For those who drink their black tea British style, with milk and sugar, it's preparation methods have been debated for centuries - what is the "correct" way to prepare a cuppa tea? Of all of the steps, the most divisive is when and how to add milk to the tea (and only milk, cream is not an option).
Historically, there were two reasons to consider adding milk to the cup first: the milk helped prevent the tea from staining the china cup over prolonged use and pouring the hot tea into the milk was thought to kill any harmful bacteria that might be lurking in the milk. Those preferring to add the tea first and then the milk primarily based their rationale on the fact that they used the color of the addition of milk to the tea as a visual clue when to stop to get the desired flavor. Depending on how much you value the practices of the royal family, they always pour the tea first, so there is that recommendation to consider.
Or is there a third way?
In the 1940's tea production (controlled by the British) expanded into East Africa and the northern plains of Kenya. Over time the Samburu who inhabit this region in Kenya developed a tea drinking habit altered to suit their own traditions. With large herds of livestock, milk was a daily staple in the diet of the Samburu, more plentiful than tea. Over time, the size of the herds decreased and tea with milk and sugar began to replace milk as the dominant beverage. In a large pot over a fire two parts water and one part milk are brought to a boil, to which a scoop of tea leaves and sugar are added. On special occasions, the proportions of water and milk will be reversed or milk only will be used to make the strong, sweet, hot tea. If times were lean and milk was not available "turunge" tea would be prepared - water, tea and sugar only.
The preparation method of the Samburu in Kenya is similar to that of how Chai is prepared in India, brewed in large pots rather than a teapot or cup, creating a strong tea that is heavily sweetend with sugar. Give it a try sometime and see if you notice a difference. Maybe the third way is the best way?
The original version of a hot chocolate was nothing like the heavy, creamy hot chocolate most of us drink today. In fact,many of today's indigenous Maya people continue to drink a version of hot chocolate based on an ancient recipe, mixing the cacao bean paste with hot water; it was the Spaniards in Colonial times that began the custom of adding milk, cream, and sugar to the cacao paste to create a soft creamy taste similar to our current hot cocoa. This recipe echoes the earliest origins of the drink and creates a dairy-free hot chocolate with a touch of tea sophistication. If Earl Grey isn't one of you favorite teas, there are other black tea options that work equally well: Organic Tropical Black, Organic Black Tea with Ginger and Organic Golden Yunnan, to name a few.
6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 cup agave sweetener
2 tablespoons Zen Tara loose leaf organic Earl Grey tea leaves
2 cups water brought to a boil
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (optional)
Add cocoa and agave to a heatproof bowl, mug or small serving pitcher. In a second bowl add tea and 2 cups of hot water. Steep the tea leaves for 4 minutes. If using the orange zest add to the tea and hot water about 1 minute before the completion of the brewing time. Strain the liquid over the bowl or cup of cocoa and agave and stir with a whisk or fork until slightly frothy. Enjoy!
An overview of the growing, harvesting and processing steps of less oxidized (green) oolong teas.
Given all of the intense labor, skill and patience required to create oolong teas it is no wonder that the most exceptional oolong teas can be among the highest priced of all teas. Limited harvests and the special skills to manipulate the leaf during processing create the unique flavors of oolong teas.
Sometimes the larger resolutions, the big ideas, can get away from us. We don't have as much time as we though we would to dedicate ourselves to them, we lose focus, or the resolution wasn't realistic. Here are 5 small changes, easy to implement, that offer big rewards.
More Yogurt, Lower Blood Pressure
Researchers followed 2000 people for 15 years, none had high blood pressure at the beginning of the study. Those who ate at least one 6 oz. cup of low-fat yogurt every 3 days were less likely to develop high blood pressure. ("Yogurt Consumption, Blood Pressure and Incident Hypertension", ScienceDaily, Sept. 2012)
Tank-up on L-theanine
Found in green and black teas, L-theanine increases the brains alpha-wave activity which helps lessen anxiety and increase a feeling of calm. Studies have shown it helps reduce negative responses to stress and contributes to increased feelings of relaxation.
Apple a Day Keeps Cholesterol Away
Apples can help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol. A group of healthy middle-aged adults ate an apple a day for 4 weeks and saw a substantial 40% decrease in oxidized LDL cholesterol. ("Study: An Apple a Day Lowers Cholesterol of Blood Chemical Linked to Hardening of the Arteries", Ohio State University, Oct. 2012)
Holidays Are Over: Limit Baked Goods, Lower Salts, Get More Sleep
Eating a lot of simple carbohydrates (cookies, sugary drinks, white bread, etc.) releases the stress hormone cortisol which slows digestion ---> belly fat. Avoid simple carbs entirely or eat more multi-grain alternatives and lots of fresh vegetables. Salt probably snuck its way into a lot of holiday foods which contributes to high blood pressure and stroke risk. Keep a closer eye on salts, limit sodium to 2,000 mg. per day. Days are short and nights are long, take advantage of it. After the hectic month of December, pamper yourself and indulge in a more restful sleep routine. Shut off the television, tablet and smart phone 30 minutes before bedtime to encourage a deeper sleep. (OK, this "one" item was a three-fer)
More Chamomile, Sir
Chamomile (flowering herb) helps calm nerves and is a mild natural sedative. In a study of 57 patients with anxiety disorders by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, extracts of Chamomile had a significant improvement in behavior and reduced anxiety. Chamomile is usually consumed dried as a tea or as a supplement. Note: Chamomile is a relative of ragweed and should be consumed with caution if you are a ragweed allergy sufferer.
To wish someone a Happy New Year implies that you, the greeter, and them, the recipient of your wish, don't have a lot of control over whether 2014 will be happy or not. Hogwash. Yes, many of the things that happen in the world that affect us are beyond our control but there are small things each of us can do that will help create a happier new year. Here is our list of suggestions, review while sipping a cup of tea and take up the quest!