Monday, June 26, 2017

More World Tea Expo 2017!

One of the many observations from my workshop "Pairing with Tea: the Science of Flavors and How to Enjoy Them:"

We enjoyed an exquisite English Breakfast Tea from The Tea Source.

Here's a picture of English Breakfast Tea from The Tea Source.

But drink the English Breakfast tea after a bite of a Walkers shortbread, and the tea disappears!

Here's the delicious shortbread that we used  — great by itself, but with black tea you need to add something!

Add some raspberry jam to the shortbread and bite again and sip the tea, and the tea magically comes back!

What is happening?  

The black teas in the blend activate TRPV3 and TRPV1, the warm and hot receptors, to give you a full comforting black tea flavor — remember, these receptors and the trigeminal nerves to which these receptors are attached act like a volume dial, upping the flavor experience.

The butter in the shortbread?  Turns off TRPV1, so you can't taste the tea.

But when you add some raspberry jam, raspberry ketone — a major chemical in raspberries, and in black tea, too — turns TRPV1 back on, and TRPV3 as well, so now you get the warm delicious tea flavor back again!

Strawberry and blueberry jams don't do this...

What does this mean for all of you who serve tea? 

Whenever someone asks for a black tea with a buttery pastry, make sure that the pastry contains some raspberry!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 1 of World Tea Expo 2017 — Talk, more talk, and a Dragon Dance!

Day 1 of World Tea Expo 2017 has been such a blast! Started the morning with my session on cold brew versus hot brew—what's in the cup and why you like it. There were two bottom lines to my talk: 1) in general people will tend to prefer teas that have a higher ratio of sweet amino acids to bitter catechins and polyphenols, and cold brewing when done right will yield a tea with the most tasty proportions, and 2) you should experiment with the teas you like, and see what happens with cold brewing—vary the ratio of leaves to water, the brewing time, and the temperatures, and see what your taste buds tell you...and, I should add, see what your friends and customers tell you.

As I mentioned at my talk, if you email me ( I will be happy send you a copy of my presentation -- just let me know whether you would like a Keystone or a Powerpoint version.

After the talk my ever so diligent helpers for tomorrow's session on pairing with tea discussed with me the plan for the tastings—will tell you all about that tomorrow.

Meanwhile here's a picture from the Dragon Dance that open ed the Exhibit Hall — such a charming and skilled performance by the young people of Kung Fu of Las Vegas—see

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Iced Tea Deconstructed - Part 2 - Ceylon Black Tea with Rose Water & Cardamom

This series of blog posts is based on the eBook published by Lu Ann Pannunzio and her colleagues (Nazanin from Tea Thoughts & Bonnie from Thirsty for Tea) that can be ours if you if you sign up for Lu Ann's blog newsletter— go to and sign up!

The next iced tea in the list, based on rose water, cardamom, and black Ceylon tea, in the Persian way that Nazanin Yousefnejad of Tea Thoughts treasures.

Why does this particular combination make for an exquisite iced tea?

First, black teas in general, and Ceylon black tea in particular, contain a host of chemicals that they share with roses, so the rose water brings out the flavors of the tea. You need make a special effort to bring these flavors out in an iced tea because many of them activate the warm/hot receptors, which is turned off by cold. I am thinking particularly of beta-damascenone, which gives the rich warm smell to damask roses. Of course there are cool smells in both roses and black tea as well — am thinking of linalool, geraniol and nerol, all of which activate TRPM8, the cool receptor. However these are not as abundant in black tea as they are in green tea. Instead, the processing of black tea yields linalool oxides, which are warm/hot, so any help the warm/hot receptors can get with rose water to boost the black tea flavor is huge for your enjoyment.

Which brings me to cardamom. My guess is that green cardamom is the ingredient intended. If you look at the composition of cardamom essential oil from green cardamom, it offers a curious mix of chemicals, some of which activate the cool/cold receptors (e.g. limonene), and some that actually turn off TRPA1, the cold receptor that leads to pain (e.g. borneol).* The latter chemicals can actually give your iced tea a "warmer" feel, and decrease the pain that the ice could cause.

When you taste plain cardamom, you will notice that its flavor seems to change, shifting from cool to warm as these different receptors kick in — remember that cool receptors are quick-on-quick-off, while warm and hot ones are slow-on-slow-off. It's this sequence that makes the flavor of cardamom so fascinating and hard to characterize! 

So go get your copy of the eBook and enjoy these marvelous flavor nuances for yourself!

** Masayuki Takaishi, Kunitoshi Uchida, Fumitaka Fujita, Makoto Tominaga. Inhibitory effects of monoterpenes on human TRPA1 and the structural basis of their activity. J Physiol Sci (2014) 64:47–57 DOI 10.1007/s12576-013-0289-0.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Iced Tea Deconstructed - Part 1 - Matcha Mojito Mocktail

Lu Ann Pannunzio (with her colleagues (Nazanin from Tea Thoughts & Bonnie Eng from Thirsty for Tea) has something special for you if you sign up for her blog's newsletter: an iced tea recipe book — 6 Refreshing and Fun Iced Teas — with one recipe for each of five teas and a tisane! 

Go to and sign up! 

Meanwhile here is the first of a series of why these wonderful iced tea combinations work: 

The Triple M! Matcha Mojito Mocktail, from 6 Refreshing and Fun Iced Teas.

The first iced tea in the booklet is a matcha mojito cocktail, developed by Lu Ann. It contains matcha, mint leaves, lime juice and...maple syrup? How could those flavors possibly go with maple syrup?

You do need sweetness to cut the bitterness of the matcha, but maple syrup? After all, the first three ingredients, and particularly the mint, all hit the cool/cold receptors—so refreshing! But maple syrup is brown, and should hit the warm/hot receptors, right?

I couldn't find any data concerning the receptors for sotolon and maple furanone, the main flavor chemicals in pure maple syrup, so I did the experiment.

I paired maple syrup with a sencha and an English breakfast tea (experimentation is limited in my current temporary housing situation).

To my surprise, the maple syrup killed the flavor of the breakfast tea, while the sencha lost its bitterness and gained a wonderfully green and flowery flavor.

So there you are: all signs point cool/cold receptors for the chemicals in pure maple syrup.

Any other supporting evidence? Perhaps two things:

First, pure maple syrup gives you that catch in the throat that good quality olive oil gives you. With olive oil that catch is caused by oleocanthol activating TRPA1, the cold receptor.

Second, sotolon is characteristic of fenugreek. And what can you use if you don't have any fenugreek hanging around?* Maple syrup (no surprise there)...and mustard seed. That may be the clue: mustard, or, to be more exact, the isothiocyanates in mustard activate TRPA1!

So the next time you enjoy pancakes with maple syrup, match them with a green tea...and don't forget that activation of TRPA1 can make you feel wide awake!

And don't forget to sign up for Lu Ann's newsletter — it isn't just another thing to clog your email box. It's filled with freshness and light on all things tea: