The Wonderful World of Tea and Honey

honeycomb2

All of a sudden, I’m fascinated with honey. Honey producing, honey bees, honeycombs, worker bees, honey facts. All of it. I had no idea honey was so complex and magical. I’m in awe of those  little honey bees that work so hard for us to enjoy some sweetness in a simple cup of tea. We must thank the honey bee – especially the worker bees (who are female, only live 6-8 weeks and do all of the work) for gifting us with such sweetness. Read on if you want to learn more…

10 Fun Facts about Honey

  1. In order to produce 1 pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited.
  2. A hive of bees must fly 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey.
  3. An average worker bee (female) makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
  4. It would take approximately 1 ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
  5. Honey contains vitamins and antioxidants, but is fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free!
  6. Honey is less than 20% water.
  7. Honey speeds the healing of open wounds and also combats infection.
  8. Beeswax is edible. If you’ve eaten a Gummy Bear, you’ve eaten beeswax.
  9. Honey is the only produce with NO EXPIRATION DATE.
  10. Tea and Honey are a perfect match! Both are known to contain antioxidants which help prevent damage to cells and tissues

23 Honey Varieties (Did you know there were so many? I didn’t)

  1. ACACIA – made from nectar collected from Acacia tree blossoms which produce a honey that is remarkably clear and pure. Popular and sweet with a mild, delicate floral taste.
  2. ALFALFA – light in color and mildly scented floral aroma. Its delicate nature doesn’t overpower other flavors making it a perfect with tea. Not as sweet as most honey.
  3. AVOCADO – tastes nothing like the fruit, avocado. Dark, fairly rich and buttery in flavor.
  4. BASSWOOD – one of the few varieties that that is light color but has a strong biting distinctive lingering flavor. Very good with teas like Earl Grey.
  5. BLUEBERRY – made from the tiny white flowers of the blueberry bush. Light amber in color, has a pleasant flavor, a slight tang, and a blueberry aftertaste.
  6. BUCKWHEAT – hard to find. The darkest of honeys with a full-bodied flavor. Rich in iron. Popular with honey lovers. Has been found to contain more antioxidant compounds than some lighter honeys.
  7. CLOVER – a classic honey with a mild sweet taste. One of the most available and popular varieties.
  8. EUCALYPTUS – a special herbal flavor which carries a hint of menthol. Traditionally used as a protection against colds and headaches. Try it in your morning or afternoon tea.
  9. FIREWEED – One of the most popular honeys. Very smooth, delicate, and buttery in taste.
  10. HEATHER – thick, amber in color. Strong, fragrant and floral with a very lingering aftertaste that is almost bitter. High in protein content.
  11. LEATHERWOOD – a native eucalyptus found in the south-west of Tasmania, Australia and is the source for 70% of the country’s honey. Excellent on wheat toast. Adds a fantastic aroma to tea.
  12. LINDEN – light yellow color and a delicate, fresh, woody scent. Known to have sedative and antiseptic qualities. Used in the treatment of colds, cough and bronchitis.
  13. MANUKA – found only in New Zealand’s coastal areas, and comes from the flower of the Tea Tree bush. Said to be antibacterial and helpful for healing of sore throats, colds, indigestion, stomach ulcer, acne and pimples.
  14. ORANGE BLOSSOM – light in color, mild in flavor with a fresh fruity scent with a fragrant citrus taste.
  15. PUMPKIN BLOSSOM – harvested once a year in the early fall. Dark amber-colored liquid with a light floral fragrance. Tastes nothing like Pumpkin Pie. A seasonal honey –  limited as the bloom is short and does not produce much nectar.
  16. RED GUM – found in Australia. A darker honey with a thicker consistency, bold taste and higher level of antioxidants compared to others.
  17. REWAREWA – found in New Zealand. Full bodied and malty. A classic dark red premium honey with a caramel, slightly burnt flavor. Quite unusual.
  18. PINE TREE – from Greece. Less sweet, a little bitter, with a strong aroma. Rich in minerals and proteins. Resistent to crystallization.
  19. SOURWOOD – light-colored, delicate, with a caramel or buttery flavor, and a pleasant, lingering aftertaste.
  20. SAGE – produced in California. Light in color, heavy bodied and has a mild but delightful flavor. Slow to granulate, making it a favorite variety among honey packers.
  21. TAWARI – from New Zealand’s Tawari trees. Golden in color with a creamy butterscotch flavor.
  22. TUPELO – a premium honey produced in northwest Florida. Heavy bodied but with a mild, distinctive taste. One of the sweetest honey varieties.
  23. WILDFLOWER – also known as “multifloral” or “mixed floral” honey.  Its color can vary from very light to dark. Flavor range from light and fruity to tangy and rich.

honeybear115 Recommendation for Pairing Tea and Honey

  1. English Breakfast or Earl Grey Tea: Blueberry honey
  2. Lemon or Mint Tea: Clover honey
  3. Jasmine Tea: Alfalfa or Sage honey
  4. Irish Breakfast or Assam Tea: Eucalyptus honey
  5. Ceylon or Darjeeling: Orange blossom honey

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, or rather honeycomb. Honey seems to be an uber-super-duper food that just happens to have a natural affinity with tea. Lucky us!

