November 5th is the perfect time to talk about our Pinhead Gunpowder.  For me, this tea conjures up images of Guy Fawkes, a very celebrated and notorious fellow in Great Britain.  Born in Yorkshire, I am sure you have seen the mask below on Halloween or in the “V for Vendetta” movies or comic books, but do you know what Guy Fawkes was notorious for besides drinking Yorkshire tea?

Guy Fawkes

“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”

In 1605 a group of conspirators including Guy Fawkes attempted to destroy the House of Parliament by filling the cellar with explosives.  Known as the “Gunpowder Plot”, the conspirators wanted a Catholic King rather than the protestant King James I.  The plan did not work and Guy Fawkes was captured, hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the plot, but his name lives on.  Guy Fawkes Night is a festival in Britain remembering the Gunpowder Plot and the King’s survival.

Every year on 5 November Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated with open air fires or bonfires in towns across England.  Dummies, or “guys” are burnt atop the fires.  A great tradition we children anticipated with excitement was making the “guy” dummies a few days before the 5th. We carried the dummies around the village shouting “penny for the guy.”  The quality of our ‘guy’ was determined by the number of pennies we collected.

Today, the Guy Fawkes mask is worn by protesters to demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause against the establishment as was the intent of Mr. Fawkes.

Pinhead Gunpowder

And so to our pinhead gunpowder, a classic green tea from Zhejiang province in China, made from leaves rolled into small pellets which look like actual gunpowder.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people visiting the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens comment on this fascinating tea.  The tiny pellets transform, unfurling into graceful, dancing leaves.  If you have a glass teapot, enjoy the performance.

Gunpowder green tea is harvested in the month of April, as this is the absolute best time of year for quality leaves.  The leaves are withered to reduce moisture content making them more pliable, then steamed, rolled and dried.  Although the individual leaves were formerly rolled by hand, today most gunpowder tea is rolled by machines, though the highest grades are still rolled by hand.   This rolling process also renders the leaves less susceptible to any breakage and allows them to retain more of their flavor and aroma. You can determine the freshness of gunpowder green tea by the sheen of the pellets.  And the smaller the better, as size is associated with quality, hence the name pinhead.

Our Pinhead Gunpowder green tea brews darker than most green teas with a rich flavor and a slight smokey finish.  I have enjoyed Pinhead staright up, infusing multiple times but it can be brewed very succesfully with both ginger or mint and used as an iced tea.

I hope you enjoyed the gunpowder plot and please do enjoy many infusions of this classic tea.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

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Whenever we sample Selby Select at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market it is a good day.  Selby Select is our best selling tea and was created to celebrate Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  Orange peel and trace yogurt blended with rooibos, Selby Select is a bit of sunshine in your cup.  Caffeine free sunshine!

We also sampled iced Earl Grey and a green tea from Kenya, Kosabei Plantation FAIR TRADE.  We posted Who is Earl Grey? earlier this week and here is a link to a earlier post about rooibos.   This week we will offer $1 off packet of all three teas; Selby Select, Earl Grey and Kosabei Plantation FAIR TRADE green tea for online purchases.  And all orders over $40 ship at no charge.

Picture of the day is Papa Peperonata, Adrian with his son Nico.  See our Facebook page for the entire album.

Papa Peperonata and Nico

We are off next Saturday so see you in September.  Sip Locally.

md

“BREAD AND WATER CAN SO EASILY BE TOAST AND TEA’

This is a lovely quote (author unknown) that came to mind this morning.  I was actually making some Lemon Curd at the time but I also had a visitor in the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens that told me he would not drink tea because his mother always made him have toast and tea when he was sick!  Of course she would, mothers know what is good for you.

I also felt sorry for him!  Toast and Tea is a custom most of us have such good feelings about and I for one can sample this pairing at any time of day.  There is nothing as simple or as tasty as toast and tea, unless you add a little lemon curd that is!

Lemons are in abundance here at the moment and as they keep arriving by the bagful at my house I just keep churning out the Lemon Curd!  I got myself a cup of jasmine tea and Lemons at the ready.  Want to have a go too?

This is a very easy recipe and method to follow.  You will need preserving jars which have been sterilized in boiling water.  I put the lemons in same water as it makes the juice release easier.  I usually double up the recipe, but to make one batch you will need:

Juice and Rind of 1 lemon (I have been adding rind of an extra lemon too!), 2 eggs, 2oz unsalted butter, and 3oz sugar.

  1. Place sugar and rind in large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs and lemon juice together.  Add to bowl.
  3. Cut butter into small chunks.  Add to bowl.
  4. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until butter melts and whisk lightly over heat until mixture thickens.  (It may seem like mixture is never going to thicken but it will.)

Place in jar and refrigerate.

It tastes delicious and is so worth the effort.  I love giving to friends and of course, the suppliers of all my Lemons!  Lemon Curd is also the perfect accompaniment to scones, so maybe next time we will make scones.

