Thursday, February 14, 2013

DEAR  FRIENDS,
The CURIOSITY Shop will be suspending operations as of the 28th of February after fifteen (15) years of business in beautiful downtown Aiken.  Due to the lack-luster consumer economy and expanded competition we have decided to look at several different avenues to pursue in regards to our business.  We would like to thank our customers who have been loyal over the years for the friendship and support which we have come to cherish.
While we sincerely believe that this is not the end of The CURIOSITY Shop in Aiken but rather a new beginning.
We will be holding a sale to reduce our current inventory of merchandise in anticipation of re-evaluating our business plan.  Many store fixtures will also be up for sale.  Obviously all sales will be final.
Further, this move will afford us more time with our family and children, which has endured our work schedule over the years. 
Amy and I both feel confident that this is a good move for us to make at this time.
With Kindest Regards,
John B Heaton  &  Amy Neeley

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SHOP  The CURIOSITY Shop  FOR
ST  VALENTINEs  DAY

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from?

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

Stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around AD 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine's Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap." Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.


 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

MARDIS  GRAS   2013

 
 
SATURDAY   THE   9TH   FEBRUARY
The  Dickens  Cafe  will  be  serving
GUMBO
&
CRAWFISH
Starting  at  11:00 am
 
LUNDI GRAS (Monday)
MARDI GRAS (Tuesday)
 
 
FAT  TUESDAY   THE  12TH  FEBRUARY
The Dickens Café  will  be  serving  up
Cochon De Lait Po Boys
Gumbo
Crawfish  Monica
with
Fat  Tuesday  Buns
&
King  Cakes
Starting  at  11:00 am
 
 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

LOW PREVALENCE OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
AMONG REGULAR BLACK TEA DRINKERS


 The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is low in countries where consumption of black tea is high, suggests a mathematical analysis of data from 50 countries, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The global prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased six-fold over the past few decades, and the International Diabetes Federation calculates that the number of those with the disease will soar from 285 million in 2010 to 438 million in 2030.

The authors systematically mined information on black (fermented) tea consumption in 50 countries across every continent, based on 2009 sales data collected by an independent specialist market research company.

And they analysed World Health Organization data for those same countries on the prevalence of respiratory, infectious, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer and diabetes.

Ireland topped the league table for black tea drinkers, at more than 2 kg/year per person, closely followed by the UK and Turkey.  At the bottom of the table were South Korea, Brazil, China, Morocco and Mexico, with very low consumption. 

A statistical approach, called principal component analysis (PCA), was used to tease out the key contribution of black tea on each of the health indicators selected at the population level.

This showed an impact for black tea on rates of diabetes, but not on any of the other health indicators studied.

The link was confirmed with further statistical analysis, which pointed to a strong linear association between low rates of diabetes in countries where consumption of black tea is high.

The authors acknowledge several caveats to their findings, however.

They caution that the quality and consistency of data among all 50 countries are likely to vary, as will the criteria used to diagnose diabetes. And what may seem positive at the population level may not work as well as the individual level.

They also point out that various factors are likely to have contributed to the dramatic rise in diabetes prevalence, and that a link between black tea consumption and the prevalence of the disease does not imply that one is caused by the other.

But their findings do back those of previous research, they say.

“These original study results are consistent with previous biological, physiological, and ecological studies conducted on the potential of [black tea] on diabetes and obesity”…and they provide “valuable additional scientific information at the global level,” they write.

In recent years, a great deal of interest has focused on the health benefits of green tea, which contains simple flavonoids called catechins, thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, say the authors.

But the fermentation process, which turns green tea black, induces a range of complex flavonoids, including theaflavins and thearubigins, to which several potential health benefits have been attributed, they add.
     



  

Friday, February 1, 2013


Demystifying FDA and USDA Terms


There are plenty of terms floating around the foodservice industry lately — natural, organic, sustainable and local, among others. It can be difficult to determine which words mean what or which are even regulated. Sysco wants to ensure you’re ordering the right products for your needs, so we’re defining key terms and noting their differences to make sure your decisions are the right ones for your business.

The term “natural” is often used to describe a range of products, from produce to cereals to ice cream, but what does it actually mean? According to the FDA, “natural” has no actual definition as it applies to food products. The USDA, however, indicates meat, poultry and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. That said, the “natural” label does not include any standards regarding farm practices, and there are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products that do not contain meat or eggs. Sysco offers the Sysco Natural line of products, which includes a wide variety of fresh commodity and value-added produce and beverages that are wholesome, high-quality and minimally processed.

For “fresh,” the FDA does have regulations in place, stating the term can only be used for foods that are raw and preservative-free. Terms like “fresh frozen” or “frozen fresh” mean the food was quickly frozen while still otherwise fresh, to preserve nutrients. Sysco frozen products are processed in this manner to ensure the freshest, most flavorful produce. 

According to the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), “organic” is a labeling term that indicates the food or other agricultural product has been produced through USDA-approved methods. These stringent methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster resource management, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used. That means “organic” products must be free of hormones, pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics. The NOP standards are annually verified by USDA-approved certification bodies. Products must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients in order to feature the “100% Organic” label. Foods that contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients may only feature the “Organic” label. Finally, products containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients may be described as “Made with Organic Ingredients,” but cannot be labeled “Organic.”

"Sustainable agriculture" was addressed by Congress in the 1990 Farm Bill.

Under that law, the term sustainable agriculture was defined as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
  • satisfy human food and fiber needs;
  • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;
  • make the most efficient use of nonrenewable and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
  • sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and
  • enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
 
In summary, “natural” products have no artificial ingredients; “fresh” products are raw or unprocessed; “organic” products are free of hormones, pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics; and “sustainable” products have been grown with minimal impact on the surrounding water, environment and wildlife. Keep these definitions in mind and note the various differences the next time you’re selecting products for your consumption!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


GREEN TEA CATECHINS FOUND TO BENEFIT SKIN FOLLOWING UV DAMAGE

Scientists from the UK have discovered that green tea compounds called catechins may help protect the skin against sunburn and the long-term effects of UV damage. The study was performed on 14 healthy human subjects with fair skin and involved taking green tea catechin supplements for 12 weeks. The dose was roughly equivalent to two cups of green tea. The effects of the supplements were tested before and after supplementation by exposing buttock skin to UV rays and quantifying the level of sunburn. The results demonstrate that catechins may contribute to skin protection against sunburn inflammation and potentially longer-term damage caused by UV rays, and may therefore be a complement for sunscreen.


FARMERS IN OREGON ATTEMPT TO MARKET LOCALLY HARVESTED TEA

Minto Island Growers, a small-scale farm cultivating and selling vegetables and plants, is ready to take on a rather unconventional challenge: tea production. The first step was to identify which varieties of tea bushes were most suitable for the local climate, a process that took over twenty years. Now that the farm has a half-acre dedicated to tea, its sights are set on the next stage: harvesting and processing the leaves on-site on a larger scale. The company has already reported a high level of interest from nearby tea bars, food stores and tea companies, all thirsty for home-grown produce. Despite mixed assessments from horticulturalists, Minto Island Growers will devote more land to this project in 2013, with additional two to three acres allocated to tea plants. The growers also applied for a federal grant to help cover the costs of processing, packaging and marketing their tea. They remain upbeat about their prospects based on positive feedback from their customer base.







Friday, January 25, 2013

INVENTORY   REDUCTION
SALE
26 JANUARY  THROUGH  09 FEBRUARY
STOREWIDE
20%  TO  50%

ACCESSORIES   25%
BAR & DRINKWARE   20%
BATH & BODY   20%
BOOKS   45%
CARDS & STATIONARY   45%
CLOTHING   25%
DOCTOR  WHO  MERCHANDISE   25%
FLAGS   20%
FOOD   25%
JEWELLERY   20%
KITCHEN   45%
NOVELTIES   45%
PATAK   10%
ROCK LEGENDS   25%
SPORTS   25%
LOOSE  LEAF  TEA   10%
HERBAL  TEAS   20%
COMMERCIAL  TEAS   20%
TEA WARE   20%
TOYS  GAMES  COSTUMES   45%
WALL  ART   25%


SOME  EXCLUSIONS  APPLY
(i.e., beverages are not on sale, etc.)


