Posts Tagged 'black tea'

To Put the Milk in First, or To Put the Milk in Second? That is the Question

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In 1946, George Orwell published the essay “A Nice Cup of Tea” in the Evening Standard. It turns out the author of Animal Farm and 1984 had some pretty clear ideas on precisely how to prepare a good cup of black tea.

Included in his list of eleven rules are a few points that Orwell himself called “acutely controversial.” Among them: tea should be made in small amounts, using a vessel made of china or earthenware, and tea should be left loose in the pot so as not to “imprison” the tea. But one of the most hotly debated of Orwell’s prescriptions is his rule that milk be added to the cup after the tea.

Nearly 60 years after Orwell’s essay, the popular British newspaper The Guardian disputed Orwell’s rule of milk in second. While Orwell makes his recommendation based on the fact that you can regulate the amount of milk better when you add it after the tea is poured, The Guardian looks to science to end the debate, reporting research conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry that indicates milk should be added first. Here’s why, according to the chemists: when you add milk to hot tea, the temperature causes the milk to degrade and this alters its taste. By adding the milk first and the tea second, you reduce your chances of this.

Historically, however, taste wasn’t what was at stake in the milk-in-tea debate. It was the preservation of the teacup! Hot tea sometimes caused lower-quality teacups to crack, and so adding milk to the cup first was a way of cooling the temperature and preventing this. Those who could afford better quality teaware that could withstand hotter temperatures could add the milk second without risk of breaking their cups.

Of course, not everyone adds milk to their black tea, and those who do don’t necessarily use dairy milk. Soy, almond and coconut milk are all delicious non-dairy options that are commonly used in tea.

For those who do like their tea milky, some of our favourite Tealish black teas to take with milk are the decadent, vanilla La Creme, Earl Greypfruit, a twist on the Earl’s favourite bergamot blend and the robust, classic Irish Breakfast.  If you’re looking for a caffeine-free way to replicate the milk-in-tea ritual, try rooibos!  This South African plant is naturally caffeine-free and takes milk well, so when you’re craving a nice cup before bed, reach for the rooibos!  We especially love warm, spicy Banana Bread Rooibos and creamy Tahitian Vanilla Rooibos with milk.

How do you take your tea? Without or without milk? Milk in first, or milk in second? Do you use dairy milk or a non-dairy option?

Whether you agree with Orwell, side with the chemists, or always take your tea straight, there’s one thing we all can agree on – there’s nothing like a nice cup of tea!

Easter Cupcakes

Coconut Cream Chai and Van Lav Cupcakes 4

If you’re looking for a sweet finish to your meal this Easter (or maybe even a sweet start to your Sunday – who are we to judge?) look no further than this.  Add a bit of tea to your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe, and you’ll transform your dessert into something indescribably good.  We promise.

This holiday weekend, we took your basic vanilla cupcake to a whole new level by adding two different types of tea to the batter and ending up with two different kinds of cupcakes!

To harness the sweetness of springtime flowers, we added gentle Vanilla Lavender Rooibos to vanilla cupcakes and topped them with rose-infused frosting (and some dried flowers for decoration, of course).

Van Lav Cupcakes 2

For those looking for something a little less floral, we created Coconut Cream Chai Cupcakes.  Here, our spicy coconut tea blend meets the humble vanilla cupcake, and the result is delicious.  Coconut, ginger and cinnamon cozy up nicely to the vanilla batter.  Topped with coconut-flavoured frosting and rolled in toasted coconut shreds, this cupcake is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Coconut Cream Chai Cupcakes 1

Here’s how we did it:

1. First, prepare your tea.  Take 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Lavender rooibos and crush it using a mortar and pestle.  Set rooibos tea aside, then do the same for 1/2 teaspoon of Coconut Cream Chai.

2. Next, take your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe and prepare as usual.  Stop just before you scrape the batter into cupcake liners – first you have to add the tea.

