More and more people are drinking loose leaf teas, green tea, white tea or Oolong tea, now in the office appreciating the additional quality and enjoyment they offer.

Making a cup of tea from loose leaves in an office sometimes however can be less feasible, you need at least a teapot and a cup.

As much as the Chinese love their premium loose teas, at home or at the office, a tea infuser all-in-one is invented to overcome this obstacle.

These tea infusers are composed by two compartments:

  1. The upper/inner chamber where the tea is brewed. It is equipped by a valve which allows a perfect control of the tea brewing time with a touch of a button.
  2. The lower compartment where the tea brew is drained to can be used a serving teapot or a tea cup to drink from.
  3. The lid is also a perfect saucer, for the brewing compartment to sit on when the lower compartment is being used as a teapot or cup.

Your have questions, there are answers. Just as the Chinese say ‘it is better to be deprived of food for a day than tea’.

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Weight management is a question, desire, dream, challenge, quest, game, journey, investment, and disappointment for so many in our date’s society.  For some commercial companies, this desperate yearning of being fit and healthy also becomes a profit making vehicle that only leads to an end that see either no result or unsustainable results.

An article published today with a title ‘Why diets don’t work – three things you need to know (Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/why-diets-don8217t-work-8211-three-things-you-need-to-know-20140820-1069er.html )’ with an analysis of interaction between one’s mind and body, and how a desire is not necessarily leading to a desirable result, is a restatement of our previous blog ‘Weight management 1 – why we put it on? ’, with some further recommendation on how to achieve a successful result without breaking your back and pockets.

This lead to what we have always also been advocating – making SUSTAINABLE lifestyle changes, should it be diet, exercise and supplements.

It is an absolute heartache to see desperate people being led to false promises and the only lesson learnt is not to try again.

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Many are drinking green tea these days due to their overwhelming health benefits researched and reported.

Many however turn up at the local supermarket and grab a box of teabags. The scenario is often they find them difficult to swallow let alone enjoy and can only put up with them for so long.

A few hints to help you to find your cup of green tea:

  1. Unlikely commercial tea bags, there are many varieties of premium loose leaf pure green teas (unblended). There are more than 300 alone in China recorded, many times more folk teas have never made it to the record. The teas are made in different areas, using different sub-species of plants grown under different climate conditions and processed by different traditional methods. The end results are teas looking different and tastes different. Try a variety of them and the chances are there will be one that is your favourite.
  2. Purchase the right teas from the right supplier. Premium pure tea is an art of its’ own and a supplier who understands premium teas will certainly help in the teas they source. If you are not sure, ask for samples and a genuine supplier will be more than proud to show off their teas.
  3. Lean to make premium green teas the right way. The traditional English tea making with a big teapot and soak the tea for a long time will ruin the green tea no matter how good quality it is. On the other hand however, you do not need a tea ceremony to make a cup of green tea.  Just a few cautions, such as tea leaf amount, water temperature and brewing time, and after that it is all in your hands. Experiment until you get your perfect cup of tea.
  4. Select the right tea vessel. Teas are very delicate in flavours and will take any odors and flavours around them. Avoid anything that is modern, such plastic, iron or aluminum to store or brew teas where possible. A cupper with the plastic taste is not a flavour for anyone for sure.

Green teas are extremely refreshing. A good quality one will make you wanting to come back for more and more, especially after a rich meal. I remember my village born and died (when she was nearly 100 years old) grandmother could not live a day without her tea.

Green tea could be a lifestyle change with plenty of the enjoyment, so do not drink to put up with it! We Chinese have enjoyed for about 2000 years.

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Weight management is an industry itself. As someone mentioned to me earlier, ‘as soon as you mention a weight loss product, the women (she surprisingly did not know that the long term consumers of our Natural Shape – Lotus Leaf Herbal Slimming Tea are just as many men are women) will have their hands in their purses immediately’.

Obesity is life style issue and is an inevitable by-product of our modern society, long working hours, high level of stress, lack of time for home cooking and excessive consumption of sugar rich beverages just to name a few. People look for solution naturally: some pay (pills, surgeries, pre-prepared frozen foods), some work hard (parks are full of working out people before and after business hours) and some simply give up (after failed attempts or unsustainable results).

