6th Annual Los Angeles Tea Festival

Last weekend was the 6th Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival held at the Japanese American National Museum. I had no idea what I was in for, so I bought a general admission ticket and headed on down to Little Tokyo for an adventure. This year they had over 25 exhibitors, 3000 attendees and 25 classes offered so I was eager to see everything!

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After giving in my ticket, I received a cup for sampling the various teas, a festival guide and an admission ticket. This admission ticket also gave me access to the museum for that day which I highly recommend if you have the time! Vendors were inside and outside the museum so I started from the outside and worked my way around.

Most vendors had samples and were very happy to talk about their product and answer questions. However, the two exhibitors that stood out for me were Nepal Tea and Den’s Tea. Nepal Tea’s is a family owned business that cuts out the middle man and delivers straight from the farmers to the customer. It’s run by the youngest member of the family who was there giving out samples. Den’s Tea’s Matcha latte was definitely my favorite tea of the day and I had to stop myself from buying the gift pack they had on display.

This was a fantastic event for both the experienced and novice tea lover. If you didn’t go this year then I recommend you check it out next year as it’s a lot of fun and you can try so many different types of tea in the space of a couple hours (I ended up feeling very full). Next year I will be signing up for some of their classes so I will fill you in on those.

Drink On!

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Focus: Russian Tea

A lot of people don’t know that Russia has a rich tea culture. Russia drinks 3.051 pounds of tea per person annually[1] making them the fourth biggest tea drinkers in the world but tea was not always a popular drink in Russia. It was first introduced in 1638 when Altyun-Khan, the ruler of Mongolia gifted tea to Tsar Michael I. At first he did not accept the gift because he assumed he had no use for dried leaves. Once he tried it, tea was integrated into Russian culture and they haven’t stopped drinking it since.

The tea that Russians drank was delivered from China in the form of loose leaf and tea bricks via Camel caravans along the Siberian route. This is why this type of tea is called Russian Caravan Tea or Camel Caravan Tea. Due to the length of time it took to travel that distance the price was extremely high which meant that tea was reserved only for royalty. However, after the Trans-Siberian railroad was finished in 1880 the price of tea declined and Russia began importing tea from other places.

Box used to transport the tea from China, and a Tea Caravan. Pictures: Kungur City Museum

Russian caravan tea has a smoky flavor. It is usually a blend of lapsang shouchong and oolong with black tea but companies tend to have their own take on how they blend it. There is a story about why this tea has a smoky flavor and it was due to the tea absorbing the smoke from the campfires during the journey.

Traditionally Russian tea was brewed in a samovar but today you will find a porcelain tea pot at Russian tea parties.Samovars work very similarly to the double tea pot I wrote about in the previous tea focus on Turkish tea but they tend to be more intricately designed.

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Traditionally tea was drunk in the afternoon but nowerdays it is drank all day. It is served with lemon and sugar and usually accompanied by Sushki. These looks like a mini bagel but they are slightly sweet round cookies and are served on a string which is draped around the samovar.

Drink On!

Footnotes

1. Map: The Countries That Drink the Most Tea

Health Benefits of Tea

Every day we are bombarded by the media with claims of antioxidants in products and superfoods that we should eat because it can prevent cancer. All these  marketing terms and foods  being labelled as healthy, often with no scientific background to prove it. We’ve all read so many articles about the health benefits of tea but they all seem to contradict themselves or make ridiculous claims. I’ve decided to get to the bottom of this  so I’ve researched into the teas that are always in the media about having health benefits to sort the fact from fiction.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea

First up is Chamomile tea. People usually drink this before bed and it claims to cure insomnia and help reduce anxiety. Chamomile extracts exhibit benzodiazepinic activity which when it binds to the brain results in sleep inducing effect. Benzodiazepines are actively used in treating insomnia and anxiety disorders. However, in a study about the effects of drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression the positive effect was limited to the immediate term of consumption. Which meant participants did not experience the sleep inducing effects and reduced depression 4 weeks after the test.

Conclusion: Mostly true. Chamomile has been reported to alleviate those struggling with sleep and depression but  these effects only last as long as the drink itself.

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Ginger tea

Next up: ginger tea. The most common health claim for ginger in tea is that it relieves gastrointestinal upset. Many studies and preliminary trials have shown that  ginger does indeed have an antiemetic effect. Antiemetics are drugs that help to alleviate nausea and sickness. This drug that is present in ginger helps to expel intestinal gas. The most common use of ginger is to alleviate the vomiting and nausea associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy, and some types of surgery. Ginger also appears to reduce cholesterol and improve lipid metabolism, thereby helping to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes but more research needs to be conducted.

Conclusion: True. Ginger has been reported to help with gastrointestinal upsets and relieve gas and other properties of ginger are still be researched.

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Green tea

Tea contains catechin which is an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits oxidation which is a process that damages cells. Vitamins can counteract this effect. There are many articles and studies that suggest that these Antioxidants can prevent diseases and help with curing cancer. However, there is no clear cut evidence from clinical studies that states that this is the case. It is mostly speculation. Antioxidants are mainly used in the gasoline industry to prevent oxidation of the fuel in the tank which would lead to residual fuel deposits in your tank.

