July 2010


July is National Ice Cream Month so with the help of Chef Maryna of Local Catering we used some of our new Matcha Green Tea to make Green Tea Ice Cream.  We are still working on packaging for bulk sales, so our Matcha is only available in drinks at our shops.  But there are many culinary options Maryna and I will be exploring with Matcha Green Tea and ice cream seemed like a good place to start.

Once you discover the wonderful world of home-made ice cream your life as you once knew it will change forever.  Since starting Local Catering, an extension of Local Coffee + Tea, Chef Maryna’s culinary world has continued to expand.  I have introduced her to our menu of teas, and the magic of camellia sinensis.  Maryna grew up in South Africa, so she has leaned towards our selection of Rooibos.  She is exploring ways integrate tea into her dishes and ice cream sounded like a great place to start.

 Here is the recipe we followed for Matcha Green Tea ice cream.
Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs Matcha tea powder
6 Egg yolks

Directions:

1.  Separate the egg yolk from whites in a large bowl.  Add sugar and Matcha, then whisk until incorporated.
2.  Heat cream and milk in a saucepan until it comes to a boil.
3.  Remove milk from heat then slowly add 1 cup of hot milk mixture to the sugar-egg mix, whisking vigorously to prevent eggs from curdling.
4.  Add mix back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and whisk to combine.
5.  On low heat (do not boil or it will cook the eggs and you will end up with Macha scrambled eggs!) continue stirring until the temperature reach 170 degrees.
6.  Pour mixture into a clean bowl and let it cool on an ice bath in the refrigerator until completely cold (about 30 minutes).
7.  Follow your ice cream machine directions and spin ice cream for about 20 minutes.
Pour into a container and freeze until set (about an hour).  Scoop and…..yum!

So what makes Matcha so special?  The vibrant, emerald green color of the powder is attributed to some very careful cultivation. The Gyokuro Japanese tea plant variety is shaded by bamboo mats several weeks prior to plucking forcing the tea bush to produce more chlorophyll creating a supple, rich green leaf. The youngest, tender shoots are then hand plucked, steamed and dried. All stems and veins are removed before the leaves are stone ground into a fine powder.

There is no tea that is as celebrated or as famous as Matcha. The tea first appeared in Japanese tea manuals sometime during the 12th century, making it one of the country’s most ancient varieties and used in the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries. It was believed tea was a gift of the heavens and held great restorative and spiritual power on earth. The development of the tea ceremony or Chanoyu began as a way for people to show reverence to this power and was practiced by the Buddhist monks who drank the tea for meditative properties during long religious ceremonies. See blog post on Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Drinking this greenest of green teas, or enjoying Matcha Green Tea ice cream, you are consuming the whole leaf and will drink 100% of the polyphenol nutrients contained in tea leaves.  This gives Matcha the label of healthiest natural beverage in the world today. Along with the nutrients you will receive a good dose of energy for wakefulness combined with lots of amino acids for relaxation. A truly great combination of ingredients which we can all benefit from today.

Visit our Siesta Key shop or the cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for a Matcha Latte, also excellent with soy milk and a bit of honey.  Or celebrate the summer by making some Matcha Green Tea ice cream at home.

Let’s continue with our iced tea series and look at another very popular tisane here at Local Coffee + Tea. I will follow the same format and break down the featured ingredients so you can appreciate the delicious blend of flavors and the benefits provided with Peach Paradise.

I enjoyed finding out these details and stories and hope you will too.

PEACH PARADISE

A beautiful all natural fruit blended Tisane or fruit infusion made from peach and apple pieces, hibiscus blossoms, elderberries, rose hip peel, passion fruit and sunflower.

Peach Paradise

Peach (Prunus persica)

This tree is native to China but grown in the Mediterranean states as well as the USA, where the 3 largest producers are California, South Carolina and Georgia. The peach blossoms are highly prized in Chinese culture and the fruit is symbolic of long life. Due to its delicious taste and soft texture in ancient China ‘peach’ was also slang for ‘young bride’ and it has remained in many cultures as a way to define pretty young women ( peachy or peachy keen ). Low in calories and a good source of healthy carbohydrates the peach contains important nutrients, anti-oxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids (good for eye health).

