So, you want to upgrade your coffee and are wondering where to start when buying specialty coffee? Well, you can start here, not only does Univers du Thé sell gourmet coffee in Brussels and all over the EU, check out our selection at the bottom, but we’ll also guide you through the most important factors to consider when choosing your next coffee beans. Let’s get started!
What is specialty coffee?
Specialty, or gourmet coffee, are beans that have been carefully selected, are not mass-produced, and rank on top of the quality scale. They surpass the intensity of flavor that other coffees offer.
These specialty coffee beans are also often tied with more local businesses and eco-friendly practices. While they tend to be priced higher than regular coffee, the taste is superior and the production methods are usually vastly different. As well as allowing for coffee from lesser-known regions to get a share of the market.
Why should you buy specialty coffee?
If you are an avid coffee lover or are looking for a more conscious way to get your cup of coffee each morning, then considering gourmet roasts and smaller unique coffee brands might be the right thing for you.
Here are some of the main reasons to get specialty coffee
- Higher quality coffee beans
- Trying coffee from different parts of the world
- Supporting smaller businesses and local farmers
- Consuming in a more eco-conscious way
- As a special gift to a coffee lover
The basics of buying specialty coffee beans
Specialty coffee may seem a bit pretentious from the outside but it is not only for hipsters, if you like coffee then you will quickly find your footing in the gourmet beans market.
To buy great specialty coffee answer these simple questions and see where they lead you.
What kind of coffee do you like?
The most simple of all, start with what characteristics you would like your next cup to have: strong flavors, maybe you want to buy coffee with a touch of hazelnut, etc. There are many things you can include in your list to help you match your ideal coffee bean.
It can also help when you want to try something completely different that you’ve never had before just from knowing what you have already liked. This list of characteristics is a great guide in your java journey.
What coffee accessories do you have?
One of the main things that will determine your specialty coffee choice is what coffee accessories you have available. If you have a french press you will need a bean that favors that method. Or maybe you have your own coffee grind to prepare your beans yourself.
If you are just getting started with higher quality coffee and don’t want to overinvest, then just add your accessories to that list of characteristics and get on with choosing your next beans.
Where does coffee come from?
Last but certainly not least you are going to want to know where your coffee is from. This will help you determine flavor notes and be sure that you are buying from a reputable source. It also helps to know about the local farmers and what the coffee brand is tied to, so you can continue to support good coffee projects.
What are some of the best countries to get coffee from?
Here are the top ten rankings according to the Coffee Quality Institute.
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
Where can you buy great specialty coffee?
There are plenty of online stores where you can buy specialty coffee beans. Online coffee shops where you can buy directly from the farmer in some cases, or from a third-party roaster that collaborates with the locals. A simple “where to buy specialty coffee near me” search should give you a lot of interesting results.
You can also just head over to our selection of unique beans in the Univers du Thé online store, where you can find a great variety of specialty coffee selections available for shipping to most EU countries and free specialty coffee shipping in Belgium.
Amazing coffee selection in Univers du Thé
- Ethiopian “Wild Grown Kafa Forest”
- Kenya “Pearls of Africa”
- Uganda Mount Rwenzori AA
- Colombia Organico Kachalu
- Colombia Supremo La Ceiba
- Costa Rica Tarrazu “Volcan Azul”
- West Blue Java Indonesia
- Brazil Camocim Bio
This selection is just from the top ten list, there are so many more specialty coffee options waiting for you at Univers du Thé!
There’s nothing like mastering an everyday skill, being great at something useful that will come in handy often. That is why we want to teach you how to make the perfect cup of tea. A good cuppa is one of life’s best and most accessible pleasures. A warm comfort on a cold night, a helpful hand to fight insomnia, or a good companion for a late afternoon.
Whenever and however you want to drink your tea, Univers du Thé is the place to get started. Not only are we one of the best organic tea stores in Brussels but we sell online to most of the EU, order your usual tea and try some of our original mixes from our boutique online tea store.
What do you need for a perfect cup of tea?
Let’s start with what you will need to make this perfect cup of tea, ingredients will vary according to your tastes and what type of tea you will be making but there is a starting point for it all.
