More Bertha Palmer
Bertha Honore Palmer. I hope you may already have taken advantage of the discount being offered this month on Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea at our redesigned web site, Local Tea Co. If not, perhaps I can convince you otherwise by sharing a few details of Bertha’s tea ingredients.
I love the taste of the herbs, perfectly blended with Rooibos tea. But until I really researched them all that, I realized what an amazing combination and marriage they are.
(Foeniculum vulgare) is a member of the carrot family. The plant is tall and statuesque (Bertha!) with large glossy stems and light, feathery leaves. It blooms small yellow flowers that yield greenish-brown seeds with a licorice flavor. Fennel is renowned for digestive disorders since it stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes, calms the digestive tract, prevents spasms, and improves the absorption of nutrients. That is just for starters! Some other benefits are fluid retention, gum disorders, diuretic properties, which help fight urinary tract infections, and strength. It contains calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, selenium, and Vitamins A, C, and E.
(Glycyrrhiza glabra) A woody perennial which has a bright green stem and dark green oval leaves. The flowers are shaped like peas. The big taproot with long branch roots can spread to 3 feet. Licorice is a tonic boost for the adrenal glands. It produces our ‘fight or flight’ hormones to help cope with stress. Glycyrrhizin has anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory value, so it eases and soothes the respiratory tract and arthritic pain. Licorice also helps in the stomach department, soothing indigestion and reducing acid secretions. It contains Iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, lecithin, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Lippia citriodora) is an aromatic shrub with pale green leaves and pale purple flowers. It eases spasms, settles the stomach, fights indigestion and flatulence, reduces fevers, and is a stimulant for the skin. Lemon Verbena is excellent for flavor and synergy.
(Cinnamon cassia) is a warm spice with a sweet, calming nature good for colds and chills, but antiseptic abilities will also help fight bacteria, viruses, fungal, and yeast infections. This is a powerful ingredient to have in any blend.
(Mentha piperita) There are more than 210 species of this aromatic plant, which will invigorate with one cut leaf. Menthol has an anesthetic effect on the stomach’s nerve endings, helping with nausea, seasickness, and pains in the abdomen. Peppermint will calm you all over!
All these beautiful herbs are blended with Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis), which is also an anti-spasmodic (and used in South Africa to soothe colic in children), along with essential daily minerals and vitamins too.
At Local Tea Company, we believe Rooibos is a cure to all ailments and feel that this formidable woman, Bertha Honore Palmer, would have been a huge fan of this perfectly blended, soothing tea.
Take a break and try some Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea and check out our Facebook page for more updated details of our Local Tea Journey activities. Here is a post about Five Reasons you will Love Rooibos Tea.
Harrogate Yorkshire Tea
You may be familiar with or have heard about Yorkshire Pudding, even Yorkshire Terriers, but did you know Yorkshire has a TEA?
It is immensely fitting that Harrogate, a small town in Yorkshire, North England, should have a tea named after. It would help if you now wondered why that might be so, and of course, I will tell you.
First, Harrogate is known for the quality of its water. Good water is, of course, the main ingredient in a good cuppa tea! Harrogate is home to many ancient wells, the
most famous being Tewit Well, discovered by Sir William Slingsby during the 1700s. Slingsby believed the water had powerful healing properties, able to cure just about anything.
The wells became an attraction, and visitors flocked to ‘take the waters’ at Harrogate, turning the small town into a Spa destination. This, in turn, created a proliferation of tea shops, the most famous being Betty’s. To this day, a town visit is not complete without stopping at Betty’s for tea and some exceedingly good cakes. Tea served in Harrogate certainly has a delicious taste.
Second, and the most fitting reason Harrogate has a tea named after it is because this is my home town! This is where my love of tea and my tea journey first began. My mum could ‘sup some tea’ as they say in Yorkshire and as a family, we did plenty of tea drinking. There was not a single occasion that did not call for a cuppa, and all visitors to our home were welcomed with a good cup of tea and some homemade cake or biscuits.
I learned my tea-making skills at an early age, and my passion for tea has never wavered. In fact, it continues to grow. My life is very different now, but each new day starts with a cup of Harrogate tea, taking me back to those times in the Yorkshire town. Thanks, mum. This is certainly a special tea from a special town. Be sure to share Harrogate Yorkshire tea with all your visitors.
At Local Coffee + Tea, our Harrogate Yorkshire Tea is a blend of Orange pekoe and Broken Orange pekoe tea from 3 growing regions in China, Kenya, and India. The style of this tea is blended to make a good strong brew with some astringency. You may like to steep your tea for 3 minutes or much longer. Of course, I drink the traditional Yorkshire way with milk. I also use some agave nectar, but it tastes great without—what a great way to start your day refreshed and full of Yorkshire energy.
