Enjoy the benefits in a tasty cup of tea
Many people are trading their coffee cups for teacups to take full advantage of the health benefits of tea, along with a taste selection so vast it’s hard to take it all in.
A good representation of that selection is found at Goldrush Emporium & Teas, newly opened on Grass Valley Highway in Auburn. Owner Betty Thompson is a caterer and tea enthusiast who opened her store as a one-stop tea shop, offering accessories, tea sets and a wide variety of loose-leaf teas.
“I rarely drink coffee anymore, just because the tea is so much fun,” Thompson said.
Visitors to her store can peruse shelves of Oolong, Ceylon, green, white, black teas and a selection of fruit-infused tea, such as the fragrant strawberry-ginger. Her teas are from four noted blenders specializing in quality teas. Thompson also carries “flowering teas,” which are sewn into a ball so that when it is placed in water it blooms like a flower.
Thompson sells strictly loose-leaf tea, which she said is superior to bagged tea because bagged tea has been cut to brew quicker than loose-leaf tea, while loose-leaf consist of whole leaves that have been carefully dried to produce the best taste.
“You’re going to get a better-tasting cup of tea,” Thompson said. “It’s going to be less bitter.”
Across Auburn, in Old Town’s M & Co., tea lover Cheryle Kranich offers a selection of tea, along with accoutrements such as English bone china teapots and decorative sugars.
She recommends that the novice tea-drinker begin with drinking bagged tea to learn what flavors and caffeine levels are the best for that particular person.
“I would probably start out using teabags, and when you graduate to loose leaf, you’re like, ‘Oh, man this is good,’” Kranich said. “It’s just a lot more flavorful.”
Kranich said there are a lot of tea drinkers in Auburn, especially as people learn about the health benefits of red and green teas. Her best-seller is a tea called “Snow Monkey Plum,” a strong black tea with plum flavoring that is delicious hot or iced.
Brew it right
Thompson recommends that tea drinkers read the box before brewing, as the blenders will have provided the best way to brew that tea. Most loose-leaf teas, she said, use a teaspoon of tea to infuse one cup, and the tea can be re-used for an additional steeping. She recommends using a mesh “tea ball” or an infuser and teapot, and there are even biodegradable bags that can be used with loose-leaf tea.
As for water temperature, Thompson said, “Black tea will take really hot, boiling water to get it to its best brew. … Green and white teas are a bit more delicate, so they don’t require the hot, boiling water,” and can be brewed in steaming-hot water.
Thompson also recommends trying the tea without added milk or sweetener, as many flavored teas are sweet enough on their own. Tea should also be stored covered in a cool, dry place, where it can keep for up to two years.
Drink to your health
Thompson said that over the years, coffee started giving her indigestion, no matter how weak she brewed it or how many different brands she tried. Once she began drinking tea, that all changed.
“People in the Orient have been drinking tea for medicinal purposes for thousands of years,” Thompson said, and the trend is quickly catching on as the medical field learns about the benefits of tea.
“In China and Japan, people drink tea every day to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, it helps to clean the platelets in the arteries – there are so many health benefits,” Thompson said.
One benefit showing in more and more studies is that of EGCG, a flavonoid found in green tea that has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
“I’ve started drinking green tea almost every day, just because of the health benefits,” Kranich said.
Goldrush Emporium & Teas
What: Tea shop selling loose-leaf teas and accessories
Where: 1511 Grass Valley Highway, Suite A, Auburn
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Info: (530) 885-3360; www.goldrushtea.com
Tea and Tidbits
What: Tea tasting party with savories and desserts
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12
Where: M & Co., 180 Sacramento St., Auburn
Info: (530) 823-3781