What is the most wonderful thing for people like myself who follow the Way of Tea? The “oneness” of host and guest created through meeting heart to heart and sharing a bowl of tea.

Soshitsu Sen, Japanese of Tea

What is the most wonderful thing for a tea enthisiast like myself? Gathering a group of like-minded people who share the same enthusiasm and passion for continued learning of all subjects relating to TEA!

Our first Tea Class of 2012 showcased 6 teas from Local Coffee + Tea, in the serene setting of Selby Gardens.  The group explored each tea using all our senses; sight, scent, touch and taste, examining both the dry leaves as well as the tea leaves after steeping.

Dry leaves - Pear Mu Tan white tea

Dry leaves - Pear Mu Tan white tea

Each tea came from a different growing region of the world, and after a discussion about the origin and processing, we covered the correct way to brew a proper cuppa.  We end with a review of the many health benefits for each tea.

Here are the teas that we ‘sniffed’ and ‘sipped’ from Local Coffee + TeaPear Mu Tan, Festivi-Tea, Strawbango Black, Cochin Masala Chai, Chocolate Honeybush and Selby Select Rooibos.

You may be familiar with many of these teas from earlier posts…

Tea Class at Selby Gardens

Tea Class at Selby Gardens

If you missed this class, then do not despair! The next two classes are set for March 16th and April 10th.  Register online and learn more here.

Class starts at 10am and is a wonderful activity for a friend or spouse.  Be ready for  a hands-on experience, and bring your questions.

Hope you will be my guest next time and join me to ‘sip a bowl of tea’ and have a ‘heart to heart’ about this amazing beverage we all love so much- TEA.

Cheers,

The TeaLady

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“The Spirit of Easter is all about Hope, Love and Joyful living.” -Anonymous.

Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead and is Christianity’s most important holiday.  As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions have become a standard part of this holy holiday (whether you agree with it or not!) and includes Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets of candy and CHOCOLATE.  There are lots of stories about the connection of eggs (re-birth) and bunnies (originally hares actually and a symbol of new life in ancient times) but I am not sure how the chocolate connection came about.

Most of us have no problem with chocolate being included, reason or not!  At Local Coffee + Tea we cannot offer chocolate eggs or bunnies but a very special tea we call Chocolate Honeybush.

Chocolate Honeybush

Honeybush is an herbal infusion or ‘tisane’ grown in the Langkloof Mountains of South Africa.  Read more from a previous post on Honeybush to learn all about this lovely tea.

Some might say that Honeybush is not complete without the addition of those chocolate and caramel pieces and if you smelled and tasted this version you might agree!

You will find us this weekend serving and delighting our customers with Chocolate Honeybush in the Carriage House Tea Room at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Saturday morning at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market.  We can guarantee plenty of love and joy too.  Please join us if you can for a chocolate celebration (without the calories!) but if you are not local then visit our online shop to stock up on your Easter supplies and be sure to share with all your friends too.

With good wishes to you all for the Easter holiday.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

Honeybush or Cyclopia intermedia is indigenous to the cape of South Africa and I like to think of it as a sort of cousin to Rooibos!  Like Rooibos, we make an herbal tea with a pleasant, mildly sweet taste.  Honeybush is very popular here at the Local Coffee + Tea Carriagehouse at Selby Gardens, and we are pleased to offer 2 varieties; Organic Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush.  I urge you to try them if you are looking for a substitute for ‘true’ tea (Camellia sinensis), though I use honeybush as a compliment to my tea drinking habits!

Organic Honeybush

Like most of the teas, honeybush has a history traced back to the trading of the Dutch and British. Cape Town was established in 1652 as a supply base for the Dutch East India Company trading in Indian tea and Southeast Asian spices. Botanists were soon cataloging the rich flora of the Cape region and the honeybush plant was noted in botanical literature. The native KhoiSan or Bushmen used a tea made from honeybush to treat coughs and other upper respiratory symptoms associated with infections.

