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Archive for Coffee & Tea

PRODUCT: Grow Your Own Tea

If you live in hardiness zones 8-10—the southern United States—and have a spot with full sun, you can grow your own tea with plants from Burpee.

One individual commenting on the Burpee website had success in Zone 6.

Here’s the USDA map of hardiness zones.

Tea, Camellia sinensis, is a perennial plant. The same plant yields black, green and white tea. The difference is in the processing; basically, how much heat is applied to dry the leaves.

At $16.95 per plant, it’s a fun opportunity to grow what you drink; and if you have younger children, a nifty project.

You harvest and dry the tea leaves in a wok or pan.

Buy the plants now and harvest them in the fall. Send some as gifts to tea-loving friends with green thumbs. Here’s where to order.

Different states have particular shipping restrictions. For example, you can’t ship lemongrass plants to California or Colorado, or potato plants to Florida or Montana.

Check here to see if tea plants can be shipped to your state.
 
 
PREFER HERBAL TEA?

Herbs can be grown anywhere! Read our article on growing herbal tea at home.
 
 
TEA TIME: TIME TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TEA

A Year Of Tea Party Ideas

Black Vs. Green Vs. White Tea

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Tea

Have An Iced Tea Party

The History Of Tea

Pairing Tea With Food

Tea Glossary: All The Tea Terms You Need To Know

 

Grow Your Own Tea
Grow it.

Cup Of Tea
Drink it.

Cup Of Green Tea

Enjoy it! (Photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Chateau Rouge Fine Foods, photo #3 courtesy Republic Of Tea._

 

  

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PRODUCT: A New Manual Coffee Grinder

Everything is cyclical, even mundane household appliances like the coffee grinder.

In centuries past, coffee beans were ground manually. Depending on your age, your great-grandmother ground beans in a rectangular wood or metal mill (or combination)
with a ceramic burr. The grains fell into a drawer underneath the mechanism.

But technology marches on: first to pre-ground coffee from supermarket brands, and then, by having your beans freshly ground at the market.

By the early 1970s, the movement to buying premium beans from different terroirs around the world had begun. Shops sprang up* that sold only beans. A cup of coffee was no longer just a cup of coffee.

The first electric grinder was invented in 1930, but was cumbersome and shortly discontinued. In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of engineers took up the challenge [source]. Slowly, they made their way across Europe, and then across the pond.

By the 1980s, most households that ground their beans at home had moved on to the new, small electric grinders that ground the beans with stainless steel blades. The result was quicker ground coffee with little or no no effort.

But purists complained that the friction and waste heat from the motor impacted the flavor. Some of them stuck with the manual mill and ceramic burr, which has never gone out of style. And commercial use grinders use only ceramic burrs, never metal blades.

There’s more coffee grinder history below. But since everything old is new again, we’d like to present old-school grinding technology with a new-school upgrade.

THE NEW BIALETTI HAND-GRINDER WITH A CERAMIC BURR

The Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder (photo #1) incorporates an easy-to-adjust ceramic burr grinder designed to utilize less effort, while creating more output (46%-165% depending on the coarseness of the grind).

A conical ceramic burr grinder crushes whole coffee beans into the desired coarseness, achieved with an easy-to-adjust wheel.

  • There are measurement markings on the bottom chamber that indicate the amount of grounds needed for a coarse, medium, fine, and ultra-fine, and for use in a coffee press, pour over, moka pot and ibrik (Turkish brew pot).
  • The grinder also has a silicone grip for secure handling.
     
    If you’re a coffee purist—or you need to buy a gift for one—Bialetti’s Manual Coffee Grinder is available at Target stores nationwide for an MSRP of $39.99; and at Amazon for $35.57.

     
    COFFEE GRINDER HISTORY

    In Ethiopia, people have been consuming coffee since around 800 C.E. Today, almost half of Ethiopians the people work in the trade; most coffee grown by small farmers.

    The legend has that around 800 C.E., an Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his goats dancing with energy after nibbling the red fruit from plants they found on the slopes where he took them to graze.

