Posts tagged ‘Tea Love’
Yesterday, I was in Mahwah, New Jersey at the Ramapo Reformed Church for my first ever fundraiser Tea Love talk. Funds went to their Ladies Fellowship.
When I arrived, it was a gorgeous setup! Tables with white porcelain cups and plates lined the room, each with a three-tiered tray laden with sweets nestled at the side. Tucked in the middle were 12-inch plates packed with cucumber sandwiches, DELICIOUS cheese sticks (seriously, I need to get the recipe to share!), crab cakes, ham sandwiches, and all sorts of other goodies. Perfect for an afternoon snack.
Three tables lined the side wall. One had hats of all sorts, most looking like the were from the 1920s. A sign explained that they were from one of the church’s members. The middle contained my normal table – six different types of tea, displays of books, a chawan, some bamboo tools, matcha tea, loose tea versus bagged tea, and a “Fandom Tea” from Adagio Teas. The last table had a bunch of Barbie dolls with crocheted outfits from the past, including a My Fair Lady Eliza Doolittle doll.
There must have been around thirty women there and even a few children (including a seventh birthday for a Miss Riley!). We talked about tea, including the history, science, medical science, and how to brew a cup. Finally, we wrapped up by dining on the great home-made food, drinking lots of tea, and enjoying each other’s company.
I truly enjoy each Tea Love talk that I do. One woman at my last talk summed it up perfectly. When I asked what people associate tea with, she answered, “Community,” stating people drinking tea just seem to become amiable and come together. After hosting multiple Tea Love talks all over New Jersey, I can say that this is true. I’ve seen people exchange phone numbers with complete strangers as they make plans to meet for a cup of tea.
So far, there is another fundraiser in the works for April that I am really excited for. Keep on the lookout for the announcement! If you are interested in having me come to talk to your organization (restricted to New Jersey), feel free to shoot me a message on Tea Love’s Facebook page and I will be sure to work out the details with you.
Thank you for reading, and happy sipping!
To make a cuppa, all you have to do is take the tea, put it in some hot water, and drink, right? Should be easy enough.
Not so, says the British Standards Institute (BSI). The BSI, which has been around since 1901, is a UK-based company which develops standards for various business models ranging from safety to efficiency. Back in 1980, they created as standard known as BS 6008 or “Method for preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests”. Recently, that standard got a face-lift.
For $177, you can buy this 6-page standard for brewing and drinking tea. However, I’ll give you a quick synopsis for the amazing cost of free.
Per BSI, there should be 2 grams of tea for every 100 milliliters of water (for all the Americans, that translates to about 0.07 ounces for every half-cup). The water must not be hotter than 85°C (185°F) to ensure that the milk does not scald. A way to judge this simmer without using a thermometer is to check if there is a gentle boil, or, as was explained to me one time, “champagne bubbles”.
The organization is also very specific about the pot, stating that it should be “of white porcelain or glazed earthenware, with its edge partially serrated.” Five milliliters of milk should be added to each cup if it is large (meaning 57 millimeters to 62 millimeters [2 inches to 2.5 inches]) or half that if the amount is small (about 49 millimeters tall [a little under 2 inches]).
The tea should be steeped for six minutes to get the best flavor per the guidelines, though I would argue to be wary of your tea and the time that you take brewing. You do not want to over-brew a delicate tea and thus ruin the flavor of your beverage. A study carried out by Cravendale milk in 2011 felt that tea was better brewed for eight minutes. Still, a delicate white tea or a nice green tea would suffer under these guidelines, though British teas are typically black.
If milk is added after the brewing, then the drink should be between 65°C to 80°C (149°F – 176°F). This is a particular point of contention, since some people believe in adding their milk after to pouring the tea while others argue that putting milk into the tea before is better. However, experiments conducted at Loughborough University in 2003 found that putting the milk in after the boiling water in caused the milk to heat unevenly, causing milk proteins to clump and negatively affect the taste of the tea.
A slice of lemon was never brought up but, if you do add some lemon to your tea, make sure that you do not leave the lemon slice in your cup while you sip. As I always say, make your tea as you see fit and enjoy as you would like, milk added before or after your tea.
We all do it. It’s something that we’ve probably grown up hearing that we should do, as a matter of fact.
“If you’re sick, grab a cup of tea and stay in bed.”
After all, we know about all the antioxidants and polyphenols that tea contains. It would make sense that if our immune systems are battling the dark unknown, we should give it a boost of healthy supplements to get our T cells to win the war against our colds, flus, and general illnesses.
But, what if I told you that this is not necessarily the case?
“But Catherine, you write a whole blog dedicated to tea! Surely you believe that tea has health benefits, which have been proven by scientific study after scientific study!”
Well, yes and no.
