Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Guest Blog Moment: By Todd Michael Schultz

When Todd first contacted me about a guest blog, I was very happy. It's always fun to learn from other tea enthusiasts. When I found out he wanted to write about Tulsi, I laughed. This was the second time in one day that Tulsi had come up - and the first day I had ever even heard of it! So, please enjoy learning about Tulsi from Todd of the blog Todd and Tea.

Coffee for the 21st Century: The health benefits of Tulsi (Holy Basil)
By Todd Michael Schultz


 
I want to start by saying that I am not a licensed practitioner.

I strive every day to make life better for myself and those around me. That is, in my belief, the best medicine.

Tulsi is one of the most beneficial plants I have come across as of yet. It benefits your health, stamina, and overall stability. Sold widely across the United States by a company known as Organic India, the box for the “India Breakfast” flavor, my favorite one, claims a few things: (1) Stress-relieving (2) Invigorating and (3) Contains Caffeine. This was enough to start me on starting my mornings with Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil (It is extremely Holy, in my opinion).

I didn’t know what to expect to be quite honest. I hadn’t alternated my lifestyle from a coffee-lifestyle (I’ll explain below) to a, what I now consider to be the much healthier route, tea lifestyle. First question I wanted to answer was: Will I feel well caffeinated? The answer: Yes. The second and for me at the time, equally important: Was it really stress-relieving? You bet your teapot it was.

From my research, I have found that the differences between coffee and tea are not that many: They are both grown from the earth. They both contain caffeine naturally, and they both are brewed with water. So, why was I feeling that tea was the way to go? I didn’t want to be arrogant and make this assumption, so I spent some time researching it, both empirically (or through drinking the stuff) and through some research.

Coffee uses approximately 3 to 4 times the amount of ground materials as tea, giving it a stronger caffeinated kick. While coffee has on average 80-185 mg per 8 ounces, tea has between 15-70.

That’s about it, as far as the effects are concerned. Both are said to have health benefits, and of course too much of either is not the best route. Additionally, if you are a coffee lover, I urge you to love your coffee, I’m sure it will love you back. However, consider that coffee is much intense on your system. Instead of working with your system, it forces a large amount of caffeine into it. It can work like tea if prepared properly and is drunk in moderation, however, tea, and the variety available will have you drinking more water (which will help you lose weight and balance your system) and absorbing the Earth’s beneficial gifts of herbs and spices… real vitamins, real good stuff.

Now, to put it plainly:

Here are some of the health benefits to drinking Tulsi tea: According to the Wikipedia page, Tulsi is said to have anti-oxidant, or cancer protection and repairing properties. In addition to this, it has shown heart related benefits, potential protection from radiation poisoning, protection from cataracts. It has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the glucose levels of type 2 diabetics, as well as cholesterol.

Read about it, then come to www.ToddandTea.blogspot.com and order some off my site so you can prepare yourself for your tea journey! Ten percent of proceeds will go to supporting tea causes, like this blog you’re reading right now!

Love and Tea,

Todd Michael Schultz

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Best International Tea Giveaway Moment

December arrives on Saturday. Is anyone else as shocked by this news as I am? I'm looking back over the last 8 weeks with complete gratitude for being able to say, "We survived!" There were a lot of "firsts" and a lot of moving parts these past 2 months.


My job reached a 4-week fever pitch, the likes of which I had never experienced. Gene's launched a new product category for a clothing company the exact week that I had to be at a conference for 4 days. Overlapping work travel, intense work demands, the sense for both of us that the answer to any question our companies ask of us must be, "Yes!" and then two young daughters who very much need their parents. Plus all those little necessities like grocery shopping, paying bills, filling the car with gas, scrubbing the toilet occasionally, making sure everyone has clean undies, and so on.


So with a collective effort from my out of town parents, our wonderfully wise, supportive and flexible child care provider, selfless friends and neighbors (and countless gallons of tea), we made it.


Now, I won't get silly and say that tea saved my sanity, but I will say that the luxury of the quiet tea moments helped settle my thoughts and allow me to mentally prepare for the next task. And isn't it interesting how, in moments of stress, we fall back on our comfort foods - in my case, teas - and we long for the familiar.

My "familiar" happens to be those strong black Breakfast Tea type blends. Something that, as I often describe it, kicks you in the teeth. I guess what I mean by that is that it is strong, bold, full-bodied and fortifying, and it can easily stand up to as much milk and sugar as you want to throw at it and still be taken seriously. But it's not harsh or astringent. It's smooth and rich.  I have countless favorites of this variety. There's an entire bin in my pantry devoted to these. And in the past few months a new iteration of this comfort tea was sent my way. Best International English Breakfast Tea. It was love at first sip.  Bold. Brazen, even. Just the thing to provide that comfort I crave.

