May 2, 2016
Mother’s Day is not to far and very roses are chosen as the expression of our love and admiration for Mom.
While a bouquet of roses will wither, this home made gift of rose sugar will last and impart its fragrance on many cups of tea Mom will enjoy.
Scented sugars can easily be made the same way the Europeans have been making vanilla sugar for years. For one pint of rose-scented sugar you will need the following:
- to prepare scented sugar, use a clean pint jar with a tight fitting lid. Fill the jar about 1/3 full with sugar and scatter a small handful of very fragrant rose petals over the sugar
- Cover the petals with sugar so that theÂ jar is 2/3 full, add another small handful of flower petals and cover with sugar to fill the jar, leaving about 1/2-inch head space.
- Shake the jar and place on a shelf in a cool, dark place. The sugar will be ready to use in 2-3 weeks and will become more flavorful with age. As the sugar is used , add more plain sugar which will take on the fragrance in the jar.
You can also decorate the jar, create a fancy label and voila, you have a special gift for a special occasion!
April 29, 2016
Fennel is a very aromatic and tasty herb and an excellent digestive aid. If you feel bloated and gassy, try chewing on sume fennel seeds or have a cup of fennel tea. Growing up in Germany, fennel was always recommended by doctors for colicky babies and truly worked wonders.
With the following recipe from Katherine Gould you can not only soothe your tummy, but treat your taste buds as well!
2 medium lemons, juiced
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups grated fennel bulbs and chopped stalks
2 1/4Â cups flour (you can use a gluten free flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Combine lemon juice with apple sauce, canola oil, sugar, vanilla and fennel ina bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour baking powder and salt. Gently fold this mixture into the wet ingredients. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
These muffins will make a great breakfast choice!
April 25, 2016
While much has been written about the benefits of tea, especially green and white teas, Rooibos (Roy-boss) has only recently stepped into the spotlight as more scientists are seeing its benefits and are studying this marvelous brew, discovering its various benefits and health properties.
Even though Rooibos (Red Bush) is commonly referred to as tea, it is in fact a Tisane. The description tea is reserved for infusions made from leaves of the evergreen shrub Camellia Sinensis. The Rooibos tea plant (Aspalathus linearis), on the other hand, is a unique wispy bush found only in a small part of South Africa’s South Western Cape region. The infusion made the prepared leaves has been enjoyed for centuries as both a beverage and a health tonic by the local indigenous population and is now gaining in popularity worldwide. Â
Medical Science is only beginning to discover the many physical benefits of Rooibos, but findings indicate that Rooibos is a broad spectrum antidote to the daily stress of our lives. It is a naturally caffeine free and can therefore be enjoyed at any time of the day and in unlimited quantities. It is an ideal drink for children!
Calming and Soothing
Rooibos has a soothing effect on the nervous system and can be helpful in treating nervous tension, mild depression and disturbed sleep patterns. Its antispasmodic properties have long been known to relief stomach and digestive discomfort in adults and children.
Skin irritations such as eczema and acne are significantly relieved by direct application of Rooibos onto the affected area. The anti-oxidants in Rooibos are great for your skin, something the cosmetic industry has found out is increasingly using Rooibos in skin preparations to help improve skin complexion.
Rooibos contains essential minerals for several metabolic functions and due to its low tannin content, it increases iron absorption. It does not have oxalic acid and can therefore be consumed without concern by individuals with kidney stones. The potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, fluoride and sodium make Rooibos and ideal beverage to replenish electrolytes.
A perfect drink to stay hydrated here in the desert!
April 22, 2016
Just like wine connoisseurs, tea aficionados appreciate the differences in flavor and aroma of the over 3000 different tea varieties.
While some tea-drinkers prefer the consistency of a blend, such as English Breakfast, others enjoy the fluctuations in character of a single origin tea, which is influenced by seasonal changes, early or late harvest, elevation and soil quality.
Regardless of our preference, the tea quality is very important and experienced tea tasters spent countless hours evaluating the leave style, aroma and taste of teas. What the â€œnoseâ€ is to the perfume industry, the â€œtea tasterâ€ is to the tea industry.
Tea tasting, or cupping, is a very structured process during which the quality of the dry and infused leaf is examined, as well as the color and aroma of the liquor and finally the taste of the infusion.
- For the cupping process, the leaves are placed in a container and lined up in a long row on the tasting bench. The taster weighs a specific amount of each tea and puts it in a special small brewing vessel. Sometimes this is a lidded mug (Gaiwan) or a small porcelain teapot. The brewing vessels are always white so that the color of the infusion is easier to assess.
- Boiling water for black teas, and slightly cooler water for green and white teas, is poured over the leaves which are than allowed to steep for 3-6 minutes depending on the varietal.
- After the steeping, the infusion is poured into tasting bowls and the infused leave is collected on the lid of the brewing mug.
- Like a wine taster, the tea taster slurps the tea into his mouth which is quite a noisy affair, but necessary because the tea needs to hit all taste buds to unfold its character.
Tea tasters taste hundreds of samples of different teas from different estates regions and seasons every day. In fact, it takes a long time to become a professional in this art. At least five years of training are needed before becoming a tea master, however even after many decades of tasting, these tea masters will tell you that they are still learning and honing their skills.
April 4, 2016
To complement the wonderful Ceylon Teas we were tasting yesterday, I had prepared this tea cake and it turned out to be a huge success. I only hope it did not steal the show, but am flattered that I was asked to post the recipe on the blog!
The cake is easy enough to make and just delicious with a little vanilla ice cream on the side and, of course, a cup of tea. My choice would be a nice cup of Kenilworth– a match made in heaven!
You will need:
1 1/4 cups of water
3 tbsp. loose leaf Ceylon tea (Assam with its full and malty flavor will also work)
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbsp. plus 1tsp. bourbon or brandy
21/4 cps plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter
2/ 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground ginger, fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apple (Granny Smith)
For the topping use 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 5 pieces
1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1tsp ground ginger and 3/ cup chopped lightly toasted pecans
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Bring the water to a boil and pour over the tea leaves in a medium bowl. Steep, covered for 4-5 minutes. Strain and discard the leaves. There should be 240ml of liquid left. Stir in the apple sauce and brandy and set aside.
Spray a 10 x 2-inch spring form or standard cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the inside lightly with sugar. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer on medium high to cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour mixture, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture one bit at a time. Beat until the batter is smooth. Gently stir in the apple and then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and lightly smooth the surface.
To make the topping: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high to beat the butter until soft. Add brown sugar and ginger and beat until smooth. Add pecans and beat until well mixed. Crumble the pecan mixture over top of the batter, distributing evenly. Bake until the surface is firm and a tester comes out moist but clean – about 60 minutes.
(source: Culinary Tea )
April 1, 2016
April is National Stress Awareness month……not that we aren’t already well aware of the daily pressures, the long to-do lists and mounting responsibilities that all of us face on a daily basis.
This month, we’ll introduce herbs that help your frayed nerves and bring serenity back into your life.
We’ll have tips to combat stress and recipes for herbal preparations that are fun and easy to make – but also have profound effect on the health of your nervous system.
For example – do you need a little help relaxing or getting restful sleep – Lavender might just be the herb for you!
Native to the Mediterranean, this beautiful, fragrant and hardy plant thrives in hot, dry conditions and is therefore easy to grow here in Arizona.
Lavender is not only a poplular scent used in perfumes, massage oils, salves andlip balms, but it has long been revered for its medicinal properties. The relaxing aroma is used to soothe headaches, calm nerves and lift your mood. Lavender also has antiseptic properties and can be used to treat minor cuts, scrapes and insect bites.
To benefit from Lavenders calming properties and to prepare for a restful night’s sleep, try this easy to make Lavender Spray:
Ingredients: 1/2 cup distilled water
1 tsp witch hazel
5-6 drops lavender essential oils
Mix ingredients and pour into a clean spray bottle. You can use this spray on your skin (lavender can be used by all skin types, especially sensitive skin) or use it on your pillow before going to sleep.
March 28, 2016
Drinking green tea on a regular basis seems to have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels.