3. Divide the batter between two bowls.  Into one bowl, add the Vanilla Lavender Rooibos, and add the Coconut Cream Chai into the other.  Stir each to incorporate.  Then pour into cupcake liners and bake as usual.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  Again, proceed as usual, following your favourite recipe for vanilla buttercream.  Divide frosting between two bowls.  Into one, add rosewater (and food colouring, if you want a pale purple frosting).  To the other, add coconut extract.  Keep covered in fridge until ready to use.

5. Now, toast your shredded coconut.  All you have to do is place about 3/4 cup of shredded coconut in a pan, turn the heat to medium and stir until the coconut is a light bright colour.  Your kitchen will smell wonderful, too!  Spread the coconut out on a plate.

6. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them – the rose frosting for the Vanilla Lavender, and the Coconut for the Coconut Cream Chai.  Decorate the Vanilla Lavender cupcakes with rose petals and lavender flowers – or just use a sprinkle of Vanilla Lavender rooibos if that’s all you’ve got! – and roll the Coconut Cream Chai cupcakes in the toasted coconut.

Van Lav Cupcakes 3

Adding the ground whole tea leaf to your cupcake mix will impart an intense taste that goes above and beyond simply steeping the tea in milk that you incorporate into the batter.  These cupcakes pack a powerful punch of delicious flavour!

Even better, by taking one recipe and creating two options for your guests, you’ll satisfy even the pickiest of eaters without adding a lot of extra work to your already-busy food preparations.  Start with a recipe that’s vegan or gluten-free if that floats your boat, or go old-school with grandma’s recipe (or even from a box!).  We promise that adding tea to whatever cupcakes you usually bake will take your dessert to a whole new level!

Happy Easter from Tealish!

Happy Easter

What’s in a Cup of Tea?


tea wall

According to the Tea Association of Canada, we here in the Great White North have been drinking tea since 1716, when it first reached our shores as part of a shipment for the Hudson’s Bay Company after a year in transit. Canadians have been tea drinkers ever since – about 10 billion cups are consumed here each year!

Some people like their tea black with a little cream and sugar, while others prefer green or white tea with a slice of lemon or a spoonful of honey. Then there are folks who enjoy sipping oolong tea with the giant leaves unfurled at the bottom of the cup. There is a multitude of ways that you can take your tea, and amazingly, they all start with the same plant.

What is Tea?
Tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, which is indigenous to China and India. Tea is now also grown in places all over the world, but most commonly in Japan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Differences in growing conditions will produce subtle differences in the way teas taste. But the flavour of tea comes from more than its growing conditions!

Some teas taste malty and robust, while others are sweet and grassy or light and floral. This diversity of flavour stems mostly from the way tea is processed. The different types of tea – black, oolong, green and white – are ultimately the result of what happens to the leaves after they’re picked.

Black Tea
This tea is prepared from leaves that are picked, withered, rolled and then left to oxidize before they are fired. Black tea is usually prepared with boiling water. This produces a strong cup of tea that takes milk and sugar well.

Try: Golden Garden Ceylon for a clean finish or malty Rungagora for a sturdy cup in the morning

Oolong Tea
This tea is partially oxidized, and is therefore sometimes described as falling between black and green tea. After the leaves are picked, the tea is withered and bruised before firing. Oolong tea should be steeped in water that is below boiling and is typically taken without milk or sugar, though of course that’s not a rule!

Oolong teas not only can be steeped more than once, it’s actually a recommended practice! Some folks say the third steep is the best – try it yourself and see!

Try: toasty Formosa, floral Ti Kuan Yin or buttery Milk

Green Tea
Green tea is picked and then dried before heated to halt oxidization. There are two distinct methods of heat processing green tea. The Japanese technique of drying green tea is steaming, while the Chinese method is pan firing. These different methods produce distinct flavors: Japanese style green tea is generally sweet and grassy, while Chinese style green tea is slightly toasty.