  •  

    Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder
    [1] The new manual Bialetti coffee grinder (photo Bialetti).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [2] A Turkish coffee grinder (photo Turkish Coffee World).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [3] An old wood and brass grinder (photo © Kean Eng Chan | Flickr).

     
    We don’t know if there was a Kaldi; but someone first gathered the beans and brought them back to his village, where the people were equally enthusiastic. A trade in coffee beans began and spread throughout Ethiopia.

    Eating The Coffee Beans

    The beans—actually they’re cherries with the beans inside—were first chewed for energy.

    Some time later, when monks got hold of beans, they began experimenting with them, first creating a coffee-derived wine.

    In fact, the word coffee derives from the Arabic qahwah, a type of wine, which became kahve in Turkish, then koffie in Dutch. “Coffee” entered the English language in 1582, via Dutch.

    Long before there was anything we’d recognize as a cup of hot coffee, Ethiopians would crush up the fresh berries and wrap them with fat, possibly as an energy food.

    The cherry fruit was eaten fresh or dried; but while looking for other uses, the seeds (what we know as the coffee beans) were pulverized in a mortar and pestle of stone or wood, then cooked or roasted.

    By the 14th century, coffee beans reached the city of Harrar, the center of trade for Ethiopia. From there it traveled to Mocca, the trading port of Yemen in the 14th century, then up through the Ottoman Empire and on to Europe.

    In the 17th an 18th centuries, Dutch, French and British traders introduced coffee throughout the world.

    The First Coffee Grinders

    The first grinding technique for coffee comprised pulverizing the beans with a mortar and pestle made of stone or wood.

    The mill itself is much older than the coffee trade. It was developed by the Greeks around 1350 B.C.E., to crush a substance (grains, e.g.) down into a fine powder.

    It took a while, but he first spice grinder was invented in the 15th century in Persia or Turkey. Like a tall, slender brass pepper mill, it also was used to grind coffee beans [source].
     
     
    ARE YOU A COFFEE LOVER?

    Take a look at our:

  • Coffee Glossary
  • Espresso Glossary
  • ________________

    *If coffee connoisseurs were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world. We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895. It’s still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

      

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    PRODUCTS: 5 Beverage Favorites

    1. ANGRY ORCHARD: ORCHARD’S EDGE KNOTTY PEAR

    Hard apple cider is hot, but what about perry?

    Pears are also turned into hard cider, called perry in the U.K.; but perry is not as well known in the U.S.

    American cider makers tend to label their perries as pear cider. And there are far fewer of them.

    We’ve had all of Angry Orchard’s 13 apple ciders, but these days it’s their one perry—a.k.a. Orchard’s Edge Knotty Pear—that has our attention.

    It’s available nationwide, and will open your eyes to the joys of pear hard cider. We need for more American cider lovers to try it and convince Angry Orchard that there is a market for more perry.

    The term perry comes from the Old French word for pear, peré (PEH-ray), from the Latin word for pear, pirum.

    As with apples, the pear varieties used to make cider tend to be sour, and aren’t pleasant eating.

    Next step: Look for Knotty Pear cider and buy it. If you find several brands, buy them all and have a perry tasting.

    Discover more about Angry Orchard ciders.
     
     
    2. COFFIG: ROASTED FIG COFFEE SUBSTITUTE

    We’ve tried caffeine-free coffee substitutes: Thanks but no thanks. But Coffig has succeeded in making a natural coffee alternative from roasted figs.

    We didn’t believe it until we tried it. It really does substitute for coffee, hot or iced. If you’re looking for an alternative, try it.

    We think you’ll like it. And there’s a 100% Money Back Customer Satisfaction Guarantee if you don’t.

    Coffig comes in convenient, individually wrapped “tea bags” for single cups; as well as in pouches of powder for making larger batches. The product is 100% roasted black figs.

    You can buy them on the website: Coffig.com, and on Amazon.
     