It is so easy said than done to just say ‘change your life style’. When you have bills to pay, you work. When you work, you do not have time to shop, cook, exercise, relax and when you are stressed, you reach out for comfort food.

It is not my intention to offer advice here to quit work and live as a saint. There are however small steps to be taken as part of one’s comprehensive approach to combat this threat that has gone far beyond than just an image issue – it is turning into one of the biggest killers of our contemporary era.

The herbal slimming tea we offer is made of six traditional Chinese herbs all with slimming functions, but affecting human metabolism from various angles. The herbs have been proven by Chinese medicine to have not only slimming effects, but many other health benefits: for examples, reducing blood cholesterol level and thus preventing high blood pressure, enhancing body immune system, cancer preventive, anti-inflammatory and adoptogenic etc. See Lotus Leaf Slimming Tea for more information.

When you are at work and stressed, instead of reaching out for a coffee or biscuits, make yourself a cup of warm herbal tea and drink as many to your heart’s content. We recommend to drink 3-5 tea bags a day to lose weight. Many of our customers drink less than that on a regular base for their health benefits. You may think to lose weight and stay healthy is too good to be true, yet this is what we (Chinese) have been doing for a long time. We believe both health and diseases come from what you put in your mouth and the theory has stood the test of time.

 

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Green tea is a hot keyword these days. Many however understand it through the images and articles portraying it as a pale green colour liquid medicine – with a long list of health benefits.

Green tea was discovered accidentally and had been consumed in China for 2000 plus years before we started studying its health benefits. Our ancestors drank it because they enjoyed it.

Over the long history of green tea consumption in China, more than 300 varieties have been invented and it has become a product of history, culture and art.

Green teas are made of the leaves of a simple plant called Camellia sinensis.  The hundreds of varieties, each with its unique natures to mark their own identity are a result of their different: plant species, cultivation environment, harvesting skills and making skills. The final product is a unique leaf beverage with nothing but individualities.

There is a culture build around each green tea production and consumption, the final brew looks similar in bright light green, but their aroma, taste, texture and after taste can only be experienced and described individually. The most amazing bit is that all these come from a simple plant leaf – no additives are required. In fact the additives are only used when covering up is needed for the low quality products.  (Very similar premium wines.)

To fully benefit from green teas’ rich anti-oxidants, the first step is to lean to enjoy the tea itself.

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Teas are categorised into 6 classes according to the degree of fermentation during their processing: green teas are unfermented; white teas are lightly fermented by hardly processed (rubbed, rolled or baked); yellow teas are partially fermented, but being put through a unique process called ‘Men Huang’ to produce the unique yellow appearance and yellow tea taste; Oolong teas are semi-fermented and black teas are fully fermented. There is also a sixth category called compressed tea (Pu-erh tea) that the teas continue to ferment after being produced.

The confusion starts when a tea brew without added milk is called black by certain western cultures.  With the increasing popularity of green tea in recent years largely due to their numerous health benefits, it adds another dimension to the confusion – many call any leaf tea green including herbal teas (teas made of all other plants and parts apart from Camellia sinensis leaves). The classification becomes more intangible when white tea is mentioned: it is a black tea with added milk by western culture and the real white tea is a unique class of teas that are lightly fermented by least processed, nothing to do with if milk is added or not.

The discussions about teas, especially their health benefits are intense these days. Let’s start from getting the terms right so that at least we know we are talking about the same things.

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Tea was invented more than 2000 years ago and has stood the test of time for more reasons than one. It has also produced many ‘offspring’, mostly under the umbrella of ‘blends’ or ‘chai’ created through simple mixing but which makes them appear to be exotic and exciting.

Caught in the middle is tea itself; it came from ancient times and seems to want to be left just the way it always was: it loves natural spring water, an open fire and unglazed clay tea ware. The modern synthetic products take the real glory out of it.

To the younger generation of tea drinkers however, the good old cup of tea somehow belongs to their grandparents’ era. It is simply not flashy enough for their modern life styles. Yet, they are attracted to tea because of the continuing publicity in the media portraying tea as a healthy, carb free beverage which offers many health benefits. The market somehow has managed to create various ‘creative versions’ in a short time to meet demands and these are called blends. A fancy label is usually attached under the brand of the company.

