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July 25, 2016

DIY – Calendula Salve

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:05 am

calendula salve

This is my all-time favorite salve and perfect to keep the desert skin looking and feeling great.  I was first introduced to it by my grandmother who always kept it on hand for us grand children’s “boo boo’s”

Infuse organic olive oil with calendula, following one of the recipes of  previous blog on infused oils.

For the salve you will need:

8 oz calendula  infused oil

1 oz beeswax

10-20 drops essential oil of choice (comfrey would be complementary)

glass jars or tin containers.

Place the herbal infuse oil and wax together over a double boiler, and gently warm over low heat until the wax melts. Remove from heat and add the essential oil. Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely.

Store the salve in a cool location and it will last for several months.


July 11, 2016

Fair Trade – Fast Facts

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:07 am


Have you ever wondered what this certification is all about? There certainly is enough promotion of Fair Trade Products these days and we are often asked for teas that are certified in this way.

Here are some quick facts about what Fair Trade is and how it works.

What is Fair Trade

Fair Trade certification identifies teas produced by gardens  and cooperatives in the tea production. Fair Trade standards  are:

  • Guarantee fair wages and decent working conditions
  • Establish a Fair Trade premium, managed by the workers for the benefit of their community
  • Promote the use of sustainable farming methods that are safer for humans and the environment

How Fair Trade Works

The best tea gardens and cooperatives understand that specialty teas depend on the people and the environment that produce them. Fair Trade Certification verifies and acknowledges the commitment of these producers to meeting internationally recognized standards. For tea, the standards, include:

  • Wages that meet or exceed legally established minimums
  • Absence of forced or child labor
  • Freedom of associations and organizations
  • Safe working conditions, including protection from exposure to harmful agrochemicals

While it is great that there is a label that helps the consumer purchase products that align with their values, it needs to be said that this certification is not inexpensive and smaller tea gardens simply do not have the funds to pay for it. In order to pay proper wages, they have to make a choice to get certified or spend the money on their workers. A tea estate owner in Sri Lanka once explained to me that he provides housing, schools, health care and retirement benefits for all his workers, but chooses not to have his teas Fair Trade certified since the true benefactor is the in most cases the retailer who marks the tea up because of the certification – yet none of those funds ever reach the source.

Trust your tea purveyer to buy from respectful tea growers and ask questions about the origin and production circumstance of the teas offered.



July 5, 2016


Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:10 am



Latin Name:  Hibiscus sabdariffa

Parts Used:  Flowers

Contra Indications: none known

Hibiscus is a beautiful red flower native to Egypt and North Africa. There are over 200 varieties of this plant, most of them are of the “garden” variety and the only species used for tea is the Hibiscus sabdariffa.

Hibiscus has long been valued by Egyptians for its refreshingly tart taste, its cooling effects and is said to have aphrodisiac powers. It is rich in Vitamin A, C and beta-carotene, therefore making it a  good antioxidant.

Medicinally, hibiscus is used in form of tea to treat loss of appetite, to ease symptoms of colds, flus and couhgs. Externally used it can help reduce bruises and swelling.

Lately, hibiscus has gotten much attention because clinical research studies showed that drinking hibiscus tea can lower high blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol levels, thereby helping to maintain overall cardiovascular health.

But aside from its benefits to your health, hibiscus makes a wonderful thirst-quenching iced tea and the ruby red color provides a dramatic effect to many herbal blends and  lemonades.

For an extra cooling summer iced tea blend, mix equal parts of hibiscus and mint (either spearmint or peppermint). Pour boiling water over the leaves, steep for 5-8 minutes and pour over ice – Delicious!

June 27, 2016

Cocoa Rooibos Syrup

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:00 am



A great topping for a delicious Sundae…..


1 1/2 cups organic cacao or cacao powder

1 1/2 cups prepared coconut almond rooibos

1 1/2 cups local honey

1/4 tsp organic vanilla extract

1 pinch sea salt


Stir all ingredients together and bring to a boil. Gently simmer, stirring constantly, until the honey is completely dissolved and the mixture thickens to coat a spoon. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate.

…and don’t forget the cherry on top!





