Much Ado About Matcha

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Some healthy stuff people 😉

Good Morning folks!

Today’s post is a Tea Culture post on the production & power of Matcha. You may be asking yourself – What do I do with it? Should I jump on the Matcha bandwagon? What’s with the funky green color?

Yes, yes, I know, it seems like a very confusing – and depending on where you go – very expensive product. Bear with me, and I will guide you through all of the questions you are asking yourself right now 🙂

But I have a feeling after you read this post you will be convinced to give it a try, simply because of the myriad of pure health benefits from consuming this magical elixir known as Matcha.

Let’s jump in to it!

Production

So, first off, the color. What gives? What makes it sooo green? To sum it all up, Matcha is the purest form of green tea you can buy (hence the green! Ooh! Makes sense hey?). Matcha comes from the Camellia Sinesis plant. If you have followed along with previous Tea Culture posts, the Camellia Sinesis plant is the plant responsible for a wide number of teas: Oolong, Black and Green – and Matcha is no exception. There are many varieties of the Camellia Sinesis plant, which is why there are so many variations of loose leaf tea.

The varieties of the Camellia Sinesis plant also produce a wide variety of Matcha. The highest grade of Matchas come from one of 3 varieties of Camellia Sinesis plants, known in Japanese as:

  1. Samidori
  2. Okumidori
  3. Yabukita

Many teas are harvested multiple times throughout the year, and a second harvest is referred to as a second flush. Many matcha producers create second and even third flushes. In contrast, matcha is harvested once a year, typically in May. The tea leaves are shade grown, with the highest grade matcha grown in near-darkness by the time harvest rolls around. From here, new shoots are harvested and steamed. Once the leaves are dry, they are sorted for grade (with the youngest, greenest, most tender leaves earning the highest marks).

Then the time-consuming task of destemming and deveining happens. The leaves that make it through this rigorous process are called tencha, and, of course, the quality of tencha varies widely. Tencha is then kept refrigerated until it’s ready to be ground, using large granite wheels that rotate very slowly and gently to avoid scorching,  into the very fine powder we recognize as matcha. It takes more than an hour to grind 30 grams, which is one of the reasons hand-milled matcha costs so much (in addition, labor costs are quite high in Japan). It is this grinding process from which matcha, literally, “ground tea”—derives its name. The ground tea is then vacuum packed and refrigerated at low temperatures until it ships.

Benefits

One serving of matcha tea is the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regularly brewed tea. Not to mention, matcha powdered green tea has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. Matcha tea contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known as catechins. In particular, the catechin EGCg contains many cancer-fighting properties. Most importantly, EGCg and other catechins counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCg, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body.

So … pretty crazy stuff huh?

If you are ready to try it out, we have matcha available for purchase here at Bean Around Books & Tea, and available for purchase online at www.beanaroundbooks.com

Stay tuned for future Tea Culture posts, and news. As always, thanks for reading!

Cheers! Lindsay 🙂

Sources

http://www.itoen.com/loose-leaf/matcha

http://www.breakawaymatcha.com/how-matcha-is-produced/

British National Tea Day

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Hello there!

This is a quick post to let you know that this Thursday is British National Tea Day – a celebration of Britain’s national drink, in all its flavors and guises which help people wake up, get through their working day, and round off the day in relaxation

In honor of such an important day a social media campaign is encouraging tea drinkers to share their tea story using the hashtag #nationalteaday whether it be their 3 cups before work, a loved one they share a brew with,  or tea tastings they go to, every tea drinker can take part.

For more information on British National Tea Day check out nationalteaday.co.uk

And follow Bean Around Books & Tea on twitter and Facebook as we celebrate all things tea as we count down to Thursday 🙂

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to check back often for new posts.

Cheers! Lindsay 🙂

World Health Day – Beating Diabetes

Hello hello! Today at Bean Around Books & Tea we are celebrating World Health Day. This year’s theme is Beat Diabetes, a disease that affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians every year. Which is why today’s post is slightly different than other past Tea Culture posts we have done, because rather than focusing on one particular type of tea and it’s health benefits we are bringing the tea to the table, and going in depth on how all different kinds of tea are effective in managing diabetes (check out our super tea list below! 🙂 )

Tea and Diabetes truly go hand in hand (which sounds bad, but it’s true!) – the many health benefits of tea have been researched and have shown to tackle diabetes over spans of time, such as this Dutch study completed in 2009. Researchers found that people drinking up to 3 cups of tea a day could reduce the risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes by up to 40%!

Diabetes greatly restricts what people can eat, when they can eat it and their overall life. But drinking tea is one more wonderful addition to your diet that can help prevent diabetes.

The way the body works, insulin comes along to decrease sugar within the body, but with type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t so sensitive to insulin, so blood sugar levels go up. Through a complex biochemical reaction, tea helps sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar (http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/drinking-tea-diabetes-prevention/). In addition, tea contains polyphenol – which researchers believe to increase insulin activity – can help protect against inflammation and carcinogens. In other words, tea also has the potential to reduce the risk of getting certain forms of cancer.

By now you may be asking – What if I already have Diabetes? Am I too far gone?

No, not at all! In fact, emaxhealth claims there are 5 super teas that you should drink to help manage your Type 2 Diabetes:

  1. Bilberry/Huckleberry Tea
  2. Black Tea
  3. Ginger Tea
  4. Green Tea
  5. Sage

For those of you who do not have diabetes but are looking for further tips besides drinking tea to reduce the risk of diabetes, try keeping your alcohol intake to a minimum, don’t smoke, eat a minimal amount of processed foods, try to incorporate some form of physical activity in every day and include a variety of  fresh vegetables in every meal.

