Tea Giving: Day 5 (Black Currant)

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Outlaw berry saves entire country.

Did you know that in the early 1900’s black currants were banned in the U.S? Evidently the shrub created white pine blister rust which is a fungus that moves quickly going back and forth between black currant and white pine. This fungus or rust could in some cases kill the entire pine tree. The U.S. considered this fruit a threat to the logging industry so it was banned. Once they realized that blister rust could come from other plants (like gooseberries) they eventually lifted the Federal ban on black currants in some states in the 1960s but its still very rare to find them growing here. Currently they are allowed to grow in New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and Vermont. Yet, the majority of Americans can only enjoy processed or dried berries.

Can you imagine if the ban stuck and were’t able to enjoy black currant tea?  What a dark, dark world that would be.

Lucky for us, black currants abound and when dried, they are the most glorious fruit to blend with black tea. It’s a classic offering at afternoon teas across the U.K. and even here in the U.S. This blend holds a special place in my tea infused heart as it was the first caffeinated flavored tea I ever tried as a teenager. Its often one I will often choose on a gloomy day in DC. It’s also makes one of the finest iced teas. We sell a lot of this at our local markets and whenever black currant is on the menu… we know its going to be a busy day.

Black currant has some nice wellness benefits, like being high in vitamin E and C. In fact, it beats all other citrus fruits combined for levels of vitamin C. If it wasn’t for this little berry, more lives might have been lost during WWII because currants were the only food source for Vitamin C due to limited transport of fruits to the island. Could this be in part why so many British people love black currant tea?

If you haven’t tasted this classic: Black Currant – here’s your chance to try this previously outlawed fruit and boost your vitamin C levels with 25% OFF today. Just use CODE: TEAGIVING5 at checkout.

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 5 (Black Currant)

Tea Giving: Day 4 (Rooibos Earl Grey)

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It’s ROY-BOSS (not ROO EE BUS).

Now that you know how to say it like a pro, lets get into why Rooibos is so dang good.

Rooibos means “red bush” – which is the literal translation of the word – and is an herbal infusion which is known to have 3 top wellness benefits:

Skinny: It’s 100% true that if you don’t eat and just drink tea you will lose weight. Aside from that fact, each cup of rooibos tea contains only 2 to 4 calories (assuming you don’t add sugar or cream).

Sleep: High in minerals especially magnesium and calcium – both minerals which aid in sleeping well. High in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation which is a cause of aches and pains which means a better nights sleep.

Youth: Rooibos tea contains an anti-aging enzyme called superoxide dismutase which helps to slow down the development of wrinkles. This enzyme works alongside other antioxidants in rooibos tea to fight free radicals that can accelerate the aging process. A cup or two of rooibos tea per day can keep skin looking youthful.

Rooibos is grown in one place on Earth: Cederberg, a small mountainous area in the region of the Western Cape province of South Africa. It’s 100% Caffeine-Free and it tastes fantastic. It’s caffeine free because its technically NOT TEA. Tea is only made from Camellia Sinensis. Rooibos is not camellia sinensis.

We sometimes bring back retired blends if there is enough clamor for it. In this case, Rooibos Earl Grey seemed to be in great demand. People love Earl Grey, but often don’t want or cant have the caffeine from a traditional black tea. This tea lets you have your cake and eat it too. Or in this case, it lets you have your tea, drink it too and sleep at night.

If you are one of the many people who love Earl Grey but aren’t able to drink caffeine or need to limit your levels of caffeine, this may very well be your dream come true.

And to help that dream become a reality, we’re offering 25% OFF our Rooibos Earl Grey today. Please use code TEAGIVING4 at checkout!

Happy Sleeping! Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

 

Tea Giving: Day 4 (Rooibos Earl Grey)

Tea Giving: Day 3 (Moroccan Mint)

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“Tea is the drink of the gods that loosens tongues and opens hearts.

Day 3 has us scooting over to Northern Africa where drinking green tea with mint is legendary and an inherent part of its culture, customs and most importantly its hospitality. Tea is everywhere in Morocco: cafes, markets, businesses and especially at home. But the actual history of tea in Morocco is not clear.