- Tea in your preferred presentation. We recommend loose leaves for a more authentic, stronger flavor.
- Hot water from a kettle or the stove, etc. Another recommendation is to use fresh tap water over water that’s been sitting out for long and previously boiled water.
- A teapot, strainer, or other
Top ways to brew tea
There are multiple ways to make tea, as the tradition of tea has evolved in every culture with each country creating either a ritual or unique form to prepare their own tea. In this list we’ll take a look at the most commonly used methods to prepare tea and give you some insight on when to use each one.
Teapots are one of the most common ways to make tea. A well-beloved item in many homes, finding the right teapot will make any tea drinker’s day. Some teapot come with a strainer included while others require the use of another accessory for straining the tea. There are usually 2 types of teapots.
Glass teapots are wonderful because they allow you to see the tea. The transparency can help you determine how strong the tea will be and get it just right for your tastes. They are also quite efficient at retaining heat, ensuring a warm cup for a good amount of time.
Iron teapots are a great option for Asian teas, it’s one of the original ways those teas were prepared. Japanese iron teapots are also a great decorative item for any home. They retain heat amazingly which also makes them a good choice for black tea.
Ball infusers are a good way to make tea for one person. It allows you to measure the leaves for an individual cup and strain them easily.
Paper tea bags are the most common and popular form of tea around the world. But you can now also get individual paper filters to make your own paper tea bags at home. This is a superior option because it allows you to use leave tea, organic mixes or even make your mix of tea.
Many know the french press as a coffee-making method but you can also use it to make tea. It’s a great way to make tea for a group of people since you can make multiple cups at once. It’s also a great way to make iced tea, as you can prepare the hot tea and let it cool down in larger batches.
Tea strainers are also a superb choice for brewing a perfect cup of tea. These handy tools allow you to steep the tea leaves and string your tea comfortably. Some cups come with a strainer set attached or you can buy a metallic tea strainer in almost any tea store.
What matters when making a great cup of tea?
Now that you have the tools of tea-making ready, let’s talk about the factors that go into making a perfect cup of tea.
The water temperature is going to be key in your tea flavor turning out the way you want it to taste. The secret here is to boil and wait. If you don’t have a thermometer at hand, just boil your water and wait a few minutes for it to cool depending on the recommended temperature. Remember when water boils it reaches 100 degrees so take that as your starting point.
Tea steeping time
The other thing that will affect your perfect cup of tea is the steeping time. The longer it steeps the stronger the flavor and your best bet, in the beginning, is to follow what the teabag says.
Tea leaves used
The type of tea leaves used will have a huge impact on your tea. Organic loose leaves are preferred since they have a much more pure and stronger flavor.
How to make the most popular types of tea?
At Univers du Thé all our teas come with recommendations for making a great cup of tea. Because we want to ensure all our customers have the best tea experience available. Here are some of those tips.
How to brew a great cup of Chamomile?
Steep time: 5-7 minutes
Water temperature: 90º
How to brew a great cup of Japanese Matcha?
Steep time: 2-3 minutes
Water temperature: 80º
How to brew a great cup of English breakfast?
Steep time: 4-5 minutes
Water temperature: 95º
How to brew a great cup of Earl gray?
Steep time: 4-5 minutes
Water temperature: 90º
How to brew a great cup of Rooibos?
Steep time: 4-6 minutes
Water temperature: 95º
Winter, with its celebrations, cozy nights, and the occasional cold has arrived. The best way to prepare for the holidays is to boost your immune system so you can avoid getting sick and sitting out from any event. One of the most comforting and satisfying things you can do to help your immune system is drink tea.
Tea is filled with many amazing health benefits from helping weight loss or aiding in sleep, and yes, boosting your immunity when you need it the most. A hot cup of tea not only helps your body stay warm. The teas we’ll show you below have qualities that give you more weapons to fight away colds and health problems.
Pro tip: know your tea shops
Getting your tea from the right tea shop is essential. Go with real organic teas, sourced with care and made to give you the best tea experience, like Univers du Thé. The best part is, you can order online and still get the highest quality tea delivered at home.
A classic chamomile
This is one of the most used teas for medicinal purposes. A staple to have in your pantry for multiple reasons. Research on its many uses is still ongoing but some point out to it has antibacterial qualities, making it a prime tea for immunity boosting.
Even when you already have a winter bug chamomile can help with:
- Digestive issues
- Sleeping problems
- Skin conditions
The green power of matcha
Matcha tea is one of the most popular teas at the moment. This green giant has long been a part of a medicinal tradition in Japan. Most teams don’t include drinking the leaves as part of the experience like matcha does. This tea is basically a different version of green tea. However, unlike traditional green tea, the leaves for matcha are grown away from sunlight for some weeks before being harvested, then they have the veins and stems removed and are ground into a fine powder.
This process makes matcha tea a powerful source of polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidant, that can be helpful in fighting free radicals that can cause infections and sickness.
Matcha tea also stands out because of its high caffeine content, remember you are drinking the whole leaf in that powder. So, it can be used as a substitute for coffee. Plus it’s really versatile because it can be added to cakes and other foods.
Other green teas
Simpler green teas or other mixes with green tea in them can help with immunity and cold prevention as well, thanks to having the same style of antioxidant in them.
Powerful ginger tea
Similar to chamomile Ginger’s power is its antimicrobial advantages. This can boost your body’s chances of fighting off microbes and infections, giving your immune system extra backup in the battle against the holiday cold season.
Gingen in both tea and full form is also good for many other ailments, including:
- Menstrual pains
- Motion sickness
Make it special with mixes
If you want to try more bold flavors or feel like you already have enough of the taste of the teas lists, then you can try specialty tea mixes. The thing to keep an eye on is the teas mixed in it. If you want the same immunity benefits make sure your new mix includes one on the list above or other types of teas known for immunity.
Here is a few more suggestions to complete your immunity-boosting tea list:
- Peppermint Teas, a classic holiday flavor
- Turmeric Teas, more bitter but similar to ginger
- White tea, green tea leaves that are harvested young. Good to keep caffeine intake low
- Hibiscus tea, rich in antioxidants but of a tart flavor
- Goji berry tea, another good low caffeine option
Add some licorice root
This has been a part of Chinese herbal medicine for millennia, and it adds a soft taste of sweetness to any tea it is added to. Licorice root is a powerhouse of immunity because it has both antioxidant and antibacterial benefits, making it a great addition to your winter drinks.
Watch out for: Licorice root has to be consumed in moderation, do not consume multiple times a day or consecutively. Every one in a while is sufficient.
Why is tea good for us? Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world with around 3,000,000 tons being consumed each year. But do you know how humans started to drink tea and why we continue to do so? It’s not just for the taste, turns out this ancient drink gives us so much more than a flavourful reason to keep brewing it.
The first cup of tea and more
The first records of tea describe it as a medicinal drink and date back to the first millennia BC. There were archeological remains of tea found in graves dating back to the Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC to 220 AD. But even before that, tea was the drink of the people and of myth.
The first cup of tea
A Chinese legend tells the story of the discovery of tea as a happy accident. The Chinese emperor Shennong, who ruled in 2737 BC, liked to boil his water before drinking it. One day, a wild leaf floated down into the boiling water, the servant pouring the water did not notice and served it to the emperor with the leaves’ tastes in it. The emperor found the drink refreshing and so tea came to exist.
A fitting and simple story for such a gentle but powerful drink.
How did tea become popular worldwide?
During the 16th century, Portuguese people living in the east began drinking tea as they came into contact with the tradition. However, it was the Dutch who first traded and consumed it as an import, as they started to move into the Portuguese trading routes.
The biggest boost for tea in Europe actually came through marriage. When Charles II married Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess who was quite fond of tea. Her acceptance of the drink made it popular across the British Isles, now famous for their tea traditions. After the embrace in Britain, tea made a sure advance on other European countries and then the world.
Now tea is a staple of many cultures across the world, with each one having a different tradition with the beloved beverage.
How do different cultures drink tea?
- Argentinians like to drink Yerba mate, a super vitamin-packed green tea, which is an everyday routine for most of the country.
