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Lion’s Heart Tea made from herbs and flowers grown, harvested, dried and then blended by hand at Bee Fields Farm in Wilton. Courtesy photo.




Bee Fields Farm tea

Find Lior Sadeh and Bee Fields Farm teas at the Bedford, Amherst, Tilton, Salem, and Groton, Mass., farmers markets this summer. 
555 Abbot Hill Road, Wilton
beefieldsfarm.com
 
Inis Tea
Visit inistea.com




Tea time
Teamakers want coffee drinkers to try something new

06/19/14



 In a coffee-driven culture, tea can be a pleasant and soothing escape for the palate as well as the soul. Herbalist and tea maker Lior Sadeh of Bee Fields Farm thinks we can learn a thing or two from cultures that take the time to appreciate their tea, like afternoon tea in Britain and tea ceremonies in Japan.

“I stopped drinking coffee. I drink only tea,” Sadeh said. “I think coffee is a part of our culture. … Tea is something that takes time.”
It takes time to savor and appreciate, and it also takes time to prepare, from field to cup. Racks of drying sage, peppermint and harvested flowers line the walls of the drying room at Bee Fields Farm in Wilton. There are more than 100 different herbs in the garden, and Sadeh knows each of them by sight, smell and taste.
“All the teas that we make, we also grow,” Sadeh said. 
Anthony Catanese of Raymond began his tea company, Inis Tea, about a year ago after an eye-opening flavor experience from Mt. Washington Coffee, a micro-roaster based in Raymond.
“Ironically, Inis Tea was born out of a love for fresh roasted coffee,” Catanese said. “There is a tea flavor for everyone. Personally, my passion is in pure teas — those teas with nothing added — and exploring the literally thousands of different kinds as they are all very different from each other. Unlike coffee, where the differences between a Kenya AA and a good Brazilian are rather nuanced, the difference between one tea and another can be extreme.”
 
Granite State teas
Sadeh makes between 700 and 1,000 bags of tea in a year. The bags of loose leaf herbal teas weigh 1.5 to 3 ounces and come in seven varieties, each with its own medicinal benefits like heart health, warming and benefits for stress and digestion.
“When I want to make the tea, I will make a blend,” Sadeh said. “Growing is a huge part of the process, and also cleaning it.”
Each bag of tea begins with the herbs grown in the garden, harvested by hand, and then dried in the drying room on the farm. Once they are dried, the herbs and flowers are grated over a screen and collected in a wooden container to break the leaves down. 
Sadeh cleans the grated herbs and flowers by picking out any stems left behind. Sadeh said that she’s already begun to harvest lemon balm (one of her favorite herbs), which is used in her Lion’s Heart tea, Stressless and Sunrise teas.
All teas are made from herbs grown on the farm, which are organic and biodynamically grown. Sadeh said that you can tell a tea is fresh just from its color. Herbs should be green and flower petals in the tea should be as colorful as in the garden.
“Herbs that are dry should have the same taste, the same smell and the same color as when they are picked up,” she said. “Tea, like everything else, you want to see if it’s fresh or not. You want to smell it and see the color.”
For every pound of herbs harvested, there is only ¼ pound of dried herb. There’s an even smaller amount of ingredients after the herbs are grated and cleaned. On top of that, there’s the growing and harvesting seasons to contend with.
“That’s the reason why you can’t find my teas wholesale,” Sadeh said.
Inis Tea sources its teas from regions in China, India, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Japan. Although they aren’t grown in New Hampshire, Catanese hopes to bring a higher-quality tea product and tea awareness to Granite Staters.
“We’ve been on a quest to educate people about these differences and the fun it is to explore the different varieties as we quickly learned that most Americans are largely unaware that these teas even exist,” Catanese said. “I also think that many coffee drinkers would find a tea they loved if they were aware of the variety that existed. Coffee is the caffeine of choice for most Americans; however, a strong black tea also has a strong caffeine content — though admittedly not as high as coffee.”
Currently, Inis Tea offers 16 types of tea, including flavors like Moroccan Mint green tea and vanilla chai as well as oolong and herbal teas.
“I’ve found that tea drinkers seem to have fewer choices to get their tea,” Catanese said. “I’ve often heard people say, ‘It’s hard to find a good Assam,’ upon discovering our Breakfast Assam black tea. Hard to find, not impossible, but certainly not easy either.”
While loose-leaf tea is generally better, some tea drinkers (and recent tea converts) do prefer bagged teas. In the past, Sadeh said, some companies sealed their tea bags with glue, but now regulations are better. In tea shops, and at Inis Tea, Catanese said that tea bags can be filled with loose leaf product to meet convenience and demands.
“We’ve tried to fill this gap by providing loose-leaf tea to those who want a purer, unfiltered taste of preparing tea this way ... and also providing individual tea bags to the others,” he said. “We are pleased to say that we offer the convenience sought by so many without sacrificing the quality that makes us ‘tea connoisseurs’ who we are.” 
 
As seen in the June 19, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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