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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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

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

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 Tea Company 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 Tea Company, 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

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

Our sister company, Local Catering has seen an increased interest in tea parties at Selby Gardens including an intimate wedding last month.  I hear the term “High Tea” used as a reference, when in actual fact; “Afternoon Tea” is a more accurate description.

Tea Service

I will attempt to explain the differences between “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea”, as well as a bit of history on how these very different meals got their specific titles

“High Tea” does not refer to fancy sandwiches and small cakes served with elegant table settings, but rather a meal served in working class households as the main meal of the day, usually early evening.

At the height of Victorian times lower and middle class families were only able to afford one meal per day.  Served at the end of the working day, the meal typically consisted of bread and cheese, potatoes, vegetables, maybe cold meat and pickles or for the more affluent, fish.  Black tea would be served along with the food. This is the meal most families would now refer to as dinner.

Growing up, this was the main meal at house and was called “tea”.  Today, I still refer to our evening meal as tea and often ask myself “What are we having for tea today?” As I am more sensitive to caffeine, we now will drink Rooibos or Honeybush or another herbal tea.

Why is this meal known as “High Tea”?  Very simply, the meal is served on a dining table, in contrast to the much lower table on which “Afternoon Tea” is served.

Anna, Duchess of Bedford

Anna, Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) is credited with creating “Afternoon Tea”. The evening meal was often served after 8pm, and the Duchess would get a ‘sinking feeling’ (low blood sugar levels associated with hunger!) in the afternoon hours.  She instructed her staff at Belvoir Castle to make up small sandwiches and cakes, and invited friends for tea and conversation. The meal was served on lower tables in the drawing room, allowing for intimate conversation. The tradition of “Afternoon Tea” is still very popular.

There are many variations of “Afternoon Tea” with small sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and a huge variety of teas to choose from.  “Tea” can be a sophisticated, dressy and special occasion or a simple, casual and relaxed meal at the end of the day.

Whichever “Tea” you choose, the idea remains a wonderful way to spend quality time with friends or loved ones, enjoying some food and conversation. We should all do this more often!

Cheers,

The TeaLady

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 Tea Company, 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.