Introduction to Japanese Tea: Part 1

In Japan, tea is produced just about everywhere. Shizuoka, Kagoshima and Uji are three of the major tea- growing regions throughout Japan. Tea came to Japan from China in the 800s to Kyoto, just north of Uji by Buddhist Monks. Japan didn’t think tea was important and it wasn’t planted in the country until 1100s after another Buddhist monk popularized the health benefits of tea drinking. Today, the tea gardens that were planted in the 1100s are still producing today. They provide a variety of green teas most famously including gyokuro, sencha, and matcha (tencha leaves). Green tea has since then been a very important part of Japanese society and culture.

Shizuoka Tea Region

The Shizuoka growing region is also known as ‘The Kingdom of Green Tea’. Producing the largest amount of tea in Japan, this region lives up to its nickname. Shizuoka is responsible for producing almost half of Japan’s tea production between 40-45%. This region is located on the central coast of Japan, 150 km away from Tokyo, with a view of Mt. Fuji from the tea fields. Tea from the Shizuoka region is often referred to as the best tea in Japan. This region is mostly made up of small, family run operations growing a wide variety of tea. However, sencha tea is the region’s most famous variety, as they are the leaders of its production.

Kagoshima Tea Region

The Kagoshima region comes in second to Shizuoka for production rate. Kagoshima is responsible for 20% of Japan’s Tea. While other regions are leaders in a specific type of green tea, Kagoshima is the region that has the most variety of green teas grown. This region is in a volcanic region. There are many active volcanos nearby often leaving ash on the tea leaves to be washed off! Originally this region was insignificant to Japan’s tea production and only after WWII did they grow. Due to this, Kagoshima was seen more for its cheap price in tea rather than its quality. However, after WWII this all changed and Kagoshima is now comparable to the quality of teas of that from Uji and Shizuoka.

Uji Tea Region

The Uji region is famous not for their size of production but rather their high quality. Only 4% of this region makes up Japan’s tea production. Known around the world for their high quality of green tea, gyokuro and matcha are two of the most famous teas from this region. Located in this region is the oldest tea house in Japan, Tsuen Tea. This tea house has been in the same location since its opening in 1160. Today, the Tseun Tea house is still open and in operation for visitors to enjoy a cup of tea overlooking the Uji river.

Sencha, matcha, gyokuro, and other Japanese teas are available at the Short and Stout Tea Lounge or our online store. Check back next time when we’ll discuss what the differences in these green teas are and what makes them so different!

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Yerba Mate part III: Legends

In our final installment of the yerba mate series, we highlight a few of the legends surrounding yerba mate. While consuming yerba mate, stories are shared amongst friends and are a very important aspect of enjoying the drink.

Legend of YariYerba Mate

In this legend, Yari, the moon, and Tupa, the powerful god of the Guaranies, travel to Earth together. On Earth, they turn into two beautiful women and walk through the forest. After a while they became tired and decided to head towards a nearby cottage. Before arriving, a jaguar jumped out to attack them. A nearby Guarani man shot an arrow through the jaguar, saving them and then offered hospitality in his hut to the two women. After spending the night Tupa and Yari left, and went up to heaven to decide how to reward the family. One night they guided the family into a deep sleep and while they slept they sowed light blue seeds in front of their house. In the morning Yari told the family that through their hospitality the gods rewarded them with the yerba mate plant to share with the region, the symbol of friendship. They also granted immortality to their daughter, so that she would never lose her goodness and innocence in her heart. She then taught them how to toast and drink the mate. After many years, the old couple passed and the daughter had fulfilled her ritual obligations and disappeared from earth. It is said that from time to time it is possible to see her amongst the Paraguayan fields, a beautiful blonde girl reflecting innocence.

The Tupi Brothers Legend

This well-known legend takes place in Paraguay and discusses the origins of the Guarani people. Ancient ancestors of the Guarani crossed a vast ocean from a distant land to settle into the Americas. Two brothers, Tupi and Guarani led their people throughout this journey and feuded. Their feud divided the tribe into two groups named after the brothers. The Tupi people were more nomadic and fierce compared to the God fearing, agricultural Guarani. The Guarani people looked forward to the arrival of the tall, fair-skinned, blue-eyed and bearded God, Pa’i Shume. When he did arrive, he unlocked the secrets and health benefits of the yerba mate plant to the Guarani people. While this ancient tradition is today recognized only as a legend, the truth behind the health benefits of the plant have survived.

