Tea Kindness #04: Cinnamon Orange

Cinnamon
Cinnamon: Ground and Sticks

In honor of this last Friday before Christmas, and our 4 installment of Random Acts of (Tea) Kindness, we bring to you the mother of all spices: CINNAMON!

Cinnamon is quite frankly: magic. Aside from the immense healing properties (and there are many) its ability to curb a raging sweet tooth is legendary. But did you know about its rich and interesting history?

  • Cinnamon dates back to Chinese writings as early as 2,800 B.C and is still known as kwai in Cantonese
  • Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon during the embalming process
  • The Old Testament references it as an ingredient in anointing oil
  •  In the 1st century A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote off 350 grams of cinnamon as being equal in value to over five kilograms of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight
  • The West has the Ancient world of Arab traders for bringing it with them when they traveled to Europe
  • Cinnamon was the Arab merchants’ best-kept secret until the early 16th century and to maintain a monopoly and justify its high price, the traders told stories and tales for buyers about how the spice was obtained:

“One such story, related by the 5th-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nests perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable by any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nests to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks stored within to be collected.”

Stories like that remind me of the tales told about certain teas like Monkey Picked Oolong and how Monks sent trained monkeys out to the tallest tea bushes to pick leaves. This clearly did not happen, but the idea was to show how difficult it was to obtain this product and that it was a luxury item. (That’s early ancient branding and marketing strategy at its finest.)

In 1518, Portuguese traders discovered cinnamon bark in Ceylon which is known today as Sri Lanka. They took over the kingdom of Kotto and took control of the cinnamon trade for about 100 years. It wasn’t until the Ceylon kingdom of Kandy allied with the Dutch in 1638 to overthrow the Portuguese occupiers. The Dutch ended up defeating the Portuguese, took control of Ceylon and the cinnamon monopoly for the next 150 years. Enter the British in 1784  and their victory in the 4th Anglo-Dutch War, and by 1800, cinnamon was sort of downgraded and no longer a rare commodity.

That’s a lot of fighting and history – over the bark of a tree.

Cinnamon trees are small evergreens that can grow to a height of 66 feet and contain aromatic bark and leaves.  The tree bark is often peeled, dried, ground into powder, or rolled into strips.  It is used in both sweet and savory foods.

There are typically 2 types of commercial cinnamon on the market today: Ceylon (Sri Lankan), Cassia (Indonesian and Vietnamese.) Cassia is the the cheaper variety and what is usually sold in grocery stores to use in cooking, baking etc… The more expensive cinnamon from Sri Lanka is more milder and sweeter and very, very, very good in tea.

The health and healing properties of cinnamon are long, but here are 5 important benefits:

  1. High in antioxidants called polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids – compounds which work to fight oxidative stress in the body especially as we age.
  2. Anti-inflammatory properties which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline, lowers swelling and inflammation, beneficial for pain management, soreness, and PMS.
  3. Heart Health protection by reducing several common risks to heart disease like high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. Cinnamon also increases blood circulation and advances bodily tissue’s ability to repair itself after it’s been damaged. This includes heart tissue which is in need of regeneration in order to fight heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke.
  4. Diabetes management. Helps lower blood sugar levels and also can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin. It has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a high-sugar meal, which is especially important for those with type 2 diabetes.
  5. Fights viruses and infections by defending the body from illnesses since its naturally anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral.

 

 

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Happy Christmas! Happy Sipping!

Superfood? Probably! Super tasty? Without a doubt!

And it’s the feature of our 4th week of our Random Act of (Tea) Kindness initiative this month. Just in time for the Christmas holiday which is only (3 days away) please enjoy 22% OFF both our Cinnamon Orange Spice Black Tea and our Cinnamon Rooibos (Caffeine-Free).  No discount code is required. Discount is automatically applied in your cart and is good from Dec 22nd thought Dec 27th!

Both teas have 3 types of cinnamon blended with orange peel and some sweet clove. You won’t need a drop of sugar in either of these teas. They are naturally sweet and 100% sugar free. Pairs perfectly with christmas cookies, desserts and general snuggling by the fireplace. We’ve also “heard” that a shot of brandy in either cuppa takes this to a whole new level.

This is our last post before Dec 25th so for those of you that celebrate… 

Happy Christmas!
Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

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Tea Kindness #04: Cinnamon Orange

Tea Kindness #03: Breakfast Blend

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Breakfast Blend 

 

Good morning and welcome English Breakfast Tea. Grab your cuppa and settle in…

Some take this tea for granted. Writing it off as plain or even boring. Others revere its simplicity and classic black tea taste and will not entertain the idea of drinking anything else. Some enjoy this elixir straight, while others prefer to embellish with cream and sugar. In either scenario, English Breakfast drinkers are loyal to their brew.

