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How to use Teas creatively for Festivities

It’s that time of the year again!

On the up side, it’s the coming together of family and good friends, to share in laughter, love and warmth. On the slightly down side, it can be overwhelming in terms of the demands and obligations. Then for some, there’s the added dramas and conflict that may arise from past issues that seem to surface during close reunions, especially after excessive drinks and foods as well!
So in general, I tend to classify this season as the season of excessiveness, in every sense, mental, emotional, financial and physical.
What do you think?!

This blog comes with a heartfelt Thank you for connecting with me, here and/or at the Nannup teashop. Thanks for sharing in the passion with teas. As we celebrate Christmas in our own ways, big or small, and then as we wrap up 2019, in a huge or quiet way, I’d like to also share with you how teas can still be a balancing and fun part of this season.

How to use Teas creatively for Festivities

How do you add tea to your festive season dishes and drinks? Tea doesn’t have to be just that “cuppa tea” at the end of the meal. Various teas are packed with flavours and textures that can complement your meals. Use teas creatively to add another dimension to this season.

🌿 Add teas to your favourite spirit and invent a new mixed drink or better still, whip up a tea cocktail e.g. try cold Earl Grey with your vodka and orange, or Lapsang souchong with a touch of rum and soda!

🌿 Make a tea punch with added cut fresh fruits in the mix with our Berries of the Forest tea. Add strawberry pieces, blueberries or watermelon pieces.
Or for the ginger lovers, a Lemon and Ginger tea punch with lots of added spices and cinnamon scrolls and fennel fronds floating of the surface. Add a splash of your favourite alcoholic spirit for the punch. Be creative.

🌿 Make jugs of beautiful iced tea with Honeybush, Honeybush Florals, Rooibos, Caramel Rooibos, Vanilla Rooibos, Berries or Lemon and Ginger tea as a delicious alternative to sugary drinks. Or basically with any of your favourite tea, as iced teas. Generally when making iced teas, brew the tea to double or triple the strength (i.e. use double the amount of leaves) then let them sit to cool, overnight if possible, for the flavours to soak into itself. Then bottle and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Add ice cubes and slices of lemon and fresh mint leaves and voila, you’ve got the yummiest freshest thirst quencher for our hot summery Christmas.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, nothing beats a freshly brewed hot pot of Chai and Chai Latte for your cold Christmas. Add extra fresh cloves and cinnamon, and they are the vibes of Christmas indeed.

🌿 Teas hot or cold can be paired with various foods just like wines (for those who don’t drink alcohol or are a designated driver). They complement the flavours of your foods by cleansing your palate and add another balancing note, while helping wash down your scrumptious festive meals. Generally,

Green teas go well with lighter dishes like salads, fish, chicken, rice, noodles, etc.
Black teas from Ceylon OP to Black Assam go well with red meats and venison, and light spices.
Smoky teas like Lapsang Souchong  and Russian Caravan complements spicy Indian, Mexican and Moroccan dishes.
Herbal tisanes are beautiful as after dinner drinks or in between meals (cleanses and detoxes). Excellent as rehydration as well, to help pace out the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

* Stronger black teas like Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and smoky Lapsang Souchong (with or without a dash of milk) are lovely after dinner with cheeses and desserts. Or if you’re a green tea lover like myself, robust Gunpowder Green, China Green or a lighter Jasmine Green. Green teas help metabolise fats, excellent after a heavy meal.
If you’re intolerant to caffeine, Berries of the Forest, Honeybush and Rooibos are perfect either by themselves or to go with your sweets.

🌿 Scatter teas onto your fresh and cooked foods for that added flavour, texture and colour. After all Tea is the noble herb. They are dried plants with goodness and flavour packed in.

Festive season doesn’t have to be an over indulgence on inflammatory and acidic excess. It’s a season to enjoy good company, catchups and share love with close family and friends.

As you party fully but gently, you’ll be able to have plenty of energy left to nurture yourself at the last hours of 31st Dec 2019. You’ll be able to sip and relax while reflecting on what’s gone and going, and the exciting unknown to come. Your mind, body and soul will thank you. As you take care of them, they will rightly take care of you too! For many vibrant years to come.

