Thankful

pearl_CHristmasMarketIllustration2“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

– William Arthur Ward

It’s been a whirl-wind since November 1st, when our Holiday Events kicked-off! This year we added on 13 (in addition to our weekly markets) which is more than we’ve ever participated in! So many people found us in more than one location. Lots of our regulars stocked up and shared wonderful words of encouragement like, “Please, never stop selling tea!”

If you followed Pearl Fine Teas around the DC Metro Area this holiday season or shopped with us online – We thank you from the bottom of our tea-infused hearts for supporting micro-businesses like ours!

You cracked us up weekly at our markets, wrote amazing e-mails and notes of support, were understanding when we made mistakes and showed up even when the weather was not cooperating – which was often! We are also extremely grateful to those of you that shopped and helped with our fundraiser to help the NOVA CAT CLINICs Chris Griffey Feline Memorial Foundation by purchasing the now Famous FRANCIS! Tea Blend.

All of the positive feedback and TeaLove we receive keeps us going and makes it all worth while. For us, tea is a magical daily necessity and if we can share that and make people happy, well then… that’s really all there is.

Whatever holiday tradition you celebrate, even if you just spend a quiet day alone, we hope it’s warm, cozy, full of love and includes endless pots of tea!

Our gratitude to and for YOU, our tea-loving customers and supporters expands far beyond the known universe!

Thank you!
Happy… Everything!

~The Chief Leaf

 

Thankful

Tea Giving: Day 21 (Yellow Tea)

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“There’s nothing wrong with being a little unusual.”
– Emma Ishta

Chances are you’ve never heard of Yellow Tea (Tea Buds) or as it’s known in Chinese:  huángchá (黄茶; 黃茶).

It’s hard to know exactly when Yellow Tea came on the scene. There is some speculation that it was during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912). It was mostly produced for local consumption and less for export to a broader market which is why you may be unfamiliar with it.

Huo Shan Huang Ya is an organic, rare, hand-crafted tea from the Huo Shan Mountains in Anhui Province. This area is known for its steep, jagged mountains, springs and waterfalls, bamboo and alpine forests. There are around 75 separate peaks spread across Anhui Province region. This high elevation has rich soil which contributes to the wonder of Yellow Tea. Grown at an elevation of around 1200 meters, this tea is typically harvested in Spring.  It’s noteworthy in that the leaves are an unusual sword shape with tiny fluffy buds and a slight golden cast to the leaves.

It yields a very floral, smooth flavor with a sweetness that lingers for quite some time. The liquid is pale yellow and contributes in part to how it got its name.

huo_han_huang_ya_yellow2016060303The processing for yellow tea is similar to green but with an additional step added on after the initial drying and right before firing. That step is called “man huan” – where the leaves are steamed lightly, covered with a cloth and left to absorb additional sweet fragrances and flavors.  In green tea processing there is something called “Killing the Green” – for yellow tea its known as “sealing the yellow” and is the key to defining and classifying a yellow tea.  This unusual, additional step removes the grassy smell that is traditional of green teas. It also slows down the oxidation process so that it creates a lovely mellow taste and, of course, color. The oxidation range is around 10-20%.

There is some research that points to the immense health benefits of Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Tea, which of course include high levels of polyphenols and the amino acid Theanine – an amino acid that helps reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. Not only is it high in the vitamins B1, B2, and C, it’s also high in Caffeine.

“Studies have shown that yellow tea can improve lipid metabolism and protect the liver against chemical injury. Yellow tea can also chelate heavy metals, inhibit colon cancer cells, and inhibit the growth of various intestinal microorganisms, like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, and Bacillus cereus.”

That’s quite an endorsement.

If you are a green tea lover, there is every reason to believe that you will also love yellow tea. Maybe even more. Many green tea loyalists have been pleasantly surprised and have started to include yellow tea in their tea drinking habit. The mellowness and that lingering natural sweetness is hard to pass by.

