You Must Believe In Spring


Spring conjures images of idyllic deep green expanses, perhaps even the finely
manicured terraced tea gardens in Japan. Closer to home, the hills that were once
brown or even blackened by devastating fires that perennially beset our region
show hopeful signs of regenerating and green appears once more. On the food
front, spring connotes a few special ingredients that make this time of year a chef’s
paradise. Rhubarb, morel mushrooms, fresh green peas and tender pea shoots all
vie for my attention on local farmers’ market tables but it is those pinkish green
stalks that I reach for first. Their bracing grassy and earthy flavor, when cooked
with only the smallest amount of sugar, are mellowed even further by a creamy
mousse made from the greenest matcha tea I can find. Here’s my vernal
celebration in a glass. Use clear undecorated glasses for the nicest presentation,
allowing the colors of the ingredients to shine through.

Matcha Mousse with Fresh Rhubarb
4 servings

For the Mousse:

  • .15 oz or 4.5 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) unsweetened gelatin powder
  • 7 t. cold water, used to soften the gelatin powder
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1-3/4 ounces ( approximately 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 5.3 ozs (2/3 cup) milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the rhubarb:

  • 1 medium-sized stalk of fresh rhubarb, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Granulated sugar to taste

Over low heat, cook the rhubarb with the sugar until it is just beginning to soften.
(Watch carefully as it will disintegrate into mush in the blink of an eye). Cool.

Sprinkle gelatin powder over the 7 teaspoons of cold water, stir and let soften.
Combine matcha powder and sugar in a bowl. Now heat milk to boiling. Whisk
boiled milk slowly into the matcha and sugar mixture.
Heat softened gelatin in a microwave proof glass or other vessel for 5 seconds
(and again for 5 seconds more, if necessary, stirring to check that it is fully
melted), then stir into matcha, sugar, and milk mixture. Strain and let cool.
Using a whisk, beat heavy cream to soft peaks, then fold into matcha mixture.
Place some of the rhubarb in the bottom of each glass. Spoon mousse over this
layer and top with the remaining rhubarb. Serve immediately, perhaps with a
ginger cookie.



Pesticides in my brew? Ewwwww


Most tea geeks agree that whole leaf tea is far superior to the highly processed stuff found in tea bags.  Even within the remarkable variety of whole leaf, there is wide variety of quality depending on processing, storage, and freshness.  Starting each morning with multiple pots of Doke Black Fusion, brewed from whole leaf picked and packaged just a few weeks ago, my husband and I are eternally grateful for the quality and freshness found in each aromatic cup. We enjoy the subtle nuance of each successive steep.

Nevertheless, much of the tea-drinking world relies upon the ubiquitous tea bag for their daily cuppa.  Tea bags are quick and convenient, can easily be packed in the lunch box, and give the consumer a mess-free fix in just a few minutes.   Like whole leaf, there is tremendous variety of quality and price in the offerings you will find at the local supermarket.  Before you grab a box of the most familiar brand, note that many of the popular brands contain illegal amounts of pesticides. (Source)

The worst offenders have some twenty different pesticides.  Ideally, your brew should contain NO pesticides. Do yourself a favor and pick up a box of organic tea bags.  Even Lipton has an organic offering, but you will find Numi, Newman’s Own and Stash all have organic offerings.  If you’re like me, you drink bagged brew only when you’re on the go. May I suggest buying a box of twenty bags and splitting it with a tea-drinking friend?  That way, you will have just eight or ten of the freshest bags in inventory. As always, store the bags just like you store your whole leaf – in a cool, dark, dry place in your pantry.

Image Source



Being Tea Addicted! – T Ching


How often have we heard about the people being addicted to their favourite dishes? A majority of the population in India is addicted to tea. I have seen people getting the cravings for tea every now and then. Excessive intake of tea could affect our health in one way or another.

Addiction to something is the key factor that strengthens your weakness. It is truthfully said that the mind should control our body and not vice versa. Similar is the case that while having tea, you must not get addicted to the idea of sipping tea frequently because anything consumed in excess leads to destruction. Getting addicted to sipping tea is actually getting addicted to the taste of caffeine present in the tea.

Fact: Tea leaves contain less caffeine than a perfectly brewed cup of tea.

Tea

Tea is a natural drink that helps in curing almost every health issue. My mother has always suggested that I have a cup of tea while suffering from a minor headache. The soothing action of the drink including ginger and cardamom seeds would calm the vibrating nerves and distract my mind from thinking about the pain.

