Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

Archive for the ‘Tea News’ Category

Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING Season Is Back!

October has just started and yes, I have already had a pumpkin-inspired tea.   Around this time, my friends and I stalk the haunted houses, indulge in pumpkin-flavored products, and gorge enough candy where we regret ever committing to a diet in the first place.   We always hear about PSL (thank you, Starbucks), but did you know that there are plenty of healthy teas that are also pumpkin-themed?   Take a look below!

It’s Pumpkin Time! – Family Food Blog

Pumpkin Pie – Made by Premium Steap – A Lifestyle of Tea

I first found out about Pumpkin Pie from a coworker, who was kind enough to bring me a cuppa while we worked endlessly on a project (yay for that project finally being completed!).   It was my first day meeting her, and the topic of tea came up (of course it did).   She told me about this magical Pumpkin Pie and I tried it.   It warmed every sense within, and the taste was divine.   Seriously, I know I rave about tea, but I often sort of shy away from some of the more specialty flavors since sometimes, they just overdo the hype.   But the blend contains pumpkin, cinnamon, and other spices without leaving a gritty or powdery taste in it.   And the best part?   You actually taste the pumpkin!

Pumpkin Chai – Made by DavidsTEA

One of the things that I love about DavidsTEA is that it is environmentally conscious.   Bring in a reusable container, they will fill it up with tea.   You don’t need to drain your pocketbooks buying their air-tight containers (spoiler alert, they are quite awesome and you should keep your tea in an air-tight container regardless, but that’s another story) and their tea is mighty tasty.   One thing to keep in mind though, I tell everyone that their tea is not “pure” in the sense of it ONLY being tea.   They usually have add-ins, and Pumpkin Chai is no exception.   Doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but it does mean you might be getting some sugars that you would not otherwise get in your cuppa.   This tea is spiced with caramel, pumpkin candies, cinnamon, and cloves and advertises as being great as a latte.   Move over, Starbucks!

Sweet Harvest Pumpkin – Made by Celestial Seasonings

My heart is always torn with Celestial Seasonings.   On the one hand, I ADORE their herbal fruity teas.   On the other hand, they sometimes fall short.   This tea is a black tea, automatically making it a bit stronger, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, roasted chicory, natural pumpkin flavor, and more.   So the good news is, the strength is there, not like their peach blend.   Plus, it is also a bit different from the others which streamline to be pumpkin spice thrown into a tin of black tea and then calling it a day.

Bad news about all of these?   All of them are black teas, so all contain caffeine.   If you are looking to watch your intake for whatever reason, stick to a nice cinnamon apple.

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Gross Post Of The Week – Wash Your Cups

For those of you who don’t know, I get Google Alerts in my inbox every day for the words “tea + drink”.   This has yielded some interesting new stories, such as the idea of cheese tea.    Well, the latest alert?   Has me more sad than anything….

 

If you drink coffee or tea over at your office, I HIGHLY recommend you wash your mugs both before and after you drink.   Per Mirror.co.uk, Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, states that 90 per cent of most office mugs carry dangerous germs, and 20 per cent of those carry fecal bacteria.

 

AKA poop.

AKA yuck.

256344-dual-flush-round-corner-toilet-white-open

I don’t want to drink out of toilets anymore than you do.   So, why is this a thing though?   Do people actively bring mugs back and forth from the break room to take a poop?   How do we find and stop these heinous individuals who share more of themselves than you ever care to be exposed to?

In fact, it comes about most often when you use the office communal sponge (thank God I keep mine in my desk).   These sponges harbor germs and might not be thrown out as regularly as they should be.   Therefore, when you wash your mugs using these sponges, you are really just wiping a cesspool into your cup rather than actually cleaning it.

Your best bet?   Take your mug home and wash it in your dishwasher.   You can probably also get away with disposable cups or, as I do, have your own sponge.

Because no one wants to drink poop.