And so, it is with great pleasure I'm able to announce a giveaway by Best International Tea. The winner will receive a gift package (for you, not anyone else!) of three of their loveliest tea blends: English Breakfast, Lady Londonderry and China Green Lemon & Mint. Just in time to be your  comfort before the holidays!

To enter for your chance to be selected for this giveaway, "Like" Best International Tea on Facebook. For an additional entry in the drawing, Follow them on Twitter - @onlythebesttea.  Enter by December 5th to be eligible! (Open to U.S residents only)





Monday, November 26, 2012

The Winning Moment

Congratulations to my 5 Fellow Green Tea Explorers: A.H., Jennifer S., Jenn V., Courtney P., and Glenn B.! I'm assembling the packages and will be reaching out for your mailing addresses shortly. I hope to be mailing your Green Tea Maps during the 1st week of December!
 
(If you want to be proactive and email them to me, you can find my email address on the sidebar of my blog, An International Tea Moment.)
 
For those interested in completing the journey with us, I'll be listing the green teas and the order of exploration in the next several days.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Post Thanksgiving Tea Moment


In my house, the weekend after Thanksgiving means 2 things: leftovers and football.  Over the years, I've grown to appreciate football a little more, but I'm no die-hard fan. And while Thanksgiving Day is usually reserved for family get-togethers, I enjoy the opportunity to spend some time with friends at some point too. Which leads to my idea for a Post Thanksgiving Tea.

While the guys are watching football together,  the gals who may be lesser sports fans can join me in the dining room, or even at the kitchen island, and make beautiful use of those lovely leftovers!

We can do better than this.
The Post Thanksgiving Tea

Menu:
Ever-Giving Turkey Cranberry Tea Sandwiches
Gimme-A-Ham Tea Sandwiches
Mashed Potato Rolls
Granny Smith Apple Slices
Pie in my Fridge

Recommended Teas
Romanoff - From American Tea Room. The hint of orange is the perfect compliment to fall flavors.
Dark Green Needles  - From Teasource. The earthy, nutty feel is a clean backdrop to traditional fare.
Constant Comment - Bigelow Tea. In a word: Autumn

Ever-Giving Turkey Cranberry Tea Sandwiches

Ingredients
Cranberry cream cheese:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons leftover cranberries/cranberry sauce
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, or to taste
Sandwiches:
  • 8 slices wheat bread (the thinner, the better)
  • 1 cup leftover turkey – thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
Directions
For the cranberry cream cheese, combine the cream cheese, cranberry, orange zest and salt. Do not whip.
Lay out 4 slices of bread and spread them all with a layer of cranberry cream cheese. Place a layer of turkey on half the slices, cutting the edges to fit the bread. Top with the other slices of bread, cream cheese side down.


Gimme-A-Ham Tea Sandwiches


Ingredients


  • 1 ½ cups leftover ham, finely chopped (or a few pulses in the food processor)
  • Handful of pickle slices, finely chopped )or a few pulses in the food processor)
  • 1/8 to ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Pinch kosher salt
Sandwiches:
  • 8 slices white bread (the thinner, the better)
Directions
Combine the ham, pickles, mayo and salt. Lay out 4 slices of bread and spread them all with a layer of the ham mixture. Top with the other slices of bread.
Tea Sandwich Cutting Tip:
Place sandwiches on baking sheet or large cutting board covered with parchment paper, cover with damp paper towels and wrap the sheet with plastic wrap. Refrigerate sandwiches until chilled. With the sandwiches on a cutting board cut off the crusts with a serrated knife, using a careful, sawing motion. Cut each sandwich diagonally, twice, to make 4 small triangles. Serve chilled.


Mashed Potato Rolls


Ingredients
  • 2 cups warmed leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
  • Dill (if desired)
Directions
Open can of biscuits, roll out or flatten each biscuit. Place tablespoon of potato into center of each uncooked biscuit. Sprinkle fine layer of dill over potato, if desired. Wrap dough around warm potato filling to make little biscuit pillows. Place on baking sheet. Brush with butter if desired. Bake according to directions on biscuit container. Serve with leftover gravy on the side.

Afternoon tea doesn't have to have a million components. It doesn't even have to have scones (though I love them dearly). What better way to use leftovers in a new and fun way. Who knows... maybe even the guys will swing by the table for a nosh.

