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Exploring Loose Leaf Teas ft Farmhouse Teas

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Show Notes

Join Nicole and CeAnne with FarmHouse Teas as they chat about whole loose leaf teas and their health benefits compared to commercially available teas!

What You’ll Learn

  • Health benefits of tea
  • Why whole leaf teas are better than tea bags
  • How to properly brew tea for optimal flavor
  • Why FarmHouse Teas are different

Our Guest

Our guest today is CeAnne from FarmHouse Teas. CeAnne grows both her own food and their own botanicals for tea to support not just our families well being but also to help others find health through natural, local and seasonal food and drink.

FarmHouse Teas offer over 52 different blends of teas from black, green to herbal featuring locally grown ingredients from both their farm and other local farms in Oregon. FarmHouse Teas are handcrafted and free from added sugars, hand blended and organic. Their teas help support their family, the local economy and many small family farms from which they co-source their ingredients.

Resources & Links Mentioned

*Denotes affiliate links

Special Offer

Be sure to listen to the entire episode for a special listener only discount!

Medicinal Teas in Small Spaces

Take simple and common herbs and turn them into powerful medicinal teas! Imagine if you could take common herbs and confidentially turn them into powerful medicines that improved your own wellness as well as that of your family and friends. Medicinal Teas in Small Spaces will give you the lifetime learning and foundations necessary for your herbal medicine journey!

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    Announcer: Welcome to the Backyard Bounty podcast from, where we talk about all things backyard poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living, and more. And now here's your host, Nicole.

    Nicole: Good morning everybody. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Backyard Bounty. Today we are joined by CeAnne with Farmhouse Teas, and she's going to tell us all about their tea farm, and the specialty blends of teas that they make. I'm really excited to have her on the show today. So, CeAnne, Thank you so much for joining us.

    CeAnne: Thank you for having me.

    Nicole: And can you tell us a little bit more about your farm and what all you do there?

    CeAnne: My husband and I, and our four adopted children, live on about two acres in Oregon, and we grow a good portion of our own vegetables on our farm in our 40 foot long greenhouse. And then we have a 1200 square foot garden outside, and we also grow some of the fruits and botanicals that we use in our loose leaf teas.

    Nicole: That's awesome. I know looking at your website, you guys have a ton of different variety on here, so that's kind of amazing to me that you guys can grow all of these on just a few acres.

    CeAnne: We grow just a few of the things because of the small space, but we utilize other local farms in Oregon, and then we have a few farms in California and Maine that we source ingredients from. So, we try and have at least one local thing in all of our teas, but most of it comes from a bulk herbs supplier. We make sure that those are organic and when possible, fair trade.

    Nicole: So, what part of the blends do you guys specialize in? What's kind of your big claim to fame on those?

    CeAnne: We kind of focus on herbal teas and that's mostly because I can't do caffeine. So, that kind of rules out black, green, and white teas. We do have a few of those, but our specialty is kind of herbal. We also try to avoid any chemical additives, sugars, sweeteners, or oils. We use a few flavorings, but those are from an organic source, and then that way people aren't consuming a bunch of junk in their tea.

    Nicole: Are things like sugars and oils petty common in teas? I hadn't heard about that.

    CeAnne: Yes.

    Nicole: Really?

    CeAnne: Teavana, who's now not in business anymore, but Starbucks basically, their teas are really high in sweeteners and they kind of relied heavily on flavorings. A lot of companies tend to do that because they're using a lower quality tea and then to keep the costs down, chemicals and flavorings are cheaper than using the actual herbs to get the flavor to come out.

    Nicole: Well, I did not know that. That's interesting.

    CeAnne: Yeah. They sneak those things on the labels, if not paying attention real closely and know what you're consuming.

    Nicole: Well it's taking advantage of the uneducated consumer I guess.

    CeAnne: Right? Yeah. So, we spend a lot of time trying to educate on our blog about why loose leaf tea is better, because you're getting the whole leaf and not the ground stuff at the bottom of the barrel. You're not getting the chemicals and the additives, and we try and keep our flavors the actual herbs rather than synthetic type stuff.

