Drinking tea is not just an ordinary beverage... Part 3

by Elena Popec 21. September 2010 13:22

Afternoon tea is a tea for five o'clock, tea for the guests, tea for tea party...tea for the sake of tea.
Unlike tea for breakfast, the afternoon tea has a rather complex functionality. Therefore, the requirements to the afternoon drink also become more complex. An attempt to formulate them will lead to the next set of very subjective concepts: not very strong, elegant, delicate, exquisite, fragrant, friendly and pleasant for everyone's drinking it, also worthy of attention as a topic for conversation.

The simplest requirement, at first glance, is the requirement regarding the robustness of a drink. It is understandable that afternoon tea should not be very energizing, by no means it implies that tea served in the evening should be weak. Consider one teaspoon of loose leaf tea per cup, plus one extra spoon for the pot. Although, I'd suggest serving two or perhaps three varieties of the afternoon tea, but that is a matter of personal choice.

We'll try to address the remaining requirements and find out what teas are more felicitous to these qualifications.

Let's start with the elegance and sophistication of tea, which, of course, can manifest itself in tea's taste, aroma, color of infusion and aftertaste. The refined and delicate teas are traditionally considered Indian Darjeeling’s and Chinese black teas as well as blends, prepared on their basis. I also would like to suggest mildly flavored teas. Vanilla, Cinnamon, Caramel or Bergamot (Earl Grey) teas are good examples of flavored daintiness, not too complicated, familiar and friendly. This does not detract from the merits of afternoon teas, but suggests a few more simple elegance and fragrance solutions. Lapsang Souchong with its smoky notes, Russian Samovar with earthy notes may be a very appreciated additions to one's afternoon tea collection.

All these teas are good due to the fact that in extension to their undoubted sensational gustatory and aromatic excellence, they are very simple to perceive. They do not require from people who drink them special training or knowledge of tea tester. Moreover, their divine simplicity starts the conversation that will go beyond the question "What kind of tea are we drinking today?"

Based on the foregoing, we can conclude that to find a universal afternoon tea is practically impossible. The choice of beverage will greatly depend on the guests who gathered at the tea table, the dishes served with tea, and the host. There is only one solution to the problem, which is simple enough - in a decent home should be a few afternoon teas on the shelf. You can choose to your taste any combination of the above suggestions to complete your personal collection of the afternoon tea.

In the next article we'll talk about exotic flavored teas as refinements that are more percisely characterizes the owner of tea collection...


Drinking tea is not just an ordinary beverage... Part 2

by Elena Popec 14. September 2010 12:19

Tea for breakfast. The concept of this tea is very simple. The morning tea will invigorate and contribute to the early awakening, this quite simple function uniquely determines its properties. It must be strong, energizing, have a rich taste (aroma can be neglected this time) and well combined with sugar, milk, lemon and a variety of the breakfast choices. Small leaf teas and blends posses these qualities.

Ceylon, Kenyan, small leaf Assam, almost any CTC teas and, of course, various blends can be used for breakfast. To make your life easier, sellers of tea offer a large number of morning teas, in the names of which there is a word Breakfast. All these teas are perfectly fulfilling the function of a beverage for breakfast. Without thinking, I can recall the following : English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Russian samovar, Irish morning ...

So, equipping your tea collection with the morning element can simply be done by buying any strong tea you like. If you want to show some independence and to go beyond the framework outlined by sellers, then as a tea for breakfast chose Ceylon and Indian Assam teas. This, however, I already wrote. Indian Darjeeling and Chinese teas, as well as blends, prepared on their basis, perhaps, is not a good idea to use as a breakfast choice.

There is another option of tea for breakfast, which is actively used by your obedient author. This choice has been made due to three reasons. First, my traditional morning sandwich (toast with butter, melted cheese and pate) does not require anything special. Secondly, in the morning I drink tea with sugar and lemon (sugar for the energy, and lemon is a great source of vitamins). These additives will make any tea taste quite the same. Third, when half-awake, I particularly do not discern any smell or taste. So, on my tea shelf I keep a jar on which "Crazy Breakfast" is written and in which I pour the remains of black CTC teas and broken leaves. And this is often a mixture I made myself and love the most as an improvisation for starting a new day with new expectations.

