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February 26, 2016

Bottled Tea Vs. Loose Leaves

Filed under: Tea and Health,Tea Enjoyment,Tea in Arizona,Tea preparation — wbwingert @ 10:10 am
Tea brewed with fresh leaves is healthiest

Tea brewed with fresh leaves is healthiest

We all know that the less processed a food is the more nutrients it retains.  Tea, like vegetables, retains much more flavor and beneficial properties when it is closest to its natural state. Research re-confirms this fact. The result?  You’d have to drink LOTS of bottled teas, “some contain such small amounts that a person would have to drink 20 bottles to get the same polyphenol benefit in a single cup of tea” says Bill Hendrick in his article on WebMD.

Yet, many big name teas make claims that appear to state otherwise. Well, the FDA took note of that and sent some nasty grams to Lipton and Canada Dry pointing out their improper labelling. Everything from overstating antioxidants to unsupported health claims. Also keep in mind that many of the bottled teas are heavily sweetened, often with High Fructose Corn Syrup.McDonald’s “Sweet Tea” contains 280 calories from sugar in it’s large size.  Taken with the lack of good stuff in the tea, one definitely would want to consider brewing tea at home.

Brewing tea is really easy at home – even by the travel mug to go.  While i drink tea because i like the taste and variety, many are enjoy teas healthier aspects.  Whichever camp you fall into, be informed and watch out for hype and exaggerated claims

December 14, 2015

How is tea decaffeinated?

Filed under: Black Tea,Tea and Health,Tea preparation — wbwingert @ 10:10 am

 

This question comes up in just about every one of our tea tastings and even more often at the store. So I thought it was time to address it here in the blog.

Fact is that 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

CO2 Method

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

Our Souvia Label decaffeinated teas use the CO2 method. We believe this to be the best method for you and for the tea. If you have to or would like to abstain from caffeine, we also offer a large selection of herbal teas, all of which are naturally caffeine-free.

September 25, 2015

Healthy Elderberries

Filed under: herbals and fruit blends,Tea and Health,Tea preparation — wbwingert @ 10:10 am

 

Elderberries can be made into a syrup

 

While there are many herbs to help treat cold and flu symptoms and to shorten the duration of an illness, elderberry (Sambuccus nigra) is Mother Nature’s version of the flu shot and can 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.

Elderberries are safe and can be taken over extended period of time!

 

*(don’t give honey to children under the age of 1)

May 9, 2015

Make Your Own Herbal Extracts!

Filed under: herbals and fruit blends,Tea and Health,Tea preparation — wbwingert @ 11:26 am

rosemaryHerbal 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

January 17, 2011

Celebrate! – National Hot Tea Month

hot tea, phoenix loose tea

It's National Hot Tea Month - Celebrate

No, I am not making this up – January is indeed “National Hot Tea Month”- not surprising, though. Tea is after all the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water. Over the past decade, tea has also experienced a renaissance here in the U.S. and the increasing body of research shows that tea deserves more of a “thumbs up” than a “pinkie up” when it comes to health. It contains a multitude of flavenoids, substances that may act as antioxidants to reduce oxidative damage in the body and help maintain healthy cells and tissues. Drinking tea regularly may promote overall health and well being and potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Tea may be medicine in a cup, but is also a wonderful drink, complex in taste and aroma and with a selection of over 3000 different varieties, there is much to be explored.

Whether you drink tea for health, to sooth you mind, or simply for pleasure, celebrate Hot Tea Month with these ideas:

  1. Try a winter flavor – Ginger, Cinnamon and Cardamom are delicious and warming, or add orange and lemon peel to a black or green tea for a zesty note.
  2. Use good quality tea- Ask a Souvia Tea Consultant and find out why loose leave tea trumps tea bags!
  3. Learn how to make the “perfect cup of tea” – water quality, temperature and steeping time are important factors in preparing tea the right way.
  4. Expand your horizon  – Always stuck with your good old favorite blend? This month, try something new- a silver needle white tea or a Darjeeling oolong. If you usually drink flavored teas, try something non-flavored and if you prefer iced tea, give hot a chance.
  5.  Cook with tea   – Tea is not just for drinking. There are many ways you can incorporate tea in cooking or baking. Add a nice jasmine flavor to rice by boiling it in jasmine tea instead of water.
  6.  Hold a tea tasting – Invite some friends and have them bring their favorite tea, then sample each other’s selections and maybe you’ll find a new favorite!
  7. Nurture yourself  – Take some time for yourself with a nice cup of herbal tea. Rejuvenate with peppermint or relax with a blend of chamomile and lavender

November 10, 2010

Gotcha Matcha

Filed under: Green Tea,Tea Enjoyment,Tea preparation — wbwingert @ 9:46 am

powdered green teaMatcha, the finely milled, emerald green tea powder, has been used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony for centuries. In modern times, matcha has also been used to flavor and color foods such as soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of Japanese sweets. In the west, matcha found its way into smoothies and lattes and is popular because of its rich taste and multitude of healthy nutrients.

How is it made?

While tea is produced in different countries throughout the world, matcha is unique to Japan. It is grown by local farmers using traditional methods from growing to milling.

Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves used to make gyokuro. The preparation of matcha  starts several weeks before the harvest, when the tea plants are covered with bamboo mats or tarp in order to reduce the exposure to sunlight and thereby increasing the chlorophyll  content in the plant. It is the high cholorphyll content  that gives matcha its distinctly green color. After plucking , the leaves are laid out flat to dry. During the drying process the leaves will crumble somewhat and are known as tencha. Tencha is then de-veined, destemmed and stone milled into a fine, bright green matcha powder.  Only ground tencha can be called matcha.  Powdered green teas made from other varietals, like sencha, are known as konacha –literally meaning “powder tea”.

