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July 25, 2016

DIY – Calendula Salve

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:05 am

calendula salve

This is my all-time favorite salve and perfect to keep the desert skin looking and feeling great.  I was first introduced to it by my grandmother who always kept it on hand for us grand children’s “boo boo’s”

Infuse organic olive oil with calendula, following one of the recipes of  previous blog on infused oils.

For the salve you will need:

8 oz calendula  infused oil

1 oz beeswax

10-20 drops essential oil of choice (comfrey would be complementary)

glass jars or tin containers.

Place the herbal infuse oil and wax together over a double boiler, and gently warm over low heat until the wax melts. Remove from heat and add the essential oil. Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely.

Store the salve in a cool location and it will last for several months.


July 18, 2016

Organic: What is the label telling you?

Filed under: Black Tea,Green Tea,Newsletter,Oolong Tea,Tea and Health — wbwingert @ 10:10 am

Much is written and said about the benefits of choosing organic! At the same time, the labeling of commercial products seems to get more and more confusing and it becomes difficult to sort through the various marketing promises and and make healthy choices. That is why I wanted to take the opportunity to take a closer look at what exactly “certified organic” means and to shed some light into the often confusing organic labeling practices

The organic label indicates that an agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods consist of cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. This means that synthetic fertilizer, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used!

The growing of organic tea is relatively new, dating back about ten years. The rules under which organic tea is produced are fairly complicated and tightly controlled. The tea crop must be grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. It relies only on natural organic matter such as compost, plants and trees to provide the necessary nutrients and ground cover.

There are two categories of organic tea production. In the first category, you will find teas that have been certified organic by one of several international agencies. The second category includes teas that are grown according to traditional methods, following the principals of organic growth, but are not validated by a certified agent. These are often teas from smaller tea gardens whose owners simply cannot afford the certification fees, but take pride in the superior quality of their teas.

When a tea is labeled “certified organic”, it has met the conditions by at least one of the regulatory agencies. That does not, however, mean that all non-organic teas contain chemicals and are unhealthy. Some teas have been grown organically for centuries, in spite of codes or set rules.

Tusda organicea consumption worldwide is growing and the demand for high quality, certified organic teas is increasing, yet the production is driven mainly by cost.

For the consumer it is not always easy to decipher which teas are organically grown. Here in the U.S., the certifying agency is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and certified organic products are clearly labeled.

On the other hand, a tea can be grown organically and certified by the appropriate agencies in Japan, England or Germany, yet the consumer here will not be aware of this due to the lack of labeling.

The better known certifying agencies whose logos might appear on products sold in the U.S. are Germany’s Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement, Switzerland’s Institute for Marketecology and Japan’s Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS).

With the increasing demand, a wide range of organic teas is now available, but even without organic production methods, tea is actually a very clean product whose cultivation and production is tightly controlled

Some tea growers work in harmony with nature and produce what is called “bio-dynamic” tea. This means that the seasons, the weather, the waxing and waning of the moon and the interaction and interdependency of different species of insects, birds and animals are all taken into consideration when planting. This approach of tea farming links with ancient agricultural practices.

Demeter International is one of the bodies that runs a biodynamic certification program and invests in raising awareness of ecological patterns and sustainable farming activities.

So while the USDA ORGANIC label reflects the quality of the agricultural product you are buying, it is by no means the only seal for organically grown products. If you have questions about the origin and production of the tea and agricultural products you are buying, ask your grocer or tea purveyor for information on its origin and production.


Olivia Wingert is the Owner of Souvia® Tea and holds the Specialty Tea Institute’s Level III  Certified Tea Education Accreditation

July 11, 2016

Fair Trade – Fast Facts

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:07 am


Have you ever wondered what this certification is all about? There certainly is enough promotion of Fair Trade Products these days and we are often asked for teas that are certified in this way.

Here are some quick facts about what Fair Trade is and how it works.

What is Fair Trade

Fair Trade certification identifies teas produced by gardens  and cooperatives in the tea production. Fair Trade standards  are:

  • Guarantee fair wages and decent working conditions
  • Establish a Fair Trade premium, managed by the workers for the benefit of their community
  • Promote the use of sustainable farming methods that are safer for humans and the environment

How Fair Trade Works

The best tea gardens and cooperatives understand that specialty teas depend on the people and the environment that produce them. Fair Trade Certification verifies and acknowledges the commitment of these producers to meeting internationally recognized standards. For tea, the standards, include:

  • Wages that meet or exceed legally established minimums
  • Absence of forced or child labor
  • Freedom of associations and organizations
  • Safe working conditions, including protection from exposure to harmful agrochemicals

While it is great that there is a label that helps the consumer purchase products that align with their values, it needs to be said that this certification is not inexpensive and smaller tea gardens simply do not have the funds to pay for it. In order to pay proper wages, they have to make a choice to get certified or spend the money on their workers. A tea estate owner in Sri Lanka once explained to me that he provides housing, schools, health care and retirement benefits for all his workers, but chooses not to have his teas Fair Trade certified since the true benefactor is the in most cases the retailer who marks the tea up because of the certification – yet none of those funds ever reach the source.