 

Kenya’s Tea Farmers Suffering From Climate Change

Fall is supposed to be the time when the weather starts getting nippy.   The leaves are turning and falling, pumpkin spice is in every product known to man, and Halloween is fast approaching to the delight of many a school children who love candy and adults (such as me and my friends) who are obsessed with horror and mystery.

But with climate change consistently on the rise, perhaps to an irreparable extent, tea farmers in Kenya are starting to suffer.

Farmers around the world are facing the issues and feeling the impact of severe droughts.   According to Steve Baragona, writer for Voice of America (VOA) News, in Kenya, tea farmers are being told not to rely on tea alone for their livelihoods.   Imagine that distressing news, to know that you cannot rely on your original livelihood that you might have fallen in love with, because the planet is starting to suffer from the effects of pollution?   I could only imagine the anger those farmers must feel. both tea farmers and farmers of other products.

Kenya is the world’s third-largest tea producer, exporting $1.3 billion worth in 2013.   It’s the country’s largest export industry. But they’re already starting to see effects from climate change.   The sun is getting so hot for the plants, that the tea is getting damaged.   The rain falls are harder to predict due to the changes.   Frost bite is becoming common for the plants.   Plus, the effects from bugs and insects (I know you have faced the fury of mosquitoes that seems to be getting worse as time goes on).

So, tea farmers are not sitting down and accepting this.   They are changing to meet the challenge.   Fields not only contain tea – they also contain vegetables and livestock.   Lemonade from lemons I suppose.

All that being said, I feel like we need to do more as a planet to fight climate change.   It’s here.   We are facing the issues at hand.   There’s only so many times that we can use Ecosia (which I do advocate), or recycle so many products, before we realize we really need to amp up our game.   Keep doing those things.   Reduce, reuse, then recycle.   Invest in sustainable products which will be good for the environment and, in the long run, your pocket as well.   Don’t litter, even cigarette butts (though tiny, they have a huge impact).

Farmers are already starting to alter their methods to accommodate.   Let’s work to keep everything – tea included – safe from the long-lasting harm of climate change.

More Reasons To Drink Tea – With Science!

Lately, I have had a few people come to me saying, “Hey, look, a scientific article as to why we should be drinking tea!”   Normally, I must admit, I am a bit skeptical about that.   So many articles are based off of non-scientific information and a pop-science culture, that I sort of wave it off.

Well, I personally love following IFLScience.   Their articles, I feel, are hilarious, yet very informative.   After all, how many other places will show you fun things like how much of various substances will kill you, like cherry pits?

My sister-in-law, Amanda, is just as obsessed, if not more so, with IFLScience (especially since she has such a strong science background with her physics degree from Kutztown University).   Recently, she went on my Facebook with a link and a note stating, “We already knew this but it is iflscience…”   I clicked the link and lo and behold, IFLScience posted an article entitled “Five Reasons To Put The Kettle On And Have A Cup Of Tea“.   Awesome!

One of the reasons, IFLScience, gives for people to drink tea, is the link to survival.   Imagine back in ye olden times, when tea was first discovered.   Things weren’t exactly… sanitary back then.   No running water, no plumbing, it wasn’t know what spread or caused diseases, so it was quite easily to die back then.   Tea, however, requires boiling water in order to drink.   Thus, many water-borne pathogens, like cholera and typhoid, would be killed in the boiling process and tea was safer to drink than, let’s say, just a glass of cool water.

Next, the effects that tea has on the brain.   We tea drinkers know that we are the mellow people of the beverage world.   Now science can support that we are alert up to two hours after drinking, and are calm to boot during the second hour.

I’ve written about the idea of green tea and weight loss, which I still advocate taking with a grain of salt.   IFLScience mentions studies as well.   I do advocate drinking green tea either way, but still say go get some exercise.

Another one that I would recommend taking with a grain of salt but do find interesting is the idea that tea might help with type 2 diabetes.   Those who drank three to four or more cups per day had a 16% lower risk of developing the disease, compared to those who only drank one or none.   While this was only shown in woman and those of Asian ethnicity, it is just interesting to note.   But much like the idea of weight loss and green tea, make sure to practice proper health and not rely on tea for your type 2 diabetes.