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Tea Talk

Drinking tea is not just an ordinary beverage... Part 1

by Elena Popec 13. September 2010 11:47

If in your personal life or in your career tea is something more than just a drink to flush down a sandwich, then sooner or later on your tea shelf will be not one, but several kinds of this blessed drink.

Then you will wonder what exactly tea should be in your permanent tea repertoire.

When compiling the individual tea sets there are two possible approaches by type and by function. In the first case, a tea set is made up of specific varieties of tea, in the second set all teas are selected based on the functions they must perform. The second campaign seems to me more sensible, as a more versatile and flexible. At the end, a tea set can be regarded as a set of specific varieties of tea, perform the general functions. These functions I would like to describe in more details, supplying the description with the recommendations of specific varieties. Enough, lets get started...


Tea Talk

Green Tea for enthusiasts of exquisite feelings

by Elena Popec 3. September 2010 10:00

"Tea is our everything."
(Confucius, in a private conversation).

If we collect the leaves from bushes or trees of Camellia Sinensis and dry them (in the sun, in the shade, on a hot stone...), we'll get green tea. There are thousands of ways to collect, roll, dry, wither but the essence of the result remains the same - green tea. One has to spend a whole life away from civilization in order not to be aware of the beneficial properties of green tea, tons of material written about it. But green tea also has a delightful personality and deep meaning. Tea means harmony, calm, etiquette, and optimism.
Green tea is like a beautiful woman, it is lighter, softer, deeper, more mysterious than black tea, which is dark, astringent, tart and explodes with all its force in the first brew, like Cassius Clay in the first round. The aroma of green tea is delicate, long-lasting, unfolding carefully, deeply in multiple brews.

Green tea is not only a drink, but also a pleasantly fragrant atmosphere throughout the tea drinking ceremony. Try to rinse dry green tea leaves with hot water. Just a minute later, when the tea will absorb moisture and begin to exude the fragrance ... inhale it. Whoever has not tried this before, will find this experience unforgettable! There are aesthetes who claim that this knowledge is very important to human development.

Women naturally love and appreciate a gallery of scents more than men, therefore they fall in love with green tea indefinitely for its delightful fragrance. Green tea is exquisite, do not expect overwhelming taste, penetrating into the charms of green tea takes time. Do not be surprised if soon after your acquaintance with green tea, you'll notice that you eat less greasy foods or smoke less - green tea refines the taste, exacerbates it, opens a door to a healthy lifestyle.

To steep a perfect brew, in addition to the delightful kingdom of the aroma, always use good quality water of with the correct temperature.Never use boiling water, delicate green teas unfold the best in temp of 176 F. It will take 2 to 3 minutes to brew an excellent cup of green tea. The second brew is a copy of the first! Don't rush, green tea does not tolerate fuss. And so, gradually making the water a little hotter, and steeping time a little longer, so green tea can be brewed a several times, each time its taste and flavor will change and deepen ...

Do not oversteep green tea, its color should never be darker than the light golden, with a slight green tint. The best way to serve green tea is in white bone china or porcelain, where the shades of its color are emphasized, or celadon, which is "native" to green tea and where green tea looks exceptionally beautiful.


Tea Talk

Spirit of Specialty Tea

by Elena Popec 1. September 2010 16:37

Do you remember who said this? "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."

I believe that this comprehensive phrase belongs to Salvador Dali. Although, I'm not a big fan of his work, nonetheless, this man has earned the right to argue about perfection.

I remembered this phrase in connection with the fact that, once again, while brewing good loose leaf tea, I forgot to warm the teapot...That feeling of vexation from a tiny little thing that can ruin a great thing is probably familiar to many, particularly programmers. So, at first I was agitated by this very annoying fact. "Shoot!...Good water, good tea, good dishes and I spoiled everything by one simple mistake".

Then I started drinking this imperfect brew and, surprisingly, was relieved. My cup of tea was wonderful! I think, the pleasure of drinking tea is like the side of the scale on which each puts his own weights, one might say, his expectations. On the other side is good tea and water, the ability to steep it to perfection, good friends are gathered around the table, aromatic brew, tidy and suitable utensils - all this falls on the side of pleasure.