What appears to be just a simple black tea, is anything but. Many are unaware that unless it’s a Single Origin black tea, it’s actually a black tea blend – which in general means that different lots of black teas are combined to make what has typically become known as English Breakfast. (Or Irish or Scottish.)

Black tea is purchased at auctions and then blended to fit a specific desired flavor profile. An example of this would be Twinings which tastes the way it does because different teas are blended together to match their brand taste/profile. There is no Twinings tea bush growing somewhere that they pluck from and process. It takes a highly seasoned and experienced tea master to blend and make it taste the exact same way year after year. Tea is a crop after all and subject to environmental changes which affect its flavor.

So what exactly is English Breakfast tea and where did it come from?

Evidently, it all started with Catherine of Braganza – the Portuguese wife of Charles II. (The English have a foreigner to thank for introducing tea and helping it become a staple in the English lifestyle.) Catherine had grown up drinking tea and brought it with her when she made her way to England in 1662. Because of her, it became fashionable for the upper class and royal court to drink tea.  Over time tea gradually made its way through class structure “turning it into the class-boundary-busting drink it is today.”

Though it’s not entirely known how tea became the preferred morning drink at breakfast, there are some theories that King Charles successor, Queen Anne (1665-1714), chose to drink tea over ale (aka: beer) with her breakfast. Others soon followed and it became well established as the morning drink of choice by the 18th Century.

What many might find surprising is that English Breakfast Tea wasn’t even “invented” in England.  It was first developed by the Scottish Tea Master Drysdale in Edinburg. The original blend was a combination of fine black teas from India and China and included some Keemun which is a full bodied black Chinese tea that is often toasty. He simply called it “Breakfast Tea”  – and because Queen Victoria loved “all things Scottish” it immediately became popular. Tea merchants in London used the power of branding and marketing and changed the name to what is now known as ENGLISH Breakfast Tea which is how its most commonly known today.

Most tea companies have a version of English Breakfast which can greatly vary in aroma and taste. Some use heavy China black teas, others a combination of Indian black teas. Ours is a blend of Indian black teas. It’s smooth, classic and is missing the heaviness and “smoke” in the aftertaste common in other blends. We drink it in its natural state without cream and sugar, but it does stand up well to both.

This week we delight in offering our Breakfast Blend for the 3rd week of our Random Acts of (Tea) Kindness Holiday Sale, enter code: RATKBB at Checkout on our website to enjoy 25% OFF our Breakfast Blend.  Discount ends on Thursday Dec 21th at 11:59pm.

Be sure to tag us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) with #PFTeaKindness with one of your Pearl Fine Teas and you may be the recipient of a FREE Breakfast Blend!

Cheerio and Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Kindness #03: Breakfast Blend

Tea Kindness #02: Black Vanilla Bean

vanilla tea
Black Vanilla Bean Tea (Caffeinated)

Are you still following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook? Last week we gave away Rooibos Blueberry to a random tea lover.

For our second week of our Random Acts of (Tea) Kindness, we’re featuring  Black Vanilla Bean. That old cliche about vanilla being boring is simply, not true.

• Did you know that Vanilla is actually a member of the orchid family?
• That it’s origins are native to the Caribbean, and South and Central America?
• And that it’s only second to saffron as most expensive spice in the world?

Check out this fabulous and fascinating article written by Nat Geo about the History of Vanilla.

For those of you who lean towards the vanilla/dessert on the tea spectrum, this is your cup of tea. The base is a black tea from Vietnam that is balance, smooth and without smoke. The vanilla bean flavor is rich, real, and righteous. The aroma reminds me of a homemade vanilla cake without the sugary sweetness. Brewed correctly it requires no sugar. Should you desire sugar, a literal dot is the right amount.

Flavored black tea blends can be tricky to balance. Not this one. You won’t find a nicer Vanilla Bean Black Tea anywhere.

To take advantage of our Random Acts of (Tea) Kindness Holiday Sale, enter code: RATKVAN at Checkout on our website to enjoy 20% OFF Black Vanilla Bean Tea!

Discount ends on Thursday Dec 8th at 11:59pm.