Mankind consumes tea for several reasons: to relieve thirst, for taste enjoyment and more recently because it has been advocated as a beverage that offers many health benefits. There are no apparent reasons for the new ‘blends’ to offer anything additional apart from in the area of ‘taste’.

As democratic as we are, we do believe that ‘everyone has a different taste’. It is only fair to allow the space for creativity and experimentation. My personal experience so far however has led me to believe that the original is still the best.

Tea is similar to wine to a large extent, the art of growing and processing is highly specialised and there is a strong culture associated with its consumption. In China, there are sub-cultures associated with individual teas, in relation to their production and consumption. For example in the green tea family alone, there are more than 300 Chinese green teas. They are produced in different areas, using different species of tea plants, cultivated under different climate and soil conditions and produced for a harmonic match with the local diet. There is one thing that the Chinese do NOT do, however, which is to blend/mix the premium teas. These teas are naturally balanced in their aroma, flavour and texture and are there to be enjoyed but not covered or converted. A good cup of tea is described as dew from heaven.

Teas of low quality are handled differently; they are often turned into teabags and used in blends. Generally speaking, the low quality teas are bitter with a rough texture, they need a ‘face lift’.

Finally, traditional teas do not necessarily stay as fossils forever.  They are often regenerated and fine-tuned by the specialist tea masters for further developments. This art requires special knowledge and experience in the area of tea processing.  For example, a Chinese premium black called JinJunMei has recently been developed on the back of the traditional black tea Lapsang souchong. Its unique high class quality has been acknowledged and accepted by the tea drinking community almost immediately and it has very quickly made it to the top selling tea list in China.

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With teas becoming more popular each day, vastly due to the negative health effects of sugar rich beverage consumption and health benefits of tea drinking, teashops are sprouting up daily. The new shops and exiting suppliers are also scrambling to invent ‘exotic new teas’ to attract customers. Blending (or mixing) teas is a quick and easy fix, blending conventional teas with blossoms, fruits or spices.  The question is if it is the right thing to do?

Teas are ancient products, invented by the Chinese more than 2000 years ago and categorised into six main categories based on their processing methods. There are many teas within each category, each developed over a long period of time with their unique appearance, taste, production and culture of consumption.  Attempts to ‘modernise’ this product is like trying to modify and polish antique objects.

Premium teas, should it be green tea, white tea, Oolong tea or black tea, are rich in their own distinctive aromas, flavours and aftertastes. They are there to be enjoyed, but not covered up.

The low quality ones however are different. They are often stile and heavily oxidised (please see the note below), resulting in the teas being bitter with rough texture. These teas are often used in blends for the purpose of ‘face lifting’ in the teas’ native country China where appreciation of quality teas is highly developed.

Note: Many confuse oxidisation with fermentation – they are very different mechanisms. Black teas are fully fermented, but not necessarily oxidised. Read more about tea quality at: Tea Quality

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I have come crossed some questions recently on Linked in which I believed are for many:

  • Hello XXX, do please throw some light which is the best area which produces the best Oolong tea. I thought Taiwan was superior. Anything better still? XXX
  • Taiwan does have outstanding oolongs, and many people consider them to be some of the best — especially their high mountain oolongs. Personally we buy most of our oolongs from Taiwan, but favour China for many of our top quality green tea and white tea.
  • I would like to add a comment to XXX’s question – In my mind, Oolong is not the same as Wulong. Oolong tea is a short fermented (less oxidized) tea with less color and closer to a green tea and Wulong which is also called Wu Yi Oolong is a more fermented (more oxidized) tea with more color, closer to a black tea. Some of the less oxidized high elevation Oolongs come from Taiwan, but China is gaining ground in this sector also. Wu Yi Oolong on the other hand comes only from China. I am open to correction.

My response to this:

Hi every one, I am from Fu Jian province – the birth place of Oolong teas. Here is some info on our site regarding Oolong, Wulong and Wu Long: https://www.valleygreentea.com.au/oolong-wulong-tea/oolong-tea-inf.html

Teas are categorised by degree of fermentation: green teas are unfermented, black teas are fully fermented and Oolong teas are semi-fermented. It is a class of teas including Taiwan Oolong and Wu Yi rock teas. Wulong is just a different version of English translation from a different Fu Jian dialect. The Fu Jian province is the birth place of Oolong teas. One of the most popular one is called Tie Guan Yin and some early migrants took it to Taiwan, modified it over the years to become Tiawan Oolong. Tiawan Oolong is produced by slightly different method and more fermented than Fu Jian Tie Guan Yin. Taste wise, it has a stronger after taste, but less up front floral aroma.

Wu Yi rock tea is a sub-class of Oolong tea, produced in Wu Yi mountain area of the Fu Jian province. Because the bushes are grown of rocky mountains and they have their own unique making method, people tend to call them Wu Yi rock tea as a sub-category.

Hope this is of some help.

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There has been a recent report that many top brands of Chinese teas have been found to contain banned pesticides. For those who enjoy their daily serving of tea, what are the implications?

This article attempts to explore the reasons behind the use of pesticides in the tea farming industry in China, the ways to avoid/minimise the potential adverse effects, and how these claims will benefit the tea industry in the long term.

Reasons behind the use of pesticides:

  1. High demand for quantity. The tea market in China is much bigger than in the west. It would be hard to find a Chinese family that does not have a tea set in use. With such a big population and so many tea drinkers, the demand is understandably high.
  2. High demand for quality. Similar to wine in the west, high quality teas are sought after in China. To produce high quality teas, well developed tea leaves are the first step and the cost of using manmade pesticides is much lower than an organic one.
  3. Lack of knowledge of certain Chinese tea farmers in relation to the potential health impact of harmful pesticides.
  4. Residuals in the farm lands from previous agriculture.
  5. Some are just bad ethics, practice driven by profits only.
  6. Lack of effective monitoring systems to regulate and track the pesticide use in the industry.

Ways of avoiding/minimising the potential pesticide contamination and their adverse effects:

As the original report pointed out ‘most of the residue levels are far below the national standard so people do not need to panic’ – the traditional Chinese way of saying it is: the clouds do not always mean rain.

I personally do not have serious concerns when I drink my cup of tea, provided the tea is in the premium quality range. My reasons are:

  1. The farmers producing the premium quality teas are aware that to safeguard the quality and price of their final products, they need to take good care of every stage of the tea production and therefore have less tendency to overuse pesticides like the mass producers of low quality teas (often used in blends or tea bags).
  2. The teas themselves have a detoxifying capacity. The noble Chinese ancient herbalist Shen-Nong used to drink teas daily to combat the toxicities as he tasted thousands of herbs/plants (some being health beneficial and others toxic) for the compilation of his first ever herbal dictionary – Shen-Nong Ben Cao. Recent researches have also documented that tea drinking can reduce the effects of various harmful substances including heavy metals.
  3. Tea consumers also need to be aware that when pesticide residuals are tested in the labs, the tea leaves are ground for the extracts to be tested. When teas are consumed as beverages, we rarely digest the whole tea leaves.

If the above is not enough to bring about some peace in tea consumers’ minds, there are also various ways of reducing the potentially adverse effects of pesticides:

  1. Purchase organic teas or wild plant teas. The cost of purchasing these teas is higher for the same quality grade. These teas (or at least those offered at Valley Green Tea) are, however, produced from plantations where organic farming is certified by the regulating bodies, or leaves harvested from wild plants.
  2. Rinse the tea leaves for 30 seconds with hot water (add hot water to the tea leaves in a teapot for 30 seconds and dispose of the water before brewing) to substantially reduce the potential dust and pesticide contamination.
  3. One of the routine sayings at Valley Green Tea is to ‘know the farmer, know the products’.  We make every effort to get to know the tea farmers and plantations. I believe that only when I get to know the tea producers, will I get the first-hand knowledge of whether the farmers are environmentally-conscious and practise ethical farming, or are driven by profits only. We select our suppliers carefully and change them whenever necessary.

Good news or bad news?

Finally, I believe that the recent claim may damage consumer confidence to some extent, but will benefit the Chinese tea industry in the long term. It will draw more attention from the regulating bodies to further monitor the products and farming practices and introduce relevant guidelines to ensure the healthy sustainability of the industry. Teas have been consumed in China for more than 2000 years and there is no sign of this stopping.

And for the tea consumers and tea suppliers like VGT? We believe peace of mind goes down well with a nice cup of tea.

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