 
CELEBRATE  ALL  THINGS  SCOTTISH
ROBERT  BURNS  DAY
25  JANUARY  2013
 
 
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o'thine!
And we'll tak' a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
 
      
The annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Celebrated on, or about, the Bard's birthday, January 25th, Burns Suppers range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards and louts. Most Burns Suppers fall in the middle of this range, and adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honoured form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

SCOTLAND, Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It's that time of year again, dig out the tartan and dust off the Toast to the Lassies: it's Burns Night. On January 25 each year, Scots and Scots-at-heart around the world raise a glass to the memory of Bard Robert Burns, as they prepare to pipe in the famous haggis.
Yes, the National Poet of Scotland has his own annual celebration, one of a festive quartet of Scottish winter holidays including St. Andrews Day, Christmas, Hogmanay, and Burns Night. Burns Night is much more than the same old stanzas and rhymes. Kilt-clad Scots and Scottish Americans celebrate the day with a traditional Burns Night Supper, tableside bagpiping, the reading of the "Address to a Haggis" (which opens the meal), whisky, and much more to pay tribute to the legendary bard.
"Burns Night is a great opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate the writings of Scotland's national poet," says Scottish Government Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop . "His works are recognized around the world and his humanity, wit, wisdom and humor are expressed in poetry, writing and song which still has the power to move and touch millions."
A traditional Burns Night Supper features haggis, a savory pudding that usually contains sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs) mixed with spices and marinated in an animal's stomach casing. Side dishes include "neeps" (mashed turnips) and "tatties" (minced beef and mashed potatoes). While dining, Burns enthusiasts recite the Bard's best works to the sounds of bagpipes. The first suppers were held in Scotland at the end of the eighteenth century by Robert Burns ' friends and 2013 will mark the 254th anniversary of his birthday.
 
To celebrate the Bard's birthday, here are few fun facts about Robert Burns :
  • After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus , Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure.
  • J.D. Salinger's famous 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye based its title from a poem by Robert Burns "Comin' Thro' the Rye."
  • Bob Dylan selected Burns' 1794 song "A Red, Red Rose " when asked for the source of his greatest creative inspiration.
  • John Steinbeck took the title of his 1937 novel Of Mice and Men from a line contained in Burns' poem "To a Mouse:" "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley."
  • A miniature book of Robert Burns ' poetry was carried into orbit by astronaut Nick Patrick on a two-week space mission in 2010, completing a 5.7-million mile trip and 217 orbits of the Earth. 
  • Robert Burns produced over 550 songs and poems. That averages at around 25 works for each year of his adult life (Burns passed away at 37).


 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Drinking tea ‘can lower the risk of dying from heart disease’

Tea is known for its several health benefits. Add one more to the list - drinking a cup of the beverage thrice daily can significantly reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the University Medical Centre Utrecht have found that the favourite hot drink enjoyed by millions of people worldwide is packed with health-boosting properties and mainly it has significant protective effects on the heart.
People who sip between three and six cups of tea each day are 45 per cent less likely to die from coronary problems compared with those who drink fewer than one a day. And, two to four cups of coffee a day may lower your risk of developing heart problems by 20 per cent, the study has found.
The humble cuppa contains flavonoids, which offer significant cardiovascular benefits - potentially saving many thousands of lives each year, say the researchers.
For the study, the researchers studied tea and coffee consumption among 37,514 people and monitored their health for 13 years, and found that those who drank about two large mugs of tea a day had their risk of suffering coronary problems slashed in half.
Responding to the findings Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at British Heart Foundation, said, “This adds further weight to the evidence that drinking tea and coffee in moderation is not harmful for most people, and may even lower your risk of developing, or dying, from heart disease.
 
