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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many of us are trying to find new and creative ways to express our love. Flowers, candles, candy are all fine ideas, but have you considered expressing your affection through tea? Perhaps there’s something about your lover that can be reflected in a blend of tea, which when explained will be sure to be one of the most special Valentine’s messages ever!
You are the Sweetest!
With the additions of fruits that can be found in tea blends these days, it’s easy to show the sweet side of being in love. Tell your Valentine how their love is the sweetest thing in your life – as sweet as Peaches, Pomegranates or Blueberries (in Black Tea). Even Sweeter: include a special gift of exotic honey, because tea and honey go together like you and your honey!
You Spice Up My Life!
Let your passionate side move you by expressing the spicier side of your relationship. Whether it’s a Hot Cinnamon Spice or a Bombay Chai – inclusion of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom is sure to send this message. Added bonus: Spices warm the blood and increase circulation – this rush of blood is good for your heart!
Your Love Blossoms In My Heart!
Sure you could buy flowers, or you can find your favorite flowers in a blend of tea! Instead of buying your love a rose – how about a Kyoto Cherry Rose Tea? Relax with a gentle chamomile or fly to romantic French countryside with a lavender infused tea. Best of all, these flowers won’t wilt! So say it with flowers or enhance that bouquet with a matching tea!
Whatever and however you celebrate being in love this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the steamy affair that starts with a warm pot of tea!
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With the popularity of this tiny hot beverage, it’s easy for some to say that tea has gotten too trendy and that anything too trendy will come to an end. But they said that about soap, about fast food, about hip-hop and all these things are here to stay. Indeed, the American societal embrace of tea is not a flash in the pan, but more like the evolution of a young country whose tastes are also evolving.
It does seem that way, seeing as many other parts of the world have held to tea-drinking traditions for hundreds of years. Tea is not a new concept, just a new concept for some. Of course I would think it’s safe to say that here in America, we have cornered the market on novelty and flavored teas. Far beyond the reaches of the general black, green, oolong or white varieties are a plethora of blends which tease and seduce the taste buds into thinking that anything is possible!
The flavored tea market has certainly expanded. Flavors of every kind can find their way into tea ranging from conservative: Blueberry, Lemon, Cinnamon, or Peach, to the more abstract like: Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Mint, and Hawaiian Colada and White Persian Melon. And while we’re at it, I’ve even seen Beer Tea and Jalapeño Tea!
Blends like these can be an enjoyable alternative to the straight up tea leaves. And for some novice tea drinkers it can be a fun way to get into drinking tea in the first place.
If the use of artificial flavors is an issue for you, then it would be wise to check how these teas are flavored – because some things simply do not impart a naturally rich taste when thrown in hot water.
We like choice and we like variety in everything we buy and in the products we consume. It never ceases to amaze me, how many variations we have of M&M’s. So it will never cease to amaze me that there will always be a new tea to try, and some new flavor concoction to steep. If it’s all too trendy for you, then grab yourself a soothing cup of Darjeeling!
As we march forward to the beginning of a new year, many of us reflect upon our lives and reassess our behaviors with a desire for self-improvement. There are many common New Year’s Resolutions that can be supported the drinking of tea, so let’s take a closer look at how what’s in our cup can help improve our quality of living.
I want to lose weight!
By far the most common resolution is the determination to lose weight. There are companies that will market Slimming Teas and Diet Teas. They will quote science about increasing your metabolism with polyphenols. I don’t buy into marketed weight loss teas as being more effective than your favorite cup of tea. Seeing as tea (without sweeteners or milk) has no sugar, fat or carbs, it can be helpful in your desire to lose weight. Weight loss comes from expending more calories than you consume per day. By substituting tea for your latte, juice, soda, or bottled sugar-laden drink, you automatically cut calories.
Also, by consciously choosing to drink tea (or even more tea) on a daily basis, you are creating an awareness about what you consume. As this awareness builds, it will be easier for you to make better food choices too!
I need to cut down/out caffeine
This society runs on caffeine…that is until we realize that we are run down, because of the stress that too much caffeine puts on our adrenal glands, which then make us feel sluggish. Caffeine can also disturb sleep, making it difficult to perform our usual tasks without reaching for more caffeine. The range of numbers may differ slightly but coffee has about 3x the amount of caffeine than black tea, with green and white teas having even less than black (and herbal infusions have no caffeine!). So drinking tea, in whatever form will help your cut out that nasty caffeine habit this year!
I will get more sleep!
According to the National Sleep Foundation 50% of Americans suffer from sleep disorders. As just discussed, cutting your caffeine help you when it’s time to wind down and get a good night’s rest. Additionally, the use of herbal infusions, which naturally have no caffeine, can help you get your rest. Herbs, such as chamomile, lavender, or peppermint reportedly have calming effects on the body, relaxing the central nervous system which allows you to get more sleep. More sleep gives you more energy, a more positive outlook, and mental clarity to do and feel your best!