Nearly every day at Tealish, we hear from our customers that they thought they didn’t like green tea because they found it bitter, but after talking to us they changed their minds! The secret is in the water temperature: green tea should be steeped in water below boiling to prevent the bitterness of burned tea leaves!

Try: smoky Gunpowder or classic Sencha

White Tea
White tea is the least processed of all the teas made from the camellia sinensis plant – it’s made from the youngest leaves and buds and is picked and then steamed or fired to halt oxidization. White tea has a very delicate flavour and should be prepared using water that is below boiling.

Try: Pai Mu Tan for a great everyday option, or share a cup of Silver Needle to celebrate a special occasion with a friend.

While many of us love tea just as is, flavoured blends are increasing in popularity, and Tealish has a whole wall to choose from! We also have herbal and rooibos infusions – these are not true teas in that they don’t come from the camellia sinensis plant, but since they are steeped in water we think of them as teas, too!

Which type of tea is your favourite? How do you take your tea?

Spring Cleaning with Tea!


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Here in Toronto, the temperatures have been above freezing for one full week! Spring has officially arrived, and we’re throwing open our windows in celebration!

Tea can be your best friend when it comes to getting ready for warmer weather. Here are six of our favourite ways to incorporate tea into our routines:


  • Use black tea to clean and shine hardwood floors. Add two teaspoons of plain black tea to boiling water, let steep about three minutes, then remove leaves (don’t discard! We’ll tell you how to use those leaves in a moment!). Allow liquid to cool, then pour into a spray bottle and spray lightly on floors. Wipe with a mop and you’re done! No need to rinse. Bonus: the black tea will help to enhance the deep colour of hardhood, so over time, your floors will look even better. Also great on windows and mirrors!
  • A black tea infusion is a great way to mask scratches on wooden furniture. Brew up a strong cup of black tea (try adding twice the amount of leaves for darker wood), allow it to cool and then dab onto scratches with a cotton ball. The tea will stain the wood and hide the scratch.
  • Use leftover tea leaves to deodorize your fridge. Once used tea leaves are dry, just put them in your refrigerator (we recommend putting them in a pretty bowl or tying them up in cheesecloth) to absorb unpleasant odours. No need to buy baking soda, and a great way to reuse tea!


  • Apply brewed black tea to a sunburn to help heal your skin. Enjoying the sun so much that you overdid it? Don’t worry – there’s a tea for that. Brew a cup of black tea and allow it to cool, then use a soft cloth to gently apply the tea to your skin. Do not wipe off.
  • Reduce the appearance of puffy eyes. Folk medicine has long boasted the benefits of black tea for puffy under eye circles! Try it yourself at home: fill two tea filters with one teaspoon of black tea each. Gently soak the teabags in boiling water and allow to cool. Put brewed tea and teabags in fridge for about half an hour so they’re nice and chilled, then wring out teabags and place on your eyes for five minutes.
  • Use green tea to exfoliate your skin. A mixture of brewed green tea and sugar will help to smooth your skin. Combine 1 tablespoon of lukewarm green tea with about 4 tablespoons of sugar. Make sure the tea isn’t too hot, or the sugar will dissolve! Using your fingertips, apply paste to your face, gently rubbing in a circular motion. Rinse off with warm water.

Have you tried any of these ideas? What are some of the other non-traditional ways that you like to use tea?

Tea and Health


Yesterday marked the official start of spring.  After months of what was an unseasonably cold winter across most of North America, we’re thrilled that the days are finally getting warmer and longer!

The notions of rebirth and renewal associated with spring have many of us starting to clean out the cobwebs that gathered during Old Man Winter’s reign.  If you’re like us, your spring clean might also involve tidying up your physical and mental wellbeing by integrating healthier habits into your everyday routines.

Tea has been linked with a variety of health benefits, so drinking that cup with breakfast does a lot more than just help to wake you up in the morning. Here are four things about tea and health that we hope will inspire you in your personal spring cleaning this year!