The Guarani Legend

Like the legend of the Tupi Brothers, the legend of the Guarani revolves around the god Pa’i Shume. The legend begins with an old farmer and his daughter. The old farmer falls ill and decides that he will not move again with the tribe, that he would rather live alone. His daughter refuses to leave his side and stays with him even after the rest of the tribe moves on. As a reward to the daughter, the god Pa’i Shume disguises himself as a shaman and gives the old farmer the yerba mate plant and teaches him how to roast and prepare it. After drinking the mate, the man gains the strength to accompany his daughter to reunite with their tribe. The old farmer and his daughter then shared the secrets of mate to them. From then on the Guarani people have consumed mate and used its health benefits.

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Featured Tea Snack: Liege Waffles

Our liege waffles have a permanent home on our menu boards along with our new grilled cheeses.  Unlike breakfast waffles, liege wafflesLiege Waffles are native to Belgium and are made from a dough not a batter. Pearl sugar is incorporated into the dough, caramelizing on the outside giving a rich, sweet, dense and chewy flavor to this non-breakfast waffle.

The Background

The history of this waffle is conflicting but legend states that during the 18th century Prince-Bishop of Liege asked his chef to create him a treat that used pearl sugar. The chef mixed dough and the pearl sugar together, cooked it as a waffle and thus the Liege waffle was born.

At the Lounge

There are two different sizes for our waffles in both small and large and we have a list of additional toppings to choose from including house made whipped cream, maple syrup, Nutella, fruit loops, and more. Indecisive? We have four signature waffles to choose from with toppings already picked out including the monkey with Nutella, bananas, house made whipped cream and chocolate a chocolate drizzle to finish it off!


Pairing teas with food always comes down to balancing flavors. Sweet liege waffles would pair best with strong, bold and malty teas. We would recommend a Lounge favorite like Assam Black Tea or Vanilla Escape Black Tea.

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Yerba Mate part II: The Ceremony

Yerba Mate derives from South America and is especially popular in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Similarly, guayusa also derives from South America and is very popular in Ecuador.  A common way to consume both yerba mate and guayusa is in a gourd ceremony.

Gourd Ceremony            yerba mate

The yerba mate gourd ceremony is a symbol of hospitality and friendship. These very social events bring groups together and traditionally stories and legends were shared at this event. To begin a cebador or a mate server prepares the mate for the group. The most important role of the cebador in preparing the mate is making sure that the mate is properly steeped resulting in a rich and smooth tasting brew. Each person drinks from the gourd through a straw filter called a bombilla. There is no rush to finish the gourd and when the recipient has had enough they say gracias (thank you) indicating that they are finished. The cebador refills the gourd as needed and it continues to be passed until the mate is lavado (flat).  The trick to drinking the yerba mate in this way is not to move the bombilla once the mate has been prepared.

Guayusa Ceremony

Similar to the yerba mate gourd ceremony, the guayusa ceremony brings groups together. For thousands of years, Ecuadorian families have woken up early and share the gourd, sharing stories and legends around the fire. Hunters would drink guayusa before nighttime hunting trips allowing them to focus and get closer to the environment around them, guayusa is nicknamed “The Night Watchman” for this reason. In our third and final yerba mate blog series, the legends and stories evolved from both yerba mate and guayusa will be explored!

It is fascinating to learn that regardless of the continent, tea and in this case tisane ceremonies are important rituals for cultures. In our busy lives shouldn’t we too take time to continue a ritual of tea.

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Yerba Mate part I

Yerba Mate (yer-bah mah-tay) is made from the leaves of the Holly Tree found in the South American rainforest. Just like mint, chamomileyerba mate plant and rooibos, yerba mate does not derive from the Camellia Sinensis plant so it is not called a tea, rather it is a tisane. Unlike other tisanes found in the shop, yerba mate is naturally caffeinated carrying as much caffeine as coffee does without its common jitters or the acidic taste.

Chemical Components

The plant contains numerous vitamins and minerals including, Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin, B5, B Complex, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, 15 Amino Acids among many others. The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 were interested in the plants health benefits and did a complete study. The investigators concluded “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value” and that yerba mate contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”

Close Cousins

Another caffeinated tisane that derives from another Holly Tree is called guayusa (gwhy-you-suh). Like its yerba mate cousin, this tisane contains many health benefits. Guayusa contains, vitamins C and D, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and all 15 essential amino acids. Full of antioxidants, guayusa has even more than antioxidant rich green tea. Commonly found in energy drinks, guayusa is a great source for a caffeine fix. Yaupon is a holly plant that was steeped in hot water and enjoyed by the Native Americans.

