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Festivi-Tea “Lights in Bloom”

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

Lights in Bloom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays,
The TeaLady

Sorori TEA Sisters Tea Review

A few of our teas have recently been reviewed by Sorori TEA Sisters, a blog dedicated to reviewing teas.  We thought we would share them with you and see what others are saying about teas from Local Tea Company.

Mable’s Rose Rooibos, celebrating Mable Ringling and her rose garden at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, is reviewed by Anne on October 20th and can be found here.

Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea, celebrating the arrival of Bertha Palmer in Sarasota 100 years ago was reviewed on October 22nd and can be found here.

Mote Beach Tea, celebrating the marine research conducted by Mote Marine Laboratories, was reviewed by Anne on November 11th and can be found here.   Glynis blogged about this fruit and herb tea in September providing lots of details.  (click here)

Mote Beach Tea

You may have noticed all the teas reviewed are part of the Celebrating Sarasota Collection of Teas.  We are adding to this collection and we hope to keep delighting our customers.

Hopefully, Sorori TEA Sisters will keep spreading the word about our teas, and we will update this post as they do.  Hint, Hint…Selby Select is amazing.  Check it out ladies.

Cheers,
md

Pioneer Tea – Historic Spanish Point

John Greene Webb and his family came to Spanish Point in 1867 where they established a homestead on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay. They planted citrus, sugar cane, vegetables and built a packing house to prepare their produce for market.

John Webb

All of us who enjoy living in beautiful Sarasota owe much to the hardship John and his family must have endured.  At Local Tea Company, we can think of no finer way to celebrate early settlers to Sarasota than with an amazing new herbal tea we have named Pioneer Tea and created for Historic Spanish Point.

Predominantly citrus, Pioneer Tea contains orange and tangerine pieces, blackberry and eucalyptus leaves, lemongrass, beetroot and carrot flakes, apple pieces and hibiscus flowers.  Perfect for our climate and caffeine-free, Pioneer Tea makes a stunning iced tea but all you folks who have to brave cold weather for several months can enjoy sipping this tea hot too. (Think of us when you do!)

There are over 600 varieties of Orange (Sweet Orange is Citrus sinensis).   Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is another variety of citrus and both are certainly sweet, juicy and delicious ingredients in this tea. The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste when dried and added to tea.

Suitable for everyone, oranges are rich in calcium, phosphorous, potassium, citric acid and beta carotene. The Vitamin A they contain gives us healthy skin and mucous membranes!

The other ingredients in Pioneer Tea are all equally as sweet and delicious…

Blackberry leaves. (Rubus fructicosus)  Steeped (sorry!) in ancient folklore the people of Medieval England believed blackberry would protect them from rheumatism, boils and blackheads! To do so meant creeping under the bush to gather fruit, but only at the right time of the moon! We do not suggest such extreme measures, simply drink the tea. Blackberry leaves bring flavor and harmony to this lovely tea.

Eucalyptus leaves. (Eucalyptus globulus, folium being the leaf)  A native of Australia, the Eucalyptus tree is used to make the Digeridoo and is known as the ‘Fever Tree’ because of antimicrobial and bacteria fighting properties! The oil from the leaf is pungent and when taken in tea is recognized as being very effective in de-clogging the nose, fighting throat infections and washing out the mouth.

Lemongrass. (Cymbopogen citratus)  Native to tropical climates like Florida, lemongrass lends a lemony taste to our tea along with some Vitamin C for added zest. I like to think of Lemongrass as bringing both harmony and aroma. Native to India, Lemongrass is used in Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve coughs and nasal congestion. Another valuable addition to our tea!

Beetroot. (Beta vulgaris)  I was delighted to include beetroot in this tea as it is one of my favorites! Beetroot is full of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant which supports healthy heart and liver function, is good for blood pressure and cholesterol as well as containing lots of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, C, manganese, potassium and folic acid)

Carrot flakes. (Daucus carota)  Another favorite, the carrot gets its characteristic bright orange color from beta carotene which our body can easily assimilate, store and convert to Vitamin A. Beta carotene is an antioxidant which fights damage caused by free radicals that can invade our bodies causing disease, also helping regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A bonus benefit is improved hair, skin and nails!

Apple and Hibiscus have been covered in previous posts for Peach Paradise and Mote Beach Tea.

I am sure you will agree that this is a delightful line up of ingredients and perfectly captures the zest for life which early pioneers must have possessed in plenty.

Bertha Palmer

Spanish Point was later acquired by Bertha Palmer and Pioneer Tea is a lovely balance to our Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea, as well as a wonderful addition to our Celebrating Sarasota collection of teas.  I hope you will take time to sip all our collection, visit Historic Spanish Point and celebrate the abundance of treasures we are so lucky to have here in Sarasota!

Cheers,
The TeaLady

Tea Rubbed Pulled Pork

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a video?   Check this one out titled, “The Making of Tea Rubbed Pulled Pork”

Tea Rubbed Pulled Pork

Local Tea Company collaborated with Local Catering and Chef Maryna to create a wonderful pulled pork creation using our Lapsang Souchong black tea.

This Fall, Selby Botanical Gardens hosted a Music Series and our pulled pork sandwich may have stole the show, selling out each week as we doubled the batch.  We may not be able to wait until the Spring Music Series, so visit Selby Gardens and ask for the next chance to try this unique blend of tea and porcine.

Lapsang Souchong

Some interesting tales about Lapsang Souchong can be found at our product page.  We have also tried this smoky tea iced with very positive results.  This is not an everyday tea, but on a chilly afternoon with a good book and a comfy chair near a fireplace, Lapsang Souchong is your tea.

Cheers,
The TeaLady

Healthy Living

I subscribe to a healthy living magazine each month and look forward to reading articles about wellness. I have noticed over recent months how the features on tea and the benefits of drinking tea have started to increase, which is great to see. This month there were two Local Tea Company favorite herbs mentioned which prompted me to share a bot more detail about both here.

The first is Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) which makes an amazing iced tea with a lovely red color and unique, bright, tart taste. Research tells us that this tea is said to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It is also a very good source of Vitamin C but is best know for the cooling effect drinking this tea has on your body.

Hibiscus

Imagine that, a natural body refrigerant which came in very handy this summer at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market! It is perfect when garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.  I have written a lot about Hibiscus in this blog, including last summer, but this time we have a picture!!

Boil four cups of water and infuse with ½ cup of leaves. Leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes. If you leave for longer the liquor becomes darker and more flavorful. Leave to cool before pouring over ice. (Be careful when working with Hibiscus as it may stain).

The second herb is Organic Egyptian Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) known for its gentle caressing nature.  We offer a Fair Trade Chamomile grown in the Nile River Valley.  I have written about Chamomile in an earlier post (Cami to Chamomile) when I was not a fan.  I have really grown to not only appreciate, but truly enjoy my “cami” and I hope you do as well.

Egyptian Chamomile

A warm tea of chamomile flowers is floral and rich. Chamomile calms, cools and tranquilizes to help you fall asleep naturally. Not only can you drink as a tea, you can use as a gentle spritzer on your skin or in your bath water as Chamomile relaxes tension in your muscles and softens the skin. For you blondes out there Chamomile will highlight your hair when used as a rinse!

For the spritzer use a tablespoon of dried flowers per 8 ounces of water. Cool before pouring into a spray bottle or soak a clean cloth in the liquor and use as a cooling compress.

These are two beautiful tea treats for your body and soul.  Stay well with Hibiscus and Chamomile.

Cheers,
the TeaLady

White Tea – White Mischief

White Tea is surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China. I am talking really ancient here, as in Tang dynasty 618-907 AD. This delicate tea was proclaimed by the Emperor as “the culmination of all that is elegant” and reserved for members of the Imperial Court. The leaves were picked in early spring when young tea shoots abound and legend has it that the picking was done by virgins wearing white gloves. Well, it is a pure story at any rate!

Tang Dynasty China

White tea is thankfully no longer solely the property of Emperors and Kings! Although originally grown only in the Fujian Province in China, due to its increasing popularity it is now grown in other regions such as Sri Lanka, Taiwan and India. What has remained the same is the process of making this tea!

White teas are the least processed of all the teas. Leaves are delivered to the factory by hand where they are naturally withered and sun dried, no oxidation takes place.

The new buds are picked before they open when they have a white, silvery appearance (hence the name!). This white appearance is the ‘hao” or hair on the bud or baby leaf.

White Mischief

White teas are subtle, delicate and flavorful and are considered by some to have the most health benefits. The appearance of white teas can vary in color depending on style of tea but all have a very natural fresh look which is also very pure and natural in the cup, devoid of any astringency or grassiness.

With more antioxidants than black tea or green tea, research shows white tea has anticancer properties, is strengthening for the immune and cardiovascular systems, reduces high blood pressure and is calming and detoxifying on the skin(anti-sagging!).

So, what about our White Mischief from Local Tea Company? I thought this a very appropriate name on first tasting this tea with a mischievous play on the taste buds. Take a moment to smell this tea when it will also play mischief with your senses!
White Mischief is a type of tea known as Pai Mu Tan which means “white peony” and is produced in Fujian Province from a variety of tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha where only the “two leaves and bud” are used.  The tea is mostly green with silver tips and is quite light and fluffy.  The mischievousness is created by blending with a healthy dose of tart pomegranate and juicy guava!

When brewing White Mischief use one heaped teaspoon per cup with water heated to 180-190 degrees (or just under boiling).  I find this produces a mellow flavor without scalding the leaves which may cause astringency.  The tea can be infused for 2 minutes with plenty of flavor.  A second infusion of 4 minutes and a third of 6 minutes will yield great cooling and refreshing character. See our earlier post on multi-steeping tea.

I have infused this tea as many as 6 times, but leave you to experiment with this very exciting and actually quite mischievous tea. Sorry couldn’t resist it one more time!

Cheers,
The TeaLady

Mote Beach Tea

“Why beach tea?” we are asked when serving this delightful fruit infusion.

A quick sniff and a small sample of this tea will whisk you away to an exotic beach on a deserted island, with dolphins, manatee and other tropical delights.  This is a tea you would definitely want to be stranded with on your imaginary beach paradise.

Mote Beach Tea

It is impossible to resist a tea with such wonderful dried fruits and flowers: – pineapple, coconut, rosehips and hibiscus blended with natural flavors of those fruits.  There is no true tea, so Mote Beach Tea is caffeine free, especially nice after dinner or before bed and can be a “sweet tooth” substitute for dessert.

As we have done with our other fruit tisanes lets look in more detail at the ingredients of Mote Beach Tea.

Coconut (Cocus muciferaA tropical fruit rich in protein and very rich in the taste department! I absolutely love all things coconut and the ‘tree of life’ in its various forms delivers lots of healthy fats and fiber. I found that coconut has all the benefits of other dietary fibers: –

Lower risk of heart disease, helps prevent cancer, improves digestive function and helps regulate blood sugar all with 4 times the amount of fiber compared to oat bran.  New research shows that coconut fats are absorbed directly by the liver and not stored in fat cells thus producing energy and raising the body’s metabolism.

Pineapple (Ananas cosmosusThis ‘fruit of many blessings’, good health, good fortune and longevity.  Pineapple also has a wonderful taste along with some outstanding health benefits. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which helps in the digestion of proteins, Vitamins C and B and many essential daily minerals. The sugars in pineapple are easily digested, the fiber content is high and your immune system will receive a boost protecting you from illnesses.  Pineapple also has anti inflammatory properties.

Apple (Malus domesticaNot quite as exotic as our first 2 ingredients but never the less a very special fruit which we perhaps take for granted due to the continuous abundance of choices year round in our grocery store.

Apple contains anti-oxidants, flavonoids and pectin which is a natural fiber (apples being the richest source) that has recently been shown to act against bad cholesterol, decrease the chances of colon cancer and reduce high blood pressure.  Quercetin which is primarily found in Apples (and Black tea!) belongs to a group of plant pigment called flavonoids that help fight disease.

The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was certainly established with good reason.

Rose Hip (Rosa caninaThe beautiful hip is the fruit of the Wild Dog Rose and takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs.

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 species of cultivated roses but the medicinal species are natives of Europe. The hips are the reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection and for this reason they are often called “false fruits”. The nutrient value is as rich as their color; they enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

Hibiscus Blossoms (Hibiscus sabdariffaIf you have been following our blogs, by now you will have become very familiar with this little gem which is used as an enhancer in many teas now. If you have missed our previous descriptions on this healthy and colorful addition check out  Sabdariffa Spritzer.

You may not receive quite the list of benefits just drinking the tea so after brewing why not just add the steeped fruit to your morning cereal, yoghurt or smoothie for more exotic goodness!

Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote Beach Tea was created to celebrate and honor the work conducted at Mote Marine Laboratory.  Available in distinctive, resealable blue bags to maintain freshness, on the back of each package is an overview of the mission of Mote Marine Laboratory.

Mote is one of the treasures of Sarasota, and the tea is a crowd pleaser at our tea tent at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. Kids love it, though parents often enjoy it even more.

We launched this tea last year at the Night of Fish, Fun & Fright at Mote.  Come this year Friday Oct. 22 from 6:30 to 9pm.

Cheers,
the TeaLady

Kombucha #3

Thank you to those following my Kombucha side trip on my Tea Journey, as well as those enduring me when I get carried away with Kombucha enthusiasm! Since my earlier Kombucha posts, #1 and #2, I have been busy brewing and continue to learn about the variations, the good, bad and the ugly about this fascinating beverage.

Kombucha Tea

I am not very disciplined about drinking my kombucha when at home but during my working days at the Carriage House at Selby Gardens sip during lunch and the afternoon hours. During the ‘dog days of summer’ kombucha gives me a boost of energy.

Michael and Tray continue to make excuses why they no longer brew kombucha, though Tray drinks as much of my supply as available. I must be doing something right. So, what’s new?

I have found that black tea seems to work best, especially our Harrogate Yorkshire tea. (Not really surprising, this tea has such strength and character like the people of Yorkshire!!) Brewing the tea for 14 days was too astringent for my taste, so I reduced to 7 days. Less fermentation time results in a slightly sweeter taste and more fizz which I prefer. I also started adding new tea on top of the same SCOBY instead of washing out container each time and splitting the mother and baby. The SCOBY has grown really fat, improving my end results.

kombucha SCOBY

After reading that more fizz will be achieved if you leave bottles out for 4 days before refrigeration I tried this. The bottles started to grow ‘mini’ SCOBYs (ew!) so I now refrigerate immediately.

I am very much enjoying where this journey is taking me and find new converts or fellow ‘Kombuchans’ in all sorts of spots. You may have heard of retailers removing the commercially bottled Kombucha from their shelves, so there has been growing interest in home brewing. I have been giving away SCOBYs to anyone who wants to try making their own and hope to have more success stories to share.  Stop by Local Tea Company to talk tea.

Cheers,
The TeaLady

High Tea or Afternoon Tea?

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

50 Best Tea Blogs

We made a list  of the 50 best tea blogs.  We are very proud and thought we should share the other 49 with you.  You didn’t think there were 50 blogs about tea?  Enjoy the list here