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As I sat there sipping on my English Breakfast tea, thinking about what to write, a friend asked me ‘Why is tea, called tea?’ Well needless to say I did not know the answer to that. In English it’s tea, in French it’s thé but in Russian and Turkish it’s chai and çay. In most of the languages there seems to be two types of forms of the word tea but why is this?
The two different forms of the word originated from China. The Chinese character for tea 茶 is pronounced differently depending on the dialect of the area. In Mandarin it is chá but in the Amoy dialect from the Fujian province it is pronounced tê. So depending on which part of the world was trading with that area of China, determined how that country would then pronounce it.
The European traders first traded with China through Xiamen, which was their main port at the time of the East India Trading Company. The traders would buy tea from China through here and as they spoke Amoy in this region they adopted the tê derivative of the word. Other countries such as Russia, Turkey, Persia and Greece brought tea overland (which was very expensive) from the provinces of China that spoke Mandarin so that’s why they all use the chá derivative in their language.
There are a few languages that do not follow these two forms and that is due to tea being a native plant to that region. In Burmese it is ‘Lahpet’, alongside with drinking tea they also pickle it and use it in salads.
So now you know where the word tea comes from! From this post you can see language doesn’t always depend on geographical location to influence each other. In this situation it was the trading routes that determined how the country adopted the word tea. What country are you from and how do you say tea? Comment below!
So you bought your loose leaf tea from the store, you skip home and brew a cup of tea. You then go to put the rest away in your cupboard but you stop and decide to consult you favorite tea blog (that’s us) just in case you are storing it incorrectly. Well, I am here to tell you that there are a couple of rules when it comes to how to store your loose leaf tea appropriately. If tea is not stored correctly, it will go stale and the flavor will be affected. So fear not, I am here to help.
First of all your tea must be kept away from heat, moisture and light. So store it in a cool dry place, preferably inside a cabinet and not on display. However, if you do want to display your tea with pride then do not use a glass storage jar. The light will degrade tea and cause the color of your tea leaves to fade.
Make sure you tea is stored in air tight tins, being exposed to the oxygen in the air will compromise the taste of the tea. As explained in a previous post, oxidation is a process used to create the various types of tea. If not stored in an air tight container this oxidation will presume. This process will affect the lesser oxidized tea the most, such as green and white teas.
Note: Always buy tea leaves from a trusted online source or shop that rotates their stock frequently so that you are not buying tea that has been sitting on the shelf for a while.
When storing your tea in a cabinet or on a shelf, keep it away from spices or other teas with strong aromas. Tea leaves absorb the aromas around them very easily so you will find that your tea fragrance and taste will be different when you next go to drink it.
Lastly, if you are reusing tins for different teas, wash the tea tin and allow it to air completely before using it again. Some tea aromas will permeate the tin and no matter how much you wash or soak with vinegar the smell will remain, so take this into consideration when reusing tins.
I also found a craft blogger who made her own vintage inspired tins (the image above was taken from her site). Click here to follow the link and make your own.
Well now you have the knowledge on how to store your tea correctly. If you have any questions about where to buy tea tins or what tea tins I use then comment underneath or email.
Hopefully from these posts I have inspired you to make your own tea blends! One thing I have noticed is that good quality spices can really impact the taste of your tea. I started off buying all my spices for my tea but then decided to experiment with drying my own spices instead. I started off with dried ginger, I realized that buying the root fresh and drying it myself was cheaper than buying the already dried spice. Of course, if I cannot get it in stores or if the plant is not native to California then I can’t dry it. However, anything that I can grow on my patio and dry in the Sun or in the oven, is fair game. I also branched out to drying my own fruit. If you like your kitchen gadgets you can purchase yourself a nifty dehydrator but if you’re on a budget (like me) then the oven will do fine. So I spoke about drying ginger… well let me tell you how easy it is to dry!
Peel ginger and cut into slices as thin as you can manage
Lay out the ginger (not on top of each other) on a dish on top of parchment paper or kitchen towel
Leave for 4 days to 1 week depending on how hot it is where you live
Now for fruit… I have recently dried apples so here goes:
Preheat oven to 200F
Cut apple into 1/8th inch slices. I don’t peel or de-core the apple as I like the cool star shape the core makes and the skin gives it color but it is completely your choice.
Lay out the apples on a tray lined with parchment paper
Cook for 1 hour, flipping the apples, cook for another hour
If you want your apples very crispy, then cook for another hour
I also like to season my apples with cinnamon!
The last comment I’ll make on drying your own fruits is that I try to dry the fruits that are currently in season as they’ll be more ripe which will make for tastier dried fruit. I caught the apples at the end of the season but next I am going to be drying strawberries and maybe apricots. Here’s a list of what fruits and vegetables are in season in Spring: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-spring
Now, for those spices you can’t grow or buy in your country I suggest going to a specialty spice shop. Supermarkets will stock the more well known spices but if you’re into trying the more weird and wonderful then I recommend finding a spice shop or an ethnic food market. I go to the Savory Spice Store as they have all the spices you can imagine and it won’t break the bank either. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/