“However, leading a healthy overall lifestyle is the thing that really matters when it comes to keeping your heart in top condition.” Ellen Mason added.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

'TEA  AS  GOOD  AS  WATER
TO  KEEP  YOU  HYDRATED'

Here’s some good news for tea lovers! Drinking the beverage, and lots of it, is just as good as downing water at keeping one hydrated on a hot summer day, a new study has claimed.
Researchers have carried out the study and busted the myth that tea is a diuretic - in fact, they found that it doesn’t bother one’s bladder any more than plain water, the ’Daily Mail’ reported.
“If you fancy a cup of tea on a hot summer’s day, have it. A cup of tea is going to give you the same hydration as a glass of water,” lead researcher Carrie Ruxton was quoted as saying.
The researchers asked 21 men to drink mugs of tea over a 12-hour period, or a similar amount of plain, warm water. On another day, the tea-drinkers were given water and vice versa.
Blood samples were taken and the men’s urine was collected and tested. The men did not pass any more water when drinking tea and may even have passed slightly less. There was also little difference in levels of sodium and other salts.
Dr. Ruxton said, “It’s a common misconception that drinking tea can increase the risk of dehydration because of the caffeine content. But this new study proves that there is absolutely no truth behind the theory.”
“Drinking moderate amounts of tea - four mugs a day - offered the same excellent hydration qualities as plain water. In addition, urine volume was similar after tea or water, confirming that we do not urinate more after drinking tea.” Dr. Ruxton said
“Not only is a mug of tea refreshing and delicious, it can be an important part of maintaining proper hydration.” Dr. Ruxton added.
Dr. Catherine Hood, of the Tea Advisory Panel, which funded the research, said, “Tea drinkers can be reassured that their favourite cuppa can count towards their fluid intake without the risk of dehydration.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


NINE  TEA  TIDBITS


1. Tea is one of the world’s oldest beverages. The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, was first discovered by the ancient Chinese, who then spent many centuries perfecting the art of tea production, which resulted in a variety of types available today.

2. The etiquette of preparing and drinking tea was first documented by the Chinese, as well. The third volume of the book published in 780 A.D. by the author Lu Yu elaborated on different ways to brew and serve tea. The tea pot and the tea bowl are also Chinese inventions.

 3. After the Chinese, tea was first adopted by the Japanese and then, in the 17th century, by the Europeans looking for cash crops to grow in their tropical colonies. In those early days, tea in Europe was a highly prized luxury item. Today, tea is cultivated most widely in China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Africa, and Georgia.
 
4. Famous British “5 o’clock tea” was founded by the seventh Duchess of Bedford who was prone to light bouts of hunger in the afternoon. Once, she ordered a pot of tea with light snacks to be served in her room, and enjoyed the experience so much that made afternoon tea an everyday ritual. Soon, all London was sipping tea and nibbling on little sandwiches around 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

5. While the Chinese and Japanese always consume tea as is, and the Europeans add milk into it, the Tibetans prefer to drink tea laced with… yak butter, the Moroccans flavour their beverage with mint, basil, or sage, and the Russian add jam into their tea.

6. The European habit of drinking tea with milk is traced back to the 18th century Britain. In those days, expensive china tea bowls were so fragile that hot tea poured there might easily break them. This this why cold milk was added to delicate bowls first.

7. The most exotically flavoured tea is made in Kashmir: a blend of green and Darjeeling tea is brewed together with crushed green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, chopped almonds, and pine nuts.

8. Many naturopathic doctors discourage their patients from drinking tea since it can overstimulate the adrenal gland and disrupt the delicate blood-sugar-regulation mechanism, thus leading to chronic fatigue, depression, allergies, insomnia, and other disorders.

9. On the other hand, the Asians always considered tea beneficial. Ancient Chinese doctors were prescribing a tea leaves brew as a cure for headaches and even as the elixir of immortality! It was believed that tea clears the voice, improves the memory, promotes digestion, and regulates all processes within the body.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet Chef Darrell!

MEET  CHEF  DARRELL  MILLER



It’s not every day that you meet a chef who not only cranks out delicious meals on a daily basis, but can also install your fire sprinklers, fix your plumbing or drive a big rig.

But those are just a few of the trades that Darrell Miller has learned over the span of his professional career before landing his current position as Chef of The DICKENS Café in The CURIOSITY Shop in downtown Aiken.

In fact, the Washington, D.C. native originally went to school to become a truck driver, but soon discovered that wasn’t what he wanted to do.

“I still had money left on my grant so I went back to school and culinary arts was one of the fields that was covered,” Miller said of his transition into the culinary field in the mid-1980s. And even though he always enjoyed cooking, he never dreamt that the winding road ahead of him would ultimately lead to a successful  career as a chef. “It was just something to do.”

After graduating from National Training Systems he soon found himself back in the truck-driving business, driving a truck for a maintenance company for nearly 15 years. In fact his first official job working in a kitchen wouldn’t come until the late 90s when he worked in an outside kitchen at The Warf in D.C. And it wasn’t until he moved to South Carolina that he really embraced the joy of cooking.

With such esteemed establishments as The Green Boundary Club, The Reserve Club at Woodside and Sage Valley under his belt, Miller brings over a decade of kitchen experience and an eye for food styling.

“Seeing the finished product is my favorite thing about cooking,” said Miller, who takes great pride in the presentation of his dishes.

When preparing the plates to be photographed for The CURIOSITY Shop’s daily café posts on the various social media sites, he is meticulous in his garnishing. It is only after the pepper is perfectly cracked, the parsley is sufficiently scattered and the lemon wedge is strategically placed that he is ready for the world to see his creations. And the fact that The DICKENS Café infuses British Isle-inspired recipes and ingredients from around the world into its cuisine makes the food preparation even more of a challenge.

“This job has me constantly thinking about how to bring different cultures to the food,” said Miller, who has prepared the traditional English dish, Bangers n’ Mash, and the Scottish roast beef sandwich, Inky Pinky, just to name a few of the UK-inspired entrees . “It keeps me from getting bored, and I accept it 100 percent.”

Miller says the best part about working at The DICKENS Café and The CURIOSITY Shop is the friendly and charming atmosphere.

“It does make me feel like I am at home,” said Miller. “You walk around downstairs and you feel like you are in a grocery store, then you go upstairs and it’s like a department store. And the café makes me feel like I am back at home in the kitchen.”

The most rewarding aspect of the job, he says, is the patronage.

“I have to give it up for the customers,” said Miller. “They are so sweet and they let us know we are doing a good job. When I see that café fill up, that’s what it’s all about.”

Miller also owns a seasonal restaurant in Salley called D’s that usually opens in November.
“We have things like burgers, sandwiches and wings but we also have daily blue plate specials,” said Miller.

When he’s not cooking , he is spending time with his wife, his 17-year-old son, his 9-year-old daughter, his Rottweiler, Tech, and his two Shih-Poos, Lacey & Champ.  He also has a 22-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son who live in D.C.

“I’m like a soccer mom,” laughs Miller. “One minute I am at a football game with my son and the next minute I am riding around in a go-cart with my daughter.”

 For more information about The DICKENS Café and the daily specials, visit The CURIOSITY Shop’s website at www.curiosityshoptea.com or the shop’s  Facebook page.  For to-go orders and downtown deliveries, or to make reservations for large parties, call 803-644-1400.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Understanding Tea: The Quick Version

  • All tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. If you are drinking something that did not come from this plant (chamomile, mint, tulsi, rooibos, etc) it is not tea.
  • White, Green, Oolong, Yellow, Black and Pu-erh teas all come from the camellia sinensis plant and the type of tea is determined by the processing methods used on the plucked leaves.
  • Tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes mental acuity. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine creates a sense of "mindful awareness."
  • Tea can be prepared in any vessel by steeping the leaves directly in hot water as long as you strain the leaves out of the water before drinking.
  • The more oxidized the tea leaves are, the hotter the water temperature should be when steeping.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