Undoubtedly, tea has been a true companion for its enthusiasts, but drinking tea in excess has led to the heavy addiction among a majority of the people.

Tea made by adding milk to the concoction has resulted in the production of gastric acid in the human body, which relatively causes acidity.

There are innumerable varieties of tea that have differing caffeine content, with black tea having the highest and white tea the lowest. Apart from caffeine, it is the taste, aroma, appearance, and the way of preparing the tea that differentiates the type of teas. The characteristics of the teas also influence the taste buds of the tea-enthusiasts which make them addicted to a certain taste of tea.

You can also read this article regarding the caffeine addiction.

If you drink tea to occupy your taste buds, you won’t get to know when you started falling for the taste of tea. There are many people who drink tea to get their body in shape while some drink tea because they love the taste of caffeine. Being addicted to tea can actually involve a lot of side effects on your body.

A few of the side effects are listed here:

  • Chromosome damage
  • Increased PMS in women
  • Causing insomnia
  • Causing oesophageal cancer on drinking a very hot teacup
  • Formation of kidney stones

Taking a note of certain side effects on the human body, over-consumption of tea has proved to be harmful in various aspects of human life. If you are a tea-addict you must at once limit its consumption so as to avoid any future issues.



Blast From the Past: How much to buy and how much will you use?


There’s a lot of confusion about tea. There’s also a lot of confusion about how much tea to buy. Before T Ching, I would typically buy 50 grams of tea at a time when trying out a new tea. Once I knew I loved the tea and always wanted to be sure to have some in the house, I’d get 250 grams or 500 grams (which is closest to a pound). I was always interested in cost saving measures and getting 500grams does in fact cost less per gram. Here’s the problem. If you’re going to spend the money to get really good tea, you need to store it properly. That means having 1 airtight canister to store the majority of the tea and a smaller canister for daily use. I use a 70 gm. tin for everyday. When it’s empty, I refill it from the larger tin. That allows the stored tea to remain as fresh as possible. The truth is, every time you open the tin, air and light impact the tea. If you’re buying 500 grams for 6-8 months of tea delight, you want it to be as fresh as possible. Transferring amounts periodically to a small tin will ensure the long term enjoyment of tea. One could even go one step further by having a middle size canister to transfer the 500 grams into when that supply has been diminished by half.

So what is 50 grams of tea and how long will it last? Here we go again with the variable answer but the truth is, it depends. Let me explain, There are 2 significant factors to consider; 1) how much tea will you use in each cup? The correct answer is 3 grams. The truth is, nobody really weighs it out, unless you’re doing a formal “cupping” or tea tasting. Some people use 1-2 teaspoons. I like the 3 finger method. I dip my hand into the canister and grab 3 fingers worth of tea using my thumb, pointer and middle finger. That’s my rule of thumb so to speak. Then, depending upon the type of tea, I can modify from there. Tightly rolled oolongs need less while fluffy white buds like a little more. The truth is, you’ll learn after a few cups what amounts of each tea you find will taste best to you. Remember, there is no right or wrong, it’s what you like and what tastes best to you.

2) How long the 50 grams will last is another answer that has a few parts to it. In theory, if you use 3 grams per cup, that will make 16 separate cups of tea. What that really means however is potentially 64-80 cups of tea. Remember each cup can be re-steeped at least 3 times. If you’re sitting at your desk at work or home, you can easily have 4 cups of tea throughout the day with those same 3 gms of tea. In actual practice, I find that 50 grams of tea lasts about 4-6 weeks of regular use by me and my husband. We work together and typically drink tea together throughout the day. If I’m getting up to make some tea, I usually get him a cup as well and vice versa. Some days we’ll have 2 different types of tea going. Sometimes I’m just craving one particular tea in the evening, while I’m watching T.V. or reading a book. I know I won’t be making 3 more cups with it as it’s already late but what the hell. So that cup of late night tea actually costs more than the tea that yielded 4 cups earlier in the day. To put it in perspective, when you grab a can of soda or a beer, do you actually calculate the cost of that can? Well, if I were to get a case of soda at Costco, that can would actually cost me only 50 cents although when I get it at the diner, I pay $2.00 for it.

