Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better
If someone forwarded this email to you, you need your own!
Hello Tea Lovers
It may be late in the year for Iced tea (or Iced tea.) Even here in Sarasota, we have the windows open, and it’s great sleeping weather. But I have a story I want to share with you about Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better.
Debbie S is a long time customer who uses our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Tea to make ice tea. I recently connected with her, and she told me she steeps her tea THREE times, with outstanding results.
Cold Brew Iced Tea
She makes large tea bags using the Tea Sacs #4 – Large and 38g of tea. In the first batch, she uses the ‘Cold Brew‘ method; a gallon of cold water in a sealed container, with the Tea Sac in the fridge overnight.
For the next batch, a second steep in cold water, but this time she leaves the container in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Debbie told me the tea is a little bit lighter, but it’s still a nice cup of tea.
For the third steep, she uses the same tea sac in a large bowl and hits it with a quart of boiling water. She lets the tea steep until it cools, adds cold water to make it a gallon, and then puts it in the fridge.
Debbie is a creature of habit and drinks tea all day long. My preference is hot tea, and I like a bit of variety. Above all, this is just one reason why loose leaf tea is so much better. In this case, so much more economical than tea bags. Debbie is an inspiration to anyone, everyone who wants to get the most out of their tea. It is possible, and I thought it was interesting to share it here. Thanks, Debbie.
Tea Station at Home
We have a tea shelf loaded with tea options at our home, and then near the kettle, we keep the teas we are drinking most often. I found this article about creating a tea station at home ( or a coffee station) with tons of details and good ideas.
Correction to Last Month’s Newsletter
Thank you for the emails telling me ’Live from Here’ got canceled. Drag! I need a whole new Sunday Tea routine.
I am a sporadic viewer of the Great British Baking Show, but I found ‘Biscuit Week’ to be especially ”Tea Focused” I don’t bake at all, but the show grabs me with the characters and the vocabulary. I love the way the brits turn a phrase. Hilarious, and they don’t take themselves too seriously, even in competition.
Enter Rowan. He laughs his way through a few episodes, stopping for a cuppa amidst the chaos. For the ‘Showstopper’ challenge, many contestants created variations of tea services made from biscuits. Clever. However, I still have a few episodes to go.
Tea Pairing – Chocolate Honeybush with store-bought biscuits.
Faith Stewart-Gordon, the owner of the Russian Tea Room, has died. She was 88. Obit here. Fun Fact – Madonna was a coat check clerk and was fired for slipping her demo tapes to guests. Stewart-Gordon had a goal “to make the restaurant look the way people remembered it, not the way it was.” RIP, and I raise a cuppa Lapsang Souchong in a decorative glass teacup in her memory.
Sip Locally Tea Blog – recent posts
I am reading ‘Titan’ by Ron Chernow. My ‘big book’ for the year from the author who wrote Hamilton. I don’t see a rap version of this story about John D Rockefeller, but then again, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius.
Tea pairing – Organic Earl Grey with a splash of Oat milk.
I play more golf since the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens closed. GolfToons is a side hustle I’ve been working on with Dianne’s brother, Marty. Have a look, and please pass along to any golfers you know. Or, you can subscribe and Laugh at the Agony!
Tea Pairing – Organic Strawbango Mushed up words that sound funny!
As always, your comments are welcomed, and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
Cuppa Tea at Selby House Cafe
For this episode of “Cuppa Tea in Sarasota,” now available from our YouTube Channel, we go back to our roots. We visit the Selby House Cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. for a cuppa tea at the Selby House Cafe.
The cafe is now operated by Michael’s on East, and they do a fantastic job and serve an incredible cuppa tea!!! Selby Select Rooibos, Secret Garden Green, and Little Monkey fruit tea, to name a few, and we are always creating new tea for the annual garden exhibitions. Previously art from Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, and Paul Gauguin has been on display at Selby Gardens.
The annual holiday Lights in Bloom celebration starts December 14, and when we visited, the gardens were humming in anticipation. Millions of lights in the trees, Santa Claus, reindeer games, live music, and much more.
Local Tea Company previously operated a tea shop, the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens, and the cafe. It is always nice to come home for a visit.
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. Here is a post from Lights in Bloom 2020 at Selby Gardens.
Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.
Episode #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s On East
Healthy Living Tea
I subscribe to a healthy living magazine each month and look forward to reading wellness articles. Over recent months, I have noticed how the features of tea and the benefits of drinking tea have started to increase, which is great to see. This month, 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 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 an excellent source of Vitamin C but is best know for the cooling effect drinking this tea has on your body.
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 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 had 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.
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, but you can also use it 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 it as a cooling compress.
These are two beautiful tea treats for your body and soul. Stay well with Hibiscus and Chamomile. Healthy Living Tea
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
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream for July, National Ice Cream Month. With the help of Chef Maryna of Local Catering, we used some of our new Matcha Green Tea to make Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream. We are still working on bulk sales packaging, so our Matcha is only available in drinks at our shops. But there are many culinary options Maryna and I will be exploring with Matcha Green Tea, and ice cream seemed like a good place to start.
Home-Made Ice Cream
Once you discover the wonderful world of home-made ice cream, your life as you once knew it would change forever. Since starting Local Catering, an extension of Local Tea Company, Chef Maryna’s culinary world has continued to expand. I have introduced her to our menu of teas and the magic of camellia sinensis.
Chef Maryna grew up in South Africa, so she has leaned towards our selection of Rooibos. She explores ways to integrate tea into her dishes, and ice cream sounded like a great place to start.
Here is the recipe we followed for Matcha Green Tea ice cream.
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs Matcha tea powder
6 Egg yolks
- Separate the egg yolk from whites in a large bowl. Add sugar and Matcha, then whisk until incorporated.
- Heat cream and milk in a saucepan until it comes to a boil.
- Remove milk from heat, then slowly add 1 cup of hot milk mixture to the sugar-egg mix, whisking vigorously to prevent curdling eggs.
- Add mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and whisk to combine.
- On low heat (do not boil or cook the eggs and you will end up with Macha scrambled eggs!) continue stirring until the temperature reaches 170 degrees.
- Pour mixture into a clean bowl and let it cool on an ice bath in the refrigerator until completely cold (about 30 minutes).
- Follow your ice cream machine directions and spin ice cream for about 20 minutes.
Pour into a container and freeze until set (about an hour). Scoop and…..yum!
So what makes Matcha so special? The vibrant, emerald green color of the powder is attributed to some meticulous cultivation. The Gyokuro Japanese tea plant variety is shaded by bamboo mats several weeks before plucking, forcing the tea bush to produce more chlorophyll, creating 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.
Matcha Green Tea
No tea is as celebrated or as famous as Matcha. The tea first appeared in Japanese tea manuals sometime during the 12th century, making it one of the country’s most ancient varieties used in the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries. It was believed 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 reverence to this power. It was practiced by the Buddhist monks who drank the tea for meditative properties during long religious ceremonies. See blog post on Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Drinking this greenest of green teas or enjoying Matcha Green Tea ice cream, you are consuming the whole leaf and will drink 100% of the polyphenol nutrients contained in tea leaves. This gives 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 that we can all benefit from today.
Visit our Siesta Key shop or the cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for a Matcha Latte, also excellent with soy milk and a bit of honey. Or celebrate the summer by making some Matcha Green Tea ice cream at home.
The Gift of Tea
At Local Tea Company, we have a great selection of tea to suit many different tastes. Some of our holiday favorites are listed at the end of this post with links to our online shop. Whatever your gift choice, I believe there are many extraordinary reasons to be excited about both giving and receiving TEA…
- The anticipation of opening the packet and discovering the appearance of the leaf,
- Inhaling the special aroma that loose tea releases,
- Watching the magic of leaves dancing in the pot,
- The delicious color and flavor in the cup,
- Sitting down, letting go of all the stress in your body (which we seem to create in great quantities, especially at this time of the year!),
- And finally, Life is too short to drink bad tea.
Making tea is an act to be shared with someone special, presented to a group of friends, or enjoyed completely alone. I cannot think of any other item that is so simple, yet so complex, cost-effective, and enjoyable. You are also giving the gift of health and well being to your loved ones. Here is a post with 5 Things to Remember when Gifting Tea.
If you have no tea lovers in your life, then give yourself the gift of tea. YOU deserve it!
Some of our holiday favorites include Chocolate Honeybush, Organic Red Berries, and Cochin Masala Chai. For a more relaxing tea, perfect for evenings, there is Organic Honeybush. Also, check out the “Celebrate Sarasota” gift deal, 4 herbal teas inspired by Local Treasures: Selby Gardens, Van Wezel, Ringling Museum, and Siesta Key Beach.
On behalf of all at Local Tea Company, I would like to wish all our tea followers a Very Merry Christmas and a TEArrific New Year. We appreciate your business and hope you continue to enjoy our teas in 2010.
No matter where you are or what you are planning to do during this special season, please make time to drink some tea and feel the benefits. I drink to you and yours.
Cheers and all the best to everyone.
America’s Only Tea Plantation
Last month I vacationed in South Carolina and visited an American Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. It was a brilliant visit. My family joined, and all agreed, it was one of the highlights of our trip.
After leaving Charleston, we approached the Charleston Tea Plantation, on tree lined roads dripping with Spanish moss. I felt as though we were entering some bygone time and era. An unassuming plantation gateway leads to a welcome centre lined with rocking chairs, an abundance of butterflies, and absolute quiet.
The entrance led us to the gift shop (of course) for some iced tea (delicious!) and to browse tea gifts before we walked through the factory area. TV screens explained how the machines process the tea, taking only 20 hours from bush to finish!