WHAT  TEA  LEAVES  BEHIND

One of the most important factors defining the current popularity of tea, particularly in the West, is undoubtedly the teabag. In retrospect, the (albeit accidental) invention of pouches that can be dunked directly into hot water has strongly impacted the spread of the beverage in the industrialized world. It made tea consumption possible in an urban setting and created a format fit for existing retail environments. It must be said that convenience came at the expense of quality, with mediocre tea grades becoming standard for most of the twentieth century.
The teabag was later improved upon by adding an individual wrapper, making it even more portable and versatile, whilst at the same time preserving contents' freshness. Curiously enough, these covers have become a collectible item for a small, yet vibrant group of tea aficionados. Especially in countries like the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, collecting tea bag covers has become a popular pastime, with sporadic fairs organized amongst these scattered communities. The fact that they are sometimes swapped online between unfamiliar collectors certainly adds to the flair.
While collecting tea bag wrappers or any other forms of packaging might not qualify as a trend itself - a trend being a more profound and noticeable socioeconomic shift in attitude and behavior - it has the merit of diligently reflecting the evolution of trends in the way tea is represented in the western society. In other words, it encapsulates the filiation of different themes and designs associated with the beverage.
For example, one recurrent theme is aristocracy - tea historically being considered a luxury beverage in the West- with references to (fictional) aristocratic and royal figures being a common leitmotif. Even industrially manufactured, tea still has the power to take us back to the eighteenth century England, where dukes and duchesses enjoyed the exquisite refreshment in fabulous palaces. Who wouldn't want a piece of blue-blooded luxury?
Another theme widely used through the years is nature, thanks to various motives of plants, animals or exotic landscapes, all telling in some way or form the story of tea's exotic provenance from places untouched by man. Tea is a natural drink after all and every possible image (tea leaf, mountains, elephants, berries, etc.) has been used to reinforce tea's intimate link with nature.
So teabag covers, like other mediums of expression, can give a good idea of how tea was perceived and marketed through the years and should not be considered as mere historic artifacts. They are rich sources of "persuasive techniques" used in the past and are a fun way to look back at the evolution of this unique beverage in our society. The fact that such covers come from all over the world and are mainly suited for local audiences adds even more variety to an already diverse drink and certainly increases the "collectability" factor. It is also a great way for teabag "archaeologists" to compare the differences in the way tea is represented and drunk worldwide. And that's another way to enjoy tea!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


HEALTH  BENEFITS  OF  TEA

Evidence about health benefits of tea continues to pile up in 2012. The year is barely a couple of months old, yet it has already witnessed several studies and reviews confirming long-held assumptions about the positive effects of tea drinking. The most noteworthy one is probably a Japanese study that found that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of frailty and disability as they grow older. Over 14,000 elderly citizens were followed for 3 years, which is no small feat in itself, and shows just how rigorous research around tea has become. Green tea drinkers were shown to suffer less from functional disabilities in performing everyday tasks like bathing or dressing. Interpreting these results in the context of West’s aging population shows how much potential the beverage may have as a healthy and cost-effective alternative (or supplement) to traditional medication.

But green tea was not the only variety in the spotlight. A study from Australia and a review from the UK lent further credence to the notion that black tea is just as healthy as its green cousin. According to research, black tea was found to lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also cut levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood sugar. Again, given that heart disease is one of the major causes of death in industrialized countries, the regular cuppa is starting to look like an increasingly promising and unobtrusive solution to keep your health in check.

Stepas Parulis is the editor of TeaTrends.
 