Trust your tea purveyer to buy from respectful tea growers and ask questions about the origin and production circumstance of the teas offered.



July 5, 2016


Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:10 am



Latin Name:  Hibiscus sabdariffa

Parts Used:  Flowers

Contra Indications: none known

Hibiscus is a beautiful red flower native to Egypt and North Africa. There are over 200 varieties of this plant, most of them are of the “garden” variety and the only species used for tea is the Hibiscus sabdariffa.

Hibiscus has long been valued by Egyptians for its refreshingly tart taste, its cooling effects and is said to have aphrodisiac powers. It is rich in Vitamin A, C and beta-carotene, therefore making it a  good antioxidant.

Medicinally, hibiscus is used in form of tea to treat loss of appetite, to ease symptoms of colds, flus and couhgs. Externally used it can help reduce bruises and swelling.

Lately, hibiscus has gotten much attention because clinical research studies showed that drinking hibiscus tea can lower high blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol levels, thereby helping to maintain overall cardiovascular health.

But aside from its benefits to your health, hibiscus makes a wonderful thirst-quenching iced tea and the ruby red color provides a dramatic effect to many herbal blends and  lemonades.

For an extra cooling summer iced tea blend, mix equal parts of hibiscus and mint (either spearmint or peppermint). Pour boiling water over the leaves, steep for 5-8 minutes and pour over ice – Delicious!

June 27, 2016

Cocoa Rooibos Syrup

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:00 am



A great topping for a delicious Sundae…..


1 1/2 cups organic cacao or cacao powder

1 1/2 cups prepared coconut almond rooibos

1 1/2 cups local honey

1/4 tsp organic vanilla extract

1 pinch sea salt


Stir all ingredients together and bring to a boil. Gently simmer, stirring constantly, until the honey is completely dissolved and the mixture thickens to coat a spoon. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate.

…and don’t forget the cherry on top!





June 20, 2016

Accidental Tea Inventions

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:09 am

It may come as a surprise but both the tea bag and iced tea were not the result of diligent research, but rather the product of serendipitous circumstances – both having their roots here in the U.S.

Tea Bag

It was the American tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan, who is credited with the invention of the tea bag. Thomas lived in New York at the turn of the 20th century. In order to increase sales, he sent his customers generous samples of his teas. Since it was costing him quite a bit of money to do this, he came up with the idea to filling small silk bags with single servings of tea. His customers not only liked this new way of sampling tea, but started to place orders for the silk sachets. He may not have intended it, but Thomas Sullivan created a whole new way to prepare tea – a way that would be adopted not only in the United States but in Europe as well.

Iced Tea

Iced tea is the most popular way of drinking tea here in the United States. About 80% of all tea consumed her is iced, but we would have missed out this refreshing beverage, had it not been for a hot summer day in 1904. It was the year of the St. Louis World Fair, where tea merchant Richard Bleychynden was promoting the latest teas – black teas from India. Since temperatures were soaring, he did not have much luck enticing passersby to try his samples. Realizing that a cool refreshing drink, might be more popular, he poured his freshly made tea over ice and served it in glasses….and the rest, as they see, is history!

June 16, 2016

Sunburn Relief- Naturally!

Filed under: Green Tea,herbals and fruit blends,Tea and Health — wbwingert @ 10:10 am


We are well into the triple digits and as well all know they will stay with us for the next months. Summer is the time when we have to be extra careful and protect our skin from the damaging UVA and UVB rays of the sun. Unfortunately, getting sunburned is much more common that it ought to be. In a recent survey conducted in partnership with iVillage, The Skin Cancer Foundation learned that 42 percent of people polled get sunburn at least once a year.

So what to do when, after that day tubing on the river, you come home with a nasty burn?

There are several herbs that are well known for their ability to bring sunburn relief.


Aloe Vera

This is probably the best known herbal remedy for sunburn. Aloe Vera gel may be used directly on sunburns for immediate relief of sunburned skin and to accelerate the healing process. Because of its high water content (99.5%), it is especially soothing to the skin. Aloe Vera is very mild and can be applied generously to the burned area as often as needed. Add a few drops lavender and chamomile essential oil to maximize healing effects.



