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
Cuppa Tea at Cafe in the Park
Our latest episode of “Cuppa Tea in SRQ” is now available from our YouTube Channel. We visit Cafe in the Park in downtown Sarasota in Payne Park. Each episode, 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.
Episode #3 – Cafe in the Park
Pu Erh Teas
When I got to work this morning (if you call going to Selby Gardens, sipping, talking tea all-day work!), I decided to crack open our Young Pu-erh. Pronounced Poo-Air, a special broad-leaf tea, Pu’er tea takes its name from the Pu’er county in the Province of Yunnan of China.
This is not a tea I reach for often. Maybe I should not call myself a dedicated tea drinker because of this. Though I was given a newspaper article about an area called Menghai in China. NYTimes Jan 2009
Farmers and citizens got rich investing and selling the bricks of Pu-er tea produced in Menghai. Some buyers promoted it as liquid gold. When the value hit record levels, they dumped their stock and disappeared. Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price. The tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.
Pu er Black Tea
What is Pu er tea? Let’s talk about this tea that people are willing to pay huge amounts of money for. Pu Erh goes through an additional oxidation process, much like composting, where bacterial and fungal fermentation occurs. Many refer to it as pu erh fermented tea.
The tea can then be aged for many years. Aged Pu Erh tea leaves are often compressed into cakes or bricks. Then the tea is wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are left to mature in dark, dry places, enhancing the already earthy flavor.
Pu Erh is said to lower cholesterol, cure hangovers, help with digestive problems, aid metabolism, and is low in tannins. Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed. The flavor is very pungent and earthy. With a deep inhale, the tea smells like a compost heap and looks like tar. So, I know it’s going to be good for me!
How many Steeps?
I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps. The later steeps are better than the initial steep. I find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.
By this time, late in the afternoon, I think Pu Erh should be brewed more often. I should share samples with visitors to Selby Garden as well as the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. I’m not sure I would invest pots of money in Pu-erh, but it is definitely worth experiencing. What a fascinating thing this drink is called Tea!
the Tea Lady
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
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?
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.”
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.
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 🙂
Here is a post about how green tea can make you happier.
Earl Grey for Picard
“Tea, Earl Grey, Hot… and whoever this ‘Earl Grey’ fellow is, I’d like a word with him..”
-Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation
Matcha Powdered 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!
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.
Enjoy some wonderful matcha today.
the Tea Team
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.
Toast and Tea
“BREAD AND WATER CAN SO EASILY BE TOAST AND TEA’
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.
- Place sugar and rind in a large bowl.
- Whisk eggs and lemon juice together. Add to bowl.
- Cut butter into small chunks. Add to bowl.
- 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!
Pear Mu Tan
Pear Mu Tan. I am glad to announce that we have added another tea to our Organic cultivation varieties here at Local Tea Company.
Pear Mu Tan is a White tea grown in Fujian Province, China. White teas are surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China. Emperors proclaimed this delicate tea as “the culmination of all that is elegant.”
The least processed of all tea categories, white is is natural. The newest leaves are carefully picked when they have a silvery appearance from the hair or ‘hao.’ They are lightly withered, which turns them into an artist’s palette of hues. From silver to green to brown, the results are a light, fluffy mixture of leaf pieces that yield a subtle and delicate flavor.
I had been asked several times about Pear tea. After using this tea for several days in my travel mug, I knew we had to have it! This type of White tea is known as Pai Mu Tan, which means “white peony.” The tea is produced from various tea bush called chaicha, so it seemed natural to name this tea Pear Mu Tan.
There is evidence that Pear has been used as a food since prehistoric times. In other words, a perfect partner for White tea. To complement the pear, there are dried apple pieces, mango cubes, and marigold blossoms. Besides, the shimmering golden liquor has a lingering fragrance and sweet, fresh mellow taste. This is a lovely tea, both dry and infused.
Please note, this tea is organically cultivated but has not pursued the requirements to be designated ORGANIC.
White teas are becoming very popular. They are considered to be the most beneficial of all teas for their health benefits. With more antioxidants than black or green tea, white tea has anti-cancer properties. We have read that the tea is heart-healthy, has a calming (anti-sagging!) and detoxifying effect on the skin, and the ability to strengthen our immune system. A bonus is that it tastes so good!
There are debates aplenty about the amount of caffeine in white teas. Could it be that as the tea is made from young leaves, they contain the most concentrated amount of caffeine? The fact that we infuse for less time and at a lower temperature may mean less caffeine is released…and so on. We may never know the exact reason, and it really does not seem to matter too much!
In my experience, I have found White tea VERY agreeable to my body function. I do not seem to get as overheated or troubled with the caffeine content. Therefore, I have been able to drink later into the day. See how it works for you!
In conclusion, Pear Mu Tan is a tea that really keeps on giving and certainly wears the title ‘the culmination of all that is elegant’ very well.
Honeybush Tea or Cyclopia intermedia is indigenous to the cape of South Africa. I like to think of it as a sort of cousin to Rooibos!
Like Rooibos, we make an herbal tea with a pleasant, mildly sweet taste. Honeybush Tea is very popular at the Local Tea Company Carriagehouse at Selby Gardens. We offer 2 varieties; Organic Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush. You should try both, especially if you are looking for a caffeine-free substitute for ‘true tea’ (Camellia sinensis). For instance, I drink honeybush as a complement to my tea drinking habits!
Like most teas, honeybush history can be traced back to Dutch and British trading. Established in 1652, Cape Town was a supply base for the Dutch East India Company. They traded in Indian tea and Southeast Asian spices.
Botanists began cataloging the Cape region’s rich flora, and the honeybush plant was noted in botanical literature. The native Khoisan or Bushmen treated coughs and other upper respiratory symptoms associated with infections with honeybush tea.
The honeybush plant is a shrub of the Fabaceae family and grows in the fynbos botanical zone. Bound by mountains, this narrow region is along the coast. Fynbos is Dutch for ‘fine-leaved plants’ and is characterized by woody plants with small, leathery leaves. The honeybush plant is easily recognized from the sweetly scented, bright yellow flowers and needle-like leaves.
Besides great taste, a sort of woodsy, cedar-like flavor, Honeybush has some extraordinary health benefits. Pinitol is a modified sugar present in the leaves of some legume plants. This is an expectorant and helps with coughs and phlegm. Pinitol can also lower blood sugar levels and may increase the effects of insulin.
Honeybush is under consideration as a treatment for diabetes! It would be good to have something so natural to help with such a prevalent disease. I have read Pinitol helps with acid reflux. We have a few customers who have reported relief drinking honeybush. The flavones and isoflavones of honeybush are similar to those in soy, another leguminous plant. And used to treat menopausal symptoms. That covers quite a lot of the population who should be drinking this tea!
Prepare Honeybush tea like you prepare all other teas or herbal infusions. Use boiling water and infuse for as long as you want, though at least several minutes. The lack of caffeine makes honeybush especially suited for nighttime consumption. The tea has a reputation as a calming beverage. However, I love drinking honeybush at Local Tea Company, too! The tannin content is very low, so that you will find honeybush, a mild, soft, and very drinkable tea.
And did I mention there is a chocolate version? Chocoholics love our Chocolate Honeybush. Please do not expect a cup of hot chocolate. Rather a delicate aroma of chocolate with a definite caramel aftertaste along with a bit of floral balance from the added rose petals. Desert without the calories, SPECTACULAR!
Some customers drink both versions of honeybush with milk. I find a bit of local honey (from the Sarasota Farmer’s Market) brings out a natural sweetness in Organic Honeybush, and when iced is very thirst-quenching. The Chocolate Honeybush seems to be more popular as a hot drink.