Just like I say at my Tea Love talks, I am NOT a doctor and would never dream of giving out medical advice. However, as my talks became more popular, more and more people were asking about the health benefits of tea, and rightfully so. Tea is proving to become more and more popular in the United States and is usually promoted for weight loss, dental health, cancer prevention (though the National Cancer Institute does not recommend for or against the use of tea to reduce the risk of any type of cancer due to inconclusive studies), and even diabetes management. So in response, yes, I do touch upon a few medical studies that have been performed with tea, though never advocating for any particular use.
Global News reporter Rachel Lau recently published an article addressing the question if drinking tea really does help you when you are sick.
First, make sure that what you are drinking is healthy for you. For example, those who might have certain mental illnesses might have to watch their caffeine intake. All forms of tea, unless it specifies caffeine free (NOT decaffeinated, which does still contain trace amounts of caffeine), do contain caffeine. By drinking without regarding the caffeine intake, you could be doing anything from packing on the caffeine right before bed to causing more serious health issues.
Second, never self-diagnose (I am terrible at this, so do not follow my example!). If you think that drinking a certain tea might be beneficial, talk to your doctor first. Some plants that you might use in your teas can cause more harm than good.
Third, be wary of the studies. While yes, there are numerous studies for everything ranging from green tea to herbal teas, they are all new studies and some do not have the greatest controls. So while, as the National Cancer Institute says, there are studies, most are new and some do not have the support of the medical community.
Overall? Drink tea! Love tea! Worship tea! But make sure you are drinking it for enjoyment or if you are cutting down on sugars and subbing tea instead, rather than drinking it to cure an illness like cancer.
First and foremost… TEA LOVE TALK SCHEDULED!
On Saturday, February 28th, I will be speaking at the Ladies Fellowship Tea for my sister-in-law’s church. This will be starting at noon and I will go over all my tea basics, as well as bring a sampling for all of you to try. Try and make it!
Now, onto tea…
Let me tell you, I am fortunate to have a guy that not only allows me to have my obsessive tea habits, he feeds into it and even engages in them himself!
So, for Valentine’s Day weekend that is coming up, I am going to talk about a gift he bought me in January – a tea plant!
Now, I am definitely not the best when it comes to plant care. Give me an animal, a human even (just babysitting though), I can coddle it, pet it, feed it, clothe it, and make it feel like the pretty prince/princess it is. A plant? They cower in fear, seemingly sentient to the fact that I have caused the death of many of their plant brethren since the day I was born. I have killed air plants, succulents, hardy mums – you name it, it probably perished by my hand at some point in 26 years.
So, needless to say, when Camilo came over to me and put this pot in my hand, I was a little nervous. How on Earth would I be able to keep this treasure alive? A true love hobby given to me by a true love – if I allow it to die, both he and I would be heart-broken.
So thankfully, while I have a black thumb, my father has an amazing green one, growing bountiful gardens every year and ensuring all the plant life that my family and I have accumulated over the years (what can I say? I see a pretty plant, I still want to at least try to grow it!) stay green. In the meantime, this has also allowed me to look up how to even care for this plant to ensure that i can one day make a proper brew out of it (PS – popping off some leaves and throwing them in a mug, while it does work, does not produce the greatest of tea. I will look into processing the leaves another day when I have a bit more time).
Important things to note –
Tea plants are all from the Camellia genus, which is resilient and adaptable.
I know that when I first got the plant, all I could think of was, Whelp, there’s another plant to throw in the compost heap in the backyard. Did I want to? Of course not! Did I think I would have to? Admittedly, with my luck, I kind of assumed that all my plants would make it there eventually. It is comforting to know, though, that it is resilient, so it won’t die within my first week of owning it.
Buy Camellia sinensis, not Camellia assamica.
The Camellia sinensis, which is this plant, is the Chinese variety that one can grow tea in hardy environments. The Camellia assamica, however, is the Indian variety. While you can produce tea still, this one is not as adaptable to the cold. Tea bushes are best in zone 7 climates (mostly in Southeastern states), but you can grow them indoors or in greenhouses to protect against the winter. As you can probably tell by my couch in the background of this picture, that is exactly what I am doing.
Acidic soil is great, but the plants aren’t picky.
My family has in our backyard a blueberry bush. That thing adores acidic soil. I was ready to possibly dig up some soil from around there, but then I found out that it is OK to just grow the plant in the same soil that I would for the vegetable garden. This is positive news, given that if you told me to measure the pH balance of the soil, I would make a deer in the headlights look intelligent and all-knowing.
Sun or shade is good, so long as they’re not competing.
Your plant won’t grow as strong if it’s trying to get sunlight.
Be careful of too much water!
This is a mistake that I was making initially. I keep forgetting – tea plants are used to drought-prone environments and survive dry summers. I was watering mine regularly, which caused a lot of the leaves to fall almost immediately and turn. I have been leaving it alone and I can hear my plant yelling, Thank you!
Wait two years for making a good amount of tea.
To make a reasonable amount of tea, wait two years. To regularly harvest, wait five years.
So, it sounds like I have a little waiting to do. For now though, I think I can wait on my tea by going into the stash that I have piling up on my kitchen cabinet.
Hope everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day!