Tag Archives: tea

Tea for December: Week 1

It’s been an exciting week of teas. Someone said my project sounded like an advent calendar, so I decided I could make that work. I’ll continue to fill it out as the month proceeds. I’ve been posting my drink every day on Twitter; you can find my feed on the right side of my home page.

Little Tea factoid of the week

Do you know what oolong tea is? Oolong tea is partially-oxidized tea. When you leave an apple on a table and it turns brown, that’s oxidation. Green tea is unoxidized, and black tea is fully oxidized. (The oxidation process is fancier than letting it sit out, but that’s the basic chemistry.) Oolong is the tea in between. There are green oolongs (less oxidized) and black oolongs (more oxidized). Above all else, oolongs are delicious.

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Tea for December

I love tea. Even in elementary school I began the day with tea; when I was little I drank herbal and eventually I transitioned to true-blue camellia sinensis. Today I drink about 3 liters of tea every day. It starts and ends and fills my day with joy. When my stomach was upset, when I was on a restricted medical diet—tea was there. On my desk right now I have a Darjeeling 2nd Flush black tea and a sweet Genmaicha green tea (green tea with roasted rice in it). I am drinking English breakfast tea with rose that I brought from home.

Only recently did I seek to learn more about tea. I knew I liked black teas and smoky green teas and, with that constraint, I’d go to the tea shop, sniff around (literally), and pick out some winners. I realized that, other than the flavor, I didn’t know anything about the teas I was drinking. What made them different? Could I find more teas that I would love if I could understand my tastes better? I bought a copy of Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties, from which I learned about where tea is grown, what kinds of tea each country grows, and how they differ.

As with everything, I get into habits with my tea drinking. Lately, I drink English breakfast tea (EBT!) with rose most mornings. For a strong treat, I drink New Vithanakande Ceylon black tea. For a fancy treat, I drink Yunnan Golden Buds black tea. For a mellow treat, I drink Tie Guan Yin Oolang tea. My local tea shop, New Mexico Tea Company, is wonderful.

So this December I plan to drink a different tea every day. December is a wonderful time to drink warm drinks. Tea is a calorie-free treat in a season filled with pies and cookies and roasts. And tea is delicious and it’s a good way to try new things.

Suggestions (especially of fancy blacks) and fellow tea drinkers are welcome! Happy drinking!

Fun Facts 76-100!

A few posts ago, I challenged myself to post 100 facts I found interesting, to celebrate the 100th post of my blog. It was rather hard to do this all for one blog post, so I stretched them across a couple posts. So here they are, the last 25! You can find the first 50 here, and facts 51-75 here.

It was a lot harder goal than I thought it would be, but it was also fun too. Probably it was extra challenging because in the mean time, I was preparing for a huge exam, finishing a novel draft, and on vacation. Now I’m through those, so no more excuses! 25 more facts!

 

76. Iodine is the heaviest element commonly needed by organisms with an atomic weight of 127. Iodine is added to table salt to help people get their daily amount of iodine. Consuming too little iodine can affect the thyroid gland; pregnant women who don’t consume enough iodine can give birth to less-intelligent babies.

77. Baseball player Hack Wilson holds the single season record for RBIs, with 160. His odd physique was considered notable; he had a barrel chest and tiny legs and odd facial features. Scientists now believe he had fetal alcohol syndrome, which results in distinctive facial features.

78. Water is an unusual compound in a number of ways. For one, its most common solid phase is less dense than its liquid phase, thus why ice floats in water. There are actually 15 phases of solid ice. The chart here shows a number of them.

79. Ice XI is found in some Antarctic ice. It’s actually thought to be more stable than regular ice, but it takes millennia to form.

80. A diamond isn’t forever. Solid carbon also comes in several structures, such as diamond, coal, and buckyballs. Diamond isn’t the most stable state at room temperature and pressure, and very, very slowly converts back to coal.

81. There are 109 species of tulips.

82. In the 1630s in Europe, speculation on tulips led to a bubble and then a collapse called the “tulip mania“. It is considered the first speculative bubble.

83. The Sognefjord in Norway is one of the longest and deepest fjords in the world (127 miles long, 4300 ft deep). This is deeper than the adjacent sea.

84. There are coral reefs at the bottom of some fjords, discovered as recently as the year 2000. This is why there is often rich fishing in the fjords.

85. The number of Norwegian descendants living in the United States is roughly equal to the current population of Norway.

86. There are fewer people living permanently in the fjord country of Norway today than there were in the mid 1800’s.

87. To some extent, you can tell when a person’s family emigrated from Norway based upon where they settled. The earliest settlements were in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Settlements then moved west to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota. (This will irrelevant to most readers, but interested me: Westby, WI is the second most Norwegian speaking town in the US, and Vernon county, WI is the 6th most Norwegian speaking county in the country.)

88. The earliest chemical evidence for the existence of beer dates back to 3500 BC, though it may have been produced as early as 9500 BC when the grains were first grown.

89. The first addition of hops (the agent which adds bitterness and also acts as a preservative) to beer was mentioned in the year 822. The India Pale Ale is known as a bitter beer because many hops were added for its journey from Britain to India. They preserved the beer and helped to conceal bad flavors too.

90. Lagers are produced by bottom-fermenting yeasts, while ales are produced by top-fermenting yeasts. Lagers also are fermented at lower temperatures. Bottom-fermenting yeasts are a relatively recent innovation, and lagers weren’t mass-produced until the mid 1800s. The world’s top-selling beers are now all lagers.

91. Hops are being investigated as possibly useful in hormone replacement treatments. They are currently used in preparations for treating menstrual cramps.

92. The Czech Republic drinks the most beer per capita of any country in the world. Beer in CZ can be bought for 28 Kr at a restaurant. The exchange rate today is 19.6 Kr to the US dollar, or $1.43 for a pint. The US is 12th per capita.

93. Cashews are a relative to poison ivy and poison sumac. The irritant is contained in the skin of the fruit. This is why they aren’t sold in their shells. People who are sensitive to poison ivy can react to contact with cashews or mangos, which are also related.

94. Coffee first arrived in Europe in the 1500s. In 1600, the pope declared it a “christian drink”, settling concerns of its Muslim origins. Some have speculated that the arrival of coffee in Europe brought about the Renaissance.

95. Finland drinks the most coffee per year, at over 12 kg of beans per person. Most of the top of the list is dominated by Scandinavian countries, doubtless to fight off the long winter nights. The US is way down at #26, with 4.2 kg per person per year.

96. The earliest recording of tea drinking was in China in 1000 BC. Tea first reached England in 1660, but it took awhile before it was an everyday drink.

97. The greatest per capita consumer of tea is Paraguay, at 11 kg per year per person. The US is way down at #70, consuming half a kilogram a year. I am doing my part to bring our average up.

98. Chocolate was cultivated at least as early as 1100 BC in central america. Most of it is produced now in West Africa, specifically Côte d’Ivoire.

99. White chocolate does in fact contain derivatives of the cocoa plant. In the US, it is required to have at least 20% cocoa butter by weight. Since it does not contain cocoa solids, it doesn’t contain caffeine.

100. There is a strong correlation between a country’s chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel prize winners it has. This result was published in the New England journal of medicine.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found the facts as interesting as I did to find them, but boy and I glad I’m done with them. =)