Today is a great day to try something unusual because its Day 21 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving and because you can enjoy 25% Off Huo Shan Huang Ya by using Code TEAGIVING21 at checkout on the website!

Happing Trying Something New!
Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 21 (Yellow Tea)

Tea Giving: Day 18 (Cinnamon Rooibos)

 

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Not all cinnamons are created equal.


There are two types: True Cinnamon (Ceylon) and Cassia Cinnamon. The later being more common and what you find on supermarket shelves. But it’s really True Ceylon Cinnamon that we love and use in our blends.

Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed. As its drying the strips of bark curls into rolls which are cinnamon sticks which can then be ground into cinnamon powder. That famous cinnamon aroma is caused by the oily part of the bark and is high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde, AND THAT is cinnamons secret weapon for wellness.

Here are a few things you can expect from cinnamon:

  • Loaded with Antioxidants and polyphenols to protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It’s considered a superfood and outranked garlic and oregano in antioxidant levels.
  • May cut the risk of heart disease and has been been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Helps with type 2 diabetes: 1 gram or about half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood markers.
  • Reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while keeping the “good” HDL cholesterol stable. 120 mg per day of cinnamon increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Cinnamon can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, the key hormones that regulate metabolism, energy use and is essential for transporting blood sugar from your bloodstream to your cells. It can also dramatically reduce insulin resistance.
  • Has a powerful anti-diabetic effect and can lower blood sugar by decreasing the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after eating by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract. It can also mimick insulin which improves glucose uptake by your cells, though it acts much slower than insulin itself.
  • Beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, both of which are a progressive loss of the structure and function of brain cells.
  • Helps right bacterial and fungal infections, treat respiratory tract infections and can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella. Its antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath.

That’s quite a list of reasons to include cinnamon in your diet. And we haven’t even talked about how good it tastes. Especially when blended into a Tea or Rooibos.

The natural sweetness of a true cinnamon comes as a shock to people when they taste Cinnamon Rooibos. “Surely, you’ve sweetened it with sugar?” is what I’m always asked. The answer is always, “Nope.”

I’ve lost track of how many people love this blend. Especially due to the fact that it helps with sugar cravings – especially at night – that time of day when you just want to pop on Netflix or Hulu and dig into a sleeve of cookies. Is this the cure for late night sugar cravings? Indeed. A cuppa Rooibos Cinnamon and you immediately forget what you were digging for in the cupboard. That’s quite a mighty endorsement and tells you how powerful this blend is.

Today is Day 18 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving which means that today you get to enjoy 25% OFF our Cinnamon Rooibos. Just use code TEAGIVING25 at checkout on the website.

Happy (low sugar) Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 18 (Cinnamon Rooibos)

Tea Giving Day 17: (Breakfast Blend)

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“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.

Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea…”

 

It seems to solve every problem or challenge in the known universe. I’ve written about how the simple act of making tea starts a chemical reaction in the body and brain which promotes relaxation. It’s a ritual of comfort. And as we know about rituals, it has tremendous benefits on personal well being. Making a cup of tea says, “I care.”  It’s an act of love towards the other person and yourself.

Add to that, drinking tea has been scientifically proven to have a number of health benefits due to the antioxidants and other chemical components like L-Theanine, which helps to relieve anxiety.

The next time you’re aggravated, annoyed, upset, challenged by someone or something follow the British and:  Put on the Kettle and enjoy a cuppa. As you already know, Tea can be consumed as a warm drink or a chilled (iced tea) – which is how many Americans like it.

Tea was introduced to Britain in the 7th Century by Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles II. She made sure to bring a large chest of tea with her when she arrived in England in 1662. This put drinking tea in fashion within the royal court. Over time tea made its way through class structure and became the everyday people’s drink it is today.

The habit of having tea at breakfast is said to have originated with Queen Anne the successor to King Charles II when she chose tea as her drink of choice for breakfast. The royal court and subjects began to follow her lead.

