Yerba Mate – The Drink of the Gods
Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a small tree native to the subtropical Atlantic forests of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This evergreen member of the holly family was introduced to modern civilizations by the indigenous Guarani. For instance, the mate drink is brewed from the dried leaves and stems. Yerba Mate is consumed by millions of South Americans as a healthful alternative to coffee.
What does this drink taste like? Well yerba mate lives up to its name ‘cup herb’. The flavor is very herby or vegetal/grassy but can be very agreeable if made correctly! Water must NOT be boiling as this can cause bitterness. Steaming hot is quite sufficient. This is what Michael drank most Saturday mornings at the Local Tea Company tent at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market.
How to drink Yerba Mate?
The traditional way to drink the infusion is from a hollowed out gourd through a straw called a ‘bombilla’, a reusable straw! A yerba mate tea set. The ritual is a common social practice shared with friends and carrying a set of rules. Usually one person, the host will prepare yerba mate and refill the cup. The gourd is passed around in a clockwise circle and then re-brewed many times. You will say ‘gracias’ and return the gourd to your host only when you have had sufficient! I talk to many visitors who have enjoyed this experience when traveling in South America.
Another option is our Roasted Mate. The leaves are toasted which imparts a slight roasted taste. The leaf is dark and tastes almost coffee-like, and is a good choice if you are trying to ‘kick’ the coffee habit!
Michael prefers our Sweet Orange Mate, a blend of green and roasted mate along with some citrus and licorice which tends to soften the ‘herbi-ness’ a little. As a reult, you will receive a surge of energy and mental clarity which really gets you on the right track and sets you up for the day!
Above all, this drink plays a role in many legendary tales. First discovered centuries ago by the indigenous people in South America, Yerba Mate has become revered as the ‘drink of the gods.’ People survived drought and famine drinking this tea. Yerba Mate can enhance health, vitality, and longevity and is now becoming an alternative to coffee in many other areas of the world. This well balanced stimulant has 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and is high in antioxidants.
Mate has some amazing qualities which make it a whole body tonic. The stimulation comes to us via 3 components called Xanthine Alkaloids: – Caffeine, Theophylline and Theobromine (found in chocolate!). This mighty combination along with minerals to support the nervous system and B vitamins to relax the muscles produce a balanced and long lasting physical and mental stimulation!
You may find comments about Yerba Mate having ‘more anti oxidants than green tea.’ Let’s just say Mate contains ‘abundant anti oxidants’ and is low in tannins, You can brew this tea very strong without any bitterness which also makes it easier on the stomach. Along with a massive burst of energy, Mate will curb your appetite, raise your metabolism and burn calories i.e. loose weight. Sounds easy if all you have to do is drink Yerba Mate.
As with all teas you can change the experience to suit you. People always ask how to make yerba mate without a gourd? Brew your yerba mate drink your favorite way, whether in your favorite tea pot or a Travel Mug or a Tea Maker or a T sac. Give it a try and let us know what you experience.
Tea Quote from Sir Arthur Wing Pinero
British Actor, dramatist & Stage Director
(24 May 1855 – 23 November 1934)
5 Things to Consider when Giving the Gift of Tea
Tea is a wonderful way to show your love, appreciation, respect, or that you are thinking about someone. Perhaps the universal gift, like age, gender, geography, time of year, relationship status, or any other boundary, can be crossed safely, without confusion. While the gift of tea can be personal, the truth is everybody has a tea they like or love. Some don’t know it yet.
We recently added a Tea of the Month program, either 3 months or 6 months. That got us thinking about “gifting” tea. Here are a few thoughts to consider when giving the gift of tea…
1. Caffeine or Herbal (caffeine-free)
Caffeine is an important consideration, especially sensitive as we are here in Florida. Caffeinated teas are a great way to begin the day or a superb lift in the late afternoon, but caffeine can create problems for the novice or the beginning tea drinker. A wonderfully flavored black tea like our Organic Strawbango might not be the best tea to drink after dinner. I always ask the server for their home number when ordering herbal or caffeine-free beverages, so if I am awake at 2:30 in the morning, I know who to call. When in doubt, go with an herbal, rooibos, or fruit tea. You can’t go wrong with our Organic Peppermint, Selby Select Rooibos, or Siesta Tea (fruit tea)
2. Loose leaf tea or tea bags
We are quite partial to loose leaf tea at Local Tea Co. Tea lovers, and experienced tea drinkers tend to prefer loose leaf tea. The tea typically will be of better quality, fresher, and a much better value. It cost money for the convenience of bagged tea! Loose-leaf teas also provide more flexibility in how much tea you might want to brew; tea for two or three or a big pot for your sewing circle. That said, teabags, especially the biodegradable ones we offer, SOILON sachets, are very convenient for anyone traveling or those interested in trying a new tea. Check out the many options of our tea samplers available in loose-leaf or sachets. If they don’t love the tea, it can always be served to guests when they come over for a cuppa.