Chamomile is wonderful for the skin – gentle, relaxing and its anti-inflammatory properties help the skin heal. Use cold chamomile infusions as a compress, or spray it on the affected areas.


Green Tea

Green tea is a powerful anti-oxidant, and may be used topically or internally as tea before or after sun exposure. Studies have shown that green tea may reduce skin inflammation and redness, protect the skin cells, and to assist with the adverse affects of UV radiation exposure. It contains tannic acid, theobromine and polyphenols, all of which are soothing and healing to sunburned skin.



Not only good for relaxation, to soothe headaches and calm nerves, lavender can be used to treat minor cuts, scrapes and insect bites (antiseptic) and helps calm inflamed, sunburned skin. It is beneficial for all skin types even the most sensitive skin, offers immediate relief and may accelerate the healing process.


Soothing Oatmeal Bath

2 cups oatmeal

¼ cup Baking Soda

½ cup Chamomile Flowers

½ cup Lavender Flower

2-4 tbsp. Green Tea Leaves

Blend oatmeal in a food processor until it has the consistency of powder. Place all ingredients in a muslin bag or cheesecloth, tie under the faucet and draw a lukewarm bath. Soak for 10-15 minutes.

June 13, 2016

Tea Flavores – Natural vs. Artificial

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:10 am

This is a question, that I get frequently from customers. So I think it might be a good idea to re-publish this blog and shed some light into the flavoring mystery!

There is much confusion and mismarketing out there in regard to tea flavoring and we often get questions by curious or concerned customers in regard to how and with what our teas are flavored. The terms most often used in the tea industry to classify flavored teas are “natural” and “artificial”.  In its simplest form, the term natural flavor is used to describe a product, which is derived from the actual fruit or spice, such as natural vanilla extract or natural bergamot oil as is used to flavor Earl Grey teas.  Not every plant, fruit or spice lends itself for this kind of flavoring and therefore many other levels of flavoring are available:


A product that is derived from the essential oils or extracts of the actual product whose function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.


If the tea contains both the natural flavoring from the product it simulates and other natural flavors which reinforce the characterizing flavor, the food may be labeled as “with other natural flavors”.


These flavors have raw materials that are found in nature. The molecular structure of nature-identical are the same as natural flavors but have been synthetically produced. They are metabolized in the body just like the natural product would be.


Any flavor synthetically reproduced which has raw materials that cannot be found in nature or are nature-identical, but their use is permitted by law. Artificial flavor agents may not be metabolized as natural or nature- identical products.

As for the labeling, all products labeled “natural” in Europe would also be natural in the U.S. as well. Under the laws of the Food & Drug Administration, European products labeled “nature-identical” are considered artificial and must be labeled as such in the U.S..

Even though, many teas contain dried fruit and spices, additonal flavoring is necessary to enhance and extend the shelf life of the flavor.

Aside from flavored teas, there are those that are scented, like lychee or jasmine. These teas are scented by adding fresh or dried flowers and the essential oils of these flowers are absorbed by the tea leaf, creating a strong and long- lasting flavor without any other additives.

If you have questions about what flavors are used in your tea, always ask your tea purveyor!

Reference: G.S. Haly Company

June 3, 2016

June is National Iced Tea Month!

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:00 am


Souvia in Mexico


As the thermometer  reaches triple digits, a nice glass of iced tea can certainly bring some refreshing relief!

Did you know that 80 per cent of all tea consumed in the United States is indeed Iced Tea?


We would have missed out on this refreshing beverage, had it not been for a hot summer day in 1904. It was the year of the St. Louis’ World Fair, where tea merchant Richard Blechynden offered free samples of Indian black teas which had up until then been relatively unknown in the U.S.. With temperatures soaring, he did not have much luck since the last thing people wanted was a cup of hot tea! Realizing that a cool, refreshing beverage would probably find more interest, he filled glasses with ice, poured the tea over them – and iced tea was born.

Today, iced teas are no longer made with teas from the Indian Assam valley or the Darjeeling district which Mr. Blechynden tried to market at the World Fair. Instead, the iced tea and bottled tea industry procures a lower quality tea from Argentina and often sweetens the teas, adding unwanted calories.

To get the best quality, make your own iced tea, using loose leaf tea. The teas have so much flavor that you won’t need to add any sugar and the quality will convince you too!

May 2, 2016

Rose-Scented Sugar

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 9:34 am


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.

RoseScented 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 the  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!



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