I will carve out personal quiet time!
With more to do in our 24/7 wired-in world, finding some quiet time alone becomes a greater challenge. Well, once again we turn to tea to help us with our resolutions. Brew a whole pot (not just a cup) of tea. The type of tea is up to you and may be a part of this journey towards personal quiet time. Turn off your phone and your computer. Breathe in the aroma of the tea as you slowly sip it. Allow the steam to warm your face. Whether you use this time to write in a journal or stare out the window, allow nothing else to happen until you have finished the pot of tea.
So, as you reflect upon this past year and you reassess your habits, know that you’ve got an ally in tea. So drink in the excitement of 2011 and brew yourself some healthy new resolutions.
And I wish you all a Happy New Year.
With Christmas and New Year’s fast approaching, there’s no better time to make the night special by trying something new. So while you’re stocking up on the usual liquor and champagne, be sure to pick up some tea.
There are 3 reasons why having tea will be important this holiday season.
#1: Tea allows Everyone to Celebrate!
Not everyone drinks alcohol. Whether by reason of conviction, medical necessity, or the responsible choice to be the designated driver, or for those trying to shave off the carbs and the calories that come from alcohol, there are many reasons why you or your guests might want an alternative. Be prepared to have something festive that everyone can enjoy!
Festive Teas to have on hand: Tea of Good Tidings, Spiced Christmas Tea, White Christmas, Holiday Chai
#2: Tea is Hot!
Warm. Cozy. Toasty. In every sense of the word, tea really is hot. So, offer your guests an inviting cup of hot tea. Increase the feelings of warmth by having spicy chais or cinnamon teas on hand! Spices will make the body get warmer quicker by increasing your blood’s circulation! And they’ll feel more at home with your generous caring suggestion. Warm and happy guests = warm and happy party celebration.
#3 Tea makes a great mixer!
You can make an excellent mixer using sugar, tea and lemon. Make a tea-based simple syrup, bottle it and break out at your next festive occasion. To make it into a mixer, simply add seltzer or club soda for a refreshing tea-infused soda or spirited cocktail!
- Mix 2 cups of sugar with ¼ cup water in a saucepan.
- Stir over medium heat until golden brown.
- Next, steep 3 teaspoons of your favorite tea (I like using Earl Grey!) in 2 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes.
(NOTE: this needs to be stronger as you are creating a concentrate).
- Let tea cool.
- Now add 2 cups of the extra-strength tea and the juice from 1 lemon to the caramelized sugar. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and let stand for 30-45 minutes.
- Pour syrup into glass bottle to store and serve.
To Serve: Fill your glass with ice, add a few teaspoons of the earl grey tea syrup (depending on your sweet tooth), and fill the rest of the glass with seltzer water and stir. Syrup can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Madam Potts’ Mad Blog of Tea!
Part of what makes the holidays so merry and bright is that so many people are looking forward to getting together with friends and loved ones, both near and far. Dinner parties, annual traditions, and holiday festivities are par for the course this month. At this time of year, a thoughtful gift is also part of the sharing that happens amongst people.
Whether you are exchanging gifts or simply bringing a token of appreciation for the host or hostess, there is a way to extend the warmth of the holidays in the gift that you bring. What I am referring to, of course, is bringing the gift of tea.
Some people shy away from tea gifts because they are not sure what the recipient will like, or if they even drink a lot of tea to begin with. As with anything, it is not what you bring, but the thought and attitude behind it that counts.
So whether you’re giving tea to a tea novice or to a tea expert, here are a few unique ways of giving the gift of warmth this holiday season:
#1: Say it with Flowers!
What better way to say “thank you” or “I love you” or “Happy Holidays” than with flowers – and a floral blend can make the same statement. Search for teas that have specific flowers in them, like Earl Grey Lavender or Cherry Rose Green or Orchid Oolong. This is especially good if your recipient has a favorite flower they enjoy.
For an even more unique gift, give someone a flowering tea set, complete with glass pot so you can watch the flower unfurl. These beautifully arranged blossoms are a work of art to behold – and the glass tea pot or large glass tea cups allow for visual poetry of the leaves. A special gift indeed.
#2: Infuse with Holiday Cheer
At this time of year, many companies make holiday-inspired blends, so even if your recipient isn’t an avid tea drinker, who could resist a cup of Christmas tea? Or spiced Christmas tea? With names like: Comfort & Joy, Tea of Good Tidings, Dream by the Fire and White Christmas you’re sure to find an appropriate gift for anyone. This options is especially good when introducing someone to tea. The blends tend to be warm and spicy, with ingredients that sound good enough to eat and the inviting thematic names may softly encourage someone to try something new!