3. Flavored tea or and pure blends
Would you rather a gift of Organic Sarasotan Breakfast blend (an unflavored pure blended tea) or our Organic Earl Grey (flavored with Oil of Bergamot)? This may be the easiest comparison. There are so many spectacular blended teas from our Goji Green or Jasmine green tea with flowers to our Cochin Masala Chai or our many rooibos blends. What is better than a strong cup of pinhead gunpowder green tea or a pure Organic Sencha. Maybe a pot of our ruby Organic Red Berries that you can share with the kids or enjoy as an iced tea later in the day. Tough one, but that is why you are an expert gift-giver, and you really can’t go too wrong!!
Is the gift for a serious tea drinker, someone loaded with tea accessories? Do they really need another tea ball with an elf Fob? Go with an expensive porcelain mug with painted flowers. Our cat mugs sold incredibly well at our Selby Gardens Tea Shop, and they still sell floral mugs in the Garden Shop. Or, for a more modern gift, one of the newer steep-in-one traveling mugs. There are lots of tea lovers’ options, and for the newbie just starting their tea journey, a box of tea bags or a few mesh balls of different sizes or teaspoons will spark a conversation. Or get them an inspired gift, maybe a bamboo tea basket, and challenge them to figure it out! And there is also the whole category of things that can be added to tea that make for wonderful gifts; honey or jams are always welcome.
Most important is not to overthink your gift. The person you are gifting will appreciate the gesture you are making and the thought behind this gift. They will love it as much as they love you. Find a clever and creative tea. We recommend our Mable’s Rose Rooibos or the tropical fruity Mote Beach Tea. Find a tea with some meaning or be realistic, something that can easily be ‘Regifted.’
Tea Caddy George Harrison
‘I’m a tidy sort of bloke. I don’t like chaos.
I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy and pot in the pot box’
I found this quote from my favorite Beatle very amusing. I also share the sentiment, excluding the part about the pot of course!
The tea caddy is a favorite kitchen item from my childhood. I have memories of opening our caddy and inhaling the rich smell of loose tea when Mum gave me me instruction to “put the kettle on and make a pot of tea”.
A TEA CADDY is a box, jar, canister, or other receptacle used to store tea. The word is believed to have derived from ‘catty’, the Chinese pound. The earliest examples that came to Europe were of Chinese porcelain in the shape of a ginger jar. They had lids or stoppers and were most frequently blue and white.
Later designs used a variety of materials with wood becoming very popular. Tea was very expensive so the caddies were locked and the keys only available to the lady of the house. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century the caddies became even more elaborate often mounted in brass and delicately inlaid, with knobs of ivory, ebony or silver.
As the price of tea decreased toward the end of the nineteenth century, the use of lockable caddies declined. Those precious tea leaves which had held pride of place in ornate boxes, and displayed on mantles and sideboards. The Tea Caddy was replaced with cheaply produced tins and boxes stored in the kitchen. That was the style of caddy you would find in our kitchen!
I still use several caddies in my kitchen today. My favorite is fashioned from a tin which used to contain a British candy called Liquorice Allsorts. It makes an excellent tea caddy.
Do you have a favorite tea storage container? Your comments are always welcome. Tea Caddy George Harrison
Pinhead Gunpowder and Guy Fawkes
November 5th is the perfect time to talk about our Pinhead Gunpowder green tea. For me, this tea conjures up images of Guy Fawkes, a very celebrated and notorious fellow in Great Britain. Born in Yorkshire, I am sure you have seen the mask below on Halloween or in the “V for Vendetta” movies or comic books. Do you know what Guy Fawkes was notorious for besides drinking Yorkshire tea?
“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”
In 1605 a group of conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the House of Parliament by filling the cellar with explosives. Known as the “Gunpowder Plot,” the conspirators wanted a Catholic King rather than the protestant King James I. The plan did not work, and Guy Fawkes was captured, hung, drawn, and quartered for his part in the plot. However, his name lives on. Guy Fawkes Night is a festival in Britain remembering the Gunpowder Plot and the King’s survival.
Every year on 5 November, Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated with bonfires in towns across England. Dummies, or “guys” are burnt atop the fires. A great tradition we children anticipated with excitement was making the “guy” dummies a few days before the 5th. We carried the dummies around the village, shouting “penny for the guy.” The quality of our ‘guy’ was determined by the number of pennies we collected.
Today, the Guy Fawkes mask is worn by protesters to demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause against the establishment, as was Mr. Fawkes’s intent.
Gunpowder Green Tea
And so to our pinhead gunpowder, a classic green tea from Zhejiang province in China is made from leaves rolled into small pellets that look like actual gunpowder. It never ceases to amaze me how many people comment on this fascinating tea. The tiny pellets transform, unfurling into graceful, dancing leaves. If you have a glass teapot, enjoy the performance.
Gunpowder green tea is harvested in April, as this is the absolute best time of year for quality leaves. The leaves are withered to reduce moisture content making them more pliable, steamed, rolled, and dried. Although the individual leaves were formerly rolled by hand, most gunpowder tea is rolled by machines today.
After that, the highest grades are still rolled by hand. This rolling process also renders the leaves less susceptible to any breakage and allows them to retain more of their flavor and aroma. You can determine the freshness of gunpowder green tea by the sheen of the pellets. And the smaller, the better, as the size is associated with quality, hence the name pinhead.
Our Pinhead Gunpowder green tea brews darker than most green teas with a rich flavor and a slightly smokey finish. I have enjoyed Pinhead straight up, infusing multiple times, but it can be brewed very successfully with ginger or peppermint and used as an iced tea.
I hope you enjoyed the gunpowder plot, and please do enjoy many infusions of this classic tea.
Teetotalers to Tea Parties
In 18th century England, tea was an expensive commodity, heavily taxed, and a luxury for the rich. Coffeehouses were popular meeting places for social interaction, where news and views were exchanged. However, women were banned!
Because of the working classes’ escalating drunkenness, tea was served to ‘persons of inferior rank.’ Many new cafes and coffeehouses opened as alternatives to pubs and inns, leading to the Temperance movement.
The Preston Temperance Society of 1823 started in the north of England by Joseph Livesey. He promoted abstinence from alcoholic beverages. The movement quickly spread throughout England and to the States.
It is not clear where the term ‘Teetotaler” originated or why someone who never drinks alcohol is referred to as such. However, it has nothing to do with tea. However, the movement laid the foundation for something that would change the world.
In 1864 the Aerated Bread Company opened what would become known as the ABC Teashop. The manageress of this London-based company served tea and snacks gratis to customers of all classes. She opened a commercial tea room on the premises. This is a place women of the Victorian era to take a meal ‘unescorted’ without sullying her reputation!
Soon other companies followed, and from the 1880s onwards, fine hotels began to offer tea service. Going out to tea was a fashion reaching its heyday in the Edwardian era (1901-1914). By 1913, tea was an elaborate and stylish affair. Served in palm courts with string quartets playing, and leading to the even more fashionable tea dances. How I would have loved to have been part of the era!
Fashions change, and so do social patterns and lifestyles. Cocktails once again are popular, though tea continues as a drink at home and in the workplace.
Thankfully there is a new surge of interest in tea drinking and going out for tea. I love going to tea houses, as you can see in previous posts. Tea dances are enjoying a revival, and tea parties are becoming popular to celebrate weddings, family events, and gatherings.
In conclusion, whether you are a Teetotaler or totally into tea, please join Local Tea Company in this fascinating journey of TEA through the centuries. Maybe the best is yet to come!
Tea George Orwell
All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little
stronger with each year that passes
We answer a lot of tea questions at Local Tea Company. The most popular inquiry is about what makes for a good cup of tea? This tea quote is taken from an essay published in the Evening Standard in 1946 by the English author George Orwell. He directed his keen wit and passion for clarity in language to the topic of the perfect cup of tea.
Orwell identified 11 points that he regarded as ‘golden.’ While I risk an overly lengthy post, it would not seem right to leave any of them out. Each is so witty and relevant to the last detail, though I have risked a touch of editing. Enjoy…
First of all,
One should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays. It is economical, and one can drink it without milk, but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver, or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
Tea should be made in small quantities, that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware.
The pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
The tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong but like it a little stronger with each year that passes. A fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
The tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags, or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries, teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually, one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot, it never infuses properly.
One should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
After making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterward allowing the leaves to settle.
One should drink out of a good breakfast cup, that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind, one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
One should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
One should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all. Indeed in every family in Britain, there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk, whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
Unless one is drinking in the Russian style, tea should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavor of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter.
If you sweeten your tea, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar. You could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water. Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself. They only drink tea in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people, I would say, try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight. It is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
(The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of Tea George Orwell)
An Ode to Tea
When the world is at odds,
And the mind is at sea,
Then cease the useless tedium,
And brew a cup of tea.
There is magic in it’s fragrance,
There is solace in it’s taste;
And the laden moments vanish,
Somehow into space.
And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you see;
All because you briefly stopped,
To brew a cup of tea.
No need to add any further sentiments to this ode. The words so sweetly sum up the importance of taking time for tea! An Ode to Tea
Scones Jam or cream 1st
Grahame and I have just come back from England. Drinking lots of TEA was certainly on the agenda, in part due to the inclement weather we had for the whole 2 weeks! So it was ‘Oh well, let’s have another cuppa.’
Peacocks Tea Room
Our first tea outing was planned, and it was actually a sunny afternoon when we arrived in the city of Ely in Southeast England. Laura had reserved a table at Peacocks Tea Room, and it was just delightful.
The afternoon tea was excellent, consisting of 3 different sandwiches, scones with your choice of jam, followed by a cake of your choice. I managed to eat the sandwiches and scone but had to take my cake home. There was too much food to finish. This was all washed down with copious amounts of tea (we all chose different ones!) served in individual teapots.
During afternoon tea (an earlier post explains the difference between high tea), we debated the best way to eat scones. If you were following correct etiquette, then you would place your clotted cream and jam on the side of your plate. Select your scone, slice in half, and break into a bite-sized piece. One would then apply cream and jam (or lemon curd from a blog post from the Spring) as each piece was eaten, taking sips of tea in between.
However, I am not talking correct etiquette here. In Yorkshire (a post bit about my hometown Harrogate), we don’t mess about with bite-sized pieces! Our debate was, ‘Do you put jam on first before cream or cream on first before jam?’
I have always put jam on first. And I have never really thought about changing the habit of a lifetime of scone eating. However, this new routine totally changed the taste experience, and I loved it. Grahame really enjoyed it too! Let us know which way you like your scone: scones Jam or cream 1st. Please post on our Facebook page.
Thanks to Laura for finding this gem of a tearoom and thanks to Peacocks for the delicious afternoon tea.
This holiday was our second of the summer. We visited northern Michigan in the Spring, and here is a link to my earlier post.
Valentine’s Day – A Time for Tea
Well, I can guarantee one thing there will be no diamonds in my house for Valentine. My husband would be quick to tell you that he does not need one special day in the year to reinforce his love for me – his excuse not to buy diamonds? There may be a chance of chocolates or flowers, but it is more likely to be something simple, like sitting down together for a pot of tea.
Bet you didn’t know Yorkshire men were so romantic! But I confess this is a man who knows the way to my heart for sure.
I cannot think of a nicer way to celebrate our love than the process of taking tea together. Like most people these days, we have conflicting schedules, and taking time to sit together, slow down and enjoy a spot of tea is an extraordinary gift.
What will we drink? My husband loves White tea, so perhaps we will start our celebration with a little White Mischief. Mischievous by name and by nature, this tea will represent our diamonds! If you have ever smelled guava, you know the skin has a chocolate-like aroma, so when you put the tea in a warm pot, the smell is tantalizing. Use water that is not quite boiling and infuse for 2 minutes only, but make more infusions from the same tea infusing for 4 minutes, 6 minutes, etc., until no flavor is left. Not only is the taste fantastic but such good value too!
Next, we will drink Chocolate Honeybush, and this will represent Chocolates in our Valentine celebration! Honeybush is one of our favorite herbal teas, and this tea is full of romance with hints of chocolate, roses, and a good dose of caramel. Delightfully indulgent, the chocolate and caramel blend so well with Organic Honeybush for a delicate flavor and without the calories. Drink away without having to worry, yummy.
Sweet Sin Rooibos
For our finale, we will drink some Sweet Sin Rooibos, and this will represent our Roses! You may have read in a previous blog what an impact Rooibos now has on my life, but it is also a tea we drink together throughout the year, so it is perfect for our celebration of love.
A simple, yet stunning blend of rooibos, roses, vanilla, and dried raspberries, this tea blooms with a perky fruitiness, is not too sweet yet has a soft and romantic finish.
And the moral of my tale? You really don’t need to have diamonds, chocolates, or flowers to show your love for each other. Give each other the gift of time enjoying tea together. May you continue to celebrate your love throughout the year, and as I often say, TAKE TIME FOR TEA. Valentine’s Day – A Time for Tea