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Kindness #02: Black Vanilla Bean

Tea Kindness #01: Blueberry Rooibos

Blueberry Bliss Rooibos Tea.
Blueberry Rooibos

Welcome to December and the first Friday of the last month of the year. We’re only 8 days out from Thanksgiving and it seemed appropriate to kick things off with Blueberry Rooibos Tisane – given how important blueberries were to settlers from England. Why no one associates blueberries with that American holiday is a mystery to me. Here’s a little blueberry history:

During the 17th century, (when ships landed in the New World) settlers started to colonize and clear land for farming so that they could grow food to survive. Since the New World had a very different terrain (and climate) successful farming was difficult. It wasn’t until 1620, when Wampanoag Indians stepped in and taught the Pilgrims new skills to help them survive. This included planting corn, foraging, gathering native plants and how to find, dry and store blueberries for winter. That mighty berry actually became a critical food source; and a beverage made of blueberries became a major staple during the Civil War.

But blueberries go father back then just the 17th Century.  Botanists estimate them to be the oldest living thing on earth: around 13,000 years old. In comparison, according to Chinese legend, the history of tea began in 2737 B.C.E.

If you are a blueberry fan, as I am, you will love this Tisane. (Remember a Tisane is what you call herbs, spices and rooibos – which isn’t actually Tea.) The green and red rooibos base blended with dried blueberries is fantastic hot and also over ice. Its a great tea for children to enjoy or anyone that is sensitive to caffeine. It’s got a desert-like quality to it and a natural sweetness without any added sugar.

Rooibos has so many health benefits which I discussed in past posts, but here is a top 10 List:

  1. Naturally caffeine free–recommended for people suffering from irritability, headaches, insomnia, hypertension, nervous tension and mild depression.
  2. Rich in antioxidants that boost the body’s immune system.
  3. May help slow the ageing process.
  4. Anti-spasmodic, thus relieving stomach cramps
  5. Low in tannins–won’t impair the absorption of iron and protein in the body.
  6. Helpful for the relief of stomach/digestive problems like nausea, heartburn, stomach ulcers and constipation.
  7. Anti-allergic–has a soothing effect on irritated skin when directly applied to the affected area.
  8. Free of oxalic acid; safe for people suffering from kidney stones.
  9. Beneficial in the management of allergies like hay fever, asthma & eczema.
  10. High in minerals, complementing our daily intake of iron, calcium, magnesium & zinc; needed for maintaining a healthy immune system.

If you are new to Rooibos, this blend is a nice introduction. From today, Dec 1 through Dec 7th, please enjoy an added discount on our Blueberry Rooibos by using code: RATK20 at checkout!

** Remember to follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram because someone will be chosen randomly to receive this tea for free during our Random Acts of (Tea) Kindness Initiative this month.

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Kindness #01: Blueberry Rooibos

(Tea) Kindness

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Illustration credit to Random Acts of Kindness.org

A cute cartoon came through my news feed on Facebook from RandomActsofKindness.org.  If you aren’t familiar with them, it’s worth checking out.  I’ve seen posts from them before, but this one? I loved best. Probably because it shows a cute mini-monk sipping tea with his beloved cat friend–also sipping tea. So happy. So peaceful. So comforting. In one little cartoon.

I’m a huge fan of small things and Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) overall. I’ve seen and experienced first hand what it does for the person on the receiving end – as well as the person initiating the kindness. Always a win-win. I also believe in the Number 1. And that 1 person, 1 thought, 1 step, 1 action can make a big difference. Even just sitting with someone over a simple cup of tea can have tremendous impact.

2017 was a milestone for Pearl Fine Teas. It marked a decade in the world of tea. We just kept going 1 step at a time…. 1 sip at a time… and woke up in July celebrating our 10 year Anniversary. This business has brought a lot of joy from so many people… even strangers (some who have become friends.) There have been many kindnesses bestowed along the way and I hope I’ve been paying it forward under my little 100 sq ft TeaTent each week.

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Last year I blogged 25 Days of Tea leading up to Christmas Day. This year starting Friday December 1st and every Friday until Dec 29th, we’ll feature a tea, a holiday discount and offer a weekly Random Act of (Tea) Kindness. We’ll choose someone from our Twitter, Facebook,  Instagram or from our E-mail sign up list to receive a free 25gram bag of one of our most popular loose leaf teas.

If you haven’t signed up on our website for specials and news, you can click here.  Be sure to follow us on social media – especially on Fridays! And… if you feel inspired to participate in a Random Act of (Tea) Kindness, use the hashtag  #PFTeaKindness and tag us so we can see how you are changing lives one small, random act at a time!

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

(Tea) Kindness