The most famous matcha producing tea regions in Japan are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka and northern Kyushu.

What is so good about matcha?

Matcha is renowned for many health benefits. It is rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants, fiber, amino acids and chlorophyll.  Drinking matcha exeeds the nutritional value of a regular cup of green tea  since the whole leaf is consumed, and not just the tea-infused water.  In 2003, researchers from the University of Colorado found that the concentration of the antioxidant ECGC is up to 137 times greater than the amount of ECGC in other commercially available  green teas.

On the other hand, it is not only the nutritional value that is increased, the caffeine content is also higher than in a regular cup of green tea, making matcha a stimulating beverage that will get you going in the morning.

Matcha, like all shade grown teas contains the amino acid “L-teanine”. Besides giving the tea a sweeter taste, L-theanine also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system which seems to complement the stimulating effects of the caffeine, offering a sustained alertness without the jitters over time

How do I make it?

Use 1 tsp of matcha for each 8oz of water. Traditionally, the matcha is placed in a bowl and hot water added. It is important to make sure that the water is not too hot; 175 F is just about the right temperature. Using a traditional bamboo whisk (chashaku), whisk the matcha until it all lumps are dissolved and a frothy foam starts to build on the surface. A metal whisk will do it in a pinch, but may not produce as mixture as fine and smooth as with the chashaku.  Since matcha can have a slight bitterness, it is typically served with a Japanese sweet.

Instead of the traditional preparation, matcha can be added to any smoothie for a little kick, whisked into hot milk for a delicious latte or added to a milk shake and yogurt.

Try this great smoothie recipe that will have you wanting more or visit us at Souvia for a matcha sample.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of matcha powder
  • 1-2 cups of milk (can be substituted with soy, rice , almond milk)
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 banana
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Put everything into blender and blend at high speed until thick, creamy and smooth and sprinkle with dark chocolate !!

August 17, 2010

Iced and Easy – Iced Tea at Home

Filed under: Tea and Health,Tea in Arizona,Tea preparation — wbwingert @ 8:44 am

Summer is here and the heat is on! Whether you’re at a family BBQ or lying out by the pool the perfect summer drink is a cool and refreshing glass of ice tea.

The unique flavors range from Lemon Soufflé to Tropical Sunset to Sencha Pina Colada, in green, black or white teas.

One of the most important things to do in the heat is stay hydrated and did you know tea can do just that?

A research study conducted at Kings College in London said drinking three or more cups of tea a day will actually rehydrate you.

Drinking this amount of tea a day could actually be as good for you as drinking water. Tea might even be better since it does not only hydrate the body, but also supplies healthy minerals and phytochemicals.

It is very easy to make iced tea at home with loose leaves.

The method that Wingert and Souvia recommend for making your own iced tea at home is Cold-steeping. For the cold steeping method you need 1 teaspoon (about 2 grams) of loose tea for every 6 ounces of water.

Use room temperature water in a pitcher or similar container; add the right amount of your selected tea. Fill the container with water and allow to steep 2-8 hours (overnight works fine). They also prefer using loose leaf tea rather than tea bags.

Wingert says, “Whole tea leaves unfurl slowly in water and can therefore be steeped more than once.” Loose leaf tea is easier, tastier and more economical than most people think!

Here’s some of the modern tea tools in action

September 24, 2007

How is tea decaffeinated?

Filed under: Black Tea,Green Tea,Tea and Health,Tea preparation — Administrator @ 4:57 pm

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:

  1. Chemical (Methylene chloride or Ethyl acetate )
  2. 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


CO2 Method

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


Our Souvia Label decaffeinated teas use the CO2 method. We believe this to be the best method for
you and for the tea. We also offer non-caffeinated alternatives like Rooibos.

June 13, 2007

World Tea Expo – By the numbers

Filed under: Tea Enjoyment,Tea in Arizona,Tea preparation — Administrator @ 4:05 pm

It’s Over!? The Expo and the level 3 Certification.? We’ll all be back in Arizona by tomorrow.? Here’s how this expo stacked up

? 80,000 – the number of steps we took at this weeks activities!

350 – the number of tea and teaware suppliers we visited this week

104 – the numbers of teas we cupped in the last few days

75 – hours spent in training by Gail, bret and Kerstin

15 – the number of letters in a typical Sri Lankan last name

1 – the cool tea gadget we found

? Looking forward to getting back, seeing you all, and sharing what we learned!

? Bret, Gail, Kerstin

June 12, 2007

World Tea Expo Level III Certification Day 1

Filed under: Black Tea,Tea Classes,Tea preparation,White Tea — Administrator @ 6:32 pm

mens room.bmpWe tasted a *lot* of teas today focusing on the Sri Lankan (Ceylon) and Indian teas.? ? The Level III certification includes history, geography and chemistry.? In fact, the Sri Lanakn presentor is a chemist who drew wonderful diagram of not only the processing equipment but alsom explained the chemistry behind teas taste!? We tasted Assams, Darjeelings, Nilgiris and even a White Tea comparable to silver needle.? Amazing

gail takes notes.bmpWe all took lots of notes on the material presented

? kerstin analyzes the tea.bmpEvery cup is meticuously analyzed as we expand our palates!

? Will try to post more tomorrow!

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