Dragon Well Shrimp

Dragon Well Shrimp is a simple traditional Chinese dish that incorporates the world famous Dragon Well Tea. This recipe originates from the same region as Dragon Well tea, the Hangzhou province of China. It is easy to make and can actually be made with other teas as well.

Dragon Well Shrimp Ingredients

1 pd of shrimp (Any size is fine. Traditionally, these would be small rock shrimp)
1 tbsp Chinese Rice Wine (can be substituted with dry white wine, sake, or chicken/vegetable stock)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp white pepper
3/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of Dragon Well tea
Salt to taste

Dragon Well Shrimp Instructions

Start by peeling and deveining the shrimp and putting them into a small bowl. Mix the Chinese rice wine, white pepper and corn starch. Pour over the shrimp and put into the refrigerator for 15 minutes. While the shrimp is in the refrigerator, brew the tea. Heat the water to 175°F (If you are working with a kettle, bring it up to a boil and then pour out 3/4 of a cup of water and allow to cool 3 minutes). Steep the tea in the water for 4 minutes and strain out the leaves. Do not through out the leaves as you will be cooking with them. Have a plate nearby the stove

Steeped Dragon Well for Shrimp

Heat the oil in a large flat pan and put in the shrimp. You will want to spread out the shrimp in the pan so they do not overlap to ensure even cooking. You will want to pour out any  leftover marinade in the bowl. As the shrimp cook, pour in the tea and stir in the tea leaves. The tea and marinade should thicken into a sauce. Turn the shrimp about 2 minutes into cooking. After 4 minutes, if your sauce is not fully thick, remove the shrimp to a plate and continue cooking the sauce until it thickens. Then turn off the heat and put back in the shrimp. Taste the sauce and add salt to your taste.

The tea leaves will soften and be very easy to eat with the shrimp. Other green and white teas can be used for this recipe. Black and oolong teas will be much tougher and are not ideal for this unless you chop the leaves after brewing. This is a fun way to appreciate tea.

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Gaiwans: A Tool for True Tea Appreciation

Many a loose leaf tea drinker will admit to having a cupboard full of strainers, tea pots and various mugs that assist them in consuming tea. In China, that cupboard would be full of gaiwans. This simple lidded bowl lends itself to truly appreciating the tea in many ways that a teapot just cannot accomplish.

A gaiwan can be used to drink just about any tea you would like. However, traditionally it is reserved for white, green and lighter oolong teas. There are some teas we would not dream of drinking in anything other than a gaiwan, like Bai Hao Silver Needle. This is due to how the gaiwan amplifies smell and mouthfeel when following the traditional Chinese method of using a gaiwan.

The first step of using a gaiwan is to warm it with hot water and to discard that water. This seems like a silly step. However, it gives you an opportunity to smell the dry leaves even better. If you put the tea in just after this, the warm ceramic allows the smell of the dry leaves to become stronger. It is expected in China that the drinker will take the time to bring the gaiwan to just under their nose to inhale this fragrance before adding water to the leave. This allows the drinker to better appreciate what they are about to consume.

While drinking the tea, it is expected that the drinker will stop before putting the tea in their mouth and smell the brew. The bowl shape of the gaiwan makes it easy to smell before drinking. There should be no expectation that the dry leaf and the brew will smell the same. Often they do, but in some cases they absolutely do not. There is a green tea in China called Mo Li Xiang, where the dry leaves smell like duck/chicken poop but the brewed tea has a sweet dry grass aroma.

So to appreciate tea the Chinese way, stop and smell both the tea leaves and the tea before you drink. These simple steps lead to a better appreciation of your tea.

Fascinated by the gaiwan, read about how to use it and its history in this blog post.

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Stress Reduction and Tea

We could all use a way to reduce stress created from modern life.

We’re tempted to say that those in our area, the Metro Washington DC region, could all use an excuse to destress. But really, the DMV doesn’t have a monopoly on stress right? High stress has been linked to all kinds of health issues and occurs globally. One paper suggests that, globally, 500 million people are stressed but don’t realize it and aren’t getting help (Stress, work and mental health: a global perspective, PubMed). This paper suggest that, among other causes, stress comes from rapid social changes and the time-compression of modern life.

Regardless of its cause, enjoying tea can be a great way to reduce stress in your life. Here are just a few of our thoughts on how to incorporate tea into activities to reduce stress.

  • Sit down to appreciate one cup of tea every morning. Don’t just grab a travel mug and run out the door. Instead, deliberately think about the tea you want that morning, take time to smell the dry leaf and try to pick out the different aromas. After steeping, inhale deeply the aroma of the infused leaf (stick your nose right into the infuser basket) and again think about the aromas that come to mind. Finally, sit, don’t stand, and enjoy the first mug of tea. Whatever you do, don’t turn on the TV, radio, or read the news online until after that first cup.
  • Have a tea party with friends and family. Grab a tea pot, make a large batch of something special but make an experience of it. Put the loose tea in a small bowl and pass around for everyone to smell before infusing. Once you have finished infusing don’t just toss the leaf. Consider pouring the leaf into the same small bowl and pass around for all to inhale the fresh brewed leaf.
  • Curl up with a good book and a pot of tea. Not sure anything else needs to be said really. Just a good tea and a book that is a bit of an escape goes a long way (step away from your phone).
  • If you really want to go the extra mile, pick up a tea tray, small cups, and a gaiwan or yixing teapot and prepare something special. Making tea in this way produces many small infusions, shared in small cups. It takes a bit of time, intentionally, and allows for appreciation of both tea and company (or family).

Don’t miss the entire series on tea and your health!