For more information on other preventative measures and fast facts about diabetes please visit diabetes.ca 

As always, thank you so much for reading and check back often for new blog posts!

Cheers! Lindsay 🙂

Recipe Feature: Ginger Chai with Milk

Gooood morning! Hope your Easter long weekend treated you well. Quality family time, painting Easter eggs, too much chocolate. Sound familiar? 😉

I have been pretty good with not eating too terribly this holiday, and I am hoping it stays that way. It can be hard when a holiday rolls around to attempt to eat healthy ( like Christmas? You can totally fugetaboutit -_- ) because of all the great food options that only come around once or twice a year during the holidays. However, this recipe I think you will find to be a healthy one, which can satisfy your sweet tooth craving in a pinch.

As we wrap up the month of March and say hello to April, we can start to look forward to more iced tea recipes, best enjoyed with sunny days (well…sort of if you are on the West Coast, we still get our fair amount of precipitation 🙂 ) and outdoor activities.

But alas, I am throwing your way one more hot drink recipe before we make the switch: Ginger Chai with Milk. Your spice cabinet provides a cornucopia for sprucing up your cuppa tea  as well as providing a wealth of health benefits, case in point my last recipe for Turmeric-Honey Spiced Tea.

But back to Ginger Chai with Milk! This yummy recipe will be sure to warm you up both spice wise and heat wise.

Ingredients

  • 4 tea bags of Bean Around Books & Tea’s Organic Masala Chai
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground-ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh).
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 cups of boiling water

Instructions

  1. Steep 4 tea bags of Bean Around Books & Tea’s Organic Masala Chai in 4 cups of boiling-hot water.
  2. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 whole cinnamon stick, 1/8th teaspoon of ground cloves & 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
  3. Steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in 2 teaspoons of honey & top each serving with a splash of 2% milk ( frothed is extra yummy) & a dash of cinnamon.
  5. Enjoy!

This was a quick post today – but it’s been a while since we have put out a blog post and I thought well gosh darn, it’s about time we put a new one up. I think that this drink would be great to make as a substitute for the soft drinks and juices that are often consumed during holidays, or you could even try it out for your post-meal tea & coffee.

Stay tuned for further recipe features, tea culture & tea at a glance posts.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers! Lindsay 🙂

Oogling over Oolong

Hello hello one & all! A very happy Monday to you 🙂

To start off this week, we will be talking today about the production, health benefits & quick facts about Oolong Tea!

A quick pronunciation lesson – “Ooh-Long“. The origin of Oolong Tea dates back to almost 400 years, originating during the Tang Dynasty. Without further ado, keep reading to learn about the production process & benefits of Ooooh – loooonggg tea – that was just as fun to say as it was to type 🙂

Production

Oolong Tea is made from the bust, stems & leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant, with its main growing regions in the Fujiang and Guangdong provinces of China and Taiwan. This is the same plant that is used to produce green tea and black tea, but the ultimate difference is in the fermentation/oxidation process: Oolong Tea is partially fermented, Black Tea is fully fermented and Green Tea is unfermented.

The production of Oolong Tea is a long one, with several steps to ensure the tea is properly produced.

  1. First, Oolong tea goes through the process of Withering – picked leaves are spread out (either inside, or outside in the sun) which evaporates the water and begins the process of natural enzymatic fermentation.
  2. Tossing/Bruising is the next step in the production process – the shaking of the leaves with the aid of machines to further break down the mechanical means which improves the oxidation, mixes chemical elements from the stems with leaves. This removes bitterness from the flavor of the tea.
  3. Next the leaves go through the process of Oxidation, in which the leaves essentially are left to rest after going through the first 2 processes. The amount of time the tea leaves are left to rest determines how fermented the tea becomes. At this point the leaves turn a dark green or red color due to the breakdown of the cell structure of the leaves.
  4. The fourth step is Kill-Greenin which the process of fermentation is stopped & growing processes within the leaves cease without damaging them. Some techniques used to do so are steaming the leaves, hand pressing in a hot pan and baking.
  5. Rolling or Forming the leaves occurs when leaves are passed through hot and/or cold rollers to slightly break down the leaves, which establishes the shape of the leaves and intensifies the flavor of the tea.
  6. Drying – This process establishes the final moisture content of the leaves, stops fermentation and develops the tea’s aroma.
  7. Firing – The last step involve various methods of roasting in a pan or a basket with charcoal or electric heat are used to give a smoky flavor or a fruity characteristic.

Health Benefits

There are many health benefits to drinking Oolong Tea, including the reduction of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, inflammatory disorders & high cholesterol levels while providing vital antioxidants, promoting superior bone structure, healthy & good dental health. Containing a fruity flavor with a pleasant aroma, the health benefits are doubled in Oolong Tea because it is essentially a combination of green tea & Oolong tea.

Further health benefits include weight management, supports the removal of harmful free radicals within the body, diabetes control, anti-cancer properties, stress management, and helping to improve mental health & physical performance.

A word of caution when consuming Oolong Tea

It is important to remember that Oolong Tea tend to be high in caffeine. Too much oolong tea, more than five cups per day, can cause side effects because of the caffeine. These side effects can range from mild to serious and include headache, sleeping problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremors, heartburn and dizziness.

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, oolong tea in small amounts is ok. However, do not drink more than 2 cups a day of oolong tea. Too much caffeine during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, low birth weight, and harm to the baby. Too much caffeine during breast-feeding can cause irritability in nursing infants.

Bean Around Books & Tea‘s sole Oolong Tea is Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, which is for sale both in store and online at www.beanaroundbooks.com.

As always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future Tea Culture posts! Cheers! Lindsay 🙂

Sources: