But when it comes to tea, I’m more of a purist. Some people can’t live without sugar or some form of sweetener in their tea or coffee. I would be tempted to call them freaks, but that would just be me in my glass house throwing stones. To each their own!
Life is like a cup of tea. The sugar is all at the bottom
Julia Ward Howe
There are a number of options on the market, both natural and artificial. Some natural sweeteners, of course, would be stevia, honey, or maple syrup. More commonly, refined white sugar, brown sugar (with or without molasses) or cane sugar/syrup are used. But have you heard of German Rock Sugar?
German Rock Sugar is anatural sugar substitute. It is unrefined, unprocessed, and crystallized sugar made from beets, not sugar cane. These amber-coloured sugar pebbles contain slightly fewer calories than white refined sugar. It’s also devoid of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Some say they are the best way to enhance sweetness in your loose leaf tea without actually modifying the flavour of the tea.
Approximately 1 tsp rock sugar = 25 calories. When using it in your tea, they recommend dissolving 1 rock per cup. For extra sweetness or to use in an iced tea, dissolve a rock in a bit of hot water, before adding the tea. In baking, substitue 1 rock per 1 tbsp. of sugar (again dissolve it in a tiny amount of water).
It’s purported to have a number of health benefits, including a less intense effect on blood sugar levels. Some of the websites I reviewed tried to convince me that German Rock sugar could be used as a form of therapy for depression, as a stimulant for fatigue, and as a booster for cognitive function and concentration. While I agree that a small, sugary treat can do all of those things in the short term, I’m not sure this candy-like pebble has such great “magical” healing powers. Also, sugar is still sugar, so if sugar in your diet is a major health concern, talk to a doctor. Just because someone said so on the internet, does not make it so!
I know it’s Monday – tea day!! So what am I doing posting a Photo Challenge? I think if you take a gander, you’ll see there is a common theme with 2 great loves…So pour yourself a cup of tea and soak in some summer.
There is temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading should belong.
How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Were they “getting organized” or “downsizing”? When it comes to tea, I am probably not the person to ask for advice.
I confess, not only do I have an entire drawer filled with tea, I also have a tea box in the basement, an assortment of odd tins in the cupboard, 9 tins on a special rack, and 2 tins on the counter. Even though I tend to drink at least 1-2 large cups of specialty tea a day, it would take me over a year to finish all this. And with the cost of my most decadent delights (albeit still not the most expensive options out there), I tend to hoard for special occasions or very sad days.
But I’m actually doing myself a disservice. Tea is meant to be savoured at its best, and like our female figures, it doesn’t stay the same forever!
Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
Black tea is meant to last a reasonably long time, generally up to 2 years from when it is opened. Sure, it will lose some flavour over that time, but significantly less so if it’s stored properly. There are three exceptions: pu’erh tea, oolong tea, and green tea. Green tea is fired for less time, and therefore should be used in less than 1 year. Pu’erh and oolnog are best enjoyed fresh!
Tins, boxes, foil bags, paper or plastic sachets. Tea comes in all sorts of containers, but not all containers are equal.
First, tea should be stored in a dark area. My kitchen counter may not be the best option! Sunlight and the warmth it brings can damage tea leaves, altering both its taste, colour and texture. Clear glass jars in particular are the worst choice because even inside a cupboard, tea leaves can be exposed to light.
Second, tea should be stored where it’scool and dry. Humidity and moisture can encourage the growth of bacteria, so storing tea near your cooking element isn’t the best option. Don’t forget heat rises and can be trapped along the ceiling, so an upper shelf is at higher risk of warmer temperatures. And if you’re someone who cooks or bakes a lot, you may want to consider storing completely out of your kitchen. If you suspect your tea has been compromised (and usually you can smell mold), it’s better to toss it than risk tossing your digestion.
Third, and probably most importantly, is an airtight container. This elimates both issues of humidity and loss of flavour. Airflow, over time, literally steals flavour from tea, coffee and those spices in your cupboard. Always squeeze out as much air as possible when you are resealing your container. A double layer provides more protection. For example, if your sachets are individually sealed, store them in the cardboard box or carton they came in. Metal tins often have 2 layers on the lid or a rubber seal around the edges. And those cartons with a foil seal – don’t toss the seal. Instead, press it down on top of the tea bags for extra protection. Metal tins are your best bet!
