We are coming into the busiest time of the year when we all get stressed out trying to find the perfect gifts for those we love. Christmas is busy, stressful, tiring, and just plain crazy, and that is why you desperately need a cup of tea. I posted this originally in July, but I think we all need a reminder.
Did you know that Tea is the preferred drink of about 80% of the world’s population? It is surpassed only by water as the drink of choice. It comes in different types and different flavours, it comes in feel good forms like herbal teas, it comes in calming forms like Earl Grey. It also comes in invigorating forms like English Breakfast.
Tea for me is the break that I need in the afternoon. I make myself a cup around 4, then I go and sit outside under my deck and rain or shine it is my break time. It takes me away from the computer, the TV, the to-do list, whatever I need a break from, it takes me away.
Sometimes Hawkeye and I sit on the patio under the deck and enjoy a short catch up on your day time, or sometimes I just sit alone, close my eyes and try to shut out all the voices that are telling me what I haven’t done yet, take a deep breath and smell the scent of the tea, and unwind for a short time. It is a short 15-20 minutes that really and truly restores my get up and go.
My preferred Tea for relaxing is Earl Grey, the scent of the Bergamot just soothes me. I want to tell you about the different kinds of tea, I think that if you find one that makes you feel soothed then you too will want to take a tea break.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF TEA
There are more kinds of Tea than I could ever talk about here, but there are several different types of tea and I should be able to tell you a little bit about how each of them tastes and what they are good for.
- This tea is rich tasting and is what I call very round, it fills your mouth with the flavour. To prepare this tea properly you use boiling water over the tea leaves and let it steep for about 4-5 minutes (depending on how strong you like your tea.) Ceylon, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast are just some of the kinds that are available.
- This is a light tasting, delicately flavoured tea that you will find provided in Chinese or Japanese restaurants, but is becoming more and more appealing to those at home in the more Western countries. To brew this one you do not want the water to boil, it has to be close to the boiling point but no bubbles should be present yet and you pour it over the leaves and let steep for not more than 3 minutes. Jasmine, Gunpowder, and Hojicha, this also includes Macha, which here in North America is made using a powdered form.
- This tea is sort of like a combination of both the Black and Green teas, it is very robust and flavourful, it is almost always served black (no milk or sugar) and the smell is heavenly. The name Oolong means “Black Dragon” and that is also one of the kinds of this tea, there is also Formosa Oolong and Formosa Pouchong. This tea is prepared the same as the Green Tea with the water just below boiling, but you let this one steep a little longer.
- White Tea is very, very mild with almost a sweetness to the taste. The preparation for this one is like the Green Tea, but because this is made from the buds not the leaves it takes longer to steep, so let sit for about 5 minutes.
- Herbal teas are not made from the same plant as the rest of them, they are made from flowers and roots, leaves and seeds, or even bark. They come in many different varieties and are prepared the same as Black Tea, with boiling water poured over the product and allowed to steep for just over 5 minutes.
TEA FOR YOUR HEALTH
The health benefits of tea have been touted for many years, if you want to lose weight, or keep your heart and brain functioning well then tea should be part of your repertoire. I am talking only about the Teas that are not herbal; black, green, white, and oolong. All of these come from a plant that has as part of its makeup Flavonoids. Flavonoids are sort of like antioxidants that we all hear about.
Tea is one of the things in life that does your body so much good in different areas, for heart health the flavonoids help with the accumulation of cholesterol in your arteries. They help keep the blood flowing.
For your brain, it is said that it can help with the onset of Alzheimer’s, hopefully pushing it back awhile. Then there is something in Green tea that is supposed to be able to help the flow of blood through the brain, which also helps with the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Tea also helps with the lowering of blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart attack and strokes, also due to the Flavonoids.
Tea has psychological benefits as well, a study that had people drinking tea as opposed to drinking something else, showed that Tea allowed the subject to be more alert and do better on cognitive tests than those drinking something else.
Tea is a zero-calorie drink because it is mostly water. For weight loss, you could hardly find anything other than water that would be as good for you, yet keep the calories non-existent.
Tea is a first class stress reducer. When you feel that you are at your wit’s end, or if you are ready to pull your hair out, grab a cup of tea and close your eyes. I promise there is nothing better than a little tea break.
