November 30, 2015
Latin Name:Melissa officinalis
Parts used: Leaves and Flowers
Side Effects and Contraindications: None known
Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, is an aromatic perennial sub shrub, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia. It is widely cultivated throughout much of Europe.
The flowers and leaves of this plant contain volatile oils, tannins and bitters which have relaxing and antispasmodic effect on the stomach and the nervous system. It is great to calm those butterflies in your stomach or help you fall and stay asleep during the night. In Germany, lemon balm is licensed as a standard medicinal tea for sleep and gastrointestinal disorders.
Lemon balm can be used internally as a tea or tincture and externally as cream and oil. The antiseptic and antiviral properties of lemon balm are helpful in treating cold sores.
For a tasty and relaxing herbal blend take,
2 parts lemon balm,
1 part chamomile
1/2 part lavender
Mix the ingredients and use 1-3 tsp. per 8oz of boiling water . Steep for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!
November 27, 2015
For me waking up with a nice cup of tea is the best start in the morning. At least that is what I thought before I tried these scrumptious waffles!
In order to give my family’s favorite sweet potatoe waffles a seasonal spin by adding some of Souvia’s Masala Chai Blend. The warming flavors of cinnmon, cloves, cardamon, ginger and vanilla are a nice complement to the sweet potatoes and topped with toasted pecans this is definitely a breakfast fit for the holidays!
1/1/2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
2 cups all purpose flour (I used half wheat and half oat flour)
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 tbsp finely ground Masala Chai
1/4 cup melted butter
Bake sweet potatoes until their are very soft and mash them.
In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar and butter. Stir the sweet potatoe mixture into the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold egg whites into batter.
The batter will be thick. Using a serving spoon, scoop batter onto a preheated, oiled waffle iron and cook until lightly browned. (about 5-6 minutes).
In the meantime, take 1/2 cup pecans and lightly toast them in the oven at 350 F for about 5-10 minutes. Be sure to check frequently so that they don’t burn.
I enjoy mine with a dollop of whipped cream!
November 23, 2015
It seems like every magazine I open has at least one article about the “novel” drink – tea! Ironically it is no all that new given its five-thousand year history. What is new, however are the many different ways tea is used. Chefs have discovered its culinary gifts and bartenders now follow suit by mixing up tea cocktails.
The following Earl Grey tea cocktail would be a great start to your Thanksgiving menu.
6 oz cold Earl Grey tea
1 1/4 ounces gin
1 1/4 oz honey simple syup (recipe below)
1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 lavender sprigs
Simple Honey Syrup:
Bring 5 cups water and 1 cup honey to a simmer until honey has dissolved. Cool in fridge.
Tea cocktail preparation:
Add all of the above ingredients into a cocktail shaker with 2 lavender sprigs (optional) and ice. Shake several times. Then strain the cocktail into a glass over one large ice cube. Garnish with a lavender sprig.
November 20, 2015
Sage, a Mediterranean, native is our herb of the month. Its Latin name “Salveo” means “to heal”. Throughout the ages, sage has been associated with wise men or sages. It was cultivated in monastery gardens, flourished in China and was introduced to Britain in the 16th century.
Chinese healers used sage roots to move stagnant blood and strengthen the heart
Sage is warming and strengthening and therefore an excellent herb for rebuilding vitality during a long-term illness.
It clears congestion and soothes a sore throat, tonsillitis and laryngitis.
Sage is also a great herb for women as a tonic of the reproductive system. It eases menstrual irregularities, reduces sweating and alleviates hot flashes.
So not just a wonderful culinary herb for that stuffing of the Thanksgiving turkey, but all around an herb that should not be missing in your herbal apothecary.
1 tsp. of dried sage
6oz of water
bring water to a boil and pour over the herbs
steep for 10-15 minutes and sweeten to taste.
November 16, 2015
A tea leaf consists of about 77% water and 23% solid mater. This solid matter is made up of water-soluble compounds like amino acids, polyphenols (catechins) polysaccharides an vitamin C. Among the water-insoluble compounds are fiber, cellulose, vitamin E and carotene. (these are fat soluble). All of these components have their own benefits. These days, though, we hear and read a lot about the wonderful effects “catechins” seem to be having on the body. So let’s take a closer look at what exactly these chemicals do for us.
Catechins are the compounds responsible for the astringency in tea, more commonly called “tannins”. They are related to flavonoids. Catechins
- have anti-bacterial
- are effective in reducing oxidation
- may prevent certain cancers and tumors.
- lower cholesterol levels in the blood
The have also be shown to play a role in stabilizing blood sugar and resist viruses.
It may just be true that a cup of tea a day keeps the doctor away!
resource: New Taste in Green Tea
November 13, 2015
Tea is a very versatile product and aside from making a healthful and delicious drink, it may prove useful in many household situations.
Tea leaves absorb odors and can easily the baking soda you keep in your fridge to keep it smelling good. Dry the spent tea leaves well and place the into gauze bags. If you add some lavender, you can even use them in your closet and sock drawer.
Squeeze all the water out of old tea leaves and bury them in the soil next to the roots of plants and bushes. Works well for indoor and outdoor plants
For treating cuts
Smash the used tea leaves to soften the external cell wall and then apply them as a poultice to minor cuts. The tannins in tea have an astringent effect and will stop the bleeding quickly while the antibacterial properties act as a disinfectant.
