February 5, 2016
Puerh is a great choice for fall and winter.A tea varietal from the Yunnan region in the Southern part of China, it is traditionally made with leaves from old tea treas and is well known for its rich flavor and aroma as well as its health benefits. Pu-erh teas are processed like green teas – but then aged to perfection!
There are two categories of Pu-erh
1.Raw (Sheng Puerh)
Raw Puerh, also known as uncooked, or green Puerh is processed like green tea. The teal leaves are wilted and then pan-fired, using a large wok. This stops the enzymatic action and prevents any oxidation of the leaves. The leaves are then rolled, shaped into strands and then dried in the sun. These dried tea leaves are the foundation for Puerh and are called “Mao-cha”. Mao-cha is sent to the tea factories where it is pressed into raw Puerh cakes or nests and left to age. For more than 1000 years, this process and the tools involved have remained unchanged. Raw Puerh requires quite a long time for aging to develop its character – up to 20, 30 years.
Cooked/Ripened Puerh (Shu Puerh)
During the second part of the 20th century, Chinese scientists explored the possibility to accelerate this aging process through induced, high speed artificial fermentation. The production of Shu Puerh involves wilting and pan-firing the tea leaves just like with Sheng Puerh, but after the sun-drying, they undergo a unique process known as “wet piling”. The tea leaves are piled up, watered and then covered with a wet cloth. They are then submitted to high heat and moisture for extended periods of time. During this process, the chemical composition of the tea leaf changes, leading to a reduction in bitterness and a purer flavor. This process is repeated for 30-40 days and requires much skill and experience.
Regardless of the type, Puerh teas have been enjoyed in the Southern parts of China for thousands of years and have been revered for their healing properties. If you need to settle your stomach or have overindulged at the Sunday brunch buffet, a cup of Puerh might just be the answer to bring order into your digestive system!
Try it yourself!
February 1, 2016
During February (National Heart Health Month), the National Heart Association is raising awareness about the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S..
While proper diet, regular exercise and stress reduction play an important role in cardiovascular health, a recent Australian research study suggests that heart disease rate could be reduced by 10% if everyone took to drinking tea.
If you have to or simply want to avoid tea’s caffeine or, there are many wonderful herbs that can support cardiovascular health. Many, like hawthorn, have been well studied and are popular in Europe as heart tonics that can safely be taken over long periods.
At Souvia, we have utilized the findings of this research and created a blend that will benefit your heart and cardiovascular health.
Our TICKER TONIC, is a blend of hawthorn, hibiscus and peppermint. It is naturally caffeine free and is
delicious whether enjoyed hot or cold!
January 29, 2016
If the recent cold and rainy days have left you with the sniffles, then Echinacea (Echinacea angustufolia, E. purpurea, E. pallida) is just the right herbal infusion for you to stop those nasty bugs in their tracks!
Echinacea is an immune-system booster and one of the most important and well-studied herbs of our times. Echinacea, taken at the onset of a cold/flu, can shorten its duration and reduce some of the unpleasant symptoms that go along with these winter ailments. This herb is very works very well by increasing T-cell activity in the body. Even though it is a potent medicine, it is absolutely safe for children and the elderly.
Most of the medicinal properties in Echinacea are water soluble and therefore make a wonderful infusion. Use leaves and flowers to make an infusion and the root to make a decoction. For an 8 oz cup of boiling water use 1 heaping teaspoon of herb and steep covered for at least 20 minutes. (it takes this long for the medicinal properties to be absorbed by the water)
Despite the common belief, that Echinacea is not a preventative or tonic herb because its effectiveness decreases when it is used continuously. It is best used in cycles. Take it for five days and then stop for two. Repeat this cycle until the infection is gone.
Here’s to a healthy winter season!
January 25, 2016
While there are many herbs to help treat cold and flu symptoms and to shorten the duration of an illness, one deserves special attention:
Elderberry (Sambuccus nigra) is Mother Nature’s version of the flu shot and may actually help prevent you from contracting the virus. Elderberry syrup is Europe’s most esteemed formula for colds, flu, and upper respiratory infections.
Just how does elderberry keep the cold and flu at bay?
Flu viruses are primitive organisms that need the body’s cells as a host to replicate themselves. They puncture the cell walls with little enzyme-coated spikes called hemaglutinin and so break into the cell. Research has shown that elderberry has chemical compounds that disarm these spikes and prevent the virus from entering the respiratory cells thereby working in a prophylactic way.
Growing up in Germany, my mother got us through the winter by making sure we got our daily dose of elderberry Syrup. (The adults, on the other hand, preferred a glass of elderberry wine!) She would make many batches of the syrup and I have kept up with this tradition in my family as well.
In recent years, Elderberry syrup has been gaining in popularity here in the U.S. too and can be found in many health food stores. But why spent a lot of money, if it is so easy and fun to make in your own kitchen. All you need is:
½ cup of dried Elderberries
3 cups of spring water
½ -1 cup of honey *
In a saucepan, bring the elderberries and water to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for 30 to 4o minutes. Strain the liquid, making sure you mash the berries in order to get every drop of the decoction. Add the honey to the warm liquid and fill in a glass bottle. The syrup will keep in the fridge for 3 months. Take 1-3 tbsp per day for as a preventative remedy.
Alternatively, elderberries can be taken as a tincture which is also very easy to make. Important is to start the tincture early since it takes six to eight weeks before it is ready for use.
2 cups dried Elderberries
100 proof or higher alcohol (I prefer vodka)
Quart size Mason jar with tight fitting lid
Place the dried berries in the jar and add enough alcohol to cover the berries. Macerate the berries until they are quite soft and the liquid is dark purple. Finish by adding enough alcohol to fill the quart jar until an inch from the top. Place the lid on the jar and label it with name of herb and date. Gently shake contents and keep in a dark cabinet for six to eight weeks. Strain the alcohol from the berries using a cheese cloth. Fill the liquid into tincture bottles, label them and keep them in a cool dry place.
Take one dropper full 3 – times per day to give your immune system a boost!
Elderberries are safe and can be taken over extended period of time, however due to the use of honey, refrain from giving the syrup to children under the age of 1
Tea has so much in common with wine and that is why we often use this analogy when describing the aroma and flavor of certain tea varietals.
Like wine, tea is an agricultural product and its quality and flavor depends largely on where it is grown, soil chemistry and texture, climate and seasonable changes. Even native flowers and trees that grow in close proximity to the tea fields can add a special nuance to the taste. Tea is harvested primarily during spring and fall and depending on which harvest you are purchasing you may notice a difference in color, aroma and flavor. Darjeeling teas from India, harvested in the spring, have a much brisker note than those harvested in the early summer and fall, when the typical characteristics for this type of tea are fully developed and produce a richer flavor. If you are a wine connoisseur, you may be familiar with Ice Wines, which are produced from grapes picked at the first frost. Tea estates in India also produce what is called a “Frost Tea” – picked at the first frost and processed to develop a smooth and sweet taste. Just like with wine, it takes a lot of tasting before your taste buds can fully appreciate the many flavor profiles.
To help you explore and exprience new teas, we offer a daily complimentary tea for sampling.
To kick off the new year we have a traditional Gong Fu tasting scheduled for Sunday, February 7th!
Explore the world of tea and check out our classes online!
January 22, 2016
January 18, 2016
January is the perfect time to celebrate “hot tea month”.
Even here in Arizona, the daytime temperatures have dropped to a chilling 65 degrees F! Cold enough to warm freezing hands on a hot cup of tea.
During the whole month of January, our daily specials will be served “hot”!
Especially with your straight black, green and oolong teas, it does matter whether your drink them hot or cold. Just like with a good wine, the proper temperature allows unique flavors, floral notes and special accents to shine. Just like red wine would lose its characteristics when refrigerated, many teas loose their unique flavor when iced.
This month, open your mind and your taste buds and try our daily “hot” Teas of the Day” and remember:
“The perfect temperature for tea is two degrees hotter than just right. “
December 30, 2015
With New Years Eve, the 2015 holiday season is coming to an end – another 12 chapters, 365 pages in the book of life lived and I hope it was filled with many wonderful experiences and leaves you with great memories!
2014 lies in front of us like an unopened book whose pages have yet to be filled. Make every page count and take time to savor the moments. Spend your time wisely and make the people in your life a priority. Don’t rush from day to day, but stop and catch your breath every once in a while – maybe with a nice cup of Souvia tea!
Personally, I treasure my my tea breaks that bring a little serenity and peace into my world.
After the overindulgences of the holiday season, my favorite cup is Fog Tea, a green tea from China. It will not only leave you peaceful and relaxed, it will also help your liver get rid of the toxins that were left behind by too many glasses of champagne and cookies.
December 26, 2015
The presents are unwrapped and the parties are over, but that does not mean baking time is over too!
Tea is my passion and whenever I get a chance to include it in cooking and baking, I experiment. Since cinnamon is the key ingredient in Snicker doodles already, adding the flavors of cardamom, cloves and ginger would make the taste only richer.
The recipe is very simple and you can freeze the dough to have it ready when the holiday guests arrive:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar ( I substitute stevia for half the sugar)
2 tbs loose leaf masala chai finely ground
1/4tsp salt, 1tsp baking soda, 1tsp baking powder
2tsp cream of tartar
1tblesp cinnamon, 1tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup granulated sugar
Mix the flour, sugar, masala chai mix, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Add the butter, egg and milk and knead into a smooth dough.
Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in cinnamon sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 350degrees for 15-18 minutes.
I had planned on posting a picture of the finished product, however the cookies were so delicious that not a crumb was left before I could get my camera……
December 21, 2015
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As you know I always like to experiment using tea in my cooking – so when I saw this recipe one of our suppliers posted, I could not resist to make this dessert myself.
1 large pear (I prefer bosc)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup of oolong tea (try our Tung Ting!)
3-4 cups of water
Steep 1/2 cup of oolong tea in 3-4 cups of water for 4 minutes. Strain the leaves. Peel, half and core 1 large pear. Add 1/2 -3/4 cup of sugar and the pears to the tea. Simmer for 30min or until pears are tender. Remove the pears and reduce the liquid until syrupy. Drizzle on the syrup and garnish the pears with some of the tea leaves. Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream for a heavenly dessert!
By the way, pears are the perfect food if you leave in a dry dessert climate. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each food has its own energetic and pears are said to moisten the body. So if you are suffering from a dry cough, for example – eat more pears!