Keep in mind, the scale is a delicate instrument, if there is not enough weights, the pleasure to drink tea will be superficial and boring. On another hand, if all of the weights are on one side of the scale, it will be overwhelmed and the pleasure will become overloaded with fun, but void of delightfulness. Tea drinking is subtle and a pleasant experience which will be replaced with the mechanical compliance of all provisions of the rules.

Tea is more than a drink, tea has a spirit. It's an easy way to find new friends and a good excuse to see the old ones. Tea can help anyone to talk about themselves and get to know others better. Tea brings peace and tranquility to our souls. The remarkable properties of this blessed beverage appear only in conjunction with the wishes of people gathered at the tea table, sharing and enjoying a cup of tea. Then, the real pleasure from drinking tea will be obtained.

So, do not be afraid of perfection. Strive for it, learn all the rules, breathe properly, appropriately set your mind, recalculate all the loose tea leaves, carefully watch the temperature of the water, picks up the teapot, cups and the company ... And then, slyly smiling, do something unexpected, from what your cup of tea at once cease to be perfect, but it will be special and unique tea in its incredible mixture of strict rules and light improvisations ...

Are you ready to take this improvised journey with specialty tea to the bottom of the cup?


Tea Talk

Tea Etiquette, from the present time to yesteryears

by Elena Popec 26. August 2010 14:07

The most appropriate time to drink tea in today’s society is:

-For breakfast.
-On the go.
-At lunch.
-At Brunch (informal Sunday afternoon reception).
-At the end of dinner.
-After dinner.
-At tea receptions.
-At tea party
-At the hotel
-When hosting guests from tea drinking countries.
-At the banquet.
-During a business conversation or negotiation.
-At the buffet table.
-At the business, festive and informal receptions.
-When have unexpected guests.
-As a corporate beverage
-In carrying out tee-breaks and coffee breaks.
-In small teashops.
-At the picnic.
-In any kind of catering establishments.
-As a "supplement" to the brandy.
-On baby shower or bride shower.
-In the case of hangouts.

Let see how it was according to Hsu Tzu Shu who lived in the XV century.

Times for Tea
By Hsu Tzu Shu 

-In idle passing
-When poetry fails to inspire
-Thoughts confused
-In time to a song
-When the music is finished
-A life in seclusion
-Enjoying the scholarly life
-Conversing late at night
-Studying on a sunny day
-In the bridal chamber
-In honor of favored guests
-As host to scholars or pretty girls
-Friends return from far away
-In perfect weather
-When skies are overcast
-Watching boats sail by on the canal
-Amidst trees and bamboo groves
-When the flowers blossom and the birds sing
-On hot days by the side of a lotus pond
-Burning incense in the courtyard
-After tipsy guests have retired
-When the children are out
-On visits to remote temples
-Near a spring or scenic landscape

Noticed how things have changed? When and how do you find time to drink tea?

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Tea Talk

Properly Storing Loose Leaf Teas

by Elena Popec 22. July 2010 12:06

Loose leaf tea is a delightful, delectable tea that is packed with health benefits for you. But protecting this tea, and keeping it fresh and delicious, involves storing it in a proper container. Heat, air, light, and moisture, are some elements that could potentially damage the tea or drain it of nutrients, so it’s important to keep the tea protected from these elements.

Loose leaf vs. tea bags
Sure, tea bags may seem to be convenient. But in the long run, they can be harmful to you. Tea bags are almost unrecognizable as tea anymore. The nutrients and antioxidants have been beaten out of it, resulting in little more than “tea dust.” The processing of these teas may also have left traces of harmful chemicals that will bring on inimical side effects. Loose leaf tea on the other hand is intact, with more antioxidants and nutrients, and more flavor. It is processed through simpler methods and allowed to retain its sweet, rich aromas and the taste is far superior to tea bags. When you brew loose leaf tea, the water has room to move around the leaves, which brings out the flavor.

Health benefits of loose leaf tea

Drinking tea every day yields many results that are beneficial to your health. It can help you to lose weight, help lower your cholesterol, prevent you from developing high blood pressure, prevent cardiovascular disease, and improve your dental health. Regular tea drinking may prevent you from developing cancer. It may also help improve your sleep, ward off headaches, improve your memory, improve cognitive functions such as learning, and help to prevent you from developing arthritis and types of dementia. Tea is just packed with an almost countless number of health benefits. Green tea has even been shown to lead to a longer life-span.

