News and Announcements
The more tea-drinking years I get under my belt, the more difficult it is to find a flavor like I’ve never had before, especially when it comes to herbals. Now, don’t get me wrong, tea friends– I have lots of excellent, interesting blends filling my cabinets. But when something is as simple as this peppermint lemongrass blend from Old Barrel Tea Co, I don’t necessarily expect for it to knock my socks off. Consider me proven wrong. As far as I can tell, this herbal from Old Barrel isn’t chemical, nothing added or artificial, just herbs in all their glory– Read More
We’ll begin with the statement that every human body is different. The processes and mechanisms that run it are complex, and we should be informed enough to understand at least the general rules that govern our bodily functions and development. Some people seem not to mind what they eat and when they train, and their muscles can grow in just a few months. Others find getting a few pounds of muscle mass very difficult.
How, when, and why do our muscles grow? If you want to build up some muscle mass, don’t go running straight to the gym, but grasp the foundations that contribute to muscle growth. Proper nutrition and training routines, efficient muscle contractions, and consuming certain minerals that promote protein synthesis (such as ones found in tea, which we will talk about later) stimulate the release of anabolic hormones that encourage muscle hypertrophy. Ancient exercise techniques and an ancient beverage can make an enormous difference.Workouts
One of the key factors for building muscle mass is the quality of your strength training. Performing strength training for all major muscle groups at least 2 times per week is advised. It will give you more strength, help you look more toned, so you don’t look like a flabby skinny guy after you lose the extra weight that bothers you. You can achieve this with enough strength training, as well as swimming, Pilates or yoga. Whenever you manage to work your muscles to exhaustion and create resistance, you are building muscle.
There are various benefits that come with getting stronger. Your body burns more calories when you have more lean muscle, because muscle mass increases the metabolism. Older people can make big improvements regarding their quality of life with strength training, as having enough muscular strength can mean the difference between a nursing home and independence.
However, building muscle is not an easy task. A decline in muscle mass begins in your 30s, and between age 35 and 50, an average person can lose 5-7 pounds of muscle due to disuse. Also, when you lose weight, half of it you lose is muscle (this can be minimized with a proper nutrition).Nutrition
Apart from the necessary minerals and vitamins that you should absorb by eating vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and other foods, protein is the most significant for your muscle building mission and healthy living. Muscle mass, strength, as well as bone health and immune functions can be impaired when the intake of protein is too low. Consuming the right amount of it at the right times can be very effective for weight loss and muscle gain. It is suggested that people should get up to 35% of their calories from protein (but never exceed this amount).
How much protein is enough? Well, about 1.2-1.6 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight is enough to prevent bone and muscle loss. Foods that contain higher amounts of protein are meat (pork tenderloin, lean veal cuts, and lean beef cuts), poultry (with no skin), eggs, seafood, grains, and dairy products (low-fat cheeses, non-fat yogurt, and skim milk).The Anabolic Effects of Tea
A 2008 study, conducted at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, suggests that tea improves muscular strength. Tea contains compounds called polyphenols which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, preventing muscle breakdown, and improving bone mass and muscular strength. It makes sense that any foods high in anti-inflammatory compounds and anti-oxidants can help improve muscle strength. You can, thus, add any kind of natural herbal tea or a Fusion Health product to your nutrition, in order to reap the benefits of its anabolic effects. A cup of tea half an hour before your resistance training and you’re good to go.
The combination of tea and strength training can result in a bigger increase in maximal strength. Perform strength trainings at least twice a week, do your cardio, choose walking over driving, keep your protein intake at an optimum level, and drink tea every day. It will aid your muscle building efforts, as well as keep your body lean and in shape.