#3: Create a Theme Basket
Giving the gift of tea should always include other items to make tea time festive all year round. By adding cookies, candies or special tea ware you can make an ordinary box of tea into an extraordinary gift of warmth. Whether choosing a pre-arranged holiday basket of cheer or creating your own theme like “Chocolate Lovers,” “Sugar & Spice,” or “All Things British,” you’ll find that it truly is as fun to give as to get.
Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!
Combating the stress of the holidays? There’s nothing like a nice warm cup of tea to help you regain your focus and clarity. And while all teas and herbs, in their warmth, in the ritual, in their own way, have the ability to offer you soothing comfort, there are some that do this better than others.
There is a class of herbs called Adaptogens that help the body cope (or adapt) with stress by way of toning the endocrine system. Our endocrine systems naturally release hormones as a response to stress. But we are on constant overload in our modern world of continuous stimuli, which brings on fatigue and chronic illnesses. No one is immune to stress and stress contributes to nearly 85% of all disease, pains and sicknesses. And while western scientists have only recently started to study adaptogens and their balancing effects on the body, the use of adaptogenic herbs has been popular for thousands of years in eastern medicinal practices like Traditional Chinese Medicine and India’s ancient system called Ayurveda. Some of these tension taming herbs include: ginseng, eleuthero, schisandra, licorice root and Tulsi.
This last herb, Tulsi, from India and is also known as Holy Basil. It is slowly gaining popularity here in the States, but can be hard to find. Stash Teas has two products you might want to try this season: Lavender Tulsi and Mellow Moments. While both of them are blended infusions, they are both designed to impart a sense of peace and calm. Tulsi is unique in flavor. It tastes like it already IS a blend, with its sweet, minty and spicy undertones. It is indeed a member of the Mint family.
Any herb that can be used to calm the mind, boost immunity, manage stress, provide relief from fever/flu and colds, increase strength and stamina and promote an overall sense of balance and wellness as Holy Basil does, is a truly special, perhaps even sacred herb.
Indeed Tulsi, or Holy Basil is sacred. In Hindu ceremonies, the Tulsi plant is offered to the god, Vishnu, who is said to protect & preserve the world. What better symbol than an herb that protects and preserves our health.
So instead of being overwhelmed this holiday season, try drinking a cup a day. It is sure to have you feeling better and more relaxed inside and out!
Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.
Madam Potts’ Mad Blog of Tea!
I was surprised to find that there are differing views on cleaning the insides of a tea pot. Largely the differing views stem from the various types of tea pots, more than from the people’s personal proclivities when it comes to cleanliness or hygiene.
I find that by and large keeping your teapots and serving ware sparkling clean goes without saying, except in one instance, which I will touch on in moment.
If you have a glass tea pot, it should be washed carefully after every use. If they aren’t washed you will be able to see the residue that builds on the glass, which not only looks less than attractive, but also will affect the taste of other fine teas (for example: lighter green or white teas). For this reason, it may be wise to dedicate your glass tea pot only to lighter teas.
If you have a china or porcelain tea pot: While many tea lovers will give their tea pots a quick rinse and perhaps a weekly washing, others insist on washing it after every use. My only suggestion is to use a non-toxic soap, as tea pots collect residues which ultimately affect the taste of your tea – be it from the tea or from the dish soap. Also, never towel dry your teaware as that may leave lint. Just as I like to use my glass pot for lighter teas, I prefer to use my china tea pot for darker teas.
As there is an exception to any rule, sure enough this applies to washing tea pots too.
If you own a Yixing teapots (or Chinese clay pot), it is important NOT to wash the tea pot (though allowing it to air-dry thoroughly between uses is recommended). The tea will gradually leave a layer of residue on the inside of the pot and actually add to the flavor experience. This being said, it is highly recommended that you use the teapot for only one type of tea. You may have a Yixing for oolong, and another for black teas and a third for green teas. The variety of and delicate beauty of the Yixing pots make a beautiful addition to any tea lover’s collection.
Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!
While some of my readers may live in areas of the country that do not usher in the autumnal season in an explosion of colorful foliage, the change from summer into fall is still a much-anticipated time of year. The cooler weather has us reaching for more comfortable clothes and flannel blankets. Best of all, it inspires an increased number of kettles to begin brewing warm pots of tea. Yes, fall has always been my favorite season for those two reasons.
So today, while sipping on a cup of Darjeeling, looking out my window on this brisk October morning, I took in the artistic palette of reds, greens and golds and thought about how they might inspire my own fall tradition of turning over new leaves – and by that I mean trying some new teas.
So here are a few Reds, Greens and Golds that may end up falling into your cup.