Hot drinks, herbal infusions and remedies have been a part of Moroccan culture since before actual tea was introduced to the country. Some say that wasn’t until the 17th – 18th century when Chinese green Gunpowder tea showed up. By the late 1800s, trade increased and tea spread across the county as a luxury item and status symbol of ones wealth and high standing in the community. Eventually, like all things, tea found its way into local markets in cities and villages; on caravan routes into the mountains and desert.

Traditional Moroccan Mint tea is typically a blend of Chinese Gunpowder Green tea which is shaped like small pellets, and has a very bitter taste if brewed too long.  The name “gunpowder” refers to the very tightly rolled, compressed dried tea leaves. The more compact, the better the quality. A slight sheen to the gunpowder tea indicates freshness and is what is most desired.

Moroccan Mint  / Chinese Gunpowder Green Tea needs to be brewed with a lighter hand (less time), or even cold brewed for iced tea which always comes out perfect. If you want to try to make tea the way they prepare it in Morocco here are steps to follow:

“A traditional pot of Moroccan Mint (Attay) will include mint, sugar, green gunpowder tea leaves, and hot water. Served on a Sinia tea tray, gunpowder tea leaves, fresh mint sprigs and sugar cubes are first put into the teapot before it is filled with boiling water. After a few minutes of steeping, the first pot of tea is poured into the tea glasses, not to drink, but rather to warm the guest’s glass, as the second round of brewing begins. Once perfect levels of sweet and bitter have been achieved, the host will hold the teapot high over the tea glasses, to create a little bit of froth. The glass is then held at the rim of the cup, and sipped carefully.”

Our Moroccan Mint Green has been slightly modified recently and is even better than the long-standing blend we’ve had over the years. The melange of mint really shines through – especially the spearmint! This is one of our most popular teas in summertime when we brew it for local farmers markets and serve over ice, but its a truly wonder hot tea year round. And if the flavor of green tea with mint isn’t enough to entice you into trying this, the health benefits might:

  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Improves Digestion
  • Boosts Immune System
  • Fights Bad Breath
  • May help Cold and Flu
  • Improves Mental Awareness and Focus
  • Full of anti-oxidants
  • Makes you feel happy*

*Lots of field research went into the last bullet point.

Please use Code: TeaGiving3 to get 25% OFF on Day 3 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving!

Happy Sipping!
– The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 3 (Moroccan Mint)

Tea Giving: Day 2 (Assam)

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Thank you Robert.

Chances are you’ve had Assam Tea at some point during your tea drinking adventures. If you haven’t tasted it as a single origin black tea, you’ve most surely had it in a blend. Most commonly an English, Irish or Scottish Breakfast blended tea. Of the 3 more common Indian/Sri Lankan classics (Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling) – Assam is my favorite. I drink it daily and fully admit to it being a slight addiction. (Ok… maybe more than slight.)

Assam is a black tea grown and named after the Assam region which is located in upper Northeast India and borders Bhutan.  It’s mostly grown at or near sea level and is known for its body, maltiness, color and sometimes complex fruity, almost jam-like notes. This area of India (the state of Assam) is the world’s largest tea-growing region. Its known for high moisture/precipitation and during monsoon season its not uncommon for there to be 10-12″ of rain or more per day.

Daytime temperature are typically around 97˚F – which creates extremely humid conditions – much like a hothouse/greenhouse. It’s because of this very humid/tropical climate that Assam gets its signature malty taste for which it is known.

It’s specifically made from Camellia Sinensis Assamica which is the same plant used in the Yunnan Province/region of China. It’s no wonder I love this tea. Aside for my lust for Assam, I’m obsessed with many teas from the Yunnan region. Teas like Golden Monkey, Yunnan Golden Tips and Golden Monkey are high on my list for coveting.

It seems there are two Scottish Roberts (Robert Bruce and Robert Fortune) to whom we owe gratitude for changing tea history with the discovery (and/or stealing in the case of the later Robert) of a single plant: Tea.

So thank you Robert Bruce, the Scottish adventurer (not the Outlaw King) for “opening the door to the great Assam tea industry’ in 1823 when he stumbled across the wild tea plant growing in that region.

