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.’
A favourite book of mine offers an interesting quote or excerpt about tea. I will share it with you. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome was first published in 1889 and was intended as a serious travel guide about a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. However, it turned out to be a very humorous account detailing the adventures of the three friends Jerome, George Wingrave, and Carl Hentschel, along with a fictional dog called Montmorency!
Three Men in a Book Excerpt
When I read this excerpt today, it seemed so clever and witty, evoking powerful thoughts about the beverage I so love…. tea. Enjoy.
‘It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says “Work!” After beefsteak and porter , it says “Sleep!” Then, after a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming starts to the gates of eternity!”
Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat.
What type of tea does it take for you to rise and show your strength, be eloquent and deep or indeed spread your white wings of quivering thought? It would have to be a good strong cup of Yorkshire Harrogate for me! Here is an earlier post about Yorkshire. Please share your comments and take time for tea.
I cannot believe it has taken me so long to write about Rooibos tea. Maybe that is a good thing, though, as I have now reached a stage where my love of this tea is such that I cannot imagine life without it!
As an orthodox tea drinker, black teas, and mostly unflavored green teas, you will have heard me say many times that I love the taste of tea. However, like many women before me, I seem to have reached an age where too much caffeine (even in my beloved tea!!) seems to be disruptive for my body.
Enter ROOIBOS (Aspalathus linearis), a broom-like shrub and member of the legume family found in a small area of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The word rooibos (pronounced Roy-boss) is Afrikaans for red bush and has been popular in South Africa for generations.
Rooibos has a huge following all over the world due to the many health benefits and Mama Ramotswe, a certain lady detective. Suppose you are one of the few people not to have seen or read the No 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith then do so soon. Like the tea, these books are compelling, very relaxing, and worthy of your time.
So, what does Rooibos have to offer? Rooibos has very high antioxidant levels (aspalathin). In fact, some claim that Rooibos has more antioxidants than green tea. And I advise anyone not caring for green tea to drink Rooibos. The tannin levels are low (responsible for causing astringency in true tea), and there is NO oxalic acid, which makes this tea good for anyone suffering from kidney stones. Relaxing and restful, rooibos can assist with nervous tension, allergies, dermatological issues, and anti-spasmodic properties, making rooibos helpful for digestive problems.
In South Africa, rooibos is used to aid infants suffering from colic and is added to the baby’s bathwater (and yours) to soften the skin. Research continues on possible anti-cancer properties, and I think we will hear more about the benefits of drinking Rooibos for some time to come. Perhaps most important, you will find NOTHING about rooibos’ adverse effects, which is quite amazing!
Rooibos is an herb and is NATURALLY caffeine-free, making it the perfect tea for my sleeping predicament. This tea quite simply tastes and feels so good, and I have become a huge fan. I have found many tea lovers dislike pure rooibos, though it blends so well with fruits and flowers.
At Local Tea Company, we have a wonderful collection of Rooibos teas. Our best selling (of all our teas) is Selby Select, an orange peel and yogurt blend we created for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The list continues with Van Wezel with black and red currants (see post), Lemon Sunset with lemongrass and lemon peel, Bertha Palmer with licorice, peppermint, verbena, and fennel, and finally Mable’s Rose with cherry and rose. I hope you agree that it is quite a line-up, and if you are an iced tea drinker, do not despair. All are beautiful iced!
One of our rooibos teas is especially nice to share with a loved one. Sweet Sin combines raspberry with vanilla and is always popular around Valentine’s Day.
What a versatile and special tea this is, and if you haven’t discovered Rooibos already then, I hope you do so soon. Here is a post about Five Reasons you will Love Rooibos Tea.
I want to share a new tea with you, Festivi-Tea, created for the “Lights in Bloom” holiday celebration at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Selby Gardens comes alive with brilliant lights, festive displays, and a spectacular Christmas tree made of bromeliads every year. Guests stroll through a magical garden filled with sparkling lights, live holiday music, and children’s activities. And here is a post about Lights in Bloom 2020.
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. This tea is perfect for any evening, especially a night at Lights in Bloom.
Sencha (‘Sen’ meaning green and ‘cha’ meaning tea or ‘infused tea’) is a tea style. Harvested leaves are heated in a wok to prevent oxidation. The leaves have 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. When I was a little girl, I remember 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. They were such a special treat! The peel of citrus fruit can be bitter and not very appetizing. However, it 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. Almonds contain monounsaturated fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol. And for me, 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 delicious ‘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). 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.
Sorori TEA Sisters Review
A few of our teas have recently been reviewed by Sorori TEA Sisters Tea Review, a blog dedicated to reviewing teas. We are sharing the reviews with you. See what the tea professional and others are saying about teas from Local Tea Company.
Mote Beach Tea celebrates the marine research conducted by Mote Marine Laboratories. You will find the review by Anne on November 11th. Find it here. Besides, Glynis blogged about this fruit and herb tea in September, providing lots of details. (click here)
For instance, 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.
In conclusion, hopefully, Sorori TEA Sisters Review will keep spreading the word about our teas. We will keep updating this post as they do. Hint, Hint…Selby Select is amazing. Check it out, ladies.
Pioneer Tea – Historic Spanish Point
John Greene Webb and his family came to Spanish Point in 1867. 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 Greene Webb
All of us who enjoy living in beautiful Sarasota owe much to the hardship John and his family must have endured. We can think of no finer way to celebrate early settlers to Sarasota than with an amazing new herbal tea at Local Tea Company. We created Pioneer Tea to celebrate 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.
Besides, 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. However, it adds great taste when dried and added to tea.
Suitable for everyone, oranges are rich in calcium, phosphorous, potassium, citric acid, and beta carotene. Vitamin A they contain gives us healthy skin and mucous membranes!
The other ingredients in Pioneer Tea are all equally as sweet and delicious…
(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; drink the tea. Blackberry leaves bring flavor and harmony to this lovely tea.
(Eucalyptus globulus, folium being the leaf) A native of Australia, the Eucalyptus tree, is used to make the Digeridoo. Eucalyptus 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 very effective in de-clogging the nose, fighting throat infections, and washing out the mouth.
(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!
(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)
(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!
I am sure you will agree that this is a delightful lineup of ingredients and perfectly captures the zest for life, which early pioneers must have possessed in plenty.
Bertha Palmer later acquired Spanish Point, 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!
High Tea or Afternoon Tea?
Our sister company, Local Catering, has seen an increased interest in tea parties at Selby Gardens. There was an intimate wedding last month. I hear the term “High Tea” used as a reference, when, in fact, “Afternoon Tea” is a more accurate description.
I will attempt to explain the differences between “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea.” I will share 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. Rather, a meal served in working-class households as the main meal of the day, usually early evening.
Similarly, at the height of Victorian times, lower and middle-class families could only 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, 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.
For instance, growing up, this was the main meal at the house and was called “tea.” Today, I still refer to our evening meal as tea. Often asking myself, “What are we having for tea today?” As I am more sensitive to caffeine, we will drink Rooibos or Honeybush or other herbal tea.
Why is this meal known as “High Tea”? Above all, 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
Credit goes to Anna, Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) for creating “Afternoon Tea.” The evening meal was often served after 8 pm, 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. Anna 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 prevalent.
There are many variations of “Afternoon Tea” with small sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream. Typically, a huge variety of teas are available. “Tea” can be a sophisticated, dressy, and special occasion or a simple, casual, and relaxed meal at the end of the day.
In conclusion, 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!
Tea and Relaxation
It seems that stress has become a major part of every day in all of our lives, and we have forgotten how to relax. Stress is also leading to more obesity, heart problems, and blood pressure, to name a few.
I have a niece visiting from England, and it is apparent even in the young, she is 15 years old! It may not manifest in the same way as in adults. However, never the less, they seem to HAVE TO fill their day with one thing after another and no longer know how to ‘live in and enjoy the moment’ or RELAX.
For me, there is no better way to help mind and body cope than to enjoy a cup of tea (or several in my case!). That is exactly what I am doing at this moment whilst said niece and husband visit Busch Gardens.
There are excellent reasons why tea has such good stress-relieving properties. All teas made from Camellia sinensis, black, oolong, green, and white tea contain a unique and special amino acid called L-Theanine. Researchers have found that L-Theanine appears to play a role in the formation of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. This blocks the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, promoting a state of calm relaxation.
Here is how it works! L-Theanine enters your body through the bloodstream but will also trigger the alpha brain waves, relaxation brain waves. This gives us a sense of well-being and improved mood. This combines with the caffeine to release sustained energy, focus, and mental clarity. It was this amazing phenomenon that first attracted Buddhist monks to drinking the beverage thousands of years ago. They were able to remain alert but felt relaxed enough to meditate for very long periods of time.
L- Theanine’s chemical effect on our brain and body is not the only reason tea is one of the best-known remedies for relaxation. The whole process of preparing the water, warming the pot, the tantalizing aroma from the fresh leaves, the anticipation of the first sip, and the flavor in the mouth all relax our senses. Even if you are an iced tea drinker, you have involved those senses in preparing your tea. You may decide to enjoy your tea alone or share it with loved ones or friends.
Whichever tea or whatever way you choose to take your tea is not really important, take time to do it! Tea and Relaxation
Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea
We introduce a new tea called Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea. This tea is an herbal rooibos with licorice root, fennel, peppermint, and lemon verbena. Delicious hot or iced, this rooibos is naturally caffeine-free. We add this tea to the Celebrating Sarasota Collection of Teas.
For instance, when Mrs. Potter Palmer (Bertha Honoré Palmer) first set eyes on Sarasota in 1910, she proclaimed, ‘Here is heaven at last.’
She came to own more than 80,000 acres of what is now Sarasota County. Also, Palmer operated a successful ranch and made her winter home at The Oaks on Historic Spanish Point.
Sarasota County celebrates the 2010 centennial of her arrival. All are invited to honor the significant impact Mrs. Palmer made to our culturally rich community. Please raise a cuppa Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea to this incredible woman!
Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea joins Selby Select, Mote Beach Tea, Mable’s Rose Rooibos, and Van Wezel Anniversa-Tea in the Celebrating Sarasota Collection of Teas. In conclusion, all of these teas are available at www.LocalTeaCo.com
Caffeine-Free Tisanes or Infusions
In our last blog post (Caffeine in Tea), we talk about caffeine and my opinion regarding the benefits of drinking tea with caffeine. I have learned from listening and talking to many visitors at Selby Gardens and the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. Some people can’t drink caffeine, perhaps because of medications (therefore doctor’s instructions) or just a simple intolerance in the body.
So, where does that leave us?
Decaf or caffeine-free tisanes
At Local Tea Company, we have many fruit and/or herbal infusions or Tisanes to choose from. There is no excuse for not drinking great caffeine-free tea these days.
Notice I said CAFFEINE-FREE, not de-caffeinated. Because there is no ‘true tea’ made from Camellia sinensis, there is no caffeine to be removed. De-caffeinated tea must go through a process to remove the caffeine that naturally occurs in tea leaves. And no method removes 100% of the caffeine, so the beverage still has up to 5% caffeine content.
I try to stay away from the process of removing caffeine from tea for two reasons. The flavor suffers, and the health benefits are reduced.
The two traditional methods to decaffeinate tea use either ethyl acetate or carbon dioxide. Both are a ‘wet process,’ so the dry leaves are moistened. The wet leaves are then rinsed with ethyl acetate and dried, or under high pressure with carbon dioxide and evaporated. Upon drying, the flavor is reabsorbed into the leaves.
There is still uncertainty about how these methods alter the polyphenols and the antioxidant properties in tea. Above all, the health benefits have been compromised, and I seek teas with maximum health advantages. So, I turn to botanicals, herbal or fruit infusions, also referred to as tisanes.
Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a bush from the Western Cape province of South Africa. Rooibos has an impressive list of vitamins and minerals and is therefore packed with anti-oxidants. I like to say Rooibos works against ATB or ‘all things bad.’ Great hot or iced, I enjoy Rooibos in the late afternoon or evenings.
Local Tea Company carries 8 unique Rooibos teas and is our most popular category. Selby Select is our ‘home tea’, and we have added an Organic Red Rooibos and an herbal Rooibos to celebrate Bertha Palmer, a pioneering Sarasota woman.
Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) is a definite favorite at Local Tea Co., especially for evening time. This tea is very soothing and calming with a unique cedar or sandalwood flavor. Also, Chocolate Honeybush is a great option to satisfy the after-meal cravings for something sweet.
After that, there are the fruit infusions or caffeine-free tisanes like Peach Paradise, Organic Red Berries, or Mote Beach Tea (created to honor Mote Laboratories here in Sarasota), Vibrant and refreshing beverages all, especially iced. Excellent alternatives to sodas or other sweet beverages, especially for children.
In conclusion, there really is a tea for all occasions and personal tastes. Try blending your very own caffeine-free tisanes with some of these amazing teas. If you discover a winner be sure to let us know so we can share!
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