After months of shlepping around Brooklyn in snow boots, wearing sixteen layers of clothing, and opting to have absolutely everything delivered rather than step a foot outdoors, spring is finally here. This post is inspired by the arrival of spring in all its glory. Melting snow, cool mornings, pouring rain and blooming flowers.
Prop stylist Kelly Shea, food stylist Lauren LaPenna, tea enthusiast Demetria Provatas and I combined our powers to create this post.
My talented intern and culinary student, Demetria, researched tea blending and came up with a white peony lavender tea. Ms. Provatas tells you all about it below. Be sure to check out her blog to see some behind the scenes photos of this shoot!
In Vermont there was an English style tea shop cozied up on the bottom floor of an old Victorian home. It sat alongside the river and gazed out to scene of stark, green mountain peaks and large stones supporting the muted colors of the riverside homes – essentially comprising every component of quaint Vermont cute. I would go there in the morning, before my classes, sit at the table overlooking the river, and quietly drink my tea, marveling at the serene, sun drenched space. It was there that I had my first white tea. It was a lovely blend that was silver needle white tea, rose petals, and a hint of vanilla – and I was hooked. The white tea comes from the same plant as black and green tea, but it has a much more delicate, slightly sweet taste that avoids the bitter and acidic taste that can come with black and green teas. When the white tea was paired with the rose petals and vanilla it was nothing short of pleasant, delicate, and even vaguely ethereal.
So, when coming up with a tea blend of my own I returned to the lovely white tea and decided to go with the more full flavored of the white teas – white peony. The white peony includes young leaves in addition to the top buds or leaf shoots, whereas silver needle is only the leaf shoots, making the silver needle more delicate, more subtle, and more expensive, and the white peony with a fuller flavor and greater potency. I decided I would pair it with other calming, and light, floral flavors to complement the the delicate white tea.
When brewing your own tea at home it is important to check the amount of time your tea needs to steep to avoid the bitter and astringent tastes that can come from over steeping. Each tea – black, white, herbal, green, pu-erh, red, and so on – has a specific time and temperature that is most ideal for steeping and allows you to get the fullest and most pleasant flavor from each. The time and temperature will often vary slightly by blend and strain from there. Here is a basic and super cute illustrated guide you can refer to when brewing teas at home. Have fun blending!
White Peony Lavender Blend
By Demetria Provatas of Engrained Blog
Makes about 30 cups
1 ½ cups Organic White Peony
½ cup Organic Lavender
⅓ cup Blue Cornflower Petals
¼ cup Chamomile
2 tablespoons Hibiscus
I. Make sure all ingredients are dried. Mix all together gently in a large bowl. Package in paper bags, jars, or make your own small tea bags by putting 1 tablespoon in an empty tea bag, close and tie together with string.
II. To brew heat water to about 175 degrees Fahrenheit/80 degrees Celsius. Let sit for 3 minutes. Pour water over 1 tablespoon of tea blend per 8 ounce cup. Let steep for 4 – 6 minutes. Enjoy this lovely, relaxing, and lightly sweet blend!