May 4, 2015
Herbal medicine is experiencing a renaissance and many people are interested in using herbs in a preventative or healing way. I have certainly noticed an increased interest in herbal remedies and the methods to make your own herbal preparations – just like our grandmothers did. funny The funny thing is that what appears to be so new and exotic, has been around for a very long time; just take a look at this timeline of medicine:
History of Medicine
2000 BC – Here, eat this root
1000 BC – That root is heathen, here say this prayer
1850 AD – That prayer is superstition, here take this potion
1940 AD – That potion is snake oil, here swallow this pill
1985 – That pill is ineffective, here take that antibiotic
2012 – That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore – HERE, EAT THIS ROOT!
It’s back to basics…….
If you, too, are interested in learning more about how to use herbs medicinally, check our website for seminars and classes. The new schedule will be out at the end of this month!
May 1, 2015
The temperatures are climbing and we know summer is just around the corner! A nice glass of iced teas just seems to be the right thing to cool off…..but now urologists at the Loyola University Medical Center are warning that for some people too much tea can lead to painful kidney stones.
Iced tea seems to contain high concentrations of oxalate, one of the key chemicals that lead to the formation of kidney stones. However this holds only true for people that have a predisposition to developing these stones. (about 10 per cent of the population).
In a recent publication of the World Tea News, Bruce Richardson, a tea master, author and tea educator, also suffers from kidney stones. Since tea is his passion and his business, he is not so quick to give up his cup of tea and has some good tips that help prevent the formation of kidney stones:
- Drink tea hot! (even though hot tea also contains oxalate, it is hard to drink enough to cause kidney stones)
- Add lemon to your iced tea. Lemon counteracts the effects of oxalates.
- Add milk to your black teas. Milk binds with oxalates and reduces the formation of stones
- Drink green rather than black tea
I also learned that men are four times more likely to develop kidney stones than women, and the risk rises after age 40. Postmenopausal women with low estrogen levels and women who have had their ovaries removed are also at an increased risk.
So if you are part of that 10 per cent with a tendency to kidney stones, drink a little more water and add some lemonade to your favorite iced tea!
Stay healthy and happy!
April 27, 2015
Matcha is prepared using special stone mills under carefully controlled conditions
Long a popular and revered tea in Japan, Matcha has made its debut here in the United States a few years ago and has since conquered many tea lover’s taste buds. It has also made its way out of the tea cup and into many food and skincare products.
How is Matcha different from other green teas? This Japanese green tea differs in how it grown, manufactured and prepared from regular green teas.
- The tea plants used for Matcha are primarily grown in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. (41%) and Nishio area.
- The raw material which becomes Matcha after processing is called Tencha. The tea plants are shaded for about one month before the harvest and only the new leaves are picked. The deprivation of sunlight makes the leaves thinner, tender and produces a fresher, deep green color. It also alters the biochemistry of the tea leaf by increasing the levels of chlorophyll.
- During the manufacture, the tea leaves are de-veined and finely ground between granite plates into a fine powder. Premium matcha, such as our Matcha Harmony undergoes rigorous testing to ensure the high standard of quality our customer have come to expect.
- Preparation is easy! Simply whisk the tea powder in hot water (175F) until it is well mixed and frothy. Alternatively, matcha can also be added to smoothies and juices.
Since the leaves are consumed whole, matcha provides tea drinkers 100% of the available polyphenols and antioxidants we so often read about in research articles. These antioxidants are measured on the ORAC scale (oxygen radical absorbance capacity with values like 24 for blueberries and 18 for kale.
On this scale, one gram of matcha scores 1384 ORAC units, making it truly a super food!
Try our blueberry matcha iced and you combine two superfoods into a deliciously healthy summer drink!
April 24, 2015
Cleansing is the first and a very important step in keeping your skin healthy and radiant. Rather than spending a fortune on expensive exfoliating products, you can make a very effective facial cleanser yourself using simple ingredients, some of which you may already have in your pantry.
Oatmeal is a mild and soothing skin cleanser that is well-suited for sensitive skin and honey has antiseptic and moisturizing properties.
For the cleanser, use 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal, 1 cup warm water and 1tbsp. of honey. Blend all ingredients in a food processor at high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a clean container and close.
You can also add lavender and rose for aging and dry skin that needs a little extra nourishment.
To use the cleanser, gently massage a dime-size amount into your skin. Scrub and rinse well with warm water!
April 20, 2015
Today, I would like to answer a question we frequently come across at the store
“What do I do to get rid of those gnarly tea stains in your cups?”
An easy and safe way to remove the brown tannin stains is to,
1. wash the cup, using some elbow grease and a brush to get rid of the surface stain that may be present.
2. Mix a paste of either baking soda and water or equal parts of white vinegar and salt
3. Wet the stained areas of the cup and apply the paste with a soft cloth
4. Scrub until the stain is gone
It works like a charm – every time!
I would like to add, however, that in many culture, the tannin patina is the evidence of a well used tea pot and much like seasoned cast iron an, enhances the flavor. So, maybe you don’t to think about it again before you scrub!
April 17, 2015
After a long hiatus, we finally got organic rose petals back in stock!!!