    Nicole: So, being somebody that enjoys tea but doesn't really know much about a tea in general, what are the benefits then, of whole leaf tea?

    CeAnne: When you get a whole leaf you're getting probably the next best thing to going out in your garden and picking your own tea and drying it, because you're getting the whole plant. Things like a Lipton tea bag, those are a ground up tea, and it usually comes from the bottom of the barrel. They call it tea dust rather than the top where the whole leafs are, so you're not getting very good quality. And then when you grind up a tea like that, it gets exposed to more air because there's more surface when you grind it up. Whereas, the whole leaf gets less air exposure and so it holds the flavor and the quality a lot longer than something that's ground up. It could liken it to a coffee bean when you fresh grind yours at home, versus when you buy it ground at the store already.

    Nicole: Okay. That totally makes sense.

    CeAnne: And then we have a loose leaf tea versus a bag tea. When you buy a bag tea, the bag is usually bleached. It's held together with a lot of plastics and chemicals, and you're steeping that in your tea. So, you're essentially drinking the bleach out of the tea bag, and whatever chemicals or plastics that are in it. And so, loose leaf, you skip all that and you're using a reusable infuser or maybe an unbleached tea bag without all the stuff in it that you've sourced yourself. So, you get to skip the junk that way too.

    Nicole: Another thing that probably most people don't think about. So, what do you usually use to brew your loose leaf? I know I've used a little stainless steel strainer kind of thing.

    CeAnne: One of the mesh ball type strainers, those work just fine. There are a few teas that will go through those, like rooibos, they're thin needle like little pieces of tea and they'll slip through there. The one I like to use is a French press, so most people use that for coffee and it works great for a tea. You just dump it in, add your water, and do that.

    Nicole: That's so great, I love French press coffee and actually rooibos is my favorite kind of tea and I have the issue with my little -

    CeAnne: Yes, I know and you're like chewing on it. It's not fun to drink.

    Nicole: Exactly.

    CeAnne: French press has a nice fine mesh strainer and so it keeps it contained, and then you just get the liquid and you're not chewing your drink.

    Nicole: Great. Yeah, that's a great idea. And I know certain teas are supposed to be brewed at different temperatures, why is that?

    CeAnne: A good example would be the green tea. If you steep it too long it's going to be really bitter, I actually didn't like green tea because I thought that's what it tasted like. It was bitter and then I found out I was steeping it too hot with too hot of water and for too long. Usually it's too long more than the temperature of the water, and it just brings out this a bitter flavor. So, if you steep it at like two to three minutes, it's not actually bitter and actually tastes good.

    Nicole: Oh, I will have to try that because like I said, I like tea, but I'm not very well versed in it. And green tea, it's always a bitter and kind of yucky, so I don't like drinking it.

    CeAnne: Or a thing that can happen with a black tea too, it's not quite as common. I think it might just be because maybe it's an American thing and we're used to drinking stuff like Lipton, and it just tends to be a bit more bitter and we're not used to a higher quality black tea. And so when it gets steeped longer we don't notice, but with a green tea it's very noticeable.

    Nicole: Sure. With your tea blending process, can you kind of walk us through the process from harvesting the botanicals, to assembling it, to putting it available in your store?

    CeAnne: Yeah. Let's see. I'll use our Oregon harvest berries for example, that's kind of our house blend tea and that's because it features the most local ingredients. It was blended in the fall and so we used things that were in season. We've got some blue bachelor buttons in there, those we grow here on our farm. Then it's got blackberry leaf in it as the base, and those we also grow here at the farm, and we typically harvest those starting about this time of year in the spring when they're light and green. We can go almost all year round harvesting leaves off the farm. They grow kind of like a lead out here so we have quite a few bushes that we have access to. The tea also has apples in it and we get those locally from an organic apple farm here, and we bring them to the farm, we peel them, slice them, and cut them.

