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October 28, 2013

Chado – The Way of Tea

Filed under: Green Tea,Tea Culture,Tea Enjoyment — wbwingert @ 8:52 am

The holidays are just around the corner and many of us are already planning meals and  family get-togethers. Holidays are filled with many wonderful ceremonies and rituals, some unique to an individual or a family, others unique to a particular culture.

What would Thanksgiving be without the turkey, Christmas without a tree, or Hanukkah without a menorah?

 

Just like these traditions are kept alive and passed on from generation to generation, tea has a long history as well; and in many countries it makes up an important part of the culture. Asian tea ceremonies, for example, emphasize the use of all five senses conveying the message that the experience of taking tea is meant to be a journey rather than a destination.

 

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This summer, my husband and went on a vacation to China and Japan where we not only explored the many historic places and sights and the great food,we also had the opportunity to spent time at the famous tea village Long Jing (Dragonwell) in Western China and learned all about the Matcha production in Nishio, Japan, where we were invited by one of our suppliers to tour their tea plantation and production facility. Aside from breathtakingly beautiful views, we were reminded of tea’s long history and its important role in celebrations and hospitality.

In China, where tea was first discovered about 5000 years ago, it became so popular that traditions surrounding the preparation developed and special teapots and cups were created to drink tea. The most well known ceremony is the “Gong Fu” ceremony. Gong Fu means skill derived through practice and experience. Using special tea pots and tiny cups, this ceremony focuses on the quality of the tea itself and only the best is offered to an honored guest. We were served Gong Fu tea on several occasions and enjoyed the attention to detail in both, preparation and serving of the tea.

Matcha is prepared using special stone mills under carefully controlled conditions

Matcha is prepared using special stone mills under carefully controlled conditions

In Japan, we learned the art of making Matcha, the finely ground tea powder that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony, chanoyu. This very artistic and detailed ceremony was developed under the influence of Zen Buddhism and has its focus on the appreciation of simplicity, beauty and harmony – to which tea is merely the vehicle.

Quality is of importance and shows in the intricate and meticulous harvest and production method of Matcha green tea. The tea plants are grown in gradually reduced sunlight over the period of one month. Only the new leaves are picked and depriving the tea plant of sunlight makes these leaves thinner, more tender and produces a fresher, deep green color cup.

 

While the preparation and serving of tea may vary by culture, the essence, or meaning behind each ceremony is the same. Chado, the way of tea, is about appreciating the simple things in life, about taking time to focus on present moment and about spending time with friends.

We hope you take time during this busy holiday season and create your own tea ceremony – enjoy a cup of Souvia tea alone in reflection, or in the company of friends and  loved ones.

October 25, 2013

Tea – Stimulating and Calming!

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

 

Honeybush

When people first come to tea, they often arrive from the world of coffee.?  Many are either trying to avoid caffeine altogether or seek an alternative source for there morning cup.  This leads to inevitable questions about tea and caffeine.  As this is a topic of interest to many, I always educate myself through reading (remember – Google does not equal research!), obtaining further education through Specialty Tea Institute webinars, the World Tea Expo, and consultations with herbalists and naturopaths.

A couple of points to keep in mind as you search for answers about tea and caffeine.

All tea contains caffeine

  • How the tea is brewed and the leaves you start with dramatically affect the caffeine in your cup
  • Tea is one of the very few foods that contain L-theanine – an amino acid that can counteract some of the caffeine effects
  • Caffeine in tea tends to be absorbed more slowly than caffeine in coffee

L-theanine kicks in 10-20 minutes after consumption.  The net results is a reduction in some of the less pleasant physiolocial effects of caffeine without a loss of a popular benefit – mental alertness.  This is why tea is said to be stimulating yet calming.

 

October 21, 2013

Tummy Tamers

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

 

It’s the season again….the season of festivities, friends, good food, drinks and scrumptious desserts! Halloween candy, Thanksgiving turkey and holiday cookies. Everything is in abundance and who can say no to butter-rich mashed potatoes or that second piece of pumpkin pie – a la mode, of course!  To combat those gastric ailments that usually follow overeating, try some of the following herbs that are known to deal with the mess that too much gravy and pie leave behind.

