January 22, 2016
October 30, 2015
While not quite noticeable here in Phoenix, fall has officially arrived. It has always been my favorite time of year with the brisk morning air, the changing colors of leaves and the overall slowing pace of life. Fall also brings the taste of warming spices such as cinnamon, clove and ginger which find their way into many foods and drinks. It is the time for apple pie, ginger snap cookies and a cup of Chai.
During the past decade, Chai drinks have taken the United States by storm, and there are many blends and recipes available on the market today. Generally, if you order a Chai here, you will be indulged in a cup of spiced black tea, with or without milk – in India, however, you will simply get a cup of black tea.
The reason is that in India as well as many Eastern European countries, Chai is the word for tea. It is derived from the Mandarin word “Cha”, also describing tea, which is still used in Japan and China today. While in India, people refer to all tea as Chai, in the Southern part of the country, a cup of chai is prepared in the British style, with sugar and milk. In the Northern part, however, people like their tea flavored with spices and call it “Masala Chai”.
Legend tells us that it was the chef to the royal king of India who first created this tea by scenting it with exotic spices from his kitchen like nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. The king, entranced by the unique and wonderful taste announced that this drink would from now on only be served in his court and he forbade the chef to divulge the ingredients to anyone. Long after the king’s death, however, the recipe filtered down from the royal family to aristocracy and then to the masses, with each group adding and deleting spices to their taste, including cinnamon, pepper, fennel and more.
Today, the combination and amount of spices varies, but cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper are usually part of the traditional blend. Other recipes may include, ginger, cumin or coriander.
It is a little like a chili recipe – while there are certain main ingredients that are common to every good chili, recipes vary and each chef may have a secret ingredient to create uniqueness. Masala Chai recipes also vary from region to region and the proportion of spices is typically the secret of the preparer. Nowadays there are even blends that deviate from the traditional black tea base and use green tea, a blend of black or rooibos .
If you want to prepare Masala Chai from scratch, choose a good whole leaf black tea from India or Sri Lanka since these teas have the body to stand up to the spices you add. Other ingredients include at least four spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, pepper, fennel, etc.), water and milk. Place the tea and spices into cold filtered water, bring everything to a boil and simmer for 3-7 minutes. Strain the tea and add warm milk and sweetener to taste. For a richer Masala Chai, boil and simmer the spices directly in milk.
To usher in the fall season (regardless of temperatures), visit us at Souvia and ask for a sample of our traditional masala, green or red chai!
Olivia- Chaiwallah at Souvia Tea
July 24, 2015
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.
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 sucked 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!)
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.
April 6, 2015
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!
September 8, 2014
Some herbs to boost
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Widely used in Traditional
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Chase that cold away
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Latest Tea Menu
Please visit our
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Wrapping up Summer
Just read a column in the Wall Street Journal that pointed out how August has changed from a relaxing month to one of back-to-school preparations and other hustle bustle. In Europe, August is still a popular vacation time but here, school seems to start earlier and earlier and the traditional Labor Day end-of-summer milestone is a faded memory that is now a month into the school year. The heat drags the energy out of us and it seems only our dogs know that it is best not to fight it and just slow down a bit.
Coming up in September:
Stay Healthy Through the Cold and Flu Season with elberberries!
This week I saw the first signs advertising “Flu Shots” reminding me that the season for cold and flu is just around the corner. According to the Center for Disease Control, flu season starts to peak in November and continues to peak through April. Therefore, it is a good idea to start strengthening your body’s immune function now so that it can better fight of those nasty viruses later.
While there are many herbs to help treat cold and flu symptoms and to shorten the duration of an illness, one deserves special attention:
Elderberry (Sambuccus nigra) is Mother Nature’s version of the flu shot and may 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 40 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.
Alternatively, elderberriescan be taken as a tincture which is also very easy to make. Important is to start the tincture early since it takes six to eight weeks before it is ready for use.
2 cups dried Elderberries
80 proof or higher alcohol (I prefer vodka)
Quart size Mason jar with tight fitting lid
Place the dried berries in the jar and add enough alcohol to cover the berries. Macerate the berries until they are quite soft and the liquid is dark purple. Finish by adding enough alcohol to fill the quart jar until an inch from the top. Place the lid on the jar and label it with name of herb and date. Gently shake contents and keep in a dark cabinet for six to eight weeks. Strain the alcohol from the berries using a cheese cloth. Fill the liquid into tincture bottles, label them and keep them in a cool dry place.
Take one dropper full 3 – times per day to give your immune system a boost!
* Elderberries are safe and can be taken over extended period of time, however due to the use of honey, refrain from giving the syrup to children under the age of 1
Dear Souvia: I understand that there can be naturally occurring fluoride in Tea. Do I need to be concerned?
Not, really. The good news is that you would have to drink 100’s of cups of tea – Dr. Weil article on the topic here. http://ow.ly/nnVni
Does tea contain caffeine?
Yes, tea contains caffeine, but even though a pound of tea contains the same amount of caffeine as a pound of coffee, less tea is needed to brew a cup of tea and, therefor,e the caffeine content per cup is considerably lower than that of coffee. According to a Canadian Health report, a 6 oz cup of regular coffee contains approximately 100mg of caffeine, while 6 oz of tea contains only about 24 mg of caffeine. The amount of caffeine can vary significantly depending how long it is brewed and the style of leaf.
Is High Tea the same as Afternoon Tea?
No. The Afternoon Tea Tradition started in the 1800’s when Lady Bedford had an Afternoon snack prepared to tide her over until dinner. High Tea was so-called due to the high tables it was often served on. It was a full meal and not like anything served at a typical Tearoom. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are very different things.
Thanks for Reading…
Thanks for reading this month. We hope you’ll visit us in the store, at one of our partners or online soon. If you can’t get in, remember… we ship orders over $50 for free the same day and your tea will arrive quickly!
November 21, 2011
Matcha makes a smooth brew
Matcha, 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 matchaÂ 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 chlorophyllÂ content in the plant. It is the high cholorphyll contentÂ 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.Â Only ground tencha can be called matcha, powered green teas made from other varietals, like sencha, are known as konacha â€“literally meaning â€œpowder teaâ€.
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.Â Drinking matcha exeeds the nutritional value of a regular cup of green teaÂ since the whole leaf is consumed, and not just the tea-infused water.Â 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 EGCG in other commercially available Â 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 â€œL-teanineâ€. 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.Â 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 GREEN TEA LATTE recipe that will have you wanting more or visit us at Souvia for a matcha sample.
- 1 teaspoon of matcha powder
- 1-2 cups of hot milk (can be substituted with soy, rice , almond milk)
- Â½ tsp cinnamon, chocolate flakes
May 20, 2011
April 9, 2011
January 17, 2011
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