 

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Indian Assam Black Tea with golden tips

Our current Assam is Organic and a beauty. I’m often asked what tea would I chose for a satisfying, classic breakfast black. My answer is always: Assam. Though our Breakfast blend, Darjeeling and new Keemun Mao Feng are divine specimens in their own right, it is Assam that holds the key to my heart. I’ve rarely had anyone come back after my Assam suggestion and say that it “wasn’t their cuppa tea.”  It holds up well to invasion (cream and sugar) but is glorious in its natural state without any embellishments. Highly recommend. Brewed at around 2 minutes seems to be the right timing for my tastebuds. Give it a shot and see what works for you.

I could go on and on like the TeaNerd that I am about my love of Assam, trying to convince you that its one fine black tea, but instead I’ll just offer this Code: TeaGiving2 so you can take 25% OFF on Day 2 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving to see if it turns into TeaLove for you as well.

Happy Sipping!
– The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

Tea Giving: Day 2 (Assam)

25 Days of Tea Giving – Day 1: Francis!


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Cue Justin Timberlake music… “We’re bringing Tea Giving back…”

Ok a little off-key, but what matters is that we are bringing back and kicking off our 25 Days of Tea Giving today – on Giving Tuesday!

If you are a regular TeaLove / Pearl Fine Teas follower, then you may remember the original version of this from 2016 called 25 Days of Tea where we spotlighted and discounted a different tea each day leaving up to Christmas Day.  In 2017, we called it Tea Kindness and gave a discount weekly.  In 2018, we’re back to tea giving daily with discounts from today until Dec 21st – the last Friday before Christmas.

We hope you will watch us here on the TeaLove Blog, as well as on Social Media (Instagram,Facebook and even Twitter) and keep an eye out on the Pearl Fine Teas Website as well for each day of tea.  So without further adieu….

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Francis!

DAY 1: FRANCIS!

Kicking off Day 1 with one of our most recent and beloved tea blending endeavor: The Francis! Tea Blend. Francis caught our attention on Instagram in early summer and we’ve been smitten ever since. The backstory on this micro kitten is heart warming and you can read about it here on the latest feature on The Dodo. He’s also all over our Instagram page.

We created this blend to help raise money for the NoVA Cat Clinic’s Chris Griffey Memorial Feline Foundation which helps special needs and neo-natal kittens. 10% of sales from the Francis! Blend is being donated to their foundation.

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Francis! Tea Blend

About The Francis! Blend: Long whiskery green tea leaves, tiny flowers that open slowly, small bits of crystalized ginger, dried ginger and granulated honey, with a micro-hint of orange citrus created in honor of our favorite micro-kitten! Fresh and bright with a touch of sweetness – with a slight zing from the ginger linger on the palate for a long while… A healthy green tea blend that brings about spontaneous happiness.

• Aroma: Earthy, sweet, floral, ginger

• Liquor (liquid): Light pale yellow

• Flavor profile: Easy, gingery, hints of citrus and honey

• Brewing recommendation: 175° Fº  / 1-3 minutes

• Caffeine: Yes.

If you are interested in giving the Francis! Blend a try and supporting a wonderful cause, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas teashop and use code: GIVETEA1 at checkout and enjoy 20% Off  this Blend – Today only.

We’re already donating 10% but are upping it to 20% today on Giving Tuesday! Thank you for supporting us so we may support others!

Watch here tomorrow for Tea Giving Day 2!

Happy Giving! Happy Sipping!
– The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

25 Days of Tea Giving – Day 1: Francis!

Parisian Tea Adventure (Part 1)

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Jetlag Shmetlag.

I didn’t care that I had to fly from DC to Toronto to finally land in Paris only to make my way to the Airbnb I booked that presented itself as “Close to the Le Marais.” 

(Side bar: It’s never a good sign when the word “close” is used in an Airbnb listing. I should have known better.)

Upon arrival at the door of this “Le Marais” flat, the host took my bags and stored them so I could begin the day. When I asked how far we were from Le Marais he said, “At least 26 minutes on foot. But it’s better to take the Metro.”

I immediately heard a voice in my head says, “Oh hell no. You didn’t come to Paris to Metro. You only have 2 days.”  The voice in my head was right. I came to walk and wander New York City Style. So, while standing on the side of a busy road I called my old standby hotel which had originally been booked online (and why I booked an Airbnb) with the hope that “par chance” a room would be available.  When I heard the voice on the other end say: “Oui” – I hung up, got my bags and tried to find a taxi. Not so easy as you may know if you have ever tried to find a taxi in Paris. There are rules.

Rolling my bag along the bumpy sidewalk, I walked up to a waiter at one of the cafes and asked him if he knew where the closest taxi stop was. He was only too happy to help me and literally ran out into the busy road looking for one to make stop. He then made a joke and said, “Just stand here looking beautiful and they will stop.” Ah Paris. Whomever said the French weren’t friendly must have been a mighty miserable curmudgeon.

My drive to the Latin Quarter was narrated ever so perfectly by an older French driver with his gorgeous old school thick accent. He pointed out all the different buildings telling me a story of each one. It was brilliant and full of passion. I didn’t have the heart to tell him this wasn’t my first time in Paris, so I listened and savored each moment until we rolled up to my favorite, quaint little hotel – and pretty much the only one I’ve ever stayed at in Paris: Hotel Claude Bernard. Three stars, nothing fancy or over the top, slightly old Paris in feel and my favorite.

The man at the front desk was someone I recognized from my last stay many, many, many years ago. While he checked me in I told him how when I used to stay I always got the room on the top floor facing the street.

He said, “Ah yes, I remember! #62! I am going to make some re-arrangements and you will have your old room again. Plus a nice breakfast in the morning. D’accord?” D’accord! 

He handed me my key and as I turned to make my way to my room I faced my old friend:  the funniest, littlest elevator maybe ever created, and only large enough to fit 1 suitcase and a person. A memory came flooding back of the time when a friend and I tried to fit in it together and it got stuck between floors well after midnight. The evening desk clerk came running to our aid to try to pry open the metal doors. When I asked him if this had ever happened before, his reply was, “Uh, basically never.” Basically. Never.  The sound of spontaneous roaring laughter from all three of us echoed through the hotel as he braced himself with his feet against the metal door and pulled me by the arms to get me out of the elevator. Both of us laying on the carpet laughing for a good long while.

But this time it was just me and my cute suitcase rolling into the lift to the 5th floor, then climbing the rounded staircase to the 6th floor to my beloved room #62 with its tiny balcony, deep long tub and wrought iron bed frame. I felt that kind of joy one feels when you can relax into something that feels safe and familiar, like home. With sun shining, cars honking below and a deep blue sky, I trotted down all 6 flights and set out on foot to the first reason I was in Paris: Research/Tea at Mariage Freres.

Leaving my hotel and wandering the winding streets of the touristy Latin Quarter making my way across the river with a quick stop at Notres Dames, I paused. Just to take in the beauty of the day that had started out so many hours ago with a long flight on Air Canada that delivered me exactly where I wanted to be. Living. Felt. Good.

The winding continued into the Marais until I arrived at 35 Rue du Bourg Tibourg – the original location of Mariage Freres, and perhaps my favorite. Located on sleepy old road, you enter the teahouse and are greeted with its old weathered dark wood, tea tins placed perfectly on shelves and an intoxicating aroma. The dark lighting from small strands of light that find its way in adds an air of Harry Potter-like magic… and like you just stepped through a worm hole and went back in time. It’s simply delightful.

It wasn’t crowded so I was able to linger and review the tea menu, smelling different selections generously presented by the gentleman behind the counter. Christian was dressed in an impeccable blue suit, his English was impressive and his knowledge of tea even better. I started with Yunnan black teas which are some of my absolute favorites and ended up selecting Yunnan D’Or (Gold).  Then on to Oolongs, and Puers and the best Dragonwell I’ve had this year… it went on and on and on… with questions and comments and stories and opinions. Tea Happiness Level: 100.

I had another moment similar to the one just an hour or so earlier that made me pause once again: Along with good health, the luxury of time and travel is like winning the lottery. And I made sure to savor every minute I spent researching, smelling and talking tea in this foreign city.

At the end or our tea exploration,  I asked Christian for his recommendation on a tea he thought I should not leave without having. He brought me a black tea from Colombia. Totally unexpected and currently on deck for me to try in the coming days.