GINGER

Ginger is great as a digestive herb. One of its most well known uses is for nausea and for settling an upset stomach. Ginger is an aromatic and carminative herb which means that it helps move along a stagnant digestion with symptoms of  bloating, gas and bad breath. It is also a powerful anti-microbial herb which fights pathogens in the digestive system as well, thereby preventing food poisoning. (one of the reasons why fresh ginger is served with Sushi!)

FENNEL
Fennel is a carminative herb which dispels gas and promotes digestion. I can tell you from experience it the herb that you will find an just about any German household. It is safe and therefore great for children and even colicky infants. The anti-spasmodic properties help with bloating and uncomfortable cramps due to gas. Like ginger, fennel is also anti-microbial.

DRIED ORANGE PEEL

Orange Peel has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. According to the principles of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the orange peel is used to transform phlegm in  the Lungs or the Spleen and to drain dampness. From a western perspective, orange peel stimulates the digestive fire.

Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret suggests to use these three herbs as a tasty and tummy taming after dinner treat. This recipe is easy and you will get all ingredients at your grocery or spice store.

  • 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger…
  • 1 tablespoon dried orange peel powder
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds

Mix it all together and serve it after your Thanksgiving Feast !  Alternatively, or in addition too, you can also serve Souvia’s Balance Tea as an after dinner digestive. With ingredients like ginger, fennel, cardamon and licorice, it will quickly bring relief to an upset tummy!

 

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2013

More Fall Teas Coming to Souvia – Don’t Miss Out….

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

Autumn Tea

 

The first half of our fall menu has been well received. Tranquilita, an herbal blend of chamomile, apple, cinnamon and   Pumpkin patch with fruit flavors of fall are among the customer favorites.

But we are not done yet! Today we are introducing:

Cinnamon Delight –             a rooibos with sweet and spicy cinnamon flavor; perfect to warm you up n a cool fall day

Honey Ginger –                      green tea blended with warming ginger root and a kiss of honey

Lychee –                                   maybe not a typical fall flavor, this traditionally scented Chinese black tea is a must try. Make a great iced tea too!

Pumpkin Pie –                        Yes – it is finally back  – our customer’s favorite blend must not be missing in this year’s selection. It’s a dessert in a cup

where you definitely want seconds!

Maofeng Tranquility –     for those purists among us, who like it simple but sophisticated; this premium Chinese “hair-point” style tea is

sweet with notes of chestnuts.

Can’t decide or want t find out more, come visit the store or check out our “New and Seasonal” tab on the website!

October 7, 2013

Extinguish that Heartburn with Meadowsweet Elixir!

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

 

 

Many of my customers complain about digestive problems and heartburn ranks at the top of the list. Whether it is the occasional burn after a heavy meal or whether you are looking to treat more chronic conditions of acid reflux.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is the herb of the month at Souvia….and a great herbal remedy for many digestive problems. Perfect to soothe stomach pains, nausea and poor digestion, it is especially helpful for those who cannot tolerate ginger or find it too warming. Meadowsweet removes stagnation (think food that just sits in your stomach) and neutralizes stomach acid and extinguishes that fire from heartburn.

You can simply drink a cup of Meadowsweet tea between meals and before bed, or make an elixir that will keep and is readily available when you need. it. The following recipe is by herbalist Rosalee de la Foret:

Ingredients: 100g  (or roughly 2 cups) dried meadowsweet

400 ml vodka (50% is best)

100ml vegetable glycerin

Place the meadowsweet herb in a jar and add the vodka and glycerin. Shake well and let the mixture macerate for 4-6 weeks. Check it daily because the flowers will soak up the alcohol and glycerin and may not be covered anymore. In this case take a spoon and press the flowers until they are below the liquid again.

Once the herb is done macerating, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. (squeeze thoroughly!) Now you can bottle and label it.

A standard dose for adults is 30-60 drops as needed.

Meadowsweet is safe for most people, but should be used with caution by

  • children under 16 who have the flu or chickenpox symptoms (because the herb contains salicylic acid like aspirin and can cause Reye’s syndrome)
  • people with asthma (may stimulate bronchial spasms) and people allergic to aspirin.

I hope you  give it a try and would love to hear how it has worked for you!