What’s interesting about traditional English Breakfast Blends is that it didn’t actually originate in England. It was a Scotsman named Drysdale who come up with the first Breakfast Blend of black tea that was quite strong. He simply called it “Breakfast Tea”  – and because Queen Victoria loved “all things Scottish” it immediately became popular.

Close up of small porcelain English teapotTea merchants in London used the power of branding and marketing and changed the name to what is now known as ENGLISH Breakfast Tea which is how its most commonly known today.

A bit cheeky of them, don’t you think? 

For those of you who love a classic cuppa, Breakfast Blend is for you. It’s a smooth blend of Indian Black teas: Assam and Darjeeling that marry together perfectly. It has the strength and character to stand up to milk or cream and sugar, but it’s balance enough to enjoy on its own.

On Day 17 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving, please enjoy 25% OFF our Breakfast Blend. Use Code TEAGIVING17 at checkout!

Go fire up the kettle… and Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

Tea Giving Day 17: (Breakfast Blend)

Tea Giving: Day 16 (Vanilla Bean)

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“In this moment, I am euphoric.” ― A.A. Lewis

According to Scientific tests the scent of Vanilla has a euphoric effect on the brain, uplifts the spirit, has a calming effect on the central nervous system and is a known aphrodisiac. Tests done by neurologist Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that:

 

“In controlled tests designed to better understand the connection between smell and sexual arousal, Dr. Hirsch had volunteers wear masks scented with an array of odors. Several fragrance combinations were found to be very effective in increasing penile blood flow. These included lavender and pumpkin pie, doughnut and black licorice and pumpkin pie and doughnut. However, mature men were most aroused by just one simple smell…vanilla! Modern science has proven what native people figured out centuries ago, and many of us discovered on our own — whether you prefer to eat, drink, or smell it, vanilla is definitely a potent character in the arena of love!”

That’s some serious TeaLove.  Back in the day, aphrodisiacs like vanilla beans were expensive and only royalty and nobility were permitted or could afford use them. Today, Vanilla is an every day, every person flavor and scent. Below are 7 interesting facts you may not have known about Vanilla:

  1. Thomas Jefferson is the one who gets credit for bringing Vanilla to the United States in 1789. After his ambassadorship in France, and upon his return to the States, he wrote to his French attaché requesting 50 vanilla pods be sent to him.
  2. Vanilla is the only fruit-bearing member of the orchid family.
  3. The flower that produces the vanilla bean lasts only one day.
  4. The beans are hand-picked and then cured, wrapped, and dried in a process that takes 4 to 6 months.
  5. After saffron, vanilla is the most expensive spice in the world.
  6. Only the melipona bee, found in Central America, can pollinate vanilla. In other parts of the world, humans duplicate the process using a wooden needle.
  7. Heliotropin in Vanilla is responsible its ability to soothe emotional tension and reduce anxiety and stress.

When you take the sweetheart of aromas (Vanilla) and blend it with Camellia Sinensis, you end up with the most with strong aromatherapy and an unrivaled nector: our Black Vanilla Bean tea. There are many Vanilla teas on the market, ours is simply and unabashedly sublime. Smooth, easy, highly aromatic, and lacking in that “chemical vanilla” taste of some others.

If you are looking for a cuppa that’s caffeinated, uplifts, soothes, brings a feeling of euphoria and may get your love engine started, then use Code TEAGIVING16 at checkout on the website to enjoy 25% OFF our Black Vanilla Bean blend on Day 16 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving.

Happy Happiness! Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 16 (Vanilla Bean)

Tea Giving: Day 15 (Jasmine Pearls)

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“Come, give us a taste of your quality.” – Shakespeare

Jasmine Dragon Pearls are one of the most famous scented tea in China.

