Cider Spices Wassail Brewing

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Wassail (Middle English 'wæs hæl' - ‘be you healthy’) refers both to the salute 'Waes Hail' and to the drink of wassail, a hot mulled cider drunk as part of wassailing, an English ritual intended to ensure a good apple harvest the following year. Historically, the drink is a mulled cider, mulled beer, or mead, made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and topped with toast. A group then sings: “Old Apple tree, old apple tree, we've come to wassail thee, To bear and to bow apples enow, Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full, Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.” Check out our brewing tips for Cider Spices Wassail here.    

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Chai Tea Brewing with Savannah Bee Honey

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Traditionally, chai is a blend of black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, black pepper and vanilla. It’s brewed by street vendors across most of India, but now has become a popular drink across the world. Chai is served either hot or cold, but always creamy, very spicy, and puckeringly sweet.  We find our chai is best complimented by the flavor of Savannah Bee Company’s Honey For Your Tea, and recently made a batch for our staff on a brisk October afternoon. Check out our brewing tips for Chai Tea here.

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Fall Toddy Brewing

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In an effort to beckon cooler fall weather, we took to our backyard this week to document our favorite OP cocktail, the Winter Toddy. With a tart and sweet combination of our Lemon Ginger Hot Toddy Kit, honey, and a little (or a lot) of whiskey, the Winter Toddy is perfect after a long cold day in front of the fire. Check out our brewing tips on the Winter Toddy here. 

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Red Wine Wassail Over Ice – A Festive Winter Cocktail

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In the holidays we have served a warm wine wassail with red wine or port. Old English Wassail spices of orange peel, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves are steeped at heat for an hour or two, yielding a slightly bitter wine infusion that is balanced with light cane sugar and fruit juice. Last year, we happened to brew a bit too much wine wassail and I stored it in the refrigerator, and served it over ice the next day. It was a new experience. There was something about an icy red wine cocktail with a finish of cloves and cinnamon. It was festive and refreshing, and beautiful to behold. The icy goblets were dripping wet with condensation, imbued with a...

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OP Favorite: the Cacao-Coffee Blend

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We all love a little chocolate in our coffee every once in a while, but the added sugar? Not so much. Luckily, the Oliver Pluff warehouse is never in short supply of our favorite Cacao Shell Tea, which gives us the opportunity to experiment with different flavors and combinations for our beverages. And so the cacao-coffee blend was born! Seeking a little extra depth to our daily coffee, we tested a few coffee-to-cacao ratios before getting it just the way we like it. For a little extra creaminess, we love a splash of unsweetened almond milk or creamer of your choice. Cacao-Coffee Blend Recipe Ingredients 2½ tablespoons whole coffee beans 1 teaspoon cacao shell tea Bring 3 cups of water to...

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The Origins of the Tea Brick

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Black Tea Brick, China. Photography by Kyle Brown. All Rights Reserved.  Estimated to be formed around 350 A.D., tea bricks have become a part of Chinese and European culture throughout the ages. Before tea bricks where introduced to Europe, tea bricks were used in China as a form of currency, food, and medicine. From the 9th century on through the 20th century, tea bricks were classified into five different quality categories of value. All the bricks, even to this day, are scored on the back with indentions to allow for easy breakage off the larger block.  When the bricks were assessed for quality, the highest quality bricks were given to the Emperor. There are multiple steps in the process of...

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Cocoa and Cacao Shell Tea

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19th Century Drinking Chocolate Ceramics, London. Special thanks to: GEORGE C. BIRLANT & CO. (Antiques), Charleston, 843-722-3842, www.birlant.com. Photography: Kyle Brown. All Rights Reserved. As far back as 1556, when an unknown European noted that drinking chocolate was the “most wholesome and substantial of any food or beverage in the world, because whoever drinks a cup of this can go through the day without taking anything else,” drinking a cup of chocolate was esteemed for its sweet tasting and practicality. While tea was a popular social beverage among the wealthy, demand for chocolate climbed because “drinking chocolate was affordable to all classes of people.”[1] Chocolate is made from cocoa beans off the cacao tree; the cacao tree “originated near… the Amazon River of...

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The Origins of Earl Grey Tea

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Bergamot Orange watercolor illustration (Citrus Bergamia), by L. Osbeck The origin of “who first put leaf to water” is completely unknown to culinary historians. Before the mid-nineteenth century, botanists failed to decipher tea’s formula; however, many tales provide what human record does not. Like all teas, Earl Grey’s “distinctive quality… comes from essential oils that leach flavor and caffeine into a cup of hot water.”[1] The exact source of the Earl Grey blend has remained a mystery, except that it is based on Chinese tea. Unlike other Chinese blends, Earl Grey tea contains the flavoring agent, bergamot oil. Before bergamot became tied to the Earl Grey blend, it had a bad reputation as being a taste enhancer for lower quality teas....

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Bohea Over Ice

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I started a tea business in 2009 with a business plan of becoming the “Ben and Jerry’s of iced tea”. After sampling over 300 broken orange pekoes from India and Sri Lanka, we selected single estate teas from a couple of gardens: an organic black tea from south India with crisp, floral tones, and a bold, fruity black tea from Sri Lanka. We found a small but loyal market for our specialty iced teas. But the sales were not enough. Then we met Colonial Williamsburg who called on us for help creating their Early American tea line. We studied tea history for 6 weeks and then we sourced the tea products from the same gardens that supplied the British East...

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Transcript - South Carolina Gazette, November 1774

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Crest of the South Carolina Gazette. Photography: Kyle Brown. All Rights Reserved. The South Carolina Gazette reported on the dramatic confrontation between the colonists and British sea captain Samuel Ball, an agent of the British East India Company.Full transcript of the article describing the inquiries and the destruction of the tea is below:CHARLES-TOWN, November 7, 1774.The same Day arrived here, in the Ship Britannia, Capt. Samuel Ball, jun. from London (amongst a Number of other Passengers) Samuel Carne, Esq; formerly of this Town; Thomas Attwood, Esq; appointed Chief-Justice of His Majesty’s Bahama-Islands; the Hon. William Gregory, appointed to succeed the late John Muray, Esq; as an assistant-judge and Justice of His Majesty's Courts in the Colony, and also to a...

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