     
    3. SAMUEL ADAMS: GRAPEFRUIT REBEL IPA

    In 2014, Samuel Adams introduced Rebel IPA, their take on a West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale).

    West Coast-style IPAs use hops from the Pacific Northwest, which have different flavors than European hops, and generally have more hop intensity.

    We liked Rebel IPA. So did a lot of other people. It did so well in these IPA-happy times that siblings began to arrive: Rebel Rouser Double IPA, Rebel Rider Session IPA, Rebel Juiced IPA, Rebel White Citra IPA and our favorite, Rebel Grapefruit IPA.

    We are fans of wines with grapefruit notes, like French Sauvignon Blancs, and love it in beer, too. Rebel Grapefruit IPA is brewed with real grapefruit in the mash, for a prominence of flavor that complements the citrus of the hops.

    See it, try it. Find details at SamuelAdams.com.

    Find more beer types and terms in our Beer Glossary.

     
     
    4. SEALAND BIRK: ORGANIC BIRCH WATER

    First came coconut water, then maple water, and now birch water.

    The producer, Sealand Birk (birk is Danish for birch), advises: Drink your water from a tree—just like the Vikings used to…the people of the Nordic regions rejuvenate their body and soul after long, harsh winters with the uplifting spring tonic of birch tree water.

    Birch water has become “the detox ingredient de jour” thanks to its antioxidant- and mineral-rich nutrient profile. It won the drink category of the 2016 Nature & Health Natural Food Awards.

    We had the opportunity to drink the line at a trade show, and proclaimed every flavor (blueberry, cranberry, elderflower, gooseberry, mango, raspberry rhubarb) and the unflavored original winners.

    So where can you buy it? Write to info@sealandbirk.com with your zip code.

     

    Angry Orchard Knotty Pear

    Coffig

    Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA

    Birch Water, Blueberry Flavor

    Sprite Cherry Cola

    [1] Knotty Pear from Angry Orchard is a perry: pear cider (photo courtesy Angry Orchard). [2] Coffig is a coffee substitute made from figs (photo Pinterest). [3] Our new favorite beer from Samuel Adams: Rebel Grapefruit IPA (photo Boston Brewery). [4] Refreshing, nutritious water tapped from birch trees, available plain or flavored (photo Sealand Birk). [5] Sprite’s first new entry in 56 years: Cherry Sprite (photo Coca-Cola).

     
    Amazon lists three flavors (original, blueberry, raspberry) but they are “currently unavailable.”

    Hopefully they’re coming soon. You can ask to be emailed when they arrive.

    The company’s main website is based in Australia, and has e-commerce; but the U.S. website currently does not.

    Otherwise, you may just have to tap a birch tree.

    One could do worse than be a tapper of birches.
     
     
    5. SPRITE: CHERRY SPRITE & CHERRY SPRITE ZERO

    Lemon-lime Sprite was introduced to the U.S. in 1961 as a competitor to 7 Up. Why has it taken this long to come up with a line extension, Cherry Sprite?

    The answer is vending machine technology; specifically, Coca-Cola Freestyle, the touch screen soda fountain that has changed drink dispensing in movie theaters and other soda-thirsty locations.

    The machine features 165 different variations of Coca-Cola products: Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and the company’s other brands. Consumers can add flavors to their base drink of choice.

    Upon review of purchase data, cherry was the number-one flavor added to Sprite. Thus, you can now buy Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero in 20-ounce bottles in stores nationwide. The new flavor was a long time coming, but worth the wait.

    Theatre fans note: Formulations for the Freestyle dispenser and the bottled versions of Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero vary a bit. The most obvious difference is that Sprite with added cherry flavor from the Freestyle produces a red-tinted drink, whereas bottled Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero is clear.

    And LeBron James drinks it. See him at Sprite.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Aged Coffee & Nespresso Limited Edition Selection Vintage 2014

    Conventional coffee advice tells you to buy the freshest roasted beans, and grind them as you need to make coffee. Don’t buy more than you need for the week: Fresh is everything.