It’s a given, but don’t store different flavours in the same container. I know it saves space, but do you really want to risk compromising the flavours. Some spices, like cinnamon and clove, are especially overpowering. I wouldn’t want a delicate floral tea to be overpowered by cinnamon! Tea leaves are meant to absorb the perfumes with which they are combined, like jasmine pearls, or cinnamon bark. Keep in mind, therefore, that they can absorb other flavours too – like cedar from the wooden box you are storing them in, or the deep fryer you keep next to the box. Strong flavours can also imprint the container they are stored in, even tin ones, so it’s important to use the same container always, or wash and allow plenty of time to air out before adding something else.
Here’s another pickle. Buying large amounts means tea may sit around longer and start to lose flavour. Buying in small amounts means it’s in small company, so it may start to lose flavour. Use your discretion when purchasing. I tend to purchase small amounts of a new flavour so that I’m not wasting any if it’s not to my satisfaction, while I keep a larger stash of my favourites because I know I will use them.
Consider sharing! Two years ago, Big Guy’s friend and I exchanged a few teas. Not only did we each get to try something new, but it was a good opportunity to organize our stash and toss out a few teas that were way past their prime!
You never know what you have….until you clean your room!
I believe there’s a degree of goodwill in all us. An innate desire to join with others to contribute to our world in a way that blesses. It may be in your local community or the global community, a grand or complex legacy for the next generation, or as simple as tending a garden for the birds and the bees.
In the tea community, there are organizations that promote fair business practices, safe working conditions, and sustainable resources. Right now, David’s Tea is donating 10% of the proceeds from their “Bee The Change” tea, to The Bee Conservancy, a non-profit organization that creates bee habitats in Canada & the US.
It’s a drop in a bucket, but as you add drops, the bucket fills up.
“Bee the Change” tea is a delight for all the senses too. Vibrant petals of echinacea, rose, marigold, pink cornflower, and red clover are combined with rooisbos and honeybush leaves, apple, rosehips, natural honey flavouring, and natural flavouring with stevia extract. Many of these ingredients are said to stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system. The aroma is a bright perfume of sweetness and flower, from the time the tin is opened to the very last drop!
“Bee the Change” is a kosher, caffeine-free infusion. It’s a light honeyed colour (not surprising) that intimates warmth. I found this floral, honeyed elixir to be vivid and cheerful. Would it be weird if I called it “sunny”?The honey is identifiable and sweet, but not provocative or cloying. I’m not a fan of floral teas for the most part, but I found this coupling beautifully balanced.
Not only have I helped my buzzy besties in a small way, but it’s my new favourite indulgence on a gray afternoon or a chilly evening.
The key to nature’s therapy is feeling like a tiny part of it, not a master over it. There’s amazing pride in seeing a bee land on a flower you planted – but that’s not your act of creation, it’s your act of joining in.
I have found that when it comes to Earl Grey tea, there are 2 camps: those who love it and those who do not.
I am in the camp who does not.
However, any tea connoisseur will tell you that not all teas are equal since quality and blends can vary between producers. It never hurts to experiment.
This weekend, I tried two types of Earl Grey Cream tea, which is not quite the same as Earl Grey. To understand one, you must first understand the other.
Earl Grey tea is a blend of tea with the addition of oil of bergamot, which is extracted from the rind of the citrus fruit grown on bergamot orange trees. It is an unmistakable, highly floral aromatic that is also used in perfumed products. Originally, this tea wasn’t meant to be consumed with milk, but tea companies have modified the blend to include stronger black teas, such as ceylon, which lend themselves better to being consumed with milk. Tea companies have also been experimenting using unconventional tea bases, like green tea. Earl Grey Fog lattes have become very popular.
It’s assumed to have been named after Earl Charles Grey, the British prime minister in the 1830’s. Lady Jane was his wife. Charles Grey reputedly received this special blend of tea with the oil of bergamot after ending a tea monopoly by the East India Tea Company. The floral flavour was specially blended to help compensate for the lime levels in Earl Grey’s local water. The first advertisement on record for Earl Grey tea was in the 1880’s.
Earl Grey Cream teas differ in that they do not contain the oil of bergamot (so you don’t have that nasty oily film on the top of your tea cup) but they do mimic the floral flavour (or citrusy flavour, depending on your tastebuds).
