April 2010

In our last blog post (Caffeine in Tea) we talked about caffeine and my stand on the benefits of drinking tea with caffeine. I have come to learn from listening and talking to many visitors at Selby Gardens and at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market that for some people it is impossible to drink caffeine, perhaps because of medications (therefore doctor’s instructions) or just a simple intolerance in the body.

So, where does that leave us?

At Local Tea Company we have many fruit and/or herbal infusions or Tisanes to choose from. There is simply no excuse not to drink great caffeine free tea these days.

Selby Select Rooibos from Local Coffee + Tea

Notice I said CAFFEINE FREE not de-caffeinated. Whilst not ‘true teas’ made from Camellia sinensis, there is no caffeine to be removed.  De-caffeinated tea must go through a process to remove the caffeine that naturally occurs in tea leaves.   And no method removes 100% of the caffeine, so the beverage still has up to 5% caffeine content.

I try to stay away from the process of removing caffeine from tea for two reasons, flavor and reduced health benefits.  The two traditional methods to decaffeinated tea use either ethyl acetate or carbon dioxide.  Both are wet processes, so the dry leaves are moistened and then either rinsed with ethyl acetate and then drained, or under high pressure with carbon dioxide and evaporated.  Upon drying, the flavor is reabsorbed into the leaves.

There is still uncertainty about how these methods alter the polyphenols and the antioxidant properties in tea.  In my opinion, the health benefits have been compromised and I seek teas with maximum health advantages.  So, I turn to botanicals, that is herbal or fruit infusions also referred to as tisanes.

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a bush originating from the Western Cape province of South Africa.  Rooibos has an impressive list of vitamins and minerals and is therefore packed with anti-oxidants.  I like to say Rooibos works against ATB or ‘all things bad’.  Great hot or iced, I enjoy Rooibos in the late afternoon or evenings.

Local Tea Company carries 8 unique Rooibos teas and is our most popular category.  Selby Select is our ‘home tea’, and we have added an Organic Red Rooibos as well as an herbal Rooibos to celebrate Bertha Palmer, pioneering Sarasota woman.

Chocolate Honeybush from Local Coffee + Tea

Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) is a definite favorite at Local Coffee + Tea especially for evening time. This is a very soothing and calming tea with a unique cedar or sandalwood flavor.  Also, Chocolate Honeybush is a great option to satisfy the after meal cravings for something sweet.

Then there are the fruit infusions like Peach Paradise Organic Red Berries or Mote Beach Tea (created to honor Mote Laboratories here in Sarasota)  Vibrant and refreshing beverages all, especially iced.  Excellent alternatives to sodas or other sweet beverages, especially for children.

Herbs like Egyptian Chamomile, the best loved sleepy tea and Ginger Root, the world’s most used spice or my personal favorite, Hibiscus.  See why in a post from last summer.

There really is a tea for all occasions and personal tastes. Try blending your very own caffeine free beverage with some of these amazing teas. If you discover a winner be sure to let us know so we can share!


The TeaLady

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The debate about the amount of caffeine in tea compared to coffee has been ongoing and does not seem likely to stop any time soon. There are many conflicting reports about dry weight versus brewed, water temp, steeping time, etc. What we know for certain is that there is caffeine in tea and reports all agree the most caffeine is found in black tea.

Harrogate Yorkshire Black Tea

Should you be drinking tea with caffeine? Scientific studies to date have also been contradictory with no conclusive evidence that caffeine causes or exacerbates illness or medical conditions.

I am going to share my theory on the subject. This is my personal view and what we share with our visitors at Local Tea Company, where we showcase teas WITH caffeine.

Caffeine is naturally found in the leaves of camellia sinensis giving the plant a built in defense system deterring insects from eating the leaves due to the bitter taste of caffeine.

However, not all caffeines are equal! I am a great advocate of caffeine in tea because the leaf also contains another very special component called L- Theanine, an amino acid which works in conjunction with caffeine to provide your body with a powerhouse of benefits.

Caffeine alone will enter your bloodstream very quickly and stimulate the beta brain waves (fight or flight!). In tea the L-Theanine follows right behind to stimulate the alpha brain waves (relaxation!) effectively canceling out any negative behavior of caffeine alone. In conjunction, the process unfolds slowly giving you a relaxed alertness that will last for several hours.  Think of the monks alert, but calm and imagine what might happen if they drank coffee all day.

L-Theanine also creates lots of energy (which in turn helps burn calories!). Tea should be used as part of a healthy lifestyle to achieve best results but I can certainly say it has worked for me. Drink a cuppa for some energy.

Here is how my tea day unfolds…..

I like to drink tea with caffeine throughout the day, usually starting with black during the early morning, something bold like Yorkshire Harrogate and switching to the gentler greens like Goji Green.  I have found that black tea is not good for me late in the day unless I want to stay awake all night! Of course we have some amazing caffeine free teas (Yes, caffeine free not de-caffeinated and probably my next post!) for afternoon/evening time for those that cannot tolerate caffeine at all.

Flowering Pomegranate Green Tea

We are all different and metabolize caffeine at different rates, so work on what is right for your body and lifestyle. No need to despair when an alternative is required.  So let’s drink to ‘true tea’ as often as our bodies will allow and enjoy the benefits of this amazing beverage.


the TeaLady

Our “Name that Tea” contest ended late yesterday with over 250 entries including one at 11:45pm.  Great ideas and great names to go with a great loose leaf green tea with rose petals and cherry blossoms.  We thank everyone for participating.

Soon to be Named Green Tea

Now the hard part, trying to pick a winner.  But first, the prize list.  To the person or team submitting the  for the winning name for our new tea will recieve the following…

  • Ceremonial first cuppa with paparazzi present,
  • $5 gift certificate from Wet Noses (at Sarasota Farmer’s Market),
  • 1 box of toffees from Courto’s Katas (at Sarasota Farmer’s Market),
  • 1 Empanada from Pepernata Pasta (at Sarasota Farmer’s Market),
  • 1 Strudel Stick from Strudel’s at (at Siesta Key Farmer’s Market),
  • 1 Bag of Popcorn (at Siesta Key Farmer’s Market),
  • 1 cup of coffee from Java Dawg Coffee (at Sarasota Farmer’s Market),
  • and ofcourse the winner will recieve an overstuffed packet of the fabulous tea they just named.

All very tempting and designed to elicit envy from your tea naming friends.

Next, we need some more help.  Below is  list of the top 10 names culled from a long list.  Your imput is welcome.  We will award prizes to the most clever comments here or on our Facebook Fan Page.

  1. Rose Fusion Green
  2. Sakura Rose
  3. Garden Green
  4. Cherry Smile
  5. New Spring
  6. Rose Verde
  7. Cherry Delight
  8. Sakura Cha
  9. Cherry Jubilee
  10. Cherry Surprise

We will announce the final winners in our April “Think Out of the Bag” Newsletter that will go out on the 15th.  Thanks again for playing “Name That Tea”.