    But now, there’s aged coffee, a growing trend.

    Aged coffee is not analogous to old, stale, flat coffee. It comprises specially selected beans, that are aged using techniques that bring out the best aged qualities.

    While the marketing message compares aged coffee to aged balsamic vinegar, whiskey, wine, etc., that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. Still, aged coffee isn’t exactly new. The first coffee drunk by Europeans was aged.

    THE HISTORY OF AGED COFFEE

    Venetian traders first brought coffee to Europe in 1615, but it wasn’t a “quick trip” from Venice.

    At the time, all imported coffee beans came from the port of Mocha, in what is now Yemen. It traveled south by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, then all the way up the west coast of Africa, continuing northward to England.

    By the time the coffee arrived, exposure to salt air over time significantly changed the taste of the coffee. When coffee was subsequently grown in Indonesia, the voyage was even longer.

    Europeans came to prefer the flavor over “fresh” coffee. In fact, when the Suez Canal opened in 1869, greatly shortening the voyage, Europeans still preferred the aged coffee to the fresher beans.

    And so it came to be that some coffee was intentionally aged for six months or longer in large, open-sided warehouses in shipping ports—plenty of salty ocean air to transform the beans.

    Over time, preferences changed. Fresh coffee beans became the preferred type of coffee in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

    However, everything old is new again, and aged coffee has become the old new style to try.

    Here’s more history of coffee.

    AGED COFFEE HAS BEEN IN THE U.S. FOR A WHILE

    Starbucks has been aging coffee for certain single-origin coffees and for signature blends, such as Anniversary Blend and Christmas Blend.

    At Peet’s, you can find Aged Sumatra Coffee.

    Boutique producers also have introduced customers to the joys of aged coffee.

    Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis has a Barrel Aged Coffee Series.

    Water Avenue Coffee in Portland, Oregon sells Oak Barrel Aged Sumatra Coffee and Pinot Noir Barrel Aged El Salvador Coffee.

    So is aged coffee a connoisseur product, or a marketing throwback to the past?

    It is definitely the former! Everyone who savors a full-bodied cup of coffee black should try it. Why black? Well…add too much milk and sugar and you won’t taste the marvelous nuances.

    What To Know About Aged Coffee

       

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    Sumatra Coffee Beans

    Espresso Beans

    [1] A glass of Nespresso aged coffee from the 2014 vintage (photo courtesy Nespresso). [2] Sumatra coffee beans: aged (top) versus unaged (photo courtesy Starbucks Melody). [3] Roasted and ready to grind (photo © Nebojsa Rozgic).

  • Only certain types of green (unroasted) coffee bean varieties age well; but there’s no single formula. Indonesian beans that are full-bodied and low in acidity, particularly Sumatra and Sulawesi beans that are semi-dry processed, can develop a spicy, complex flavor as they age.
  • On the other hand, some bright, acidic wet-processed Latin American coffees (which mellow as they age).
  • The beans must be aged under the right circumstances, including humidity, or their oils will evaporate, taking with them much of the aroma and flavor. Depending on the bean and the terroir, the aging technique can vary.
  • As with wine, each vintage has its own characteristics, and must be aged accordingly to create a unique, complex taste profile.
  • Unlike with some wines and whiskeys, ongoing aging does not improve the coffee: It simply loses more of its flavor.
  •  

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    [4] and [5] Nespresso Limited Edition Selection Vintage 2014 contains three sleeves.

     

    HOW TO CREATE AGED COFFEE

    Beans with the promise to age well are carefully aged under conditions that are best for the particular type of bean and vintage. As with many agricultural products, the “terroir” of the bean—the type of land, climate, seasonal weather and other environmental factors—produces different flavors and aromas in the finished product.

    After harvesting, the beans are bagged in burlap and regularly rotated to distribute moisture and prevent mold and rot. Some roasters prefer to age the beans in wine or whiskey barrels to impart still more flavors and aromas to the finished beans.

    The beans are usually aged at their origin, often at a higher altitude, where the temperature and humidity are more stable.

