Fresh Vanilla Mint Iced Tea

Why hello there tea friends. I have an iced tea recipe for you today.

First, I want to stress how easy it is to make iced tea at home and what a great alternative it is to Slurpies, soda pops and Arizonas.  Any of your teas at home can be made into an iced tea.  Whatever flavour you’re in the mood for, simply double steep the tea you want to drink and pour it over ice and voila! Iced tea!

However, there are many other ways to infuse iced tea at home. I like to get a little creative every time and try something different.  Recently I have been brewing chaga mushroom tea and chilling it in the refrigerator.  After some chill time, a couple of hours or so, the chaga will be cool enough to pour over a glass of ice and enjoyed as a refreshingly earthy beverage on a hot summer day.  The chilled chaga can also be added to any of your iced tea blends, adding an earthy, full-bodied, almost vanilla-y taste to your tea.

I am still discovering places in Toronto to purchase chaga, but I found a small little shop where I can get chaga finely ground or in chunks by the pound.  House of Energy is located in Kensington Market and has everything from loose tea, crystals, handmade jewellery to mushrooms.  If you’re curious to know more about this magical mushroom, stop by House of Energy and the ladies there will let you in on the secrets of chaga.

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And finally, here is an iced tea recipe I created on the fly one afternoon while cooling down from a mid-day cooking extravaganza.

1 cup of steeped Vanilla Orchid and Spearmint tea (use about a teaspoon of tea to steep each)

a few fresh mint leaves from the garden

1 cup of chilled steeped chaga mushroom

1/2 teaspoon of agave (optional for those sweet teeth out there)

So I steeped the Vanilla Orchid with Spearmint, poured it over iced and added the mint and chilled chaga altogether in a glass.  Cool down with this fresh vanilla chaga mint iced tea (that was a mouthful), it will be the healthiest thing you do that day!

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Minty Fresh

Recently, my roommate and I have been blending our own teas in the evening to create the best soothing teas before bed.  Relaxing, yet lively, this particular blend stood out to me the most.

Spearmint

Peppermint

Chamomile

Ginger

Lemon Myrtle

Delicious. 

These are the ingredients I chose one evening after enjoying a nice day off in the sun.  A great evening tea packed with many immune system boosters and contrasting yet complimenting flavors.  I hope you’re focusing on the mint here and how refreshing it tastes when you make yourself a cup of this splendid combination.  It hits my palate on the best spots!  It creates more excitement in the tea when you have that splash of mint in there.   I definitely get into some flavors more than others, especially because of where they hit my palate.

spearmint mint

The flavors of spearmint versus peppermint are very different.  I find most people are used to the peppermint smell and taste, which is why working at DavidsTea I always try to bring both tins down for customers to smell because they each have a distinctive minty-ness to them.  Peppermint is sweeter and very soothing, blending well with other ingredients smoothly.  On the other hand, spearmint has a sharper taste that excites other teas when blended together.  It has a mint gum taste going on that pops in your mouth giving it a livelier feel.  I have been adding spearmint to a lot of my iced teas for the summer because it adds a refreshing taste that invigorates my senses!

Mint can simply be added to any of your teas.  I love adding it to greens, herbals and am currently experimenting with the black teas.  There is also a white tea from DavidsTea called Coco-lemon Thai‘ that is even better with a scoop of spearmint leaves added.  Tastes like a Mojito…minus the rum.

Lastly, everyone wants to know what each specific tea is “good for”.  Generally people know that peppermint soothes the stomach and is relaxing, can relieve headaches and has cooling properties when applied topically.  However, I wanted to contribute to a new fun fact about spearmint, so I hopped on Google and typed in “what is spearmint good for?” and this is what the Googlers came up with…

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This made me laugh.  Do people actually believe this? So I googled further… “Spearmint hair” and found this…

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In conclusion, I’ve learned that if I drink two cups of spearmint tea a day I can combat all that extra body hair, which is EXACTLY what I was hoping spearmint would do.

Thanks Google! :)

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Rainbow Raspberries

Remember Tealish?

Last week on a rainy Monday I walked into Tealish for the second time to check out some of their fruitier blends. Oh man this place is great, I love again the cozy atmosphere that wraps you up in a blanket.  It is also cool to be a customer in a tea store as most often I am usually behind the counter making tea for people at Davids.  Smelling all the teas does not get old. I love it.

I picked out a delicious coconut oolong to drink and bough two packets of tea as follows;

1. Razmintazz: a herbal tea with peppermint, giant raspberries, chamomile, apple and hibiscus.  The Tealish girl sold it to me by saying it tastes like pop rocks. Yum! Even though I don’t get that pop rocks taste when I drink it, it still satisfies my palate completely.  It’s so refreshingly fruity with a pop! of mint.

2. Rainbow Rooibos: what a great fruity rooibos with pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple and rosebuds.  Not overly fruity as you would expect with so many flavours and that’s what I love about it.

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I need to have a tea party soon so I can share all these great teas with my friends. Look at these dinosaurs just enjoying their tea.  The little guy being the hostess:)

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Top 5 Caffeine Facts

  1. Determining the levels of caffeine in a tea can be very difficult because there are so many variables that need to be considered.  Such variables include, soil, vegetation, water temperature, steeping time etc.
  2. The steeping time can change the amount of caffeine that is released into your cup of tea.  A black tea doesn’t necessarily have more caffeine than a green tea, but it tends to have that stereotype because you generally steep it longer than a green or white tea.
  3. Adding herbs and spices changes the level of caffeine because there is less of the actual Camillia Sinensis plant in the brew.
  4. Studies of caffeine levels in tea are all different; the scientific conditions in which the study takes places are also different then how each and every one of us brews tea at home.
  5. The caffeine in coffee is not the same in tea, it enters your blood system a lot slower and gives you a nice gradual increase of energy rather than that jolt you get from coffee.

tumblr_m93393bubH1r06jpwo1_500If the tea you’re drinking makes you feel good as much as it tastes good than don’t worry about the caffeine levels and just drink it!:)

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Tea and Health 101

During the Toronto Tea Festival last month I sat in on a 45-minute tea talk about the wonders of tea and its health benefits.  I thought it would be a good time to share what I have learned and let you guys know that the health benefits of tea should not be the only reason why you drink tea.  People are so concerned with what tea does what and how beneficial it is to your body when ALL tea is good for you.  That’s the main thing I want you to take away from this is that every tea is good for your body, so don’t worry about the next weight loss tea because you’re already doing a good job if you drink any tea.

As someone who works at Davids Tea I get a lot of questions about the health benefits of tea.  “Which one will make me loose weight?”…”How much caffeine is in this one?” and one of my personal favourites, “What does this tea DO?”  What does it do?  Well it… ummm tastes good?  That is not a sufficient enough answer for some.  Instead, people want to hear that tea is a magical remedy for everything health related from loosing weight to having clear skin.  And sometimes I believe that tea is a magical drink because I feel great drinking it.  That should be enough shouldn’t it?
Michelle Pierce Hamilton was the speaker that led the tea and health discussion at the Toronto Tea Festival this past February.  She was excellent!  I love that she didn’t make any concrete claims such as “this particular tea will make you loose 20 pounds!” but instead educated us about how all tea is beneficial to your body.  One of the first things she explained was how tea works together with your body.  Synergy is the word she used to explain how tea works within your body.  Tea should not be consumed as a supplement or an extract, but as a beverage.  It should be a part of your healthy lifestyle, not the only part of it.

On the other hand, tea does have a lot of health benefits.  Michelle talked about tea supporting your central nervous system allowing you to concentrate better, meditate and how it does not increase stress levels much like other caffeinated drinks.  Tea is also a good digestive aid, especially pu’erh because it is fermented and fermented foods contain probiotics which can improve your digestive system.

Now let’s talk about weight loss.  Is tea the new weight loss cure?  Maybe.  If you are replacing coca-cola with green tea than it can contribute to weight loss.  Consuming green tea can also increase energy expenditure, which means you burn energy faster and prevent the accumulation of fat in your cells.  But if you do not like the taste of green tea then why drink it?  Experiment with different green teas and find one that you actually enjoy drinking as a beverage and you will enjoy your healthy lifestyle a lot more.  If you are still eating McDonalds everyday but drinking your green instead of your coca-cola, I’m not sure you will be seeing the results you hope for.