How to store tea
Tea of course should be stored at room temperature, and the best way to protect it from heat, moisture, and other elements is by keeping it in an airtight container. Tea can’t be sealed and put in a freezer, as this will damage it. Likewise it cannot be kept near a toaster, stove, or microwave or any other type of heat, as this will also damage the tea. If kept in a pretty, but not airtight container, the tea will lose its flavor fairly quickly.
Try not to use containers that are clear plastic or clear glass. This leaves the tea accessible to light which can damage it. Try to store tea away from any foods or spices that are strongly scented or flavored, as teas can easily absorb the flavor and aroma of the food around them.

Drink up
Don’t keep tea for too long, as over time, even in the best of storage containers, tea will lose its flavor and nutrients. Tea is meant to be consumed. And drinking a few cups of tea every day will help improve your health and has even been shown to lengthen your life. So brew some tea. You can even brew tea and refrigerate it to enjoy refreshing iced tea all week.

The Green Tea Diet

by Elena Popec 15. July 2010 07:54

In this age of fad and crash diets, it can be difficult to find a way to lose weight that is effective and healthy. Adding green tea to your diet can be a healthy -and safe- way to make a beneficial lifestyle change and to help you in your weight loss adventures. Studies show that green tea can be an effective weight loss aid, and this type of tea has become more popular in recent times due to its tastiness and health benefits.

The nutrition of green tea
Green tea is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, and polyphenols, and has been consumed for centuries in many countries. It has a plethora of health benefits. It has compounds that may fight cancer and heart disease, and it may even improve your metabolism. Improving your metabolism means that you will burn off the food that you consume, which will help you in your quest for a slimmer waistline.

Weight loss
Loose leaf green tea also helps to lower high cholesterol, and may even prevent  your cholesterol from ever getting too high. This is a wonderful benefit, especially for those who are trying to lose weight. Even by helping you to lose weight, this may help to get your cholesterol back down to a healthful level. A high cholesterol can lead to other health risks, including a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s no need for diet pills and crash diets. Drinking loose leaf green tea every day can help you to lose weight and improve your overall health.

Loose leaf green tea also contains a  certain type of polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate, which is also referred to commonly as EGCG, and studies show that this compound may help to lessen the appetite and may also help to burn off fat. This is a far healthier way of suppressing the appetite. Diet pills may make the same types of claims of suppressing the appetite, but they can actually cause more damage than improvement. Actually, there are some “green tea diet pills” that now exist, as this drink truly does produce significant results.
Another reasons that loose leaf green tea work include, surprisingly, the caffeine content. Caffeine is known to have a small effect on suppressing the appetite, but research also supports that caffeine can help burn off fat. Caffeine may speed up thermogenesis, which is the process in the body that leads to burning off fat cells.
Drinking a few cups of loose leaf green tea may help you to see marked improvement in your weight loss journey.
Loose leaf green tea is said to be able to lower LDL cholesterol, the bad type of cholesterol. Some research also supports the idea that the EGCG in loose leaf green tea may help to regulate blood sugar levels, which would inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates.
It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on any type of diet. Drink lots of water and get lots of exercise. And while drinking green tea is beneficial to your health, it isn’t a cure all for everything.

Chamomile Can Help With Sleep Disorders

by Elena Popec 30. June 2010 13:45

Chamomile is a delectable tea that can be used for help with many health problems, including sleep disorders. Chamomile actually comes from its own flower, not from the Camellia sinensis plant that most other teas come from.

Chamomile tea
Chamomile comes from two types of plants; the Matricaria retutica and the Chamaemelum nobile. The Matricaria retutica, otherwise known as German chamomile is used most commonly. It has been approved in some countries for use on skin for inflammation and to fight bacteria. It has also been approved in some countries as a dietary supplement. It has benefits such as alleviating anxiety, and possibly helping to prevent diabetes and to help ward off some of the health effects of that disorder.
Chamomile is known for its multitude of health benefits and has been used to treat wounds, eczema, chest colds, and many other purposes. Chamomile, though studies have been limited, has been used for sleeping problems as well.