Until next year, have a safe, merry, enjoyable and meaningful holiday festive season to you and yours, beautiful tea lovers! With tea sunshine and love to you and yours!
Hop on to our Store and get your teas and refills, and get creative!
We’ll love to hear about it.

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Kombucha Making

What is this Kombucha aka the Elixir of life?

You may have heard about Kombucha.
Or maybe you’re already an experienced brewer of this home made fermented tea.
So what is this Kombucha aka the Elixir of life? Is it as amazing as it’s claimed to be? Why is it sweeping the country like a storm? Producers of bottled kombuchas are making record sales, seems like it’s the new fashionable drink. In a way, that’s good news. Way better than those sugar laden, artificially flavoured and full of preservatives carbonated soft drinks. 

The good news too, is you can go buy yourself a bottle of Kombucha from the shops, or…
you can try brewing your own! It’s dead easy. If you’re new to Kombucha and can’t wait to get started, here’s some information and the recipe:

Kombucha is an ancient Chinese tonic and health elixir, a fermented tea that you can easily brew yourself at home. You’ll need to get yourself a starter culture called a SCOBY (acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). You may be able to purchase a Scoby or adopt it from a friend. Local health food stores or yoga studios often have notices on the board with fellow kombucha brewers offering free scobys. Most kombucha makers are happy to give away scobys for free as each batch of kombucha produces a baby scoby, and before you know it, they just multiply with more than you need!

Apart from tasting great, they’re fun to brew, super wholesome and healthy. Kombucha is a probiotic tea that’s long been used and known for strengthening your immune system, maintaining and healing your digestive system, and restoring life energy.

Method:

  1. Brew 2 litres of organic black or green tea. A couple of my favourites are the smooth Ceylon (OP) or robust Organic China Green Tea with filtered/natural spring water in teapots. 
  2. Add ½ cup of raw organic sugar (or rice malt if you’re intolerant to sugar), stirring gently. Leave to cool to room temperature. Then pour into big storage jar/bottle.
  3. Pop in the Scoby and cover the top with a muslin/cheese cloth and tie. Sit it in a cool dark part of the kitchen or in your pantry for 7-10 days to ferment.
  4. After 7-10 days pour the tea out of the container into bottles, keep the mother Scoby and share away the baby Scoby if you wish. Or keep them both with a bit of residual tea, for making your next double batch. Or you may keep scobys in container and serve straight from there. When the tea gets low, make a new batch of tea and add straight into the brewing container to top up.
  5. If the brew tastes too strong, you may dilute it 50% with filtered water, ice blocks, soda water or pure fruit juice. You may also add slices of fruits or lemon or lime. However it will affect the original flavour of the tea. Kombucha tea has to be served cold, cool or at room temperature. Do not heat it up or you will destroy all the valuable probiotics.

    IMPORTANT:

    Do not use metal utensils in any part of the kombucha making processes. Use a wooden spoon to stir, ceramic or glass teapots and glass containers etc.

    If the Scoby gets mouldy (quite rare but does happen) discard the whole batch. Mould appears hairy and on the top surfaces of the Scoby. 

    Not to be mistaken with some brown discolouration on the Scoby or stringy bits in the tea or Scoby. They’re not mould but the probiotic bacteria, the good stuff!

    Click here to watch the short video of the making

Try it if you haven’t, and share your Kombucha experiences in the comments section below. Or is you’re already an experienced brewer, perhaps you may have some handy tips to share too!

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Trip to the Japanese Greens

If you connect with me on social media, you’d know I’ve recently just returned from a trip to Japan for my daughter’s wedding. An absolutely perfect time filled with emotions as you watch your beautiful grown-up offspring officially tie the knot. Apart from being a personal trip, my Japanese connections have also taken me to visit some of the most original tea plantations in Japan.