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Healthy Lifestyles Include Tea

Harmony through tea!This is kinda a self-serving statement, isn’t it? In all seriousness, a healthy lifestyle can certainly be made up of many different things and tea doesn’t need to be one of them. That said, we believe there are way too many artificial products (not real food) on the market, too much emphasis on miracle diets and cures, and we could all do with a bit of simplification. So we eat our own dog food, so to speak, or at least drink our own tea. In prior posts we’ve focused on other aspects of tea and your health including all the amazing micronutrients in tea so this one is short and sweet. Here are some of our thoughts on how tea fits in with a healthy lifestyle:

  • Morning cup (or three) of tea of course. But we like lots of variety so we don’t stick to one type of tea every day. We like to mix it up so sometimes that means green, sometimes black, puerh, or really whatever we are in the mood for.
  • To-go thermos of tea for our son to take to school. We remember the days when you had water from the fountain or milk at lunch and that’s it. No more – even elementary school kids bring a thermos with something – ours likes his morning Sencha.
  • We switch to caffeine free tisanes (herbals) mid-day or, shocking we know, water. We just sleep better by cutting out the caffeine by midday, even if the caffeine in tea is less jolting.
  • We love iced tea in summer. Technically we do cold brew. Throw some leaf into a jug of water at night, place in the fridge, and viola, fresh iced tea for the family in the morning.
  • We stop and smell the roses on the weekends. Meaning, this is when we tend to pull out the special teas we want to enjoy like Japanese Gyokuro, fresh Tieguanyin (in season), or a rare puerh from Yunnan China and to enjoy using traditional teaware. Yes, this takes more time, but it is great way to use your tea to slow down and enjoy the moment.
  • Finally, cooking with tea! This is always a fun way to explore in our house with everyone getting a chance to taste, compare notes, and decide if its something we would make again.

Don’t miss the entire series on tea and your health!

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Tea is Full of Amazing Micronutrients

Surely you’ve heard it. Tea is healthy for you – especially green tea! We hear it said all the time in our shop and of course we think it is for many reasons. Talking tea and health can be a slippery slope so we tend to avoid it. That said, in this post we are going to add just a tiny bit more to consider with respect to compounds found in tea, what they are thought to help with, and links to sources you may wish to explore.

So here are just a few of those micronutrients:

  • Caffeine (of course) – All tea from camellia sinensis (even decaffeinated) has some amount of caffeine in it. Caffeine is a stimulant and helps to wake us up in the morning and get us going. While research on benefits and risks of caffeine are ongoing we can’t deny that caffeine gives us a boost of energy.
  • L-theanine – We’ve written about this before ( Is caffeine from tea less jolting? ) but the long and short is there is a good bit of research, which we cite in the blog, around the moderating effect L-theanine has on caffeine in tea. It’s the same caffeine found in any other product but the L-theanine seems to moderate its effects for a more stable alertness. The monks of China and Japan have known this for centuries. ( The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness – PubMed Central )
  • Catechins, a Polyphenol (green tea) – A family of compounds found in green tea, primarily EGCG, which are thought to contribute to the significant antioxidant qualities of tea. ( Beneficial Effects of Green Tea:  A Literature Review – PubMed Central )
  • Thearubigens and Theaflavins, Oxidized Polyphenols (black tea) – As tea leaves are processed into what becomes black tea, the polyphenols themselves are transformed into theaflavins and thearubigens. Both are thought to have strong antioxident properties, like catechins, though in the case of thearubigens it seems a lot more study is needed to really understand these. ( Theaflavins in Black Tea and Catechins in Green Tea Are Equally Effective Antioxidants – Journal of Nutirition and Green tea composition, consumption, and polyphenol chemistry – PubMed Central )
  • Tannins, a Polyphenol – Found in both green and black tea, tannins are really very similar to catechins, though not as concentrated. They too are considered to have strong antioxidative qualities and are also what brings out bitterness in tea if its steeped too long. Among other things some research points to possibly being beneficial to dental and oral health. ( Oolong Tea and Health Benefits – Tea Research and Extension Station, Taiwan )
  • GABA – Research seems to suggest that GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric Acid) may be beneficial for reducing stress, depression, and enhancing sleep ( Improvement of Antioxidant Defences and Mood Status by Oral GABA Tea Administration in a Mouse Model of Post-Stroke Depression – PubMed Central ). In Japan and Taiwan some tea growers are specifically using a process to produce and market a high GABA tea, though this area likely needs quite a bit more study.

For a nice summary chart on the compounds in green tea, as well as everything you could want to know about Japanese Green Tease have a look at Let’s Enjoy Nihon Cha (Japanese Tea) from the Japan Tea Industry Association.

We eagerly devour scientific, peer reviewed, studies of a statistically meaningful sample size, where tea is part of a healthy lifestyle. That said, our focus has been and remains on learning all we can about tea, where it comes from, the people who make it, the cultures it has impacted, and the trade it has spawned. That’s why we offer a wide variety of teas on our website and in-store. It’s why we offer flights to feed the curiosity of our guests, and we try to keep adding new tea experiences. And finally, it’s why we travel to meet our suppliers and import directly, so that we can offer our customers the best experiences and knowledge to support a healthy tea habit.

In closing we leave you with a quote from Tea and Health: Studies in Humans in PubMed Central:

Large scale well-controlled human clinical trials are necessary to establish the health promoting effects of tea consumption. Only based on these findings, recommendations to human population could be made.

(Note: we have zero medical background so consider these interesting reads but not definitive — talk to your doctor).

Don’t miss the entire series on tea and your health!

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