Tea Kindness #04: Cinnamon Orange

Cinnamon
Cinnamon: Ground and Sticks

In honor of this last Friday before Christmas, and our 4 installment of Random Acts of (Tea) Kindness, we bring to you the mother of all spices: CINNAMON!

Cinnamon is quite frankly: magic. Aside from the immense healing properties (and there are many) its ability to curb a raging sweet tooth is legendary. But did you know about its rich and interesting history?

  • Cinnamon dates back to Chinese writings as early as 2,800 B.C and is still known as kwai in Cantonese
  • Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon during the embalming process
  • The Old Testament references it as an ingredient in anointing oil
  •  In the 1st century A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote off 350 grams of cinnamon as being equal in value to over five kilograms of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight
  • The West has the Ancient world of Arab traders for bringing it with them when they traveled to Europe
  • Cinnamon was the Arab merchants’ best-kept secret until the early 16th century and to maintain a monopoly and justify its high price, the traders told stories and tales for buyers about how the spice was obtained:

“One such story, related by the 5th-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nests perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable by any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nests to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks stored within to be collected.”

Stories like that remind me of the tales told about certain teas like Monkey Picked Oolong and how Monks sent trained monkeys out to the tallest tea bushes to pick leaves. This clearly did not happen, but the idea was to show how difficult it was to obtain this product and that it was a luxury item. (That’s early ancient branding and marketing strategy at its finest.)

In 1518, Portuguese traders discovered cinnamon bark in Ceylon which is known today as Sri Lanka. They took over the kingdom of Kotto and took control of the cinnamon trade for about 100 years. It wasn’t until the Ceylon kingdom of Kandy allied with the Dutch in 1638 to overthrow the Portuguese occupiers. The Dutch ended up defeating the Portuguese, took control of Ceylon and the cinnamon monopoly for the next 150 years. Enter the British in 1784  and their victory in the 4th Anglo-Dutch War, and by 1800, cinnamon was sort of downgraded and no longer a rare commodity.

That’s a lot of fighting and history – over the bark of a tree.

Cinnamon trees are small evergreens that can grow to a height of 66 feet and contain aromatic bark and leaves.  The tree bark is often peeled, dried, ground into powder, or rolled into strips.  It is used in both sweet and savory foods.

There are typically 2 types of commercial cinnamon on the market today: Ceylon (Sri Lankan), Cassia (Indonesian and Vietnamese.) Cassia is the the cheaper variety and what is usually sold in grocery stores to use in cooking, baking etc… The more expensive cinnamon from Sri Lanka is more milder and sweeter and very, very, very good in tea.

The health and healing properties of cinnamon are long, but here are 5 important benefits:

  1. High in antioxidants called polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids – compounds which work to fight oxidative stress in the body especially as we age.
  2. Anti-inflammatory properties which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline, lowers swelling and inflammation, beneficial for pain management, soreness, and PMS.
  3. Heart Health protection by reducing several common risks to heart disease like high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. Cinnamon also increases blood circulation and advances bodily tissue’s ability to repair itself after it’s been damaged. This includes heart tissue which is in need of regeneration in order to fight heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke.
  4. Diabetes management. Helps lower blood sugar levels and also can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin. It has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a high-sugar meal, which is especially important for those with type 2 diabetes.
  5. Fights viruses and infections by defending the body from illnesses since its naturally anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral.

 

 

xmas time and mug on desk
Happy Christmas! Happy Sipping!

Superfood? Probably! Super tasty? Without a doubt!

And it’s the feature of our 4th week of our Random Act of (Tea) Kindness initiative this month. Just in time for the Christmas holiday which is only (3 days away) please enjoy 22% OFF both our Cinnamon Orange Spice Black Tea and our Cinnamon Rooibos (Caffeine-Free).  No discount code is required. Discount is automatically applied in your cart and is good from Dec 22nd thought Dec 27th!

Both teas have 3 types of cinnamon blended with orange peel and some sweet clove. You won’t need a drop of sugar in either of these teas. They are naturally sweet and 100% sugar free. Pairs perfectly with christmas cookies, desserts and general snuggling by the fireplace. We’ve also “heard” that a shot of brandy in either cuppa takes this to a whole new level.

This is our last post before Dec 25th so for those of you that celebrate… 

Happy Christmas!
Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Kindness #04: Cinnamon Orange

A Tea Journey to Sri Lanka and South India

map_indiaI’ve traveled a good bit over the years touching down in places like Southern Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean and now it appears that I will have the pleasure of visiting India and Sri Lanka. I am thrilled!

Having been invited by Pearl Dexter, Editor of Tea. A Magazine to join her and 6 others for a private tour of the tea estates and gardens in both countries, I must say the excitement is hard to contain. Those participating in this wonderful tour include: Pearl Dexter; Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier, Boston Park Plaza Hotel; her husband Julian; Danielle Beaudette, Owner/The Cozy Tea Cart; Judy Larkin, The Larkin Tea Company; Carol Sims, Tea Embassy; her husband Bob; and myself.

I am so looking forward to exploring the estates in Sri Lanka and the  Nilgiri region of Southern India.Though the idea of a 24 hour flight out of JFK less then thrills me, I’ve no doubt what awaits will be magical. I can’t wait to sip of cup of freshly produced tea!

Our group will leave the US on April 16th and return on the 25th. My hope is to blog, twitter and facebook while I am there, but that will require the leap over to AT&T and the wonderful iPhone. I cant wait!