I impulse-bought this tasting set online and then forgot I’d done so. This sounds normal until you realize I have Amazon Prime, so it arrived in two days. My husband said “you have packages!” and I was like “I can’t remember for the life of me what I’ve done!” It sounds like the next thing I should say here is “and that’s how I realized I was an alcoholic.” I’m not. I’m something for which there is no meetings: a tea addict. And I regret nothing! This unexpected tea is delicious! This tea combines “green date, luscious berries and the Read More
Well…it’s Winter. It took a while to get here in the snow belt…but I’m NOT complaining! I found it fitting to review Winter Almond Rooibos from Tea Sparrow to get into the wintery spirit. Winter Almond Rooibos is an herbal tisane that is full of aroma and flavor! I didn’t see any dairy in the list of ingredients so I thought I would try it. Ingredients listed were Redbush Tea, Almond Pieces, Chocolate Pieces (that were made up of sugar, cocoa powder/mass, almond flavor, and sunflower blossoms. I was expecting this to be an almond and chocolate flavored red rooibos Read More
Wow, this tea really packs a flavor punch! This is a combination of matcha green tea with other goodies like ginger, ginseng, peppermint, lemongrass(my favorite) and cayenne! I can definitely feel the little kick of cayenne. I’ve never heard of a green or matcha tea pared with cayenne, and it totally works! I smelled the tea before adding it to my tea ball, and was surprised at the spicy scent. First of all, it made a nice smooth cup and did not get clumpy like some matchas. When I took my first sip, I tasted ginger and citrus right away. Read More
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale green gold
Whenever I get asked for Taiwanese oolong vendor recommendations, +Eco-Cha Artisan Teas is one of my immediate go-to. I've been writing about and enjoying their teas for close to five years now. Andy and Nick have both been contributors on the blog as well as inside the pages of Tea for Me Please Quarterly. Trust me when I say that these guys really know their stuff.
Four Seasons is produced from the Si Ji Chun variety, which is so named because of its ability to be harvested four times a year. I find that it often gets written off when compared to sexier high mountain teas like Dong Ding but Four Seasons is still one of my favorite oolongs. As Eco-Cha explains on their website, this particular tea is actually only harvested three times a year. The tea garden where it was sourced is a prototype for sustainable tea farming.
The taste was intensely floral with notes of orchid and a noticeably viscous mouthfeel. Later infusions transitioned to more fruity aromas with a refreshingly vegetal finish. Crisp pear and sweet apples were what came to mind as I sipped. The leaves of this tea were handpicked and it shows in the end product. I couldn't help but marvel at the whole bud sets that I pulled from my gaiwan. It performed equally well in porcelain as it did in a thicker walled yixing. This tea is almost sold out so make sure to get your hands on it soon!
Four Seasons Spring Oolong Tea sample provided by Eco-Cha.
Today is one of those days where I have to fast because of a medical test I’m having done tomorrow. So when I found out I was going to have this test, I instantly went to Millie’s Savory Teas site and bought 3 of their 5 Flavor Snack packs. Since my fasting will be over 24 hours, I knew that I would need something more than chicken broth to keep me in check. So let me break this sipping broth down a bit. This sipping broth has a range of different seasonings and spices along with green tea. Basically what Read More
Sometimes strangers offer the best advice. Rick Steves, travel guru and a stranger, recommends subtly in his Scandinavia tour book that if time does not permit one to visit both Frederiksborg Castle and Kronborg Castle, also known as the “Hamlet” castle, in Denmark, then pick the former as it is the more adorned of the two. I arrived in Hillerød via train and was dropped off by a local bus somewhere near the palatial complex’s side entrance. Frederiksborg Castle, built by King Christian IV in the early 17th century, unveiled itself like the Taj Mahaj did years ago – somewhat abruptly. In an instant it became my favorite man-made structure on Planet Earth! The environ was surrealistically serene not only because the summer tourist season had yet to commence but also because only an hour earlier I toured the buzzing, cacophonous Copenhagen, which of course possessed its own charms. Moreover, I am partial to all things and all phenomena Scandinavian.
The majestic castle was not my home so I could not linger forever. My plan to take the same bus to the train station evaporated the moment I reckoned all that yesteryear opulence had erased my memory of the bus stop’s exact location. A stylish lady offered guidance in an authoritative tone, “You don’t need the bus. You just turn there and walk through the town.” “But it’s far,” I commented. “It is not far.” I ruminated on not only Scandinavian stoicism and reticence but also terror of getting lost in a town with probably zero crime rate while treading the entire block to the next intersection, where I turned around and saw the lady, no longer standing alone, in a passionate embrace with a man in military uniform – such change in scene is almost always cinematic.
Hillerød residents need not venture out far and much, for the lovely town center is laden with essential establishments: cafes, convenience stores, boutiques, etc. I quickly traversed the aisles inside a spacious shop called Tiger, which seemed to have re-named itself to Flying Tiger Copenhagen globally a few months ago. Without the teapots prominently displayed on one shelf I would not have noticed the white tea and green tea in colorful containers. Danish, a North Germanic language, is quite different from English, a West Germanic language. The tea’s price, not the label entirely in Danish, suggested that there were only tea bags, not loose tea leaves, inside the canisters. I would rather pay multi-fold for Lakrids Liquorice, which I eventually purchased at the airport before leaving Denmark.