The biggest claim for Green tea today is that it help you lose weight. Although some studies show that green tea extract increases fat metabolism when ingested, results of other studies have not. The results have not been consistent and warrant more human trials.

Conclusion: Mostly False. There is no clear evidence to support either of these claims. The effects of green tea on metabolism look promising but it is not clear whether it is catechins or caffeine in tea causing said effects.

Peppermint-Tea

Peppermint tea

Finally, peppermint tea. It has been suggested that peppermint tea helps relieve stomach discomfort.  In a trial which investigated the effectiveness of antispasmodics, fiber and peppermint oil on people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), the peppermint oil had the greatest effect. Peppermint oil is also an antispasmodic which means it relaxes muscle spasms. There is still ongoing research into the use of peppermint oil to relieve the symptoms of IBS but so far the studies are looking promising.

Conclusion: True. Peppermint oil has shown positive effects to relieve stomach discomfort and more studies are being done to   help people with IBS.


I’ve only concentrated on a few of the health benefits these teas claim to have. There are many claims that have been reported, for example research has been conducted into chamomile tea lowering blood sugar levels and how green tea can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. If you know of any other teas with research that can prove their health benefits please comment below!

Drink On!

Poll: Your opinion of Space Oddi-TEA

As you might have noticed there have been a few changes to the blog. The domain has now been changed to http://www.spaceodditea.com, the logo has been updated and we now have an Etsy shop!

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Space Oddi-TEA is improving every day and we want to make sure that we are bringing you the right kind of content. It would benefit us a lot if you could answer the poll below. We always appreciate your comments and suggestions so don’t hold back! Thank you in advance for your time. 🙂

Drink On!

Drinking Tea in Space

If you’re like me, you can’t survive the day without your morning tea. For some of you, it’s coffee but we can all agree that without it the day can go horribly wrong… On Earth, we take drinking our favorite beverage for granted because it is not as easy for our fellow Astronauts to get their morning brew. Astronauts can’t drink from their prized mug like we can but they can recreate the act of sipping from a cup by drinking from these oddly shaped vessel. This is an upgrade for the Astronauts as they used to stuck out the tea or coffee from a bag with a straw.

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Credit: NASA

So how do these little booties allow the Astronauts to drink tea (or coffee) without bubbles of liquid flying everywhere? When two solid surfaces meet at a narrow angle, the fluid in microgravity naturally flows along the join. The combination of the way that the cup has been designed, the surface tension and wetting, drives the liquid forward to the Astronauts mouth. This is called the capillary effect. This effect is very difficult to simulate on Earth due to the interference of gravity but in the weightlessness of space is it very easy to recreate.

However, this is only one part of the capillary experiment. NASA will continue to research into this effect as it could also be used to guide other liquid systems through the spacecraft. Watch the video below for more information!

Credit: NASA

Drink On!

 

The Perfect Cup of Tea

Is there a perfect way to brew a cup of tea? Well I believe it’s up to personal preference but there’s a couple of tips I can give you. For this I will be focusing on how to brew the traditional cup of loose English tea or ‘cuppa’ as we call it.

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Firstly, use freshly drawn water as boiling water reduces the amount of Oxygen present and tea needs the Oxygen as it is important for the flavor.

The pot you use (I recommend ceramic or porcelain) should be warmed beforehand so the tea can achieve the high temperature it requires for brewing. You can do this by adding boiled water in the teapot and leaving for a couple of minutes

After your teapot has been warmed, pour out the water, add the tea, (about a teaspoon per cup or more if you like your tea strong), add the boiling water and brew for 3 to 4 minutes. However, depending on the type of tea you have it could be less or more, check the recommended time on the package before brewing.

Now comes the age old debate of whether you add the milk before or after you pour the tea into your favorite mug. According to the British Standard BS 6008:1980 (ISO 3103:1980) the milk should be put in first. The reason being because denaturation of milk proteins is liable to occur if milk encounters high temperatures. However the standard also counters that by stating:

 “If the milk is added afterwards, experience has shown that the best results are obtained when the temperature of the liquor is in the range 65 to 80°C when the milk is added.”

Not everyone (including me) will agree with putting the milk in first and George Orwell was one of them. In January 12, 1946 he wrote an article for the Evening Standard called ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’. He wrote:

“The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.”

Lastly, you may add sugar to taste and then drink your tea when it reaches optimal temperature, which is recommended to be between 60-65°C (140-149°F).

So there you have it, a perfect cup of tea. If you have any more tips please comment below and I’ll try them out!

Drink On!

Image taken from https://www.sundaypost.com/in10/food/make-perfect-cup-tea/

Introducing Space Oddi-TEA designs

As some of you may have noticed, a new menu has been added to the blog. If you click it, a page will open up to the new Etsy shop. There you can buy these cute little tea cups! These happy cups are lovingly handmade by me and are a perfect gift for the tea lover in your life or just as a little treat for yourself 🙂 More tea related items will be added soon so please check back when you can!

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Drink on!