May 29, 2015
With a history spanning five thousand years, there is much to know about tea. I thought, for today’s blog, I’d put together a few tidbits about tea that you may not have heard yet.
Did you know:
– that New Yorkers were sipping tea long before the English even thought about it. Tea was introduced to the “New Amsterdam”, as New York was then called,Â by Dutch Settlers. It was the Dutch who first imported tea from China and spread it across the European Continent.
– that at the Boston tea party, 342 chests of tea were thrown overboard – that was about 120000 pounds of tea floating in the ocean.
– that a professional tea taster goes through a seven year apprenticeship before his palate is refined enough.
– eighty percent of all tea consumed in the world is black and that eighty percent of all tea consumed in the U.S. is iced.
– the first book written about tea, the “Ch’a-ching” was published in 780 C.E. and is still in print today!
– no artificial materials are used inside the Japanese tearoom, only the five elements of the Taoist universe: earth, wood, fire, water, metal
– that before tea became a staple in every English household, Ale was the popular morning drink.
– that the habit of putting sugar in your tea, started around the latter part of the 17th century. It was the working class that developed this habit first out of necessity. Tea was affordable and with a little sugar offered the temporary illusion of a hot, nutritious meal.
– that it takes 60000 tea leaves to make 2 lbs of Dragonwell green tea.
(Source: Liquid Jade, Beatrice Hohenegger)
May 25, 2015
Need a tasty and refreshing dessert for your Memorial Day BBQ? Try award-winning chef, Heidi Fink’s favorite sorbet:
Ingredients: 1 1/3 cup sugar
3 cups water
zest of 2 organic lemons
3tbsp loose jasmine green tea leaves
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
Combine sugar, water and lemon zest in a medium sauce pan. Heat gently while stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in jasmine tea leaves. Let sit for 4 minutes and then strain into a large bowl. Stir in lemon juice. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely before freezing.
You can serve this as a sorbet, by pouring the liquid in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions, turn it into gourmet popsicles, or make your own granite.
May 22, 2015
I know we all have our favorite tea or herbal blend, right? My guilty pleasure is our Fog Tea, a high grown green tea from China with delicate aroma and citrus note that make it a refreshing drink. My day is not complete without having at least one cup of this tea. It was the citrus note that gave me the idea of giving my favorite tea a new twist. Now I add a squeeze of lemon which only heightens the citrus notes and turns the old favorite into a new and satisfying cup!
To give you some ideas of how to put a new spin on your favorite, let’s look at some of the following:
Chamomile – the tension tamer with a hint of orange. An herbal that is perfect for frayed nerves and a perfect cup at the end of the day. Complement these attributes with the taste of orange and not only create an interesting flavor, create a stronger relaxing blend. Did you know that researchers have found that simply smelling a sweet orange can lower anxiety in moments of stress?
Green Tea and Cranberry Juice – Who says you always have to blend a tea with a tea? In this case, we boost the antioxidants in tea with the vitamin C in cranberry juice. Research has shown that vitamin C can actually increase the antioxidant absorption. Simply brew your green tea as usual, pour over ice and add 2 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice.
Hibiscus and Coconut Water – a mix that will keep your blood pressure in check. According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, mildly hypertensive people who drank three cups of hibiscus tea daily for 6 weeks, lowered their blood pressure as significantly as they would have by taking some hypertension meds. If you add coconut water , the potassium will keep the blood pressure stable by reducing the negative effects of salt.
These are only a few ideas and I am sure you will come up with some of your own recipes. If you do – we’d love to hear from you…..
May 18, 2015
Today we are tackling the three “O’s” and what exactly the represent in the tea vocabulary:
1. OXIDATION – It is an important step in the processing of black and oolong teas. During the oxidation process the tea is left to darken. This is also sometimes called “fermentation“, but technically this terminology is incorrect since fermentation implies the use of enzymes converting sugar molecules into carbonic gas and alcohol. Tea, on the other hand is oxidized – a process during which the oxygen in the air reacts with the chemicals in the tea leaf, turning it from a fresh green color to a dark brown. Black teas are 100 per cent oxidized, while oolong teas will have a lighter oxidation, ranging from 5 to 70 per cent, depending on the type of oolong produced.
2.ORTHODOX – This term refers to the traditional method of tea manufacturing that uses hand-picking, or machines that mimic hand-picking. It typically begins with the withering process during which the leaf is wilted. Then the leaf is placed in rollers that bruise and shape it before the oxidation process (for black and oolong teas). The tea is then fired and graded by leaf size. Orthodox processing is used for only a small portion of the global tea production. Most teas, especially those used for tea bags and iced tea, are produced using the machine-based CTC method (cut-tear-curl). Orthodox teas tend to be a bit pricier but better preserve the leaf’s integrity and characteristic.
