Herbal Cocktails: Hibiscus Mint Spritzer

We've been really into seltzer lately and with fall just around the corner, we wanted to concoct an alcoholic spritzer, iced and shaken, to say goodbye to summer. Our newest herbal, Hibiscus Mint, is best iced. It has strong notes of peppermint, a rich body of tart hibiscus flowers, rounded off with real rose hips. It makes a really great base for experimenting with because of all of its bold ingredients. Its flavor stays rich against a variety of other pairings and with a little lemon, sugar, and seltzer, the hand-blended brew only gets better. 

We started by cold brewing the Hibiscus Mint in our small brewpot overnight in the fridge. (Note: steeping it longer makes the mint flavor more prominent. So, adjust accordingly)! Next we muddled lemon with 2 oz of simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. For our simple syrup we used a 1:1 ratio with white sugar. Next, we chose a sake base for our cocktail, adding 2oz of filtered Ozeki sake to our cocktail shaker.

What's left is adding the two strongest ingredients: tea and effervescence. Add 4oz of the tea concentrate to the shaker, top with ice, and shake vigorously. We chose to leave the ice out and strain the cocktail into a fun glass, leaving plenty of room to add your choice of seltzer. Not all seltzers are the same! Some have more fizz, more bubbles, more body; others are more flat and can water down the rest of the drink. Deciding on how much seltzer to add is totally a taste and mouthfeel preference. We started by adding 2oz and adjusting from there!

Sip, enjoy, savor, and repeat. 

Happy sipping! 

Cascara

Summer is in full swing, so what better way to beat the heat by indulging in some iced tea? You’re undoubtedly familiar with our iced tea, so today we’ll be breaking the mold with a new beverage: The Cascara Fizz.

Cascara is an herbal tea made from the dried cherries of coffee beans and today’s recipe calls for cascara from Verve. Cascara fizz is a delicious alternative order found in certain third­wave cafes with Blue Bottle Coffee and Sightglass Coffee being notable examples.

The standard cascara fizz calls for 8 parts sparkling water and 1 part cascara, but this wouldn’t be Tea People Labs if we didn’t find our own spin on it! This recipe does call for some prep work ahead of time, so add patience to the list of ingredients.

We’re going to start by making the cascara concentrate, which is done by steeping 41 grams of cascara tea in 350 mL of water. Add sweetener to your liking before storing it in your fridge and allowing it to steep for at least 24 hours. This results in a dense and tart concentrate. The natural counterpoint to tartness is sweetness, and we’ve found that our Rose Black Tea is a fantastic partner in this tango of flavor. You’ll want to brew a concentrate of our rose black tea (double the strength of your normal steep). The last thing you’ll need is some sparkling water, and San Pellegrino will do the trick. Now on to the main event! Our cascara fizz will call for 6 parts sparkling water, 1 part cascara, and 1 part tea concentrate. Add some ice cubes and you’re all set.

The result is crisp, refreshing, and reminiscent of Porto wine. For a smoother alternative, you can swap out the Rose Black for our Muscat Oolong. Stay classy, stay thirsty, Tea People fans!

A Modern Day Tea Party

As tea keeps making its moves to becoming a more modern sip, tea parties seem to be becoming more popular as well. When you think tea parties, most people think of crustless cucumber finger sandwiches, milky steeps of earl grey, and sipping out of fine china with a pinky in the air. But what does a modern day tea party look like?

Our friend and fellow tea lover, Anna Wu, an SF based photographer, decided to answer this exact question by throwing her vision of what modern afternoon tea is really like. We were lucky enough to be invited to the party while she photographed the whole thing. 

It turns out that Anna's spin on what a tea party today looks like, was the perfect blend of tradition and modernity, equal parts simple and elegant; everything we're all about. There were hand written invitations, big beautiful flowers and gorgeous tableware, towers of pastries, and of course, steaming cups of tea atop saucers, making it all look like the classic elegant afternoon tea. While we may have all cleaned up more so than usual, putting on our Sunday's best, the whole event was incredibly laid back and casual. There were no pinkies in the air, no strict manners or rules, just laughter and great conversation. 

The one definite unique distinction was that Tea People was asked to lead a tea tasting, sampling some of our favorite unique loose leafs. This modern day tea party was an interactive learning experience as much as it was a sit down with friends. Think wine tasting meets brunch. While guests and friends munched on modern art looking desserts from Craftsman & Wolves, our tea-geek, Benj filled tea cups and led a tasting of four of our teas: Milk OolongWater NymphHibiscus Mint and Black Coil

It was beyond a cool experience to see Anna's vision come to life and have our teas being steeped, shared, and sipped on in such a unique and beautiful setting. Not to mention, it was so exciting to kick back and geek out about tea. We got to talk about the individual teas being served in depth, the steeping process, and even the science behind what tea actually is. We think it's safe to say we converted everyone to the steep life after the event was over! 

Take a look at Anna's personal blog post to see more stunning images and make sure to check out our four featured teas to sip on (modern day tea party approved)!

A very special thanks to: 

Photography: Anna Wu Photography
Planning & Design: Ruby & Rose
Venue: 1544 Events, Oakland, California
Calligraphy: Brown Fox Calligraphy
Floral Design: Hawthorn Flower Studio
Tea Tasting: Tea People
Desserts: Craftsman & Wolves
Hair: Fox & Doll
Makeup: April Foster Artistry
Furniture: West Elm
Tabletop Goods: CB2 / Crate & Barrel
Flatware: Mrs. Peasy

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All Things Milk Tea (FAQ)

1. Why Milk Tea?
For us, we're always trying to think of new, fun, but simple ways to enjoy tea. Adding milk to our daily steeps just seemed like the easiest way to spice things up (or milk things up?). Turning your tea into milk tea can do a wide array of things for your sip too. You can make a tea-latte, turn your tea into dessert, change the mouthfeel and consistency; you can even make black teas less astringent and bitter. You ask, "Why Milk Tea?" but we're more about saying, "Hey, why not Milk Tea?!"

2. Will it still taste like tea?
Yes! If you check out our milk guide, we've picked out our favorite dairy (and dairy free) options to add to your cup so that the tea flavor won't disappear. Plus, if you make sure to brew your tea as a concentrate, the tea flavor will be sure to shine through even more. 

3. What if I can't drink milk?
Fear not, some of us at Tea People can't drink milk either! Milk tea is for dairy lovers and lactose intolerants alike. We suggest using Califia Farms Almond Milk as your dairy-free alternative. It has all of the body of milk and isn't too nutty either. 

4. Do you sweeten your milk teas?
It's totally a preference thing. We like adding a little bit of brown sugar based syrup to our milk teas, but some brews are so naturally sweet you don't need to add anything to your cup. 

5. Milk or tea first?
Ah! The never-ending debate of the order of liquids. According to George Orwell, "One should pour tea into the cup first... The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round." We say, it's up to you!

6. Should my milk ratios change when I'm making iced tea versus a hot steep?
We add the same amount of milk to our hot steeps as we do our iced teas. 

7. What are some of your favorite milk teas?
Check out our Top Ten Milk Teas, to see the loose leafs we think play best with milk. Some of our staff favorites are: Boba Guys Blend No.1, Jasmine, Hojicha and Rose Black

8. Will my tea curdle if I add milk?! 
Not everything plays well with milk. Adding milk to some herbal blends that have citrus and fruit as their main ingredient isn't a good idea. Take our Hibiscus Mint for example, we suggest you keep milk far away from that steep!

9. What do you suggest I use if I can't buy Straus Family Organic Milk? 
Sadly, Straus isn't sold everywhere! But then again, that's what makes Straus, Straus. One of the reasons we picked Straus was because they were local, #nextlevelquality, and organic. Check out your local grocery store for milks that are from happy cows near where you live. From there, pick the creamiest option possible, like half & half! 

10. What if I'm allergic to dairy and nuts, what milk do you suggest then?
We picked almond milk because it's the closest tasting dairy-alternative out there. From richness and creaminess, it knocks almost everything else out of the ball park! The next creamiest option we found was coconut milk, but soy milk is also an option as well, it will just make a lighter overall milk tea. 

 

 

Let's Talk About Milk


Creamy, rich and decadent milk, straight from the udder, squeezed from nuts, pressed from soy, hemp milk, coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, goat milk, sheep milk, whole milk, fat-free milk, 2%, and creamers; the important question is, what is the best milk for milk tea?

Milk is the trickiest ingredient when crafting your cup of milk tea. We've experimented with various types, brands, and flavors, concocting the dreamiest and creamiest cup of milk tea possible, and have narrowed it down to our top two favorite options. 

Our first choice is Straus Family Creamery Half & Half. For those of you who have bodies that can sip on dairy, this is our #1 go-to option. When you're adding milk to your cup of tea, mouthfeel, consistency, and flavor are everything. Straus Half & Half is both decadent on its own, but won't overpower the tea flavor of your steep. Plus, it has an amazingly creamy and rich mouthfeel that adds to the overall body and consistency of your sip. Bay Area natives, Straus is not only your best organic option but it comes from neighboring (happy) cows too! 

If you can't do real dairy milk, straight from the cow, you have a plethora of options. Luckily, we've gone through them all for you and have settled upon Califia Farms Almond Milk Barista Blend. The problem with a lot of milk alternatives is that they aren't creamy enough in comparison to dairy. They can water down your cup or add their own distinct flavor to your tea. Califia Farms is the richest almond milk we could find. It's not too nutty or grainy. It's thick, full-bodied and also, not too sweet. It's pretty much a lactose-intolerant's dream!

So, when making your next cup of milk tea, try Straus or Califia Farms and see how picking the highest quality of milk will really elevate your milk tea to that #nextlevelquality status. 

*We suggest starting out with 60ml or about 2oz of milk to start out with for a 16oz drink. Let your tastebuds do the real decision making! 

 

Our Top Ten Milk Teas

When we think of loose leafs that play well with milk, we think back to our first experiments in attempting to concoct the ultimate cup of milk tea. We started using Boba Guys Blend No. 1. With three different types of black teas, all hand blended together, it really is our favorite tea to add milk to. But at Tea People, we're huge fans of adding milk to a lot of our teas. For example, we couldn't think of drinking our Lavender Black any other way, and same goes for our timeless Indian Chai! Adding milk to black teas is the most common way to make milk tea, but try adding a splash of dairy to some of our green teas like Lychee Green or Jasmine, and we promise that you're in for a tastebud treat! Check out all of our Top Ten and you won't turn back from adding milk to these steeps. 

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The Importance of Ice Cube(s)

Ice, Ice baby; it's Iced Tea Season. 

Ice is arguably the most important ingredient in making iced tea. The perfect tall glass of tea consists of: cold brewed Tea People loose leaf (made in the fridge, chilled), poured over the perfect amount of ice. To us, the perfect kind of ice, is just like the perfect steep, it’s up to your own palate, but we do have some fun suggestions for you to try. 

First, there's the decision of what kind of ice to use:

Types of ice matter because of the dilution rate. More traditional ice cubes will dilute a drink faster because more ice equals more surface area through which ice can absorb heat.
More small ice cubes = faster melt rate.
That's why big squares and Japanese round globes of ice are becoming increasingly more popular (also fun, aesthetically pleasing, and cool) to use. 

Ice cubes are a really cool way to experiment with the flavor profiles of your tea. Ice doesn't just cool down or dilute a steep, but it can also be a source of deeper flavor.

Try for example making a giant cube of ice with cold brewed tea itself, that way when it dissolves, you're essentially just making you steep stronger. You can even blend different teas together! Our Tea Geek, Ken Kawachi, suggests brewing Genmaicha and Chamomile Mint together. Another favorite is cold brewed Jasmine Green with a cube of Muscat Oolong: The Jazz-Cat

You can also use ice as a vehicle for sweetening your drinks. When making cubes, mix in some agave, honey, cane sugar, or even jam, that way when you're enjoying a cup of iced tea in the heat, your drink will turn from rehydrating and refreshing, to refreshingly sweet! This method is particularly great for large batches of iced tea too, think BBQ's and summer time pool parties! 

Check out our new Iced Tea page for more tips on teas to try iced and recipes! 

Our Top Ten Iced Teas

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Some teas are best served certain ways: some are better hot, some are even better cold.

When making iced tea, it's all about that refreshing and simple sip. Most people just think of Arnold Palmers or Tropical Green Teas, but most of our #nextlevelquality loose leafs are pretty versatile! We've narrowed it down to our favorite ten steeps that work best simply on their own: chilled, on ice,  and on the rocks!

Iced Summer Cocktails

We've done our fair share of cocktail concocting since we launched Tea People, but we wanted to curate our favorite summer ready spiked sips and put them all in one place. The key to a great summer cocktail is making sure that it's both refreshing and cold, without being watered down due to ice melting or the hot summer heat. 

Our Strawberry Jasmine Rose, Puerh Citrus Punch and Lavender Lemonade all have a bold tea flavor that stays strong amidst any summer heat wave.

Click each image for step-by-step directions and printable recipe cards! 

Puerh Citrus Punch

The world of Puerh can sometimes seem like a daunting or intimidating world to steep into. That's why we were slightly worried about creating our own Puerh based cocktail. But, when we first served up a large batch of our Puerh Citrus Punch, it proved to be a real kick! With fresh squeezed Meyer lemons, tangy orange juice, a squeeze of honey, a shot or two of sake (or soju), and an earthy Natural Puerh concentrate base, our punch was the perfect gateway sip. Natural Puerh is one of our favorite puerhs because it comes from our own backyard! Aged in the foothills of Marin County, the nuggets of Natural Puerh are deeply smokey and can be steeped over and over again. This is the best cocktail to make in large batches too, leaving some leftover slices of lemon and oranges in the batch for some aesthetic garnish. It's the perfect tea punch! 

#steepresponsibly

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Meet Our Tea Geeks

At Tea People, we're not just a team of people who love tea. Some of us are actually self-identified tea geeks. At our new tea bar (8 Octavia, SF) we have three of these dedicated staff members that have gone through extensive tea training and are the most passionate tea lovers you'll meet. 

One of the most important parts of our tea bar is the interaction you can get with one of our Tea Geeks. When you order a tea flight, you're not just going through a taste experience with tea infused chocolate and on the spot brewed tea, but also a guided learning one as well. That's why we wanted to bring some names to the familiar faces who not only blend and pack your teas, but hopefully will be stepping your next tea flight. 

So without further adue, meet:

Kalen Bergado, Benj Marsten and Ken Kawachi. 

Be sure to follow us on social media @teapeopleus to find out what our Tea Geeks are currently sipping on and their recommended brews. 

Tea Bar. 8 Octavia Street. Let Us Pour You A Cup.

Tea People Tea Flights

Tea People's Tea Bar's Tea Flights. Now, say that three times fast!

Our very own space has officially opened in the flagship store of Boba Guys, located in Hayes Valley (8 Octavia). One of the first things that we're launching at our tea bar is our tea flights. Modeled after beer flights, we've put together six tea flights to take you on a unique tea sampling experience. From more traditional flights like, China Top 3, to more under the radar teas like the Shock & Awe flight, each set is paired with handcrafted chocolate from Jade Chocolates. What's better than perfectly paired tea and (tea and spice infused) chocolate? 

Each flight is brewed on the spot, in front of you, and served up by one of our in house Tea Geeks. So, by sitting down for a tea flight, you won't just walk away having tasted three new amazing teas, but you'll have been able to geek out as much as you want about them as well. 

Stop by our tea bar and let one of our tea geeks introduce you to some of our tea flights, chocolates, and tea geekery. 

Tea People Tea Bar (inside Boba Guys Hayes Valley)
8 Octavia #308
San Francisco, CA 94102

Tuesday-Friday: 12-9pm

A Matcha Spin on a Cocktail Classic

We've had tea cocktails on the brain recently. When thinking of some of our favorite non tea based sips, we couldn't help but think of the Moscow Mule. We wanted to update the 1940's classic cocktail and put our own Tea People spin on it!

The Matcha Mule is the most picturesque cocktail we've concocted to date. With fresh limes, a sake alcohol base, and effervescent ginger beer, all topped with hand whisked matcha, this is guaranteed to be your next favorite cocktail to serve up for friends. Our Matcha Starter Set is the perfect first step in creating this beauty. With a bamboo whisk, ceramic bowl and spoon you'll have all the instruments you'll need to start mixing your own Matcha Mule.
Check out our printable recipe card below to get started. 

Spring/Summer Lookbook: Justine Sharifi

This week we're highlighting our amazing friend, Justine Sharifi. As a lifestyle coach, a nurse, and co-founder of Perform4Life, she's constantly busy and always on the go. We were lucky enough to steal a few of her free moments to chat with her about tea in her element; the gym! Take a look at her profile in our Spring / Summer Lookbook to see what a busy woman like herself is sipping on this season. (Hint: It's iced and is our more refreshing version of coconut water). Not to mention, check out her and her husband, Bryant's, company, Perform4Life, if you're in the Bay Area for #nextlevelquality training. 

 

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Lavender Lemonade

Lavender Black Meets Lemonade

In Beyonce's most recent visual album, Lemonade, she graces us with her grandmother's family recipe for the perfect summer sip. We were inspired to take the words of the Queen Bey and put a little tea flare on her classic sip.

"Take one pint of water, add half pound of sugar
The juice of eight lemons, the zest of half lemon
Pour the water from one jug, then to the other several times
Strain through a clean napkin"


That's how we created the Lavender Lemonade. Equal parts Lavender Black and our favorite lemonade from Califia farms, made with real Meyer lemons. It's like a lavender infused Arnold Palmer, that's a touch more sweet and has less of a sharp mouthfeel. We can't stop steeping large batches of this and serving it up out in the sun. Plus, it's the perfect iced drink to spike. Scroll down for our recipe card and all hail Queen Bey for this new tea infused sip. 

*when spiking this sip, we added 2oz of  Junmai-shu sake. 

*when spiking this sip, we added 2oz of Junmai-shu sake. 

Spring/Summer Lookbook: Cole Emde

Tea has more to do with fashion than you’d expect. Just as the fashion world goes through seasons, featuring new designers and new trends, the tea world does the same. Influenced by various San Francisco based tea people, who are all trendsetters themselves, we decided to showcase the parallels of the fashion and tea world by launching a lookbook.

For our launch week, we decided to feature our friend Cole Emde, head brewmaster at Black Sands Brewery. Black Sands is an amazing restaurant in the Lower Haight that's doing some pretty #nextlevelquality things with beer and home brewing. Cole's the man who helped us out with our nitro tea! 

Check out our lookbook in its entirety to see what Cole is sippin' on this season and stay tuned for more tea x fashion profiles. 

Spiked Summer Sips: Rosé

There's nothing better than being in the park, by the lake, or at an early evening BBQ in the summer time. Our Strawberry Jasmine Rosé was inspired by all of these moments where you want to sip on something a little sweet and floral, a little alcoholic, and something extremely refreshing. We used Boba Guys' take on an agua fresca and made it with a stronger tea concentrate, then we spiked with it was a dry Rosé. Not only is this the easiest summer cocktail to make, but you can customize your sip with various fruit and Jasmine tea strengths and different bodies of Rosé. Check out our recipe card for step-by-step directions to make one 8oz #teacocktail.  

*Best shaken over ice, not stirred. 

And as always, make sure to sip and #steepresponsibly.

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A Guide to Cold Brewing

With the heat of the summer here, it’s hard to drink tea hot. But, the alternative always seems so complicated. Making iced tea needs so much ice, time, and still requires getting hot while boiling water on the stove. That’s why cold brewing is our new favorite way to make a batch of cold tea. Not only is it infinitely simpler, but it’s also pretty much fail-proof! You don’t have to worry about over-steeping or wasting tea leaves! It’s as simple as: leaves, water, fridge, and strain.
 Check out our new guide on, "How to Cold Brew" for step-by-step instructions with our Tall Brew Pot! Don't forget to take a look at our recommend sips for cold brewing too.

 

Lychee Green Tea
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Oolongs: A New Universe of Flavor

Known as the “Dark Dragons” of the tea world, oolong teas are semi-oxidized leaves that make up the wide category in between green and black tea. Diverse and deliciously complex, oolongs contain an entirely new universe of flavor and skilled craft. Handcrafted, hand-coiled, hand-rolled; they’re the most labor-intensive of teas, developed by tea-makers to produce the most unique flavors. In size and shape, they’re larger than other teas. They need space to unfurl and release their flavor slowly through repeated steeps. In taste, they range from fresh and fragrant, to mellow and warming, to dark and intense. This all depends on the level of oxidization and type of cultivar used. 

Think of cultivars like you would wine; wine-grape varieties are like tea-cultivar varieties. Oolongs contain a broad spectrum of cultivars and thus contain the most delicious and complex of sips. Plus, like wine they get better over time, steep after steep.

So, sit back and let us introduce you to the universe of oolongs you should be watching unfurl in your cup. 

 

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How Do You Take Your Tea? Black.

 

You think black tea and you think: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, high tea, milk tea… It's easy to conjure up images of European women in dresses gathered around an outdoor table sipping their cuppa’ black tea. Adding cream wasn’t a European high tea concoction, it was actually copied from a long-standing tradition of the Manchurian people! Black tea is a stand-alone category of tea because of how well it plays with milk. Black tea is bold and robust in flavor, which allows it to hold up to be the base of drinks like, Taiwanese Boba milk tea and Hong Kong milk tea, tea lattes, and yes, the base of those classic high tea sips. 

Let us expand your world of black teas and show you our favorite ways to add a splash of cream to our cups. Plus, check out our new milk tea page that includes our How to Make a Milk Tea video, with step-by-step directions and tips!

 

Earl Grey
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Black Coil
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