August 2010


We made a list  of the 50 best tea blogs.  We are very proud and thought we should share the other 49 with you.  You didn’t think there were 50 blogs about tea?  Enjoy the list here

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We are very excited to offer two new teas to the Local Coffee + Tea menu, both are Matcha powdered green teas.  We have a ceremonial grade as well as an organic ceremonial Matcha

Matcha Powdered Green Tea

There is no tea that is as celebrated or as famous as Matcha (powdered green tea). 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 by the ancient Japanese that 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 and appreciate reverence to this power and was practiced by the Buddhist monks who drank the tea for meditative properties during long religious ceremonies.

From the unique way the tea is produced, to the important place it still holds in the cultural life of Japan this celebrated tea has taken on a whole new power and meaning throughout the rest of the tea drinking world.

So what makes Matcha so special?

This greenest of green teas is a beverage where the LEAVES are consumed, not strained like other teas. You will actually drink 100% of the polyphenol nutrients contained in the leaf, giving 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. I think those Buddhist monks were very smart in recognizing the power of this tea!

Matcha Whisk

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. This forces the plant to produce more chlorophyll and results in 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 which resembles talc.

Fortunately there are no demands on us today to drink the tea only in a ceremonial manner. Matcha can be enjoyed many ways such as cold brewed, hot using water or made into a latte type beverage with regular milk or any of the alternatives.  In an earlier post, I experiemented with Matcha Green Tea ice cream and it was fab.  

However, there are some rules for enjoying the tea when preparing hot. Sift the powder through a strainer to prevent any lumps when water is added. Water should be used when around 180 degrees. If boiled, then it should sit for 2-3 minutes. This allows for immediate consumption when the tea is at peak flavor.

In order to brew in a ceremonial manner you will require a bowl, bamboo scoop and whisk.

Warm your bowl and cup.

Prepare whisk by soaking tip in boiled water for about 10 seconds.

Pour out water and dry bowl. Add 2 scoops of Matcha powder.

Add 2oz water.

Submerge any loose bits floating on surface.

Whisk briskly back and forth until surface becomes frothy.

Consume immediately.

Whisked Matcha

Enjoy this wonderful addition to our tea menu.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

August 15th is National Relaxation Day and we are celebrating at Local Coffee + Tea!

In all of our lives it seems that stress has become a major part of every day and we have simply forgotten how to relax. Stress is also leading to more obesity, heart problems and blood pressure to name a few.

I have a niece visiting from England and it is apparent even in the young, she is 15 years old! It may not manifest in exactly the same way as in adults but never the less they seem to HAVE TO fill their day with one thing after another and no longer know how to simply ‘live in and enjoy the moment’ or RELAX.

For me there is no better way to help mind and body cope than to enjoy a cup of tea (or several in my case!). That is exactly what I am doing at this moment whilst said niece and husband visit Busch Gardens.

There are very good reasons why tea has such good stress relieving properties. All teas made from Camellia sinensis, black, oolong, green and white tea contain a unique and special amino acid called L-Theanine. Researchers have found that L-Theanine appears to play a role in the formation of gamma-amino butyric acid or GABA, which blocks the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin promoting a state of calm relaxation.

Here is how it works! L-Theanine enters your body through the bloodstream but will also trigger the alpha brain waves (relaxation brain waves) which give us a sense of wellbeing and improved mood. This combines with the caffeine to release sustained energy, focus and mental clarity. It was this amazing phenomenon that first attracted Buddhist monks to drinking the beverage thousands of years ago. They were able to remain alert but felt relaxed enough to meditate for very long periods of time.

L- Theanine’s chemical effect on our brain and body is not the only reason that tea is one of the best known remedies for relaxation. The whole process of preparing the water, warming the pot, the tantalizing aroma from the fresh leaves, anticipation of the first sip and the flavor in the mouth all relax our senses. Even if you are an iced tea drinker you have involved those senses in preparation of your tea. You may decide to enjoy your tea alone or share with loved ones or friends.

Whichever tea or whatever way you choose to take your tea is not really important, just take time to do it!

Cheers,

TeaLady

Welcome to the next installment of kombucha making!

It has been an eventful and exciting period since we last talked and there are some things I need to share.  First, Kombucha making takes some patience and some structure!  Michael, are you listening?

After winging the first batch, I got serious and looked for some better guidelines. This led me to a site called getkombucha.com. Dave talks you through all stages in a mini course, which is brilliant. (I really like the way he presents his experiences, funny too) I have bought a better container and followed measurements more precisely and am hoping for better results.

The first batch (made with Pu-erh) was quite frankly a disaster and ended up down the sink, but I am ok with that. I am going to nail this kombucha making, after all I am an expert with a regular cuppa tea. How difficult can it be???

Second batch (made with Kenya black tea) is now bottled and needs refrigerating before consuming. I learnt that keeping the bottles out for 4 days helps build up some carbonation before you refrigerate.  (A colleague took a crafty sample yesterday and reported that it tasted fantastic! She now wants in on the action too.) I look forward to drinking this daily whilst waiting for the next batch to work its magic.

I have another batch (which I started at home) made with a combination of black and green tea. I brewed for only 12 days. Most guidelines indicate between 7 and 14 days and on sampling I liked the taste, so went for it. In 2 of the bottles I dropped a piece of fresh ginger (another thing I learned was that fruits need to be added at this stage). 

I look forward to drinking to see if I have a success story on my hands.  My goal is to now pass on a ‘mother’ to my colleague and continue the Kombucha chain.

Some important tips I want to share which may have contributed to my first failure are….

-Do not cut down the sugar content (1 cup per 4 litre tea). The culture needs sugar to feed and grow,

-Make sure the mixture is covered with a cloth or paper towel secured with elastic band. It needs to breathe whilst keeping out the bugs. Or go to getkombucha.com for all the tips!

-Just a word of warning, this kombucha making becomes somewhat of an obsession. You may find yourself very strangely watching your culture for any action. Is the scoby rising to the top or still on the bottom? How long do I have to wait till I taste?

BE PREPARED TO CATCH THE KOMBUCHA BUG!

Cheers,

the TeaLady