Trip to the Japanese Greens it was astounding to watch and be among the beautifully tailored plantations in the Wazuka region, south of Kyoto, where some of the best Japanese Sencha and Matcha come from. The farms are still small and family owned, and they choose to keep it that way, in order to maintain the exclusive high quality of their boutique level teas. I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with the farmers and watched how they harvested the teas with their hand held machines, that ensured only the youngest leaves are picked and blown into a collection bag without damaging the leaves.

Then we also had the privilege of experiencing a traditional Japanese Tea ceremony. It was lovely to be the guest instead of the host, as I do when conducting my Tea ceremonies at Tiny Tea Shop.

Check out September’s post on Green Teas if you wish to learn more about the difference between China Greens and Japanese Sencha and Matcha. Notice how the Japanese tea plantations are pruned and shaped. Just like everything Japanese, they pride in training and precision. Not unlike their skills and traditions in the art of bonsai, gardening, flower arrangement, cloud pruning, martial arts, ceramics and tea ceremony. The list is endless.

Keeping everything controlled and concise partly because of the less availability of suitable terrains, as opposed to expansive tea terrains in large countries like India and China. Also, by controlling their compactness, it ensures that the tea plants can be precisely monitored to produce the exact quality of harvest. Japanese tea farmers and drinkers are discerning hence very precise in the standard of teas that they want. The history of teas trace way back to the Shogun and Samurai days.

On a quick note, I was also greatly surprised with the popularity of Japanese Hojicha. What is Hojicha? It’s the roasted twigs and stems of the Sencha. As such it’s non-caffeinated. Tastes divine, and it’s a favourite brew in our household as an evening relaxing drink to wind down from the day. Like everything else Japanese, it’s roasted green flavour fills your tastebuds with delight into relaxation. Complements well with all sorts of foods and cheeses too. Plus like matcha, works amazing when used in desserts and cakes. More on Hojicha in future blogs.

I’m very happy to say that Tiny Tea Shop now stocks a very small range of exceptionally high quality Japanese Sencha and Matcha that come from farms and farmers that I know live up to the quality that is the best. They are in the higher price range, but we also stock some excellent Japanese Sencha and Hojicha that are affordable. Chat with me if you’re ever in the shop, or email me if you wish to order or have any queries.

Till next time, don’t forget to check your tea pantry for needed refills. Click onto our Online Store or message me with your orders if the tea you want isn’t yet on the online store.
This month also sees us into the countdown toward Christmas. What better than the gift of love through beautiful teas for the special people in your life who love teas! Stay posted for upcoming Christmas Specials.

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Nannup Forest Fresh – House Blend 1

Tea lover: Where do you get all your teas from?

Me: Teas come from where they’re grown. Generally most black teas come from India, Sri Lanka, Darjeeling, some from China. Green teas from China and Japan. Rooibos and Honeybush from South Africa, Yerba mate from South America. Herbs from everywhere, as long as they’re certified organic or pesticide free.

Tea lover: Do you import them all?

Me: No. I have suppliers with proper licenses who take care of that, some teas are also grown in Australia but they need to be regulated. I don’t and can’t retail teas and herbs from my backyard, or my friends’ backyards, because they need to be approved for public food consumption. The only teas here that I deal direct with the farmers are the local teas, Southern Forest Green Sencha and Southern Forest Lemon Myrtle. I have also blended these two super fresh local produce into a stunning refreshing and uplifting blend which I’ve named Nannup Forest Fresh, because it simply smells like our southwest forest, and embodies the calmness of nature in this part of our world.

Tea lover: So what is this Nannup Forest Fresh? What is this green Sencha and Lemon Myrtle blend?

Tea lover: What is Sencha?

Me: Sencha is green tea, that has been processed the Japanese way. Green teas are non oxidised teas as opposed to oxidised teas like the blacks (both greens and blacks are leaves from the same species, the Camelia sinensis). To prevent oxidation, the Japanese tend to steam the leaves, producing a flatter, glossier texture, and smooth brew with grassy notes. The Chinese tend to pan fry (dry) or oven dry their leaves to prevent the oxidation. For these reasons the greens are higher in antioxidants than black teas. Also for these reasons, green teas are more delicate hence should be brewed using off-boiled water only (70-80’C). Lemon myrtle is a native Australian plant (Backhousia citriodora) with a sweet and fresh lemon scented aroma rich with beneficial health properties.

Tea lover: So this local blend is grown and processed here? The Lemon Myrtle too?

Me: Yes. Ron and Maria Kemp own and run the tea farm in Northcliff and Sarah and Simon Green own and run the Southern Forest Honey in Nannup, but they also grow Lemon Myrtle. Both are licensed producers.

Tea lover: Can I purchase the Sencha and Lemon myrtle individually?

Me: You most certainly can.

Tea lover: Oh but the Nannup Forest Fresh blend smells so divine!

Me: Yes it does. Tastes divine too! That’s the purpose of blending. Blending produces a more powerful effect, both in flavours, textures and properties. Not all single teas can or should be blended. Some, it would be criminal to blend them. Some however, complement each other in a  blend. This blend has the refreshing and uplifting Lemon Myrtle that’s excellent for your immune, respiratory and nervous system, along with the antioxidant packed super fresh Sencha straight from the local fields.

So beautiful tea lovers, if you still haven’t tried it, this month’s Featured Tea blend, Nannup Forest Fresh, is one of our best sellers. They can’t come any fresher than this. When I receive them from the farmers, often it’s literally like they’ve just been picked and dried. The aroma of freshness that wafts out of the bags as I open them and then blend them, makes me feel so fortunate to live in this beautiful region.

How to brew this blend: Brew at about 70-80’C  (or let boiled water in the kettle sit to cool for about 2mins) before pouring into your teapot or mug.

Steep time: Green Sencha is best enjoyed with shorter steep time and more rounds. Experience the tea developing itself in flavour, texture, colour, notes and aroma. Never let any brew of green tea or sencha sit in a teapot for hours. Boiling water and over brewing will scorch and burn the delicate leaves and suck all the tannins out, making it bitter. Maximum steep time should only be about 2mins. If you’re brewing the Eastern way (gongfu style) use smaller teapot and cups, brew up to 8 rounds with only 10-20 seconds steep time for each round.

When is it best to drink this tea: Green sencha contains caffeine as much as it’s packed with antioxidants, so if you’re hypersensitive to caffeine, avoid during the latter part of the day. Otherwise this blend can be drunk anytime , anywhere. It’s uplifting so in the morning, it’ll help you begin your day with a smile and a skip. Or at mid day when you need a little lift, or in the evening (if you’re not sensitive to caffeine) when you need a little lift after a wearing day.

For more information on how to brew different sorts of of teas perfectly, don’t forget to download your Free Teas Cheatsheet by entering your email in the box on any page. Get your first tea order discount code as well, and get trying some of the awesome teas many are already enjoying.

Then drop a note in the box below or on Tiny Tea Shop’s social media pages and share your experience! Love to hear about it!

Anti Anxiety Blend pot

Problems with sleeping or relaxing?

My youngest daughter, often wise beyond her age, had said to me once, “Aaah… it’s so simple Mum, a good sleep makes you feel like a million dollars”

Indeed! The best things in life are often free. It might sound very cliche, but a good night’s sleep, sunshine and fresh air can often change our perspective in life. Big, seemingly unsurmountable mountains of worries, tension and anxiety becomes less of a mountain and at times, even diminishes into a shrug.

Problems with Sleep and Relaxing

Do you have problems with sleeping and relaxing? 
Do you function on overdrive or are edgy all the time?
Do your eyes ping open at 3am and your mind races at a hundred miles?
Do you wake up tired and exhausted in the mornings?

Eastern Wisdom of Tea and Life

The fact is, we live in an anxious world. Our pace of life these days isn’t as it used to be, even just a decade ago. Statistics are showing that at least 1 in 5 people live in a constant state of anxiety or stress in our Western world today.

There’s an Eastern wisdom of Wu Wei which reminds us of the art of non-doing. It doesn’t mean being lazy nor passive but simply allowing and being. Trusting life’s own process. Stop, pause, breathe…

Water that’s murky and turbulent will eventually settle. Once the currents have slowed, the sediments settle to the bottom. The water naturally becomes clearer, and clarity reveals itself. You will have more energies to get stuff done and the mind will be clearer for solutions to arise. A good night’s sleep might just break the vicious cycle of murky turbulence and get you back on track.

Simply the ritual of making and drinking tea allows the parasympathetic relaxation response to kick into your system. Added to that, the naturally occurring theanine compound in tea starts to add all sorts of health benefits to your mind and body.

Hence, it led to my creating the Tiny Tea Shop’s Houseblend 5 Anti Anxiety Blend or as some customers have nicknamed it, the Chill Out Blend! Though it wasn’t meant to knock you out totally but simply to help bring you down gently from a hyper, over activated state, some customers have reported that the blend does knock them out for a good night’s deep sleep. So it doubles as an excellent sleep tea blend as well, if you’re already quite exhausted!

What’s in the Blend?

Beautiful Chamomile blossoms are packed with flavonoids and polyphenols which provides extensive medicinal antiinflammatory and antioxidative properties to aid various imbalances, but in this blend it’s sedative effect is powerful in helping calm the nervous system.

Synergistically blended with another powerful plant called Tulsi (aka Tulasi, Sacred Basil or Vrinda) from the Himalayas, it multiplies the calming and relaxing effect for your mind and body. Tulsi has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the healing of all sorts of ailments, known as The Mother of Herbs, but also now getting known as one of the most powerful anti-stress herbs or adaptogen. It’s a powerful immune stimulant and cortisol balancer that adapts to your physical, mental, emotional and environmental stresses but also helps to repair the damages caused by these various stresses.

The entire blend is then balanced out in texture, flavour and notes with the added antioxidative and tonifying effect with a glaze of Flat Oolong.

The result is a delicious blend as an evening tea as you unwind from the day, or to help break the stress cycle, and nurture you into a better night’s sleep. The entire blend is certified organic.

Try it out for yourself and let us know in the comments below how you go.
Don’t forget to use your First Tea Order discount Code by joining our Tiny Mail list, and get your Tea Cheatsheet on how to properly brew your teas.

Click here to order your Anti Anxiety Blend

Disclaimer: Tiny Tea Shop teas and tea blends are curated for recreational consumption and as a healthy complement to your lifestyle. It’s not meant as a cure. If you suffer from chronic sleep disorders, anxiety or other health issues, please consult your qualified health and medical physician. Our teas are not meant as a replacement but a complement.

TEABATH1

Have you ever had a Tea Bath for health?

Have you ever had a tea bath for health and rejuvenation?!

Cleopatra was renowned for having milk baths…

Well, you may have a milk bath too if you wish, but I highly recommend a Tea bath! Tea leaves brewed into a bathful of antioxidants along with other therapeutic goodness of epsom salts and essential oils.

What better than a relaxing nice long soak in a hot bath on a cold winter night (for us it’s winter right now down under) or if it’s summer where you are, fill your bath up with cool water. Then lie back, breathe in the aromas of pure essential oils as they soak into your pores while you chill out and sip on a fresh cup of tea as well! Add some soft music in the background and a few lit candles and you can’t help but relax into a world of bliss. 

Mind you, this isn’t limited to just us women-folk, you men-folk fully deserve a rejuvenating bath as well. Or better still, if you’ve got an intimate loved one, soak together for a romantic night.

When was the last time you nurtured yourself?

Any of Tiny Tea Shop’s teas can be brewed and added to the bath. Or place a generous handful onto a muslin cloth, and tie it up with a rope or string, then dunk it into the bath while you soak.

Or try some of Tiny Tea Shop’s artisan handmade soap and shampoo bars, made from our very own blends, with pure essential oils and all natural ingredients. They work beautifully for both your body and hair, without the need for conditioners. While you nurture your skin and hair, Mother Nature will thank you for eliminating the use of plastic bottles and containers.

Soak in a bath while you sip on your favourite tea or try showering with a tea soap and shampoo bar, and let me know what you think!