There are only a couple days left of summer and it was a lovely, warm weekend, and just because school has started doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy some of the tastes of summer. What about some sun tea?
It’s a simple, old-fashioned way to make tea using the sun as the source of heat. With the exception of pu’erh tea, you can use any herbs or types of tea, but black is probably the most effective. Place your tea bags or leaves in a clean jar and simply place it in a sunny spot – inside or outside – where it will remain in the sun for 1-4 hours. Strain or remove bags and store it in another container. Once it’s steeped, add ice and/or sweetener.
But with so many good things, there is a serious disadvantage to sun tea, and I’m not talking about having to wait for it. According to the CDC, harmful bacteria can grow in your sun tea and make you sick! That’s because the heat of the sun simply can’t compete with your kettle. While your tea will be nicely warmed, kind of like a warm bath, it won’t get hot enough to kill bacteria found in the water, tea or even in your container. Water needs to be heated to 195° for three to five minutes to kill the nasties. Caffeine in tea will provide a small barrier to the growth of bacteria, but only for the first 1-2 hours.
My recommendation? Pretend. Make iced tea with a hot or cold brew and sip it in the sun! Enjoy those last days of summer!
There is a time in the last few days of summer when the ripeness of autumn fills the air.
It’s neither black tea nor green tea, even though it comes from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. Tea Masters can create a different flavours by even the slightest modifications in the process.
Oolong tea undergoes a more complex process than black or green tea. Black tea is fully fermented and oxidized; oolong tea is fermented but only partially oxidized. Freshly picked tea leaves are withered, bruised and rolled, before being rolled a second time, roasted, and left to dry completely. The length of time in each process will influence the final product. Oolong tea will tend to have a lighter colour than black tea because the heating processes stops the fermentation process.
Since the leaves are twisted or rolled twice in the process, they dry curled or are rolled in tiny balls. As the leaves steep, they unfurl. It’s fascinating to watch; David’s Tea shares a short video on their website. When we steep, osmotic diffusion occurs. Chemical compounds need time to diffuse into the water until the compounds in both the leaf and the water become equal. It’s important, therefore, that when you are steeping ooling tea, you choose an infuser that leaves space for the leaves to unfurl, giving you a more flavoursome and robust tea!
Another contributing factor to taste in oolong tea is when the leaves are harvested. Normally tea is grown year round but is not harvested in winter. Therefore, leaves in Spring can absorb floral notes around it, and in Fall, woody and malty notes. Generally, green tea and oolong are harvested in the Spring.
It’s Labour Day here in Canada, and I don’t feel like labouring today. So I’m sharing a cool graphic that Big Guy, who is a big coffee drinker, sent me. I think he just secretly wants to know where I sit in the chart so he knows how much to worry about what he’s inherited – both nature and nurture. Of course, I’ve already shared views on pinky out!
Where do you fit on the spectrum? Inquiring minds want to know:
Emerald hills and turquoise seas Endless canvas brushed with trees That sway so gently in the hue Of watercolor azure blue
Waves that ripple through my mind Touch sun-kissed sugar sands of time As whispered winds so softly sigh A dreamlike lazy lullaby
Douglas J. Olsen, Paradise
OK, so I may not be in a tropical location this morning, but we’re still experiencing tropical temperatures, high humidity, and sunshine sparkling off a backyard pool. I’m hanging with my folks and my kids this week, and that’s paradise for me.
Iced tea is essential and David’s Tropic Tango fits the bill. This caffeine-free sweet and fruity infusion contains apple, candied mango, candied papaya, hibiscus blossoms, beetroot, carrot, and cornflower blossoms.
This tea has a tart, fruity flavour that makes your mouth water. Like a vibrant tropical flower, the beetroot ensures a bright, appealing, rosy colour. The predominant flavours are mango, papaya and coconut. It is sweet and tangy, with a slightly artificial flavour, that is accentuated when served as a hot tea. But as an iced tea it is quite refreshing! Sweet enough in fact, I didn’t feel the need to add any sweetener. Someone suggested adding soda water or a pop like gingerale for the perfect party punch! Now to just close my eyes and let my imagination sail away…
You look out into the water; the waves make the most beautiful sound. A place you find peace and comfort… A place to clear your thoughts and leave everything behind.
That soothing sensation of serenity when you’re on vacation, particularly in the Great Outdoors, is irreplaceable. But even if you can’t get here, thanks to Covid, there’s still a way to capture (or recapture) that sense of peace…
Studies have shown that just by looking at photos of nature for as little as five minutes can have a similar calming effect on the brain. How? The images engage the part of the central nervous system that helps us relax, and therefore help to calm our anxiety and fear. Especially photos with just a little green in it!
Another study encouraged people to take photos of either themselves, things that made them happy, or things to share because they know it would make others happy.
Those who took selfies found themselves more comfortable in the their own skin, and therefore, more confident.
Those taking photos of things that make them happy reported an increased sense of appreciation and joy in the day-to-day.
And finally, those who snapped and shared photos with others in mind reported less stress and an increased sense of connection in these relationships.
So take some time this week to look at photos of the people or things that make you happy, share an image or two, or take your camera for a walk in your home or your neighbourhood. Engage your senses. Appreciate your blessings.
Don’t be sad, because even in the midst of winter, you can enjoy the delightful taste of summer’s blueberries. They’re the most nutrient-rich berry, packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium, and plenty of healing properties.
I brought in another tea connoisseur this week: my Mom. We did a taste comparison of David’s Blueberry Fields Forever tea and David’s Blueberry Jam. While we liked both teas a lot, both we each had a favourite!
Mom’s pick was Blueberry Fields Forever. This tea blend has an oolong base and includes apple, bean peels, blueberries and blueberry leaves, elderberries, hibiscus blossoms, violet blossoms, cornflowers, butterfly pea flowers, natural flavouring and stevia extract. It had a delicate, fruity scent and the butterfly pea flowers, a Southeast Asian flower, gave it a rosier hue. Just what you’d expect from blueberry tea! Mom felt this tea had a more natural and sweet, spirited blueberry flavour.
My pick was Blueberry Jam. This tea has a black tea base, and some of the same ingredients. Blueberry Fields has more florals and therefore was slightly sweeter. Since black tea is oxidized longer than oolong, it was a darker hue, more akin to plain black tea. The aroma was stronger and I thought the flavour was more a blend of various berries, not just blueberry, but still rich, vibrant and delicious.
Both blueberry teas are fruity and flavourful…and caffeinated! Blueberry Fields is less expensive than Blueberry Jam, but not “less than” in terms of taste. The difference is likely that Blueberry Jam’s ingredients are organic and Fairtrade. Blueberry Fields’ oolong tea supports the Ethical Tea Partnership program.
In terms of tea, neither blend left us feeling blue!
Forget who you are and why you’re here-all that foolishness. In the woods the bushes are full of blueberries; go and pick some.
“Afternoon tea needn’t stand on ceremony. Anything that becomes more important than sweet fellowship, whether lace or linen or the china itself, is a pretense. How much more we enjoy life when the pretenses are discarded!”
Paul F. Kortepeter, Tea with Victoria Rose
Nothing says patio like a sunny summer day, and when that patio is also a Tea Room – boom! I’m there! What a perfect way to celebrate my wonderful Mom and her long-time friend (who has also been a friend to me)! Both celebrated birthdays last week!
We arrived early and the patio was empty, which allowed us to settle in to the serene haven at The O’Connor House. Patio tables with cheery red umbrellas surrounded a stony courtyard with tea cups and tea pots nestled among the stones. The side wall of the stone “cottage” had a hand-painted mural, and tucked amongst the trees, tea cups and saucers hung on pastel ribbons. Larger trees were decorated with garden art. There was whimsy everywhere.
Our servers, wearing brightly coloured fascinators, were exceptionally sweet, encouraging us to take our time and enjoy one another’s company after such a long absence.
The menu included soup or quiche of the day and a lovely assortment of delicious salads and sandwiches (and desserts). We never got to desserts and elected to save scones with cream for another time. Mom had the homemade mushroom quiche with a fresh salad dressed with homemade honey mustard dressing. Her friend had a large curry chicken salad. I had an Elizabethan sandwich (cucumber, old cheddar cheese and sweet onion) with a fresh salad dressed with a creamy raspberry dressing. The bread was thickly sliced but so light, and the cheese was thickly sliced too. Super yummy!
We were offered hot water for our tea several times, and encouraged to stay longer and visit. So we did!
We never ordered dessert because we were just too full. But we decided to meet again soon and go straight for the scones! I’m so happy I was able to visit and celebrate this wonderful lady. My Mom is an amazing mother, wife, grandmother and friend, and I love her SO much!
A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships.
I love all the amazing crafty ideas (and I confess, the pet shaming memes). Like watching baking shows, it stirs my desire to create while instilling the misbegotten belief that I can do this…and do it easily. My misplaced confidence is shattered when my final product fails to impress.
A recent tea/ garden project was no exception. It looked so simple.
First, I went to the dollar store and purchased 2 tea cup shaped mugs and a set of spoons. I would be making the cutest bird feeders in the neighbourhood!
Next, I coerced asked my patient Dad to glue those spoons inside the mugs. The shape of the cups made this a time-consuming task (for him), but the glue made me feel very relaxed.
Dad carefully boxed my mugs for the car trip home.
They made it in one piece.
The final step, before adding bird seed and admiring my feathered friends, was to hang these mugs in a tree using string or a ribbon.
Excitedly, I grabbed the pink mug first (because it was the prettiest) and a roll of string from my garden tool box. I wound the string around the handle before reaching (shakily with my frozen shoulder) to tie the mug to a branch. Instead, I watched it fall in slow motion and smash on the ground.
Dad should be pleased. The spoon was still firmly glued in place.
I forgot to test the string. A mosquito landing on it could shred it. I went in the house, convinced nothing I did worked and vowing to never look at Pinterest again.
A few days later, with my ego still bruised and a new roll of string, mug #2 made it in the tree (one with grass under it, not cement, just in case).
My creative Auntie M made this for me for my birthday using a tea cup and saucer that was my grandma’s. Maybe I should start sending her my find Pinterest finds…when I break my vow. It’s only a matter of time.
If everything I pinned ended up in my house, I’d be on an episode of hoarders.
It’s almost 30C outside this morning and we have yet another air quality advisory in effect, thanks to raging wildfires in the north. We’re not in any danger, thankfully, but share the benefits of smoke and smog. But it’s still summer, and while forest fires, ticks, mosquitoes, and hogsweed impact our activities, I’m not ready to give up summer living!
This week, I tried a new recipe for iced pops. I began with the basic recipe from Tasty Recipes, and then I improvised a lillte! 🙂
First I made my sugar-rosemary syrup by bringing sugar, water and a dash of dried rosemary to a gentle boil for 2-3 minutes. Then I set it aside to cool. I didn’t have any fresh rosemary and some dried herbs, like rosemary, can be quite potent. Most chefs recommend 1 tsp. dried rosemary to 3 tsp. fresh! I also knew I didn’t have the required 20 oz (or 2.5 cups of pineapple), so I halved the sugar and skimped on the water. I was worried that by using half the water I risked the syrup boiling dry and ruining my pot! After 2-3 minutes, I set it aside to cool.
A few hours later, I blitzed leftover pineapple and its juice in a blender. It was canned, not frozen, and I didn’t have enough for the 2.5 cups (20 oz.) in the recipe. I strained the sugar-rosemary syrup and added it to the pineapple, along with the lemon juice.
Most likely, messing with the recipe, changed the consistency. I found the mixture quite thick and pulpy, and I couldn’t imagine this being very easy to eat once it was frozen. How to thin it out?
This is where tea came in. I added live wire lemon tea. Not only did it improve the consistency for freezing, but it added flavour. Live Wire Lemon is a is a light lemon tea with grassy notes and just a whisper of warming ginger.
Please be advised…the air quality and humidity may be an issue, but these pineapple rosemary pops are not! They are delish, not overly sweet and certainly a healthier option with fresh fruit. I’ve got all the time in the world to lick back with a good book…
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
With pools and beaches open and summer temperatures soaring, it’s easy to spend the day in the sun. But being in the water isn’t the same as drinking the water (and it’s probably not a good idea to drink the water you’re bathing in)!
Water makes up 60% of our bodies. We can survive 30-40 days without food, as long as there is sufficient water, but only 3 days without it. Water is vital for almost every function of the body, from head to toe. It helps maintain blood volume and circulation, regulates body temperature, and transports waste materials. Water also lubricates our organs, acts as a shock absorber for our joints and brain, and keeps all the motors running efficiently.
Drinking water before exercise helps reduce the fatigue and soreness you feel after a workout. It also allows your heart to function well, which lowers your heart rate so your sweat is worth it. In the long term, water can help you lose weight.
In general, people who drink more water also experience happier and more peaceful moods, better focus, and less day-time sleepiness!
Feeling thirsty? You’re already dehydrated. Developing a headache? Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of dehydration; oftentimes they can be reversed simply by drinking up! The amount of water we need per day depends on other factors, but generally, women should drink about 2.21 liters and men should drink 3 liters, daily. Other factors include things like environmental temperature, medication/medical issues, and level/duration of activity. When you sweat more, you need to drink more…even if you’re just snoozing in the shade.
Most beverages will hydrate – a big exception that does not is alcohol! Water, of course, is considered the best because naturally, it doesn’t contain dye, sugar, caffeine, or preservatives. Know your source…water can contain harmful things, but generally, it’s the best. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, add raspberries, mint, or a slice of lemon or lime (just remember to wash the outside of the fruit before you slice)!
Many fruits and vegetables naturally provide water but not enough, and fruit juices, though they hydrate, can also have added sugar and preservatives that might contribute negatively to your bikini bod! Same goes for sports drinks, pop and diet pop.
It used to be believed that caffeine, which has a diuretic effect, inhibited proper hydration, so TEA, hot or iced, was frowned on. Studes have proven that this just isn’t the case when consumed in moderation. If caffeine is a concern, try green tea, which has less caffeine, or an herbal tea/fruit infusion, which has none. Always read the labels so you don’t find out you swapped for lower caffeine, but ended up with higher sugar.
If you know you’re going to be out in the heat for awhile, grab a glass before you go! There are lots of travel options for easy transport. And tank up again when you get home. Remember to drink after the sun has gone down too. Just because the sun has gone to bed, doesn’t mean you stop perspiring!
Finally, since water is important to all life, consider sharing with your backyard neighbours. Keeping it fresh helps them and eliminates standing water for spawning mosquitoes, neighbours you don’t want!