July 31, 2015
Lavender is showing up more and more – and not just in beauty products, but also in the kitchen. It is a great culinary herb and lends many baked goods a fragrant note. has. Instead of baking, try a new cocktail recipe using a dash of this scent of the Provence!
The dry astringent fragrance of lavender is perfect with a botanical spirit like gin as I did in the following martini recipe.
Use 4 sprigs of fresh lavender or 4 tbsp. of dried flowers
1 1/2 oz gin
1/ ounce dry vermouth
In a cocktail shaker, mix the lavender flowers with the gin. Add the vermouth, shake with ice and strain into cocktail glasses. You may want to double strain the mixture to remove all of the lavender buds.
Garnish with lemon peel and a lavender sprig if you have one at hand.
Find a comfy chair, put your feet up and let the RELAXATION begin!
July 27, 2015
Lemon Balm and Passion Flour are wonderful herbs and their calming, soothing properties make them a great sleep aid.
But aside from its sedating effects, Passionflower was used by many Native American tribes for wound healing.
We blended both herbs to create a wonderful healing salve that you can easily make in your kitchen. All you need is
Put olive oil in a crock pot and add dried herbs. Heat on low for 3-4 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer and return to the cleaned crock pot. Set on low. Heat beeswax separately until fully melted. Immediately add melted beeswax into crock pot and mix well.
Pour into small glass containers and keep lids off until salve becomes solid!
This salve is packed with anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is great for the treatment of cuts, scrapes, minor burns, bug bites, eczema, chapped lips, cold sores, sunburn and muscle cramps. You it can also help with headaches and migraines when applied to the temples.
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!)
July 20, 2015
If you thought Matcha, the green tea powder from Japan, was just for drinking – you’ll be in for a surprise.
Like White tea, Matcha is valued for its high content of antioxidants and therefore a great addition to skin care products.
This exfoliating and nourishing Matcha Scrub (for face and lips) is easy to make and fun to use. All you need are:
2tbsp. white granulated sugar
1tbsp. olive or coconut oil
1/4 tp. Matcha powder
2 drops peppermint oil or vitamin E (optional)
Whisk sugar and Matcha until well blended, then slowly add oil while whisking steadily. Once all the oil is incorporated, add the peppermint and vitamin E oil.
Apply scrub gently using a circular motion on face and rub onto lips. Rinse off, wash face with gentle cleanser and apply a light moisturizer.
Your skin will feel refreshed and smooth!
July 17, 2015
Formosa was the name originally given to Taiwan by the Portuguese sailors who where struck by the beauty of this island. (“Ilha Formosa – or beautiful island”).The exquisite oolong teas from Taiwan are still referred to by this name.
Most Taiwanese teas are grown around the northern end of the island in the Taipei, Tao Yuan, and Hsinchu regions.Taiwan’s tea industry got its start when Chinese immigrants, longing for their native cup of tea, produced the first Formosa oolong. Today, many tea connoisseurs conoisseurs appreciate the unique hearty flavor of this tea type.
Formosa oolong is about 70% oxidized which gives it the appearance of a black tea. While aromatic, it has no astrigency like most black teas and produces floral, peachy and somewhat nutty flavor in the cup. This tea is good for those seeking a less bitter or astringent cup. The leaves are brownish-green and brew into a pleasant golden color.
Formosa oolong is a nice complement to sweets and it is enjoyable as an afternoon tea with scones and tea cakes. It also is great after a meal with dessert. Because of the milder flavor, it is recommended to not add milk to this tea.
Formosa oolongs are often overlooked due to all the attention the greener, high grown oolongs are receiving in the media, however you are really missing out if you have not sampled this amazing tea!
July 13, 2015
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is by far my favorite herb and I drink a cup of nettle/dandelion tea first thing every morning. Not only is nettle rich in vitamins and minerals (calcium and iron), it is also a great herb to support the detoxification process of your liver.
While nettle is mostly recommended as a tea or tincture, there are many ways this herb can be used in your kitchen, for example as a replacement for any leafy green vegetables in your favorite recipes.
An easy and tasty way to prepare nettle is the following pesto recipe which I found in an herbal magazine.
6 cups (125g) fresh nettle (blanched in boiling water for 1 minute) – or dried nettle
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped,
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan, asiago or romano cheese
1/3 cup virgin olive oil, salt, pepper
Place the nettle, pine nuts, parmesan and a little salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend the mixture until it is smooth. Then gradually add the olive oil until it is well distributed.
This pesto is great with your favorite pasta or on grilled chicken breast.!
Pesto will keep for up to one month in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
July 10, 2015
On my morning walks with the dogs, I noticed how many of my neighbors have beautiful rose bushes in their yard. Roses are not visually nice, but they can be used medicinally and in a culinary manner. (provided they have not been treated with harmful chemicals). Here, for example, is an easy recipe for a rose vinegar.
The rose has been cultivated for centuries for a myriad of uses. Wild varieties have been enjoyed before man domesticated roses in gardens. Since the beginning, roses have been used in the kitchen, for example in vinegars. Flower vinegars add variety to salads, sauces, mayonnaise, vegetables, even fruit salads. The milder, less harsh vinegars are typically best for this purpose.
Fresh or dried rose petals and vinegar is really all you need to get started. Use clean, canning jars, pint or quart.
Fill the jars about halfway with the roses.
Pour the vinegar into the jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. You may want to use plastic instead of metal lids since a metal lid will corode from the acid. (Cling Wrap will work just fine)
Place the jar out of sunlight for two to four weeks. The vinegar will change color depending on what color roses you use.
After 2-4 weeks, strain the vinegar through a cheesecloth, and pour into clean bottles.
Label them and store away from light.
You can pour the vinegar in decorative bottles, adorn them with handmade label -and voila, you have very special and personal gift!
One way to
July 6, 2015
July is he time when Jasmine production begins. This tea is not only the best known scented tea, it is the tea of choice among many tea drinkers in China – especially the Northern provinces. While White, Oolong and Black teas are also scented with Jasmine flowers, the majority is produced as Green tea.
Since the flowers bloom in summer, making high quality Jasmine teas require fine Green teas harvested in the spring. Those leaves are picked and prepared as Green tea and then kept aside until the Jasmine flowers come into bloom. As the summer progresses, blossoms are also added to teas picked in late spring and early summer, but there is a difference in quality between the two.
The Jasmine tea production is very intricate and involved. For example, the blossoms are picked from about noon on through the early afternoon. The morning dew has evaporated by the time picking begins and the white blossoms are added to tea leaves in the late afternoon to make the most of that time when the flowers open. Even the picking of the flowers requires tremendous skill: open flowers are passed over; buds that are not likely to unfurl that same afternoon will be plucked another day.
Processing steps of Jasmine teas:
1. For a high grade Jasmine such as our Super Yin Hao 1 to 1.1 kg of blossoms are used to scent 1kg of tea.
2. Each round of scenting for high grade teas takes 10-16 hours, during which the laves absorb the natural bouquet of the blossoms. The earlier
rounds of scenting are longer, while the last stages are shorter in duration.
3. In between scenting, there are resting periods extending the total processing period to two or more days, depending on the weather and
quality of the flowers. A Yin Hao would undergo 4-5 stages of scenting.
4. The flowers are removed after each round of scenting – that is a lot of flowers! You can compare 1st, 3rd and 5th grade Jasmine teas by the
quantity of petals left in the tea. Lower grade teas receive fewer flowers in the scenting and the flowers are of lower quality.
So the next time you enjoy a cup of our Super Yin Hao , consider the quality of the tea and blossoms used, how many times the tea leaves were scented and most of all the skill, diligence and patience that goes into the making of these exquisite teas.
July 3, 2015
…are the colors of July! While we are celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks , Mother Nature is creating a delicious firework of berries this month, bursting with color, flavor and of course healthful properties.
Number one berry this month is definitely the blueberry – one of the few foods that are naturally blue! A comination of sweet- and tartness, they make an ideal summer snack and can be used in a variety of recipes.
Researchers have found this berry to be a powerhouse of antioxidants (their antioxidant content is higher than that of kale and broccoli) that may protect our hearts and prevent early aging. Just 3 1/2 ounces of this little berries are enough to cover your recommended 5 servings of fruit or vegetables per day.
I found this recipe (serves 4) for a “Blueberry-Green Tea Slushi” in a magazine and think itwould make a great addition to any 4th of July picnic.
Bring 2 cups water to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute
Add 3 -4 tbsp loose green tea (Japanese Bancha or Chinese Dragonwell) and steep for 3 minutes
Divide 1 cup blueberries between the compartments of an ice cupe tray
Cover with tea and freeze.
When frozen, puree in blender with remaining tea (1 1/2 cups) 1/2 cup water and 2 tsp agave syrup.
Garnish with blueberries and sprigs of fresh mint!
Cheers to your health!!!