I hope to bring back a ton of stories along with a fresh crop of teas from both countries! Below is a bit of info on both regions:

tea-estates-in-nilgiri1Nilgiri: South India’s Nilgiri means “blue mountain.” Started in the 19th century. 2nd largest tea producing area after Assam. Especially teas produced in altitude regions of over 1,600m surrounded by plants like eucalyptus or cypress trees, are known internationally as “fragrant teas” and highly recognized by their special flavors.

plantation2Sri Lanka: Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, is considered the best tea in the world. The influence of climatic conditions of its plantation imparts to the product a variety of flavors and aromas, synonymous with quality. Why is Ceylon Tea considered unique? The diversity in flavor – something that other tea producing countries do not have. Teais = grown in six agro climatic regions, each region giving its own flavor profile to the tea grown in it. There are six regions for tea in Sri Lanka: Uva, Nuwara eliya, Udapussellawa, Kandy, Dimbulla and Ruhuna. The tea sectosr in Sri Lanka have always been a vital component of her economy. It is also the country’s largest employer providing employment both directly and indirectly to over one million people. It also contributes a significant amount to Government revenue and to the gross domestic product.

Happy Sipping!

A Tea Journey to Sri Lanka and South India

Chocolate Tea?

Chocolate tea?
chocolate in my tea?

As a self proclaimed “tea snob” sometimes its hard to wrap my hands around a trendy blend.  Especially some that are just… the oddest of concoctions. I’ll refrain from mentioning anything specific, but one that comes to mind is a tea with so much strawberry in it I dumped it out immediately. It wasnt tea, it was Strawberry Quick!

We don’t sell “crazy blends.”  I like a blended tea that keeps with the integrity and mission of the company which is to: source and sell the best leaf with the best flavor. Quite simply: I like quality. Recently, a fellow TeaPeep & tea merchant strongly recommended I give chocolate tea a try. Here is what happened:

I loved it.

With just a touch of local honey (buy local!) to boost the chocolate flavor – you’ve got yourself one of the best secrets out there! Rich, smooth and creamy it reminded me of sitting fireside in Vail … watching everyone ski and snowboard into each other.

Do you have a chocolate addiction? Consider yourself a choco-holic? Like a chocolate-y snack around midnight? Try chocolate tea to satisfy the craving. I highly recommend this wonderful, surpising tea as a way of enjoying chocolate and tea without… consequence. (ie: calories).

*** If you contact me directly (info@pearlteas.com),  I’ll send the first 10 TeaPeeps a sample of our newest member to the tea family: “TeaChocolatte”.

In the subject line put: “TeaChocolatte, please!”  and let me know if you found us via Twitter or the TeaLove Blog! and don’t forget your mailing address!

Happy (TeaChocolatte) sipping!

Chocolate Tea?

Ceylon Tea News

Ceylon tea - Shawlands Tea Estate
Ceylon tea - Shawlands Tea Estate

Any news about ceylon tea is going to catch my attention. So when an article by Steve A. Morrell  popped up in my email box this morning about ceylon tea sales it caught my attention.

According to Russel Tennekoone, Director of the Ceylon Tea Brokers, Ltd., “there is serious concerns that the market has dropped.” Mostly because of what is happening in the Dubai port of Jebel Ali. Apparently, there is congestion with cargo movement which is restricting the flow of goods and services. Tea being one of the major categories affected. The other issue was that Dubai has introduced a “Quality Certification” not just for tea coming out of Columbo but for other seller origins. From what I can gather from the article, the bottom line is that growers were going to have to work harder to produce teas of high quality. In an auction last week by Quantum, 6.2 million kilos of tea was sold. “Good teas were sold, bad teas were discounted.”

What countries are the largest buyers of Ceylon tea? According to the Tea Market Update, Volume 4 No. 2,  UAE (United Arab Emirates) beat out Russia by the end of the first half of 2008 with imports of 23.5 million kgs of Ceylon accounting for 16% of total tea exports from Sri Lanka. Russia showed a minor drop from 24.6 to 23.2 million kgs. Iraq, Jordan and UAE are among the top 10 destinations.

Top 10 main destinations of Ceylon Tea:

1. UAE
2. Russian
3. Iran
4. Syria
5. Turkey
6. Jordan
7. Iraq
8. Japan
9. Saudi Arabia
10. Chile

At the end of the article Mr. Morrell also reports on interesting news related to tea and health which I found most important:

“There was an interesting news piece in the tea market report of Ceylon Tea Brokers. ‘A single cuppa contains 200 milligrams of flavonoids. Drinking three cups a day, would increase flavonoids in the blood by approximately 25 %. Flavonoids help fight pre-mature aging,heart decease, and some types of cancer.”

I’ve heard that steeping tea between 3-5 minutes brings out the most flavonoids. Admittedly, I sometimes prefer my black teas around 2 minutes, but will go to 3 minutes with a fabulous ceylon. For me, ceylon tea is smooth, complex and lacks bitterness. I often say that ceylon tea is the Pinot Noir of the tea industry. At least according to my taste buds.

Our ceylon this year comes from the Shawlands tea estate which is located in an altitude of 1,173 mts. with a tea growing area of approx. 295 hectares. Tangy tea straight from the UVA district.

Map of Sri Lanka  (Finlays)
Map of Sri Lanka (Finlays)
Ceylon Tea News