One certainly could find and drink good teas to heart’s content in Copenhagen. On the other hand, why would tourists seek out tea in this cosmopolitan city? I would not have noticed tea products had I not encountered that lady in Hillerød, who gave me some of the best advice I have ever received from strangers.
The scent of this tea is of lovely, sweet and floral almond. There is also something more explicitly nutty and starchy.. almost like a walnut. The woodsy rooibos comes out in the background, but is overshadowed by the almond. Sipping… wow, it’s really the almond that I’m tasting. Pure, sweet and gorgeous almond. I don’t really taste much of the pecan pie, but the almond flavor is so yummy, I’m not too disappointed. It would have been nice to taste some pie crust or pecan pie filling. The sweet and nutty flavors work really well with the rooibos base, though. Read More
I have been outraged. Needlessly. Here’s the scenario: Good food, great company and a six-pack of Zealong samples. Lady Devotea and I were entertaining a special guest, our USA distributor and Blender Nicole. We had a platter of meats and cheeses and pickled this-and-that and it was all great. Some crusty bread, and the aforementioned […]
They say to never judge a book by its cover. I know this– really, I do. But you guys. This tea is SO PRETTY. It might’ve tasted like swamp muck and I would’ve been too distracted by the big, beautiful flower buds and petals, strawberry pieces, and fairy-like flowery-somethings filling up my cup to actually notice. Luckily, that’s not the case. This tea delivers just as much on the palate as it does on the eyes, with creamy strawberry notes atop delicate, floral oolong leaves. With a little honey, it’s perfectly sweet– but even without, it’s a beautiful mix of Read More
Around this time every year, I get a craving for berries. Fresh, bright, juicy and sweet– I don’t know if it’s subliminal marketing towards pinks and reds from all the Valentine’s Day goodness floating around in the month of February or the sheer ferocity of Midwestern cabin fever (let me eat a plant that doesn’t taste like water just once, PLEASE), but the craving just keeps getting stronger and stronger. So when I noticed this tea sitting in my stash, I was almost surprised that something promising bright, juicy berry flavors had even lasted this long into the winter! The Read More
If you don’t already know I am a HUGE Dinosaur Enthusiast. It’s the main reason I was drawn to Tea Historic as a company – other than the tea – of course! When I saw Extinction Event from Tea Historic I knew it was going to be EPIC! I mean – with a name with Extinction Event – it HAD to be, right? This Extinction Event Tea from Tea Historic is made up of hand-rolled golden tippy black Yunnan tea and white Yunnan jasmine pearls. The black tea carries a hint of sweetness with a little spice to provide a Read More
We are at a point now in the timeline of tea culture that is as worrisome as it is exciting. With the internet, we tea drinkers are more interconnected than ever. Able to share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other at a rate previously thought impossible. Our access to good tea is greater than it ever has been thanks to the development of online commerce, and our ready access to reviews and information allows us the peace of mind that comes with knowing what we are about to buy.
However, despite these undeniable conveniences, the state of tea culture has never been put at a greater risk of recession and shrinkage. The precarious position at which we now find ourselves can be attributed to the copious amounts of poor-quality, low-cost tea on the market today, sold by large firms who employ clever and expensive marketing strategies and do indeed feed off of the success of the community surrounding “good tea” to sell their products. The success of the business of so-called “commodity” tea poses many serious issues to us, the discerning tea drinkers.
First, the poor quality of commodity tea is more than likely to turn away and discourage many potential tea drinkers from exploring the beverage, as well as the vast world of tea further. Second, the low cost of commodity tea makes it an easy option for first-time tea drinkers and those looking to get into tea as a beverage. And finally, by using marketing and branding strategically and deceptively, the commodity tea industry erodes the progress and reputation that the community of discerning tea drinkers has worked so hard to establish and protect.
A trip to your local supermarket will tell you quite a bit about the current state of the majority of the tea industry. With our tight-knit community online and easy-access to great online vendors, it is easy enough to forget that we make up a very small minority of the tea consumer base overall. So, with that in mind, a trip down the coffee and tea aisle at your local supermarket can prove to be a lugubrious affair. Shelves of tea bags packed with bitter dust, waiting impatiently to be purchased by the unknowing and innocent customer. Supermarkets are arguably where non-tea drinkers have the greatest exposure to tea, if that exposure does not come from friends and family members.
