History of Green Tea: A Trip through Time

Tea plant

Of all the tea types, green tea has an extraordinarily long and complex history, far beyond what historical records can adequately cover. Tracing its development from what evidence we do have, however, gives us a fascinating cross-section of tradition and culture.

The discovery of tea in China is legendarily placed around 3000 BCE, by Shen Nong, the divine cultivator. Although the veracity of the date is impossible to confirm, written records indicate that tea was certainly being consumed for medicinal purposes by 59 BCE. Preparation would have been minimal compared to today’s processing, as tea leaves were simply plucked, ground, and then boiled with other herbs and spices into a thick and bitter concoction.

By the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), tea consumption was commonplace throughout the empire, gaining popularity first in the imperial courts, then spreading across the countryside and among the nomadic peoples in the north and west. By this point, tea leaves were processed after plucking by being steamed to stop oxidation, and then pounded into compressed cakes. Pieces of these cakes would be broken off when needed, and ground into a fine powder, which was then whipped into hot water (much like Japanese matcha, which was developed from this tradition). It was during this era that Chinese scholar Lu Yu wrote his Classic of Tea, an extensive treatise on tea types, philosophy, cultivation, and preparation, which laid the foundation for Chinese tea culture as we know it. Some of China’s most famous teas are mentioned in this work, including Dragon Well (Longjing) and Liu An Gua Pian (Melon Seed Tea). Green tea drinking became a Chinese institution, and gradually spread to its neighboring countries of Japan and Korea, whose people would go on to develop their own tea cultivars and tea-drinking cultures.

Tea fields in Fuding, China. In the history of green tea, this is one of the oldest growing regions.

The Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) saw the rise in popularity of loose-leaf green tea, sometimes blended with ingredients such as onion, pickle juice, ginger, or orange peel. Throughout the long eras of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (1279-1644 CE), loose leaf green tea gradually began to dominate the Chinese market, and producers began to pan-fry leaves to stop oxidation instead of steaming them.

By the time tea was introduced to Western merchants in the 16th century, the green tea being produced by China was almost entirely the same as the beverage we know today – the process of many centuries of careful refinement and long tradition.

By: Jen Coate

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Holiday Cookies with Tea: Green Tea Ginger Biscuits, Lapsang Souchong Maple Cookies, and Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there anything better than tea and cookies? How about cookies that are made with tea? Here are a few tasty treats that we’ve come up that use tea as a main ingredient. Just in time for the holidays!

Green Tea Ginger Biscuits

Green Tea Ginger Biscuits
3/4 cup (170 g) ginger biscuits green tea infused butter, at room temperature*
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for coating
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together infused butter and sugars, mixing for about 2 minutes until mixture is pale, and fluffy. Add egg and honey, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed until combined. Add dry ingredients gradually, beating until evenly incorporated.
  3. Place dough in airtight container and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Once dough is completely chilled, preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat before placing on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are puffed and slightly cracking on the top, and golden on the edges (they will flatten as they cool). Remove from oven, allow to cool for 4-5 minutes before placing on a wire rack.
  6. Decorate with your favorite festive glaze, frosting, or sprinkles (we drizzled ours with a matcha and white chocolate glaze).

*when infusing tea into butter, your butter quantity will appear to decrease as it melts and re-solidify. To make certain your amount is correct, use a weight measurement. See our recipe for infusing butter with tea.

Lapsang Souchong Maple Cookies

Lapsang Souchong Maple Cookies
3/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup Lapsang Souchong infused maple syrup, plus 2 tablespoons to glaze
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add in Lapsang Souchong maple syrup and vanilla and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, mixing until combined. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, then beat until fully incorporated.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet (if dough feels too wet to hold its shape, chill until firm). Bake for 12-14 minutes until cookies are a light golden brown.
  3. While cookies are still warm, brush tops lightly with remaining Lapsang Souchong infused maple syrup to glaze. Leave on baking tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with sprinkles or other decorations, if desired.

Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
5 teaspoons chocolate chai, ground into a fine powder and sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces dark chocolate chips or chunks

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and tea powder. Set aside.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together melted butter and brown and white sugars until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla extract and mix.
  3. Add flour mixture in a single batch, mixing gently at a low speed. Mix until mostly combined, then beat at medium-high until fully incorporated and no flour streaks remain. Add in chocolate and mix until evenly distributed. Transfer dough to airtight container and allow to chill for at least an hour and up to 2 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop dough out into balls on sheets, rolling slightly with hands to form. Space dough balls generously to allow for spread.
  5. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown. After removing from oven, optionally sprinkle with a pinch of flaky salt for added flavor.

Created by Jen Coate

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Warm Cocktails for the Holiday Season

Move over, hot toddies! Tea has so much more to offer the world of cocktails than as a simple mix-in. Last year, we explored tea concentrates to make up a batch of festive holiday drinks; this year, we’ve taken our Lapsang Souchong maple syrup and come up with three cocktail recipes to showcase its bold smoke and rich sweet-savory flavors. Enjoy!

Mr. Fortune’s Old -Fashioned

Mr. Fortune’s Old-Fashioned

2 oz peated scotch
¼ oz Lapsang Souchong infused maple syrup
3-5 dashes black walnut bitters

In a mixing glass, add ingredients over ice and stir to combine. Strain over single large ice cube and garnish with orange peel or a cherry. For an extra flavor kick, smoke-rinse your glass with dry Lapsang Souchong tea leaves just before pouring. If you are wondering who Mr. Fortune is, you should read this blog post.

Typhoon Season

Typhoon Season

1 egg white
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz Lapsang Souchong infused maple syrup
½ lime, juiced
1 oz Lapsang Souchong tea concentrate (steep 1 tbsp. tea in 1 cup water for 15 minutes)
2 oz mezcal

Combine ingredients in shaker and dry shake (no ice) vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Add ice to shaker, shake, and double strain into glass. Garnish with lime or your favorite tropical botanicals.

Mulled Maple Cider

8 oz apple cider
1 oz whiskey
2-3 tbsp Lapsang Souchong infused maple syrup, to taste
¼ tsp lemon juice
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves

Combine all ingredients except whisky in saucepan on the stove; warm over medium heat until mixture is heated through and flavors have settled. Remove from heat, add whiskey, and pour into mug. This recipe is perfect for making in large batches; scale up ingredients as necessary. Can also be served sans whiskey for a tasty and alcohol-free autumn warmer.

By: Jen Coate

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Lapsang Infused Maple Syrup

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: here at Dominion Tea, we love experimenting with flavors. Back in 2018, we wrote about how to infuse tea into simple syrups, but this time we’ve decided to go a step further: maple syrup infused with the smoky boldness of Chinese Lapsang Souchong tea. Talk about the perfect autumn breakfast! Sweet maple and savory pine smoke together – and the best part is, it’s actually very easy to make at home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup good quality, genuine maple syrup
  • 2-4 tbsp. Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, to taste (for a stronger smoke flavor, add more tea)

Method:

  1. In a small saucepot on the stove, combine tea leaves and syrup and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to steep for 6 to 10 minutes, tasting (carefully, as mixture will be hot) for desired strength.
  3. Once the mixture is steeped to your liking, remove from heat and strain off into a heat-proof container. Store in fridge until ready to use; flavors will continue to deepen and develop over time.

Not only does this infused syrup taste fantastic on pancakes, it can also be used as a glaze for bacon and other savory dishes, as a delicious additive to salad dressings, cocktails, and punches, and as a fun and exciting addition to your favorite fall baked treats. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for new tea-inspired recipes, as we show off some of our favorite ways to make use of this fun ingredient.

By: Jen Coate

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Witch’s Brew: Blending Your Own Tea

For Halloween, let’s brew up some unique tea blends using existing teas. Over the next four weeks, we will walk you through the craft of blending tea while creating four new blends to enjoy. So grab your measuring spoons, cup and infuser and join us on our blending adventure.