1. Black tea may help alleviate stress! A 2007 study indicates that drinking black tea can reduce cortisol levels and help you calm down after a stressful event. 

Black Tea Choices from Tealish: One of our most popular black tea blends is Patisserie, a tea that has all the sweet and spicy tastes of a fresh-from-the-bakery cookie (including almond, pistachio, cumin and coriander!)  We’re also madly in love with Peachy Lychee – it’s the ideal balance of fruity and floral that works equally well hot or iced!

2. A 2003 study shows that drinking oolong tea may help manage Type 2 diabetes. 

Oolong Tea Choices from Tealish: Coconut Bongo just might be the ultimate coconut tea.  This lightly oxidized oolong tea has notes of sweet, creamy coconut reminiscent of a fresh coconut cream pie.  Delicious hot or iced, with or without milk.  The sky is really the limit with this tea!  We also recommend Dulce de Leche, a blend with pieces of real caramel and marigold blossoms on a toasty oolong base.

3. Green tea has been linked to a wide array of health benefits, including possible protection against cancer, lowering cholesterol and weight loss. 

Green Tea Choices from Tealish: Try our Sakura Cherry Rose, an invigorating blend that is equal parts sweet, tart and floral on a fresh sencha base, or go classic with Sweet Macaron, a green tea blended with walnut, almond, coconut and hazelnut.  It’s naturally sweet and always delicious.

4. South African rooibos tea may help to prevent cancer, lower cortisol production and reduce allergies and inflammation.  Plus, it’s naturally caffeine-free, so you can enjoy this drink well into the evening! 

Rooibos Tea Choices from Tealish: Like dessert?  Then try Sweetie Pie, a delicious rooibos-based tea that features notes of amaretto, coconut and rose.  If you’re looking for something to help relax you before bed, try Vanilla Lavender Rooibos, a gentle blend of – you guessed it – real vanilla pieces, lavender flowers and organic rooibos tea.

Tealish Teas can be enjoyed for their flavour and health benefits!  Talk to your doctor before starting any new health plan.

DIY Pumpkin Chai Syrup


When autumn rolls around, there seems to be only one thing on everybody’s minds: pumpkin. Scones turn to pumpkin scones, pies turn to pumpkin pies, and lattes turn to pumpkin lattes. Sadly, it’s nearly impossible to get that sweet pumpkin taste into a tea blend without artificial flavouring. Our solution? A delicious chai infused real pumpkin syrup that you can add to any tea you like.

Recipe adapted from Savvy Eats

The Goods:

2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup Spicy Chai Tea (1 tsp loose leaf tea steeped in 250 ml water for 3 minutes)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves


The Method:

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer on a low heat until pumpkin and sugar dissolves

2. Move dial to medium heat and stir syrup until it begins to steam (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat.

3. Let cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to a sealed container. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Tealish’s Lapsang Souchong Infused rice!

Fall calls to mind all kinds of delicious flavours: spicy chai, caramel apples, warm pumpkin spice and (our personal favorite) smoky tea. When the temperature starts to drop, us Tealish folks can’t get enough of Lapsang Souchong, a traditional Chinese tea that’s dried over baskets of burning pine. Whether in our deliciously citrus blend Russian Caravan, on it’s own, or as a latte with vanilla soy and brown sugar, this tea smells like freshly snuffed camp fires and warms the body to its core.

Perhaps our love of Lapsang made this amazing tea recipe from Joseph Shuldiner’s “Pure Vegan” cookbook even more exciting. Using Tealish tea, a touch of lavender to soften any bitterness, and some of our favorite veggies, we’ve adapted his recipe into an amazing tea-laced rice bowl, just in time for fall!

