July 6, 2015
July is he time when Jasmine production begins. This tea is not only the best known scented tea, it is the tea of choice among many tea drinkers in China – especially the Northern provinces. While White, Oolong and Black teas are also scented with Jasmine flowers, the majority is produced as Green tea.
Since the flowers bloom in summer, making high quality Jasmine teas require fine Green teas harvested in the spring. Those leaves are picked and prepared as Green tea and then kept aside until the Jasmine flowers come into bloom. As the summer progresses, blossoms are also added to teas picked in late spring and early summer, but there is a difference in quality between the two.
The Jasmine tea production is very intricate and involved. For example, the blossoms are picked from about noon on through the early afternoon. The morning dew has evaporated by the time picking begins and the white blossoms are added to tea leaves in the late afternoon to make the most of that time when the flowers open. Even the picking of the flowers requires tremendous skill: open flowers are passed over; buds that are not likely to unfurl that same afternoon will be plucked another day.
Processing steps of Jasmine teas:
1. For a high grade Jasmine such as our Super Yin Hao 1 to 1.1 kg of blossoms are used to scent 1kg of tea.
2. Each round of scenting for high grade teas takes 10-16 hours, during which the laves absorb the natural bouquet of the blossoms. The earlier
rounds of scenting are longer, while the last stages are shorter in duration.
3. In between scenting, there are resting periods extending the total processing period to two or more days, depending on the weather and
quality of the flowers. A Yin Hao would undergo 4-5 stages of scenting.
4. The flowers are removed after each round of scenting – that is a lot of flowers! You can compare 1st, 3rd and 5th grade Jasmine teas by the
quantity of petals left in the tea. Lower grade teas receive fewer flowers in the scenting and the flowers are of lower quality.
So the next time you enjoy a cup of our Super Yin Hao , consider the quality of the tea and blossoms used, how many times the tea leaves were scented and most of all the skill, diligence and patience that goes into the making of these exquisite teas.
July 3, 2015
…are the colors of July! While we are celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks , Mother Nature is creating a delicious firework of berries this month, bursting with color, flavor and of course healthful properties.
Number one berry this month is definitely the blueberry – one of the few foods that are naturally blue! A comination of sweet- and tartness, they make an ideal summer snack and can be used in a variety of recipes.
Researchers have found this berry to be a powerhouse of antioxidants (their antioxidant content is higher than that of kale and broccoli) that may protect our hearts and prevent early aging. Just 3 1/2 ounces of this little berries are enough to cover your recommended 5 servings of fruit or vegetables per day.
I found this recipe (serves 4) for a “Blueberry-Green Tea Slushi” in a magazine and think itwould make a great addition to any 4th of July picnic.
Bring 2 cups water to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute
Add 3 -4 tbsp loose green tea (Japanese Bancha or Chinese Dragonwell) and steep for 3 minutes
Divide 1 cup blueberries between the compartments of an ice cupe tray
Cover with tea and freeze.
When frozen, puree in blender with remaining tea (1 1/2 cups) 1/2 cup water and 2 tsp agave syrup.
Garnish with blueberries and sprigs of fresh mint!
Cheers to your health!!!
June 29, 2015
Triple digits outside are slowly changing my tea drinking habits. Normally I prefer my teas hot, but lately I have been craving drinks that are more on the cool and refreshing side – no wonder with the heat wave we have been having! No worries, though – I still get my tea – but have found more creative ways to prepare them.
While experimenting with different ingredients and flavors I came across the following recipe – a concoction I wanted to share with my tea loving fans.
For one serving you will need:
- 3teaspoons matcha powder
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- ¾ cup coconut water
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 ripe banana (can be substituted with peaches or mango)
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
- In a small dish, stir together the matcha powder and hot water until the matcha powder is dissolved.
- In a blender, combine the dissolved matcha with the coconut water, Greek yogurt, banana, agave nectar, and coconut. Blend until smooth and transfer to a large glass and add ice to taste!
June 26, 2015
It is definitely getting hotter here in Arizona and I have just the perfect blend of flowers to keep you healthy AND refreshed. I found this recipe in the “Essential Herbals” and after trying it out am convinced that healthy and tasty are not mutually exclusive!
To make this delicious drink you need,
4 tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
4 tbsp dried rose petals
8 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate , ice
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Take water off the heat and add the hibiscus and roses. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain out the flowers and pour the tea into a large pitcher. Add about 2/3 of the can (about 8oz) of frozen lemonade concentrate. Stir to dissolve and let cool a bit before refrigerating until completely chilled.
Pour over ice in a glass, add a wedge of fresh lime and serve!
June 22, 2015
I love to drink rooibos and know that it has many health benefits. It is rich in minerals, antioxidants and it is a great moisturizer.
Living in the desert, my naturally dry skin, suffers a lot. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize is the motto and I always carry an extra container of moisturizer in my purse so I can reapply it when necessary.
I am very selective when it comes to skin care products and like to make my own when I can. Not only does it save money, but I always know exactly what went into the product. My favorite skin cream is based on a recipe by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar and yesterday, I tried a variation by adding rooibos into the mix. The recipe is easy to follow and most of the ingredients can be purchased in your local health food store.
Waters – 2/3 cup distilled water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
1/4 cup rooibos
1 or 2 drops essential oil of your choice (I use lavender or rose)
vitamin E (as a preservative)
Oils – 3/4 cup almond oil
1/3 cup coconut oil or cocoa butter
1/4 teaspoon lanolin
1/2 to 1 ounce grated beeswax
1. Combine rooibos and distilled water in a glass jar and let it steep overnight. The next day, strain the tea and set aside.
2. In a double boiler, over low heat, combine the oils. Heat them just enough to melt
3. Pour the oils into a blender and let them cool to room temperature. The mixture should become thick, creamy, semisolid and cream-colored.
4. When the mixture has cooled, turn on a blender at its highest speed. In a slow, thin drizzle, pour in the water mixture into the center vortex of the whirling oil mixture.
When most of the water mixture has been added to the oils, listen to the blender and watch the cream. Whe the blender starts to choke and the cream looks thick and white, like butter cream frosting, turn off the blender. ou can slowly add more water, beating it in by hand with a spoon, but don’t over beat! The cream will thicken as it sets.
6. Pour into cream or lotion jars and store in a cool place.
In additon to using rooibos as a moisturizing ingredient, it also gives the cream an nice amber color. I made some of this wonderful cream for myself, but have enough left over to gift it to some of my girlfriends!
Try it yourself!
June 19, 2015
Herb infused oils are great for culinary and medicinal use. They are easy to make and wonderful gifts with a personal touch.
The methods used to infuse the oils are the solar infusion or the quick method for which you only need a crockpot.
Though it requires a little patience, it is my preferred method because it allows the extraction to occur naturally and in addition to the infusion with the flavors and medicinal properties of the herbs used, the sun’s rays also imparts its healing strength.
Place 1 part of herb in a dry and sterilized glass jar. Cover it completely with organic olive oil. close the jar tightly and place in a sunny, warm window. Shake the jar each day and infuse in this way for two to six weeks. Add more oil if needed to keep the herb covered.
If you need to get to the results a bit faster, place the herb(s) in a crock pot and cover with organic olive oil. Gently heat the herb over very low heat (between 100 to 140 F) for about 3 hours. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
As a next step for both methods, strain the herb and squeeze it using a cheesecloth. Bottle in dry sterilized glass bottles and store in a cool place. Herbal oils will keep for about one year if stored properly. You may add a few drops of vitamin E oil to prolong the shelf life!
It is best to use dry herbs for the infusion, since fresh herbs have a higher water content and could cause mold to grow and spoil the oil.
One of my favorite herbs for a cooking oil are Rosemary and Thyme. For healing, I always keep calendula and comfrey at hand to heal scrapes, sunburn and dry skin.
I will share my recipes in future blogs – stay tuned!
June 15, 2015
Summertime…and the living is easy!!! I love Arizona’s dry heat and like to cool off with a tasty, freshly made glass of iced tea. There are so many flavors, I never get bored with the same cup. In addition to keeping me cool, tea keeps me hydrated. In fact, research has shown that drinking tea is just as hydrating as drinking water – but much tastier!
If you want to bring a little “varie-tea” into your iced tea selection, I recommend this delicious Melon Punch with Green Tea. You get your hydration, anti-oxidants and a refreshing break all in one glass!
Ingredients: 10g of green tea
1 bottle white grape juice (30 fl. oz)
2 honey dew melons, honey
1 bottle pellegrino or seltzer (29 fl. oz)
Bring 20 oz of water to a boil, remove from burner and let cool for 1 minute. Add the green tea and steep for 3 minutes. Strain the tea, then take the lime, wash it and squeeze the juice into the tea. Cover and let cool.
Once the tea is cool, add the grape juice and add honey to taste. Cut the melon in small cubes and add those punch. For the finishing touch, add a bottle of Pellegrino and ice – or if you want to really kick it up a notch and make this a drink at your next party, replace the Pellegrino with a bottle of champagne!
For garnish, you can add thin slices of lime.
One sip will let you forget this sticky summer heat – at least for a little while…..I promise!
June 12, 2015
“Clouding” is a term used to describe the opaque, fog-like appearance of a tea’s liquor. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the tea, nor does it affect the flavor. The problem is more cosmetic, since cloudy tea does not look very good in clear iced tea glasses.
The two factors that can lead to a cloudy glass of iced tea are are the water quality and certain chemicals compounds in the tea called “theaflavins”.
Hard water, for example, has high concentrations of minerals, which when brewed with tea, can form visible solids that do not dissolve at cooler temperatures.
The second factor, modern science is pointing out, are precipitates being released into the water. A 2005 article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry explains that theaflavins are only soluble in water at higher temperatures and will only remain suspended if the temperature changes slowly. So, if you pour hot tea over ice, the tea cools to quickly, the theaflavins will not remain suspended and the tea will cloud.
To avoid this, let your tea cool at room temperature first, before adding ice.
It also seems that certain varietals of tea are more susceptible to clouding than others. In general, Ceylon and South Indian teas (such as Nilgiri) are less likely to cloud than those from the Assam valley. South American teas don’t seem to cloud at all, which is probably the reason, why the majority of tea used by the iced tea industry comes form Argentina.
If it happens, that you made a fresh batch of iced tea and it turns out cloudy, use this trick to reverse the reaction. Add a little bit of hot water to your tea before serving. This will clear the liquor very quickly by reorganizing the chemical structure of the infusion and baffle your guests!
June 8, 2015
- Did you know that during the 19th century, green tea from China and Japan was the tea varietal widely available. After World War II, however, green tea was scarce and black tea from India replaced it.
- Did you know that eighty per cent of all tea consumed in the USA today is black tea.
- Did you know that eighty per cent of tea consumed in the USA is iced tea.
- Did you know that the chilled beverage we love is called “Iced Tea” and not “Ice Tea” because tea with ice is an “iced” beverage.
- Did you know that that forty per cent of the tea used for the iced tea production is actually grown and manufactured in Argentina.
June 5, 2015
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As much fun as you might enjoy spending hours in the pool, your hair (blonde hair that is ) might not enjoy it quite as much. Chlorine and chemicals in the water can turn that golden hue of your hair into a ghastly green.
Fortunately, there are easy and natural solutions to this problem.
- before swimming, wet your hair with fresh water so that it soaks up less chlorinated pool water
- after swimming use this home made treatment to deep clean your hair
2 tbsp. baking soda
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. mild shampoo
Mix together all the ingredients until well blended. Wet hair and massage mixture into hair and scalp, making sure the ends are coated as well. Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse hair well and shampoo as usual. This treatment can be repeated as needed!