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Beginner’s guide to tea in FoCo

Gloomy fall weather warrants a lazy day that includes a good book, blankets and a favorite cup of tea.

For thousands of years, people have benefited from the relaxing and healing powers of tea. In many cultures, it was widely used as medicine.  Before tea was brewed it into a drink, people chewed the leaves. Welcome to the world of tea.

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A traditional gong fu tea set complete with a cup, strainer, pot, tea, and cute little tea pet.
A Gong fu tray displays utensils and tools to prepare a warm silk oolong green tea in Ku Cha Tea House, Fort Collins, Colorado. A tea mastered prepared tea leaves using Chadao tools directly imported from China in a traditional setting snuggled between two cushions and a low legged table. (Tyler Morales | Collegian)

“Tea makes me feel connected to the world,” said Conner Matheney, a tea connoisseur and employee of KuCha Tea House. “Brewing tea is appreciating the leaves themselves, but it also relates to life. If you work hard and concentrate, you get a good cup of tea and you can become one with a moment.”

Tea has cancer-fighting antioxidants, increases metabolisms and can provide a great source of caffeine. Most tea comes from a plant called Camellia sinensis. This plant grows in cooler climates and can reach up to 30 feet tall.

“Philosophically, a good cup of tea is anything you can enjoy, and preferably something you can share,” said Whitney, a professional leafster at Happy Lucky’s Tea House. “The specifics of preparing tea are important to the flavor, but not near as important as bringing people together and bringing your attention to the moment.”

The difference in tea types depends on the withering, oxidation, firing, drying, sorting and packaging processes. Higher quality teas usually still have the full tea leaf intact and require more precision in the water temperature, amount of leaves and steeping time. 

a colorful display of KuCha tea house with walls lined with tea, teapots and brewing accessories.
Specializing in Oolong tea, Ku Cha House of Tea displays an array of teas comprising from green, black, oolong and fruit, herbal and dark teas. Ku Cha positioned itself to be a traditional tea house after mirroring its interior to be like that of traditional tea houses in China. (Tyler Morales | Collegian)

Black tea: Perfect for early mornings. Earl Grey and darjeeling tea fall into this category.

Flavor: straightforward and bold with high amounts of caffeine. Ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, lemongrass, milk and sugar can be added in.

Fun fact: This tea is highly oxidized. Heat makes the dark color come to life.

Try: Elegant Earl Gray from Teakoe in Denver. 

 

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Herbal: Good for sleeping. Herbs contain other herbs that have health benefits.

Flavor: Peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass, ginger, lavender, raspberry and other fruits makes it easy to choose a few favorite herbal teas.

Fun fact: Chrysanthemum tea is a favorite herbal tea in Korea and China. It is thought to reduce fevers and ease headaches.

Try: Cloud Chaser herbal tea from KuCha Tea, Fort Collins, CO. 

 

Green tea: The most globally consumed of all teas.

Flavor: There is little oxidation time after picking, giving this tea a light and grassy flavor.

Fun fact: Japan and China are the most common producers of green tea.

Try: China Yun Wu “Cloud Mist” from Happy Lucky’s Tea, Fort Collins, CO. 

 

White tea: The least processed of all teas, thought to be what gives it so many health benefits.

Flavor: This subtle tea gives hints of melon, honey and floral notes.

Fun fact: This tea is known for its benefits of the circulatory system, skin and for stress relief.

Try: Summer Tranquility White Tea from KuCha Tea in Fort Collins.

 

Pu’erh: A more uncommon and fermented tea, sold in bricks and can be aged for various amounts of time.

Flavor: Depending on the color, some brew up light while others can be dark and very earthy.

Fun fact: Some people get a pu’erh brick when they are born and brew a little bit of the tea every year on their birthday. The flavor improves each year.  

Try: China Rose Tuo-cha Shou Pu’erh from Happy Lucky’s Tea in Fort Collins. 

a cozy study space in Ku Cha tea house with a table, cushions, and mood lighting.
The pitcher, Chadao tools, Gong fu tray, cast iron teapot and silk oolong green tea lay in a traditional Chinese sit down tea room in Ku Cha Tea House, Fort Collins, Colorado. Specializing in oolong teas, customers have the ability to relax, drink tea and talk in a private tea room that replicates that of Chinese tea houses. (Tyler Morales | Collegian)

 

Oolong: One of the most complex and oxidized teas, and considered to be a happy medium between black and green tea.

Flavor: Depending on the type, this tea ranges from light and misty, to bold and roasted. This tea can be steeped up to eight times.

Fun fact: Several studies have shown that oolong is a better calorie burner than green tea.

Try: Organic Oolong Loose Leaf Tea from Teatulia in Denver.

 

Besides the awesome health benefits to tea, it is important to always drink tea with a mindset. Wells says tea is something that transcends language barriers, as so many other human gestures can. Tea is something you can impart care on your actions and share.

More information on brewing instructions and tea products are available at KuCha Tea House and Happy Lucky’s Tea House, both located in Old Town, Fort Collins.  

Collegian reporter Sarah Ehrlich can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @SarahEhrlich96.

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