As such, the supermarket becomes the decisive frontier on which tea must make its first impression. Unfortunately for us, good tea is woefully underrepresented on the battleground of supermarket aisles. When a potential tea drinker walks by the brightly-coloured boxes of tea dust on the shelves, perhaps after hearing about its health benefits on the internet, they receive a misrepresentation of tea in general, and one that is more likely than not to turn them of the beverage, or worse, force them to take their tea sweetened with sugar or other harmful chemicals. This damages the greater tea community as a whole as we lose our ability to expand as quickly and as efficiently as we can, instead forcing us to focus our efforts on convincing the victims of this deception that there is so much more to tea than the bitter bags of dust sitting in the backs of their kitchen cupboards. It becomes a major roadblock to our progress that we need to address and prevents tea from benefiting countless lives.
As word of tea travels around the web with numerous articles and websites (including our own) exalting tea for its marvelous taste, history, and health benefits, those who are exposed to the well-deserved hype are often inspired to seek tea to try for the first time. What does the first time tea drinker look for in a tea? They look first of all towards the area of affordability. If a tea is not affordable, it can be instantly crossed off the list of potential introductory teas. Affordability becomes the imperative criterion for the first-time tea drinker to which all other teas are put to measure. This is understandable. The first-time tea drinker is questioning whether or not they will enjoy the experience of drinking tea enough to seek it again or even for it to become a mainstay in their lives.
As such, the amount a potential tea drinker is willing to spend on their very first tea is an amount as close to zero as possible. Unfortunately, to the detriment of small tea businesses and small tea gardens and farms around the world, the only firms able to offer tea at the lowest possible cost are those able to pump out elephantine volumes of tea while paying no mind whatsoever to its quality. Therefore, it follows logically that the majority of first tea experiences are unpleasant, at least in comparison to drinking high quality whole leaf tea.
The position the commodity tea industry has made for itself as the patron saint of inferiority has not appeared to affect its success. This can best be attributed to two things: the first being its strategic pricing position as I just discussed, and the second being its admittedly astounding ability to appear to those looking in at tea to be the standard of tea to which all other teas are compared.
One particularly egregious advertisement from the Lipton Tea Company (one of the leading firms of the commodity tea industry) reads, “unlock the natural energy”, a statement that, when considering the products they sell are pretty much as far removed from nature as tea gets, is not only misleading, but dangerous. As many loyal and faithful readers of this website can attest, drinking loose leaf tea can offer a true connection to nature. One that is impossible to achieve with the use of tea bags.
The industry’s efforts to position themselves as the prophets of natural holism undermines the efforts of far more respectable firms who provide a more or less direct line between the consumers and growers of tea. Firms like Yunnan Sourcing, White2Tea, and Crimson Lotus, for example, offer small, often family owned and operated producers to sell their meticulously grown (and frequently organic) hand-processed teas. The teas they sell are the true providers of “natural energy,” and as similar to a Lipton tea bag as a Montblanc fountain pen is to a Bic ballpoint. For many of us who enjoy a good puerh tea, for example, the use of this admittedly clever marketing seems to be a blasphemy of sorts. The efforts in branding of the tea industry megaliths like Tetley and Lipton, not to mention the astounding wells of resources at their disposal, undermines the hard work of those at the smaller businesses like Yunnan Sourcing, White2Tea and Crimson Lotus. Apart from the economic concerns of megalithic tea companies, the question of sustainability is still left for consideration.
According to ethicaltrade.org in June of 2016, it is predicted that within 50 years, the tea region of Assam “will have barely any land remaining that can grow tea due to the declining rainfall levels and rising temperatures.” This fast-approaching crisis in the availability of usable and fertile land will displace the factory tea farming operations into buying out smaller, independent gardens and farms unable to compete. Many of these smaller gardens and farms are the growers that provide the tea community with the amazing tea we enjoy, and have been family owned and operated for centuries. This in itself is not terrible, seeing as firms fighting with the brute force of buying power for limited resources is a natural and healthy function of capitalism and the free market. However, from the perception of the drinker of fine teas, it is problematic and raises the question: what can be done to prevent it from happening?