The effects of sleep disorders
Sleep disorders can have a tremendously negative effect on a person’s overall health and quality of life. A good night’s sleep is necessary for restoring and refreshing the body. Insomnia, or a lack of sleep overall, can interfere with your life, your ability to function, and can put you at a higher risk for other conditions such as cardiovascular illness, depression, and high blood pressure.
Lack of sleep can lead to nausea, headaches, and irritability. It can impede your ability to enjoy recreational and leisure activities, interfering with your quality of life and the time you spend with friends and loved ones. It can also cause dizziness, and even memory loss and hallucinations. It can interfere with your cognitive functioning and impair other basic abilities. This can be dangerous, especially when absolute alertness is needed for your job or other tasks. It can be a great risk even to drive after not sleeping, because you may doze off on the road. Sleep disorders can have deadly consequences.
It can also put you at a higher risk for other disorders. It can harm your immune system and leave you more susceptible to other illnesses and diseases.

What about sleeping pills?
Sleeping pills may not work. These chemicals can cause much more harm than good. They can also be very addictive, causing you to consume more of them to produce the same result. These also may block the REM cycle which is important for good, healthy, restorative sleep. Without this, you may not be getting the rest that you need to counteract the effects that insomnia has given you.

Chamomile; a healthy alternative
Fortunately, drinking chamomile tea is a natural, healthy alternative. This tea works to help induce sleepiness after you’ve had a cup or two, which is great for people suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorders. It has a relaxing, soothing effect and once you are asleep you will enjoy a healthful, natural sleep that will restore and refresh your body and leave you energized and ready for a new day.
Brew a cup of delectable chamomile tea before bedtime and snuggle up to enjoy a good, full night’s sleep.

Loose Leaf Tea May Help Diabetics

by Elena Popec 24. June 2010 16:41

Diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body processes glucose, a type of blood sugar. Studies show that drinking tea may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, though how and why this works is unknown and merits further research.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a type that can be developed, and research says that the rates of people with this type of diabetes will most likely increase. Type 2 diabetes already affects millions of people worldwide.
It even effects children, and those who are overweight are at a much higher risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, in addition to helping with some of the complications caused by diabetes, certain types of tea can help to promote weight loss. Loose leaf green tea is known to boost your metabolism, which helps with weight loss in general. Compounds in some teas can help burn off fat, and so green tea can help, over time, to promote weight loss.

How diabetes affects the body

Diabetes is a chronic condition and it affects the way the body uses glucose. Glucose a type of blood sugar, and is what the cells in our bodies use for energy. In a body not affected by diabetes, glucose in the blood will trigger the production of a hormone called insulin, which will be added into the bloodstream. Without insulin, the glucose in the blood doesn’t go to the places it needs to go. And in people with diabetes, the body doesn’t create insulin, or doesn’t use it properly. This leads to an increase in blood sugar levels, which can lea to many other health concerns and issues.
Diabetes can impede upon your life. When blood sugar levels drop this can lead to irritability and dizziness and even loss of consciousness. When blood sugar levels get too high this can lead to fatigue, weight loss, irritability, and sometimes changes in vision.

Tea and how it can help
Fortunately, regularly drinking tea lowers the risk of developing this type of diabetes. Loose leaf tea is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and has many health benefits. Drinking more cups per day will lower the risk of diabetes even more. The tea may have a direct biological effect that lowers the risk of this type of diabetes, but further studies are needed to determine which compounds in the tea are causing this.

Other benefits of tea
Beyond that though, loose leaf tea can improve your health in a myriad of other ways. It can help you to lose weight, give you more energy, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, improve memory, prevent tooth decay, prevent kidney stones from forming, boost your metabolism, help with sleep disorders, alleviate allergies, along with many other health improvements. It’s an incredibly tasty way to enjoy improving your health. Add some cups of loose leaf tea to your day and enjoy the overwhelming plethora of benefits it will give to your life.
Of course, drinking tea is not a panacea. Adding a few cups of loose leaf tea to your day would be an addition to a healthy diet and exercise.

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