I recommend putting on the kettle and making a pot of Yorkshire tea and sit down to enjoy some toast and tea.  Mmmm!

Cheers,

The TeaLady

I am glad to announce that here at Local Tea Company we have added another tea to our Organic cultivation varieties.

Pear Mu Tan is a White tea grown in Fujian Province, China.  White teas are surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China when this delicate tea was proclaimed by Emperors as “the culmination of all that is elegant”

White teas are the least processed of all the categories of tea.  The newest leaves are carefully picked when they have a silvery appearance which comes from the hair or ‘hao’.  They are lightly withered which turns them into an artists palate of hues, ranging from silver to green to brown and results in a light fluffy mixture of leaf pieces that yield a subtle and delicate flavor.

 

Pear Mu Tan White Tea

I had been asked several times about a Pear tea and after using this tea for several days in my travel mug, I knew we had to have it!  This type of White tea is known as Pai Mu Tan which means “white peony” and is produced from a variety of tea bush called chaicha, so it seemed natural to name this tea Pear Mu Tan.

There is evidence that Pear has been used as a food since prehistoric times so is a perfect partner for White tea.  To compliment the pear, there are dried apple pieces, mango cubes and marigold blossoms which results in shimmering golden liquor with a lingering fragrance and sweet, fresh mellow taste.  This is a truly beautiful tea both dry and infused.

Please note, this tea is organically cultivated but has not pursued the requirements to be designated ORGANIC.

White teas are becoming very popular now as they are considered to be the most beneficial of all teas for their health benefits.  With more antioxidants than black or green tea, white tea has anticancer properties, is heart healthy, has a calming (anti-sagging!) and detoxifying effect on the skin and the ability to strengthen our immune system.  An added bonus is that it tastes so good!

There are debates aplenty about the amount of caffeine in White teas; could it be that as the tea is made from young leaves that they contain the most concentrated amount of caffeine? The fact that we infuse for less time and at a lower temperature may mean less caffeine is released…and so on.  We may never know the exact reason and it really does not seem to matter too much!

In my experience I have found White tea VERY agreeable to my body function.  I do not seem to get as overheated or troubled with the caffeine content and therefore have been able to drink later into the day.   See how it works for you!

Pear Mu Tan is a tea that really keeps on giving and certainly wears the title ‘the culmination of all that is elegant’ very well.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to write about Rooibos tea.  Maybe that is a good thing though, as I have now reached a stage where my love of this tea is such that I cannot imagine life without it!

As an orthodox tea drinker, black teas and mostly unflavored green teas, you will have heard me say many times that I just love the taste of tea.  However, like many women before me I seem to have reached an age where too much caffeine (even in my beloved tea!!) seems to be disruptive for my body.

Rooibos

Enter ROOIBOS (Aspalathis linearis) a broom like shrub and member of the legume family found in a small area of the Western Cape Province of South Africa.  The word rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is Afrikaans for red bush and has been popular in South Africa for generations.

Rooibos has a huge following all over the world due to the many health benefits as well as Mama Ramotswe, a certain lady detective.  If you are one of the few people not to have seen or read the No 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith then do so soon.  Like the tea, these books are compelling, very relaxing and worthy of your time.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

So, what does Rooibos have to offer?  Rooibos has very high antioxidant levels (aspalathin), in fact some claim that Rooibos has more antioxidants than green tea.  And I advise anyone not caring for green tea to drink Rooibos.  The tannin levels are low (responsible for causing astringency in true tea) and there is NO oxalic acid which makes this tea good for anyone suffering from kidney stones.  Relaxing and restful, rooibos can assist with nervous tension, allergies, dermatological issues and anti-spasmodic properties making rooibos helpful for digestive problems.

In South Africa, rooibos is used to aid infants suffering with colic and is added to baby’s bath water (and yours) to soften the skin.  Research continues on possible anti-cancer properties and I think we will hear more about the benefits of drinking Rooibos for some time to come.  Perhaps most important, you will find NOTHING about the adverse effects of rooibos, which is quite amazing!

Rooibos is an herb and is NATURALLY caffeine free, which makes it the perfect tea for my sleeping predicament.  This tea quite simply tastes and feels so good and I have become a huge fan.  I have found many tea lovers dislike pure rooibos, though it blends so well with fruits and flowers.

At Local Tea Company we have a wonderful collection of Rooibos teas.  Our best selling (of all our teas) is Selby Select, an orange peel and yogurt blend we created for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The list continues with Van Wezel with black and red currants (see post), Lemon Sunset with lemongrass and lemon peel, Bertha Palmer with licorice, peppermint, verbena and fennel, and finally Mable’s Rose with cherry and rose.  I hope you agree that is quite a line up and if you are an iced tea drinker, do not despair, all are beautiful iced!

One of our rooibos teas is especially nice too share with a loved one.  Sweet Sin combines raspberry with vanilla and is always popular around Valentine’s Day.

Sweet Sin Rooibos Tea

What a versatile and special tea this is and if you haven’t discovered Rooibos already then I hope you do so soon.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your year has gotten off to a good start, but if not and you are feeling bunged up and burned out after a few weeks of 2011 then it’s time to get the kettle on and brew yourself some tea!

Where to start?  There are many teas at Local Tea Company that we can recommend you drink at this time of year to restore your energy and vitality but I would like to concentrate today on Green Tea.   Again, we have many varieties to choose from and the key is finding one that suits you.  If you like the taste of a particular tea, the chances are you will drink more, so experiment till you find the tea for you.

There is a green tea you should take note of,  Matcha is finely ground powdered green tea and is one of the healthiest beverages you can ingest.  When you drink matcha you are ingesting the whole leaf rather than an infusion of the tea leaf.

Matcha Green Tea

Most of green tea benefits are gained from 2 components, a family of antioxidants called catechins which include EGCG (or epigallocatechin- 3 gallate) and an amino acid called L-Theanine.   EGCG protects against cell damage that can result in disease.   Several medical reports indicate that green tea has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.   L-Theanine boosts the brain’s levels of alpha waves which in turn leads to greater mental focus and feeling of relaxation.  There is evidence that theanine also counteracts any negative behavior of caffeine.

Matcha is said to contain 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea and the same goes for L-Theanine content.  If you cannot manage between 4 and 9 cups of regular green tea then have 1 or 2 cups of matcha every day.

Matcha can be served many ways, again find what works for you.  I am a juicer so blend right into my daily serving of fresh juice.  You can add to your water bottle, make an iced or hot latte with soy, almond or rice milk or simply drink a shot straight up.  We offer a ceremonial grade of Matcha.

Green Tea Ice Cream

You can make ice cream too.  Check out a previous post along with a recipe for green tea ice cream.  Also, I have had customers tell me that they add matcha to their regular cuppa tea.  Matcha is all good, so you need to start drinking matcha NOW.

There are some other traditional green teas you should know about.  Goji Green contains the ‘superfruit’ gojiberry which also has powerful anti-oxidants.

We offer unflavored green teas including  Pinhead Gunpowder and our classic Jasmine green tea is very delicate.  Our very popular Organic Strawberry Smile make those cups of tea go down really easy!

Look out for my next blog which will include some of our herbal teas which also have healing properties.  Time to put the kettle on, hope you are doing the same!  Good health and happiness for 2011 and make sure you ‘take time for tea’.

Cheers,

the TeaLady

I want to share with you a new tea created for the “Lights in Bloom” holiday celebration at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  Every year Selby Gardens comes alive with brilliant lights, festive displays and a spectacular Christmas tree made of bromeliads.  Guests stroll through a magical garden filled with sparkling lights, live holiday music, and children’s activities.

Lights in Bloom

Festivi-Tea will conjure up all your favorite yummy smells and tastes of this time of year.  A blend of sencha and bancha green tea with dried orange, cut almonds and cream of caramel, perfect for any evening, especially a night at Lights in Bloom.

Sencha (‘Sen’ meaning green and ‘cha’ meaning tea or ‘infused tea’) is a style of tea.  Harvested leaves are heated in a wok to prevent oxidation giving the leaves a slightly mellower ‘roasted’ flavor and characteristic thin, cylindrical shape.

Bancha, or ‘common’ green tea is harvested from the second flush of leaves in late summer/autumn. The larger leaf gives a very mellow flavor and contains less caffeine.

Then we have the Holiday factor!  Citrus peel, for me is synonymous with Christmas. I remember when I was a little girl how thrilled I was to get a bag of Oranges in my Christmas stocking. Oranges were expensive and hard to come by in the heart of Yorkshire and were such a special treat! The peel of citrus fruit can be bitter and not very appetizing, but adds great flavor and health benefits when dried and added to tea.

Almonds are something I try to eat all year round for their healthy heart benefits (they contain monounsaturated fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol) and almonds conjure more Christmas memories.  We always had nuts in the shells and it was difficult to eat many as they were so hard to crack open.  My sister and I usually lost interest after a short while, but we had such fun and very rosy cheeks from sitting by a roaring fire!

Cream of Caramel is a very tasty ‘concoction’ of sugars and milk, dried and added to enhance this tea. I try to bring you teas with all natural, healthy ingredients, but sometimes exceptions must be made at this is the time of year.

Festivi-Tea is easy to drink with subtle notes of all the ingredients as well as a smooth finish. Best hot, I think, though we have sampled iced Festivi-Tea at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market with wonderful results.

Please join us at Selby Gardens this year for Lights in Bloom starting December 17th (details at www.selby.org) and visit the Local Tea Company  Carriage House to see our complete selection of tea and tea accessories.

I hope you enjoy Festivi-Tea as much I have enjoyed sharing my Christmas past with you.

Happy Holidays,

The TeaLady