Apple (Malus domestica)

Containing anti-oxidants, flavonoids and pectin a natural fiber (apples being the richest source) which has recently been shown to act against bad cholesterol, decrease the chances of colon cancer and reduce high blood pressure.  Quercetin which is primarily found in Apples (and Black tea) belongs to a group of plant pigment flavonoids that help fight disease.

(The term ‘The Big Apple’ was coined by the touring jazz musicians of the 1930’s who used the slang expression ‘apple’ for any town or city, therefore to play New York City was to play the big time.)

Citrus Peel (C. medica)

The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. Citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and powerful antioxidants that belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids, which have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Hibiscus Petals (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family and it brings a sweet mellow taste and harmony to this blend. Hibiscus has become very popular to blend with other fruits and flowers because of the beautiful color of the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body and is high in Vitamin C also having some calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron. In Folklore medicine Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic.

Rose Hip Peel (Rosa canina)

From the Wild Dog Rose which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs.  Estimated to be more than 10,000 cultivated roses the medicinal species are natives of Europe, the Rose hips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection and for this reason they are often called “false fruits”. The nutrient value is as rich as their color and they enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

Peach Paradise should be prepared using one teaspoon per 8 oz of water. Fruit tisanes do release quite a lot of flavor so you may need to experiment until you find your personal preference. Use boiling water and an infusion time of up to 12 minutes, the longer the tea is infused the more depth of flavor and color will be achieved.  The spent bits can be added to yogurt for a bit a flavor and texture. 

I have blended with our Nilgiri black tea for delicious iced tea. Don’t forget if you are placing over ice then increase the amount of tea or reduce the amount of water. Add a slice of succulent peach to finish and enjoy!

Cheers,

the TeaLady

I just returned from a holiday in Bermuda (which was really fantastic!) and could not believe the heat and humidity that greeted me on arriving back in Florida. For those of you who are struggling with some high temps right now (and probably for the rest of summer here in Florida) lets cool off with some refreshing iced tea!

When we talk of iced tea most people immediately think of black tea but there are some great herbals or tisanes available that make refreshing, healthy beverages for all the family. We have some favorites at Local Coffee + Tea and I would like to share them with you during the coming weeks.

Red Berries

RED BERRIES

Red Berries is an all natural blended Tisane or fruit infusion made from hibiscus flowers, elderberries, bilberries, grapes and citrus peel. This tea has a distinct refreshing berry flavor and bright cherry liquor which is perfect iced. Let’s break down the list of ingredients and look at the benefits they can provide us.

Hibiscus Flowers (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family and it brings a sweet mellow taste and harmony to this blend. Hibiscus has become very popular to blend with other fruits and flowers because of the beautiful color of the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body and is high in Vitamin C also having some calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron. In Folklore medicine Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic.

Elderberry (Sambuca nigra)

This is a wonderful fruit that strengthens your respiratory tract by helping to remove phlegm and mucous from the lungs and fights and reduces inflammation. A strong respiratory system is your best defense against allergic reaction in the future. Elderberry contains high amounts of Vitamin C and A, can be used as a gargle for throat and tonsil infections or for soothing coughs and colds. I used to collect Elderberries from the hedgerows as they make a superb wine and in fact hot elderberry wine is actually an old English cold remedy.

Black Currants (Ribes nigrum or ‘black ribes’)

The berry of this shrub, which is mainly found in Northern/Central Europe and Asia is used for the astringent flavor and very high anti oxidant levels especially Vitamin C. It also features a rare nutrient called GMA or gammo linoleic acid which is an Omega 6 essential fatty acid (for more information go to a site called http://www.Blackcurrants.com)

This is a favorite flavor of mine as black currant juice was a very popular cordial during my childhood. The bush thrived in the English climate and became a huge source for Vitamin C during World War 2 when Oranges were impossible to find. The popularity continued and the sweet tart taste is still enjoyed in jams, jellies and desserts to this day.

Not as well known in the USA, this fruit was banned in early 1900 as the plant co-hosted a fungus that was attacking the pines and therefore potentially threatening the logging industry. The Federal ban was lifted in 2003 and black currants are now making a comeback in NY, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon.