- In the UK tea is drunk any time of the day, beloved and a point of pride for many who can make a good cup.
- In the US, 80% of tea is drunk cold and sweetened.
- If you want butter with your tea go to Tibet, where you can drink po cha, an incredibly strong black tea mixed with salt and yak butter.
- Moroccans like their mint tea as a social experience, it’s almost required upon visiting any home.
This drink has adapted to belong in most countries in the world, changing names, leaves, and tastes.
Why is tea good for us?
Tea is not only a comforting food or a part of social practices, it is also a healthy addition to our diets and a beverage packed full of benefits. After reading this list you’ll be wanting to brew up your own cup of organic tea.
Most tea, not including herbal tea, has a lower caffeine concentration than coffee. Making a great option for those that want to drink a caffeinated cup but want to lower the concentration.
Good for the brain
A study found that regular tea consumption could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The research found that the cognitive abilities of tea drinks were stronger in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. It was also shown to improve memory and attention spans.
Power your metabolism
Tea has a component called polyphenols that can cause an increase in burning calories. Another thing tea does is that it boosts one type of fat, called brown fat. This kind of fat is different in that it burns more calories than other fats and boosts your metabolism.
Good for gut health
Componentes in tea help promote healthier guts. Boosting the production of beneficial gut bacteria that can lower blood sugar and help in weight loss.
A powerful anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases so any natural combatant to it is good news for us. Tea is a powerful source of anti-inflammatory since it’s full of polyphenols, which is also antioxidant. It can help fight off inflammatory problems caused by diabetes, bowel problems, and even cognitive decline caused by inflammation of the brain.
A message for tea lovers
If you want to enjoy a good cup of tea please support local tea shops, where tea culture thrives and grows. Like at Univers du Thé.
Tea is one of the most important parts of food culture in Japan, and one of the most popular drinks in the country. The Japanese have a long history with tea, with many ceremonies and traditions that include the beverage. Among that tea history, green tea is a standout figure!
What is Kukicha green tea?
Kukicha is a specialty Japanese tea that is in the same family as green tea but made in a unique way. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it’s made from the stems and twigs of the plant instead of the leaves. Kukicha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, the same one that’s used to make black tea, white tea, and others.
It was initially thought of as a beverage for the lowers classes but quickly gained popularity. It is now one of the most famous in the country.
What makes Kukicha tea special?
The fact that kukicha tea is made from these different parts of the plant gives it a different consistency, more milky and nutty than other green teas. It is now a staple in sushi service and meals in many homes.
What are some of the benefits of Kukicha tea?
This well-loved drink is not only satisfying in taste it also has a lot of potential health perks.
If you need more reasons to try Kukicha then take a look at these impressive wellness benefits.
It’s an alkaline drink
Kukicha tea, like fresh fruits and veggies, an alkaline food that has a stabilizing effect on the body. Meaning that it can combat acidity levels and create more balance. Why is this good? Too much acidity can cause the body to start consuming calcium, magnesium in higher-level depleting minerals. It can also lead to weight gain. This tea has the strongest alkaline powers of any of the Japanese teas.
Full of antioxidants
This tea is full of components like polyphenols and tannins, which give it a high antioxidant count and functions. Consuming a diet with plenty of antioxidants can help prevent a lot of diseases like arthritis, is good the skin, and other health issues.
While it is still a form of green tea, Kukicha is a much less caffeinated drink than regular green tea and matcha. The concentration of caffeine in Kukicha tea is about three milligrams per ounce. Making it a great option for those that want to drink green tea late at night or those sensitive to caffeine.
Good for your teeth
This drink contains minerals like calcium and fluoride which both can work to protect the enamel of teeth and prevent cavities.
Kukicha tea is offered in almost all Japanese sushi services. Why? Because it’s a great companion for food, it’s hydrating and calming on the stomach. Plus, a study found that ellagitannin, which Kukicha has a lot of, can promote gut health and help digestion.
Where can you buy Japanese green tea?