I really enjoyed Michelle’s concept of tea working together with the rest of your body and well being.  She said something that really stood out to me at the end of her speech. If you drink tea, eat a plant based diet, exercise and have love in your life than everything will work together in your body to make you a happier and healthier person.  I am paraphrasing here but I appreciated that she included love as a part of a healthy diet because it shouldn’t be just about one aspect of healthy living but everything working in sync together.

meditation

Check out Michelle’s website and read more about the benefits of tea in my upcoming blog posts!

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Tea makes everything better (Milk Oolong part 1)

It has been a while since I have written a blog post.  The truth is I haven’t really felt like writing, my creative-writing-passionate-tea-loving side of me has been resting.  Instead I have been putting my energy elsewhere and focusing on other things in my life and there hasn’t been any positive energy left over for my blogging.  A lot has happened in the past month and as much as I haven’t felt like writing about tea, I have been drinking A LOT of it.  Tea is so beneficial to your body, not just physically but mentally as well, sometimes I can only have a certain tea when I am in the mood for it.  When I’ve been feeling upset, not just tired or sick, I make myself a cup of tea and it makes things, if only a little bit, better.  One tea in particular (which quite possibly could be the elixir of life) has recently been a prominent tea in my daily routine.  Milk Ooolong everybody.  If you haven’t tried it, please do so.  It will change your perspective on tea or just make your day a little bit happier:)

IMG_1397 Milk Oolong being shared with my sister and then re-steeped four times.  Yes FOUR times, you can even steep it another two or three times on top of that and you get a great, maybe slightly different, taste every time.

teanobleMilk Oolong being enjoyed in my new travel mug from Davids Tea! I am not only in love with this tea but my favourite way to drink it is out of my noble travel mug.  Look at those leaves expanding!

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The Toronto Tea Festival

Last Saturday February 2nd, I attended The Toronto Tea Festival.  Held at The Toronto Reference Library, the festival brought local tea lovers together to meet new tea companies, try new tea and learn about the innovative ways people use to share tea with other people.  I was a little disappointed at first on the small venue because it meant there were not as many exhibitors sharing and talking about tea.  However, if you took it for what it was, there was a great mix of different tea companies who were all individually passionate about tea in their own way.

I do wish more of the exhibitors sampled their teas because I loved the fact that there were so many elements of the festival that tickled my senses.  I was able to smell, touch and drink so many different teas.   It was a great experience especially because I could share it with people who were just as passionate about tea as I am.

Here is a list of the exhibitors that stood out to me the most:

Steeped: This particular tea company based is out of Minden, Ontario and they host tea parties in your own home!

Cha: A brand new online subscription company that sends you tea based on your personality type.  Take their quiz online and find out what tea you are!

T by Daniel: An online tea company that gives tea a modern twist, using friendly tea names and crazy infusions to make tea fun!

Bare English & Co: They created an all organic, vegan, tea-infused lip balm. The Coco-Mint flavor was amazing!

The King Edward Hotel: These guys were here because they serve afternoon tea in the hotel restaurant.

Majesteas: I really liked the presentation of this company, it was fresh, welcoming and they had a stamp card for regulars.

Another place was giving out free plastic travel mugs, there was a tea ceremony going on while we browsed through the tables and tea presentations were held throughout the day in an adjoining room. The above exhibitors seemed to stand out to me the most… it could have something to do with the delicious mini cream filled treats from The King Edward.  Also, I purchased a GREAT coconut oolong from Majesteas that I have been drinking almost every day since the festival.  MMMMM!

That is all, I will be writing my next post about the presentation I sat in on.  I wish there was more to write about, but we didn’t stay very long, maybe two hours max.  I’m not sure if it is something I would go to again.  If there were more exhibitors/tea companies, tea tasting and maybe a bigger venue I think it would have been more enjoyable.  I also wish I could have sat in on more of the presentations as I enjoyed learning new things about tea.  I did humbly enjoy my experience at the festival though and recommend going next year if you want to explore a little more about tea!

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