roasted instead of steamed. This roasted Japanese green tea is a personal favorite, and the flavor is fit to win over coffee fanatics!

Finally, we reach Matcha. There is no doubt that you have heard of this magic tea powder from countless articles or health blogs. Let’s clear the air about what it really is you’re drinking! When Japanese green tea reaches its highest possible quality, it is either left alone to create loose-leaf tea called Gyokuro, or turned into Matcha. Matcha is tea that has been ground up into an incredibly fine powder, and traditionally is often meant to be whisked directly into water and enjoyed in its purest form. Since you are actually ingesting the entire leaf, as it is completely ground up, you are getting all of those incredible nutrients green tea has to offer. You are also getting all the caffeine! I have taken to calling Matcha the “espresso shot of tea,” since it packs all of the punch that a tea leaf has to offer. You can have it by itself for a lovely, fresh, grassy bowl of goodness, or you can experiment  with it! Due to its powdered nature, using our culinary matcha makes for a perfect baking buddy. Add our mildly sweetened matcha in your smoothie for a boost of green tea goodness. (Pro tip: that’s how all of those fancy cafés make your green tea lattes!)

This post doesn’t consider all of the amazing blends and combinations green teas can be a part of, such as our Kashmiri Chai (a green tea chai blend custom made in India) and our Genmaicha with Matcha (that delicious Japanese green tea you’re always being served at sushi restaurants). Come in, ask about our green tea, and strap in to be led through the countless varieties we have to offer!

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