Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pine Needle Tea

Hello everyone, I hope this beautiful Sunday finds you in great health and spirit.

Today I want to talk about a different kind of tea.  Well, not regular tea exactly but herbal tea, tisane.

Few days ago while watching one of the videos on YouTube I was surprised to find out that some people use pine needles to make tea.  I was intrigued by that from the start and decided to try it myself.  I have some beautiful pine trees in my backyard and so it was very easy to get my hands on couple of twigs.

I actually made this tea for the first time last night and waited till this morning to see if I won't have any unpleasant side effects.  Upon waking up in the morning I went out and gathered few more twigs to make another cup.  As you can see I'm still here writing my blog post and I've never felt better.

Pine needle tea has some great benefits apparently.  Pine needles are extremely rich in vitamin C more so than orange juice, vitamin A as well as various minerals.  It is said to be a great decongestant and helps treat colds and coughs.  European settlers when they first arrived in North America, were introduced to pine needle tea by Native Americans who were drinking this wonderful tea for generations.  There is a wealth of information on the web concerning pine needle tea and I'm really surprised that I haven't heard about it until now.  This makes me wonder what else is out there for our free taking. :)

Back to steeping a mug of fresh pine needle tea.

I grabbed couple of twigs and removed the needles from stems.  It wasn't easy to do it by hand so I used scissors and simply cut them out.

I poured a boiling water over and steeped the needles for 7-10 minutes.  When all the needles sink to the bottom, the tea should be ready.

The ready tea was aromatic and quite tasty.  The liquid was almost clear in colour but the taste was there.  I've read someone's suggestion on the web to add couple of drops of lemon to accentuate the taste and I did just that.  I have to say it was delicious.

Some people said to experiment with different pines because they all have different taste.  I will definitely do that.  It will give me a chance to familiarize myself with different types of pines and learn to recognize them all.  I have to say at this time also, that you have to exercise some caution.  First, while all pines are wintergreens, not all wintergreens are pines.  Second, There are some pines and other wintergreens out three from what I know that are toxic and should not be consumed.  Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, common Juniper, Monterey Cypress, common Yew, and Norfolk Pine are all off the table.  Just like with everything you pick in the wild, you have to do your homework and make sure you pick the plant that is edible.

Apparently the best pine needles to use are the young growth in the spring.  I always marvel in the spring when I see the brand new needles popping out.  They are so soft and beautiful and this year instead of just admiring from the distance, I'll be able to try some of them out in my tea.  Yum!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Afternoon with Sun Dried Jingshan Green

Happy Sunday everyone!  I hope it finds you in great health and spirit.

This morning I decided to break open the sample package of Sun Dried Jingshan Green from Verdant Tea.  I've had it in the past and remember how great this green tea was.  Once again I wasn't disappointed.

The dry tea leaves are gorgerous.  Small, delicate and beautifully curved.  The aroma of the dry leaves is flowery and vegetal.

For my first steep I placed about 3.5 grams in 79°C water for about 1 minute.  The tea turned out light cool green colour with a wonderful vegetal aroma and a smooth sweet complex taste.  Although it was not astringent, there was a hint of it in the back of my tongue, something that I'm always happy to experience. This tea has a lot of body and it's one of my favourite green teas after Dragonwell.  It is somehow very different from Dragonwell and I'm not sure what makes it so, but it is all in a good way.

Currently I'm on my second steep and it is just as delicious as the first.  It took a bit longer to get the desired effect, about 3 minutes to be exact but that's expected since I did not use a lot of tea leaves.  The tea lost most of its vegetal aroma but held up the complex taste and the ever so slight astringency which once again tickled the back of my tongue.

I only have enough in the sample for one more fresh steep which I find a little sad especially that I checked the Verdant Tea website and this is out of stock temporarily.  Hopefully they'll get some more soon and I'll be able to restock.

It's sunny but cold outside and I'm having a pyjama day.  Together with the buzzing fireplace and the hot tea in my hand, there is nothing else I would rather be.  Except maybe in the little hut in the woods... but still with the hot tea and the buzzing fireplace for company... and my cat.

Cheers my friends.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Polka Dot Love

Immortals, hear, said Jove, and cease to jar! Tea must succeed to Wine as Peace to War. Nor by the grape let man be set at odds, but share in Tea, the nectar of the Gods. 
 - Peter Antine Motteaux, A Poem Upon Tea

Yesterday on the way from grocery shopping I decided to stop by one of my favourite second hand shop for a little browsing. What I saw there made my heart jump for joy just a little bit.  A polka dotted teapot! Those that know me are aware that I'm a big polka dot enthusiast and I've wanted polka dot teapot for a while now.  I don't have a big collection of teapots and I like to keep it that way but a polka dotted teapot is a must for me.  And just like that, for five whole bucks, it is mine... all mine.

The teapot goes lovely with black bubble teacups I already have in my collection.  I could even pretend they were made for each other, right?  Unless of course someone would look on the bottom of both, in which case my little secret would be out. :P

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Of Zombies and Chrysanthemum Pue'r

Happy New Year everyone!

This is the first post in 2015.  I'm quietly enjoying Chrysanthemum Pue'r while watching the World War Z.  I'm not sure which one I'm enjoying more, the movie or the tea, but since this is the tea blog I suppose I'll talk about the tea.  Secretly I'm itching to talk about zombies too though. :P

I got Chrysanthemum Pue'r from Verdant Tea few months ago.  It was a complete shot in the dark, as I never tried it before.  I am a pu'er lover and I was intrigued by the fact that this blend included chrysanthemum flowers.  For some unknown reason, I'm drawn to flowers in the tea and since I've never had tea with chrysanthemum flowers before this one was a must try.

The dry tea presents itself beautifully.  It's got gorgeous white chrysanthemum flowers, large juniper berries, coriander and spices.

I steeped two full teaspoons in boiling water for 1 minute and I should be able to get another two solid steeps out of that later.  The result was red dark brown liquid with flowery and spicy aroma. The tea is smooth, very fragrant and crisp, with with sweet and earthy tones. It's got phenomenal depth.  It's a perfect companion on a cold, wintery night with fireplace buzzing and zombies running amok. I like it today just as much as when I bought it for the first time.

I checked the Verdant Tea website and currently this tea is out of stock.  I have only a little bit left so I hope they'll be restocking this little wonder soon.  If you want to try it out, I highly recommend it.

Ingredients: Master Han’s 2004 Loose Leaf Shu Pu’er, Burdock, Juniper Berries, Coriander, Holy Basil, Chrysanthemum