It stands to reason that with the risk commodity tea firms pose to the community with their undercut price, widespread availability, and inaccurate marketing, not to mention the risk it poses to currently independent tea growers, something must be done. While there is certainly no fast-track solution to the challenges we face, it is clear that those of us who regularly enjoy fine teas and the community built around them have the moral obligation to provide for its preservation. This can be done in a variety of different ways, perhaps the most obvious and most effective being voting with the dollar. By choosing only to support high-quality tea and high-quality tea producers and buying only from caring and involved retailers, we preserve the sanctity of our hobby and noble pursuit, while demoting those teas that fall below our standards. The next, less obvious, but still equally as important thing to do addresses the issue of our communities growth. Simply put, we must expose first time tea drinkers directly to fine tea using affordable, reliable, yet great-tasting productions of superb quality. Doing this takes away the power of supermarket tea to turn away as many potential tea drinkers as it most certainly otherwise would and instead promotes great taste and high standards of quality within the industry as a whole. The final thing we have to do to ensure the future security of the greater community of tea drinkers is to constantly hold accountable those firms and institutions established in the tea world.
We must give our money over only to those businesses that support the values that we all share. The values of high quality. The values of the ethical treatment of growers and producers. The values of sustainable farming practices, and the values of honesty and fairness in business. We must read only blogs who perpetuate honesty and accountability in the industry, holding farcical businesses accountable and calling them out for their deceptions.
In doing these consistently and with determination, we ensure for ourselves the slow and steady advancement of our cause. In doing these things, we protect the standards of fine tea and we hold them high. In doing these things we ensure that the beverage that has enriched the lives of billions of people for centuries enriches the lives of billions more for centuries to come. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “In matters of style, swim the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” We must stand like a rock together against bad tea and bad tea businesses to protect the future of good tea and good tea businesses. It is true that we must be willing to adapt with the times and adopt new ways and new technologies, but it is also true that we must be steadfast in the values we hold as tea drinkers and in doing so we protect the beverage that has stood proudly as a cultural symbol for centuries.image image
Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark holiday. A wonderful time to celebrate those you love with flowers and cards and chocolates and gifts. Red and pink hearts abound. All the while, intelligent companies bank on this commercial goldmine, like Lindt which sells the same Milk Chocolate Lindor Balls you can get year-round but in a heart-shaped box and with an inflated price tag. DAVIDsTEA is no stranger to the Valentine’s Day game and lucky for us that means new Valentine’-inspired teas to try. That and cute heart-shaped tea tins for those hoping to impress their tea-loving sweethearts. The Earl’s Valentine is a Read More
Students of chocolate at Hershey's Chocolate Lab in PA
Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love . . . and chocolate! We at Barb's Tea Service take both quite seriously and are thrilled to share that the latter can now come with less guilt, according to a recent article in the Huffington Post. Here nine reasons are listed as to why you should eat dark chocolate every day.
In the classroom waiting to work on our project.
Among the reasons cited for making dark chocolate part of your daily diet: it reduces stress and makes your brain sharper.
Making our own chocolate bar to make our brains sharper!
We at Barb's Tea Service are devoted to the study of chocolate. We have studied at the Chocolate Lab in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Went to the head of the class in this course.
We've also taken classes at Bon Bon Bon, the amazing chocolate company in Hamtramck.
Delicious bon bons at Bon Bon Bon
Bon bon bon are good, good, good for you!
With Alex, owner of Bon Bon Bon
In addition, we have participated in several taste testings with Mindo Chocolate, to create delicious chocolate/tea pairings for our special events.
Chocolate and tea pairings. Not a bad assignment.
Devoted students? Yes! Hard work? Well, truth be told, not exactly!
Dark chocolate with sea salt makes me happy!
Other benefits of eating dark chocolate, per Huffington Post, include lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol. And, because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin in the brain, it makes us happy. (I did not need a research study to tell me that one).
Happy Valentine's Day and, remember, giving your loved one dark chocolate is not only a good idea, it's good for them. And, even better, it is sure to make them happy!
Familiar and comforting, that is what you get when sipping on this tea.When I first tried it, I didn’t know what I was in for but it quickly brought me back to flavors I know and love. Most notably, this tea is similar to those served at sushi restaurants along with your meal. The tea you sip on and don’t think much about while enjoying your hand rolls and sashimi. However, when you take a minute to focus, you realize it is much more than a mere thirst quencher at your local all-you-can-eat. This tea has been lovingly named “cereal Read More
I’ve been on a kick lately of sampling different flavored chais. Vanilla is one of them that has been in my top stash as of late. When I was sent Vanilla Chai from The Tea Can Company I was hoping I would find something tasty in my tea sipping experience and boy did I! Vanilla Chai from The Tea Can Company has a Assam Black Tea base with Cardamom Seeds and natural Vanilla. It offers a sweet and delicious blend to any day but often served at traditional Indian Weddings. There’s a little bit of tea trivia tidbits for you Read More