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Independence Day and Tea

independence day tea

Independence Day, Friday, July 4th, marks the 238th birthday of the United States of America. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to note how tea has had an interesting and sometimes colorful role in American history.

In the Beginning – Peter Stuyvesant, Dutch governor, brought the first tea to the colonists around 1650. The colonists of the small settlement, New Amsterdam (later New York), loved the beverage so much that they consumed more tea than all of England at that time.

Boston Tea Party – Colonists were angry about the unfair taxation thrown upon them by the King. In June of 1767, the British instituted the tea tax, hoping to capitalize on the colonists’ appetite for tea. When Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the British East India Company an exclusive monopoly on importing tea to the colonists, a brave group of men called the Sons of Liberty, in political protest, boarded three British merchant ships docked in Boston Harbor and threw the contents of taxed tea overboard. The Boston Tea Party led to the colonists’ declaration of independence from the British Crown.

George Washington – Tea became the beverage of choice served during all state functions and occasions after George Washington was sworn in as the first president. The President was known to enjoy three cups of tea each morning with breakfast, a healthy practice that would benefit us all.

Tea Importation Act of 1897 – Due to tea being sold by the pound, England contaminated tea in many ways in order to increase their profits. They included used and re-dried tea leaves, lower quality tea leaves, and even added sawdust and iron filings to tea. The Tea Importation Act was the beginning of a regulatory system for consumable products for the American people, called the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Iced Tea – Tea merchant Richard Blechynden is credited with the popularization of iced tea at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Blechynden’s efforts to give away samples of hot tea during the sweltering summer in St. Louis proved fruitless, so he and his staff served the beverage over ice, and Americans have had an endless thirst for iced tea to this day. Be sure to brew up some delicious iced tea for your Fourth of July celebration this year!

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Splendiferous Rooibos Popsicles Recipe

Splendiferous Rooibos Tea is a healthy blend of organic green rooibos, hibiscus petals, elderberries and peppermint for a burst of fruit flavor with a hint of cool mint.

Yogurt is a great source of calcium and phosphorus, especially good for the bones of growing children.

Yogurt is an amazing food that is high in protein, and Greek style yogurt has about double the protein of regular yogurt and is high in probiotics. Good quality live bacteria yogurts are beneficial to your digestive tract.

These popsicles are a delicious healthy snack that you can feel good serving to your family.

Splendiferous Rooibos Popsicles

Makes about 10 popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 2 C water, heated just to boiling (about 208°Farenheit)
  • 3 T Splendiferous Rooibos Tea
  • 1 C chopped fresh strawberries
  • 2 T honey or Agave syrup
  • 1 C Greek style yogurt

Directions:

  1. Steep the Splendiferous Rooibos Tea in the 2 cups of hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain tea and pour into blender.
  3. Add honey or Agave, strawberries and yogurt.
  4. Blend until well combined.
  5. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until hard, overnight is best.
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Raspberry Rush Yogurt Pops Recipe

Raspberry Rush Yogurt Pops Recipe

There is nothing better than homemade popsicles when summer weather hits! Making popsicles at home saves money and allows you to be creative and use healthy ingredients like tea, yogurt and fruit.

Kids enjoy helping out in the kitchen and eating the fruits of their own labor with this simple recipe for healthy Raspberry Rush Yogurt Pops.

Raspberry Rush Yogurt Pops

Makes about 8-10 popsicles
Takes about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 T Raspberry Rush Tea
  • 1 C water
  • 1 3 oz package of raspberry flavored gelatin, or flavor of your choice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup greek-style yogurt

Directions:

  1. Steep Raspberry Rush in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour tea into blender, add gelatin and blend until well combined.
  3. Blend in banana and yogurt until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into molds and freeze until hard (overnight is best).

A great bonus of this healthy popsicle recipe is that they are dripless! Make up a bunch and beat the summer heat.

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Splendiferous Rooibos Iced Tea

Splendiferous Rooibos Iced Tea

Temperatures here in my small town reached the low 80’s today. I spent a good part of the morning cleaning up my front yard (just call me the weed-inator). Glad to have that big job out of the way. Whew!

When I finished all my yard work I really wanted a refreshing drink. I needed a tall, cool glass of iced tea, so I decided to brew up our new Signature Blend, Splendiferous Rooibos (say that 10 times fast).

Anyway, I steeped Splendiferous at double strength and poured the brew into a pitcher and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill. Then I poured the beautiful deep burgundy tea into a tall glass of ice and added a splash of lemon. I love it just because it’s so pretty! The delicious berry flavor with a hint of cool mint really hit the spot.