    CeAnne: Then, we dry them all in our large dehydrator. There's also aronia berries in there, we get those locally from Mount Hope Farms in Wallowa, and we also dry those on the farm. So, we're harvesting, cutting, and drying, and then we go to the blending and that involves a lot of trial and error to get the flavor we want out of this tea. The Oregon harvest berry has a kind of blackberry cobbler type of a flavor. It's got a bit of the tartness from the apples, the little sweetness from the blackberry leaves, and the aronias put a little tartness in there. Aronias are kind of like an elderberry in terms of health benefits. The bachelor buttons from our farm, those are more for color and looks at the tea. So, we start with our base as our blackberry leaf, we want to start with the most voluminous ingredient in there to make the bulk of the blend and then add the other things for flavor and color. I design all the labels in house, and we print in house at the moment. We put those on the bags, blend their tea, package them, seal them, and then we ship all the orders out of here too.

    Nicole: Wow. So you stay pretty busy. That sounds like quite the process.

    CeAnne: Yep. Our tagline is steeping the harvest and with good reason because we're harvesting, getting all the way to the steeping process, and our customers' houses.

    Nicole: That's very cool. One of my favorite things about loose leaf tea versus tea bags, other than the fact that it's a higher quality tea, like you said you put the bachelor buttons in there. I love the different colors and it's kind of a full sensory experience to see the tea and to taste it and to smell it, and I really enjoy that part of herbal teas. You kind of mentioned with some of the ingredients that you put in there have some health benefits. So, what's some of the health benefits of the teas that you make?

    CeAnne: I was just reading some more about green tea. Green teas got a ton of health benefits. This particular article is stating the health benefits of heart health. In China, they have low numbers of heart disease and it's because they drink a lot of green tea, and specifically because they're drinking a warm drink with their meal rather than a cold drink. Over here in the States we tend to drink ice water, ice tea, or ice coffee with our drinks. In China, they're drinking a warm drink and that helps stimulate your digestion. Then while you're digesting your food and your green tea you're getting the benefits of the green tea for your heart health too. But it just depends on what herbs and ingredients are in the tea. Turmeric is really good for joint health, it helps inflammation. Then we have a peppermint and ginger tea, and that is really helpful with digestion. So, it just depends on which tea are consuming, what benefits you're going to get from it.

    Nicole: Yeah, I think that's neat. I was looking at your website here while you were talking about that, and you've got all kinds of different teas. I see, of course just ones for flavor, but then ones for wellness, and one's for the love your gut blend. So, not only can your tea taste good, but it can also give you those health benefits as well.

    CeAnne: Right, right. Even the ones that aren't labeled as a wellness tea, they all have benefits, and we try and make the wellness ones also be about flavor. I don't know about most people when they try a wellness tea from a store, sometimes it doesn't taste very good and it might be helpful, but you still got to get it down the hatch and to do that it kind of needs to taste good. We focus on flavor mostly, and then benefits, because those are just going to come with avoiding all of the chemicals and the flavorings and just using organic herbs in teas to make those blends. But there's also ones that are more based on wellness than flavor too, so we try and get an equal balance.

    Nicole: I've been dabbling, I guess, in loose leaf tea for about a year now. I really like it for sleeping at night, just kind of the relaxing teas, and it's just peaceful to have a cup of tea and to read a book. But I noticed looking at your website here that your teas are also super colorful, which I know I already mentioned that, but they're just really beautiful to look at.

    CeAnne: Okay. I've been in graphic design for 25 years now, and so this is kind of my habit of, it's got to look nice too. It's probably half the time just for me, it kind of ends up being an edible artwork. I guess.

    Nicole: Yeah, that's a great way to describe it because they really look just too pretty to drink.

    CeAnne: Right. We have actually had people put a bag up on the shelf and say, "I can't open it because it's too pretty. I have to buy a second one so I can drink it."

    Nicole: With the loose leaf tea, this is something I meant to ask earlier, what is the best way to store it to keep it fresh between use?

