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Archive for June 22, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Tea

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is perfectly packaged in a
metal container with an airtight lid. Photo by
Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

June is National Tea Month—drink those antioxidants up!

Tea is a fragile product: oxygen, humidity (moisture), heat, light and other aromas are its enemies. They cause the tea to go stale (lose its flavor) and equally bad, to take on other, unwanted flavors.

Under ideal conditions, black and oolong tea can remain fresh between 2-3 years and green and white tea can remain fresh for up to 2 years.

However, when you purchase tea, you have no idea how long ago it was picked and processed. The tea could have been sitting in a warehouse for a year or two before it was made into bags or sold as loose tea to a distributor. And that means even more time until it gets to the retail shelf. Thus:

  • Don’t buy more tea than you’ll use in 6 months (green tea) to a year (black tea). After the container is opened, oxygen interacts with it and the flavor begins to slowly dissipate. Jumbo boxes of 100 tea bags are no bargain unless you’ll use two bags per day.
  • Store tea in airtight containers, preferably metal, away from a heat source. Just because a container has a lid doesn’t mean it’s airtight—but it’s a start.
  • Learn how to brew the perfect cup of tea.


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PRODUCT: MaryAnna’s Sweet Tea

Everyone in the South knows about sweet tea, but it’s lesser known in other regions. Sometimes non-Southerners will come across “Southern-style tea” or “extra-sweet tea”—which is the same thing.

If you favor adding three or more sugars to your tea, this is the iced tea for you.

The extra sweetness comes from adding a generous amount of sugar to the water before it boils (or while it’s boiling). Adding the sugar to hot water, as opposed to chilled tea, enables the liquid to hold more sugar. In chemistry terms, that’s known as supersaturation.

After brewing, the tea is chilled. Sweet tea is such a popular beverage that West Bend sells an iced-tea maker with a “sweetener chamber” at the top, to conveniently dissolve sugar or other sweetener into the tea as it brews. (We brew iced tea daily without sugar and are in love with the Breville Tea Maker.)

West Bend’s iced tea maker. Photo courtesy West Bend.

MaryAnna’s all-natural bottled sweet tea is a nice introduction to quality sweet tea: It tastes like fresh-brewed. The Summer Sweet Tea has just the right amount of lemon juice to brighten the flavor without making it “lemony.” The Berry Sweet Tea is flavored with raspberry; the effect is one of fresh, infused berries. The teas are made with filtered water, premium tea and cane sugar.

Both flavors hit the spot. The only caveat is the sugar/carb count: one 16-ounce bottle has 160 calories, 38g of sugar and carbohydrates. A sixteen-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, by comparison, has 192 calories. But the sweet-of-tooth don’t read nutrition labels, and these sweet teas are brewed to please.


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