A withering bed removes 12% moisture from the fresh leaves. A rotovane machine tears and ruptures the tea leaf exposing millions of cells to the air and starting the enzymatic process. The oxidations process now begins.
Black tea is oxidized for only 50 minutes and oolong for 15 minutes. Green tea is lightly steamed and dried only, with no oxidation occurring. Each batch of tea leaves dries for 25 minutes, sealing in each type of tea properties.
Finally, all the teas are graded, removing any unwanted stalks, or off bits. That completes the miracle process, which is all done by one man!
Next, the trolley bus took us out onto the plantation of 127 acres. All the 150,000 bushes are Camelia sinensis varietals, which originated in China and India. The heat, humidity, well-drained sandy soil, and 75 days of rainfall provide ideal growing conditions from April through September. Spring sees the first flush of leaves, and harvest begins with 3-5 inches of new growth. Every bush will yield 7 to 10 cutting each season, with new growth taking from 14-20 days depending on weather conditions.
The plantation has a custom-designed harvester called the “Green Giant.” This machine and one man can harvest fields, which would take 500 manual workers to pick.
Cuttings are taken from selected varieties, which take 6-12 months to develop mature roots. After planting, it will take up to 4 years to mature. No pesticides are ever used in the plantation, and the plants all looked so healthy and well cared for!
Tea on the Front Porch
After the trolley ride, we sat on the porch and chatted with Bill Fernandez, founder of the plantation and a 3rd generation tea taster! He has 42 years of experience in the tea industry and is one of only 28 professionals in the USA.
We really started to connect when discovering his grandfather was from Yorkshire. After that, his Canadian/American accent with hints of time spent in London soon reverted to those roots, and we had a blast! Needless to say, he drinks only the freshest tea.
It was very special to see Camellia sinensis growing, to see and touch tea leaves. In short, I may never get the chance to visit China, India, or Sri Lanka, so this experience will always remain with me and add another special dimension to my personal tea journey.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed this whistle-stop tour through the Charleston Tea Plantation. Moreover, I hope you too will visit and celebrate this most amazing of local treasures.
The past month in the tasting room at Selby Gardens, we have had many European visitors, especially British. When they hear me speak, we inevitably talk about where we are from and the type of tea we drink. Talking Tea, as I say.
The choices being PG Tips, Typhoo, Yorkshire, Twinning’s, etc., basically all the well-known tea bags available. There was also a gentleman who mentioned Brooke Bond, who was a real blast from the past! He was married to an American and lives in Sarasota. His wife sourced the tea for him, and he was very pleased.
The name Brooke Bond took me on a journey back to the small village in the Yorkshire Dales where I was born and raised. Our little grocery shop, run by Mrs. Gosney, had a large metal sign displayed outside in black and red advertising Brooke Bond! Mum sent me to buy tea, and I remember Mrs. Gosney using an old fashioned scale with real weights and putting the weighed tea in a brown bag.
When I got home, mum would transfer the tea to our caddy (which I think was a tin that had once stored candy, probably Liquorices’ Allsorts). I can remember inhaling the most wonderful smell of fresh tea in the caddy. I was touched thinking about how we continue such practices, as I use such a caddy even now!
So, where did the name caddy come from? During the early British trading days in Asia, a language called “pidgin English” was created to facilitate commerce. Composed of English, Portuguese and Indian words pronounced in Chinese, “Pidgin” is actually the word which was used for “do business.” The term “caddy” is from the Chinese word for one pound, the standard size for a tea container.
We meet such nice people when we start talking about tea. Great stories and legends are exchanged, and memories are evoked when we talk about this amazing drink called TEA.
Margaret Thatcher comes to tea.
Margaret Thatcher Tea. What a lovely week! In the Carriagehouse Tea Room, I enjoyed conversations with many visitors from the States and beyond. Besides, a few fellow Brits. Everyone is interested in my story and how I started working with tea. What a great life, making conversation, and drinking tea.
Talking of Brits, I served tea to the ‘Iron Lady’ herself! However, in case you thought I was serious, the lady was an actor. Margaret Thatcher Tea was the theme for the afternoon tea benefiting the Women’s Resource Center. Our gracious hostess has a magnificent penthouse overlooking Sarasota Bay. The tea and food service was on a collection of exquisite china.
Iced Peach Paradise in wine goblets looked beautiful. When the ladies ate sandwiches, our Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling was served. With dessert, I served Goji Green tea. Above all, both teas were very well received. Why do I sound so surprised? All of the loose leaf teas offered at Local Tea Company are delicious!
There followed some discussion about Margaret Thatcher’s time in office. How different it would be if she were in office today.
If I had been invited, I could have told a few home truths about my experiences during her ministry. However, I was there to talk tea, so I did my short presentation about tea and ended with a Thatcher quote…
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
In conclusion, Sip Locally with your very own Tea Lady at the gardens. Stay Cool.