1st Recipe: Strawberry Jasmine

This blend is a mix of our Strawberry Oolong and Jasmine Green teas. Generally a tea blender would not opt for this mix as the density and size of the two teas are not similar, so the possibility of separate in the final storage container is rather high. Separation has to be considered as it leads to an inconsistent flavor on a cup by cup basis. So this is a blend you would make by the cup as opposed to making it in a large scale.

In crafting this blend, we choose to favor having a stronger Strawberry flavor with a Jasmine highlight. Picking a flavor to focus on is critical in making a tea blend. Ironically, if there are too many flavors in a blend it becomes hard for the drinker to figure out what they are drinking, which leads to confusion and a nonoptimal tea experience.

Recipe for Strawberry Jasmine – 12oz Cup

3 tsp (flat) – Strawberry Oolong

1 tsp (flat) – Jasmine Green

Steep for 3 minutes in 175°F water.

2nd Recipe: Caramel Apple

This blend combines our Dulce de Leche and Apple Blossom teas. Pretty routinely you will find that flavored teas are inspired by other food combinations. When building a blend on a known flavor it is important to think about what components are in the flavor and is there a dominant flavor characteristic. For Caramel Apple, the caramel is dominant with a slight apple finish. So you will notice that in this recipe, if you want more apple, adjust the Dulce de Leche down and the Apple Blossom up. Much like our last recipe, this is a blend to make by cup as the Dulce de Leche is rooibos based, making it very small and dense, while the Apple Blossom is puerh based, making it big and lite.

Luckily, this blend combines teas that require boiling water and have the same steep time, so no adjustment is needed there. If you have not had puerh before, we would highly recommend you drink some Apple Blossom on its own. It is a great introduction to puerh and its earthiness, without being overwhelming.

Recipe for Caramel Apple – 12oz Cup

2 tsp (scant – less than full, think 90-95% full) – Dulce de Leche

1/2 tsp (flat) – Apple Blossom

Steep for 5 minutes in 208°F water.

3rd Recipe: Almond Joys

When aiming to recreate a known flavor profile, in this case a famous candy bar, the goal is to find the balance in the flavor. Sure, a cup of tea will not contain the sweetness of the candy bar, which gives you some flexibility in what flavor to amplify. So feel free to play with the ratios to highlight either the chocolate or the coconut of this combination. We combined our Chocolate Almond Fantasy and Coconut Oolong to make this cup of tea. If you need that sweetness as well, add your sugar after you brew.

Blending with nuts is a tricky business, first you need them cut into the right size to roughly match the size of the tea leaves and then you need to factor in their shelf life. Slivered nuts have no where near the shelf life of tea. A good black tea can easily stay fresh, when stored correctly, for 5 years. Slivered nuts, on the long side, might have 1 year, but are more likely going to start to turn bitter at 6 months. So if you like teas with nuts in them, drink them frequently and do not save them for the future.

Recipe for Almond Joys – 12oz Cup

1 tsp (round) – Chocolate Almond Fantasy

1 tsp (flat) – Coconut Oolong

Steep for 4 minutes in 195-200°F water.

4th Recipe: Bourbon Peach

This recipe is a little more complex as we blend together 3 teas, including the smoky Lapsang Souchong. The good news is the teas we are working with are all black, have the same density, and shelf life. So this can be blended in a larger batch and stored. So Bourbon Peach is a blend of our Georgia’s Peach, New World Vanilla and Lapsang Souchong.

If you have not had a cup of Lapsang Souchong, add this to your tea bucket list. The original Lapsang Souchong teas come from Wuyi in the Fujian province of China and are pine smoked. Currently, you can also get cedar smoked tea from the Anhui province of China that sometimes also gets called Lapsang Souchong. Obviously, they won’t smell or taste the same. You can read more about this historic tea in this blog post. Just know that when working with a smoky tea, less is more.

Recipe for Bourbon Peach – 12oz Cup

1 tsp (flat) – Georgia’s Peach Tea

1 tsp (round) – New World Vanilla

1/4 tsp (flat) – Lapsang Souchong

Steep for 5 minutes in 212°F water.

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