3.ORANGE PEKOE – Contrary to common belief, this is not a tea varietal or an orange flavored tea. Orange Pekoe is a tea grading term that refers to the leaf size and quality and not to any flavor. It is part of a grading system seen mostly in India and Sri Lanka and is only used for the grading of black teas. An Orange Pekoe represents a whole leaf tea. This tea contains no tips or unopened buds and is uniform in appearance.
The origin of the term is somewhat obscure and it is believed that Dutch Traders implanted this term in reference to the Royal House of Orange in Holland.
The term is often seen abbreviated on tea boxes, showing up as OP or BOP (broken orange pekoe), FOP (flowery orange pekoe).
At Souvia we even carry FTGFOP’s (Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) – but loosely translate it as
FAR TO GOOD FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE!
May 15, 2015
We always get the question about caffeine content in tea and how tea is actually decaffeinated. So I thought, I’d summarize the important points an put them together in this blog.
All decaffeination processes use a solvent to dissolve the caffeine and then remove the solvent from the tea. All methods leave some small amount of caffeine behind
Two different methods are commonly used decaffeinate tea:
Chemical (Methylene chloride or Ethyl acetate )
Super Critical Carbon Dioxide (CO2 method)
Many commonly available teas are decaffeinated with chemical methods. These methods involve extracting the caffeine directly or indirectly with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. In both cases, the tea leaves are moistened to allow the caffeine to be removed and then the non-caffeinated water is added back to the leaves. Methylene chloride is reported to be the most effective but in very high doses studies have shown it to be a carcinogen.
Ethyl acetate is another compound used to extract caffeine from tea. Ethyl acetate occurs naturally in tea leaves, coffee, bananas, and other types of produce. For the purposes of the decaffeination process the Ethyl acetate is synthetically produced. While ethyl acetate effectively removes caffeine from tea leaves, it can also extract other chemical components as well. Studies on green tea decaffeinated with ethyl acetate have shown the potential for up to 30% of epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG-considered to be the primary beneficial component in green tea) and other beneficial antioxidant compounds to be extracted along with the caffeine.
Highlights of the Chemical Methods
- methylene chloride is very effective at removing caffeine
- At very high does it is a carcinogen (no carcinogenic effect at low doses)
- Tea leaves are moistened to remove the caffeine
- According to studies, Ethyl Acetate removes up to 30% of the antioxidants in green tea
Uses highly pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) the gas that adds bubbles to mineral water to dissolve caffeine from tea leaves. At high pressures CO2 makes an effective solvent. In its pressurized state, CO2 is pumped into a sealed chamber containing tea, where it is allowed to circulate to remove the caffeine. From there, it is pumped into a washer vessel where water or activated charcoal is used to separate the caffeine from the CO2. The purified CO2 is recirculated into the pressurized chamber. This process is repeated until the appropriate amount of caffeine has been removed.
Highlights of the CO2 method
- does not leave a chemical residue
- has a minimal effect on the flavor and beneficial compounds in tea. (For example, CO2 leaves
- intact approximately 95% of the original EGCG content of green tea)
- Generally costs more than the Chemical methods
For the decaffeinated teas available at Souvia, the CO2 method has been used. Since decaffeination does not remove the caffeine 100% and if caffeine content is a problem for you, we recommend switching to herbals such as Rooibos which are absolutely caffeine free!
Antibiotic – a blessing because they save lifes in case of bacterial infections – a curse – because they have been overused to the point where our immune system has become resistent to them!
Did you know that Mother Nature actually has a wide array of botanicals with antibiotic properties. These plants can treat infections without causing havoc on your intestinal and immune health.
There are three kinds of bacterial infections: Systemic, localized and synergistic bacterial infections.
Systemic Herbs – can be helpful in treating systemic infections, i.e. resistant staph, MRSA, tuberculosis and malaria. One such example is Artemisia (Artemisia annua)
Non-systemic Herbs – these herbs treat resistant infections of the GI tract, urinary tract and skin. Goldenseal (hydrastis canadensis) belongs into this category and is particularly active against most food poisoning bacteria such as E Coli and salmonella.
Synergistic Herbs – these herbs increase the activity of other herbs. The following three will boost inactive resistant bacteria mechanisms, increase the presence of anitbacterial agents in the body and enhance immune function : Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Black Pepper (Piper nigrum).
For more information on natural antibiotics, take a look at Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book “Herbal Antibiotics” (Storey Publishing, 2011)
May 11, 2015
Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), often called Redbush Tea, is technically not a tea since it is not derived from the tea plant , Camelia sinensis. This small shrub with soft needle-shaped leaves is found only in the Cedarberg mountains in the western part of South Africa near the Cape of Good Hope.