The Goods:

1.5 cups white jasmine rice
2 tablespoons Lapsang Souchong black tea
1 teaspoon Tibetan lavender tea
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
a few cups of your favorite veggies and protein! (we used brocolli, onion, carrot, celery and tempeh)
a splash of organic tamari

The Method

1. In a teapot or heat proof bowl, combine tea and boiling water. Steep for 3 minutes, then strain into a medium saucepan and let tea cool.
2. Rinse rice and add to the tea. Stir in the salt and let sit for 1/2 hour.
3. Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. lower heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is light and fluffy (15-20 minutes).
4. Meanwhile, chop veggies and cook over medium heat in a frying pan with a splash of organic tamari (to taste).
5. Scoop veggies onto rice and serve immediately!

*You can also try making this rice with your personal favorite black tea or oolong!

Summer Tea Cocktails!

Every group has one: the summer party host! This generous friend offers up their backyard/cottage/patio throughout the warm summer months, but faces a great challenge. What do you serve to the friends who’ve tried all of your signature punches and cocktails a dozen times over?

Create something new by adjusting classic recipes!

Create something new by adjusting classic recipes!

Tea cocktails are making a BIG splash on this summer’s drink list. This is nothing new – in fact, tea has been used in punches since the 16th century – but the options are now endless as tea aficionados and mixologists alike roll out recipes for summer tea-infused deliciousness!

We’ve tried and tested our own blends against this trend! Let us say, these recipes are sure to stay in our repertoire for years to come as they are OUTRAGEOUSLY YUMMY.

Toronto Island Iced Tea

1/2 oz. triple sec

1/2 oz. vodka

1/2 oz. gin

1/2 oz. tequila

1 oz. sour mix (2 parts lemon juice, 1 part sugar, 1 part water)

4 oz. Citrus Grove

Prepare the citrus grove as described in our recent post.  Mix all liquids together over ice. Shake or stir. Add lemon slice to garnish!

Moroccan Mint Julep

2 oz. Moroccan Mint tea

1 oz. bourbon

1 oz.  soda

Oranges, cherries and mint sprigs

Mix tea, bourbon, fruit and mint, making sure to mash up the cherries and mint sprigs a little bit. Pour over ice and top with soda!

Pink Dragonfruit Vodka Mar-tea-ni

1 oz. Pink Dragonfruit infused vodka or gin (Let 1tsp of tea soak in 100ml of vodka for 4-8 hours)

1/2 oz. triple sec

2 oz.  Pink Dragonfruit, chilled

Mix all liquids and pour into martini glass. Garnish with citrus fruits.

Pina Colada Punchbowl

2 parts Pina Colada tea, chilled

1 part coconut water

1 part pineapple juice

1 part rum

Mix all liquids together in punch bowl, add ice and slices of pineapple to garnish.

Healthy AND Refreshing Iced Tea!

Tea is a cold-month favourite, but most people turn to the “classic” drinks of spring and summer once the warm weather hits, including pre-packaged sodas, juices, and iced teas. What many don’t realize is that these drinks are typically loaded with sweeteners, and indulging in a glass or two a day is usually equal to one full day’s amount of recommended sugar. Aside from the unpleasant weight-gain that follows sugar gorging, other side-effects such as migraine headaches and intestinal issues are linked to over-consumption of sugar. So what should you turn to when you’ve had too much ice water, don’t want the sugary drinks of summers past, but need some flavour in your life? …

Water can quickly turn from refreshing to bland when trying to stay hydrated in summer!

… Any tea can be iced. It’s true. And the most simple method is often to make a large quantity and store it, so that your favourite drink is on-hand and convenient. What you’ll need:

  • A jug
  • An infuser (Any old jug and infuser will do, but if you’re committed to iced teas the way we are, we suggest something made specifically for loose-leaf iced teas. We offer Bodum® and Takeya® varieties in-store)
  • 2-3 grams of tea per serving (When making large quantities, 1 teaspoon per 6 ounces. If you’re doing a two-litre jug, that means you’ll need 11 teaspoons or 22-33 grams. )
  • Cold water

Put the cold water and tea-filled infuser in the jug and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Voila! Your favourite iced tea awaits you in the morning.

Iced tea can be made in all quantities and varieties!

You can make individual cups of iced tea, too. Here is our classic Citrus Grove recipe for a single serving:

  • 3 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 6 oz hot water
  • 6 oz ice cubes
  • Lemon, fruit or herbs to taste

Infuse the tea in the hot water, add ice cubes and enjoy!

If you’re interested in something a bit sweet, loose-leaf iced tea is still a better option. Simply add a bit of honey or sugar syrup (a bit of sugar mixed with a bit of hot water) to your cup. This way, you know exactly how much sugar you’re consuming with each glass!

Fight cold + flu season by drinking tea.

With so many people concerned about the cold & flu season this year, we thought it would be a good time to share some info on how drinking tea can be a great help getting through the winter season. It is very common for people to ask about the health benefits of tea, and while we never suggest that tea can cure anything, we do want to keep you informed on some of the studies relating to health benefits of drinking tea.

Studies show that drinking tea may be beneficial for preventing colds and flu for several reasons. Different kinds of tea have different associated health benefits.  What follows below highlights some positive aspects of green tea, black tea and white tea.

For this post we will focus on three tea health benefits, specifically :

– Tea’s stimulating action on the immune system.

– Tea’s potent antiviral effect.

– Tea’s potent antibacterial effect.

Tea + a healthy immune system

Studies suggest that drinking green tea stimulates the immune system to work harder and better against fighiting foreign matter. This effect is due to a very special antioxidant polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). There are very high levels of EGCG in green tea – these antioxidants encourage the production of white blood cells which the immune system produces to fight infection and foreign materials.

Additionally, EGCG encourages the increased reproduction of the immune systems B-cells, which is important because just a single B-cell produces thousands and thousands of antibodies, each programmed to attack specific invaders.

Overall, the data suggests that drinking tea can “rev-up” you immune system and perhaps help you fend off some of the nasty stuff that drops in to say hello over the winter.

Tea + Viruses

The same antioxidant polyphenols that boost your immune system are also potent antiviral agents. The catechins in green tea (and their black tea counterparts called theaflavins) inhibit virus reproduction by preventing the attachment of the virus to your cells. If a virus can not successfully “hijack” your cells then chances are you will not develop the nasty cold or flu that the virus can bring.

Overall, the data suggests that drinking both green tea or black tea may be a good way to prevent the spread of a virus such as influenza. Recent studies in South Korea suggest that these antioxidant polyphenols are effective against specific strains of the influenza virus, including H1N1.

Tea + Bacteria

As if the antiviral aspect wasn’t good enough, studies also suggest that green tea and white tea are powerful enemies of bad bacteria in your body. Studies suggest that the combination of EGCG and another polyphenol antioxidant called epigallocatechin (EGC – the same antioxidant found in pomegranate) are a potent tag team which can have devastating effects on the growth of bacteria. Additionally, drinking green tea increases the levels of good intestinal bacteria like acidophilus!

Disclaimer: While we never try to offer medical advice on the benefits of tea, we just so happen to think it’s a great benefit that our favorite beverage just happens to have an ever growing body of positive health findings. We are always asked how tea benefits health, how healthy is green tea, is green tea healthier than white tea….we want to fulfill your desire for information on tea health benefits and will do so in this blog as well as on our twitter and facebook pages. Please follow us on twitter and become a fan on facebook for a steady stream of information on the health benefits of drinking tea.

We will never tell you that tea is the cure for anything, but what we will do is keep you updated on all of the latest findings and studies relating to the topic of tea and health.

Check out our great selection of teas and order online at


Tealish is a modern tea boutique located in downtown Toronto, Canada. This blog is meant to be a peek in to what Tealish is up to as well as a source of information about loose leaf tea and all things tea related. We hope you enjoy these posts and we hope you enjoy our teas – check us out online at

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