Classes teach how to brew better tea

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It is easy to make a good cup of tea and even easier to make a bad one. According to Bill Waddington of TeaSource, using boiling water to make green tea will make it so bitter you can strip furniture with it. So he has developed a series of classes to take the mystery out of making tea.

Scheduled from May 16 to July 11, TeaSource classes fall into four categories: Tea Basics, Green Basics, All About Oolongs, and Iced Tea Basics. Each two hours long, the workshops include lectures, demonstrations, and tea tastings. More than six different teas will be featured at each session with additional samples for tasting at home.

Of the more than 3,000 types of tea available throughout the world, Waddington offers 250 with some specially blended in his St. Anthony location. Some are very rare and not available anywhere else in the U.S. Yet, all are derived from the same type of plant, Camellia Sinensis. Varieties are created by their surroundings, climate, and the soil in which they are grown. Major tea producing countries are China, India, and Ceylon (Sir Lanka), and they export green, black, or oolong tea.

Green leaves are allowed to whither slightly after they are picked and are then rapidly heated. Black tea is allowed to whither, is then oxidized to remove water from the leaves, and finally infused with oxygen that turns the leaves black. Oolong is partially oxidized to produce subtle flavors. Then there is a very special oolong, Puerh, the only tea that is deliberately aged. It is the strongest tea in the world and has sold at auction for more than $20,000 per pound.

TeaSource’s Tea Basics class provides an overview of the major tea categories. Each will be prepared and tasted to demonstrate the different ranges of flavors available in tea. There will be information on tea history and production and attendees are encouraged to ask questions about their favorite tea.

The Green Tea Basics class will focus on six different green teas with emphasis on preparation and production. Participants will learn that green tea should be made with gently steaming water of about 170 degrees in order to have a smooth, sweet tasting tea. Also, the health aspects of green tea will be discussed.

All About Oolongs will examine many of the varieties of this aromatic, sometimes fruity tasting tea. And Iced Tea Basics will look at four different ways to make iced tea for one person or 200.

Classes will be held Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at both TeaSource stores. Cost is $10 each, and requires advanced registration. Call 612-788-4842 or register at either TeaSource store: St. Anthony Shopping Center, 2908 Pentagon Drive NE, St. Anthony, or 752 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul. For the complete schedule visit “www.teasource.com”:http://www.teasource.com or call for information.

Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the website at www.asianculinaryarts.com.

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