May 17, 2013
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 13, 2013
Gyokuro is produced near Kyoto, Japan, around the famous tea-growing town of Uji. Literally translated, gyokuro means “pearl (or jade) dew and it is considered ofÂ Japan’s most highly prized teas.
Gyokuro is a very high-quality tea that is processed in an unusual way. In early spring, as the first growth ofthe season is about to begin, Gyokuro is shaded under marsh-reed screens or cloth covers for three weeks.
The deprivation of sunlight increases the tea’s chlorophyll content while mellowing and sweetening the flavor of this steamed green tea. Only the precious top leaves are ultimately used in the making of Gyokuro.Â Due to the special handling, Gyokuro tea is quite expensive but well worth the extra cost.
The dark green leaves of a Gyokuro brew up pale green with a surprisingly vibrant aroma anda smooth, sweetly vegetal note. This tea is less bitter than many of its green tea cousins.
In order to obtain the best quality, it is recommended to use a water temperature of only 165 degrees and steep the leaves for a minute or less.Â To get to the 165 degrees, simply allow the boiling water to cool for about 1-2 minutes before pouring it over the leaves.
A one-of-a-kind taste experience you should not miss!
May 10, 2013
This Sunday, celebrate all Moms for the wonderful things they do …. with a special cup of tea!
M is for the Moments she wiped away my tears O is the Opportunity she gave me through the years T is for her Thoughtfulness in everything she does H reminds me of her Heart that’s always filled with love E is the Encouragement that is given out for free R is for Reliable – she’s always there for me
Author: Rebecca Curran
and don’t forget – Mothers are like tea kettles – up to their necks in hot water, but they still sing!
May 6, 2013
Nettle (Urtica dioica)Â is by far my favorite herb and I drink a cup of nettle/dandelion tea first thing every morning. Not only is nettle rich in vitamins and minerals (calcium and iron), it is also a great herb to support the detoxification process of your liver.
While nettle is mostly recommended as a tea or tincture, there are many ways this herb can be used in your kitchen, Â for example as a replacement for any leafy green vegetables in your favorite recipes.
An easy and tasty way to prepare nettle is the following pesto recipe which I found in an herbal magazine.
6 cups (125g) fresh nettle (blanched in boiling water for 1 minute) – or dried nettle
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped,
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan, asiago or romano cheese
1/3 cup virgin olive oil, salt, pepper
Place the nettle, pine nuts, parmesan and a little salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend the mixture until it is smooth. Then gradually add the olive oil until it is well distributed.
This pesto is greatÂ with your favorite pasta or on grilled chicken breast.!
Pesto will keep for up to one month in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
May 3, 2013
Just like wine connoisseurs, tea aficionados appreciate the difference in aroma and taste of teas, which is dependent on factors like harvest time, growing region, soil texture and climate. Single origin teas can therefore have subtle changes in their character from year to year or region to region. Many tea drinkers also enjoy the consistency of a blend and count on their favorite English or Irish Breakfast blend to have the same flavor profile each time they buy it. No matter how we like our teas and what we appreciate in particular,somebody has to evaluate and ascertain their quality.
The daily tea production is cupped and evaluated by professional tea tasters in a very structured way. During this process, the tea tasterexamines the color and feel of the dry and infused leaf, the aroma of the infused leaf and finally the color and flavor in the cup.
- Cupping begins with measuring the tea. The dry leaves are laid out in rows on the tasting bench. The taster weighs a specific amount of each tea and places 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.
- Boiling water for black teas, and slightly cooler water for green and white teas, is poured over the leaves which are then allowed to steep for 3-6 minutes depending on the type of tea.
- The infusion is then poured into tasting bowls and the infused leave is collected on the lid of the brewing mug.
- The tea taster will compare the aroma of the infused leaf to the aroma of the infusion and finally taste the tea to assess its character and particularities. He noisily slurps the tea from a spoon and makes sure that all taste buds are engaged before spitting the tea into a container.
Tea tasters taste hundreds of samples of different teas and tea blends every day. It is a task that requires keen senses and a refined palate – something that is cultivated over many years. Â 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 experts will tell you that they are still learning and refining their skills.
At Souvia, you can catch a glimpse of what tea tasting is all about. If you would like to get a “taste” of the world of tea and learn how to cup like a pro, attend our Tea 101 class - interactive, fun and informative. The last tasting before the summer break will be on Sunday, May 19th!
April 29, 2013
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 26, 2013
Â Yerba Mate is an evergreen shrub that grows in many parts of South America. As a beverage, it is a favorite in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Â Most Yerba Mate is green, although roasted Yerba Mate is also available and gaining in popularity. In South America, it is served in a hollow gourd with sweetener and milk. The brew is then suckedÂ up through a filtered straw called bombilla.
With its slightly smokey, vegetal and bitter taste, this brew takes some getting used to as a self-drinker (without adding milk and sugar), but it combines well with other herbs and spices. It can be made hot or cold.
Yerba Mate special properties include many vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants. Unlike other herbals, it does contain caffeine. Aficionados swear by the energy boost it gives without the jitters and anxiety often caused by coffee.
To make an infusion, use 1 heaping tsp dried leaves in 1 cup (8oz) of freshly boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes or longer if you like it strong. (no worries about over steeping!)
April 19, 2013
In my last blog entry I mentioned that eating certain foods, such as pears can help moisten tissue – something especially important for us desert rats. Something else you can do to keep your skin moist and supple is to treat yourself to a weekly facial. No need to run out and spend a fortune on expensive cosmetics. All you need for this nourishing mask, you probably already have at home in your kitchen …….and what you don’t have you’ll find at Souvia!
You will need 1/2 fresh avocado (approx. 1/3 cup)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp. lavender flowers
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. then spread the mask onto your face and neck and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse well with warm water.
This mask is perfect for extra-dry skin. Both honey and avocado are naturally moisturizing and lavender is soothing to all skin types!
Looking radiant and beautiful is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with this simple recipe!
April 15, 2013
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!
April 14, 2013
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