With my giant bag of “research” in hand, I was then handed off and escorted to a perfect table situated under a skylight. The juxtaposition of the dark romantic teashop next to the light white tearoom looking up at a blue sky was a gorgeous jolt to my senses. White linens, actual silver ware and the most beautiful bowl of sugar I had ever seen sat on the table. The menu itself was beautifully designed, and the finely curated cuisine seemed to go on for forever. I wanted it all.

After a review of the 600 teas on the tea menu, my decision was to take the waiters suggestion and try their popular Opera Blue Tea. “Why blue? What is it made of?” I had questions.

When the perfect porcelain pot of tea nestled inside a silver pot landed on the table, I poured its liquid into the fine bone china teacup.  The liquid was blue – just like he said. I had to allow it to open up and then cool a bit before the first sip. Interesting. I took another sip trying to figure out what this unusual tea tasted like. Another few sips were required. Ah ha.

Waffles. That’s exactly what it reminded me of: slightly nutty, almost bread-y with notes of grain and a very, very slight hint of sweetness.  I had heard that the longer you let it brew the more complex and flavorful it becomes. So I allowed it to steep longer as I sat and read the book on the table, stared up at the blue sky and slowly but purposefully began to eat the most interesting green tea guacamole I have ever had. (And I’ve had a lot.) Here is how Opera Blue tea is described on their website:

 

“The charm and pure emotions of the opera are intensely echoed in OPÉRA BLUE, an irresistible velvety and caressing blue tea. In the seductive indigo blue-coloured cup are singing notes of vanilla and red berries highlighted by the milky gourmandise of a blue tea in a perfectly balanced symphony. A tea as fascinating and sensual as an opera aria.”

Blue tea paired with Matcha guacamole was a truly interesting cacophony of flavors that crashed into each other. The grain-like flavor of the tea against the fresh vegetal creaminess of the guac was worth the experiment. I did my best to eat slowly and as humanly as possible, but it was not easy given the level of deliciousness in that green glob of goodness. In the end, while there is no denying how interesting the Opera Blue tea was, it turned out not to be my preferred cup. So I moved on.

Hello Darjeeling D’or. I’ve been waiting for you.

Part of their Darjeeling Haute Couture Collection, this tea is brilliant elegance. It might send a Darjeeling lover into full orbit. Here is how they describe the leaf and infusion on the the website:

Dried leaves : The buds with ardent golden nuances exhale delicious notes of tamarind and ylang-ylang honey. 

Infused leaves : Shimmering umber. Tender and flavourful on the palate, the buds are just as delightful to the nose. Syrupy notes of hawthorn dance amongst the aroma of roasted tea tree nut. 

Liquor : Pastel gold. Soft like cotton flower, and as fragrant as a magnolia bouquet, the liquor is seductive. Carnation and pink lavender compose an aroma punctuated by hints of suave lemon balm. 

A jewel of a tea. 

I do not disagree. One of the most delightful Darjeeling teas I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. The complexity of floral notes is exactly how its described and it was a wise choice on my part to pair with the second gastronomic creation I chose: Matcha Creme Brulee.

Assuming you take any of this advice and try what I have suggested, you must know in advance that Matcha Creme Brulee, dusted with a single line of powdered sugar and topped with 3 perfect berries is a perfect way to end a long day of travel to Paris. The thick, slightly tinted green cream against the burnt sugar top layer? All I can say is this: If you are a Creme Brulee lover, you must order this if you are ever in Paris at Mariage Freres. You can send me a thank you e-mail afterwards!

Sadly, my research ended there. And what a truly flavorful conclusion it was. I made sure to sit a little longer before leaving, knowing that this would be my only opportunity during this short trip to enjoy the salon. Mariage Freres is always a destination for me when I stop in Paris. I hope every tea lover has the opportunity to enjoy a truly French Tea experience like this. Perhaps add it to your Tea Bucket List?

Happy Sipping! (Bonne fête!)

~The Chief Leaf (La feuille en chef)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parisian Tea Adventure (Part 1)

Yellow Tea?

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Yellow tea – huang ya – has been around and beloved since the days of the Tang Dynasty (617-907 AD). Though some consider it be a variation of green tea – it is in fact its own class of tea – and is most treasured. 

