"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~ C.S. Lewis

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Tea: Tisanes AKA "Herbal Teas"

 
What you typically might refer to as "herbal tea" is more correctly called an "herbal infusion" and  specifically called a "tisane" (pronounced tea-zahn). This is because the term "tea" should not be mentioned at all as it is not actually a true tea. True tea consists of processed leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant. While tisanes are prepared in the process like teas, they actually do not contain any tea leaves. A tisane is usually anything from dried fruits, flowers, herbs, mint, spices, roots, berries and seeds. However, don't let this steer you away from tisanes. Similar to teas, many are high in antioxidants and nutrients, while others are typically consumed for simple enjoyment.

Come back soon for another "How to Tea" tip. If you have any tea related questions that you would like covered, please leave it in the comment below so I can get to it on a future post!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great Taste Awards 2014

I have tried several wonderful teas from Tea People before and that's why it didn't surprise me when I heard about their win at the 2014 Great Taste Awards. Tea People's Choco Mint Rooibos is now able to proudly carry the little gold and black Great Taste logo.

Judged by over 400 of the most demanding palates including Masterchef judge and restaurant critic Charles Champion, BBC Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon, Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn, MasterChef 2013 Natalie Coleman, food buyers from Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Whole Food Markets, and chefs including Michelin Star chef Russell Brown, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers.

Neeraj Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO of Tea People, was thrilled to hear what the judges had to say about their Choco Mint Rooibos. “Quite a clever combination. A beautiful bright colour, the aroma of an 'After Eight ' mint, and the pleasant flavour stays on the palate. Gentle floral overtone in the mouth, generally a well-balanced drink, very refreshing.”
 Choco Mint Rooibos loose tea
“Tea People is a new company and this was the first time we had entered the Great Taste Awards. Our small start-up team has worked tirelessly to make sure we are bringing great tasting teas from all over the world to ignite the palate of our consumers. Our in-house tea expert Vishaka has created many wonderful blends and we are absolutely delighted to have received the Great Taste Award. This award now places our teas at the top 6.95% of all 10,000 products judged and at par with the finest food and drinks companies in the UK. We are now looking forward to creating more such teas for our bespoke clients, who can use our expertise to have their own unique blends from an award winning company. We will be showcasing this new feather in our cap at the various trade shows including the Speciality and Fine Food Fair and the BBC Good Food Shows in London” explains Neeraj.

Congrats to you Tea People! This is the start of many awards to come... :)
*You can purchase Choco Mint Rooibos at Tea People's website here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tea Review: The Persimmon Tree's Masala Chai

Masala Chai - The Persimmon Tree

*Side Note: I was sitting at home with my new kitten, Chai, and I decided it was the perfect time to have a cup Chai, too! (The tea, not my cat haha) So here's my review for the Chai beverage I indulged in!


Ingredients: Organic Black Loose-Leaf Tea, Organic Cardamom, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cloves, Organic Ginger

Steep Time: 4 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Wow! Intense!"

Smell: With the first sniff, you know very well that what you are about to drink is chai. Intense and bold spices are flowing through making it one very delightful smelling atmosphere in your home.

Taste: I realize that some people like to enjoy Chai during the colder seasons but I consider it an all year around beverage as it is absolutely delicious. I find this Masala Chai to be quite authentic. It has just the right amount and ratio of spices that create a strong flavour. Add a little bit of sugar and milk and it helps mellow down the spice base but still keeping it tasty and warming. The only thing I wish was different about this particular Masala Chai would be larger black loose leaves. However, this would be an ideal Masala Chai to grind up into tea infused recipes. I shall experiment! I would also recommend steeping this tea for about 3 minutes instead of the 4 or 5 minutes I did as I felt it was a tad bitter.


Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 tea leaves
*Like The Persimmon Tree® on Facebook
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Here's What Tea Reminds Us...

I promise this just might be the most fascinating conversation you will hear all week.
Wu De 
With these words, podcast host Rich Roll introduces us to a Buddhist monk named Wu De who travels the world, teaching people the importance of…tea.  To be specific, teaching about tea as a metaphor for ancient wisdom about the interconnectedness of everything.
Tea, it turns out is the second most consumed substance on Earth, after water.  Wu De believes that the sharing of tea is responsible for the socialization of the entire world.  In fact, one of tea’s ancient names means The Great Connector when translated into English, and Wu De elaborates on the three great connections that tea is responsible for.

Connection To Nature

“This is tricky,” says Wu De “we are not disconnected from nature and therefore we can’t be disconnected.  What has been lost is not the connection to nature; it is the feeling of connection to nature.   Our ancestors’ connection to earth was tacit – they had no choice.  What’s in tea is the earth – its minerals and weather and mountains.   Because tea trees have such deep roots, it is said that they have access to trace elements that you can’t access elsewhere.”

Woman Sitting with Tea Cup 

Connection to Self

Perhaps most importantly, tea reminds us to take time for ourselves, but not necessarily for the sake of simple idleness.  The feeling that we never have a moment to ourselves, or “time famine” as it is often called, has become ubiquitous in North American society.  But we all have the same number of hours in a day and so it is important that we challenge ourselves and ask what is really taking up our time.
Buddhist meditation emphasizes the practice of quieting our own minds – a focus on controlling the noise that we create in our own heads.   The simple act of boiling water, preparing tea leaves and enjoying a cup of tea is a meditative one.   Wu De says “you pick up the tea bowl with two hands, you feel the flavor in your mouth and the warmth passing down your throat and into your body.   Suddenly without realizing it, you are focusing inward.”

Connection To Each Other

While he does state that he is not anti-technology, Wu De suggests that in some ways technology is driving a diminishing of high quality, real time human interactivity.
Many ancient tea ceremonies involve the participants arriving and sitting in complete silence while the tea is prepared and served with rigid adherence to the traditional forms, very much akin to the practice of Kung Fu.   Interestingly, the participants may arrive to the tea ceremony as nearly strangers but leave as friends, having bonded through the shared experience while sitting in silence.   In our own lives, sharing tea with someone, especially in our homes is very much an ancient and very civilized way of connecting.
on-off-button 
Wu De would like to see us all “log off” more often – to power down the devices and enjoy tea as a way of reconnecting with ourselves and with the people who matter to us.   “Every single one of these devices, every single one, has one feature in common – all of them come with an on/off button installed for your convenience.”

Tea reminds us that we too, have an on/off button.

* The podcast is quite long, clocking in at nearly two hours, but the two hours flies by as this thought-provoking figure shares his thoughts on what really matter in life.   Perhaps you have a nice long drive ahead of you, or perhaps you have the luxury of just relaxing and listening in? We recommend pouring a nice Yellow Dragon Pu Erh, and taking the time to enjoy Wu De’s teaching.
This post was written by Jason King - a writer, gardener, musician, enthusiastic home cook, traveler & recovering entrepreneur. It was originally featured on Seven Sisters Tea's blog.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Coco Chai Rooibos Brownies Recipe

I was craving a chocolate treat but I wanted a nice kick to it. I was originally going to the kitchen to make some brownies and steep myself a cup of Coco Chai Rooibos from David's Tea to enjoy with it. However, while gathering the ingredients I thought of a simple solution: infuse these with the tea! This recipe requires two sets of directions as it uses a tea infused butter. Don't let that scare you away from making it though. I promise it's not a difficult recipe to follow. All you need is tea, love and a little bit of patience.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (tip: use cacao powder for a healthier treat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Coco Chai Rooibos 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs

Tea Infused Butter Directions

1. Melt the unsalted butter in a medium pot over low heat until just liquid.
2. Add the Coco Chai Rooibos tea leaves directly in the pot of melted butter and continue to heat for about 5 minutes on low heat.
3. Once complete, remove from the heat and allow to stand for another 5 minutes. You will start to notice a tinted colour in the butter.
4. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the tea leaves and then discarding them.
5. Before using the butter in the recipe let it cool to room temperature. Use your waiting time to prepare the rest of the brownie recipe.

Brownie Mixture Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a baking dish with butter.
2. In a medium bowl sift together cocoa powder and sugar. Then add the Coco Chai Rooibos infused butter, and vanilla extract along with the eggs, beating them one at a time.
3. Gently sifted and stir in the flour.
4. Pour your mixture into your grassed baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan and then cut and enjoy with a cup of tea!

*If you give this recipe a try tag me on Twitter and/or Instagram showing me a photo of your final results!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Review: Life by the Cup by Zhena Muzyka {+ giveaway!}

They say a cup of tea and a good book are the perfect pair. This is a book I would recommend for your tea time! I was drawn to this book for many reasons but of course what got to me first was the title "Life by the Cup." After the book was sent to me I had a detailed look through it before I began on page one. I noticed a particular praise from the author of Loving What Is, Byron Katie - "This is a book with heart. Zhena Muzyka has poured herself into it, so that you can stop, sip and enjoy not only a cup of tea but a cup of life." That's when I realized I couldn't wait any longer and had to dive into the read.
Source: Instagram account @teaaholic
That line hits home because I feel it's a great explanation of why I started my tea blog, The Cup of Life, in the first place. My initial thought has always been creating The Cup of Life as a unique tea cafe. I'm not a huge risk taker though, so I settled for blogging. I don't regret it, in fact I think creating a tea blog has helped me learn so much more about this industry to prepare me for a future tea cafe. In Life by the Cup Zhena shares her story of her tea dream. After her young son needed surgery and she only had $6 in her wallet, Zhena found tea for comfort, wisdom and inspiration. Her dream was to share her hand-crafted teas with the world and she did just that. Starting from almost nothing, Zhena details her every move of how she got to where she is today in the tea world. My favourite part of this book is that she doesn't sugar coat things. Sometimes in motivational memoirs everything is made to sound so easy. Zhena lets the readers in on her struggles before her successes.
Chapters in Zhena's book are divided by an Inspiration, a Mantra of the Cup, and an Exercise for readers to complete that relate to what was just read and absorbed. Each exercise is different but follow each other well and are a great activity to do with a cup of tea (of course). I would recommend using an old schooled pencil and paper to complete each exercise. No technology. Dig deep into yourself and your tea cup to find the exact things you need to write down. Have a notebook devoted to just this. It's something that is great to come back to and review after you have read the book entirely.

Check out "Life by the Cup" Book Trailer:

Giveaway

The Cup of Life has the wonderful opportunity to give one lucky reader an autographed copy of this book so they can also be inspired and find their life purpose filled with happiness and success. To enter, simply follow the widget below. Please note this giveaway is open to Canada and United States residents only. Enter as often as you can up until the closing date of August 15. Winner will be announced here the following day.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Drink Militia's Summer 2014 Interview

Embedded image permalink 
"Drink Militia is a community of people passionate about drinks! Created by Andrew Emmett to help those in the drinks community. The aim is to help those passionate about their drinks find a voice, by being involved in discussions and providing various ways to promote themselves."

Each season Drink Militia creates an interview on their website that is open to anyone passionate about drinks of any kind - coffee, tea, oj, etc. I first found out about Drink Militia when I was contacted by them on Twitter informing me about their Summer interview. I recently completed the interview on Drink Militia's website and it was posted on their website earlier this week. I look forward to seeing what is coming up next for Fall 2014 but until then....

Here's a snippet from my interview:

What is your favourite Summer drink and why?
Currently, I am experimenting with homemade iced tea recipes and popsicles. I’d have to say any hibiscus iced tea sweetened with natural honey would be an all time favourite because it’s flavourful and a great alternative to a typical sugary pop or juice.

To find out more about my favourite Summer drink read the rest of my interview.

 
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