Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pu Erh -- A tea worth waiting for

Dr. Oz mentioned Pu Erh tea on a broadcast this past week... This made it a very busy Pu Erh week in the shop ... So what is Pu Erh?

Pu Erh (pronounced "POO-ar" or POO-Er... POO-AIR is okay too) comes from Yunnan province in China, which is considered to be the birthplace of tea, and traditionally is harvested from ancient wild trees rather than hip-high bushes. Unlike other varieties of tea, it is harvested throughout the year with no particular season as the trees do not require the dormant period required by Camelia sinensis bushes. The processing of Pu Erh is much like that of black tea, but with a few differences. The tea is only partially fired, allowing some moisture to remain in the leaves. The leaves are then piled or sometimes pressed into a cake form. The natural bacterium on the leaves creates a reaction similar to that of a compost pile. The tea is then aged in special underground rooms or caves, adding to its unique earthy character.

Pu Erh is the only tea that is intentionally aged. This aging process causes the tea to take on an earthy aroma. The taste is often different than the aroma. Typically, the longer the tea is aged, the smoother its flavor. Many give this tea credit for restoring and maintaining good health.

Since the time of the Tang Dynasty, Chinese have drunk this tea after rich meals to ``cut the grease’’. In the 1970's Chinese doctors in Kunming reported clinical experiments in which drinking pu erh was shown to lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream. French researchers at St. Antoine Hospital in Paris duplicated these results with 500 hyperlipidemia patients (individuals with advanced cholesterol conditions) and found that three cups of Pu Erh a day for a month brought lipids down 25 percent in those drinking Pu Erh, while those drinking other teas showed no significant change. These tests further showed Pu Erh performed at least as well as the most advanced medicine for the purpose, without the drug's side effects.

It has since been shown to help reduce body weight by increasing the metabolism. Many report that drinking it after meals relieves any overstuffed feelings and aids digestion. A in-shop 2 week study at SensibiliTeas showed that 3 cups a day with no other changes to diet or lifestyle, resulted in a slow, steady weight loss, and an average cholesterol of 60 points. Participants also saw a reduction in C-reactive protein levels. (participants were required to have a physical before and after the study)

  • Aids digestion
  • May help reduce cholesterol levels
  • May assist with weight loss efforts
  • May reduce blood alcohol levels
  • May increase metabolism
  • May reduce C-reactive protein levels
Pu Erh is available in various forms at SensibiliTeas. I have a few Pu Erh cakes, but our best seller is Immortal Nectar ... a Pu Erh harvested in 1997. I also have it in other loose leaf variets, including a Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu Erh and a Strudel Pu Erh (Pu Erh with cinnamon, vanilla & mint) the form of Tuo Cha (handformed into the shape of a tiny birds nest) , or loose but packed into mandarin oranges.

Pu Erh, due to its aging, is different than any other tea you'll ever drink. It's bold but never bitter. It's earthy, but smooth. It's fabulous with spicy food, and a hit with those trying to switch to tea from coffee. Proven to do all it's advertised to do ... it's certainly worth a try!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

22 February 2012
Source: The Sunday (London) Times

As few as three cups of black tea a day will cut cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and reduce chances of a heart attack.

The research backing these claims appeared in the journal Nutrition Bulletin. A 12-week study of 87 volunteers, financed by the industry backed Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), showed three cups of tea a day led to a significant improvement in various cardiovascular risk factors.

Researchers found two or more cups protect against type 2 diabetes. Results were similar, with or without milk.

The benefits are attributed to the 150- to 200-mg of flavonoids in tea are equivalent to five portions of vegetables and may be the best delivery of antioxidants.

Nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton, who co-authored the review reports tea’s active ingredients control inflammation, reduce excess blood clotting, promote blood vessel function and reduce clogging in arteries.

“There is far more to the nation's favorite drink than we realize,” reports Ruxton. “With its antioxidant flavonoids, black tea packs a powerful punch with many health benefits particularly for the heart. And recent studies show that the flavonoids work their magic whether or not we choose to add milk.”

“Chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes are associated with inflammatory processes and the presence of excessive pro-oxidant free radicals in the body,” according to TAP’s Dr. Tim Bond, “The proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of black tea flavonoids may therefore be responsible for the positive health effects of black tea.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Away for a while ...

Hiatus from blog updates for now. Cut my finger pretty bad and typing is difficult. All blooming teas are on sale 50% off (reg. $3.00/today $1.50) All ``love teas'' 50% off -- Valentine, Forget-Me-Not Rooibos, Essence D'amour, Rose-Kissed Jasmine, Kashmiri Rose, Violet Rose, Amore ... sale runs through Tuesday.

Shop will be open Tuesday - Friday 11am-5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm regardless of my silly injury.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday's Rooibos -- Lime Ginger Green Rooibos

Lime Ginger Green Rooibos

The dry and pleasant flavor of West Indian Lime gives our Lime Ginger Green Rooibos a unique, zesty citrus flavor swirled with notes of ginger. The unique flavor of this rare lime variety is thirst-quenching and known to enhance circulation and immunity. Get the juices flowing with this stimulating yet caffeine-free blend of antioxidant-rich and longevity-enhancing botanicals.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday's Flavored tea -- Açaí Berry Black

No website link to this one because it has just arrived in the shop!
Totally yummy hot or iced!
Premium India black tea plays beautifully with the rich flavor of the açaí berry.

Please note, this tea does not carry all the benefits of the açaí berry, and the tea simply carries a açaí berry flavor, but that doesn't mean it's not good for you!

Sorry for the short blog ... blog writer has writers cramp ... Hmm... do I have a tea for that? Checking ...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thursday's Herbal Tisane -- Honeybush

Honeybush (scientific name Cyclopia genistoides; Family: Fabaceae), or 'Heuningbos' in Afrikaans, is commonly used to make an infusion in the same manner as tea. It grows only in a small area in the southwest of South Africa and shares many similarities with rooibos.
The leaves of the bush are harvested, bruised, and left in the sun to oxidize. The resulting product is then boiled or steeped like tea to make a beverage that is enjoyed both hot and cold.
South Africa's Univeristy of the Free State found Honeybush an effective aid for constipation and a mild relaxant.
Honeybush contains virtually no caffeine (< 0.01% compared to 3.3% in ceylon tea), and is low in tannin (0.45% compared to 30% in ceylon tea). Tannin inhibits absorption of minerals.
Some of the active compounds present in Honeybush include:

Cinnamic acids
Non-Phenolic metabolites

  • Caffeine-free
  • Very low tannin levels
  • It is very soothing and calms the central nervous system
  • Eases constipation
  • Can be applied topically to skin irritations
  • Full of antioxidants to guard against free radical attack
  • Contains polyphenols that boost the immune system and to help reduce the degenerative effects of lifestyle diseases
  • Rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and sodium
  • Contains isoflavones and coumestans that are known to prevent breast, prostate and uterine cancers, osteoporosis and high cholesterol
  • The flavones and isoflavones of Honeybush are similar to those of soy, and are similarly helpful when used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
  • Staves off hunger pangs
  • Reduces water retention
Downsides of Honeybush
None whatsoever as no negative side effects ever reported therefore Honeybush can be drunk freely. If Honeybush is brewed or boiled for longer than ten minutes, the antioxidant activity becomes much higher.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wednesday's Oolong -- Da Hong Pao

Dà Hóng Páo 大红袍
Also known as "Big Red Robe", Dà Hóng Páo is an important Wuyi Oolong tea. According to legend, the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor was cured of an illness by a certain tea, and that emperor sent great red robes to clothe the four bushes from which that tea originated. Three of these original bushes, growing on a rock on Mount Wuyi and reportedly dates back to the Song Dynasty, still survive today and are highly venerated. At one point, less than one kilogram of tea was harvested from these plants each year, of which a portion was retained by the Chinese government. In 2005, Da Hong Pao was known to sell for $30,000 kilogram (2.2 pounds)
Dà Hóng Páo is also one of the ten famous teas of China.

Not yet on the website, but available at the shop or via phone/email order, and at a much better price.

Da Hung Pao yields a golden yellow liquid that produces a pleasant long lasting aftertaste. Multiple infusions strongly encouraged.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tuesday's White Tea -- Baihao Yinzhen

Baihao Yinzhen

白毫银针 Baihao Yinzhen is a white tea produced in Fujian Province in China. Amongst white teas this is one of the most expensive varieties and the most prized, as only top buds (leaf shoots) are used to produce the tea. Genuine Baihao Yinzhen is made from cultivars of the Da Bai (Large White) tea tree family. It is important to point out that there are other productions that look similar with downy leaf shoots but most are green teas, and as green teas, they taste differently and have a different biochemical potency than the genuine white tea Baihao Yinzhen.

Baihao Yinzhen is also considered to be one of the 10 famous teas of China.

This tea consists of uniform buds that have yet to open into leaves. The dry leaves have a silky texture from the fine white hairs (bai hao) that cover each shoot. The flavor is unmistakable and long lasting -- somewhat buttery or nutty. The aftertaste is astringent and satisfying. This is among the rarest and most spectacular of the white teas. Early in the spring, the individual leaf buds are picked and carefully handcrafted into this noteworthy tea. Infuse in a glass to enjoy the dance of the green leaf bud spears. Packed with antioxidants and low in caffeine - a very healthy tea. This of the highest grade and was grown near Fuding, in northern Fujian.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Monday's Green tea -- Longjng


Long ago, around 250 AD, in the Hangzhou region of the Zhejiang province of ancient China, a small town of poor tea farmers was feeling the tense grip of a great drought. With no rain, the leaves of the ancient tea plants began to yellow and fall to the cracking soil. Days went on -- no sign of rain. A town meeting was held to discuss their fate.

A Taoist priest selected a young man to climb to the top of a nearby mountain. They were told by their great-great grandparents that an old water dragon had once built a nest. Prayers to the dragon would deliver the town from sure ruin.

For three arduous days the young man climbed the precarious incline, sleeping only enough to shake off the drowsiness. Early on the fourth day he climb one more peak and then it saw it! He rushed to the top of the mountain, excited to have finally found the dragon! His town would now be saved! But alas, all he found was an collapsed ancient shrine made of rocks he had not seen before, and a dark empty well.

No dragon was to be found.

Overwhelmed by disbelief, the disheartened young man fell to the ground, kneeling to the shrine. All day and all night the young man lay upon the broken altar praying that his town be saved from the clutches of the drought. Soon he could keep his eyes open no longer. His dreams held the images of a great beast that swirled in the clouds, gathering them together and swirling them in a frenzy. The clouds change from a pillowy white to a dark, gloomy gray.

Soon he was awoken by the heavy drops that quickly soaked his clothes. He climbed to the highest peak and saw that both the mountain and his arid town below were drenched with a life-saving rain. He walked to the well beside the altar and noticed that it was now full, and he was delighted and mystified to see the different layers of water seeming to swirl round and around each other, like a dragon chasing his own tail.

He returned to his village to find that his prayers had saved the tea crops.

He never spoke to any of his fellow villagers of his dreams or what he witnessed on that high mountain peak, but every year he returned to the summit to pray at the broken altar. Every year he noticed, even as his bones grew brittle and his body weak, that the well next to the shrine never seemed to lose any water, and the swirling layers moved endlessly as the dragon endeavored to catch that tail.

As he became on old man, and he knew he time on the earth would be soon ending, he passed his story along to his many grandchildren. Annually, they would take the trip up the mountain to pay homage to the altar and the well with the water dragon, which became known as the Long Jing, or Dragon Well.

Other legends hold that:

1) When locals were digging the well found a stone shaped like a dragon and so they named the well Dragon Well. (kinda boring, huh?)

2) The well’s water is particularly dense. After rainstorms, the lighter rain water floats on the surface of the water and exhibits a twisting pattern which resembles the long and sinuous bodies of Chinese dragons. (a little more exciting, but I like the longer story better...)

And now ... about the tea!

First ... where is it grown

There are a lot of non-authentic Dragonwell teas available on today's market. Authentic Long Jing or Dragon Well tea comes from the area around West Lake in the Hangzhou regions of the Zhejiang province in southern China, an area held in the embrace of many hills and mountains peaks. This area is celebrated as ‘paradise on earth,’ a water wonderland, and a favorite imperial retreat. These high peaks keep cold air sweeping from north from reaching the tender and delicate Longjing tea growing in low-lying areas. So your Longjing green Chinese tea matured in a warm climate with a pleasant average temperature of about 61°F. The best Long Jing is from Lion Mount.

Throughout the year, the warm weather brings almost 5 feet of rainfall to the area. And almost 100% humidity makes clouds and fog that keep the burning sunlight from destroying the tender buds of the Longjing Chinese tea.

There is also a unique sandy soil on these hills. The white, porous earth is excellent at draining water and contains rich amounts of vital minerals like silicon and kalium for this special Chinese tea. Luxurious silks also come from this region, as the soil and climate are perfect for growing mulberry, the sole food of silkworms.

What does it look like?

It is easily recognized by it's The present-day flat shape of Dragon Well Tea is said to have something to do with Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Legend has it (Yes ... another legend!) that on one of his inspection tours to Hangzhou, Emperor Qianlong disguised himself as an ordinary man and came to the Hugong Temple at the foot of Shifeng Mountain near Dragon Well Village. An old monk served him some Dragon Well Tea of the West Lake. After drinking it, Emperor Qianlong instantly felt refreshed and fell in love with the sweet-smelling tea. “Sparrow-shaped leaves and subtle aromas, trickling down my throat like a pleasant breeze'' he noted in one of his poems. And so he personally picked some tea leaves and hurriedly placed inside his pocket to bring them back to the capital city.

After the long journey, the tender tea leaves were pressed flat but still greatly praised by the empress dowager. Emperor Qianlong therefore deemed the tea to be "imperial tea" and ordered the annual supply of tea leaves be baked flat exclusive enjoyment of the empress dowager. Or so the legend goes ... The flat shape of Dragon Well tea is generally believed to be influenced by Dafang tea of neighboring Anhui area in the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

And how does it taste?

It is said to be known for its four wonders ... its emerald green color, aromatic flavor, sweet taste and beautiful appearance. It's taste is mellow, refreshing, slightly sweet and perhaps finishing a bit nutty. It has an exquisite lingering fragrance.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Sunday's Black Tea -- American Breakfast

American Breakfast Tea

Origin: India, China, Sri Lanka and Taiwan

Traditionally, a breakfast tea is a hearty tea that will easily stand up to the addition of milk and sugar. This tea is a little more tantalizing. Made from tea leaves from India, China, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. It is full-bodied, malty and has a bright amber cup, but has a delicate flowery bouquet. Perfect as is or nicely complemented by the addition of milk, lemon or sugar, it's the perfect cup to start your day. So ... what do you want to do today? 212° 1 level teaspoon tea per 8 ounces water; steep for 3-5 minutes.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday's Rooibos -- Jamaican Flower Rooibos

Jamaican Flower Rooibos

Origin: South Africa

Description: Organic Hibiscus Sabdariffa is more commonly known as "Jamaica Flower". The tart and deep flavor of hibiscus blends well with the refreshing and healthful nature of rooibos. This blend has a deep red infusion with a strong and fruity body that finishes with complex notes of mango, passionfruit and island spices. Contains Organic/Fair Trade rooibos, hibiscus, honeybush, lemongrass, schizandra berries, rosehips, licorice root, orange peel, and flavors of passionfruit, orange, tangerine, mango and clove. Great hot or iced. 212° 1 level teaspoon tea per 8 ounces water; steep for 3-5 minutes. Organic and Fair Trade.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Friday's flavored black tea -- Cardamom


Origin: India

Description: A treat popular in Eastern Africa. Black tea artfully blended with cardamom creates a brew that is warmly sweet with lemony undertones. An excellent choice for an upset stomach. 212° 1 level teaspoon tea per 8 ounces water; steep for 3-5 minutes. Organic.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thursday's herbal tisane -- Kapha


Origin: Various

Description: In Ayurvedic principles, your Kapha is said to be similar to clay (elements of water and earth). It helps to hold our constitution together and provides structure, fluid balance, endurance and strength. It is the slow, stable, calming, sweet and cold aspect of the self and governs our resistance to disease and promotes self healing. Kapha imbalance can have some of the following indicators: easily congested, lethargic, difficulty waking up in the morning when under stress, slow digestion. When Kapha is in balance, the mind is peaceful and settled and your body feels full of energy and strength. Our Ayurvedic Kapha herbal tea will help restore balance to your kapha energy. A delicious spicy-warm combination of lemon balm, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black peppercorns. 212°F 1-2 level teaspoons tea per 8 ounces water; steep for 3-5 minutes. Multiple infusions possible. Caffeine-free. Organic.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday's Oolong -- Formosa Beauty

Formosa Beauty

Origin: Taiwan

Description: The island of Taiwan was previously known as Formosa, which is Latin for Beauty. This tea is commonly referred to as Oriental Beauty, as designated by Queen Elizabeth II, this tea is similar in taste and appearance to a first flush Darjeeling. This Taiwanese tea's flavor is fruity, rich and smooth, perhaps even a touch sweet. This is also known as Pong Fong tea (in Taiwanese, which means to brag), Puff tea, and Eastern Beauty. Formosa Beauty is great for multiple infusions -- it's complexity unfolds with each brewing. While other dark oolongs are a perfect match to grilled foods, this one is an especially nice complement to duck. 212°F 1-2 level teaspoon tea per 8 ounces water; steep for 5 minutes.