The Huang Shan Mountains of Anhui is home to around 75 separate mountain peaks spread across Province. It is nothing short of a visual feast with its steep jagged mountains at an elevation of approximately 1200 meters. Lush rich forests, thick rich bamboo groves and rushing water springs all contribute to the terroir of the region and the tea itself.  The high elevations and dense rich soil partnered with handmade/ traditional tea farming practices brings this wonderful yellow tea alive for us to enjoy when its first picked typically around April of each year.

After plucking and initial drying, and just before firing, the leaves are given an additional step called “men huan.”  That extra step is referred to as “sealing the yellow” and is the defining step which creates: Yellow Tea. The tea leaves are steamed lightly and then covered with cloth to allow the leaves to absorb additional fragrances/flavors and allowed to rest for up to a day. At the discretion of the Tea Master, the smothering of the leaves may be repeated in order to bring it to the desired finish.  

Huo Shan Huang Ya is smooth. Really smooth. And floral. And completely lacking in bitterness or astringency – which is a defining characteristic of most Yellow Teas. Our lot is naturally sweet and vegetal, but not overly grassy. The straw-colored liquor from the sword shaped leaves yields a surprisingly bright, clear and clean cup of tea reminiscent of fresh hay.  The floral notes linger… and linger some more on the palate.

When we first introduced Yellow Tea / Huo Shan Huang Ya to our die hard Green Tea lovers/customers, the reaction was always the same: “I’ve never heard of Yellow Tea.”  That’s because it’s not as common in the West. But once our tea people were nudged to try this gorgeous leaf, there was no turning back: love at first sip!

The Health Benefits of Yellow Tea are similar to the benefits of Green Tea with an additional advantage: it is easier on the stomach. People sensitive to Green Tea have had great luck with the mellowness, yet flavorful Yellow Tea.

Should you be up for a new tea adventure, you can find our Huo Shan Huang Ya on the Pearl Fine Teas website!

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

Yellow Tea?

4,015 days

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Pearl Fine Teas turns 11 years old today!

11 years.

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11 years of fulfilling a simple dream to travel and sip tea with strangers.
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11 years of glorious blunders (also know as learning and growth.)
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11 years of meeting some pretty cool humans in an industry filled with passionate nerds.
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11 years of support from loved ones and strangers (many of whom are now friends.)
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11 years of change and navigating uncharted (boiled) water.
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11 years covered in tea leaves and tea stains and a regular supply of Crest White Strips.
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11 years on a mission. Committed to the TeaLife and spreading TeaLove to anyone that crosses my path.
………..

Here’s to endless cups of tea on Day 1 of the 11th year of Pearl Fine Teas – and all the TEAdventure still to come. Hope you will stay for the rest of this ride…

Please enjoy a site wide Anniversary Sale celebrating a decade + 1 in the wonderful world of tea.

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I wouldn’t be the Chief Leaf without all the good people who supported me over the last 4,015 days.  Thank you and Happy Sipping!
4,015 days

Healing Heart Tonic

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Say Hello to District Blend #02: Brookland!

Welcome to the little hamlet where Pearl Fine Teas was born almost 11 years ago. To honor this lovely part of Washington DC, I’m finally introducing the newest member to the Pearl Fine Teas family: Healing Heart Tonic.


But first, a little about Brookland:

“Brookland evolved in the early 1870s, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran its western branch line through this area. The rail line was situated alongside a fine 1840 Greek Revival farmhouse known as the Brooks Mansion, home of Colonel Jehiel Brooks. In the late 1880s, Catholic University was established just north of Colonel Brooks’ farm. Developers quickly responded, creating a new Washington neighborhood beyond the central city and taking its name from Colonel Brooks. The university provided a centerpiece for a large number of Catholic institutions.

In the early days, Brookland, with its single-family, wood-frame houses in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Craftsman – attracted government workers, Smithsonian Institution scientists, and people of many ethnic backgrounds who shared the Catholic faith. In the 1930s, Brookland attracted affluent African Americans looking for an area that was not restricted to whites only. Of particular note are 13 International style houses designed by Hilyard Robinson and Howard H. Mackey, two of Washington’s most prominent African American architects of the era. Robinson was responsible for the Ralph Bunche house, 1510 Jackson Street, NE, built for the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Many other prominent black Washingtonians made their home here, including the entertainer Pearl Bailey, the poet Sterling Brown, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Robert Weaver, Senator Edward Brooke, and historian Rayford Logan. Brookland enjoys an interesting history of civic activism. Most recently it rescued the Brooks Mansion, which still stands near the Brookland Metro station, a symbol of this community and its heritage.”


This neighborhood is located in the Northeast section of DC and is known informally as “Little Rome” due to the influence of the Catholic Church and home to Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

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Rose garden at the Franciscan Monestery

I first discovered this little enclave back in 2003 – a hidden gem, devoid of trend and pretension. I loved the diversity of people, the loving warm-hearted neighbors, the chirping birds, the stunning green spaces with gardens galore – and the gorgeous refuge of the Franciscan Monastery where you often see a Monk or Nun strolling in deep contemplation and reflection. A quiet walk through the rose garden instantly infuses a sense of peace and puts all things in perfect perspective. As a member of the Franciscan Garden Guild, I’ve spent time in the greenhouse, helping with the famous yearly Plant Sale and even learned how to extract honey from the bees they keep.

My neighborhood has inspired me in so many ways – mostly notably with the profound friendships I’ve made living here that have touched and warmed my heart – specifically my good friend Bill. He is no longer with us, but I had the privilege of being his next door neighbor for 14 years.  We had a lot of fun during those years and he taught me a thing or 10 about everything from how to install a light fixture to how to navigate some of life’s steeper slopes. It was a joyful friendship and one I deeply cherish. It’s also why I wanted to create a blend that reflected and honored that special friendship – which was born right here in Brookland.

Bill was a Deacon in his Church; He loved roses, and chewing on lemon grass and good ole’ fashioned ginger root. The Brookland Healing Heart Tonic is a blend of  those 3 ingredients and is totally caffeine free, healing, and heart warming. Besides the emotional healing benefits of this tisane, there are also many actual health benefits to this wellness tonic:


herbal rose tea.

Rose: 
• Naturally uplifting (especially for those prone to feeling down or depressed)
• Regulates hormone levels (how the neurotransmitters in our brain are regulated)
• Can help to improve liver function and increase urination (natural diuretic)
• Releases toxins from the body
• Good source of Vitamin C (improves immunity)
• May also help treat arthritis, menstrual cramps, cold/flu, digestive issues, and insomnia


Lemon Grass. Cymbopogon citratus. Capim Limao, Santo.Lemon grass:
• Traditionally used to help control and normalize heart rate and for high blood pressure.
• Used for the treatment of depression and anxiety
• Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal
• Loaded with Vitamin C (improves immunity)
• Citral is the active constituent and lemon grass has the highest concentration of it compared to any other plant in the world. Citral has antioxidant and anti-tumor properties that both benefit the brain.


Isolated gingerGinger:
• Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Fungal
• Boots Immunity
• Aids digestion and relief from nausea
• Improves heart disease risk factors
• May lower Cholesterol
• May have powerful anti-diabetic properties
• Can lead to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride level (similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin)
• Studies show its effective at reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis
• Can protect against age-related damage to the brain (Alzheimers) and can also improve brain function in elderly women



Healing Heart Tonic (District Blend #02: Brookland)
will debut at markets on:

• Saturday, May 5th: Falls Church Farmers Market, VA  (8am – Noon)
• Saturday, May 5th:  Monroe Street Farmers Market, Brookland DC  (9am – 1:00 pm)
• Sunday, May 6th:  Central Farm Market in Bethesda, MD (9am – 1:30pm)
• You can also purchase online in the Tea Shop here.

“There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.” ~ Charles Dickens
“Happy Sipping!” ~The Chief Leaf

 

Healing Heart Tonic

Energy Medicine (in a bowl)

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The Chinese tea bowl.
A perfectly crafted cylinder made to hold the worlds most perfect liquid and affect the chemicals in the body and brain to promote healing and relaxation.
Ceramic tea bowls are mentioned in the first major text on tea, The Classic of Tea. Compiled between 758-60CE by Lu Yu (733–804) of the Tang dynasty.

Tibetian singing bowl isolatedThe Tibetan signing bowl.
A perfectly crafted cylinder made to emit vibration and frequencies to affect the chemicals in the body and brain to promote healing and relaxation.
Dates back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni between 560 – 480 B.C. when the Tibetan Singing Bowl is said to have originated.

 


Liquid energy in a bowl. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We all know about how the chemical properties in tea leaves like flavonoid anti-oxidants and catechins, but have you heard of the powerful affect of the amino acid L-Theanine?

It’s a water soluble amino acid that’s found in tea leaves and when you drink tea,  it passes through the blood-brain barrier and affects the brain directly. It shares similar chemical structures to neurotransmitter glutamate – which is a transmitter involved in learning and memory, and, it increases the production of GABA and dopamine. It also helps reduce stress and anxiety and induces what is called alert/relaxed states of thinking and reduces the fight-or-flight response during high stress situations. In case you’re thinking that this is all a bunch of hooey, according to clinical studies by NIH:

Evidence from human electroencephalograph (EEG) studies show that it has a direct effect on the brain. L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness.”

So basically, tea is liquid energy medicine (healing) in a bowl. We tea drinkers already knew that. But what about the Tibetan Singing bowl and its magical healing abilities?

Sound energy from a bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The tradition of using a singing bowl was brought from India to Tibet, along with the teachings of the Buddha, by the great tantric master Padmasambhava in the 8th century A.D. It is said that the sounds generated by Tibetan Singing Bowls are a type of energy medicine” that promote healing many forms of dis-ease.

“If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.” – Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine, the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York.

Duke University and the University of North Carolina have realized the power of alternative healing and have taken big steps to add new body, mind and spirit programs specifically sound therapy– to cancer treatments. In fact the medical director at the Chopra Institute, Dr. David Simon, found that by chanting and using a Tibetan Singing bowl, it activates chemicals in the brain that act as internal painkillers and aid in healing.

How it works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It’s all about vibration. And since illness is said to be a manifestation of dis-ease, dis-harmony and imbalance in cell matter, and all matter is vibrating energy, than altering a vibration should change the structure of cellular matter. Sound vibrations directly affect our nervous system, and often sets off a relaxation reflex which may lower stress and pain. Similar to acupuncture where needles allow energy (chi) to flow and assist the body in healing and rebalancing; so does sound vibration and sound frequencies–which enables the flow of energy to reach different parts of the body. The pulsating tone immediately feels good and kick-starts relaxation along with the following:

• Reduction in stress, anxiety + anger
• Lower blood pressure
• Improved circulation + increased blood flow
• Deep relaxation + pain relief
• Increased mental + emotional clarity
• Stillness, happiness + well being.
• Stimulated immune system
• Balanced left/right brain

When you are in the presence of someone (or yourself) playing a signing bowl you not only hear the pure sonic waves,you actually feel the sound enter the body. You can listen and watch a short Tibetan Singing Bowl video here on YouTube and see if you feel any different after listening. Or you can buy one and try it at home yourself. It’s really easy and you will be amazed at how good you feel afterwards.

The connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ritual. Aside from the actual chemical properties in tea, and the actual sound waves emitted from a singing bowl (both proven to aid in healing and wellness) there is the ritual of making tea or drinking tea out of a special cup or bowl. The ritual of sitting at the same time to play a singing bowl, or the ritual using a sound to evoke a sense of calm. And before you head down that “this is hooey” road again, there is scientific research around the benefits of rituals and its affect on overall wellness which can be extremely effective in reducing anxiety, increasing confidence and having an impact on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Rituals help bring a sense of structure and order to an otherwise chaotic world. They are in fact a type of shield that helps protect us from uncertainty.

“The very act of engaging in a scripted sequence of ritualistic movements tricks the brain into thinking that it’s experiencing the pleasant state of predictability and stability. The crux of the argument says that in times when uncertainty is beyond our control, the brain will subconsciously lead us to engage in ritualized movements as a compensatory mechanism to bring about a sense of personal control. This, the argument goes, is the starting point for all of life’s little (and big) rituals.” – Psychology Today

The every day stresses of today surely didn’t exist during ancient times (and vice versa) but in the end, regardless of what causes stress and dis-ease, we’re all seeking the same exact thing: a way to stay healthy, survive and enjoy life.

Just a simple ceramic bowl for sipping.
Just a simple metal bowl for listening.
Two simple rituals for healing.

 
Happy Relaxation…
Happy Sipping…
~The Chief Leaf

 

Energy Medicine (in a bowl)