What is Tokonome Yaki Teapot and Why Does Tea Taste Better With This Kyusu?


If you’re a lover of tea, then you might have heard of the term “kyusu” which means “tea pot” in Japanese. The Takoname Yaki is both a remarkable and historic teapot which dates back to the 12th century. Because of the way the teapot is made, it gives the tea a distinguishable flavor, making it well-liked amongst green tea enthusiasts. 

The Unparalleled Craftsmanship in Tokoname

Tokoname is a city located in central Japan (on the coast of the Chita Peninsula) and is known to contain Japan’s oldest and largest kiln. At one point, it was estimated that there were as many as 3,000 kilns in Tokoname; the five other ancient kilns were known as Shigaraki, Tanba, Seto, Echizen, and Bizen. The pottery made in Tokoname is created with an unmatched craftsmanship and artistry. The very first teapot created was by Inaba Takamichi and was made with white or rough clay. The creator of the first red clay teapot, Sugie Jyumon, worked with a doctor named Hirano Chuji, and eventually launched the Red Clay Tokoname Teapot. With its notable capabilities, the Red Clay Tokoname Teapot received recognition for its ability to withhold water without the use of a glaze on the pot.

Keeping the Tradition Alive

The hand-crafted works of art of the Tokoname Yaki are carried on through future generations of potters who keep the tradition alive. Today, potters who create ceramics now incorporate different types of clays to create truly exceptional works of art. Although there are many kinds of Japanese ceramics to choose from, the Tokoname Yaki stands out from the rest because of the distinct artistry and craftsmanship that goes into making it. Tokoname Yaki is well-known for making various types of products ranging from teapots to bonsai vases.

A Unique Flavoring

Although the Tokoname Yaki is known for many types of sculptured pottery, it is renowned for its noteworthy teapots. The reason why the Tokoname Yaki teapot is so favorable amongst tea enthusiasts is because of the way it sweetens the flavor of the tea, giving it more a pleasant and smooth taste. Because clay is the material that is used to make the teapot, it is recognized to intensify the umami of the tea. This is because the clay used to make the teapot is infused with iron-rich minerals which contributes to the overall taste of the green tea. More specifically, this tea pot separates the flavors individually and allows the drinker to taste each distinct note of the tea. There is a reaction that occurs with the tea and minerals in the clay that minimizes the harshness of the tea, and instead emphasizes the tea’s unique flavor.

Because of the teapot’s porous surface, it allows the fragrance of the tea to be integrated. Tokoname Yaki pottery is known to have a combination of iron-infused clays and the pots are usually finished with an unglazed surface. In the instance of a Tokoname teapot, the porous surface of the pot allows the drink to be absorbed in the pores giving the tea a unique flavor.

The Tokoname Yaki’s surface is not glossed, has a built-in strainer, and an easy-to-grip handle. The built-in strainer allows you to steep the leaves without getting any of the tea leaves in your drink while allowing you to skip the hassle of brewing. The design of the Tokoname Yaki Teapot stands out from others with its detailed features standing out in its handle, spout, and lid. Although you can steep different kinds of teas with the Tokoname Yaki Teapot, the best and most known tea to pair it with is green tea (including Sencha). Because of its design, this teapot is an extraordinary take on the cliché, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout”. The Tokoname Yaki Teapot’s ability to bring out the richness in the flavor of the tea is intriguing and is definitely something worth trying.

Designs Lasting Through the Ages

The design of the Tokoname is both unique and ergonomic, making it easy to use and also aesthetically pleasing. The pottery of Tokoname Yaki stands out from the others, and different techniques are used when potters create these wonderful works of art. For instance, with the method of Mogake, the potter places seaweed on a teapot prior to placing it in the kiln. Another technique used is one called shizenyu yakijime where the teapot is placed in the kiln without the use of glaze. The overall look of the design can be manipulated based on the atmosphere of the kiln and the temperature used when firing the product. Every potter that creates a sculpture is different: some choose to leave a rougher, sandy texture while others prefer a smoother finish. In years past, potters only used the wood-fired method to create their products, but now have the ability to also use the electric-kiln method. Various styling and skillful craftsmanship are put into finishing the decorative part of the Tokoname Yaki pottery. It is said that the red clay took the form of an orange color instead of actual red. Nowadays, the pottery is created using a mixture of variegated red clay and no longer of the original red clay.

The pottery of the Tokoname Yaki has a practical, yet innovative design that has lasted through the ages and continues to capture the admiring eyes of artists and tea admirers alike. Its design is truly remarkable, one of a kind, and allows you to appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes behind the craftsmanship of this art form.

Try authentic Tokonomeyaki for better taste of your green tea now.

 



Coexistence: Elephants, Tigers, and Tea


When this blog first began over a dozen years ago, one of the goals of the founders was to increase tea consumption.  Not only is tea tasty and offering endless variety, there are some four thousand years of anecdotal evidence of teas’ medicinal and health benefits. As world consumption and demand for tea continues to increase,  an unintended consequence has been the displacement of endangered species. While we all love elephants, a tea worker’s life can be ended with a single swipe of a ginormous trunk. The conflict with tigers and their kin is so well-documented that there are several teas with “tiger” and “lion” in their titles.

“Tea gardens represent a significant chunk of the forests that have been cut down.” (Source)

In an effort to preserve both forest creatures and tea estates, the University of Montana has created the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) outlining standards and incentives to protect endangered species.  A side benefit has been that tea farmers who adopt wildlife-friendly practices such as buffer zones and areas for the animals to drink and rest – can often sell their “elephant-friendly” tea  for higher prices.

Two questions linger: is the larger market willing to pay higher prices, and are those higher prices worth the sacrifices tea growers make?

Source
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What Does July 4th Mean To You?


Most of us tea lovers associate the Boston Tea Party with the 4th of July.  The day of American Independence. Decorations abound with Red, White, and Blue patterns everywhere you look. If we scratch below the surface, however, what can we see? In 1912, Robert Haven Schauffler wrote “[I]t behooves us as true Americans to enter the splendid new movement which is endeavoring to make the Fourth over from a day of shallow jingoism and unmeaning brutality and carnage into a day of initiation into the meaning of true citizenship and a festival of deep and genuine and beautiful patriotism.”

Patriotism is defined by Wikipedia as “Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values.” With this definition in mind, I have to say that this year feels different for me. When I think about patriotism, I think about pride in America. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel proud to be an American. I feel ashamed. My grandparents, on both sides, emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. They came from Russian. Poland, and Austria. My maternal Grandmother lost her 4 sisters during the Holocaust as they decided not to emigrate to the U.S.  The vast majority of us Americas came from scattered countries throughout Europe and beyond. Some came to avoid persecution while some came to seek wealth, financial independence and freedom.

Leaving British rule over taxation was a worthy agenda at the time but we did it by stealing the land from the Native Americans. Although we have started to right that wrong, Native Americans continue to feel “less than” the rest of Americans. Our next crime was the brutalization of slaves. And yes, we are making progress there as well but ask any African American you know if they feel entirely equal to their white-skinned neighbors. Despite having a black president for 8 years, the prejudice remains in many parts of the country.

Let’s not forget about Japanese internment camps. Racial fears contributed to horrible decisions that were made to protect us from Japanese people, many born in this country and many who later served in the war effort. Yes, the government has apologized, but significant harm was done to so many people. Even then, however, children were not separated from their parents. Today, fear of immigrants has led to over 2000 children being torn from their parents, whose only crime was a misdemeanor. Children as young as 9 months old have been placed in detention centers and foster centers around the country without the ability to be easily reunited with their parents. Who would have thought such a thing could be possible in America in 2018? Why are we not learning the lessons from the past? Each mistake provides an opportunity to learn and hpefully not repeat the past. Why are we not learning these important lessons? I believe FEAR has taken us prisoner. I believe that individually, the vast majority of us are good people. We can’t let our fears take us off course. The State of Liberty, on Ellis Island where my grandparents arrived in this country tells us “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearing to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homelesstempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

On Saturday I participated in a Families Belong Together rally in Portland Oregon. The Washington Post concluded: “Hundreds of thousands of people turned out from coast-to-coast Saturday in “Families Belong Together” rallies to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and implore their fellow citizens to turn out to vote in November’s midterm elections.” I was particularly impressed with the number of children who participated, carrying signs and singing the slogans. I remember rallies back in the 60’s when we marched against the injustice of Vietnam but WE were the children in attendance. Today, young liberal and conservative parents are teaching their children what it means to be an American.

I believe at our soul, we are a country of inclusion. Our citizens represent the tapestry of nations left behind to come to the “Greatest Country in the Free World” to begin a new life of democracy, liberty, and justice for ALL.  Barack Obama sent a recent message to all of us and his words, as always, are important to hear.

“You are right to be concerned”………..”Do not wait for the perfect message, don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote’” ……… “Boil it down….If we don’t vote, then this democracy doesn’t work.”

So I ask, as you are sipping your favorite tea this 4th of July, give some thought to who you are as an American and what kind of an America you want your children and grandchildren to live in.  Our very future lies with each of us and the choices we make and actions we take today and tomorrow.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Written by Michelle Rabin, speaking for us all.

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Blast From the Past: Finding the Joy


You don’t have to look very hard to discover that there is a lot wrong with the world today and that there are a lot of things we could worry about. On the top of the worry hit list; our health and all that impacts it in a negative way.

Here is a little tongue-in-cheek article about all the things we can worry about from the moment we awaken to the time our heads hit the pillow at night (and even afterwards). The point of my article, however, is that despite impending doom always waiting just around the corner (or maybe because of it), it becomes incumbent upon all of us to work that much harder to find the joy in our lives or, better yet, create it.

One easy way to do that is by focusing more on the simple pleasures of tea, rather than just drinking it down 3 – 6 times a day to get enough catechins in your system to help with all those health problems lurking around the corner. Take the time to stop and find the joy in the moment. Look at the color and shape of the dry leaves. Appreciate the person who plucked each one of those leaves by hand and another who shaped it. Take a moment to close your eyes and inhale the rich aroma of the wet leaves in the pot after infusion and let it fill your senses. Look at the color of liquor. Taste it. Make a point of preparing and sharing a cup of tea with someone in a peaceful setting. Let go of your thinking and just bask in your surroundings and the connection with the other person. In those brief moments you can find the joy.

Make a point, every day, of finding the joy in some part of your day no matter what else may be occurring in your life. I can think of nothing more healthful than being in the moment with a delicious cup of tea and sharing it with another person.

Originally posted July 2008, written by Sandy Bushberg

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What Is Anamu Tea and Why You Should Try It


Tea is a well-known miracle herb, blessed for its many medicinal uses, that happens to have a cousin who also packs a powerful punch and leaves nothing on the table. Anamu–a plant that derives from the Phytolaccaceae family and Petiveria genus–is also used and consumed in tea form. Because of its strong, garlic-like odor, you may have seen it be referred as “garlic weed” or many of its other various names. Like the Camellia Sinensis plant family, the anamu plant also grows in a bush/shrub-like structure about 1 meter in height and can be used to create an anamu tea-like concoction that has major health and therapeutic benefits in fighting diseases.

Like green tea which also fights against cancer or tumors, anamu tea benefits can range from controlling organisms in the human body such as from fungal and bacteria growth, boosting your immune system, as well as treating digestive problems such as bloating and flatulence by fighting bacteria in the intestines. Or it can even be used plainly as a stimulant. If you’ve never tried anamu in the form of tea, it’s definitely not a common drink but easily can be one of the most important ones you’ll ever consume for your body!

Some interesting uses for Anamu:

  • Has been used in South American in women to relieve pain from childbirth
  • Treats respiratory signs of cold and influenza
  • When crushed into a paste, it can treat muscular pain (spasms) and arthritis
  • Used as a way of controlling ticks in cows (kills insects)
  • Indian Natives used to use it to protect against witchcraft

While the leaves of the Anamu plant can be consumed in a tea, the real beneficial advantage is found in the roots, which can be ground up. You can also grind the whole plant (leaves, stems, and roots) and make a powder of it to mix with your food. Companies such as Zokia Nutritionals, SipaCupa, Purelife Herbs and a few others produce Anamu tea which can be best consumed with two cups of hot water either with honey, sugar, milk, chamomile, lemon, etc.

Where does the anamu plant grow?

Anamu is a rare native plant that originally comes from the Amazon rainforest but has since been spread into more modern, civilized areas such as Florida and Texas; and can be found used in daily practice in many countries such as South and Central America, Africa, and especially the Caribbean such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Since the Anamu plant can grow in many climates, it can now be found in many diverse areas all over the world. Rossi Naturals—a permaculture farm located in the rainforest of Puerto Rico–says, “Anamu will reproduce at various times of the year… we grow Anamu in various areas, we use it in our teas and it works fantastic in repelling mosquitoes.” So If you’ve been indecisive about trying a new tea and just so happen live in an area that is humid and tropical, growing some anamu right in your backyard might be a great idea. Whether you choose tea over coffee, as Zokiva would say “If you’re going to drink tea, it may as well be a disease-fighting tea.” Give anamu tea a try!

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What Does July 4th Mean To You?