Aside from adding a nice floral note to any tea, roses are excellent for your skin. They refresh and cool – just what we need here in the hot and dry desert climate.
- Simply infuse rose petals in jojoba or sesame oil and use the resulting fragrant oil as an additive to your daily moisturizer.
- If you overheat in the summer, soak a washcloth in some cooled rose/water infusion and apply to your temples and wrists. It is extremely cooling and comforting – not to mention beautifully fragrant!
- If you tried my previous recipe for rose vinegar, then know that it is not just a tasty dressing over a summer salad, but it can also be applied to a sunburn to soothe and heal!
Who would have thought – one flower – so many ways to enjoy it!
April 10, 2015
Spring is all about renewal and expansion into new life. As it is in nature, so it is at our little tea shop. We launched our spring menu April 1st and on it you will find a selection of wonderful teas – such as this “Cloud and Mist” tea from China
Traditionally called “Yunwu Cha” (literally meaning cloud and mist), this is the rarest category of green tea that China produces. Even though it has been produced much longer than other green teas, the volume manufactured is rather small.
Cloud and Mist teas take their name from the cloud seas surrounding certain peaks at particular times of the year. Not only are the clouds a source of water but they limit the amount of sunlight the tea plant is exposed to. By doing so, the plant is forced to develop more slowly and to compensate chemically for the absence of sunshine. As a result, more caffeine is developed and the amount of chlorophyll in the leaf increases. This altered chemistry produces quite unusual tea flavors.
Tang poet, Bai Juyi, wrote about this tea: “No wine can touch the senses, like this tea made with spring water”.
It’s delicate sweet and refreshing notes will surly convince you too!
April 6, 2015
Green tea does not equal green tea just like no two red wines are alike. Aside from growing region, elevation, climate and harvest time, the processing after the leaves have been picked also determines the aroma and flavor in the cup.
Chinese green teas, for example, are pan-fired which sometimes add a certain smoky aroma while Japanese green teas are briefly steamed. It is the steaming of the leaves that gives them their bright green color and the green/yellow hue in the cup.
The flavor of Japanese green teas is often described as fresh grass, seaweed or spinach. Some are smooth, rich in flavor and others brisk, slightly astringent and refreshing.
Since the leaves are steamed, flavor and color is extracted more easily and therefore steeping times should be shorter. I usually start steeping my tea 1 1/2 minutes but would not recommend to go longer than three minutes. Longer steeping times makes these teas bitter. I also use slightly cooler water than the recommended 175 for Chinese green teas since it prevents the tea from becoming too astringent. 165F – 170F usually produces a delicious cup.
Paying attention to these small details is worth it if you are looking for a superb tea experience!
April 3, 2015
For Easter this year, I plan on dying eggs the way my grandmother used to do it. No artificial colors were used in the process and the eggs always turned out with beautiful and rich colors.
Artificial colors may offer a wider variety of colors, however they are not necessarily good for you. You may think, what does it matter – I am coloring the outside of the egg. Aahh – but eggshells are porous and many times you’ll find that the egg white of your boiled egg as marble pattern of pink, blue or whatever color you used. In Europe, certain colors have even been banned because their use in food has been linked to ADHD.
So why fret over whether your egg dyes might be harmful or not – just turn to Mother nature and color your eggs naturally!
Experiment with fruits and vegetables such as turmeric for yellow eggs, red beet for pink eggs, black tea for brown, elderberries for blue/purple and spinach for a nice bright green color.
2 cups fruit or vegetable of choice
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Take the fruit, vegetable of choice cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth. Let the liquid cool, then add 1tsp. distilled white vinegar (necessary to make the color stick to the egg shell).
Of course you’ll need plenty of hard boiled, cooled eggs. Place them in the dye and leave for 5 minutes – or until the desired hue is achieved.
Voila – your Easter eggs are ready to eat – colorful and completely natural!
March 30, 2015
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Let’s finish the month with a little more “green”!
For this recipe, you don’t need any fancy equipment.
All you need are
2 tbsp. Matcha
2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup of heavy cream
- In a small bowl, mix the green tea powder with 2 tbsp of granulated sugar
- in a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks and remaining sugar
- Pour the milk into a small pan and gently heat taking care not to let it boil (ideally the temperature of the milk should be 176 F). Remove from the heat and mix a few spoonfuls of the warm milk with the green tea powder and sugar in a small bowl. When you have a smooth paste, add it to the remaining milk in the pan, then gradually combine with the egg yolk mixture.
- Return mixture to the stove and heat slowly over low heat (taking care to not let the mixture boil), until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine sieve and allow to cool completely.
- Lightly whip the cream and then add it to the cold green tea-milk mixture.
- Transfer the mixture to a large container and chill for one hour or two in the fridge – then place in the freezer. As ice crystals start to form, remove, and mix well with a spoon to break them up. Then return the mixture to the freezer . Repeat this a few times as it freezes to ensure that the ice cream is smooth.
Best served with aÂ slice of chocolate cake – yum!!! (make sure you use dark chocolate, then you maximize the antioxidant benefits in this tasty treat )