Tea has less caffeine than a same size coffee. Medical researchers say that the maximum amount of caffeine you should have in a day can be found in two cups of coffee, but you would be able to have about 8 cups of tea for the same amount.
TEA IN OTHER ASPECTS
As the love for Tea grows, people are starting to use it in more ways. Cooking with it, making it a part of a cocktail or dessert. Have your heard of the Earl Grey Martini
2 oz Vodka
1 tsp Maple Syrup
3 oz Brewed Earl Grey Tea
1 dash lemon juice
- Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice cubes
- Shake well
- Strain into cocktail glass
- Garnish with lemon twist
or how about a Tea Smoothie:
|1 cup (250 mL)||cold strong English Breakfast or other black tea|
|1 cup (250 mL)||frozen blueberries, raspberries or strawberries|
|1/2 cup (125 mL)||cranberry, apple or other clear juice|
|1/4 cup (50 mL)||plain yoghurt|
|1 tbsp (15 mL)||liquid honey (optional)|
In blender or food processor combine tea, blueberries, cranberry juice, yoghurt and honey, if using. Blend on high-speed until smooth.
WHAT ABOUT TEA IN FOOD
Pork Tenderloin Cameroon with Prune-Stuffed Apples
(Source: Tea Association of Canada Website)
|2 ounces||tea leaves|
|1 liter||boiling water|
|2 cups||unsweetened apple juice|
|2 pounds||pork tenderloin|
|Salt and ground pepper|
|8 grams||dry mustard powder|
|100 grams||brown sugar|
|2 tablespoons||fruity olive oil|
|6 medium||golden delicious apples, peeled and cored|
|Cornstarch as needed, to thicken the sauce|
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brew the tea in the water and steep for about 2 minutes. Using a fine-meshed sieve, strain out the tea leaves, reserving the liquid. Combine the tea with the apple juice and set aside.
Salt and pepper the pork (be generous with the pepper). Mix the mustard powder and brown sugar together, making sure that there are no lumps. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved tea liquid to moisten, then spread out on the flat surface and coat the meat. Heat a heavy pan until very hot, then add the oil and heat until oil is hot. Carefully place the meat in the pan and sear over medium-high heat to brown, about 10 minutes, turning as necessary to brown evenly. Remove pan from heat. Peel and core the apples, then slice them horizontally. Put them back together neatly and stuff them with prunes.
Place the meat into a 10X12 inch nonstick roasting pan and pour the tea-juice liquid over the meat. Surround the meat with the stuffed apples and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basting the meat and apples occasionally. When done, the meat should register at 165 F on a thermometer.
Remove from the oven and carefully pour off cooking liquid into another saucepan, keep the meat and apples warm.
Or maybe you would like:
Brisket Braised in Tea with Root Vegetables
(Source: Tea Association of Canada Website)
|2 1/4 pounds||lean brisket of beef|
|Salt and freshly ground pepper|
|Fruit olive oil, enough to coat the pan for searing|
|1/2 bunch||celery, washed well and cut into 1/2 inch diagonal slices|
|1 1/2 cups||thinly slices yellow onions|
|4||carrots, washed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks|
|1||parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks|
|1||rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks|
|4 cloves garlic||smashed then finely chopped|
|4 tablespoons||tea leaves,|
|4 tablespoons||additional tea leaves for sauce|
|1/2 cup||packed brown sugar|
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper the brisket and sear in hot olive oil in a heavy skillet until the surface is browned. Turn only once, after about 5 minutes. Place the brisket in a heavy roasting pan and scatter the vegetables over the meat.
Brew the 4 tablespoons of tea in cool (170 F) water for 30 minutes. Sieve out and discard leaves. Combine the brewed tea, brown sugar and ketchup in a bowl to dissolve all the ingredients thoroughly, then pour over the brisket. Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, or until tender. Cool, then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, skim off any fat that collects on the surface of the braising liquid. Pour the de-fatted liquid into a heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until it is reduced by half. Add 4 tablespoons of tea leaves and return liquid to the boil. Remove from the heat immediately. Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve to remove leaves. Adjust seasonings in the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
With a sharp carving knife, slice meat across the grain into thin slices. Place decoratively on the plate along with vegetables. Drizzle sauce over each portion.
As you can see, there is always time for a cup of tea, and with the way the world is these days, I’d say we are all desperately in need of a cup of tea.