I can do the math for you if you’d like. If you pay $25 for 50 grams of tea and you can make 64 cups of tea, then it’s 39 cents per cup for very high end tea. This is not your supermarket, probably stale, boxed tea bag tea. This is fresh hand picked, premium, high quality whole leaf tea for 39 cents a cup. Compare that also, to a cup of tea bag tea at Starbucks which goes for $1.35 – $1.75 and with water that is far too hot for delicate greens and whites and you begin to see what I’m talking about.

Originally posted April 2007

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How Tea Can Help You Focus


When you hear the word focus what do you visualize? Perhaps a library with silence and zero distractions or maybe you think of a warm beach with the sounds of the ocean waves crashing nearby. Whatever you picture, many of the times we simply can’t pick up our belongings and go to those places that we’d love to be at. Instead, if you need to get a pile of tasks done and want to focus with clarity, then there is a one-of-a-kind drink you need called tea that can help you accomplish that and much more!

The three natural elements (chemicals) that aid in this process of pristine focusness are Theophylline, Theobromine, and L-Theanine. Consuming tea has been proven to reduce mental fatigue while simultaneously increasing the mind’s responsive time and active memory functions.

Unlike coffee beans, tea is the only plant that produces L-Theanine and caffeine both at the same time. Because of these brain-boosting components, tea has become a relic for some, it’s no wonder many have used it for centuries including with meditation rituals. Now don’t let the caffeine found in tea fool you, the caffeine in tea is half the amount found in coffee (between 30 to 50mg) yet it’s released at a much slower pace to your system and lasts longer rather than being used all at once. It’s definitely noticeable leaving one feeling energized for longer periods of time and getting more done. Consequently, tea will not leave you craving more caffeine like coffee does. For those who are intrigued, I suggest drinking some black tea, as it is a great choice that has been found to help massively with cognitive functions and to stay more alert.

Another way that tea excels in is by stabilizing your mood; without a good mood we can’t remain concentrated on what’s in front of us. Tea’s abundance of antioxidants will also help fight depression, and slow things down a bit. The way the brain absorbs the high levels of EGCG antioxidants and L-Theanine results in higher concentration, improved short-term memory, and a stable mood to get things finished. The antioxidants and L-theanine work by changing the electrical activity in the brain by increasing alpha waves thus raising focusness, attention, and better reaction timing. This is like the holy grail of drinks to take before an exam!

There are countless many variations of teas and some are more effective than others, but tea in general has been famously known for causing the sensation of one being calm and relaxed. Chamomile Tea, Peppermint Tea, and Lemon Balm Tea all do a great job at this and as mentioned earlier, have even been used to treat depression and anxiety. Given that different varieties of tea have more or less of the chemicals than others, no matter which variety you choose it’s still a great drink as a companion for coming up with ideas and letting creativity flourish. The best part of drinking tea is that while conventional over-the-counter anxiety treatments aren’t safe and can lead you down spiraling side effects; tea, on the other hand, is completely natural and proven to be efficient.

In conclusion, the next time you are in need of focusing on an assignment or task, drink some tea because we’re sure it’ll boost your productivity levels and your brain will thank you for it.  

Sources: http://limeredteahouse.com/blog/2014/04/30/7670/
https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/treatment/healing-tea
https://www.aol.com/food/9-teas-different-moods/
Image Source

Author: Franco Colomba



ChooArt Villa – T Ching


ChooArt Villa (樹也), located in MiaoLi County, Taiwan, is the Gold Winner of the 2017 FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Environmental (Rehabilitation/Conservation) Award. As specified via its website, FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation founded in 1945, provides access and opportunity for real estate professionals interested in gaining knowledge, sharing information and conducting international business with each other.

During a 12-year period, ChooArt Villa’s architecture team designed and constructed the villa’s four main buildings on the hillside without demolishing the surrounding vegetation. Not only was environmental destruction avoided, future preservation was also considered most diligently; all man-erected structures were positioned in such manner that they would not deter the growth of tree seedlings or alter the natural habitat of living beings.

ChooArt Villa’s proprietor is also the founder of Zealong Tea Estate, which introduced tea production to New Zealand. What a surprise to come across a 2011 T Ching post entitled Zealong Morning that shared a detailed review of Zealong Dark. At ChooArt Villa, exquisite tea cuisine is prepared using exclusively Zealong teas imported from New Zealand, when high-quality oolong teas are most readily available at the island’s local markets.

ChooArt Villa offers a distant, stunning view of LongTeng Bridge, permanently damaged by an earthquake in 1935. Years ago I visited the magnificent site. What struck me even more during that trip were the immense fields of betel nut palm, also known as areca palm, that lined both sides of the highways. Only after watching the ChooArt promo video did I learn that those plantations could be detrimental to the environment.



