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The Time of Year for Chai Tea

Cochin Masala Chai

The cooler weather is here, and people are starting to order chai tea.  We wrote about Chai Tea in a blog post a while back (here is a link) and thought it was time for an update.  I was reminded that January is National Hot Tea Month, so I am getting a jump on that important holiday!

Our Serving Partners offering our Cochin Masla Chai include the following; Cafe in the Park, Oasis Cafe, Burns Court Bistro, The Breakfast House, The Bean Coffeehouse, Pastry Arts, The Selby House Cafe at Selby Gardens, and Morton’s Gourmet Market.  Thank you for supporting local businesses.

Thanksgiving is next week, and a cuppa Chai before or after your meal might keep everyone awake for the Football games or the Dog Show!  This is the time of year for Chai Tea.

Time for Chai Tea

Chai is the generic word for tea in much of the World. The British adopted the word as slang, and ‘cha’ or ‘char’ became the meaning of a teacup.   So what is true Masala Chai?

This beverage from the Indian subcontinent is made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic spices and herbs.  The traditional process of making chai involves actively boiling the tea leaves over sustained heat with spices.  While there are many preparation variations today (some not too good either!), there are four components that remain true to chai tea’s original idea.

  1. Strong black tea – usually Assam, but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong, so spices and sweeteners do not overpower the flavor.
  2. Sweetener, usually white sugar, palm, or coconut sugars. A large quantity is required to bring out the flavor of the spices. You can use honey or agave also. Condensed milk can be used, which also adds sweetness.
  3. Milk, usually whole milk for richness, but alternatives like Soy, Almond, and Oat can be used. 1/4 to 1/2 parts are required.
  4. Spice, usually warm spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorn, and cloves, with cardamom being the predominant flavor. Other possible additions are nutmeg, rose, licorice root, almond, and saffron.

Cochin Masala Chai

At Local Tea Company, we offer an outstanding Cochin Masala Chai, authentic and warm traditional flavor. It bears the name of a busy port, which also has a long history in trading spices.

We like to drink it without anything added, though I admit to having caught the Oat Milk craze.  Other options include Almond Milk, Soy, and good old-fashioned milk.

Go ahead and try a few different options and see which one you like the best.  Then put your feet up, stay warm with a cup of Cochin Masala Chai, and celebrate the holidays!

 

Cuppa Tea in SRQ #6 – Bean Coffeehouse in Siesta Key Village

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Cuppa Tea at Bean Coffeehouse

For this episode of “Cuppa Tea in Sarasota,” now available from our YouTube Channel, we go back to the very beginning to where it all began.  The first location of Local Tea Company, and Local Coffee + Tea in the heart of Siesta Key Village for a cuppa tea at the Bean Coffeehouse

The shop, now known as the Bean Coffeehouse, was opened in 2007, and you can read more about it in the history section of the Local Tea Co. website.  The interior is wildly colorful with many works by local artist Ron Genta.

For this Holiday episode, we visit the Bean late in the day, just before closing, to chat with Zach and his massive tea menu. They only serve loose leaf teas, AND they have a great selection of retail tea packets available.

Where else can you find so many #Rooibos teas to pick from?

Each episode of Cuppa Tea in Sarasota, we do a ‘Video Visit’ with one of our Serving Partners.  It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.

Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.

Cheers,

Episode #6 – Bean Coffeehouse in Siesta Key Village

Logo for Bean Coffeehouse in Siesta Key Village Florida

YouTube for Local Tea Co.

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YouTube for Local Tea Co.

We are having fun with our new “Cuppa Tea in SRQ” YouTube Channel.  Check out this series visiting our wholesale Serving Partners in and around Sarasota.  We find the owner and have a ‘video visit’ with them.

It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.

Please like, comment, and subscribe.  You will see the first 2 below, Oasis Cafe and Lila.

Cheers,

Episode #1 – Oasis Cafe & Bakery

Episode #2 – Lila

Drink this tea every day and look like this?

Drink this tea every day and look like this?

On the label of Goji Green tea from Local Tea Company, after sharing the ingredients and describing the subtle sweetness of this glorious tea, the label states, “live a long healthy life drinking this tea.”

Li Qing Yuen

en Tea Local Tea Co

Recently someone asked me about the phrase.  I mentioned the story of the Chinese herbalist Li Qing Yuen who was said to have consumed goji berries daily and lived to the age of 252.  I smiled after sharing these minor details and moved on with my day.  Later, I thought about the idea of living that long, and it got me thinking more about this story.  What would I look like at 250 years old?

And so, I dug a bit deeper into Li Qing Yuen and found this picture, along with more details.  I made myself a cuppa Goji Green and my smile returned as I read on.

His birth year was either 1736 or 1677, though his true birth date has never actually been confirmed. Li Qing Yuen was born in the Sichuan province, in Qijiang County.  He was an apprentice to elders who gathered herbs in the mountains.  He went on to have a military career and then returned to life as an herbalist on Snow Mountain.

A New York Times article from 1930 mentions Imperial Chinese Government records from 1827 congratulating Li Qing Yuen on his 150th birthday.  And then again in 1877 on his 200th birthday!  An earlier correspondent reported many older men in his village claimed their grandfathers knew Li Qing Yuen as a grown man when they were boys.

The 1933 Time Magazine article asked for his secrets to a long life.  Li Qing Yuen is quoted as saying,

“Keep a quiet heart,

Sit like a tortoise,

Walk sprightly like a pigeon, and,

Sleep like a dog.”

Goji berries

Li Qing Yuen Local Tea Co Sarasota

He spent most of his life in the mountains collecting and selling ginseng, goji berries, and other herbs. Along with his diet, Li Qing Yuen mentions drinking rice wine as another secret.  He claimed to have survived 23 wives and had more than 150 children.  He died in Kai County in May of 1933.  His 24th wife said he died of natural causes.

No mention of a daily dose of goji berries could be found in the official reports, and I really don’t know what sitting like a tortoise might look like.

I will leave the story on our product page because I think our Goji Green tea is phenomenal.  As phenomenal as the legend of Li Qing Yuen.

Goji Green Tea

Enjoy Goji Green as a hot tea to start your day, or as a refreshing iced tea (or try it as a Cold-Brewed Tea) as it is served most days as Secret Garden Green Tea at the Selby House Café operated by Michael’s on East at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Goji Green Tea Local Tea Co Sarasota SRQ

While you are savoring a cuppa of this wonderful green tea, contemplate your secrets to a long life.  And then please share them with me 🙂

Who was Earl Grey?

Who was Earl Grey?

This week one of our glorious customers ordered some Garden Grey Black Tea.  This is a tea we blend ourselves with organic lavender grown in the wilds of Tibet.  What an aroma!  While this is not one of our more popular teas, it did get me thinking about Earl Grey in general.

Earl Grey

Most tea lovers are familiar with this black tea.  One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup. This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.

What about the man behind the tea?

Charles Grey

Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long-established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall. Educated at Eton, Trinity College, and Cambridge.  He became the 2nd Earl of Grey and was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats), and became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22!  His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France.  He was involved in four years of political reform and the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons).  Grey had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.

The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,

‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’

Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed life!  He was said to be tall, slim, and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife.  He also fathered at least one illegitimate child!  Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage, and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.

Earl Grey the Tea

There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure!  According to the most popular legend, a grateful Chinese Mandarin is partially responsible.  His son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men.  So, the Mandarin first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803.  This legend seems to have little basis in truth!  The Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China.  Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.

While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world.  Many people who I chat with over the years claim not to care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey.  However, I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea.  The quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount!  Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.

Organic Loose Leaf teas
Loose Leaf Earl Grey

 

Also, consider an iced Earl Grey, (Me thinks the Earl would not approve!)  Delicious, so be sure to try for yourself especially cold-brewed, as explained in a previous blog post.

When brewing a hot cuppa Earl Grey, we infuse for only 2 minutes or so.  We then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves.  It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too.  ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy.  Very different from Rooibos.

Garden Grey

Along with the Garden Grey, we offer two versions of Earl Grey Black tea.  One is our premium blend Earl Grey and we also offer an Organic Earl Grey.  Our Organic Earl Grey is the tea we offer in the silk tea sachets and can be found served from nearly all of our serving partners.

You may be surprised to find you like Earl Grey tea, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.

Cheers,

Your Tea Team

Life is too short to drink bad tea

Life is too short to drink bad tea.

Life is too short to drink bad tea

 

I like this quote.  When I went to find someone to attribute this quote to, I couldn’t find anybody, so I’m claiming it for myself.  That may be right, wrong, maybe morally questionable, but the truth is, life is way too short to drink bad tea.  And there is no reason to drink bad tea when so many great options exist everywhere.  

Loose Leaf Tea

Perhaps the quote should be, “Life is too short to drink anything except loose leaf tea”  Loose tea is the better tea, fresher, and allowing for the best flavor, the deepest, resonant, complex, and any other word you can think of to describe the awesome flavor.  There are superb teas in bags or sachets. Seek them out and stop drinking bad tea.  The difference is immense.

Life is too short to drink Cheap tea

Tea is an emotional beverage.  What other drink conjures memories, alters moods, and makes you a better person.  Yes, there is a similar quote, “Life is too short to drink bad wine,” but tea is healthy and can be drunk every day.  And you should drink tea every day.  We all want to extend our time on this planet and get the most out of each day.  So drink tea and drink great tea.

Motivating?   I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m just trying to get to the end of this blog post. But how about this?

“Make the most of every day”  I won’t try to claim credit for this adage, but if you are going to drink the world’s most popular beverage after water, make the most of it and drink a great tea.  

Life is too short to drink cheap tea

Black Tea

Drink great black teas—a robust, strong Assam or Darjeeling with a splash of fresh almond milk or a rich cream.  Drink a great breakfast blend like our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend, Or a mild, sweeter Nilgiri. Or, if you want more flavor, spicy chai might be the perfect option.  I almost forgot to mention Oolongs!  Especially our ‘milky smooth’ Dung Ding Oolong.

Green Tea

Drink great green teas—Froth a pinch of a matcha green tea, or gently steep a pure Organic Sencha.  Add a touch of flavor, maybe strawberry or goji berries, or any other subtle sweetness that brings out that cool wonderful green tea flavor.  Yes, white teas too. Drink them!

Rooibos Tea

Drink great rooibos teas.  This is wonderful in the afternoon when there is no fear of caffeine stealing sleep from you. When faced with solving a mystery, drink Rooibos, or Bush Tea is not only a lovely, mild flavor. Rooibos takes on other flavors like vanilla and orange peel (Selby Select) or Lavender or Rose (Mable’s Rose Rooibos).  Drink Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush, and the list goes on.  

Life is too short to drink cheap tea

Herbal Tea

Drink great herbal teas, peppermint, Yerba Mate, or hibiscus or tulsi.  I just saw this weekend that Roselle blossoms were available at the Sarasota farmers market.  They are they’re blooming in Florida, and they make incredible tea as well as gorgeous jams and jellies.  Drink a fabulous chamomile tea from Egypt and dream of Cleopatra or floating down the Nile.

Fruit Tea

Drink great fruit teas.  Please share them with a young person.  Introduce a child to the joys of tea.  Start with the kettle boiling’s anticipation, then take a moment to select a tea to fit the mood, watch when hot water meets tea leaves, and the flavors release.  This is called the ‘Agony of the Leaf’ what does it conjure in your imagination. Heat the mugs with hot water while you wait for all the flavor to extract, and then pour two mugs full and blow cool air over your brew.  

Start a young person on a tea journey, drinking tea as a part of a ritual, after dinner, before bed, in the morning, later in the day.  There are so many opportunities to drink tea. This ‘Tea Journey’ will last a lifetime, and you will be responsible for the very first steps.  

Life is too short to drink anything but great tea

And then there is the perfection that is Mote Beach Tea or Little Monkey fruit teas.  Make a cuppa of either of these herbal gems before you go to bed. I promise you that your dreams will be finer, they’ll be sweeter, and your sleep will be deeper and richer and better.  I can’t promise that your dreams will come true, but a great cuppa tea can bring hope.

Share Tea

Share that idea with everyone, a life of sound sleep and fantastical dreams.  You are never too old to begin a ‘Tea Journey.’ And what a wonderful community to be a part of, drinkers of great teas!

Appreciate all that goes into a great cuppa tea.  Where the tea was plucked, how far it might have traveled, who else might be enjoying the same cup at this same moment.  How many years or decades or centuries have people been drinking this same tea. Or how much progress has been made in heating the water.  Before electricity, 200 years ago or 2000 years ago, how did they boil water? What was the mug like or bowl or the cup? There is much to consider in a simple cup of tea.

And be sure to steep your tea for the correct time.  Not too short, robbing yourself from a fully expressed cuppa.  And not too long, for the bitterness or astringency might distract from the beautiful flavors intended for you.  

Give Tea

Life is too short to drink cheap bad tea

Give the gift of tea.  Nothing can be so easy to share, so thoughtful, so considerate for either a tea lover experienced in drinking great tea or introducing someone to your favorite tea.  Tea elevates the idea of a gift to a new level.

Yes, I was hoping you could buy my teas, and we have plenty of options for you.  But find a new place to buy tea, a wonderful loose leaf tea. You will recall the moment later when you are drinking or serving this tea.  Tea comes with its own story. You have to be a bit creative about it. The story is available, and there is a joy to be had.

Life is too short to drink inexpensive teaServe a great cuppa tea in a fine piece of China, in a cup that needs a saucer.  Please take a moment and make it special. You will enjoy the experience even more or help someone else feel special.  That’s where this big thought started, with living your life to the fullest. Life is too short and so find the moments, the joys to extract a bit more than you may have expected.  Surprise someone, delight them. Give that gift or treat yourself. You deserve it.

So drink up. Life is too short to drink bad tea.

Michael Duranko

Local Tea Company

Matcha Powdered Green Tea

Matcha Powdered Green Tea

We are very excited to feature two very special teas on the Local Tea Company menu, both are Matcha powdered green teas.  We have a ceremonial grade matcha and an organic matcha, both in 30 gram tins.

Vibrant Matcha Powdered Green Tea on a red lacquered table next to a cuppa matcha green teaMatcha Green Tea

There is no tea that is as celebrated or as famous as Matcha (powdered green tea). The tea first appeared in Japanese tea manuals sometime during the 12th century, making it one of the country’s most ancient varieties and used in the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries. It was believed by the ancient Japanese that tea was a gift of the heavens and held great restorative and spiritual power on earth. The development of the tea ceremony or Chanoyu began as a way for people to show and appreciate reverence to this power and was practiced by the Buddhist monks who drank the tea for meditative properties during long religious ceremonies.

From the unique way the tea is produced, to the important place it still holds in the cultural life of Japan this celebrated tea has taken on a whole new power and meaning throughout the rest of the tea drinking world.

So what makes Matcha so special?

This greenest of green teas is a beverage where the LEAVES are consumed, not strained like other teas. You will actually drink 100% of the polyphenol nutrients contained in the leaf, giving Matcha the label of healthiest natural beverage in the world today. Along with the nutrients, you will receive a good dose of energy for wakefulness combined with lots of amino acids for relaxation. A truly great combination of ingredients which we can all benefit from today. I think those Buddhist monks were very smart in recognizing the power of this tea!

Matcha green tea in a bowl with a matcha whisk on a small plate, both on a red lacquered surface.

Processing Matcha Green Tea

The vibrant, emerald green color of the powder is attributed to some very careful cultivation. The Gyokuro Japanese tea plant variety is shaded by bamboo mats several weeks prior to plucking. This forces the plant to produce more chlorophyll and results in a supple, rich green leaf. The youngest, tender shoots are then hand plucked, steamed and dried. All stems and veins are removed before the leaves are stone ground into a fine powder which resembles talc.

Fortunately there are no demands on us today to drink the tea only in a ceremonial manner. Matcha can be enjoyed many ways such as cold brewed, hot using water or made into a latte type beverage with regular milk or any of the alternatives.  In an earlier post, I experimented with Matcha Green Tea ice cream and it was fab.

However, there are some rules for enjoying the tea when preparing hot. Sift the powder through a strainer to prevent any lumps when water is added. Water should be used when around 180 degrees. If boiled, then it should sit for 2-3 minutes. This allows for immediate consumption when the tea is at peak flavor.

In order to brew in a ceremonial manner you will require a bowl, bamboo scoop and whisk.

1.  Warm your bowl and cup.

2.  Prepare whisk by soaking tip in boiled water for about 10 seconds.

3.  Pour out water and dry bowl. Add 2 scoops of Matcha powder.

4.  Add 2oz water.

5.  Submerge any loose bits floating on surface.

6.  Whisk briskly back and forth until surface becomes frothy.

7.  Consume immediately.

A white tea cup with vibrant matcha powdered green tea next to a matcha whisk

Enjoy some wonderful matcha today.

Cheers,
the Tea Team

Teetotalers to Tea Parties?

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.

Temperance

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.

In the village where I was raised in Yorkshire, there is a hotel called the Temperance Hotel.  The picture above depicts Christian women in New York, promoting the movement.

Teetotaler

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!

Glynis Chapman

Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat

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.

Cheers,

the Tealady

Toast and Tea

Toast and Tea

“BREAD AND WATER CAN SO EASILY BE TOAST AND TEA’

 

Tea Quote

This is a lovely quote (author unknown) that came to mind this morning.  I was actually making some Lemon Curd at the time, but I also had a visitor in the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens that told me he would not drink tea because his mother always made him have toast and tea when he was sick!  Of course, she would; mothers know what is good for you.

I also felt sorry for him!  Toast and Tea is a custom most of us have such good feelings about, and I, for one, can sample this pairing at any time of day.  There is nothing as simple or as tasty as toast and tea unless you add a little lemon curd, that is!

Lemons are in abundance here at the moment, and as they keep arriving by the bagful at my house, I keep churning out the Lemon Curd!  I got myself a cup of jasmine tea and Lemons at the ready.  Want to have a go too?

Lemon Curd Recipe

This is a straightforward recipe and method to follow.  You will need preserving jars that have been sterilized in boiling water.  I put the lemons in the same water as it makes the juice release easier.  I usually double up the recipe, but to make one batch, you will need:

Juice and rind of 1 lemon (I have been adding rind of an extra lemon too!), 2 eggs, 2oz unsalted butter, and 3oz sugar.

  1. Place sugar and rind in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs and lemon juice together.  Add to bowl.
  3. Cut butter into small chunks.  Add to bowl.
  4. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until butter melts and whisk lightly over heat until the mixture thickens.  (It may seem like the mixture is never going to thicken, but it will.)

Place in jar and refrigerate.

It tastes delicious and is so worth the effort.  I love giving to friends and, of course, the suppliers of all my Lemons!  Lemon Curd is also the perfect accompaniment to scones, so maybe next time we will make scones.

I recommend putting on the kettle and making a pot of Yorkshire tea, and sit down to enjoy some toast and tea.  Mmmm!

Cheers,
The TeaLady