Trader Leaf in Jenks offers specialization in loose teas
Find everything from different flavors to kettles at Trader Leaf in Jenks
By JESSICA RODRIGO World Scene Writer
The longer John Piacentini steeped in the history of tea, the more nuances and subtleties he found kept him coming back for more.
“It’s so interesting,” said the owner of Trader Leaf, a new business in Jenks. “There’s so much history connected with tea ... I’m always learning more.”
Before he opened his store, Piacentini operated an Internet business that shipped loose-leaf teas directly to customers. The problem with an online-only business was it was limited to images and descriptions.
He saw an opportunity to move into a space where customers could shop and take in the loose teas. Trader Leaf opened in the Riverwalk Crossing strip mall, 500 Riverwalk Terrace, Suite 150, on Jan. 11.
Now, customers can see and smell the dried blends, taste a freshly brewed cup of tea and learn more about the different varieties. His business specializes in selling loose tea and tea accessories, from kettles to mugs to a few flavored sugars.
As for the selection of tea, more than 120 teas are on display in glass jars.
“It’s like if you were going to buy food online based on a photo,” Piacentini said. “It’s better to see it and smell it.”
The different teas include: green, black, rooibos, oolong, Pu-erh, matcha and mate. Some blends have large pieces of dried fruit and colorful dried petals, while others have only tiny dried tea leaves. Unlike coffee, which doesn’t differ much visually, tea is a sensory beverage that begs to be admired and even watched as the leaves float around in hot water, expanding and changing the color of the water.
Each tea is labeled with a description of the ingredients, as well as the antioxidant and caffeine levels, and brewing details. Each tea is also grouped from high to low caffeine and near teas that share similar characteristics or blends.
And if you aren’t sure what kind of tea you want to try, you can take your time opening the different jars on display.
“We’re there to help people find teas that they can enjoy,” said Tuvia Mittman, Trader Leaf tea specialist.
The Trader Leaf teas can also be used for hot or cold teas, and as the warmer season gets closer, the varieties will change. The winter blends and pumpkin spice teas will be exchanged for lighter, more fruity blends that could be served as iced teas.
They’ll also help you make the perfect cup at home. Most people are brewing tea at the wrong temperature or time, Piacentini said. Using water that’s too hot and over-steeping are the two most common ways tea is brewed incorrectly at home.
Because each tea is cared for differently, he said each should be brewed differently and adjusted to one’s taste.
Tea can also be brewed by the cup for the customer, which is another perk of opening a physical location, Piacentini said. The loose tea is sold in 2-ounce bags or can be purchased in larger quantities by weight.
“It can be very rigid,” he explained about the brewing process. “But there’s such a culture behind tea. So many different drinks can be made with one plant.”Learn more
500 Riverwalk Terrace Suite 150, Jenks
Here are a couple of other things you can do with tea:
VANILLA CHAI TEA ICE CREAM
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup 2-percent milk
4½ teaspoon vanilla chai tea
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1. Heat cream and milk over medium heat in a non-reactive saucepan. Remove just before it boils.
2. Stir in tea and set aside for 1 hour. Return cream to heat for 2 minutes. Strain tea from mixture.
3. Mix egg yolk and sugar. Gradually add the cream mixture to the egg yolks. Once thoroughly combined return to heat stirring constantly until thick enough to coat back of spoon. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Chill over night.
4. Place chilled custard into and ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
DECAF EARL GREY TEA LOAF
1 cup currants
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup strong hot Trader Leaf Decaf Earl Grey Tea
1. Combine hot tea, currants and sugar and leave to soak until tea is cold, or overnight.
2. Prepare a regular sized loaf tin by spraying with oil and lining bottom with parchment paper.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Mix flour and egg into tea mixture. Pour mixture into tin and bake for about 1 hour.
5. Cool on wire rack. Slice and serve with butter.
TEA INFUSED OATMEAL
Quick and simple way to add flavor to your oatmeal. Any teas, Rooibos, fruit blends and even herb teas will work for this.
Tea of choice
1. Heat the desired amount of water for the serving size that you are using to make the oatmeal. Do not add the oatmeal yet. For small servings, an individual tea infuser works perfectly. If you are making oatmeal for many people, use a large infuser or tea pitcher infuser (a fine mesh pasta strainer will work just as well).
2. Use 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea per 8 to 10 ounces of water. Infuse the tea for the proper amount of time according to the tea brewing directions.
3. Add the oatmeal and continue cooking for a few minutes as you normally would with your ordinary oatmeal.
4. Once your oats are thickened to your liking, simply serve in a bowl and add your favorite toppings: sliced almonds, apple slices, raisins, or even a dash of loose leaf tea for a visual display.
SWEET TEA BRINED FRIED CHICKEN
1 quart very strong black tea
1 cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
8 chicken legs and 8 thighs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups masa harina
2 tablespoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
1 tablespoon chili powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil, for frying
1. To make the brine: Zest, then quarter the lemon. Put the lemon zest and quarters in a saucepan. Add the tea, sugar, and salt. Simmer the mixture over medium-high heat until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 1 quart of ice water and the chicken. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Drain the chicken and blot dry.
2. Combine 2 cups flour, the masa harina, crab boil seasoning, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the 8 eggs with the buttermilk. Put the remaining 2 cups of flour in a third bowl.
3. Prepare a breading station by lining up the bowl of flour, then the bowl containing the egg and buttermilk mixture, and finally the bowl of seasoned crust mixture. Roll the chicken in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then the crust then put the legs and thighs in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Fill a large deep pan with enough oil to completely submerge the chicken. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 300 degrees. Add the chicken and cook until it is golden and the juices run clear, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain the chicken on a rack then serve.
— Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com.
Jessica Rodrigo 918-581-8482