And finally, heart disease!   Same thing as above, but science did seem to show that both green tea and black tea significantly reduced blood pressure, and black tea lowered LDL cholesterol and green tea lowered all cholesterol.   Very nice!

I don’t think I need to tell you that, science or no science, I am still reaching for my cuppa and enjoying it regularly.   I hope you do as well!

Back From Sabbatical!

 

 

Hi all!

So, here I am, back from a mini Sabbatical. Turns out, August was a bit of a slow month in the tea world, so I sat back, relaxed a little, and waited for things to speed up again.

First, I want everyone to mark their calendars! On Thursday, October 8th, I will be up at Pequannock Township Public Library, 477 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Pompton Plains, for a Tea Love talk! The talk starts at 7 PM and will take you through a brief introduction on tea, as well as a tea tasting. Bring your own mugs to this, and make sure to get their nice and early to get a good spot! For any questions, contact Debbie Maynard, library director, at (973) 835-7460.

Now, onto the next topic. I have to brag, that when you are sitting down reading this blog, I am sitting at a quaint café overlooking the Seine with my sister-in-law Amanda and our friend Pam, sipping our own cuppa in Paris, France! It’s a trip I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl stealing my brother’s French books in order to learn more about the language and culture, and I am so excited to be going with some great people.

But when we hear about Paris, we often think about coffee. After all, aren’t they more popular for their café du lait than they are for their thè? Non, non, monsieurs et madams! They also have a nice tea culture!

One can stroll along the cafés and find exclusive tea places as well. Blogger Annelies Zjderveld of Mighty Leaf explains that she would often see announcements of salon de thè (tea salons) along with beer and food printed on the store fronts. Stores such as Asian-style tea houses that had long lists of teas, as well as others that were quite literally walled with canisters of tea.

Herbal teas are quite popular in France. Why? Not only are they seen as being good for digestion after a meal, they also do not have the caffeine that can be found in traditional tea. You might see Verbena and tileul teas, as they are native to the South of France. I must admit, I have not tried either of these, though I am excited to now!

Verbena, writes Zjderveld, has a buttery citrus profile. This sounds like it would be nice to sip after having a heavy chocolate dessert, like an éclair or a slice of chocolate cake.

The other, tileul, is made with the dried leaves of the Linden tree and has a woody profile to it.

The Parisians also seem to like their mint tea. Since I like chocolate, I am going to think of a mint tea with some chocolate mousse.

In terms of true teas, Paris seems to enjoy their black teas. You can find the common English Breakfast and Earl Greys there, though sometimes, you can also find the fruited blends, which are also becoming more popular with the youth.

So for now, I am going to say au revoir, relax, and enjoy my time in Paris. Enjoy your Sunday, and happy sippings!

 

Talking About The Save Our Cuppa! Campaign

If you are reading this blog, I’m going to make the assumption that you like tea, or at least want to learn more about it.   You possibly have a cup every morning, relaxing in the sunlight peaking through the window as you take gentle sips from your oolong, white, pu’erh, black, green tea.   You might save it for when you are sick, reminiscent of the times when your mother would milk a little bit of honey and lemon in a cup for you in hopes that you will get better soon.   You might use tea bags, dunking them in until you get your taste just right.   Or, if you are like me, you prefer the more aromatic loose tea, which also allows you to control the amount and strength of your tea.

When I brew my tea for myself, I have to admit, I don’t indulge in as much pomp as I necessarily should.   I might use a tea bag, or I might just pour some hot water over the tea leaves that are snug in the strainer of my tea mug.   At work, I make sure to use my DavidsTEA mug constantly since it is so convenient, what with its stainless steel infuser and a lid that doubles as a saucer, how can a tea lover NOT love this product?