June 20, 2016

Accidental Tea Inventions

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:09 am

It may come as a surprise but both the tea bag and iced tea were not the result of diligent research, but rather the product of serendipitous circumstances – both having their roots here in the U.S.

Tea Bag

It was the American tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan, who is credited with the invention of the tea bag. Thomas lived in New York at the turn of the 20th century. In order to increase sales, he sent his customers generous samples of his teas. Since it was costing him quite a bit of money to do this, he came up with the idea to filling small silk bags with single servings of tea. His customers not only liked this new way of sampling tea, but started to place orders for the silk sachets. He may not have intended it, but Thomas Sullivan created a whole new way to prepare tea – a way that would be adopted not only in the United States but in Europe as well.

Iced Tea

Iced tea is the most popular way of drinking tea here in the United States. About 80% of all tea consumed her is iced, but we would have missed out this refreshing beverage, had it not been for a hot summer day in 1904. It was the year of the St. Louis World Fair, where tea merchant Richard Bleychynden was promoting the latest teas – black teas from India. Since temperatures were soaring, he did not have much luck enticing passersby to try his samples. Realizing that a cool refreshing drink, might be more popular, he poured his freshly made tea over ice and served it in glasses….and the rest, as they see, is history!

June 13, 2016

Tea Flavores – Natural vs. Artificial

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:10 am

This is a question, that I get frequently from customers. So I think it might be a good idea to re-publish this blog and shed some light into the flavoring mystery!

There is much confusion and mismarketing out there in regard to tea flavoring and we often get questions by curious or concerned customers in regard to how and with what our teas are flavored. The terms most often used in the tea industry to classify flavored teas are “natural” and “artificial”.  In its simplest form, the term natural flavor is used to describe a product, which is derived from the actual fruit or spice, such as natural vanilla extract or natural bergamot oil as is used to flavor Earl Grey teas.  Not every plant, fruit or spice lends itself for this kind of flavoring and therefore many other levels of flavoring are available:


A product that is derived from the essential oils or extracts of the actual product whose function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.


If the tea contains both the natural flavoring from the product it simulates and other natural flavors which reinforce the characterizing flavor, the food may be labeled as “with other natural flavors”.


These flavors have raw materials that are found in nature. The molecular structure of nature-identical are the same as natural flavors but have been synthetically produced. They are metabolized in the body just like the natural product would be.


Any flavor synthetically reproduced which has raw materials that cannot be found in nature or are nature-identical, but their use is permitted by law. Artificial flavor agents may not be metabolized as natural or nature- identical products.

As for the labeling, all products labeled “natural” in Europe would also be natural in the U.S. as well. Under the laws of the Food & Drug Administration, European products labeled “nature-identical” are considered artificial and must be labeled as such in the U.S..

Even though, many teas contain dried fruit and spices, additonal flavoring is necessary to enhance and extend the shelf life of the flavor.

Aside from flavored teas, there are those that are scented, like lychee or jasmine. These teas are scented by adding fresh or dried flowers and the essential oils of these flowers are absorbed by the tea leaf, creating a strong and long- lasting flavor without any other additives.

If you have questions about what flavors are used in your tea, always ask your tea purveyor!

Reference: G.S. Haly Company

June 3, 2016

June is National Iced Tea Month!

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:00 am


Souvia in Mexico


As the thermometer  reaches triple digits, a nice glass of iced tea can certainly bring some refreshing relief!

Did you know that 80 per cent of all tea consumed in the United States is indeed Iced Tea?


We would have missed out on this refreshing beverage, had it not been for a hot summer day in 1904. It was the year of the St. Louis’ World Fair, where tea merchant Richard Blechynden offered free samples of Indian black teas which had up until then been relatively unknown in the U.S.. With temperatures soaring, he did not have much luck since the last thing people wanted was a cup of hot tea! Realizing that a cool, refreshing beverage would probably find more interest, he filled glasses with ice, poured the tea over them – and iced tea was born.

Today, iced teas are no longer made with teas from the Indian Assam valley or the Darjeeling district which Mr. Blechynden tried to market at the World Fair. Instead, the iced tea and bottled tea industry procures a lower quality tea from Argentina and often sweetens the teas, adding unwanted calories.