 
 
 As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of American Tea Room, and they have been a wonderful mentor in my tea journey, as well as an amazing sponsor of many of my private tea events. Think of them when you begin your Christmas shopping! Support this privately owned small business. And be sure to take advantage of these :

Take 20% Off All Orders + Free Teaspoon With Orders Over $25, code BFCM20

20% Off over $150 on loose tea & Free Shipping, code GIVETEA

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Tea Cup Of Life Moment

Happy Thanksgiving! There are so many things that I'm thankful for this year. So many back stories about family, work, and more. There are many of those big things, but there are also the smaller treasures. Like tea. Today, I'm especially thankful to Lu Ann of The Cup Of Life who agreed to share some of her most treasured tea moments. As I like to say, the best tea moments are those that are shared, and I love how Lu Ann has experienced this truth in some truly lovely ways. Thanks for sharing your Tea Moments with me!

 
1. It all started with a cute, little wooden box that contained strawberry flavoured tea bags. I was seven around that time so I can't recall many details about the exact tea, I just remember it being gorgeous and the sweet aroma filled in air. As most can imagine, it was hard to stay away after just one sip. I was happy just because my mom finally let me have a cup of tea, and it was a great way to bring her and my sister together for a calm evening. Ever since then, I realized this is a beverage that brings people together, even through the most hectic days.


2. My boyfriend and I will have be dating for three years this coming Friday, Nov. 23. It started off a bit shaky at first (I said 'no' to dating him about 10 times before I caved, lol) but saying yes was one of the greatest thing I have done for my life. It wasn't until a few months into our relationship that I came over to his dorm room and noticed his stash of tea all organized nicely on the shelf. When I called him out on it he said he got more teas the night after we first spoke. I think I remember having the biggest smile on my face and feeling like I was seven all over again. Tea, once again, brought a greater connection between me and someone else. <3 Also, it helps that he's a jazz musician and plays great tunes for tea time!

Follow Lu Ann @theteacupoflife on Twitter here 



 
Would you like to share your Tea Moment? Send your story with photos to me at jen.piccotti@gmail.com
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Decadent Brioche Moment

Tomorrow is Thankgiving! I remember the first time we hosted Thanksgiving at our house a little over a decade ago. I was a nervous wreck. I had never cooked a turkey before. Heck, I didn't really cook, period. We had invited new friends to join us, so of course I wanted to impress.

Everything turned out alright. The biggest snafu was the Sweet Potato Casserole I attempted to make. I had forgotten to buy marshmallows, so I sent Gene out to try and hunt some down. The only place open was the local gas station. Amazingly, they had marshmallows. However, they were green and red. The resulting dark purple/black ooze that we discovered upon taking the casserole out of the oven was less than appetizing. But our new friends ate it anyway. It's one of our annual jokes now: "Who's making the sweet potatoes?"

The same friends are joining us tomorrow, and I'm decidedly more calm. This is despite the fact that the turkey shows no signs of defrosting, and I forgot 3 key items when I went to the war zone known as the grocery store yesterday.

Today I prep. In a leisurely fashion. And I'll do it with one of my favorite decadent teas. Brioche from American Tea Room. I normally drink my teas straight. Not today! To enjoy this cozy French Bakery-In-A-Cup to its fullest, I'm adding milk...


And sugar. (Lumps, not granules. A girl has to have standards!)


I always add milk first, then the sugar. Not for any reasons tied to etiquette or proper this or that. Simply because I love watching the ribbons of cream billow up when the sugar sinks to the bottom of my cup. Ahhh...

Alright turkey. Let's get this party started.

After I finish this luxurious cup of tea.



As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of American Tea Room, and they have been a wonderful mentor in my tea journey, as well as an amazing sponsor of my blog and tea events. Think of them when you begin your Christmas shopping! Support this privately owned small business. And be sure to take advantage of this :

Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Save 20% + Free Lemoncello Tea with Every Order - Code: BLACK20

American Tea Room Your Ultimate Tea Resource

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Green Tea Exploration Invitation


In the spirit of giving, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am going to indulge a whim that struck me this week. It was sparked by a comment that my dear friend, A.H., left on my post about Hawaiian Volcano Green. It reminded me that it was not all that long ago when I was not a fan of green tea and avoided it like the plague. It tasted like grass to me. Not the experience I was going for!

So, here's what I want to do. Because I did quite a lot of green tea exploration, I'd like to take a small group of green tea skeptics through that journey and see if they, too, may develop an appreciation for at least one or two greens. Maybe even more.

Since A.H. got the idea rolling, she is Green Tea Explorer #1. I'd like to bring along 4 more adventurous and open-minded souls. To be entered into a random drawing to be included in the Green Tea Exploration:
  1. Comment on my posting on An International Tea Moment's Facebook page here by Friday, November 23rd: on.fb.me/SNU9aZ
I won't guarantee that you'll become a Green Tea Groupie after this exploration, but you may be pleasantly surprised at the vast variety of green options out there!

I'd love to connect with you on Facebook! Click HERE to "Like" An International Tea Moment"s Facebook page.





