February 2009


I was asked again this week about Chamomile tea and as this has never been one of my favorite teas. I thought it was used as a sleep aid, and I just had to find out why it is such a popular beverage.

Well, I found some information that has really perked my interest and I might even be contemplating adding Chamomile to the pot!

The Chamomile plant (Matricaria recutita) is native to Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean region and has a long history as a mild botanical. It is safe to use for long periods of time without any adverse effects, although you are as always advised to consult your doctor.

Science Daily cites a study where researchers found over a 2 week period chamomile tea drinkers experienced increased anti-bacterial activity in their urine. In simple terms this means that chamomile can boost your immune system and fight illness.
The study also found an increase in amino acids that help alleviate muscle spasms and relax nerves.

Chamomile can people suffering from stress, spasms and cramps as well as intestinal discomfort and the reduction of gas. It is recommended that you drink chamomile tea after meals to alleviate these symptoms.

Can I be converted to a Chamomile drinking tea lady? Perhaps, now that I know how this herbal tea can be used.
The Tea Lady

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While sampling our iced Earl Grey, a customer told me she had read that Bergamot was bad for you.

How can the most popular flavored tea in the world possibly have an ingredient that is bad for you, I thought? Wanting to prove that theory very wrong I found some interesting facts.  Though I’ll tell you about our iced Earl Grey later.  

Bergamot is a small, pear shaped citrus native to SE Asia but now commercially grown in Calabria, Italy.  The fruit thrives in the calabrian coast and is the symbol of the region.  Like most citrus, I am sure it makes an excellent marmalade, though my Key Lime marmalade would be hard to top, but I digress. 

Used in half of women’s perfumes and in aromatherapy to treat depression and aid digestion, I couldn’t find much negative press. Extract from the bergamot plant was used in sunscreens but was banned in 1995, this did  not make sense to me, then I found comments that bergamot blocked absorption of potassium in intestines. Why would it be used as a digestive aid then?

I found that various North American plants of the mint family are also called bergamot due to their fragrance. One was used to make a beverage by the American Indian Oswego tribe and was adopted by the 18th century colonists during their boycott of British teas! We won’t get into that now though!

The worst info I found was that Bergamot has been used in Witchcraft. Maybe it cast a spell on all those people who think it is the best tasting tea ever! Are you spellbound?

Cheers,

The Tea Lady

 

 

 

On Sunday dawned the day I was to serve tea to the biggest tea party I have ever been involved with! This was definitely a first in my tea journey.

The occasion was to celebrate and give thanks to the Associates of Selby Gardens, all 110 of them and a bunch of tea lovers to boot! Not only that, they wanted the “Champagne of tea” Darjeeling. We selected a beautiful tea from the Tukdah Estate which was a first flush TGFOP. I just could not mess this one up!

So, my dilemma.   How to serve the perfect tasting, piping hot cup of tea to all these people? How much to make, what time to start brewing? When it boils down to it (sorry!) you just have to replicate what you do best when you are making tea for two. So that is just what I did, along with some helpers of course.

I got together all the containers (one of these was a Silver Samovar which looked fabulous) we were using, weighed the tea in correct proportions and got the kettles boiling! We steeped the leaves twice, first for 3 mins and second for 6 mins which in my experience gives a well balanced taste. It took one and a half hours to complete the process.

We delivered the tea to another building (no easy fete over the brick paving’s in the garden) where it was decanted into very nice Silver teapots owned by some of the Associates. The tables were served tea in turn as the guests were invited to the buffet table. Each server came back for more and more tea!

It was a brilliant feeling seeing all those people slurping Darjeeling (sorry, associates don’t slurp but you know what I mean) which was hot and tasted perfect too! We had plenty for everyone and very little left which is also good.

It was great to receive such good comments and no negatives. Then you start to ask yourself, why did I worry so much?
“If you say you can, you will” is a great motto and one which is working well for me this month, stir in a little love and you have the perfect cups of tea.
So, if you are planning a BIG tea party call yours truly.
The Tea Lady

February certainly got off to a busy start in my tea world!

Last Thursday we had our first Tea Appreciation course at Selby Gardens as part of the Sarasota County Adult Learning Education Program.  From the second floor of the Payne Mansion with a wonderful view of Sarasota Bay, with the sun dazzling on the water and shining on the Ringling Bridge. 

Does this sound amazing?  It was!
The picture perfect tea morning, bright and sunny but on the cool side for us wimps in Florida. 
I had 16 lovely ladies attend. (Come on you tea loving guys, there must be some of you out there!)  During our 90 minutes together we tasted 6 different teas; 2 black, 2 green and 2 herbals.  We discussed origin, processing, preparation and health benefits of each tea. There was time for lots of questions and some lively discussion about brewing the perfect cuppa.
 
I must not forget to thank my excellent cha walla Michael, who served the tea in true airline stewardess fashion!  In Indian families ‘cha walla’  is used as a term of endearment to encourage a fellow member of the family to make the tea.   Also a term used in the film “Slumdog Millionaire”  for the hero Jamil Malik but not with the same endearment!

The ladies, as ladies are wont to do then proceeded to our Tasting Room to sample 3 more teas.

During the afternoon we had 3 more ladies attend and had an “unplugged version” of the same class. Very up close and personal but just as much fun. A brilliant start to the month.

Watch this space, we are planning more Tea Appreciation and other Tea associated classes in the coming months and it would be great to have you join us.

Cheers,

The Tea Lady 

At our booth at the Downtown Sarasota Farmer’s Market, someone asked for Holy Basil tea. I was not familiar with this tea and did some research that you may find interesting.

Holy Basil or the Tulsi plant is called Holy as it is an important symbol in the Hindu religion.  Tulsi means “the incomparable one’ and the plant is worshipped morning and evening, a Hindu household is considered incomplete without a Tulsi plant.

Apart from the religious significance of Holy Basil, the plant has many medicinal benefits. In Ayurvedic medicine it is termed “the elixir of life” as it promotes longevity, in other words it has antioxidants which help boost the body’s ability to fight those nasty free radicals which cause disease and aging. It is also an adaptogen that helps the body fight stress by balancing the mind, nerves and emotions and maintains health of the respiratory tract.

 Initially I was curious why this customer wanted this tea.  When I learned about the spiritual nature of Holy Basil, I could understand the importance of this tea and was thrilled to learn a bit more about another aspect of this beverage we love called tea. 

Cheers,

The Tea Lady