According to a study conducted at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, green tea may contribute to keeping the “good” cholesterol levels stable, while cutting the “bad” cholesterol levels. The findings of this research study showed that while levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol dipped, there was no change in high-density (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
The research team pooled the results of 14 randomized trials in which participants drank green tea or took an extract for periods ranging from three weeks to three months, or were assigned to a placebo group.
On average, green tea reduced total cholesterol by 7.2 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) compared to levels seen in those taking the placebo. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol fell by a mean of 2.2 mg/dL, or slightly less than
The researchers stated that the cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea may be due to a decreased absorption of cholesterol in the gut for which certain catechins are responsible. According to Nathan Wong at the Heart Disease Prevention Program at the University of California, Irvine, this reduction is not substantial and therefore green tea should not be used to control high cholesterol levels in place of well-proven prescription drugs.
Rather than relying on green tea as a remedy to fix what is broken, it is much better used as a preventative measure and most effective when you make it a part of your healthy diet.
March 25, 2016
…well not necessarily if we are talking about the white fluffy candy that is the main ingredient in campfire s’mores.
The real marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is a tall perennial covered with large pink flowers that bloom in late summer.Â While the leaves and flowers can be used for tea, it is the root that is most often used medicinally.
- Marshmallow is what is called a “mucilaginous” herb, meaning that it coats and protects mucous membranes in the body. It reduces inflammation and is often used to counter excess stomach acid and to treat many intestinal problems including colitis, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Since Marshmallow binds toxins, it is a great cleansing herb.
Marshmallow’s demulcent qualities also bring relief to dry coughs, bronchial asthma and bronchial congestion and should not be missing in your medicine cabinet during the cold and flu season
In order to preapre a medicinal cup of marshmallow, use 1 oz of dried herb in 1 pint of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and drink 1-3 c ups daily.
Marshmallow can interfere with the absorbtion of other medications and should therefore be taken separately.
Now if you are still wondering what this herb has to do with the white sugary candy we have come to know as marshmallows, let me take you back to the pioneer days! In the old days, people would take marshmallow root, peel it and cook it with honey or sugar. They formed the sticky concoction into soft balls and gave them to their children to suck on to soothe a sore throat!
Give this wonderful herb a try some time!
March 21, 2016
Spring is here and with it begins the new tea harvest! Among the first teas picked, are the sought after white teas, and premium prices a paid for this rare and unique tea from the Fujian province in China.
The harvest period is relatively short which is another reason why this varietal is considered rare and special.
White teas are the least processed of all tea types, produced by carefully withering and drying the tender spring leaves and buds. March and April are the months for White tea harvest, and only the single buds are reserved to make Silver Needle.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen, as it is called in China, is comprised entirely of soft silvery buds. The production process is meticulous and includes withering of the buds indoors for 26-32 hours. There is no steaming and no rolling and no oxidation in making White tea. (with the exception of one type: Gongmei, which is relatively unknown here since it is mostly exported to HongKong). After withering, the tea is dried to prevent any oxidation and to preserve the leaf.
White tea dates back to 1850, where during the Qing dynasty it was traditionally not a popular tea in China. Today, the limited production of an all “bud” tea has made Silver Needle White one of the more costly teas and is often used for gifting.
The pointed silver buds stand upright in the water and produce a pale yellow liquor with a smooth, sweet and delicate taste.
Best brewed at 170F for 2 minutes if you intend to re-steep the leaves again. Otherwise you can steep it for4 minutes easily.
A cup of delicate Silver Needle will stir your spirit as gently as the warm weather of spring brings nature back to life!
March 18, 2016
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Here is a little more green for you spring and St. Patrick’s Day lovers. Not only is this tea cake delicious, its vibrant color certainly makes a statement when served at an afternoon tea.
For one loaf, you will need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons Souvia Premium Matcha Powder
( I adjusted this to 2tbsp Vanilla Matcha for a creamier taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar and 2 eggs
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and Souvia Premium Matcha powder. In a second bowl, mix butter and sugar and blend until creamy and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then add the flour mixture. Blend well. Pour the better into a buttered loaf pan (9×5 inches) and bake for 45 minutes at 375F.