I’m smiling now, knowing that I can quench my thirst with a healthy rooibos iced tea instead of a soda. Bring on the summer!

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Visiting Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon was built by Chinese artisans and is the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. The mission of the Garden is “to cultivate an oasis of tranquil beauty and harmony to inspire, engage, and educate our global community in the appreciation of a richly authentic Chinese culture”.

On our journey to discover all about loose leaf tea, I recently visited the Lan Su Chinese Garden. We were both completely captivated by the beauty and tranquility of the Garden, feeling as though we had been transported back in time to the 16th century in the spiritual land of China.

Entering the Garden we were greeted by two large Dragonfish on the roof, poised to swallow all evil influences and protect the building from fire.

Lan Su Chinese Garden Dragon

Anyone who knows me knows I always have my camera at the ready to get beautiful and unique photos. The Garden is a carefully arranged progression of scenes that unfold one after another, so there was ample opportunity for some pics.

Penjng are arrangements of miniature trees and rocks that replicate natural landscapes, with some containing trees that are over one hundred years old.
Wandering through Lan Su Yuan at a relaxed pace allowed us to take in all the soothing sounds, scents and sights:

Lan Su Chinese Garden Bridge

Still ponds with colorful koi swimming in the quiet water contrasted with the sound of rushing water spilling over tall rocks.

Plum, bamboo and pine trees add to the texture, color and story of the Garden, being the ‘Three Friends of Winter’.
The abstract natural sculpture of Taihu stones provide unusual architecture.

Hibiscus, orchids and plum blossoms are among the hundreds of plants that emit exotic fragrance throughout the Garden.
An intricately detailed panel carved from gingko wood has this inscription in calligraphy on the back:

“Most cherished in this mundane world is a place without traffic: Truly in the midst of a city there can be mountain and forest.” ~Wen Zhengming (1470-1559)
I spotted this duck huddling in a quiet spot close enough that we could have touched her, and she didn’t seem to mind our presence at all.

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New Loose Leaf Tea: Carnival

Carnival Loose Leaf Tea

Named after festive summer carnivals and county fairs, Carnival is one of the newest Tea Phactory teas. You will be overwhelmed by the fresh, fruity aroma when you open your container of Carnival tea. This cheerful tea has colorful sweet papaya pieces, beautiful golden sunflower petals and rich red rosehips.

You can’t go wrong with this tea. Carnival provides the health benefits of both black and green teas. This blend holds up well and provides Carnival with a full bodied flavor and refreshing aroma. Carnival is a delectable, forgiving tea that will still taste great even if over-steeped. It also makes a flavorful iced tea, with a sweet fruit flavor.

Carnival pairs well with salads, chicken dishes and fruity desserts. I particularly like Carnival paired with a cranberry spinach salad.

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The Legend of Ti Kan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong Tea

Ti Kuan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy

Ti Kuan Yin is one of the few teas said to have been created through divine inspiration. There are a few different versions of the story of Ti Kuan Yin.
My favorite version tells us that a poor farmer named Mr. Wei passed a temple on his way to work in the tea fields every day. The temple held an iron statue of the Buddhist deity Guanyin, a female bodhisattva of compassion, or Goddess of Mercy.

Mr. Wei observed that the temple was falling into disrepair and he wanted to do something about it. Being a poor farmer, Mr. Wei did not have the means to repair the temple. Instead, twice a month he brought a broom from his home to clean the temple and burned incense as an offering to the goddess.

Mr. Wei continued this for several months when one night the goddess came to him in a dream. To thank the farmer for cleaning her temple, she told him to look for treasure in a cave behind the temple. Mr. Wei looked in the cave the next day to find a single tea shoot which he nurtured and cultivated and soon it grew into a large bush. He shared cuttings of the bush with his neighbors. The community soon became very prosperous selling this fine tea under the name of Ti Kuan Yin, in honor of the goddess.

Today, Ti Kuan Yin Iron Goddess of Mercy is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea, and is one of the most highly praised oolongs in the world.

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Energizing Matcha Smoothie

Matcha Smoothie Recipe

Blend up this Matcha smoothie for a healthy way to get your morning started right. You get protein, vegetables, fruit, and the energizing properties of Matcha green tea, all packed into one delicious smoothie to keep you going throughout your busy morning.

Matcha Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:
Makes 4 servings

  • ½ C red or green grapes, washed
  • 1 C fresh spinach, washed
  • ½ banana, peeled
  • ½ apple, halved
  • ¼ C Greek style yogurt
  • 1 tsp Matcha powder
  • 1 C ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend on high for 60 seconds or until desired consistency.

You can also use Matcha powder in a variety of food recipes, ranging from ice cream to soup.