    Aging time ranges from six months to three years. Samples are roasted and brewed several times a year during the aging process and when the desired flavors have been achieved, are roasted after they are finished aging.

    A dark roast is best, as it evens out the flavor and accentuates the body of the coffee. Sometimes they are blended with other aged beans.

    However, some connoisseurs prefer a light roast on single-origin aged coffees, which better emphasizes the single-origin qualities.

     
    As more people embrace aged coffee, no doubt, there will be options to everyone’s taste.

    INTRODUCING NESPRESSO’S FIRST AGED COFFEE:
    THE LIMITED EDITION SELECTION VINTAGE 2014

    For the first time, super-premium coffee brand Nespresso now offers coffee lovers the chance to taste aged coffee.

    After years of development and expertise, Nespresso experts selected Arabica beans from the highlands of Colombia, which promised to age well. These beans, from the 2014 harvest, were then stored under controlled conditions for two years.

    They were then ready to roast. The experts selected a sophisticated split roasting technique: One part of the beans was roasted lighter to protect the elegant aromas specific to these beans; the other part was roasted darker to reveal the maturity of the taste and enhance the richness of the texture.

    The result: a cup of espresso that is rich in body, mellow in flavor and velvety-smooth in texture. An elegant woodiness is layered with fruity notes.

    The goal—to create a new sensory experience for coffee aficionados—has been achieved! The aged coffee is a real treat—and a great gift idea.

    Don’t let this limited edition slip through your fingers. Get yours now, in either original or Vertuo capsules.

    Then, we can both look forward to the next aged vintage!
     
     
    HOW MANY COFFEE REGIONS CAN YOU NAME?

    More than 40 countries around the world grow coffee.

    How many can you name? (The answer.)

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Chocolate & Tea

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea With White Chocolate

    [1] Simple: a bite of chocolate, a sip of tea (photo courtesy Republic Of Tea). [2] Fancier (photo courtesy Marcolini Chocolate). [3] Elegant presentation from [3] Republic Of Tea and [4] Woodhouse Chocolate. [5] White chocolate pairs with black, green and herbal teas (photo courtesy Lindt).

     

    If you’re a tea lover, here’s an idea for just the two of you, or for a larger party of friends: Pair chocolate with tea.

    Tea and chocolate are excellent pairing companions. There is so much variety of flavor in each, it seems that there are endless possibilities.

    If you have an educated chocolate palate, go further in your exploration. As you would with wine pairings, see what works with what.

    We’ve provided some guidelines, but before you start, the rules are:

  • You need quality tea and quality chocolate.
  • Remember that as with wine, tea is adaptable to unconventional pairings. The fun (and learning experience) of a tasting party is that you get to try them all, and see which you personally prefer.
  • There are obvious pairings—citrussy tea with citrussy chocolate, for example; and opposite pairings. Otherwise stated: enhance or contrast.
  • In other words, there is no right or wrong: just what you like.
  • Try the teas black, before adding milk (as desired) and sugar (only if you deem it essential).
  • You don’t have to taste everything in one day. For example, we focused on event only on white chocolate pairings.
  •  
    TEA WITH DARK CHOCOLATE

    Dark chocolate also calls for a hearty black tea. The aforementioned Assam, English Breakfast and Masala Chai work here.

    But for adventure, try:

  • Green tea: Try a nuttier green, such as Dragon Well or Gen Mai Cha.
  • Lapsang Souchong, Russian Caravan: heavily smoky teas work well with bittersweet chocolates.
  • Pu-erh‡.
  • Hojicha: If the chocolate has “red fruit” notes. Single origin bars from Cuyagua, Ocumare, Rio Caribe, São Tomé, Sur del Lago.
  • Jasmine-scented Pouchong or lightly-oxidized Oolong. These have floral that pair with a single-origin chocolate that has natural floral notes, such as Valrhona Guanaja.
  •  
    Here’s more information on single origin chocolate flavors.
     