I’ve read conflicting stories about how Jasmine found its way to China. One suggests it originated from Iran and traveled along the Silk Road to China during the Tang Dynasty. And, that scenting green tea with jasmine flowers starting around the Song and Ming Dynasties which is around c. 1240 – 1368. Still another says it arrived in China via India during the Han Dynasty which is c. 206 BC to 220 AD, but did not really catch on until the Qing Dynasty c. 1644 – 1912.

Thats a huge span of time. Regardless of when Jasmine actually found its way to China and they started scenting green tea with doesn’t really matter, does it? The important point is that it exists and that we get to enjoy it.

The best is grown and produced in the Fujian Region but Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Guangdong and Zhejiang also produce high qualities versions. (Vietnam also has a rather fantastic version of Jasmine Pearls!)

Tea leaves are typically harvested in early spring, hand rolled into little balls or pearls and then stored until late summer when jasmine flowers bloom. Flowers are picked very early in the morning when the air is still cool and the buds are closed. In the evening the buds open and the flowers release their amazing aroma which scents the green tea. The jasmine flowers are placed in layers with the green tea alternating between tea and flower and stored over night. It takes roughly 4 hours or so for the fragrance and flavor to be absorbed into the green tea leaves. This process is often repeated many times to get the right amount of fragrance and flavor into the tea.

You don’t need too many Pearls to make a fine cup of this tea. And brewing it in glass is highly recommended so that the visual part of watching the leaves unfold adds to the tea drinking experience.

This tea is beloved by many people because it’s simply fantastic. It can be enjoyed hot or as a divine iced tea as well. 

Day 15 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving features Jasmine Dragon Pearls and you can enjoy 25% OFF today. Just use code TEAGIVING15 at checkout on the website!

If you haven’t experienced the flavor of Jasmine Dragon Pearls, today is a good day to give it a try. 

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

Tea Giving: Day 15 (Jasmine Pearls)

Tea Giving: Day 14 (Kenya Black)

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Start your engines.

If you are a black tea lover, like your black tea robust, lean towards the British style of teatime (cream and sugar) and need to being the day with some power, this is your cuppa.

Kenya Black, CTC (or Morning Kickstart) is a single origin tea from Kenya with no pretense. No fan fare. No parade. No fancy words attached to it. It’s less dressed up and more: “Cut to the chase. I just want a great every day strong black tea.”

It is exceptionally smooth for a full-bodied black tea. Ours is organic and comes from Western Kenya where the rainfall is abundant and the soil is extremely fertile with red volcanic soil. The growing region is quite unique in Kenya overall and the first African tea bushes are said to have been planted in 1903 by settlers from Europe. Today there are over a billion tea bushes spread out of 4,000 miles in the Highlands. Plantations do much better at higher elevations that are over 4,500 feet. Tea grows all year in Kenya, but the cream of the crop is plucked from January to early March; then from the end of June through July. The majority of tea produced is CTC  and thats why our Kenya Black CTC after it. It’s the only CTC style tea carried by Pearl Fine Teas. 

pearl_KenyablackinbagCTC is machine processed and fully oxidized tea using whole leaves which are macerated and then rolled into little balls or pellets and oxidized.  It makes for a very quick infusion. The end flavor of some CTCs can lack complexity and is often used for tea in bags, but not this one. There is a depth and complexity to it that also stays true to the traditional black tea flavor we’ve come to know and love.

This is one of our go-to black teas and is often recommended to our die-hard black tea lovers who loyal to black tea. It stands up well to additions like milk, cream, sugar and spices but is delightful on its own. But remember: its a robust black tea with a very fast infusion time so keep that in mind when brewing.

To kick off Day 14 of our 25 Days of Tea on this busy Monday, please enjoy 25% OFF our Kenya Black, CTC Morning Kickstart by using code TEAGIVING14 at checkout on the website.

Don’t forget to add a biscuit / cookie to compliment your cuppa.

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

Tea Giving: Day 14 (Kenya Black)