Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Turning Over a New Leaf

by Phyllis Louise Harris
January 2014

Beautiful, hot, soothing tea…the world’s most consumed drink next to water…was about to be banished from my kitchen until I talked with the man who knows more about tea than anyone I know, Bill Waddington. Apparently I am no longer able to tolerate the caffeine in tea (there can be a lot of it) and did not want to resort to herbals or tisanes

“No problem,” said Bill. “The CO2 method of removing caffeine actually eliminates some of tea’s bitter flavor, but keeps the full flavor of the tea leaves.” And, he should know! Founder and owner of TeaSource, Bill carries more than 250 varieties of tea and blends in his three stores and catalog. The only decaffeinated tea he carries uses the CO2 method.

Years ago I had tried decaffeinated tea, but found it tasteless. Not so today. There are a number of flavorful decafs at TeaSource including Earl Grey Decaf, English Breakfast Decaf, or Sencha Decaf, the Japanese green tea that is so aromatic and soothing.

Like most everyone else I get stuck in a rut on food choices until some creative chef or culinary expert challenges me to try something new. And, Bill does that on a regular basis.

No matter where tea is grown or how it is processed all 3,000 varieties come from the Camellia sinensis plant. The differences in flavor are created by geography, growing conditions, cultivars and processing. So when tea was allegedly discovered by an ancient Chinese Emperor after a tea leaf dropped into his cup of boiling water, it was from the same tea source we have today, Carmellia sinensis. Over centuries tea leaf processing has evolved to create a wide variety of flavors and now even flavorful decaffeinated tea.

There is also the choice of caffeine-free herbals and tisanes made from other plant leaves and bark, fruit, herbs, flowers and spices. But, please don’t refer to them as “tea.” They are not made from the Cameillia sinensis plant and are simply called herbals or tisanes.

So my new leaf for the New Year is to try a variety of decaf teas at TeaSource and come up with some new “favorites” that don’t put me on the ceiling.

Happy New Year!!!

Learn more about tea at TeaSource in St. Anthony Village, St. Paul’s Highland Village and Eden Prairie. Or get a copy of the 2014 TeaSource catalog. Also visit the new TeaSource blog or for online shopping and additional tea information. TeaSource has a variety of tea classes throughout the year. Check their website for dates and times.


Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: