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, but 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 and when the value hit record levels they dumped their stock and disappeared. Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price and the tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.
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 takes place. 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 and then wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are then 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 tends to be low in tannins. Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed. The flavor is very pungent and earthy, smells like a compost heap and looks like tar so I know it’s going to be good for me!
I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps. I like the later steeps better than the initial steep and find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.
By this time, late in the afternoon I am thinking Pu Erh should be brewed more often by me and shared 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 called Tea!
the Tea Lady
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.”
Recently someone asked me about the phrase. I mentioned the story of the Chinese herbalist Li Qing Yuen who was said to have consumed gojiberries 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 date of birth 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, gojiberries 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 gojiberries could be found in the official reports, and I really don’t know what sitting like a tortoise might look like.
I am going to leave the story in our product page because I think our Goji Green tea is phenomenal. As phenomenal as the legend of Li Qing Yuen.
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 this wonderful green tea, contemplate your secrets to a long life. And then please share them with me 🙂
“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
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!
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, and I would like to 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!
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!” 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 a earlier post about Yorkshire. Please share your comments and take time for 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 just 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?
This is a very easy recipe and method to follow. You will need preserving jars which have been sterilized in boiling water. I put the lemons in 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 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 mixture thickens. (It may seem like 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 is a White tea grown in Fujian Province, China. White teas are surrounded by folklore and mystique heralded from ancient China when this delicate tea was proclaimed by Emperors as “the culmination of all that is elegant”
White teas are the least processed of all the categories of tea. The newest leaves are carefully picked when they have a silvery appearance which comes from the hair or ‘hao’. They are lightly withered which turns them into an artists palate of hues, ranging from silver to green to brown and results in a light fluffy mixture of leaf pieces that yield a subtle and delicate flavor.
I had been asked several times about a Pear tea and 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” and is produced from a variety of 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 so is a perfect partner for White tea. To compliment the pear, there are dried apple pieces, mango cubes and marigold blossoms which results in shimmering golden liquor with a lingering fragrance and sweet, fresh mellow taste. This is a truly beautiful 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 now as 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 anticancer properties, is heart healthy, has a calming (anti-sagging!) and detoxifying effect on the skin and the ability to strengthen our immune system. An added 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 that 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 and therefore have been able to drink later into the day. See how it works for you!
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.
How could you not be excited about the prospect of a Royal Wedding? They don’t come around that often and we pin all our hopes for a lasting and loving relationship for this lovely young couple.
I plan to lose myself for a day of pomp and circumstance surrounding Prince William (Wills to some!) and the beautiful Kate Middleton (only a middle class girl!) We could not resist jumping on the Royal bandwagon at Local Coffee + Tea and have created a tea to celebrate the occasion aptly named Royal-Tea.
If you are already sick of all the hoopla (like my husband!) then sit and make yourself a cup of this stately and sophisticated tea, a perfect marriage between green sencha and bancha, orange pieces, slivers of almonds and cream caramel. Tea and fruits fit for a Royal table I think.
The tea, like the Royal couple brings together two different backgrounds.
Chinese sencha (‘Sen’ meaning green and ‘cha’ meaning tea or ‘infused tea’) is a style of green tea normally produced in Japan but here we have a perfect unison between Chinese leaf and Japanese style.
After harvest, the leaves are heated in a wok to prevent oxidation giving the leaves a slightly mellower ‘roasted’ flavor and characteristic thin, cylindrical shape which results in a very light, refreshing and uplifting tea less vegetal in flavor than those produced in Japan.
Bancha or the ‘common’ green tea in Japan is harvested from the second flush of leaves in late summer/autumn. The larger leaf gives a very mellow flavor and contains less caffeine.
The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea, and it tastes delicious.
Cream caramel is a tasty ‘concoction’ of sugar and fats which are dried and added to enhance this tea. I try to bring you teas with only all natural ingredients, but sometimes Royal exceptions must be made!
Almonds are something I try to eat all year round for their healthy heart benefits (they contain monounsaturated fats which are good fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol).
In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are considered a nutrient for the brain and nervous system and said to induce high intellectual level and longevity. I knew there was a reason I liked them so much! They pair very well with oranges too. and Walnut adds to the ‘nuttiness’ of our tea.
Back by popular demand!
If you are reading this description and thinking this all sounds familiar, you may have enjoyed this tea over the holidays. Festivi-Tea was created to celebrate Lights in Bloom at Selby Gardens. And we have brought it back to celebrate another holiday, a Royal Wedding!
Whatever the name of this tea, enjoy April 29th and celebrate in true Royal fashion with a good cuppa Royal-Tea.
Please join me in wishing Prince William and Kate a long and happy life together.
The Tea Lady
Honeybush or Cyclopia intermedia is indigenous to the cape of South Africa and 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 is very popular here at the Local Tea Company Carriagehouse at Selby Gardens, and we are pleased to offer 2 varieties; Organic Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush. I urge you to try them if you are looking for a substitute for ‘true’ tea (Camellia sinensis), though I use honeybush as a compliment to my tea drinking habits!
Like most of the teas, honeybush has a history traced back to the trading of the Dutch and British. Cape Town was established in 1652 as a supply base for the Dutch East India Company trading in Indian tea and Southeast Asian spices. Botanists were soon cataloging the rich flora of the Cape region and the honeybush plant was noted in botanical literature. The native KhoiSan or Bushmen used a tea made from honeybush to treat coughs and other upper respiratory symptoms associated with infections.
The honeybush plant is a shrub of the Fabaceae family and grows in the fynbos botanical zone, a narrow region along the coast bound by mountains. Fynbos is Dutch for ‘fine leaved plantsis’ and is a vegetation type characterized by woody plants with small leathery leaves. The honeybush plant is easily recognized by its sweetly scented, bright yellow flowers and needle-like leaves.
Besides great taste, a sort of woodsy, cedar-like flavor, Honeybush has some very special health benefits. Pinitol is a modified sugar found in the leaves of several legume plants and as an expectorant, it helps with coughs and phlegm. Pinitol can also lower blood sugar levels, and may increase the effects of insulin. I have read honeybush is being considered as a drug for diabetes! It would be good to have something so natural to help with such a prevalent disease. I have also read that Pinitol helps with acid reflux and 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 have been used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. That covers quite a lot of the population who should be drinking this tea!
Honeybush tea is prepared like 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 and has a reputation as a calming beverage, but I love drinking honeybush while at Local Tea Company, too! The tannin content is very low, so 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.
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 just 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 (Aspalathis 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 as well as Mama Ramotswe, a certain lady detective. If 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 with colic and is added to baby’s bath water (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 the adverse effects of rooibos, which is quite amazing!
Rooibos is an herb and is NATURALLY caffeine free, which makes 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 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 too 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.