 
 

Friday, January 11, 2013

JUST  IN !
SOME  NEW  ADDITIONS  FOR  THE  PANTRY
 
 
Tilda  Basmati  Rice
Tilda is known worldwide for its pure and fragrant Basmati Rice. Like a fine wine, Pure Basmati Rice cannot be created artificially. It is tended and harvested by hand in an area with unique soil and climatic characteristics that give the rice its exquisitely delicate aroma, texture and taste. Its distinct taste and fluffy grains are used ideally everyday in pulaos and biryanis.   4 Pound Bag   $ 8.25
 
Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
Fresh organic basil creates an irresistible accent to this popular recipe. Use with confidence on anything Italian!    $ 9.25



Ingredients: Organic Tomato Puree (Water, Organic Tomato Paste), Organic Diced Tomatoes, Organic Sugar, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Organic Basil, Organic Dehydrated Onions, Organic Garlic, Organic Parsley Flakes.
 
Langnese  Forest  Honey
 
Langnese has reigned as Europe's premium honey since 1927. Their Forest Honey embodies the flavors of the Bavarian black forest. One taste and you'll recognize its silky, luxurious quality. This honey is skillfully harvested with typical German precision, blended and preserved to deliver consistent quality. Imported from Bargteheide, Germany, enjoy this wildflower honey as a sweetener over hot cereal or in green or black tea.   $ 10.25


KOOPS DUESSELDORF MUSTARD 
Classic German mustard with a hearty taste and creamy texture. Perfect for any sandwich brat, or hot dog. Kosher.  12 oz Bottle   $ 2.00

HENGSTENBERG  MUSTARD  FROM  GERMANY
  • Mixture of yellow and brown mustard seed, combined with vinegar, salt and spices.
  • Suitable for BBQ's, meat, fish and egg dishes, sauces and salad dressings.
  • Must be kept refrigerated after opening.
  • No preservatives added.
  • Product of Germany
  •  
    Hot  Mustard   7 oz Jar   $ 1.99
    Medium  Hot  Mustard   7 oz Jar   $1.99



    AND  IN  ADDITION:

    Zhena's Raspberry Earl Grey Tea
     The floral aroma of juicy raspberries is perhaps the perfect complement to the sweet citrus and full-bodied flavour of Earl Grey. This more exceptional version of this classic tea is artisan hand-crafted in small batches and infused with only top-grade essential oils of real fruit to brew a sweet, succulent cup.
    Ingredients: Ceylon & Indian Black tea, with Italian Bergamot, Freeze-Dried Raspberries & organic Raspberry flavour.   22 Tea Bags per Carton   $ 4.15

    Numi Pu-erh Mint Green Tea

    16 Full Leaf Tea Bags per Carton   $ 5.85

    Numi Pu-erh Magnolia Green Tea
      16 Full Leaf Tea Bags per Carton   $ 5.85


    Numi Jasmine Pu-erh Bottled  Tea   $ 1.25
    Numi Earl Grey Pu-erh Bottled Tea   $ 1.25


     

     

    HERE'S  HOW  TO  MAKE  THE  PERFECT  CUP  OF  TEA


    The perfect cup of tea is waiting for you, somewhere.
    But first — you have to make it. And while making a hot cup of tea sounds relatively easy (just dump the teabag in some hot water, right?), this info-graphic has got it down to a SCIENCE.
    No more guessing about how long to let your green tea, black tea, or white tea steep — this helpful chart of sorts has broken it down to the best temperatures and times for six common types of tea.
    Things that we learned: Green tea only needs 1-2 minutes (since it can be so strong), and herbal tea needs boiling water (210 degrees) and a bit more time (3-6 minutes) to release that flavour. Makes sense!

     By: Jennifer Lai  FOODBEAST  06JAN13


    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    SEVEN HERBAL  TEAS

    THAT  WILL  MAKE  YOU HEALTHIER

    Need a health boost? Reach for a soothing cup of herbal tea to relieve nausea, bloating and other common ailments

    By Meredith Dault
    BEST HEALTH MAGAZINE

    There’s nothing nicer on a cold midwinter’s day than a soothing cup of herbal tea. But besides being a tasty, warming, caffeine-free pick-me-up, herbal tea has lots of wonderful health benefits. From soothing a troubled tummy to easing insomnia and calming a troubled mind, herbs have all sorts of healing powers. Drinking herbal tea can also be a great source of vitamins and minerals.