Astringency in Tea
When we offer samples of tea at Selby Gardens or the Sarasota Farmer’s Market, many people respond with, “I don’t like the taste of tea.” Our standard cheeky response is, “Because you have never tasted our tea?”
After probing a bit, people describe the bitter taste of tea. The root cause is typically oversteeping, which is why we are so specific with steep times at Local Tea Company. Loose leaf tea offers so much flavor, and when prepared incorrectly, will become astringent.
Astringency is that dry, puckering sensation that follows a sip of strong tea, an assertive red wine, or a bite into not quite ripe fruit. Tannins are responsible. They are polyphenols or natural defensive compounds that actually help deter bacteria and fungi growing on the tea leaf. The sensation of astringency is caused by the ‘tanning’ of the proteins in the mouth’s saliva and mucous membranes. Besides, this causes the surface tissues actually to contract and reduce lubrication.
Tannins tend to get some bad press because they are often confused with tannic acid. However, tannic acid is derived from oak leaves and is used for tanning leather! When I was young, I remember well the threats from Dad that I would “get a good tannin if I misbehaved.” I guess this is the source of the phrase? In other words, and to set the record straight, I do not have a leathery bottom now. The threat served its purpose, and I am always a good girl!
The Camellia sinensis tannins found in loose leaf tea are responsible for the wonderful flavor and color in tea. After that, a little astringency is nice, giving your drink some body and briskness (I love that word!) and cleansing your palate after eating. That’s why a cuppa always tastes so good after dinner. You will find tannins very evident in green tea and especially black tea if steeped too long.
I will let you on to a little secret, though you may already know about if you drink your tea like the Brits. If you add milk to the tea, the tannins attack the milk’s proteins rather than those in your mouth, and you have a less astringent taste.
Last but not least, Tannins are said to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth and help impede dental cavities. In conclusion, celebrate Hot Tea Month and make your Dentist happy by drinking lots of tea!
Cochin Masala Chai
January is National Hot Tea Month, and all over the country, we are experiencing some chilly weather, even here in Florida. As everyone is much more appreciative of the benefits of drinking a nice hot cuppa, I can think of no better way to celebrate hot tea month than drinking the hottest of teas, Masala Chai. Here is a post Time of the Year 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 variations of preparation today (some not too good either!), there are four components that remain true to chai tea’s original idea.
- Strong black tea, usually Assam, but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong, so spices and sweeteners do not overpower the flavor.
- 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.
- Milk, usually whole milk for richness, but alternatives like Soy can be used. 1/4 to 1/2 parts are required.
- 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, licorices root, almond, and saffron.
Cochin Masala Chai
At Local Tea Company, we offer an outstanding Cochin Masala Chai, authentic and gives a 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 and have been sampling our chai in the Tea Room at Selby Gardens, and probably one of these Saturdays at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. Go ahead and try the 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 Hot Tea month!
Hot Tea Month
Happy New Year and Happy Hot Tea Month!
January is National Hot Tea Month and also the height of the “cold and flu season.” So what can you do to help prevent coming down with the cold and flu?
Drinking hot tea is sure to help you stay healthy.
There is plenty of research that indicates that theanine, an ingredient found naturally in tea, supports the immune system. A cup of tea contains an average of 20- 25 mg of theanine, and drinking at least five cups per day will boost your natural resistance to infections.
Tea also contains flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds known for their antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe damage elements in the body and contribute to many chronic diseases.
There is also a herbal tea with great properties in the war against cold and flu: Zingibar officinale, the tart, knotty spice we know as ginger. The oils in ginger will create warmth in your body, help fight infection, and ease nasal and chest congestion. Ginger root makes a tea with nice clean notes and, of course, the familiar hot finish! Anti-inflammatory properties also make ginger a good sore throat remedy. A touch of honey or lemon makes an even more soothing tea when you are feeling unwell.
Why not go for a double dose of prevention and combine ginger with your favorite black tea or green tea such as Nilgiri or Pinhead Gunpowder. This is an invigorating infusion. I like to infuse the ginger root first (it needs at least 10 minutes of steeping) and then add to the prepared tea. If you live in a warmer climate like Florida (where we hardly notice it is winter!) and really do not want to drink hot tea, try serving this combo iced. It really is delicious.
Hot Tea Month
While drinking tea may not keep you from getting sick this season, it can certainly help your odds of staying healthy. So do something good for your body and enjoy a hot cuppa every day! Have a Happy Hot Tea month and stay well.
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.
We have broken down the details of brewing a fine cuppa with our post “Infusion Confusion” now, let’s put the record straight on ‘Multi Steeping’ your tea.
