Let’s talk tea. Oklahomans love tea. Even as soda becomes less and less common in restaurants, you can almost always find tea on the menu served in two forms: black or sweet. In fact, it’s not terribly uncommon to go to a restaurant in our great state, order an iced tea and receive a sweet tea instead, but we aren’t here to discuss our state’s sugar consumption.
Last Saturday we hosted our first tea class led by Aria & Caleb, examining the history and production of tea, discussing blends and single origin teas, and of course, drinking a lot of tea! We couldn’t have done this class without having an opportunity to talk to Sam Duregger at Woodshed Tea or serving fantastic teas from Urban Teahouse and 49th Parallel!
What is tea?
Tea comes from the dried leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant, an evergreen with two main varieties. The plant is grown in places like China, Taiwan, Japan, Iran and Turkey as well as Sri Lanka, Kenya, and India. Countries like China & India have been cultivating tea for thousands of years, developing rituals, improving quality, and working tea into the culture of their communities.
Plantation to Teapot
Since tea growing can be highly regional, it’s hard to set clear steps on how we get from plant to teapot. Practices on how and where plants are grown and how the leaves are dried and processed to be used for tea can be highly specific.
Tea leaves are plucked according to how the leaves will be used. Lighter teas are often younger while teas like Oolongs or Pu-erhs often use mature leaves. The leaves are then withered to lower the moisture content of the leaf to retain flavor and then the leaves will be rolled, oxidized, or fermented depending on their desired tea. Well-produced teas are then sorted removing inferior or smaller leaves and defects discarded.
You can always find a variety of teas in the shop as we always keep a black, a green, an Earl Grey blend (for London Fogs), a Chai blend (for Chai Lattes) and one or two seasonal teas! All teas can be served hot or iced.