Monday, November 19, 2012

A Blue and White Teapot Moment



I've received many tea cups and tea pots as gifts over the years, and for the most part I remember their unique story. However, I have given very few tea cups or tea pots as gifts. Reason being, I try to keep in mind that everyone has their own tastes and preferences.

There is one tea pot, though, that I did give as a gift. It was this one, and I gave it to my Mom during my early college years as I was working in a ultra-doily boutique in the mall. I had this tea pot on layaway for quite some time, and a part of my paycheck went toward it every week. It was one of those things that just had my Mom's name all over it, every time I saw it. I had to have it. For her.

Now that I live so far away from home, that tea pot is kind of a cozy landmark for me. It says "Mom" and it says "Home" to me every time I see it. With 2 little kids in tow when we do visit, there isn't as much leisure time at her house to sit and have a pot of tea, but just seeing it there is restful enough for me.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Hawaiian Volcano Green Moment



Tea Clubs are all about discovery, in my mind. And the Canton Tea Club is doing a lovely job of introducing me to things I've never experienced, and in some cases, never heard of.

Did you know Hawaii grows tea? And this week, I get to experience Hawaiian Volcano Green. One person describes it, "Like standing on a beach in Hawaii eating a piece of watermelon." For a green tea, it doesn't have a lot of that bright, grassy taste that I associate with Japanese greens. It's lighter, mellower, and would probably be a good introduction to green tea for a first timer.

Edie loved the idea of having Hawaiian tea. I think she liked even more the idea of drinking from one of my small, cast iron tea cups.

Aloha, my friends. Aloha.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Gone Til November Moment

Can I just say that I'm thrilled October is done? Please understand, autumn is my favorite time of year. However, this year October has been the most demanding work month I've ever experienced. I've had days like that. A week here or there, even. But this was day after day, intense, grinding work that required focused and contact attention. I basically had to tell the world, I'll be Gone Til November.

Okay, so I didn't fly the coop for the year, and I can totally work a 9 to 5, but I like the sound of the chorus.

So, now the it's finally November and there is occasionally a chill in the air, I'll sit with a cup of lovely Diamond Second Flush Darjeeling, from Canton Tea Club.


I've tried Darjeeling occasionally, but they often seem to be a little too mellow, not terribly robust or memorable. Not so with this one. Rich, pleasantly substantial without being astringent. For the first time, I understand why Darjeeling is sometimes referred to as the "Champagne of Teas."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A No Frills Tea Moment

I love that my friends send me text pics, emails, Facebook messages, etc. whenever they see, hear, read about or have a tea moment. It's a nice reminder about the simple pleasures in life. Like R sending me this pic from a recent flight:


"Thought of you. Southwest tea stick. Makes up for the way the stewardess looked at me when I said I brought my own tea."
 
 It does my heart good to know I'm not the only one who brings my own tea on the road.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Olive Beryl Moment

I am one of those lucky souls who knew a couple of my great-grandmothers. There was Great-Grandma Leona, (though everyone referred to her by her last name, Church) of whom I have vague recollections at her home for Sunday dinners. I remember the smell of the roast as we walked in her house and a sweet kindness that emanated from her. 

And then there was Great-Grandma Olive. Her home smelled of cigarettes, and she used curse words like "Damn," and "Hell." Shocking stuff in my world.  I loved her dearly. I especially loved her because she would tell me on a regular basis that I was a terrible baby, mischevious and difficult. This was in direct opposition to what my mom told me about my baby years, but I liked Grandma Olive's version better. I liked the idea that I was capable of being wicked.

I was named after another Great Grandma, Jenny, whom I never met. My mom and I have discussed several times my fortune in being named after that particular one. I could have been a Leona or an Olive, or (gasp) a Beryl. Even worse, if I had cruel parents, I could have been an Olive Beryl.

But I digress.

I often credit my Aunt Jane with introducing me to the world of tea, and it's true. She was the first to take me to a tea house and give me the full afternoon tea experience with tea sandwiches and scones and all the fanfare.  But it was Grandma Olive who first served me tea regularly, as though I was a grown-up.  Usually bagged Lipton, but sometimes when it was too hot outside, she'd mix up some instant iced tea that had some peach flavoring in it. Either way she served it, she let me put as many ice cubes in my mug or glass as I wanted.

I love trying new teas. I take great pleasure in tasting some of the highest quality, amazingly limited teas from exclusive gardens. But I try to never forget that the best tea moments are those that are shared. And in those great moments, the type or quality of tea is not what matters. It's simply the fact of it creating a moment to be together, to talk, to enjoy.

On today, what would have been Grandma Olive's birthday, I'm enjoying the view of my olive tree outside my window, and I'm sipping a very special tea out of one of her china tea cups that I inherited upon her passing.



And I'm once again grateful that I'm not an Olive Beryl.  Happy birthday, Grandma Olive.