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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

sunburn

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

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.

 

Lavender

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:

NATURAL FLAVOR

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

WONF-WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS

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”.

NATURE – IDENTICAL

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.

ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR

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!

 

 

April 29, 2016

Lemon and Fennel Muffins

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:15 am

 

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!

 

Ingredients:

2 medium lemons, juiced

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup brown sugar

1tsp vanilla

2 cups grated fennel bulbs and chopped stalks

2 1/4  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

African Red bush – An Exotic Drink That is Good For You!

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

 Roooibos, redbush, bush tea

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.

Healthy Skin

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.

Minerals

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

The Art of Cupping

Filed under: Tea and Health,Tea Classes,Tea Culture,Tea Enjoyment — wbwingert @ 10:05 am

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 “nose” is to the perfume industry, the “tea taster” 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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. After the steeping, the infusion is poured into tasting bowls and the infused leave is collected on the lid of the brewing mug.
  4. 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

Apple Ceylon Tea Cake

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

Baking

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 eggs

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.

Enjoy!!

(source: Culinary Tea )

 

April 1, 2016

Lavender Dreams

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 9:31 am

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.

Sweet Dreams!!!

 

 

 

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