We are talking about loose leaf tea rather than tea bags designed for one use only. See “Think Out of the Bag” post. Depending on the type and quality of loose tea, you should expect to make several steeps or infusions.
Loose Leaf Tea
Follow your usual procedure to make the first cup of tea. If your preference is a strong tea, I suggest increasing the amount of tea rather than the time you allow the tea to infuse. Make only the amount you require or decant into another pot to preserve your leaves and stop them from over infusing or tasting astringent.
This is an important step. It’s not the fault of the leaves as they carry on doing what YOU put them there to do!
Add more water to start the second infusion, releasing another round of flavor. Allow more time; I usually double my original infusion time. You may enjoy this cup more than the first; it has a roundness or smoothness, most pleasing.
At Local Tea Company, we add the first and second infusion together, making what we believe is the perfect cuppa. We call this multifusion!
Go ahead and infuse your leaves once again. You can continue this process until the leaves offer you no more surprises. If you are infusing a rolled leaf, you will certainly be rewarded with many infusions, a cut leaf not so many. Our oolongs offer at least 4 steeps, and my personal favorite for beautiful multifusion flavors is Goji Green.
Multi-steeping is also one reason we love using tea makers with pressure release bottoms to brew loose leaf tea. The lid keeps the leaves moist and fresh if you are away from your tea-making duties. You can also place the tea maker in the refrigerator if not using till later in the day or even the next day.
Experiment, play around with each tea. After the first steep, you will notice it is hard to overstep the tea, and you should not experience any astringency. This is one of the reasons some people prefer the second or third steeps to the first. And remember, it is suggested that oolongs are washed, basically discarding the short first steep or rinse. If you read our “Oooolongs” post, you will note that I drink this batch and love it!!
Enjoy multi infusions as you drink loose leaf tea, and keep in mind the great value loose leaf tea offers long after a tea bag is discarded.
the tea lady
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.
Think out of the Bag
You may have noticed our new mantra, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG.” We have tried it on for a few weeks and think it may be time to provide some details about what we are trying to do at Local Tea Company.
During the course of a typical week, we sample teas to many visitors at Selby Gardens and the Downtown Farmer’s Market here in Sarasota. We talk tea and find many tea drinkers thrilled to engage us with their favorite tea tales. Yes, we love our job.
It comes as no surprise that many people use teabags. But shocking is how many people have never tasted loose leaf tea. Sad to think so many people are missing out on the wonderfully unique experience of loose leaf tea.
And so, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG” our campaign to encourage people to choose loose leaf tea in place of tea in tired old bags. The subheading is, “Loose leaf tea is fresher, hipper, and just darn better for you.” We intend to convert teabag users to loose leaf tea drinkers through tasting, educating, and advocating loose leaf tea one sip at a time.
There are several reasons to choose loose leaf over tea bag tea, and we offer them here. If you, our fellow tea lovers, have other reasons we failed to mention, please share…
There is absolutely no comparison. Most bag tea is the lowest tea grade (dust or fannings) that comes out of the production area. There are some exceptions, but generally, the tea is very small particles and holds little flavor. Every step in the processing of loose leaf tea is designed to enhance the flavor and taste.
There are also some exceptions, and just because you buy loose leaf tea does not mean it will be of excellent quality. We and all of our fellow tea enthusiasts search for teas with exceptional freshness, quality, and taste, and you should too. We call this our “tea journey.” Loose leaf tea allows you to examine, smell, listen, and sample for maximum quality.
Despite what you may assume when first exploring the loose versus teabag conundrum, loose is more economical. Teabags are created for one-time use! Nearly all loose leaf tea varieties should be steeped at least twice, and some loose leaf teas can be steeped many more times. Work out the math, and you will be surprised how little loose-leaf costs you per cup.
Loose leaf tea is perfect for brewing a pot of tea to share with others, the starting point for a meaningful conversation. Offering a cup of properly steeped loose leaf tea is a wonderfully kind gesture, hard for anyone to refuse.
Just think how much packaging and bits of string you would save!
Whilst you may still gain some health benefits from tea bags, you will gain many more from loose leaf tea. My theory is that you will like the taste better and want to DRINK MORE, giving yourself the gift of good health.
Lastly, and for us, one of the most important reasons to drink loose leaf tea is the sheer enjoyment it brings into your life. Brewing a pot of tea for one is relaxing and contemplative, watching such majesty. Sharing a pot of tea with a friend is a nod to a more civilised era. The leaves gracefully dance in your pot and tantalize your taste buds with their fresh and fragrant bouquet.
Make time in your life for loose leaf tea and join Local Tea Company in helping all tea lovers to “THINK OUT OF THE BAG.”
the tea lady
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.