    What is herbal tea?


    Herbal tea isn’t really made from tea—which is a specific kind of plant. The French use the word tisane, which is a little more accurate, since herbal tea is really just an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark, extracted in hot water. In drinking a well-steeped herbal tea, we get all the plant’s benefits in an easily digestible form.

    The benefits of herbal tea


    “In a lot of ways, we might get more benefit from a good organic tea than from a vitamin pill,” says herbalist Marianne Beacon of Elderberry Herbals in Peterborough, Ont. "You’re getting the benefits of hydration. There’s the social element: Tea is something that you can share with people. And when you’re drinking herbal tea, you get aromatherapy at the same time—and that’s something you don’t get from a tablet!”

    That’s why Toronto-based herbalist Marcia Dixon says herbal tea should always be steeped in a covered vessel to contain the beneficial essential oils. “Otherwise, your room smells nice but you aren’t retaining the medicinal properties.”

    How to choose a herbal tea


    When it comes to choosing a herbal tea, both Dixon and Beacon agree that it’s important to look for a well-sourced product made from high-quality ingredients. If you’re drinking tea for the medicinal benefits, then definitely steer clear of products that add things like essential oils or flavours. And to really get the full benefits from drinking herbal tea, make sure you steep your loose tea or tea bags long enough—in some cases, as long as 10 to 15 minutes—to really bring out all the healthful properties.


    "Anytime you’re ingesting something, you’re giving your body the building blocks it needs to manufacture tissues and hormones,” says Dixon. “If you drink tea every day, you can make all sorts of significant changes to your mood, your skin, your sense of well-being and energy.”

    There are so many wonderful herbal teas to choose from. Here are a few of the most common. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

    Peppermint tea

    Halifax naturopath Colin Huska recommends drinking peppermint tea to relieve the symptoms of abdominal gas and bloating, and to relieve muscle spasms. It’s also good for nausea (without vomiting) and for heating up the body and making it sweat. If indigestion or heartburn are problems, however, then Dixon recommends avoiding peppermint altogether. Peppermint tea can also be made using fresh herbs from the garden—and it's one of the easiest herbs to grow.

    Ginger tea

    Another great digestive aid, ginger can be used to curb nausea, vomiting or upset stomach due to motion sickness. Make fresh ginger tea by simmering a piece of ginger root on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes—add fresh lemon juice and honey when you have a cold for a powerful germ-fighting combination. Beacon also suggests making tea from powdered ginger to ward off a chill.

    Chamomile tea

    A gentle calming and sedative tea made from flowers, chamomile tea can be helpful for insomnia. It can also be helpful with digestion after a meal. Huska recommends chamomile in cases of cough and bronchitis, when you have a cold or fever, or as a gargle for inflammation of the mouth. Be sure to steep it well to get all the medicinal benefits.

    Rooibos tea

    High in vitamin C as well as other minerals, rooibos has all sorts of health benefits. An easy drinking tea, it’s largely grown in South Africa and has been touted for its antioxidant properties—which may in turn help ward off disease and the signs of aging. It has also been shown to help with common skin concerns, such as eczema.

    Lemon balm tea

    An easy-to-grow plant, lemon balm is helpful for lifting the spirits. “It’s good for the winter blahs,” says Deacon, “and it can help improve concentration.” She adds that lemon balm is safe for children and may help prevent nightmares when consumed before bed. This herb also makes a refreshing iced tea, and can be flavoured with lemon or maple syrup.

    Milk thistle and dandelion tea

    When consumed as a tea, milk thistle or dandelion are gentle liver cleansers. “They help the liver to regenerate and function at a higher capacity,” says Huska. “They can also assist in the production of bile, which can help with our digestive process.”

    Rosehip tea

    Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant and are one of the best plant sources of vitamin C, which is important for the immune system, skin and tissue health and adrenal function. Consider reaching for rosehip tea next time you need a health boost.