    TEA WITH MILK CHOCOLATE

    Milk chocolate should be paired with a hearty black tea that takes milk.

  • Assam, from the highlands of India has malty characteristics, is ideal (and is one of our favorite teas). As an alternative, English Breakfast is a blend which has a base of Assam*.
  • Masala chai is Assam with spices. Each home or manufacturer has a favorite mix, which can include allspice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel seeds, ginger, nutmeg and star anise. Here’s how to make masala chai with spices from your kitchen.
  • Darjeeling* is lighter, but an interesting contrast to the stronger black teas. With a floral aroma. The flavour can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness sometimes described as “muscatel.”
  • Earl Grey with milk pairs well with creamy milk chocolate.
  • Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong tea or other “toasty” teas with sweet milk chocolate.
  •  
    TEA WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

    White chocolate is milky, often with caramel notes. These teas both compare and contrast:

  • Assam or Earl Grey black tea.
  • Gen Mai Cha (genmaicha): green tea with toasted rice (also the perfect pairing for a bar with crisped rice [like an artisan Nestlé’s Crunch]).
  • Herbal teas: rooibos, peppermint and numerous others. This is a pairing where you can find favorite flavors, from anise to lavender.
  • Jasmine black or green tea.
  • Masala Chai.
  • Matcha, Dragon Well or Sencha green teas.
  • Oolong semi-oxidized† tea.
  •  
    WITH FILLED & FLAVORED CHOCOLATES OR SINGLE-ORIGIN CHOCOLATE BARS

    Bonbons and chocolate bars and bark can be flavored with particular seasonings; but single origin chocolate bars carry the flavors of their particular origins.

    When we say an chocolate bar has, say, a profile of “red fruits,” it doesn’t mean that raspberries have been added to it. Rather, the beans produced in that particular area. Here’s more about single origin chocolate flavors.

    But whether the red fruits—or citrus, or coffee, or other flavor—is inherent to the bean or an added flavor, the pairing strategy is the same.

  • Any fruit-filled chocolate or fruity bar: Earl Grey, Jasmine black or green, floral Oolongs like Ti Kuan Yin Oolong.
  • Berries: Raspberry, strawberry or other berries pair nicely with Hojicha.
  • Caramel: Assam or Ceylon black tea, Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong teas or “toasty” tea.
  • Cherry: Try Darjeeling with chocolate-covered cherries.
  • Chile/Aztec: Lapsang Souchong, Pu-Erh or other strong black tea; Masala Chai.
  • Citrus: Bai Hao Oolong, Ceylon, Earl Grey (which is scented with Bergamot orange oil).
  • Floral: Jasmine, Pu-Erh.
  • Nuts: Pai Mu Tan (White Peony Tea), Dragon Well green tea or others with nutty notes.
  • Sea Salt: Assam.
  •  
    SUPPORTING INFORMATION

  • Tea
  • Chocolate Flavors Chart
  • Single Origin Chocolate Flavors
  • ________________

    *For food geeks: Most of the tea grown is the original Chinese tea plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, known for thousands of years. The only other known variety, the larger-leaf Assam plant (C. sinensis var. assamica), was observed by a Scottish explorer. It was sent to Calcutta There, for classification and the plant was finally identified as a variety of Camellia sinensis, but different from the Chinese plant. While most of the tea grown in the world is Camellia sinensis, Assam is the largest tea-growing region in the world. The region is extremely hot and humid, which contributes to Assam’s unique malty taste. Darjeeling, also an Indian-grown tea, grows in the highlands, and is the original Camellia sinensis varietal.

    †Oolong is semi-fermented or semi-oxidized (semi-green) tea that falls between green and black tea on the fermentation continuum (black tea ferments for two to four hours; for oolong, the fermentation process is interrupted in the middle).

    ‡Pu-erh is a special category of tea from Yunnan province of China. The tea is fermented and aged so that the flavors and aromas are very earthy. Pu-erh teas are available in black, brick green, oolong, and white. Here’s more about it.
     

      

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