Pluck’s tea contains black tea, corn flowers and natural flavours, where as David’s tea of the same name, contains organic black tea, natural earl gray cream flavor, blueberry centaury, and organic marigolds. Please don’t ask me what “natural flavours” mean… I found Pluck’s tea was more like an astringent black tea with a light traditional earl grey flavour. It was a moderate amber colour. David’s tea had the much stronger, heady smell and flavour of earl grey, but with a silky, creamy texture. It was less astringent than Pluck’s tea, and also a much darker colour.
While both teas surprised me, I still have to be “in the mood” for something floral. I still really like that Pluck’s tea is blended in smaller batcher in Canada for quality control, and their tea is sourced from an Ethical Tea Partnership supporting local growers and workers. Both teas are kosher; they are also caffeinated. For a decaf version, try a Lady Jane Grey blend.
Well, I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.
I was just reflecting this morning, how our attitudes and circumstances, when reframed and brought out into the light, can actually become something beautiful. Take my disastrous macarons, for example. While they are cracked and dry, and lack colour, a little raspberry buttercream softens the appearance, and makes them a sweet treat. I survived the experience, and I now have an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. And an opportunity to try again.
Maybe even to do better.
All of the experiences in my life have done the same. Sure, my heart bears many scars. Some of my own making. But reframed in the light of God’s love and care, there is beauty too. God softens and moulds the rough places. He adds sweetness. He has helped me survive, and learn, and grow. He has forgiven me, so I can try again.
Maybe even do better.
So I’m wishing you a week filled with sweetness and light…and plenty of tea!
You may think your light is small, but it can make a huge difference in other people’s lives
The Derby Crown Porcelain Company was established in 1876, and was granted permission to use the title ‘Royal’ and the Royal Arms by Queen Victoria in 1890.
The Mikado pattern was inspired by rice paper drawings. It was designed in 1894 by Thomas Amos Reid, the art director at the Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company. Each piece in the set depicts different chapters of the famous Mikado Opera, which opened at the London Savoy Theatre on March 14, 1885. Gilbert & Sullivan ‘s satirical musical ran 672 times at the Savoy. By the end of 1885, an esitmated 150 European and American theatre companies were performing the opera.
This cup is a cobalt blue pattern on white fine bone china; the edges are scalloped and edged in 24kt gold trim. While this pattern was crafted in various colours, the cobalt blue was particularly popular in North America. It’s vintage falls between 1921 and 1940.
The theatre is not the place for the musician. When the curtain is up the music interrupts the actor, and when it is down the music interrupts the audience.
It takes strength to step enthusiastically into each day of our lives. This strength comes more readily on some days than on others, but every day makes demands on us.
Karen Casey, The Promise of a New Day
Planning for the new year includes all my posts here on jennsmidlifecrisis, and as always, I’m open to ideas. Have a tea cup you want to learn more about? Share a pic and I’ll see what I can do. Have a question? Pass it on. Is there something you like? I could always use some encouragement. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the nerve, maybe I’ll test the waters for you? Unless it involves sky-diving…I’m not skydiving, no matter how much you encourage me!
In our current global situation, where opportunities are limited and interaction is discouraged, dreaming is not. I encourage you to step enthusiastically into each day, as well as take time with your cup of tea, and let your imagination go…
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you, Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me
I think Christmas is a wonderful time to drink tea. And also after Christmas and before Christmas, and all the other days.
With no travel this Christmas (for the first time in 47 years), I had ample time to sip tea from an assortment of cups and tea pots. Last week, my friend and I each bought a box of Stash tea, and we traded some sachets. Her pick was Holiday Chai. My pick was Red Dragon Chai!
Red Dragon is a red rooibos base and therefore has no caffeine. It also contains cinnamon, ginger root, and clove. I found it a warm, comforting and cozy addition to the holidays. In fact, that’s how I started my Christmas morning. The aroma reminds me of apple cinnamon, and the colour is a rosy hue. The spice was lighter and brighter than Holiday Chai, which tasted strongly of clove. Instead, Red Dragon had a pleasant and balanced blend of spices. In fact, I used the tea bag a second time in a pot of regular black tea, and it added a soothing hint of chai.
I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.