Today, December 12, 2008, you can read a cool article at Mail Online UK by Jenny Hope on tea and womans  health: “Women who drink three cups of tea a day may be protecting themselves against heart attacks and strokes.”

Newsmax.coms article on June 20, 2008: “The clearest consistent evidence points to an association between tea consumption, in excess of three cups per day, and a reduced risk of myocardial infarction or a heart attack.Dr. Ruxton found that drinking up to eight cups a day would deliver optimum benefits from polyphenols without affecting sleep quality.

I hover around 8 – 10 cups a day so I should have the heart of a infant. Or, I should be glowing…or levitating… or something like that. Here’s an 11th fun fact about honey:  When adding honey into tea, wait till it’s not too hot to avoid destroying its natural goodness.

Happy Sipping!

* If you liked what you read, please recycle. Send to someone who might be interested!

The Wonderful World of Tea and Honey

Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

pam1
pam sipping tea

I visit Denver often. At least 3-4 times a year because most of my family lives out there. Each time I go, I try to have tea with my sister-in-law Roseanne and my nieces, Christy and Lauren. It’s always a good time. On this particular trip, I ended up having tea with my dear friend Pam who actually now lives in Boulder with her husband Tim. She made the trip to Denver to meet me at Seven Cups Tea House so that I could sample their stash. Pam and I have known each other for almost 10 years now having met randomly on Waikiki Beach during a surf lesson. In all the years I lived in Hawaii, I had never tried to surf, so when I went back for a months vacation, just a year after moving to Washington DC, I thought I should give it a try. Having failed miserably, I swam back to shore only to see Pam actually riding a wave. We’ve been friends ever since. Anyway…

7cups24Seven Cups Tea House resides in a quiet part of Denver on South Pearl Street. Coincidence? I think not. Asian culture values the word “pearl” as something elegant, of value, perfect and pure. Hence the name of our very own tea company: Pearl Fine Teas.

Upon entrance into the tea house, you are faced with jars of loose leaf tea to the right of the shop. The back area has tables for sitting, tasting and sharing an traditional Asian treat.

7cups32We met on a quiet Saturday morning and lined up the different teas that we (or rather I) wanted to sample. After reviewing the tea filled jars, I decide to try two teas I’ve never had, along with two that I am familiar with – treasures blend and an oolong. An Alishan to be exact. I had asked them if they had anything close to a “Milk Taste” oolong and they said the Alishan was the closest. To me it tasted nothing like a “Milk Taste” Oolong.

Pam had never really been to an Asian tea house, so she allowed me to lead the tasting. She was open to suggestion and it was so fun to pick and choose teas for us both to try.

7cups62We were the only two in there that morning so we had the full attention of the shop manager. We began the tasting with a Meng Ding Huang Ya (Yellow Buds) Yellow Tea 2007 which I found a bit too light for my liking, although I think Pam was partial to that one. After, we sipped a Mo Gan Huang Ya (Yellow tea) Yellow Tea (Organic) 2008 which again, a bit too light for my liking but the flavor was interesting. After, I moved to a Seven Treasure tea blend and the Alishan Tong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) Taiwan Oolong 2007. You can see from the photo to the left that the liquor color of the Alishan (4th from the left) is quite light. We had multiple infusions of each tea and I remember thinking that I liked the 2nd infusions of almost all of them. I was also very interested in their 7 Treasures Blend. I’ve had something similar here in Washington at Ching Ching Cha, but their version is called 8 Treasures and quite frankly, its a fantastic. It’s one of the tastiest tea blends they offer. Each infusion gets sweeter and sweeter. I was expecting the same from the 7 Treasures, but alas, it was not.

7cups55In addition to the teas, we tried a few treats – most made with some sort of bean paste. They were “ok” but I thought that the flavor was lacking probably because they had just come out of the fridge. My expectation was that they would have been prepared that day and not quite so… cold.