The leaves are harvested in the summer, which corresponds to January through March in South Africa. The processing takes mostly place outdoors where the leaves are spread out , watered down, raked into heaps and then left to “sweat”. During this process, the leaves change to the typical reddish brown color and obtain the sweet flavor, Rooibos is known for. After the sweating process is completed, the leaves are spread out again and left to dry in the sun. Before packaging, then now finished leaves are cleaned and graded into different quality standards.
Much like green tea, Rooibos offers many health promoting qualities. It has similar beneficial antioxidant properties as tea, but without the tannins or the caffeine. It is also contains minerals, such as iron, potassium and zinc. In Africa, Rooibos has been used and recommended to treat insomnia, upset stomachs and colic in infants. Rooibos also helps lactating mothers to increase milk production. Topically, it can be used as a moisturizer and has shown to be effective in soothing eczema and similar skin disorders.
How does Rooibos taste? Slightly sweet with woody and earthy undertones. While it is not necessary to sweeten it, adding a little honey or raw sugar can complement the natural flavor. Rooibos is one of the few herbals thatÂ pairs well with milk.
To make an infusion, use 1 heaping teaspoon of Rooibos in 6 oz of boiling water. Steep for 5-8 minutes. (but even if you forget the time, like I often do, Rooibos is very forgiving and will never turn bitter if over-steeped!
By the way, kids love the mellow taste of Rooibos, especially in combination with a berry or tropical fruit flavor. Iced it is a much better choice than soda or juice for kids of all ages!
Give it a try….
May 9, 2015
Herbal medicine is gaining more and more popularity as an alternative to support conventional medical treatments or to simply maintain health and wellbeing.
While research is ongoing, herbal products are becoming more and more mainstream and are available in health food stores and specialty retailers. They come in many forms, accommodating the preference of the customer – from teas, capsules, syrups, lotions to liquid extracts. By far the most common method to take herbals is to make a tea, infusing the leaves, flowers or fruits with boiling water and letting them steep. Herbal infusions are gentle, easy to make at home and soothing when you don’t feel well.
However, not all phytochemicals dissolve in water and therefore the infusion method may yield the best results. Another, more effective method of extraction is to prepare a tincture – also called herbal extract. Not only do you end up with a more concentrated herbal medicine, you will also get a product that delivers herbal medicine in a standardized way, meaning with every dropper full, you get a similar amount of the active ingredient. Herbal extracts are alcoholic or water-alcohol solutions, prepared from fresh or dried botanicals. Vegetable glycerin is another solvent that works great for those who want to avoid alcohol or to make tinctures for children.
One of the oldest and a very easy way to make a tincture/herbal extract in your kitchen is called the “simpler’s method” which uses parts as a measurement. A part is a unit of measurement that can be interpreted to mean, tsp, cup, ounce, pound, etc., but always keeps the relative proportions of the herb consistent.
- Begin your tincture preparation by placing dried or fresh herbs in a glass jar and pour enough alcohol (clear grain alcohol like Vodka is best) over the herbs to cover them completely. Usually the ratio is 1 part herb to 5 parts of alcohol. Close the jar with a tight fitting lid and place it in a warm and dry place.
- Let the herbs soak for four to six weeks, shaking the jar daily to prevent them from settling on the bottom of it.
- Strain the herbs into a container and fill the liquid into small bottles and label these with the herb’s name and current date. If stored in a cool, dark place, the tincture will keep three to six years.
You can prepare single herb tinctures or with a little knowledge blend different herbs into a medicine that targets a specific problem. For example, combine Echinacea and Elderberry for an immune strengthening tincture or blend Skullcap and Lemon balm to soothe frayed nerves. If you would like to learn more about herbs and how to use them, check with your Souvia Tea Consultant for the latest seminars and workshops.
Olivia Wingert, Co-owner Souvia Tea™ and passionate herbalist
May 8, 2015
This Mother’s Day, forget the pancakes or waffles and instead surprise her with breakfast in bed and these delicious scones. To round up the taste experience, serve a cup of our Rose Marzipan tea!
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp sugar, 1/4tsp salt
2tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 pinches cinnamon
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup cream
1 tsp. rose water and a good handful of rose petals (dried or fresh)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and blend thoroughly. Cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir cream with rose water. Rinse rose petals and pat dry. Cut into a chiffonade of about 2 tbsp. Stir into cream and add liquid to dry ingredients and stir to form a soft dough.
Drop dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake scones for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Let scones cool slightly and dust with confectioners sugar before serving!
May 4, 2015
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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!