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What is Matcha?

What is matcha

Matcha is a powdered green tea that was brought to Japan from China by Zen Monks around the seventh century. Buddhist monks used matcha for their Japanese tea ceremony, Cha No Yu, which the people of Japan still perform daily. Harmony, respect, purity, and serenity define the principles of the Cha No Yu.

Matcha is derived by grinding green tea leaves in a stone mill to form a fine powder. Powerful and concentrated, Matcha is rich in vitamin C. Somewhat bitter, with a slight aftertaste of spinach, Matcha is traditionally served with something sweet just prior to drinking the tea.

Brewing Matcha Tea

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 8 oz of water, heated to 175°

Directions:

  1. place matcha powder in bowl
  2. pour in warm water
  3. whisk slowly, at first, and then faster, in a ‘W’ formation until tea is frothy (about 1 minute)

I like to drink Matcha in the early afternoon as a quick all-natural energy boost.

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Stevia – Nature’s Sweet Herb

Stevia Natural Sweetener

Are you looking for a natural, calorie-free way to sweeten your tea without the use of sugar and its empty calories? Give Stevia leaf a try. You can add a pinch of natural stevia leaf to all loose leaf teas and herbals as they steep to enhance their flavor. Stevia is especially effective in eliminating the astringency of some black and green teas. I also enjoy stevia brewed on its own as a sweet, zero-calorie tea.

The herb Stevia rebaudiana is a member of the sunflower family and has been used as a natural sweetener for hundreds of years in South America.

Stevia is sold in the United States as a dietary supplement and is available in two forms:

  1. Natural whole leaf, dried or powdered, is about 10-30 times sweeter than sugar.
  2. Pure stevioside extracts in white powder or clear liquid form that are 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.

I prefer to use the whole leaf stevia to sweeten my tea.

What you Need to Know About Stevia:

  • Stevia has been tested extensively for safety with no known toxicity associated with stevia herb.
  • Glycoside molecules in stevia produce a sweet taste that adds 0 calories and no carbohydrates, making it a great alternative to those who cannot tolerate sugar or other sweeteners.
  • Stevia is stable when heated, making it suitable to use in recipes.
  • Stevia sweetens and enhances the flavor of other foods.
  • Stevia accounts for 40% of the commercial sweetener market in Japan, sweetening products such as chewing gum, candy, soft drinks and juices, baked goods and other low-calorie foods.

Health benefits of Stevia:

  • Stevia is sold in some South American countries as an aid to diabetes and hypoglycemia.
  • Stevia has been traditionally used to lower blood pressure, relieve nausea, aid in digestion and to reduce obesity.
  • Stevia increases energy levels and mental focus.
  • Stevia herb, used as a mouthrinse or added to toothpaste, has been shown to inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay for better dental health.
  • Stevia concentrate may be applied directly to blemishes, acne, or lip and mouth sores, and is also effective for dermatitis and eczema.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sources: The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine by Brigitte Mars, A.H.G. Stevia, naturally sweet recipes for desserts, drinks and more! by Rita DePuydt

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Why Water Quality Matters when Brewing Tea

Water Quality Matters Brewing Tea

Fine tea and good quality water are the only ingredients you need to make a delicious cup of tea. Using the best water available to you whenever possible will brew a flavorful cup and improve the pleasure you experience drinking your favorite teas.

The ideal water will taste fresh and lively with no aftertaste. Taste your water at room temperature, it shouldn’t taste salty, bitter or acidic. The minerals in hard water will make water taste chalky or metallic. Chlorine gives water a slightly acidic taste, and over-carbonation can make water taste dirty.

Appearance and odor are also good indicators of water quality. Check for clarity or cloudiness by swirling a small amount of water in a clear glass. Simply smelling the water just above the water line you should not detect sulfur, plastic or chemicals.

The best choices of water for brewing a great cup of tea are:

  • Fresh spring water – the high oxygen content brews a brisk cup of tea, making spring water the optimum choice, if available.
  • Filtered water – many moderately priced carbon filters are available on the market, including water pitchers and filters that attach directly to your faucet.
  • Bottled water – the FDA requires labels designating the source of the water, for example, spring, glacial, or artesian water. Choose carefully, as some bottled water contains salts and other minerals that can spoil the flavor of the tea.

Make good-tasting, high quality water a priority when brewing your tea and you will notice the difference.

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What are the Different Types of Tea?

Tea Varieties

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world, second only to water. The Chinese have been drinking tea for nearly 5000 years and the Japanese developed an intricate tea ceremony to celebrate this delicious healthy beverage.

The term ‘tea’ has historically referred to a beverage brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, including green and black teas. Over time tea has come to mean any drink of herbs, fruits, nuts, flowers and leaves that are prepared by steeping in hot water.

There are over 10,000 varieties of loose leaf teas and an endless combination of healthy herbal infusions, providing a multitude of flavorful aromatic brews to please every palate.

Loose Leaf Tea Types

White Tea:

A rare tea produced in the far northeastern provinces of China, white tea is made from the unopened bud of the leaves and is lightly processed by steaming and drying. White tea brews a pale yellow-green cup with a slightly sweet flavor.

Green Tea:

To retain their original flavor and color, green teas are steamed, dried in a wok or roasted immediately after being plucked from the bush. There are several types of green teas, each have a different flavor, but all share a fresh springtime aroma. The flavor is light and somewhat grassy with a touch of sweetness, and brews a pale yellow-green liquor.

Oolong:

Oolong teas are partially processed and range in flavor somewhere between the delicacy of green tea and the depth of black tea. Greener oolongs brew a very pale amber-green liquor and with an aroma similar to hyacinth or narcissus blossoms. Darker oolongs brew a pale amber liquor with a light fruity character. Both varieties benefit from multiple infusions.

Black Tea:

Most black tea is produced in India and Sri Lanka, accounting for more than 90 percent of all the tea sold in the West. The varieties and manufacture of black tea vary greatly from country to country, but black teas are always the most processed of all the teas. Black tea is more strongly flavored than green tea, ranging from full bodied and smoky to bold and malty.

Herbal Blends (also Infusions, Tisanes or Botanicals)

Herbal blends have been consumed throughout the world even longer than traditional teas and are typically recognized for their healthy caffeine-free qualities. Herbals are made from a variety of herbs, leaves, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, flowers, roots or bark from plants. Some of the most well-known ingredients are chamomile flower, dandelion root, peppermint leaf, and spearmint leaf.

Rooibos (also Rositea, Red Tea or Red Bush)

Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is a refreshing caffeine-free beverage made from the leaves of the rooibos plant. The people of South Africa have consumed this “red tea” for centuries, and it is becoming increasingly popular all over the world due to its many health benefits. Rooibos has a unique sweet flavor unlike any other tea.

Yerba Maté (or Maté)

Yerba maté (yer-bah mah-tay) is rich in vitamins and minerals and provides numerous antioxidants making it a true power drink. Yerba Maté is a good substitute for coffee because it energizes without causing the jitters associated with coffee. Yerba maté comes in green and roasted varieties, and has a smooth flavor similar to green tea.