Being Tea Addicted! – T Ching


How often have we heard about the people being addicted to their favourite dishes? A majority of the population in India is addicted to tea. I have seen people getting the cravings for tea every now and then. Excessive intake of tea could affect our health in one way or another.

Addiction to something is the key factor that strengthens your weakness. It is truthfully said that the mind should control our body and not vice versa. Similar is the case that while having tea, you must not get addicted to the idea of sipping tea frequently because anything consumed in excess leads to destruction. Getting addicted to sipping tea is actually getting addicted to the taste of caffeine present in the tea.

Fact: Tea leaves contain less caffeine than a perfectly brewed cup of tea.

Tea

Tea is a natural drink that helps in curing almost every health issue. My mother has always suggested that I have a cup of tea while suffering from a minor headache. The soothing action of the drink including ginger and cardamom seeds would calm the vibrating nerves and distract my mind from thinking about the pain.

Undoubtedly, tea has been a true companion for its enthusiasts, but drinking tea in excess has led to the heavy addiction among a majority of the people.

Tea made by adding milk to the concoction has resulted in the production of gastric acid in the human body, which relatively causes acidity.

There are innumerable varieties of tea that have differing caffeine content, with black tea having the highest and white tea the lowest. Apart from caffeine, it is the taste, aroma, appearance, and the way of preparing the tea that differentiates the type of teas. The characteristics of the teas also influence the taste buds of the tea-enthusiasts which make them addicted to a certain taste of tea.

You can also read this article regarding the caffeine addiction.

If you drink tea to occupy your taste buds, you won’t get to know when you started falling for the taste of tea. There are many people who drink tea to get their body in shape while some drink tea because they love the taste of caffeine. Being addicted to tea can actually involve a lot of side effects on your body.

A few of the side effects are listed here:

  • Chromosome damage
  • Increased PMS in women
  • Causing insomnia
  • Causing oesophageal cancer on drinking a very hot teacup
  • Formation of kidney stones

Taking a note of certain side effects on the human body, over-consumption of tea has proved to be harmful in various aspects of human life. If you are a tea-addict you must at once limit its consumption so as to avoid any future issues.



Pesticides in my brew? Ewwwww


Most tea geeks agree that whole leaf tea is far superior to the highly processed stuff found in tea bags.  Even within the remarkable variety of whole leaf, there is wide variety of quality depending on processing, storage, and freshness.  Starting each morning with multiple pots of Doke Black Fusion, brewed from whole leaf picked and packaged just a few weeks ago, my husband and I are eternally grateful for the quality and freshness found in each aromatic cup. We enjoy the subtle nuance of each successive steep.

Nevertheless, much of the tea-drinking world relies upon the ubiquitous tea bag for their daily cuppa.  Tea bags are quick and convenient, can easily be packed in the lunch box, and give the consumer a mess-free fix in just a few minutes.   Like whole leaf, there is tremendous variety of quality and price in the offerings you will find at the local supermarket.  Before you grab a box of the most familiar brand, note that many of the popular brands contain illegal amounts of pesticides.

The worst offenders have some twenty different pesticides.  Ideally, your brew should contain NO pesticides. Do yourself a favor and pick up a box of organic tea bags.  Even Lipton has an organic offering, but you will find Numi, Newman’s Own and Stash all have organic offerings.  If you’re like me, you drink bagged brew only when you’re on the go. May I suggest buying a box of twenty bags and splitting it with a tea-drinking friend?  That way, you will have just eight or ten of the freshest bags in inventory. As always, store the bags just like you store your whole leaf – in a cool, dark, dry place in your pantry.

Image Source



Blast From the Past: Stress, stress, and more stress!


When do women look their worst? What is the most stressful day of the week? What is the most stressful time of the year? How does stress affect the body? How do you relieve stress?

stress_screamA British survey has concluded that Tuesday at 11:45 AM is when stress hits the hardest – many Americans agree. And a British company launching an anti-aging cream found that women look their worst on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM.

In America, Monday was perceived to be the most stressful day of the week, but upon delving into that, it was also the day most people dawdled (my word). The things they put off on Monday hit home hard on Tuesday, causing a great deal of stress.  For many, Wednesday was the most stressful day of the week and the day most people reported working through their lunch hours. Another survey reported that Thursday is a common night for people to have sex – contributing to the fact that Fridays seem to be the least stressful day for many. They believed there was a direct tie-in.

Holidays can also be the most stressful time for folks, but they can also be the happiest time for many. Traffic is stressful, co-workers are stressful, bosses are stressful, family problems are stressful, responsibilities are stressful, and deadlines are stressful. A lack of sleep makes us easily stressed.

According to WebMD.com:

“43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
* 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
* Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
* The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.”

A great deal of information is out there about stress – some contradictory, some startling, and some subjective. But stress is stress, so wherever it comes from, we must learn to deal with it, relieve it, and release it.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.
*  Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
*  Of course, if you’re not sure if stress is the cause or if you’ve taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Your doctor may want to check for other potential causes.”

When I asked what FOODS help to relieve stress – guess what came up several times?
Yes, TEA!

black_crackle_potOf course, you knew I was going there! Sadly though, most Americans are not aware that tea can help them relax, and therefore, relieve their stress.  According to EatingWell.com,
“‘Drinking caffeinated black, green or oolong tea varieties may elicit a more alert state of mind,’ says a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think theanine – an amino acid present in these tea varieties – may work synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and focus. To reap the benefits, the study’s results suggest drinking five to six (8-ounce) cups of tea daily.”

This is not news to those of us in the world of tea, but I truly believe that this is also part of a very valuable message we can impart to those purchasing our teas or questioning the need for tea: “Stress drags us down – tea lifts us up.”

Keep the message plain and simple and send your customers away with hope and appreciation. Let them know that in the time it takes to mindfully sip a cup of tea they can enhance their lives and take better take care of their mind, body, and soul.

Ladies, take a teapot to work, put a stash of tea in a drawer, plug in your kettles, and sip the stress away. Especially before 3:00 PM on Wednesday, steep your tea and get a jump on the Wednesday 3:30 PM doldrums because it is showing up on our faces. And yes, used teabags on closed eye lids are still a tried-and-true remedy that works!

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This article was originally posted in March 2013



Green Tea 101: Health Benefits Made Simple – Part 2


Dopamine!

In simple terms, Dopamine is a hormone (and a neurotransmitter) that is produced in your brain. It’s known as the “reward” hormone associated with good experiences. When you find a wad of cash on the street, immediately you feel an excited sensation and your heart seems to flutter. This is dopamine being released! In love? Yep, dopamine! Other effects include motivation, voluntary movement, sleep, mood, attention, focus, memory retention and learning to name but a few things.

So what does this have to do with tea and health? Well, in order to produce dopamine, certain amino acids are required. These amino acids come to us in foods and drinks. But in order to produce dopamine, these amino acids need to cross what is called the “blood-brain barrier” or BBB. Think of this as a maze to get into your brain. It’s filled with tiny alleyways that block substances from getting through to the brain, like viruses for instance. Most substances can’t cross over this barrier but Theanine can.

According to doctors Hidehiko Yokogoshi and Takehiko Terashima (leaders in Theanine-based research) at the Laboratory of Nutritional Biochemistry in Shizuoka, when you drink green tea, dopamine levels are significantly increased in the brain.

It’s worth repeating that green tea is just about the only thing in nature that contains Theanine and lots of it! This means it can boost production of dopamine in the brain when you drink it. These two doctors went on to explain how Theanine also promotes Alpha wave functions in the brain and this is what causes you to have an alert yet relaxed physical and mental state. In other words, it is your personal stress management system!

It’s also a well-known anecdote in Japan that Theanine is one of the best hangover helpers out there. The benefits of Theanine are too extensive to list but suffice to say, it’s the daddy of all feel-good substances.

The Science of Flow

When I drink Japanese green tea, I find that my state is energized, not jittery, my mind is clear, and I’m really in my flow.  New ideas seem to be coming from out of nowhere, connections are being made, my intuition is bionic and life seems to be sailing along with effortless ease. Some scientists refer to this as “the relaxed yet alert state” but they are missing something essential: creative JUICE!  I call this the “Science of Flow” because green tea is the conduit to get you into a state of effortless flow where inspiration is bubbling up from inside of you. I wonder why no one seems to be talking about this major benefit! Surely I’m not the only one who experiences creative flow as I sip my favorite kabusecha. I urge you to consider drinking only green tea when embarking on a creative adventure and see how well you do. Then drop me a line to join the club!

Illustrations taken from “Green is the New Black – the Glorious rise of Japanese green tea” by Holly Helt