Most of us tea lovers associate the Boston Tea Party with the 4th of July.  The day of American Independence. Decorations abound with Red, White, and Blue patterns everywhere you look. If we scratch below the surface, however, what can we see? In 1912, Robert Haven Schauffler wrote “[I]t behooves us as true Americans to enter the splendid new movement which is endeavoring to make the Fourth over from a day of shallow jingoism and unmeaning brutality and carnage into a day of initiation into the meaning of true citizenship and a festival of deep and genuine and beautiful patriotism.”

Patriotism is defined by Wikipedia as “Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values.” With this definition in mind, I have to say that this year feels different for me. When I think about patriotism, I think about pride in America. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel proud to be an American. I feel ashamed. My grandparents, on both sides, emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. They came from Russian. Poland, and Austria. My maternal Grandmother lost her 4 sisters during the Holocaust as they decided not to emigrate to the U.S.  The vast majority of us Americas came from scattered countries throughout Europe and beyond. Some came to avoid persecution while some came to seek wealth, financial independence and freedom.

Leaving British rule over taxation was a worthy agenda at the time but we did it by stealing the land from the Native Americans. Although we have started to right that wrong, Native Americans continue to feel “less than” the rest of Americans. Our next crime was the brutalization of slaves. And yes, we are making progress there as well but ask any African American you know if they feel entirely equal to their white-skinned neighbors. Despite having a black president for 8 years, the prejudice remains in many parts of the country.

Let’s not forget about Japanese internment camps. Racial fears contributed to horrible decisions that were made to protect us from Japanese people, many born in this country and many who later served in the war effort. Yes, the government has apologized, but significant harm was done to so many people. Even then, however, children were not separated from their parents. Today, fear of immigrants has led to over 2000 children being torn from their parents, whose only crime was a misdemeanor. Children as young as 9 months old have been placed in detention centers and foster centers around the country without the ability to be easily reunited with their parents. Who would have thought such a thing could be possible in America in 2018? Why are we not learning the lessons from the past? Each mistake provides an opportunity to learn and hpefully not repeat the past. Why are we not learning these important lessons? I believe FEAR has taken us prisoner. I believe that individually, the vast majority of us are good people. We can’t let our fears take us off course. The State of Liberty, on Ellis Island where my grandparents arrived in this country tells us “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearing to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homelesstempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

On Saturday I participated in a Families Belong Together rally in Portland Oregon. The Washington Post concluded: “Hundreds of thousands of people turned out from coast-to-coast Saturday in “Families Belong Together” rallies to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and implore their fellow citizens to turn out to vote in November’s midterm elections.” I was particularly impressed with the number of children who participated, carrying signs and singing the slogans. I remember rallies back in the 60’s when we marched against the injustice of Vietnam but WE were the children in attendance. Today, young liberal and conservative parents are teaching their children what it means to be an American.

I believe at our soul, we are a country of inclusion. Our citizens represent the tapestry of nations left behind to come to the “Greatest Country in the Free World” to begin a new life of democracy, liberty, and justice for ALL.  Barack Obama sent a recent message to all of us and his words, as always, are important to hear.

“You are right to be concerned”………..”Do not wait for the perfect message, don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote’” ……… “Boil it down….If we don’t vote, then this democracy doesn’t work.”

So I ask, as you are sipping your favorite tea this 4th of July, give some thought to who you are as an American and what kind of an America you want your children and grandchildren to live in.  Our very future lies with each of us and the choices we make and actions we take today and tomorrow.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Written by Michelle Rabin, speaking for us all.

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Has This Ever Happened To You?


My day started out crazy busy and I didn’t even have a chance to make my ritual green tea first thing in the morning. Fortunately, my husband asked if I’d like a cup of tea and I quickly thanked him while he handed me a steaming mug.  Fast forward and I’m getting my car keys and thinking that I’m a bit thirsty and perhaps should grab a water on the way out when I remember I hadn’t even taken one sip of my tea. If only this wasn’t a frequent scenario. This story, however, has a happy ending because last week I was sent an interesting tea mug to sample and it saved the day.

Glowstone Smart Mug is an innovative British teaware design that created a way to keep your tea warm, at 150 degrees.

After an initial 5-hour charge, you simply keep their empty mug on an electrified, wireless base waiting to be filled with your favorite brew. Once you’re ready, simply fill the mug and you’re good to go. The tea will stay warm for your continuing pleasure. Once you’ve finished your tea, simply rinse the cup and replace it onto the charging pad so it will be ready for your next cup of tea. The creators provided a number of important features for our enjoyment: This fine bone china mug is dishwater safe and the charging station automatically turns off when the charge is complete. You can also plug your base into the computer if you’re working long hours and want your tea nearby. Their ergonomically designed handle makes the sipping an entirely delightful experience. How they manage to keep the base comfortable to the touch amazes me.

The cost isn’t for the faint of heart, coming in at $169 or 2 for $299 but if you plan to keep it for years, I think it’s a reasonable investment into the enjoyment of your daily tea.  For someone like me, who doesn’t like room temperature tea and doesn’t even like iced tea, I’ve wasted so many cups of tea by being distracted by my life, it makes perfect sense that this will end those wasted cups forever. Glowstone is offering our T Ching community a generous 15% discount – to the first 50 orders – so that should help with your decision making. Please use code TCHING15 when placing your order. Since my husband keeps using MY Glowstone mug, I think I’ll have to spring for one for him as well.

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A Thirst for Empire – T Ching


Tea has a rich and varied history, but you’d be surprised at what a HUGE impact it had on the modern world. The book, ‘Thirst for Empire’ focuses on how tea was developed from an obscure commodity only available to the rich to a driver for imperial expansion and mass marketing that affects us to this very day.

The book starts off just as tea was becoming an important commodity and its primary source being from China. To the British, this became the opportunity to use their vast trade networks to control distribution and later production of this product. But because it was relatively unknown to the common person, markets and demand needed to be created.

Tea itself was a new beverage that competed with existing industries at the time, and because it was foreign was seen as a threat by some. So between domestic habits (i.e. beer) that may have been impacted or distrust of foreign goods, there were plenty of early critics, as evidenced by a popular writer below:

“Tea was an idle custom; an absurd expense, tending to create fantastic desires, and bad habits, which must render us less happy or more miserable than we should otherwise be”.

The Feminine Aspect

Part of tea culture became associated with women, initially because, although tea was sold in coffee houses, many women of means didn’t enter those overwhelmingly male establishments. Twinings was one of the first to recognize this and created tea specific stores nearby aimed at women.

But apart from this, the book shows how the tea house movement exploded in London particularly, and became a huge business.

Temperance Movements and Processed Food

Tea became the obvious choice for the rise of temperance movements in the 19th century. Shunning alcohol, these societies created lavish tea parties to attract new members; and offered all sorts of breads, cakes, butter, cream, fruit, and sugar. In a roundabout way, these movements with tea at its core contributed to a change in eating habits and dramatic increase in the consumption of sugar.

Globalism and Free Trade

As the 18th and 19th centuries progressed, globalism and world trade increased. Tea and other commodities like it were a source of major tax revenue. And these policies created friction, eventually leading the North American colonies to thumb their noses at tea. The Boston Tea party was a result, which led to harsher punitive measures by the crown, which led to armed revolt.

There was a point where the entire British navy was funded by the tax on tea; and the rise of the East India Company, a massive multinational company with implicit state support reigned supreme.

Establishing Food Standards

Tea also led to such conflicts as the opium wars: With the British supplying opium to China to counter the trade surplus that occurred with China. Later on, India was found to have some great growing regions and a movement of pacification and exploitation to convert countryside into tea plantations took place. As a result, there was a push to encourage the purchase of tea from these imperially-controlled areas, and charges of adulteration (some of it being true) of Chinese tea along with racist stories (i.e. Chinese tea contains the sweat of dirty plantation workers) to convert more British consumers to drinking “empire” tea.

It was the adulteration of tea–such as using food coloring to change a green tea into black–that led to a series of standards for inspection and certification, which became some of the first food safety laws.

Spread and Decline of Empire

Tea was also thought of as a way to pacify and civilize British empire subjects, from India to Africa. It was thought of as a way to impose British standards of civilization upon their subjects, whether they liked it or not. It is interesting how India resisted tea at first, then made tea their own by spicing it up, going against British norms.

Eventually there were nationalistic movements to support the empire and to persuade people to only buy tea with EMPIRE tea logos on it. This was particularly emphasized in the beginning of the 20th century and during World War 1.

During the post-World War 1 depression, tea became the subject of commercial campaigns, with professional organizations funded by growers to market and advertise tea not only in Britain, but her colonies. Here we saw massive consumer relation campaigns with cartoon characters like “Mr. Pott” to push the mantra of “tea revives you.”

During World War 2, tea became a comfort while the world was in flames, with a cup of tea giving the British the ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude during the Blitz and offering comforts of home to soldiers fighting thousands of miles from home.