The honeybush plant is a shrub of the Fabaceae family and grows in the fynbos botanical zone, a narrow region along the coast bound by mountains. Fynbos is Dutch for ‘fine leaved plantsis’ and is a vegetation type characterized by woody plants with small leathery leaves. The honeybush plant is easily recognized by its sweetly scented, bright yellow flowers and needle-like leaves.

Honeybush

Besides great taste, a sort of woodsy, cedar-like flavor, Honeybush has some very special health benefits.  Pinitol is a modified sugar found in the leaves of several legume plants and as an expectorant, it helps with coughs and phlegm. Pinitol can also lower blood sugar levels, and may increase the effects of insulin.  I have read honeybush is being considered as a drug for diabetes! It would be good to have something so natural to help with such a prevalent disease. I have also read that Pinitol helps with acid reflux and we have a few customers who have reported relief drinking honeybush.  The flavones and isoflavones of honeybush are similar to those in soy, another leguminous plant, and have been used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. That covers quite a lot of the population who should be drinking this tea!

Honeybush tea is prepared like all other teas or herbal infusions. Use boiling water and infuse for as long as you want, though at least several minutes. The lack of caffeine makes honeybush especially suited for nighttime consumption and has a reputation as a calming beverage, but I love drinking honeybush while at Local Coffee + Tea, too!   The tannin content is very low, so you will find honeybush a mild, soft, and very drinkable tea.

And did I mention there is a chocolate version? Chocoholics love our Chocolate Honeybush.  Please do not expect a cup of hot chocolate, rather a delicate aroma of chocolate with a definite caramel aftertaste along with a bit of floral balance from the added rose petals.  Desert without the calories, SPECTACULAR!

Chocolate Honeybush

Some customers drink both versions of honeybush with milk.  I find a bit of local honey (from the Sarasota Farmer’s Market) brings out a natural sweetness in Organic Honeybush and when iced is very thirst quenching.  The Chocolate Honeybush seems to be more popular as a hot drink.

Cheers, the TeaLady

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 Coffee + Tea 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 Coffee + Tea carries 8 unique Rooibos teas and is our most popular category.  Selby Select is our ‘home tea’, and we have added an Organic Green 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 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! 

Cheers, 

The TeaLady 

Also, follow us on Facebook at Local Coffee + Tea – Tea Journey

At Local Coffee + Tea we have a great selection of tea to suit many different tastes. Some of our holiday favorites are listed at the end of this post with links to our online shop. Whatever your gift choice, I believe there are many very special reasons to be excited about both giving and receiving of TEA…

-The anticipation of opening the packet and discovering the appearance of the leaf,
-Inhaling the special aroma that loose tea releases,
-Watching the magic of leaves dancing in the pot,
-The delicious color and flavor in the cup,
-Sitting down, letting go of all the stress in your body (which we seem to create in great quantities especially at this time of the year!),
-And finally, enjoying every sip.

Making tea is an act to be shared with someone special, presented to a group of friends or enjoyed completely alone. I cannot think of any other item which is so simple, yet so complex, so cost effective and so enjoyable. You are also giving the gift of health and well being to your loved ones.

If you have no tea lovers in your life, then give yourself the gift of tea. YOU deserve it!

Some of our holiday favorites include Chocolate Honeybush, Red Berries and Cochin Masala Chai. For a more relaxing tea, perfect for evenings there is Organic Honeybush or Patriot Tea. Also, check out the “Celebrate Sarasota” gift deal, 4 herbal teas which were inspired by Local Treasures: Selby Gardens, Van Wezel, Ringling Museum and Mote Aquarium.

On behalf of all at Local Coffee + Tea, I would like to wish all our tea followers a Very Merry Christmas and a TEArrific New Year. We appreciate your business and hope you continue to enjoy our teas in 2010.

No matter where you are or what you are planning to do during this special season, please make time for drinking some tea and feel the benefits. I drink to you and yours.
Cheers and all the best to everyone.
Tea Lady