November 9, 2015
Like every year, November marks the beginning of the holiday season….a time of festivities, get togethers with family and friends, and of course, good food, drink and scrumptious desserts! From Thanksgiving to New Years, we are invited to indulge and sometimes overindulge. Delicious foods are abundant and who can say no to butter-rich mashed potatoes or that second piece of pumpkin pie – a la mode, of course! All too often, however, these yummy meals leave us with an unhappy tummy.
To get through this year’s holiday season with little disruption from your digestive system, try some of the following herbs that are known to deal with the mess that too much gravy and pie leave behind.
Ginger is great as a digestive herb. One of its most well known uses is for nausea and for settling an upset stomach. Ginger is an aromatic and carminative herb which means that it helps move along a stagnant digestion with symptoms of bloating, gas and bad breath. It is also a powerful anti-microbial herb which fights pathogens in the digestive system as well, thereby preventing food poisoning. (One of the reasons why fresh ginger is served with Sushi!)
Fennel is a carminative herb which dispels gas and promotes digestion. This herb is a staple in every German household and to this day I like having a cup of fennel tea after dinner. It is safe and recommended to soothe the tummies of colicky infants. The anti-spasmodic properties help with bloating and uncomfortable cramps due to gas. Like ginger, fennel is also anti-microbial.
DRIED ORANGE PEEL
Orange Peel has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. According to the principles of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the orange peel is used to transform phlegm in the Lungs or the Spleen and to drain dampness. From a western perspective, orange peel is a “bitter” and stimulates the digestive fire.
Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret suggests using these three herbs as a tasty and tummy taming after dinner treat. This recipe is easy and you will get all ingredients at your grocery or spice store.
- 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger…
- 1 tablespoon dried orange peel powder
- 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
Mix it all together and serve it after your Thanksgiving Feast! Alternatively, or in addition too, you can also serve Souvia’s Balance Tea as an after dinner digestive. With ingredients like ginger, fennel, cardamom and licorice, it will quickly bring relief to any upset tummy!
Herbally yours, Olivia!
November 8, 2015
Matcha, the finely milled, emerald green tea powder is gaining in popularity among tea drinkers and shows up not only in tea stores, but also in restaurant and bars. In its home country of Japan, Matcha has played an integral part in the traditional tea ceremony for centuries and in modern times it has been used to flavor and color foods such as soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of Japanese sweets. In the west, matcha found its way into smoothies and lattes and is popular because of its rich taste and multitude of health benefits.
How is it made?
While tea is produced in different countries throughout the world, matcha is unique to Japan. It is grown by local farmers using traditional methods from growing to milling.
The tea leaves used for matcha are shade grown and the preparation of this tea starts several weeks before the actual harvest, when the tea plants are covered with bamboo mats or tarp in order to reduce the exposure to sunlight and thereby increasing the chlorophyll content in the plant. It is the high chlorophyll content that gives matcha its distinctly green color. After plucking, the leaves are laid out flat to dry – the crumbled dried leaves make up the base product for matcha and are called tencha. Tencha is then de-veined, de-stemmed and stone milled into a fine, bright green powder, known as matcha. Only ground tencha can be called matcha, powered green teas made from other varietals, like sencha, are known as konacha –literally meaning “powder tea”.
The most famous matcha producing tea regions in Japan are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka and northern Kyushu.
What is so good about matcha?
Matcha is renowned for its many health benefits. It is rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants, fiber, amino acids and chlorophyll. Drinking matcha exceeds the nutritional value of a regular cup of green tea since the whole leaf is consumed, and not just the tea-infused water. In 2003, researchers from the University of Colorado found that the concentration of the antioxidant EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) to 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG in other commercially available green teas.
On the other hand, it is not only the nutritional value that is increased, the caffeine content is also higher than in a regular cup of green tea, making matcha a stimulating beverage that will get you going in the morning.
November 6, 2015
We always get the best questions from our tea-loving customers and I wanted to start addressing some of the more frequent ones here in my blog.
Is tea good for hangovers?
In a way, this is true. Even in ancient China, tea was used as a hangover remedy. The reason for this lies in its detoxifying properties. According to old tea books, the caffeine settles the mind and helps the body recover from fatigue. Two to three cups are recommended. Choose teas like Japanese Sencha or Gyokuro due to their higher Vitamin C content.
Why does the tea served in sushi restaurants seem so flavorful?
The tea served at sushi restaurants has a distinctive flavor and aroma, and is drunk between servings of different types of fish and shellfish to refresh the palate. The restaurants use konacha (tea powder), which is what is sifted out I the processing of sencha or gyokuro. It is also relatively economical.
Is there a good way to remove tea stains?
Tea pots and cups can become stained over time. While bleach and strong cleaners can remove those stains, theya are not recommended because they leave that strong bleach scent and may affect the next cup you want to enjoy. Instead, mix warm water with baking soda into a paste and use that to remove the stains. The patina of tea stains that develops on some porcelain and ceramic dishes is regarded as desirable in many tea drinking cultures. Especially in China it is cherished because it shows the dishes have been used with care for a long time. It is also said to enhance the tea flavor.
November 2, 2015
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We just added another flavor to our matcha selection. Going with the theme of the season, this one is flavored with vanilla -very creamy and smooth! It is the perfect tea for this rendition of the traditional Cafe Viennese. We call it Green Tea Viennese!
1tbsp vanilla matcha
1 cup hot water
sugar or honey to taste
2 tbsp. fresh cream, whipped
Heat the water to 175 F and pour it into a matcha bowl or wide tea cup. Mix matcha and 2tsp hot water, and whisk briskly until the paste becomes smooth. Pour in the rest of the hot water, stir and add sweetener to taste
Serve with generous dollop of the whipped cream and enjoy!