    CeAnne: They come in a zip pouch, they're clear on one side for the artistic value and then they're craft paper on the backside. Some of them we have in tea tins and we're slowly adding more of those. So, they are fine stored in the bag that they come in, you just want to keep the plastic clear side out of sunlight so that it doesn't bleach the tea out. A glass jar works or a tea tin. The best way is if it can be a colored glass, or out of direct sunlight. They don't really go bad, per se, but they will degrade in quality and flavor if the sunlight gets to them.

    Nicole: Okay, so storing them in a glass jar in the cabinet so that you can admire them in-between?

    CeAnne: Yes, that would be fine. In fact, we keep some of ours in clear glass jars on the bookshelf, but it's not in direct sunlight. It's kind of in a corner of the tea studio so we can see what we have. We usually use those for tastings and we do some cooking with teas, so we'll use them in recipes. A few of the ingredients are stored in jars that way, but we go through them quick so they're not sitting there a long time and they're not in direct sunlight, so the quality stays high.

    Nicole: Is your tea studio open to the public? You mentioned doing the tastings.

    CeAnne: The tastings we usually do at our wholesalers. So, our grocery stores, and we were doing the farmer's market, we're taking a break from that this year. But our tea studio is not open to the public. It's just on our farm at our house and it's basically our blending space or photography and marketing area.

    Nicole: Okay. So, you and I kind of started talking because we make the kombucha SCOBYs and I know that you have your kombucha teas, and you have several different varieties for that, I know. What advice do you have with people that are wanting to brew kombucha?

    CeAnne: If you're just getting started out I would just stick with the basics. Tea wise is just a black or a green tea, or a blend of the black and the green together, and we do carry both of those. Then if you want to get into flavoring, you can flavor your second ferments with anything. We do have flavoring kits, little bags of flavors we've made up. Our most popular one at the moment is our Strawberry Mojito, and we have a Turmeric Peach, and several other flavors. Then we have some blends for advanced blending, so if you're wanting to flavor during a first ferment we have kits for that too. But if you're just starting to start with the basics and get going and then move on up from there.

    Nicole: I like that you have these flavoring kits because kombucha is fine the way it is, but after a while you want to make something different.

    CeAnne: Right. You want different flavors. I don't know, I like experimenting. We don't usually get stuck on flavor. I'm always putting something new in there and they got the inspiration from a Brew Doctor here in Oregon. I kind of fell in love with their story of their tea house and then they went into kombucha. They're now doing alcohol with tea, I think. And they are the only company, at least out here in our neck of the woods, that brews their flavors during their first ferment and they use herbals. A lot of the other companies will flavor during their second ferment and they tend to use fruit juices. There's a lot of sweet flavors. Brew Doctors have lots of more medicinal qualities to them and yet the flavor is still there, which is kind of how we blend tea. So, I kind of use them as inspiration for creating our kombucha flavorings.

    Nicole: That's great. I'm excited to try some of these flavors that you have for our next ferment. Especially your strawberry green tea, I think that one looks quite yummy.

    CeAnne: Yes, that one's good. When you first ferment with a tea in flavoring, the flavor has a lot more depth than if you were to do it during the second ferment. It's just kind of crazy what flavor comes out of that. It's not always what you're expecting, but most of the time it's a good thing.

    Nicole: So, with all of the teas that you have, if you had to pick one, which I'm sure is just about impossible, which one is your favorite?

    CeAnne: Farmer's Wife Raspberry is my favorite. It's got a green rooibos in it, anything with green rooibos is on my favorite list. We don't have too many in our store at the moment and I'm looking at adding another one we just did for our tea club last month. We blend a new tea for our VIP members every month and we did a lemon chiffon with green rooibos and it's so good. I don't know if everyone else was enjoying it but I am, so I may have to add it to the store.

    Nicole: I'll have to see if I can find that one if you put it on your store, because that one does sound really good.

    CeAnne: It is. A green rooibos has got kind of a green tea flavor, but it's a lot lighter. It's not quite as earthy, and it's a little bit sweeter maybe? And it takes really well the things like lemon. Then the Farmer's Wife Raspberries, got raspberry leaf and nettle, and it's kind of my morning tonic I guess. It's got stuff in there with a woman's health in mind and so it was kind of like drinking my vitamin.

    Nicole: And it could be a good replacement for coffee too. I know I'm pretty coffee dependent. I need to switch it up.

    CeAnne: I used to be a big coffee drinker and then I had some health issues and I had to switch to tea. This was 20 plus years ago and it was a hard switch. I didn't want to give up the coffee. I had always added milk, whatever flavor, and sweetener and the whole sha-bang. To have to switch to herbal tea is kind of a big chunk. We do have a coffee replacement, kind of a tea. It's called Mountain Hazel, not coffee and it's an herbal tea made with dandelion root and chicory root, and that used to be what people drank in place of coffee before coffee got really prevalent. They do some chicory and coffee blend down in the South still. I don't know if you've heard of Dandy Blend, but it does taste similar, but we've got some extra stuff in there. So, I'll drink that. Especially in the spring because it helps detox and clean you out a bit.

    Nicole: Awesome. That sounds awesome as well. They all sound amazing. I don't think I could just pick one.

    CeAnne: Yeah I struggle. I go back and forth. It depends on what we have blended on the shelf. I don't always get to drink what I would pick because it's not always ready to go.

    Nicole: So tell us more about your tea club.

    CeAnne: Our tea club is actually closed at the moment, but we are blending unique blends every month that aren't available in the store for our current members. Along with that we send a tea time treat, sometimes it's a chocolate, sometimes it's a cute little notepad, it just varies every month. Next month we're doing some Blueberry Fruit Pixie Sticks from Taste of Wild Maine. We try and keep it local if we can find stuff that fits what we need. Then we send a newsletter that comes with the recipe and a little background on the tea we blended, why we pick that tea, what the ingredients are, and so our tea club members get that every month. We're kind of re-focusing and looking at that at the moment, which is why it's closed. So we may open it up in the future and we have a waiting list there for anyone that's interested.

    Nicole: And how would one sign up for the waiting list?

    CeAnne: Let's see, I will have to send you a link.

    Nicole: I can put that link in the description.

    CeAnne: Yeah, they can go to our website and it's underneath something. I just moved it, which is why I don't know where it is.

    Nicole: No worries.

    Nicole: Oh, I see it. Yep. It's in the footer there at the very bottom there's a tea club. You have also been gracious enough to share a little discount with the listeners, for anybody that would like to try some of your amazing teas. You've offered a generous 10% off coupon for anybody that uses the coupon code "ham419". So H, A, M, four, one, nine, at checkout. That's super generous and thank you so much for offering that to the listeners.

    CeAnne: Yeah, we're happy to share our teas.

    Nicole: Yeah. So, your website obviously, and where else can people find you?

    CeAnne: We're most heavily on Instagram under Farmhouse Teas and also Facebook. Then we have a YouTube channel under our farm name. It's St. Fiacres farm, that's F, I, A, R, C, E, S. We try and get a video up there once a week. We've taken the last couple of months off because of family things going on, but we hope to be back on there soon.

    Nicole: Very cool. Along with those two, I'll put a link to those in the description so people can find you easily and learn more about your amazing teas and your awesome little farm there in Oregon.

    CeAnne: Well thank you.

    Nicole: Well CeAnne, thank you so much for taking the time to join us, share all of your knowledge with us, and let us know more about your farm and your amazing teas. I really genuinely appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today.

    CeAnne: Yes, thank you for having us.

    Nicole: Of course.

    Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backyard Bounty, a podcast by Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review. If you have a question you'd like us to answer on the show, please email us at [email protected]. Also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube at Heritage Acres Market. All the links mentioned in this podcast will be included in the description. See you again next week.

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