As a southerner, I’m used to drinking tea in just about every season. I love iced tea to cool off in the summer and, of course, hot tea to warm me up in the winter. Recently, we met Heather Isbell, owner of Izzy’s Restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas. So you might think Heather is going to talk about iced tea. Well, just hold the phone. Heather has been importing tea leaves from China and has an incredible story to tell us.
Heather Isbell, Izzy Restaurant: One of my favorite teas is this organic green tea that’s actually grown on a farm in China that uses earthworms. So it’s all completely organic. And it’s one of the highest-quality green teas that I’ve seen come through. And it’s just a beautiful tea. It cups up into a really nice amber color. You’ll see how big these leaves are. This is what green tea really looks like. All these leaves are handpicked, and they just use the very, very top of the plant – the 10 days’ growth, 10 to 15 days’ growth off the top of that plant. So you’re getting the most antioxidants and the most nutritional value out of the top of this growth on these leaves. You’re getting the highest-quality-possible green tea that you can and you’re getting all the good things for you.
Another one of my favorite teas is Pu-erh. This is an aged green tea. Brews up very dark. A lot of coffee drinkers love this Pu-erh. The great thing about this aged green tea – it’s very earthy. It’s aged in caves or underground. This is an Oolong tea, and Oolong tea is very, very treasured in China. This is a very high grade of Oolong. It starts out in little balls and it rolls out into a big, giant leaf.
In preparing my tea I use a hot-water dispenser. It keeps your water regulated at any temperature you want between 175 and 208 degrees F. I like 195 degrees F. That’s about the perfect temperature for all types of teas.
One of the most important things to know about Chinese teas — number one, it’s so good for you and so healthy for you. But it’s also very easy and convenient.