Would I venture back to Seven Cups Tea House in Denver? Probably. Mostly because I feel strongly about supporting others in tea (that alone would be a reason to visit again) but also because I think there is an interesting selection. I would however eat before going.  Admittedly, my favorite spot so far in Denver is the Brown Palace. They do afternoon tea better than most!

7cups11So what does Seven Cups of Tea mean? Somehow I vaguely remember reading that seven cups of tea were important to ones over all health. I have no idea where I read this and when I did a google search, it was no where to be found. On the Seven Cups web site, it refers to a poem called:  ‘The Seven Cups of Tea’…

‘Seven Cups’ is named after a very famous ancient poem about tea. Poetry, history and legend all have an important role to play in Chinese tea culture, and the Seven Cups poem is one of the traditional verses that is still recited today. It was written by Lu Tong (798-835AD) during the years of the Tang dynasty, and the theory of seven cups of tea still bears Lu Tong’s name. It was written as a response to his friend Mong, a Tang court adviser, who had sent him a parcel of tea.

The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat.
The second shatters the walls of my lonely sadness.
The third searches the dry rivulets of my soul to find the stories of five thousand scrolls.
With the fourth the pain of life’s grievances evaporates through my pores.
The fifth relaxes my muscles and bones become light.
With the sixth I find the path that leads to the immortal ancestors.
Oh the seventh cup! Better not take it! If I had it the only feeling
Is the fresh wind blowing through my wings,
As I make my way to Penglai.
-Lu Tong, Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907)


Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

Retire the Tea Ball

the dreaded tea ball
the dreaded tea ball

Anyone that knows me knows… I have opinions. On everything from organic cat food to global warming. I also have an opinion on the what I call: the dreaded tea ball.

A couple of times a week, I stand outside in the cold to meet people and talk about tea. Yes, I am “doing” a farmers market in Northern Virginia. What can I say… my beloved bookkeeper Glenn (a TeaPeep) is sort of a mover and shaker at the market and thought I would be a good fit. So I said, “Ok.” If you happen to live there, come by and say hello. I’ll be in Del Rey on Saturdays wearing my sunglasses and a very large fluffy black down coat. I’ll be sipping hot tea. Tangent. Sorry…

Often times people will ask me this question: “What should I use to brew my tea in?” First of all, if you read my post on “To Steep or To Brew?” you would know that the word “brew” is like nails on a chalkboard to me. So I answer like this: “What I like to use to STEEP my tea is…” and I share my opinion.

So what do I like to use? Certainly NOT the dreaded tea ball. I’m sure it came in handy during Victorian times and like, the 80s, but it’s 2008, TeaPeeps, we need to retire the ball. It doesn’t do the leaf justice. Leaves need room to stretch out and “breath.” The ball is too restrictive. Plus, its messy.

Universal Infuser

What I love are tea pots with built-in infusers (I will be blogging about this in a few days). I also like our Universal Tea Infuser. Love it. Have more than one. I also like the glass tea pot called Bora Bora by Bodum. And not just because it just happens to match the name of our super fabulous Bora Bora Green tea with passion fruit. Pure coincidence. Lastly, I really like our HuesNBrews tea pots. These pots work. Are easy on the eyes. Easy clean up. I’m partial to sunflower this year.

the tea "pillowcase"
tea pillowcase

I also really really love our tea pillow cases. That’s what I call them. I’m not a fan of the “tea sock”. Others love it. Not me. I don’t like that it hangs over the side of the cup. Don’t like that tea can sneak out. Yep.. the pillow case gets my vote. I also LOVE that I can make my own tea bags and bring them with me. I never leave home without tea. Seriously. I have special tea carry case. Does that make me a tea nerd? Absolutely. But at least I’m drinking some darn good tea and not something of lower quality.

What to do with your old tea ball? Honor it. Frame it. Hang it on your Christmas tree. Glue it to a pedestal, but please, retire the dreaded tea ball.

Do you have an opinion on the dreaded tea ball? I’d like to hear about it.

If you liked this post, pass it on to a friend!

Retire the Tea Ball

Presidential Tea Illustrations

Tea Illustration by Jack Cheng (www.jackcheng.com)
Tea Illustration by Jack Cheng (www.jackcheng.com)

So, Social Media does work. While on Twitter last week when I posted the now infamous “If Obama or McCain were a tea, what would they be” question, we were approached by Jack Cheng, a tea enthusiast, to help us with the packaging of the Presidential Blends. As you can see, they are seriously fabulous!

You can find Jack at: www.jackcheng.com

You buy a tea blend at : www.pearlteas.com

Presidential Tea Illustrations

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