The end of the book deals with the decline of tea after the war. With the British empire effectively dismantled, the United States was now the global superpower, and with it, American products and marketing flooded the world.

Where tea was a staple, the familiar Coca Cola signs sprung up. Mass market soft drink and, hip coffee bars all took a toll on tea consumption, as did the geopolitical disruptions in the former colonies affect production.

Summary

This book is a very detailed historic account of how the business of tea affected all aspects of the world socially, economically, and militarily. And while there are  enormous amounts of details to sift through, those who are fond of tea will especially appreciate the numerous side stories of this important beverage. Peppered throughout are photos, and the early marketing slogans and advertisements are especially interesting. A great addition to any library, and pairs well with tea! 

 



Blast From the Past: Flavoring Tea at Home with Home-Grown Herbals


There are very few truly gifted blenders that make me want to give blending a try.  I know my place and it isn’t my calling.  Finding the best tasting tea and herbals in the world for our business collection is.  I know a naturally gifted blender when I taste something that is truly magnificent.

But, let’s say I drop the standard a little and want to play around myself?  I’ve found growing herbs in containers is not only easy, it’s fun, and one of my favorite things to grow is mint.  Mint is hard to kill, which makes it ideal to grow.  Above is a container I stuck a couple tiny pieces of mint into just a short time ago–a few weeks it seems.  The photo shows the results.

If you’re a mint fanatic, you’ll probably already have lots of mint blends where the mint is quite dominant.  But for those who just want a ‘hint of mint’, or even a beautiful garnish for an iced tea, it’s so easy to snip a sprig and put it in some hot or iced tea (if you add honey, please use light honey with white and green tea and stronger, darker honey with black tea and put it in the hot infusion before you pour it over ice if you are doing iced tea, or you’ll get a mini lava lamp effect if it hits tea that’s really cold).  You can crush the leaf before adding for more flavor, or just leave it alone and let it add just a light minty note as it slowly infuses into the tea.

You can, of course, also add mint to other herbals.  Yerba Mate is great with a mint note, as is chamomile.  Rooibos is the perfect foil for a host of flavors including mint.  Mint is extremely cooling to the senses and very relaxing.

Experiment with adding other herbals than mint that you might already be growing in your yard, potted or not.  Rose petals, like this beautiful one in our side yard, are used by blenders in many tisane and tea blends…why not drop a few pinky petals into that white tea to add color and a hint of sweetness?  How about naturally dried strawberries (we’re growing these in a pot but have some in-ground as well).  Chrysanthemum, fennel, new fresh tips of cedar or pine… Be creative but be safe!  Here in Southern California, I have a huge, gnarly old pepper tree in my back yard and making my own chai might even be in the future; at least adding a few pepper berries off our tree to our delicious Spicy Chai just to add a ‘personal touch’. Or not.

Stressing safety again: Google is my ‘best friend’ when I have a question about ‘safe plants’, sites like WebMd, or just put ‘edible plants’ and/or ‘nonedible or dangerous plants’ in the search box.  That lovely pink oleander flower?  Uh uh…no go.

Have fun and make your own icy concoctions this summer!  Happy home blending!

Written by Diane Walden, originally posted in June 2016



Fermented Probiotic Rich Teas (tissanes)


I was quite interested when I read a piece in the India Times about probiotic teas.  Most of us are familiar with Kombucha, which has been growing in popularity over the last few years and uses Camellia Sinensis as its base. Probiotic-rich drinks and foods provide excellent health benefits to our microbiome which directly impacts our GI system and overall health.

I came across a delicious-sounding Mexican drink called Tepache Ginger Tea. Using ginger and pineapple, this probiotic-rich drink sounds too good to be true. My plan is to make some one of these weekends and give it a try. Here’s a recipe that I found which changed out the typical cane sugar with honey, adding another healthy ingredient. As I’ve come to learn, sugar is poison to the body so replacing it with honey is an exceptional idea.

Recipe Source

  • 1 large ripe organic* pineapple
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1-2 inches of ginger which should be peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons of the best honey that is available
  • 2 cups of filtered water

*Remember that organic ingredients are always best.

After thoroughly washing the pineapple, peel it leaving some pulp on the skin, and juice the remaining pulp. You can include the core into the brew. Fill a large glass jar with all of the ingredients. Stir well. Cover with a cloth and leave unrefrigerated for 2 days. You will notice some foam has formed on the top. Simply remove it and continue the fermentation for another day. Finally, stir, strain and refrigerate with a lid. Once chilled, enjoy this wildly healthy summertime beverage.

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