Citrus Peel (C. medica)

The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. Citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and powerful antioxidants that belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids, which have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Rose Hip Peel (Rosa canina)

From the Wild Dog Rose which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs.  Estimated to be more than 10,000 cultivated roses the medicinal species are natives of Europe, the Rose hips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection and for this reason they are often called “false fruits”. The nutrient value is as rich as their color and they enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

When preparing Red Berries use 1 teaspoon per 8oz serving. Heat the water until boiling and steep for anything up to 12 minutes. You may find that 3 minutes is as long as you require this tea to infuse, the longer the tea infuses the darker and stronger the liquor will become but it will never have the bitterness you associate with over infused tea leaves, remember this is a Tisane. To serve iced you can double the quantity of tea or half the water and pour over ice.

At Local Coffee + Tea we serve this tea hot around the Christmas holidays and is really is delicious with a cinnamon stick added too.

Red Berries is naturally caffeine free and suitable for all ages but makes a great healthy, colorful drink for children and will make great ice pops too! Try adding seltzer water and slice of lime for a different twist. Let me know if you have a special creation using this blend.

Stay cool AND healthy with this amazing tea.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

Something new is brewing in the Local Coffee + Tea Carriage House at Selby Gardens.  I want to share with you my recent experiences about a fascinating TEA called Kombucha.  While we do not sell this tea, or really any of the accessories other than our loose leaf tea, Kombucha is part of my tea journey.  

I have been buying and drinking a store bought Kombucha for some time. It is quite expensive to drink in the quantities I would like to enjoy so I wanted to try and make my own. I have lots of fabulous tea available so what’s to stop me making my own, right?

Not quite so straightforward.

Let’s look at some background about the tea and what you need to start up your own little Kombucha factory!

I read some interesting information during my research and like Camellia there is different stories about when it was first discovered but all agree Kombucha has been used as an elixir in eastern lands for centuries. One record goes back to 447AD when a Korean physician named KOMBU very successfully treated a Japanese nobleman with the elixir.

From here the elixir became popular in Manchuria (you may see it referred to as Manchurian tea) and then Russia.

The name is derived from Kombu, the physician and Cha, the eastern name for tea!

Kombucha is a FERMENTED tea which is made using a colony of bacteria and yeast, commonly called a ‘mushroom’. A more correct term is SCOBY which is a ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’.

During the process of fermentation sugar is broken down by yeast and converted into CO2, various acids and compounds which give the beverage a very unusual and characteristic flavor.

One of my main reasons for wanting to drink more Kombucha is of course for the health benefits. I have always felt it brought balance to my digestive system especially, but it seems there are many more great benefits. On a site ‘Benefits of Kombucha’ there were 56 listed! It seems the main ones relate to digestion, acid reflux, and weight loss, more energy in the morning, better sleep, post work out recovery, reduction in severity of hangovers, helping skin and skin tone.

Whether you believe all of this or not doesn’t mean Kombucha is not good for you and besides it is so much fun!

How to get started?

Firstly you will need a ‘SCOBY’ or mother culture. I was given one by a Kombucha maker and I am also trying to start another from a bottle of the store Kombucha (more on that in a future blog!)

Sterile conditions are a must, both hands and utensils.

  1. A 1 gallon glass container
  2. 6 teaspoons of a LCT loose tea. We have a batch of Pu-erh fermenting and also a Chunmee taipan.
  3. 4 liters filtered water
  4. 320g refined sugar
  5. 400ml of finished Kombucha. I had this given with my culture but you could try using some of bottled Kombucha as I am trying.

Boil water and dissolve sugar. Brew tea for 15 mins and cool to room temp before adding culture. If tea is too hot the culture will die.

Cover with paper towel, fine mesh cloth and fasten with elastic band to prevent flies etc.

Keep out of direct sunlight but warm. 74-80 degrees is best. Do not move around.

When ready the liquid is drained into clean bottles with air tight tops and allowed to mature for 5 days. This creates more effervescence in the beverage. Keep in a cool place.

Don’t forget to save some finished Kombucha for your next batch or to store your culture. The culture will have grown a baby and can be split at this stage to start another batch.

So there you have it. Please understand at this stage I am complete novice! I will keep you posted on progress as I aim to become really good at this and hopefully we can all learn together.

There are many informative sites on the web. I thought getkombucha.com and harmonichealth.com were good but you may find others you like.

Watch this space for more Kombucha news, and do keep us posted if you are learning with us or are already an expert.

Cheers, the Tealady