Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Danish Way of Tea

Tea is nearly unheard of in Denmark, and if you can get it, it is usually poorly made. This makes me very sad.

All hope is not lost, however. The Danes do seem to have a hankering for black specialty teas. And Copenhagen hosts several tea rooms.

Today is a black tea with cocoa and chili. I don't think you can get more *special* than that! ;)

Tea Sandwich Tuesday: Celery and Walnut Tea Sandwiches

We're recovering from spring break. Doesn't that sound strange, having to recover from time off? But it is nice to get back into our normal routine.

Celery and Walnut Tea Sandwiches

Mix cream cheese with chopped celery and walnuts, and spread on bread. Cut into desired shapes. Serve. Enjoy!

Wasn't that amazingly easy?

Today I slowly sip, and enjoy, a caramel apple rooibos tea. Peace be with me. Isn't this mug sweet? The handle is the tail.

The Belgian Way of Tea

Belgium is another country where coffee is king. But Belgians do seem to love green tea, as they focus on health and wellness. Herbal teas, however, still outnumber regular tea by a 2:1 margin.

I raise my tea mug to Belgium today, and drink a mate, green, and rooibos tea with peach and blackberry.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Norwegian Way of Tea

While Norwegians lean toward green tea and flavored green teas, tea is mostly seen as a drink for women. Norway is much more into coffee drinking, being one of the world leaders per capita for coffee consumption.

But, not to lose hope, tea drinking for health benefits is on the rise. My Norwegian ancestry doesn't even fight my love of tea. It just accepts it.

To heck with it, I'm drinking a vanilla flavored black tea. And thoroughly enjoying it!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Czech Way of Tea

My husband is Czech, and while he is mostly a coffee drinker, he does surprise me every now and then by drinking a nice cup of tea.

Tea is not hugely popular in the Czech Republic, but they do lean toward herbal and flavored green teas. Fruit teas do not seem to be as popular, which is funny, because that's the very kind my husband seems to prefer. Tea seems to be mostly consumed in the morning and cold evenings.

Local legend says tea was introduced by a Russian anarchist named Mikhail Bakunin. The story goes he asked for a cup of tea, and when no one knew what he was talking about, he proceeded to brew the first cup and introduced the Czechs to tea.

Tea houses are a recent arrival. There were several around the time of WWI, but they did not survive the Communist occupation. The late 1980s saw them return; they are known as cajovny. The varieties of caj (tea) include white, green, black and oolong.

In honor of my husband's heritage, I'm drinking a green tea with ginger and safflower.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The German Way of Tea

Tea made its way to Germany around 1610, via East Frisia and the Dutch East India Company. Like many countries when tea is first introduced, it was considered medicinal. Despite some issues in the late 1700s, where attempts were made to curtail tea consumption, the prohibition was lifted. Tea is as big as coffee in Germany, and they are rather particular about it.

Loose tea and tea glasses are preferred to tea bags and tea cups.

Tea is consumed anywhere from two to four or more times a day, usually three glasses at a sitting. It is offered to every visitor to the home. Cream is added using a special spoon, a Rohmlepel, to the side of the glass, causing a cloud like shape to form on top of the tea. The cream is not stirred into the tea. It is considered bad manners to drink less than three cups, but once finished, turning the cup upside down signals one is done.

Tea is sweetened with kluntjes, which is a type of rock sugar candy. The sugar makes a crackling sound as the hot tea is poured over it.

I don't have any tea from Germany. I'm going to make do with a green tea with plum and passionfruit.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Irish Way of Tea

It is said that no country drinks more tea, per capita, than Ireland. Americans are known for leaving a pot of coffee on all day long, but the Irish are known for doing that with tea. They like their tea strong. It is said they like it so strong that a fork will stand up in it.

I haven't tested this theory, of course.

The Irish also like milk with their tea, a practice I am not a fan of. They add the milk first, sometimes as much as filling half the cup.

Tea came to Ireland around the 19th century, and was reserved for special guests. This, mostly, because tea was expensive. It did eventually make its way into the rural areas.

So, today, in honor of St. Patrick, have some tea. Green tea, if you are feeling festive, Irish Breakfast if you want to be more traditional.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The English Way of Tea

When most people, myself included, thinks of tea customs, England immediately comes to mind. Afternoon tea, high tea, just tea in general always brings to mind something quintessentially English. And while this  may indeed be the case, tea is actually something relatively new to England.

It may have been King Charles II and his Queen Catherine of Braganza that popularized tea in the 17th century in England, but it was the Duchess of Bedford who, in the 1800s, made afternoon tea fashionable.

Although, as Americans, we tend to view afternoon tea as a posh affair, with delicate teacups and saucers and dainty finger foods, the word *tea* can also be used to mean a late afternoon meal. And, fyi, there is a difference between afternoon tea and high tea.

Mostly, tho, I wanted to talk about English tea customs just to show off my tea mug.

Yes, you can be jealous...! Even if I am being somewhat cliche' by drinking English Breakfast tea right now.