One of the most important parts of getting the perfect cup of tea is to make sure you buy your tea from reputable sellers. Another thing to keep in mind with Kukicha tea is that it is a uniquely made mix. So, it would be advisable to go with boutique sellers over mass-produced brands.
In specialty tea shops you can even more special mixes for this drink like Kukicha with Yuzu giving it an extra citrus touch, or even create your own version of this ancestral drink. So, take your time to find the perfect tea store where you can buy genuine products and have the full experience of drinking Kukicha tea.
How to make a perfect cup of Kukicha tea?
To brew a stellar cup of Kukicha tea it is best to stick to the original concept. Use the loose tea ingredients instead of a bagged tea mix. Try to use the organic mix with the stems and twigs. Because this is how the original is made and it also means fewer pesticides and chemicals came in contact with the tea.
Steep this mix using water at a temperature between 70 to 80 degrees celsius, for 1 to 3 minutes. As expected, the longer you steam Kukicha tea the stronger the flavor will be.
Cool fact: You could re-infuse Kukicha tea mix up to 3 times.
5 Top reasons tea and coffee are the perfect gifts
It’s the happiest time of the year and also one of the busiest. Holidays bring joy and a long to-do list for most of us. Between the joy and celebration there’s hardly any time for planning or preparing. That’s why it helps to have a few gifts already in mind for when the time comes. Gifts like tea or coffee are one of the best options to celebrate the holidays because they hit all the best selling points for the season.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as a great cup of tea or coffee, so why not give that gift to the ones you love this holiday season. Keep in mind one in seven people are unhappy with their holiday gifts. Surprising, right? Or maybe you’ve been one of those. Getting imaginative can pay off, but when Santa’s clock is ticking you’ll be thankful you also got a sweet something wrapped and ready.
- Tis the season for hot drinks
Winter means cold weather for most of us, so a nice hot drink is always welcomed. Plus, winter can last up to 6 months in some places so the more tea and coffee options the better. Helping your loved one wake up to a hot, energizing cup of coffee or tea is a great gift option. Get to the top of the favorites list by getting them their preferred tea flavor or adding a new discovery to their drink list.
- There is something for everyone
There are over 3000 varieties of tea alone, and coffee is different depending on where it’s grown. Plus you can mix and match the flavors you like to make your own personal cuppa.
Depending on who the gift is for you can pick a certain type, and you know what this means right? You can save time and get everyone on your holiday gift a special something in one tea and coffee shop, just get them different varieties.
Pro tip: A good thing about getting tea and coffee as Christmas or holiday gifts is if you can casually ask people what they like. Just ask for recommendations on teas and coffees to try yourself, and you’ll get a good idea on what to get them.
- Discover new flavors
Thousands of options make for a very fun gift, oh the possibili-teas!
Once you have an idea what they like you can help them discover similar flavors with new twists or go altogether in another direction.
Don’t know what type of tea to get as a gift?
Try discovery packs, these are filled with possibilities. Discover boxes of packs are there to broaden your tea and coffee horizons. Plus they are the perfect size to satisfy your tea or coffee curiosity, and make for an awesome gift. You might help your loved one find their new favorite tea or coffee.
- So many health benefits
These two are one of the oldest, more consumed drinks in the world. They are known all over, and have now become parts of millions of people’s routines. Why? Because it’s about more than just the flavor. Tea and coffee have some very real, very cool benefits to offer those that drink them. There’s far too many to fit in this piece but here are a few.
Benefits of drinking tea
- Tea has show to have protective effects on cardiovascular health
- It has less caffeine than coffee
- Can boost your immune system
- May help protect your bones
- Help soothe the digestive system
And so many more benefits!
Benefits of drinking coffee
- Can boost physical performance
- Reduces risks of certain cancers
- Can help protect brain health
- Helps fight depression
- Boosts focus and attention
Plus plenty more reasons to drink your coffee!
- Easy to ship and affordable
Last but certainly not least, tea and coffee are easy, reliable gifts. Not just because everyone is likely to enjoy one or the other. They are also easy to ship and affordable. So remember to put these treasured drinks on your gift idea list or your own Santa’s wish list.
Pro tip: Make your gift really compete by adding tea and coffee accessories!