To get the best quality, make your own iced tea, using loose leaf tea. The teas have so much flavor that you won’t need to add any sugar and the quality will convince you too!

May 2, 2016

Rose-Scented Sugar

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 9:34 am


Mother’s Day is not to far and  very  roses are chosen as the expression of our love and admiration for Mom.

While a bouquet of roses will wither, this home made gift of rose sugar will last and impart its fragrance on many cups of tea Mom will enjoy.

RoseScented sugars can easily be made the same way the Europeans have been making vanilla sugar for years. For one pint of rose-scented sugar you will need the following:

  • to prepare scented sugar, use a clean pint jar with a tight fitting lid. Fill the jar about 1/3 full with sugar and scatter a small handful of very fragrant rose petals over the sugar
  • Cover the petals with sugar so that the  jar is 2/3 full, add another small handful of flower petals and cover with sugar to fill the jar, leaving about 1/2-inch head space.
  • Shake the jar and place on a shelf in a cool, dark place. The sugar will be ready to use in 2-3 weeks and will become more flavorful with age. As the sugar is used , add more plain sugar which will take on the fragrance in the jar.

You can also decorate the jar, create a fancy label and voila, you have a special gift for a special occasion!



April 29, 2016

Lemon and Fennel Muffins

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:15 am


Fennel is a very aromatic and tasty herb and an excellent digestive aid. If you feel bloated and gassy, try chewing on sume fennel seeds or have a cup of fennel tea. Growing up in Germany, fennel was always recommended by doctors for colicky babies and truly worked wonders.

With the following recipe from Katherine Gould you can not only soothe your tummy, but treat your taste buds as well!



2 medium lemons, juiced

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup brown sugar

1tsp vanilla

2 cups grated fennel bulbs and chopped stalks

2 1/4  cups flour (you can use a gluten free flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Combine lemon juice with apple sauce, canola oil, sugar, vanilla and fennel ina bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour baking powder and salt. Gently fold this mixture into the wet ingredients. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake  20-25 minutes until golden brown.

These muffins will make a great breakfast choice!


April 25, 2016

African Red bush – An Exotic Drink That is Good For You!

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — wbwingert @ 10:10 am

 Roooibos, redbush, bush tea

While much has been written about the benefits of tea, especially green and white teas, Rooibos (Roy-boss) has only recently stepped into the spotlight as more scientists are seeing its benefits and are studying this marvelous brew, discovering its various benefits and health properties.

Even though Rooibos (Red Bush) is commonly referred to as tea, it is in fact a Tisane. The description tea is reserved for infusions made from leaves of the evergreen shrub Camellia Sinensis. The Rooibos tea plant (Aspalathus linearis), on the other hand,  is a unique wispy bush found only in a small part of South Africa’s  South Western Cape region. The infusion made the prepared leaves has been enjoyed for centuries as both a beverage and a health tonic by the local indigenous population and is now gaining in popularity worldwide. Â

Medical Science is only beginning to discover the many physical benefits of Rooibos, but findings indicate that Rooibos is a broad spectrum antidote to the daily stress of our lives. It is a naturally caffeine free and can therefore be enjoyed at any time of the day and in unlimited quantities. It is an ideal drink for children!

Calming and Soothing

Rooibos has a soothing effect on the nervous system and can be helpful in treating nervous tension, mild depression and disturbed sleep patterns. Its antispasmodic properties have long been known to relief stomach and digestive discomfort in adults and children.

Healthy Skin

Skin irritations such as eczema and acne are significantly relieved by direct application of Rooibos onto the affected area. The anti-oxidants in Rooibos are great for your skin, something the cosmetic industry has found out is increasingly using Rooibos in skin preparations to help improve skin complexion.


Rooibos contains essential minerals for several metabolic functions and due to its low tannin content, it increases iron absorption. It does not have oxalic acid and can therefore be consumed without concern by individuals with kidney stones. The potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, fluoride and sodium make Rooibos and ideal beverage to replenish electrolytes.

A perfect drink to stay hydrated here in the desert!

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