And, if you don't know who this is, you very clearly are not a fan of the BBC!

Food on the Fifteenth: Earl Grey Rice

Spring break is upon us, and we've been busy doing stuff. By stuff, I mean going to different parks to walk. Yeah, we're wild and crazy like that. Consequently, my post today is late, but nonetheless, I'm sharing!

Earl Grey Rice

Boil two cups of water. When it begins to boil, add two teabags of Earl Grey tea. Let steep. I let mine steep a few hours. When cool, remove tea bags. Pour the water into a measuring cup to see if you still have two cups of water, or if you need to add any to make two cups. Pour this back into the pot, add one cup of brown rice, a 1/2 t. of salt and a 1/2 t. of pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 40 minutes. Serve. Enjoy!

This is quite tasty and smells so good cooking!

I'm eating mine with a mate' with orange and blackberry.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Short and sweet

Too much adulting today. I came home, put together two jigsaw puzzles, and relaxed with a cup of tea. Glad life is getting back to normal.

Green tea with mandarin orange and jasmine:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Scottish Way of Tea

Tea was introduced into Scotland by Mary of Modena, the Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, between 1685-1689.

High tea in Scotland is very carb heavy, and involves hot food, as well as plenty of baked goods.
Afternoon tea can be pretty heavy, too, but doesn't usually involve hot food.

The best I can do for my nod to Scotland, is to enjoy some Scottish Breakfast tea. And maybe some carbs...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The French Way of Tea

Another country where tea drinking was generally reserved for the noble classes was France. King Louis XIV drank tea for his health. Tea was believed to aid digestion, prevent gout, and ward off heart disorders. It is reported that the Princesse de Tarente drank 12 cups of tea a day. Tea was seen as a drink of decadence and indulgence for the elite, and we all know what happened to Marie Antoinette abd her king.

Fortunately, despite its bourgeois beginnings, tea eventually became a drink for everyman, and has seen a new favorability in France. French pastries and tea make perfect partners.

I don't have any exquisite French teas, so I'll settle for a white tea with plum.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Spanish Way of Tea

Spain is another country that seems to prefer coffee to tea. Coffee shops were popular hangouts for men to gather, drink coffee, and discuss politics. Tea was introduced by Queen Victoria Eugenia, the daughter of Queen Victoria. Because it was introduced by the Queen from her native Britain to her court, tea was considered a drink of high society. Despite this, they do offer several different teas. One of these teas is Pu-erh, or Te Rojo.

Curiously, while Pu-erh is a black tea, in China it is known as a red tea.

To celebrate, today I am drinking a nice Pu-erh tea.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Italian Way of Tea

My daughter had a car accident today (she's fine, if sore), and it seemed only fitting that when I read about tea customs in Italy, it is suggested that Italians only drink tea at home when they are sick.

Add to this the suggestion that asking for a cup of hot tea in Italy gets you water run through a coffee machine, imparting the taste of coffee to your tea. Just today, in fact, while out with my daughter, we sampled tea in a store we were visiting, and it was overwhelmed by the taste of, you guessed it, coffee. No doubt they used the same machine to brew the tea that they have previously brewed coffee in. For someone who doesn't drink coffee, it really destroys the tea when this is done. Yuck!

Keep in mind that Italy is the home of espresso and cappuccino, so the idea that tea is not commonplace there makes perfect sense. The teas that are generally consumed are chamomile or fennel. Both are herbal and can be viewed as medicinal.

So, today, I am drinking some chamomile in a mom related mug. Just because.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tea and depression and stress

There is an herbal tea that is known in India as holy basil, revered as a sacred herb. Compounds in this herb increase the production of hormones that make you feel good, and works, in that way, similarly to some anti-depressant drugs. Only faster and without negative side effects!

It has been identified as an adaptogenic herb  that also helps stressed out adrenal glands, helping reduce their output of cortisol and adrenaline.

What is this gift to mankind?


There are several different tulsi teas available, and many right at your local grocery store. Today I am sipping a lemon ginger tulsi. Remember ginger from my post the other day? Yeah, I told you I follow my own advice!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tea Sandwich Tuesday: Ham and Pineapple Tea Sandwiches

Seems like my grocery store has finally restocked the vegan deli ham slices again. I'm really waiting to find the Tofurky one, but no luck so far.

Ham and Pineapple Tea Sandwiches

One package vegan deli ham slices
Thinly sliced pineapple
Vegan honey mustard
Vegan mayonnaise

On one slice of bread of choice, thinly spread mayonnaise. Tear off cilantro leaves and dot over the mayonnaise. Layer this with a couple of slices of vegan ham, followed by the sliced pineapple. Spread the mustard on the second bread slice, and top the sandwich. Slice into desired shapes. Serve. Enjoy!

I enjoyed mine with a green tea with ginger, cinnamon, peppermint leaves, and rose petals.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tea and winter weight loss

I've lost about 26 pounds so far this winter season. I mean, I have quite literally worked my butt off. I also follow my own advice about drinking tea. Shocker, I know. I've posted about oolong and green tea and weight loss, and white tea and fat cells. But there is another tea that helps.

