Tea Blog

The History of Iced Tea



Before ice was cool it was water

June is National Iced Tea month and in honor of this holiday we'll be offering some deep knowledge and deeper discounts to help keep you intellectually and actually insulated in the impending summer months. So, while your sipping on that sweaty beverage we offer you some fodder from the pages of history. We're going to unearth how tea went from hot to cold in two easy moves. The story behind iced tea's transformation from Midwest flare to world class fare.

The idea of icing this beverage is as old and celebrated as the union of this fair country.  However, the advent and origin are wildly debated. Cookbooks and confederacies touted the incorporation of cold cubes and crisp flavors as early as the 1840's. The Kentucky Housewife was one of the first periodicals to preach the gospel of this lovely libation calling it "Cold-Tea" and even articulating a recipe calling for "scalding" your kettle and then adding 2 teaspoons of green tea to it. Hard to believe given we see so much black tea these days, but then Chinese and Japanese green dominated the market prior to World War I & II.

However, the most widely distributed tout of truth brings us nearly half a century later at the St. Louis fair where, Richard Blechynden, director of the East India pavilion, became frustrated as he tried to offer samples of the hot stuff in the midst of the sweltering Midwest summer. His idea had not yet inoculated this beverage with sub-zero cubed delight; instead he channeled his brewed benevolence through a series of lead pipes immersed in ice resulting in a cool, refreshing beverage that tamed the tongues of fair goers alike.

Today, the newest of iterations have begun to emerge in the way of something known as "cold brewing". This is an idea that incorporates steeping the leaves of the tea for longer periods of time and at much lower temperatures to abide a full-strength non-ice necessitating refreshment. The resulting infusion lends itself to a softer, silkier palate and at full strength. Zhi Tea is proud to have been an early originator providing cold brew at zhitea.com since 2011 and we are overjoyed to see the trend taking off with a swift "can't stop won't stop" attitude.

As the summer season opens up and we find a revitalization in the newness of our own lives, perhaps cleansing the palate with the crisp and fervent flavors of an icy libation becomes necessary; something that reminds us of backyard barbeques, new beginnings and better times to come.

Tisane your mama's herbal tea

The first question some people ask, other than, "what is a tisane" is "what's the difference between this and an herbal tea?

Well, in an attempt to quell any consternation you may have about this lovely libation I'll give you the quick sip.

Tisane is simply a synonym for herbal tea, or rather a steeped beverage absent the traditional tea plant for which it is eponymously named.

Tisanes are not actually "Tea" however, they play a major role in the tea world.

Since these decoctions are devoid of the traditional tea leaf (Camelia Sinesis) they rarely, with a few notable exceptions, have caffeine.

Much as there is a long illustrious history behind traditional tea, tisanes revel in their own antiquity dating back to much of the same geographic locales as traditional tea. In ancient China, tisane was referred to as liang cha or "cooling tea". This definition refers to a Chinese medicine concept steeped in the wisdom that the body needs a balance between "cool" and "hot" much akin to yin and yang.

At times the body may become more inflamed or hot based on what we ingest or how we are impacted by our daily lives and so counterbalancing this, enter tisane. Some tisanes like Snow Chrysanthemum are good for cooling the throat and others for the lungs, circulation, blood pressure, and much more. I'm not a real doctor so I encourage you to simply google any relevant studies for more information.

Tisanes can be categorized by the constituent of the plant they utilize i.e. Leaf, Fruit, Flower, Seed/Spice, etc.

Most often we see tisanes as a blend of these components, thus creating an amalgam of dynamic aromas, flavors, and textures.

The dramatic expression of these teas walks hand-in-hand with its intrinsically medicinal qualities. Many times, these herbal concoctions are inundated with naturally occurring antioxidants, nutrients, and other compounds known to improve one's overall health.

Whatever the reason for your affinity, tisanes can be a wonderful addition to your tea repertoire and enjoyed anytime and for any occasion!

This week in lieu of all the free time we have on our hands let's treat ourselves

The Matcha Abides, pt 1 - A Prep Talk

As a near daily drinker of matcha, I'd like to share a couple of personal anecdotes, if I may.

All health benefits aside (and there are many), it really comes down to a couple things; the experience of preparing and drinking matcha itself, and the unique feeling afterwards.

Matcha is incredibly versatile as you can observe by simply looking up recipes on the internets. We keep it pretty simple around here. Let's discuss some matcha prep.

Let's talk about standard preparation first. What we're trying to attain in terms of the finished product is a frothy, creamy, aerated, cup or bowl (or shot!) of tea. So whisking in the classic sense, with a traditional bamboo whisk in a bowl, is one method. This is a great practice to develop and is part of the much larger Japanese tea ceremony. I do recommend attending a ceremony at some point as they are quite beautiful and meditative.

My personal favorite matcha prep method, these days, is shaken. Much like a bartender will shake a cocktail, I use a glass tea tumbler (sans filter). Firstly, I like to press the matcha through a strainer to avoid clumping. I simply add my requisite amount of matcha (about a tsp to heaping tsp) to about 4-6 ounces of not too hot water (about 165-175F) and shake vigorously. A vigorous shake for about 20 seconds results in a wonderful brew that once consumed (with honorable focus, of course) is super refreshing, delightfully tasty, and provides an instant feeling of well being and mental clarity.

We like to pour shots (double shots!) here at the bar and in the warehouse for a quick celebration and as an afternoon doldrums boost. It is truly one of the healthiest and simple things we can do for ourselves and others.

Other preparation methods include smoothies, matcha lattes, and dessert recipes, as well. There are a zillion suggestions and recipes on the internets so I encourage you to look around and discover what works for you.

For the numerous health benefits related to matcha, I will post a pt 2 soon.

Oh, in the meantime, for those of you who like trend reports, here is a new one related to US matcha trends.


Stay healthy, my friends.


- JL









For the Love of Puer Tea, pt 1. Ripe

Howdy folks! In the spirit of health, wellness, and pure joy, let's talk ripe puer for a moment. Also, check out our newest video on puer.

Puer Fundamentals – Ripe Puerh

What is Puer?

Puer is a variety of fermented tea produced in China. The fermentation style allows the tea leaves to undergo a microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled. This process is a Chinese specialty. There are two types of Puer – Raw and Ripe.

Where is Puer from?

All Puers teas are from a specific region in China – the Yunnan province. Much like true champagne can only be from the Champagne region of France, so must all Puer teas come from this one area of China.

What makes Ripe Puer... Ripe?

"Ripened" Puer has been specially processed to imitate aged "raw" Puer tea. Although it is also known in English as cooked puer, the process does not actually employ cooking to imitate the aging process. The process instead manipulates conditions to approximate the result of the aging process by promoting bacterial and fungal fermentation in a warm humid environment under controlled conditions - a technique which involves piling, dampening, and turning the tea leaves in a manner much akin to composting.

When was Ripe Puer created?

The process of making Ripe Puer was developed in the 1970’s to satisfy the demand for aged Puers in mainland China and Taiwan. By controlled fermentation practices (which takes about 60 days), the puers could achieve optimum taste in a fraction of the time it would take to produce its Raw counterpart (which could take 10-30 years).

What to expect:

Ripe puer has an earthy, rich mouth-feel. Bordering on salty or briny, the cup at first has hints of seaweed and a definite savory quality. With multiple steepings, the tea becomes sweeter and mellower. The liquor is a beautiful deep mahogany brown, and can have a syrupy ‘soy-sauce’ viscosity.

Health benefits:

Ripe puer is wonderful for people with digestive ailments or sensitive stomachs. It can help with circulatory issues as well, being that it moves the ‘qi’ or life-force energy of the drinker. It can also increase one’s “inner-heat” and can result in a restorative form of sweating that can help release toxins from the body. Burping is also a common result of drinking high quality puers!


Western style -

Steep as you would any dark tea. Very hot h2o, 3-4 grams per 12oz h2o, and about 3 min steep. reuse those leaves. You can get many steeps from one serving of leaves.

Eastern style:

In gaiwan or yi xing type pot, use 7-10g, very hot h2o, short steeps, appx 5-10 seconds, increasing time slightly per steep. You can get many steeps this way that evolve over the course of your tea session. this is definitely the recommended way!

March Newsletter $25 Orders Free Shipping

Free Shipping on Orders Over $25

Zhi Tea

Spring is finally here and with it a sense of renewal, hope, and a path to wellness. The team here at Zhi would like to offer you any number of our healthy, fully organic teas to keep you in good company during these trying times. To offset some of the shared hardship, we'd like to offer Free Shipping on orders over $25.

We'd like to suggest a few teas and tea types that will boost immunity and support your general health!

Any of our teas with ginger; such as Masala ChaiCacao Chai, Kenya (rooibos) Chai, and Ginger Peach Oolong and best seller, Turkish Spice Mint can help to stave off not only the doldrums but help to keep your body in tune, as well.

Chamomile, the great soother and inflammation reducer, is available pure and also as the main component of Restful Blend.

Antioxidant-rich hibiscus is found in our Berry Hibiscus and Blood Orange.

Any of our artisanal oolongs are a wonderful way to allow the magic of tea to deeply penetrate your frazzled nerves and provide a sense of centering and grounding.

Stay healthy and well, friends. We are all in this together even we are apart.


-Zhi Team

                             Staff favorites!

Ginger Lime Rooibos

Sweet Desert Delight

Ripe Puer 7572 Rare Brick 2001



1023 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78721 | Phone 512-220-3839 |  info@zhitea.com

A Time To Pause, Reflect, and Connect

Dear Zhi Tea Friends & Family,

We hope in this time of uncertainty you are finding a moment of stillness to pause, reflect and connect with those you love.

You are in our thoughts as we remain vigilant in these trying times and therefore wanted to give you an update of how we are addressing the coronavirus as well as allow you to share your thoughts.

We will remain open for business as long as it remains safe to do so and have begun working towards helping you, our greatest asset, to continue enjoying the comforts of better times.

Specifically, our retail store remains open (for now) M-F 11-4, with no table service or tea service. Our warehouse is fully operational and we are shipping around the clock. Our website is open 24/7!

Given the need for most of us to participate in social distancing we will begin offering special shipping and sales promotions, news updates, and forum opportunities to better serve the community and bring us together virtually.

Let's start a dialogue; show us how you are enjoying your tea at home #zhitea on Instagram.

Please be assured, our products are and will continue to be safe to consume. We continue to adhere to the highest standards of food manufacturing and have remained vigilant in daily CDC and FDA mandates for hygiene with our staff and our facility.

As a final note, we encourage you to do your part in supporting local and independent businesses, family and friends who are feeling the financial strain of these uncertain times and let us know how we can better serve you and those around you.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones and we wish you a healthy and prosperous future.


The Zhi Team