National Tea Day

April 22, 2022 – Augusta Welsh, Adult Services

National Tea Day is celebrated in the United States on April 21st of each year.

To celebrate National Tea Day, I plan on drinking several cups of tea and dreaming about soft scones and tiny cakes. In short, just another Thursday. I love black tea and buy Earl Grey in bulk. I used to think I could count myself among the tea aficionados of the world based on my tea intake alone. As I learned more about tea, how it is produced, what gives it its flavor, or what makes it special, I realized that what I knew about it could fit into, well, a teaspoon. 

Tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub that grows new leaves continuously over the year. It flowers with small white blossoms, which are not typically used in making the tea. The tea leaves are plucked at different times of the year, and at different stages of growth. The amount of time the leaves are exposed to the air–oxidation–also affects the type of tea produced. 

Types of Tea:
* Black: a dark tea that is rolled, crushed, and exposed to the air as much as possible to produce its rich and often astringent flavor.
* Green: a green colored tea that steams newly grown leaves to prevent oxidation to give the tea a light, springy flavor.
* Yellow: mellow tea with very little oxidation; only leaves grown in a certain mountain region in China and plucked during spring are considered yellow tea.
* White: mellow tea with very little oxidation; very pale in color and has a mild flavor similar to green tea’s, though a second round of steaming the leaves during production helps give a more mild flavor.
* Oolong: this tea uses partial oxidation to give it a flavor that blends green and black tea together.
* Pu-erh: this tea follows the steps for manufacturing as other teas before it is packed into discs, wrapped, and placed in storage (such as warehouses or even caves) to ferment; this fermenting process can take any amount of time, though most are fermented for 3-5 years.
* Rooibos: this tea that has seen a recent rise in popularity, is actually not tea at all! The leaves used to make rooibos tea come from an African bush; Rooibos means “Red Bush”, not the tea bush.
* Herbal: These “teas” also rarely contain tea leaves and instead use mixtures of herbs, dried fruits, flowers, or spices to achieve their flavors.

My favorite tea drink is the London Fog Tea Latte. I make them for myself at home on special occasions and they are my go-to coffee shop order. For one cup:

London Fog:
* 1 Earl Grey tea bag
* 1/2 cup hot water
* 1/2 cup milk (or other milk of choice)
* 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
* 1–2 tsp sweetener of choice
          * Vanilla syrup works as a substitute for the extract and sweetener and it is what most coffee shops use in their London Fog drinks
          * If you are able to find an Earl Grey with Lavender, or have lavender buds on hand, it makes for a wonderful flavor addition to the drink

1 . Steep the teabag in the hot water for 3-5 minutes, or however long the tag on your tea indicates. (You can also alter the time depending on how you like your tea, shorter times for lighter tea, longer times for stronger.)
2 . While tea is steeping, mix vanilla and milk together to heat on a stove or in a microwave. Only heat to a simmer, do NOT boil. (A frother is not required, but adds a fun texture to the drink.)
3 . After your tea has steeped and your milk is heated, mix your sweetener and tea together.
4 . Pour steamed milk into the sweetened tea and enjoy!

Books about tea that can be found in the library:
The Pleasures of Tea: Recipes and Rituals

Tea Bliss: Infuse Your Life with Health, Wisdom, and Contentment by Theresa Francis-Cheung
The New Tea Companion: A Guide to Teas Throughout the World by Jane Pettigrew
365 Things Every Tea Lover Should Know
The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World’s Best Teas by Mary Lou Heiss
Growing Your Own Tea Garden by Jodi Helmer
The Empire of Tea: The Remarkable History of the Plant that Took Over the World by Alan and Iris Macfarlane

For more tea fun, take a look at our new tea program – Hot Takes (and Teas)- where we talk about hot topics while sharing loose leaf teas. Each tea is a different flavor and different style of tea and each one has a fun name that goes along with the topic of discussion. Patrons get to take home a pamphlet that includes a sample of tea, information about the tea, brewing instructions, and compostable teabags!

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