Ginger tea.

Yes, ginger tea is technically an herbal tea and not a "real" tea, but are you really going to quibble? Ginger is known for helping with a queasy stomach, but did you know that sipping three cups a day burns nearly 150 calories? It seems to be a metabolism booster. Ginger is a diuretic that helps to relieve swelling, bloating, and water retention. This can help make you appear thinner, while you actually work on getting thinner!

Off to sip some ginger tea!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tea for your winter skin

I am surprised by how many tea blends include rooibos. And it's a good replacement for tea drinkers who don't want caffeine. But it's also good for your skin.

If you find that the winter has not been kind and your skin is dry, brew up some rooibos. It is a source of aspalathin, an antioxidant known for its anti-inflammatory - and youth preserving! - qualities. Some research suggests that drinking a cup a day of rooibos can repair your complexion as effectively as expensive face creams!

So, drink up! I'm having a rooibos gingerbread chai:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Turkish Way of Tea

I read that the people of Turkey drink so much tea, they now rank number one in tea consumption, per capita, in the world! The average Turk consumes seven pounds of tea a year! Dang! And I thought I drank a lot of tea!

They brew tea in Turkey differently, as well. They use a caydanlik, with is a double boiler kind of pot. Water is boiled in the bottom pot, while tea leaves are placed in the top pot. Once the water has boiled, it is poured into the top pot and allowed to steep. For a looooong time - 15 to 30 minutes.

It is then served in glasses, not mugs. Like in Morocco, tea is often offered to shoppers while they consider their purchase. Like coffee shops all over the US, in Turkey, they have instead cay (tea) gardens where people gather to chat, play games like backgammon, smoke hooka, and drink tea. With one caveat - women aren't often allowed in these establishments. Boo!

When you are done with your coffee in a restaurant in the US, many people will turn their cup upside down. Don't do that with your tea glass in Turkey! It tells your host/ess that the tea was bad!

Today, have some baklava and a cup of strong tea. I'm having the tea - minus the baklava.

I'm having a peach cobbler black tea:

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Russian Way of Tea

Russia is another country with its own tea drinking traditions. I've read that tea is typically served after a meal with dessert. The tea is rarely served with milk or cream, and usually includes lemon. What makes Russian tea different, for me at least, is the use of a samovar.

A samovar is a metal container heated to boil water. It has a faucet at the bottom, and nowadays are electric. The expression, "to sit by the samovar", is taken to mean basically, "let's chat and drink tea!"

This is an example of a samovar I found with a simple Google search:

They are quite varied, and some are stunningly beautiful!

Today I'm drinking a tea made from a recipe for a Russian tea, that I found tea. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Moroccan Way of Tea

In many countries, tea is a way of life, and Morocco is no exception. I had read a little quip in a magazine how drinking tea was just part of the transaction involving buying a rug. Intrigued, I did a little Google search, and was both surprised and delighted to read this is not uncommon!

In Morocco, offering tea is showing hospitality, and a way to bond and create new relationships. Isn't this divine?

The common tea consumed is a gunpowder green tea with mint and sugar. Sometimes pine nuts are added. The tea is considered drinkable only if it has foam on top. To achieve this foam, the tea is poured from a teapot with a long narrow spout, from a height of about twelve inches. The tea is served in small glasses.

Bread soaked in tea is often given to babies.

An interesting article about the mysticism and preparation of the tea can be found here. There are lots of pictures there, too.

So what am I drinking today? Why, Moroccan Mint tea, of course!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teabags and manicures

Years ago I had this little kit for repairing nails. It consisted of glue and strips of a mesh type paper. Imagine my surprise when I realized I could achieve the same results with super glue and teabags!

Yes, really. Since I save all the tea inside of teabags anyway for my garden, having access to dry teabags is a regular thing here. And, since I do love having long nails - even when they are more often than not impractical - because they make me feel very feminine, it has been a big help. The tragedy of long nails is, besides jamming them into things unintentionally, they break. Or chip. Or snag. You get the picture. So, I employ the use of a small snip of a teabag and some super glue, and voila! "Normal" nails. Well, normal as can be once you apply some glittery polish to hide the little rough part from the glue and teabag.

I'm not making this sound like much of a life hack, am I?

But the truth is, it works. It allows me to keep my nails long, and painted. Once the nail grows to a point I can trim or file it, the damage is gone. So it's really worth it, for me at least, in the end.

And I get to sip my white peach tea while my nails dry...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tea Sandwich Tuesday: Cream Cheese and Preserves Sandwiches

This has got to be the easiest, simplest tea sandwich recipe ever.

Cream Cheese and Preserves Sandwiches

One container vegan cream cheese, softened
Fruit preserves - your choice (I had strawberry rhubarb on hand)

Mix about a tablespoon or two of preserves into the cream cheese, blending well. Spread this on the bread of your choice, and cut into desired shapes. Serve. Enjoy!

Seriously, could it be any easier?

White tea with cinnamon in Herself the Elf mug: