April 4, 2016
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/ 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.
(source: Culinary Tea )
April 1, 2016
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.
March 28, 2016
Drinking green tea on a regular basis seems to have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels.
According to a study conducted at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, green tea may contribute to keeping the “good” cholesterol levels stable, while cutting the “bad” cholesterol levels. The findings of this research study showed that while levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol dipped, there was no change in high-density (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
The research team pooled the results of 14 randomized trials in which participants drank green tea or took an extract for periods ranging from three weeks to three months, or were assigned to a placebo group.
On average, green tea reduced total cholesterol by 7.2 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) compared to levels seen in those taking the placebo. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol fell by a mean of 2.2 mg/dL, or slightly less than
The researchers stated that the cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea may be due to a decreased absorption of cholesterol in the gut for which certain catechins are responsible. According to Nathan Wong at the Heart Disease Prevention Program at the University of California, Irvine, this reduction is not substantial and therefore green tea should not be used to control high cholesterol levels in place of well-proven prescription drugs.
Rather than relying on green tea as a remedy to fix what is broken, it is much better used as a preventative measure and most effective when you make it a part of your healthy diet.
March 25, 2016
…well not necessarily if we are talking about the white fluffy candy that is the main ingredient in campfire s’mores.
The real marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is a tall perennial covered with large pink flowers that bloom in late summer.Â While the leaves and flowers can be used for tea, it is the root that is most often used medicinally.
- Marshmallow is what is called a “mucilaginous” herb, meaning that it coats and protects mucous membranes in the body. It reduces inflammation and is often used to counter excess stomach acid and to treat many intestinal problems including colitis, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Since Marshmallow binds toxins, it is a great cleansing herb.
Marshmallow’s demulcent qualities also bring relief to dry coughs, bronchial asthma and bronchial congestion and should not be missing in your medicine cabinet during the cold and flu season
In order to preapre a medicinal cup of marshmallow, use 1 oz of dried herb in 1 pint of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and drink 1-3 c ups daily.
Marshmallow can interfere with the absorbtion of other medications and should therefore be taken separately.
Now if you are still wondering what this herb has to do with the white sugary candy we have come to know as marshmallows, let me take you back to the pioneer days! In the old days, people would take marshmallow root, peel it and cook it with honey or sugar. They formed the sticky concoction into soft balls and gave them to their children to suck on to soothe a sore throat!
Give this wonderful herb a try some time!
March 21, 2016
Spring is here and with it begins the new tea harvest! Among the first teas picked, are the sought after white teas, and premium prices a paid for this rare and unique tea from the Fujian province in China.
The harvest period is relatively short which is another reason why this varietal is considered rare and special.
White teas are the least processed of all tea types, produced by carefully withering and drying the tender spring leaves and buds. March and April are the months for White tea harvest, and only the single buds are reserved to make Silver Needle.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen, as it is called in China, is comprised entirely of soft silvery buds. The production process is meticulous and includes withering of the buds indoors for 26-32 hours. There is no steaming and no rolling and no oxidation in making White tea. (with the exception of one type: Gongmei, which is relatively unknown here since it is mostly exported to HongKong). After withering, the tea is dried to prevent any oxidation and to preserve the leaf.
White tea dates back to 1850, where during the Qing dynasty it was traditionally not a popular tea in China. Today, the limited production of an all “bud” tea has made Silver Needle White one of the more costly teas and is often used for gifting.
The pointed silver buds stand upright in the water and produce a pale yellow liquor with a smooth, sweet and delicate taste.
Best brewed at 170F for 2 minutes if you intend to re-steep the leaves again. Otherwise you can steep it for4 minutes easily.
A cup of delicate Silver Needle will stir your spirit as gently as the warm weather of spring brings nature back to life!
March 18, 2016
Here is a little more green for you spring and St. Patrick’s Day lovers. Not only is this tea cake delicious, its vibrant color certainly makes a statement when served at an afternoon tea.
For one loaf, you will need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons Souvia Premium Matcha Powder
( I adjusted this to 2tbsp Vanilla Matcha for a creamier taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar and 2 eggs
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and Souvia Premium Matcha powder. In a second bowl, mix butter and sugar and blend until creamy and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then add the flour mixture. Blend well. Pour the better into a buttered loaf pan (9×5 inches) and bake for 45 minutes at 375F.
March 11, 2016
Next week is St Patrick’s Day – the day ruled by the color green! From green hair and nails to green foods and green beer – there is no limit to your imagination.
To contribute in a natural way, we found this simple syrup that can be made easily and used in many cocktail recipes:
Matcha Simple Syrup
0.5 ounce matcha powder
2 cups cane sugar
Place all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil – stirring gently to break up the matcha. Reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Pour into glass jar to cool and store. The syrup will keep in the fridge for approximately two weeks. ”
March 9, 2016
During every seminar, I get the question on what is the difference between a tea, an infusion and a decoction – something more applicable to herbs. So for all of you who are still a little unsure, let me shed some light into this subject.
Technically, only an infusion made with the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), that is white, green, oolong and black tea, can be called a “tea”. All other infusions made with botanicals are called infusions or tisanes. In the world of herbs, however, a tea is a particular method of preparing herbs. In order to prepare an herbal “tea”, you take about 1-2 tbs. of plant material per 8 oz of boiling water; pour the water over the herbs, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes. Because of the relatively short steeping time, a tea is much milder and not all beneficial constituents are extracted. It is great if you try a new herb to see how your body tolerates it or simply to enjoy the taste.
An infusion is a stronger version of an herbal tea. They are generally made using the leaves, flowers and stems of a plant. The standard traditional recipe calls for 1/2-1oz of dried herb steeped in a pint of boiling water for 20-30 minutes (or even overnight). If you use fresh herbs, double the amount of plant material. Due to the longer steeping time, more of the healing constituents are extracted making the infusion more therapeutic than a tea. In order to get to the minerals in many nutritive herbs such as nettle, you have to steep the herbs for at least four hours. Of course the longer steeping effects the taste and most infusions tend to be quite bitter. To make them more palatable, use honey, sugar or lemon. Infusions are great when you are sick and need to get the maximum benefit from your herbs.
Decoctions are used to extract the medicinal constituents from the harder parts of the plant, such as bark, roots, rhizomes, dried berries or seeds. In order to prepare a, use the same amount of herbs as with the infusion per pint of water. Place the herbs in a pot and add the water. Bring everything to a full, rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Make sure the pot is covered!
Finally, strain the decoction through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar or cup.
March 7, 2016
March 4, 2016
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My favorite show, Downton Abbey, is coming to an end this Sunday. For six seasons, I a have enjoyed watching the trials and tribulations of the Lord and Lady Grantham and their family. My favorite, though was the Dowager countess, played by Maggie Smith, and the many tea scenes. We all know that tea time was the time the family gathered to discuss the events of the day. While the tea etiquette was pretty much spelled out, there is one aspect that is not mentioned in the series, namely that social class was indicated by which tea you drank, whether you added milk or lemon and especially whether you took your tea:
Tif = Tea in First or
Mif = Milk in first.
The upper classes (having more delicate palates) drank more delicate teas from China or the plantations of Ceylon. The working class, on the other hand drank more of the bold black teas.
The upper class did not use milk at all -maybe a slice of lemon to accentuate the taste of the tea. (working class could not afford lemon)
The working class used milk – in part because the tea they drink was very strong and could stand a bit of creaming
To ensure a good mix the working class would put the milk in first.
The Mitfords, (an infamous aristocratic family) started referring to unsuitable young men (potential suitors) as MIFs, meaning they put milk in their tea first displaying their lack of breeding and their lowly origins.
The terms, believe it or not, are still in use today!
So…..where would you put yourself….are you M.I.F. or are you a T.I.F?
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