Since Lilac Is My Favorite Flower, I Might Need To Make A Purchase Soon

Since Lilac Is My Favorite Flower, I Might Need To Make A Purchase Soon

But truthfully, as I announce in all of my Tea Love talks, you really should have the most room for your tea leaves to open up and allow the most flavor to steep into your cup.   A campaign started in the UK known as Save Our Cuppa advocates for the usage of the teapot for multitudes of reasons.

“Once the only way to make a proper cup of tea, the humble teapot which saw us through two World Wars, recession, sporting victories and disasters and countless broken romances has fallen from favour,” writes Ruki Sayid of the Mirror, a UK-based news source.   Per Said, teapot sales have halved in the last five years as people are turning towards the more convenient teabag.

Social etiquette expert Liz Brew-er is now an advocate for the Campaign for Civilised Tea Drinking and said, “We must preserve the custom which for centuries has been the hallmark of polite society.”

So, what are some ways that you can help out with the Save Our Cuppa campaign?   Social media, for one, is a good place to start.   Tag yourself drinking tea that was brewed in a teapot rather than in the mug!   After all, raising the awareness that brewing tea in a teapot is still a thing could prompt others to see the classy-ness and quaintness of having a teapot full of tea.

Serve tea to your friends using teapots.   Sharing is caring, and the act of using a teapot might inspire that friend to share a pot of tea with you sometime.

Go to restaurants that use teapots rather than bags or cups.   This one is a bit tricky state-side, as it’s hard to find places that do this.   Don’t give up though!

And of course, the most obvious one?   Use teapots instead of mugs!   You get a better brew that way anyway, and you get more tea.

Happy sipping!

Climate Change Affecting Your Tea

First, and most importantly, I want to give a huge shout-out to my mommy on her birthday!   She has been putting up with my brother for almost 30 years and with me for almost 27 years.   Definitely a saint 🙂   I hope she has a very happy birthday today!

My Mommy And Daddy At My Brother's Wedding

My Mommy And Daddy At My Brother’s Wedding

Now, on to tea…

We all have at least heard of climate change.   Polar bears being stuck on small ice sheets slowly melting into the ocean.   The world having more drastic weather patterns.   We need to start reversing the effects.

Whatever your thoughts on climate change, whether it is man-made or normal weather pattern shifts, or if it is even happening, Science magazine states that the climate is affecting our tea.

Selena Ahmed is an ethnobotanist (one who studies the relationship that exists between people and plants) at Montana State University in Bozeman.   Right now, she is over in China’s Yunnan province to see how climate change is affecting the taste of their tea.

The reasoning behind all of this?   The mix of phyochemicals responsible for the taste in tea may be more sensitive to the constant change of the climate than the yield of the actual crop.   So, while the Yunnan province farmers might be having a huge crop each year, the crop might not taste as good.   The rainfall is highly important to the tea process.   More rain will mean that the tea grows faster, which may sound like a good thing, but that means that the quality of the tea goes down.   Before the monsoon season in China, the tea can fetch $680 per kilogram.   However, after the rainy season, the price drops to $405.

Due to climate change, the temperature in Yunnan’s capital has climbed 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years and monsoon season has been arriving later.   In 2011, is arrived 22 days later than in 1980.

This change in the weather has also allowed some less-than-ideal pests, such as caterpillars and tea mosquitoes, to raid the tea plants and destroy the leaves that brew the tea in the first place.   This raises the pesticide use to try and combat these pests, which in turn affects the consumer.   Ten Ren, for example, was cited by the FDA for having pesticide-tainted tea.   What is one to do if their crop is being eaten before it can even be picked?

To study this relationship, Ahmed traveled to Yunnan, which is known for its pu-erh tea (a personal favorite of mine.   Earthy and almost like drinking a rich coffee).   This four-year project, backed by the U.S. National Science Foundation, will examine the linkage among climate change, tea quality, and farmer livelihood.

Hopefully, the planet can be saved soon and the effects of global warming turned around even faster.   After all, as far as I know, Earth is the only place to get a good cuppa.   Let’s make sure we keep it preserved.

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