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!

 

Fairy Water – Making Water “Sexy”

So, recently, I just heard about a drink people are making called “fairy water“.   This was featured on the Ellen Show with TV personality guest Padma Lakshmi.   The goal?   Make water “sexy”.   Looking at the recipe, it seems like they are pretty much making a tea!   She even calls for tea to be added to the water!

Some of the ingredients I have been seeing people using are:

  • Edible dried rose petals
  • Lemon and/or lime sliced in rings
  • Star anise
  • Dried jasmine flowers
  • Rosemary
  • Cucumber
  • Bay leaves
  • Easy Exotic Blooming Green Tea
  • Apple slices
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Mixed berries
  • Strawberries

Have you caught onto this “new” (well, I see this as being infused water with tea, so not necessarily new, but well branded!) water?   What kind of ingredients do you like in yours?

My History With Tea

Growing up with tea, I was not a fan.   The green tea would grow bitter in my paper cup at Coffee Hour at my church, requiring me to drown the bag and liquid in a deluge of sugar and milk.   I could continue to sip anyway, though, in an effort to be “healthy” (though I must admit, I doubt there was much health left in that cup).   I got my health in other places – all the vegetables that I would eat, the gallons of milk that my brother and I would finish within a few days of purchase, the fruit (especially grapes) that would magically disappear in a night – but something about green tea, despite the taste, always drew me in.   If only I had read the package to see that I was supposed to take the tea bag out, I might have liked tea a little earlier.

***

Then I discovered new teas.   Black teas and herbal teas caught my eye, in particular.   Black teas because though they always had the same strong undertone, they were also so versatile with the fruits, flowers, and oils added in.   Herbal teas because of their sweetness, like juice, but better for you.   I would buy tea bags by the bulk whenever I went to the Asian Food Market.   I would steal tea bags from the cafeteria from college.   My friends knew about my tea addiction and would tease me about it.

***

When I got back from college, I remember sifting through the cabinets one day and finding a mason jar full of dried flowers.   Curious, I took a sniff.   Chrysanthemums.   I later found out that my mom would drink it when she could not sleep.   I thought I was the only tea-drinker in the family.   For some reason, this simple thought made me feel at peace, a little closer than I was before.   It might not seem like much, but to me, it meant the world.

***

Not finding a job right out of college definitely hit me hard, both self-esteem and wallet.   I kept applying every day, working at my normal job, but never moving forward.   I knew I had to do something.   I would write articles for online news sources.   I would call and apply everywhere.   I took a job where I would only work three hours a week for minimum wage with a thirty-minute one-way commute in an effort to just get my name out there.   Nothing felt like it was working.   So, I decided to start a blog, and Tea Love was born.   It has been moving steadily ever since.

***

I had boyfriends who would try and work with me on my tea habit.   One would try and surprise me with teas he would be sure I had never had before and then present me with an apple cinnamon tea (but at least he tried!).   My current boyfriend and I share our love of tea.   He accompanies me to Tea Love talks, we often indulge ourselves by curling up with the television and drinking warm cuppas.   His eyes light up like mine when we talk about tea.   And he knows that when I am crying and cannot be consoled, that a warm cuppa will mean the world to me.

***

It has been a few years since Tea Love came about.   It has been many years since I started drinking tea and enjoying it.   I research, I read, I learn, and I grow.   I hope to one day write a book about tea.   In the meantime, I will be content curling up with my cuppa and watching the world go by, knowing that I will make it in the world with a warm cuppa in hand.