These tisanes are grown in similar conditions. They are cultivated under the shade of taller trees to protect their leaves from direct sunlight, meaning more trees in the rainforest. Legends and ceremonies surround these unique tisanes, which will be explored in Yerba Mate Part II.

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5 Functional Herbs You Should Know

The new year brings new resolutions and many are looking to make changes and become healthier in their daily lives. One way to stay healthy this year is through drinking tea. At Short and Stout, we believe that drinking your favorite tea is the best way to stay healthy. While your favorite tea provides numerous benefits, at the shop there is a collection of ‘functional teas’ that can boost your health as well. This list focuses on five of the herbs used in these herbal teas or tisanes that are well known to provide an extra boost to your daily health routine.

  1. Valerian Root- Valerian root has a long history as an herbal remedy and was often used by ancient Greeks and Chinese. Today, it is most well-known for its use as a sleep aid and studies have shown that valerian root works to provide relief for sleep disorders. Among other uses valerian root has been used in relationship to anxiety, muscle and joint pain, and migraines to name a few.
  2. Tulsi- Tulsi, also known as holy basil is a member of the mint family packed with health benefits. Tulsi is traditionally used in the Indian Ayurvedic tradition and today is most well-known for its stress relieving qualities. Studies have shown that tulsi may be helpful to reduce blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetics and improve breathing in those with asthma.
  3. Organic Honeybush- Organic honeybush is a cousin of the rooibos plant. Naturally decaffeinated and sweet in taste this plant has many health benefits both long term and short term. Some of the many health benefits include improving the immune system and inflammatory relief.
  4. Elderflowers- Elderflowers are traditionally used in German medicine and have been used for a long time. High in vitamin C, elderflowers can be used to aid in the prevention of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Additionally, studies have shown elderflowers can be effective in fighting the flu.d
  5. Chamomile- Chamomile is a powerful flower that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Chamomile is often used in small quantities to relax and in large quantities to assist in sleep but also provides other health benefits. Studies have shown that chamomile works as an immunity booster, relief for menstrual cramps and tension, and skin conditions. Lastly, chamomile is strong enough to aid in these ailments but is gentle enough to aid infants and children as well—with the right amount and a doctor’s approval, chamomile can soothe upset stomachs and assist with colic.

These herbs and more can be found at Short and Stout in a variety of our teas and tisanes.

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Black Friday Weekend Sale

With Thanksgiving here it means its time for the Black Friday Weekend Sale. All our shelves are stocked with a fresh set of infusers, pots, pot cozies, matcha sets, kettles, tea tins and assorted accessories. Of course, 130 teas offer a wide selection of white, green, oolong, black teas and tisanes to choose from. Gift sets available, too.

Just bring in this coupon from the below link and prepare to save 15% off everything in the store and 30% when you buy a total of 16oz of tea. Happy Shopping!

Black Friday Tea Sale

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Cast Iron Teapots: Elegance and Functionality

Cast Iron Teapots: Elegance and Functionality

Most days, one cup of tea just isn’t enough. Investing in a teapot is one way to not only share multiple cups of tea with others, but to also save time between yourself and another cup of your favorite tea. There are many different styles of teapots, including porcelain, glass, ceramic, clay, and cast iron. Short and Stout Tea is now adding to their selection of teapots to include cast iron.

Cast iron teapots are called tetsubins in Japanese. The history of cast iron teapots is unknown, but evidence does suggest that cast iron teapots follow the historical rise of Sencha tea. Sencha tea, a loose leaf green tea, became common in the 17th century, when China introduced it to Japan. Before Sencha green tea, powdered matcha tea was common. As Sencha tea’s popularity rose, the cast iron teapot was born.

Today, there are many benefits to using a cast iron teapot.

  1. Distribute heat evenly throughout the pot. With the even distribution of heat in the water, the tea is brewed more flavorful and aromatic.
  2. More durable than other teapots. With proper care these teapots are often passed down throughout generations lasting many years.
  3. Avoid extra chemicals. Cast iron teapots are made from pure cast iron, which avoids the added chemicals that other teapots are often made with.
  4. Enhance tea health benefits. As cast iron teapots heat up evenly, the tea’s benefits are able to more strongly bond with the water, making them easier to absorb.
  5. Stay hot longer. Unlike other teapots, the cast iron teapot can stay hot for up to an hour.

Any teapot should be in a tea lover’s home, and compared to other teapots cast iron definitely stands out. Come in and see our selection of teapots and pick out the right style for yourself.

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