Rooibos, known as Red Tea, is a caffeine-free herbal alternative with lots of minerals and anti-oxidants, which brews up a beautiful red hue in your teacup. The natural sweetness to the taste lends itself well to blending with fruitier elements, such as Sunshine Lemon Rooibos or Strawberry Tingle or warmer dessert-like flavors like Godiva Roche or Bourbon St. Vanilla Rooibos.
Touted for its many health-giving benefits, yet infinite in varieties, there’s always something new to try with green tea. Consider turning over a new green leaf of tea by trying something different. If you’re used to drinking jasmine green try a genmaicha. Perhaps this is the season you buy a bowl and whisk and the brightly hued powered leaf of Japanese matcha.
Gold tea? Is there such thing as golden tea? Actually, the name is used quite popularly with the English imported teas, which tend to be hearty Assams and Breakfast blends. So if gold is your color, try any of these from Yorkshire, Barry’s, or Bewley’s.
It’s a wonderful thing to “fall” in love with tea!
Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!
Many people have unknowingly come across Orange Pekoe tea, as the term Orange Pekoe refers more to leaf-size than it does to a specific tea. The words are often spotted on tea bag tags in restaurants, where they are often used as a more generic term for tea. In this way, the name Orange Pekoe enjoys a certain amount of popularity, but it isn’t a tea that is well understood, which is why I thought it appropriate to turn your attention to this often overlooked leaf.
Orange Pekoe tea is a medium-grade leaf that delivers a full-bodied brew and a strong taste. If you’re looking for one powerful cup of tea to start the day, a tea like the English Tea Store’s Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe tea does the trick. The brassiness of the malt gives it this powerful kick (which can be a boon in overcoming the afternoon slump as well) that accompanies the caffeine of a solid, classic cup of black tea. What I like about the Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe tea is the malty overtones which give way to a brisk floral undertone, making this a balanced and enjoyable tea.
The name Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe is also quite a mouthful, so let’s break it down, so you can understand more about what you’re drinking. “Pekoe” or “Orange Pekoe” are terms used in grading the leaves. These indicate the size of the leaf, and generally establish the main grade, from which the quality and size is added onto the chain of letters that indicate size and flush. It can be applied to any black tea, primarily those from India & Sri Lankan and other non-Chinese regions. It is seen often as the acronym “OP.” However, if the leaves are crushed or broken, it will be designated “BOP” for “Broken Orange Pekoe,” which is a lower-grade of tea quality.
The “Orange” is not indicative of the addition or association of the fruit. Perhaps the orange can be seen in the coppery hues of the tea’s liquor, but again, there is no orange flavor. Historically, the name goes back to the royal claim that the Europeans (in this case the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau) were putting on teas brought from India to England during the 1600’s by the Dutch East India Tea Company. Years later the House of Orange has made its mark and so we have Orange Pekoe Tea.
And as for “Sylvakandy,” according to their website, the English Tea Store’s product hails from the Kandy region of Sri Lanka (formerly referred to as Ceylon).
Sweeten with a touch of honey for a slightly more elegant and smooth taste.
Brew between 2-5minutes. Enjoy.
Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!
There’s nothing finer than being greeted by the morning sun, except perhaps, opening a whole bag of sunshine in the form of a tea — or herbal infusion, as the case may be.
Many people I know find it challenging to want to drink hot tea in 89-degree weather, and well, who can blame them? When this is the case, it is especially helpful to start exploring teas and blends that taste just as splendid iced as they do hot.
All this sunny praise and admiration is a direct result of drinking the English Tea Store’s Sunshine Lemon Rooibos — a sweet and tangy blend of Rooibos, Lemon Grass, Calendula and other natural flavors.
Rooibos (pronounced Roy-Bus) is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘Red Bush’. While it is sometimes called “Red Tea,” Rooibos is not actually tea at all, but a shrub (Aspalathus linearis), that grown in South Africa’s Western Cape Region.
From the first whiff of summertime citrus combined with the warm spiciness of the lemon grass, I knew I was going to like this blend. This is a strong, definitive blend that holds together well. Because of the natural sweetness of the rooibos, it makes great iced tea that doesn’t need to be sweetened.
A double bonus about drinking Sunshine Lemon Rooibos is all the health benefits derived from drinking Rooibos. Rooibos is packed with minerals including potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium and iron and is prized for its anti-oxidant properties too! This mild and fruity flavored infusion can be taken daily as a preventative tonic, as anti-oxidants protect from the oxidation and aging of your cells, while providing nourishing minerals that your body needs. Traditionallym it has also been used to calm internal digestive spasms and cramping, both in adults and used to ease colic in babies.
And if caffeine consumption is something you need to watch, you can enjoy your bag of sunshine morning, noon or night without worry, because this blend has no caffeine!
So start your day off right with a cuppa sunshine with Sunshine Lemon Rooibos.
Madam Potts’ Mad Blog of Tea!