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April 30, 2012

“May 5th is National Herb Day”

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:43 am

Herb Day is a coordinated series of independently produced, public, educational events that celebrate the importance of herbs and herbalism. Herb day was conceived of by the Herb Day Coalition – a group of five nonprofit organizations that have interest in these areas – to raise awareness of the significance of herbs and the many ways they can be used safely and creatively for health, beauty and culinary enjoyment.

The HerbDay coalition is comprised of the American Botanical Council, United Plant Savers, the American Herbal Products Association, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the American Herbalist Guild.

The first HerbDay was held in 2006 and since then the first Saturday in May is designated as HerbDay.

Each year one particular herb gets to be in the spotlight and this year it is the “rose”. Not only a beautiful flower that is revered for its beauty, the rose has been an ingredient in beauty and health products for centuries.  Follow my blog this month, and learn how to use rose in a culinary, cosmetic and medicinal way!

And don’t forget to stop by at Souvia on Saturday, where we celebrate HerbDay with 20% off on all herbals and herbal blends, tea samples and a chance to win a special gift basket!

 

 

April 13, 2012

Some like it “hot”….Some like it “iced”!

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 9:20 am

Cool, Refreshing and HealthyThe temperatures here in Phoenix are still pleasant, but the inevitable summer heat is just right around the corner. Many of my tea-loving customers have already  switched to the cooler version of tea and drink it iced!

The creation of  iced tea had its beginning at the World Fair in St. Louis, MO  in 1904 where trade exhibitors from around the world clebrated the 101st  anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. Richard Blechynden, one of those exhibitors  was an Englishman who owned a tea plantation in Sri Lanka.  He wanted to give away free hot tea samples to promote his product. Unfortunate for him, a heat wave rolled in and nobody wanted his hot tea, but was looking for something more refreshing.  Since ice was another featured item at the fair, Blechyndon took the opportunity and poured his tea over bits of ice and served the “new” drink to the thirsty visitors. Iced tea gained in popularity and today about 80% of the tea consumed in the U.S. is iced tea.

Making iced tea from loose tea leaves is simpler than ever and may even have higher levels of antioxidants than bottled teas (a recent UCLA study found “no measurable catechins (an antioxidant) content at all” in two popular mass market bottled iced teas).   In addition, when you make the tea you control the sweetness and the freshness.

To make ice tea from loose tea, all you need is a pitcher, tea filters (“t-sac”),  and of course a good tea.   There are two methods to make iced tea: the hot method and the cold method.  In both recipes you’ll need 1 teaspoon (about 2 grams) of loose tea for every 6 ounces of water.  To make 2 quarts you will need just over 10 teaspoons of tea.

Cold brewing method– using 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).  Cold brewing is easy and makes for a very nice smooth taste

Hot Brewing method – bring water to the temperature appropriate for the tea you have selected (boiling is fine for black and Rooibos but allow the water to cool 1 minute for green tea brews).  Steep as appropriate for the respective tea varietal.  Remove the leaves promptly and allow to cool and serve over ice.

Many teas and herbals are great iced. Nilgiri from India is one of the best iced black teas if you are a purist and Rooibos (caffeine free) is rich in minerals and therefore a great way to replenish electrolytes. Rooibos is also very low in tannin which gives it a smooth flavor that especially children like. To add a little variety, try some of our special summer flavors like “Lemon Soufflé, Banana Split, or Razzleberry!

Regardless which tea, tools and technique you choose, preparing your own iced tea has never been easier.  More and more studies indicate that tea is a healthy drink and iced tea is a great way to enjoy tea.