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Canadian Spring Welcome

It’s always exciting to watch our garden begin to come alive with the lilacs in bloom and the trees beginning to leaf and flower. I can’t wait for the warm spring mornings to drink my first cup of tea for the day on the patio. I try different kinds of tea during the day, but my first one is always English Breakfast – with milk, of course!

There are three primary types of tea: black, oolong and green. However, a fourth type is beginning to join the ranks, white tea. Of course there are hundreds of varieties of flavored and scented teas. Another type of “tea” are the tisanes or infusions, which are flowers, leaves, roots and flowers from other trees or bushes. These contain no real tea leaves from the camellia sinensis plant, so they should be called tisanes and not tea. All “real” tea will have caffeine, while tisanes are caffeine-free.

Tea Tip of the Week:
Always keep tea stored in a dry, cool, and dark place, away from sunlight and heat.
Never freeze or store tea in the refrigerator.

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Top 10 Hidden Home Uses for Tea

houseConsider it a late New Year’s Resolution: save money on household items by learning how tea can help! Betcha didn’t think of all of these nifty ways to use tea around the house.

1. Tenderize tough meat: Even the toughest cuts of meat will melt in your mouth after you marinate them in regular black tea. Here’s how: Place 4 tablespoons black tea leaves in a pot of warm (not boiling) water and steep for 5 minutes. Strain to remove the leaves and stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar until it dissolves. Set aside. Season up to 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of meat with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, and place it in a Dutch oven. Pour the liquid over the seasoned meat and cook in a preheated 325°F (165°C) oven until the meat is fork tender, about 90 minutes.

2. Clean wood furniture and floors: Freshly brewed tea is great for cleaning wood furniture and floors. Just boil a couple of tea bags in a quart (liter) of water and let it cool. Dip a soft cloth in the tea, wring out the excess, and use it to wipe away dirt and grime. Buff dry with a clean, soft cloth.

3. Clean carpets and rugs: Clean up musty, dirty carpets by sprinkling dry, used green tea leaves on the carpet. Let them work their magic for about 10 minutes, then vacuum them up. Delicate Persian and Oriental rugs can also benefit from a sprinkling of tea leaves. In this case, sprinkle nearly dry, used whole tea leaves on the rugs, and gently sweep them away.

4. Tackle the toilet: Rumor has it that used tea bags can magically remove stubborn stains in the bottom of the toilet bowl. Just leave them in the toilet for several hours, then brush the bowl and flush the toilet.

5. Deodorize anything: Get rid of fishy smells by rinsing your hands with tea after eating or preparing fish (or other stinky foods) to eliminate odors. De-stink fridges—instead of baking soda (or maybe in addition), try used tea bags in the fridge to absorb odors. And cure cat litter odor—used tea leaves can help deodorize litter boxes when mixed into the litter. Dry, green tealeaves work best.

6. Create “antique” fashions: Soak white lace or garments in a tea bath to create an antique beige, ecru or ivory look. Use 3 tea bags for every 2 cups of boiling water and steep for 20 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes before soaking the material for 10 minutes or more. The longer it soaks, the darker the shade.

7. Shine your mirrors: To make mirrors sparkle and shine, brew a pot of strong tea, let it cool, and then use it to clean the mirrors. Dampen a soft cloth in the tea and wipe it all over the surface of the mirrors. Then buff with a soft, dry cloth for a sparkly, streak-free shine.

8. Control dust from fireplace ash: Keep dust from rising from the ashes when you clean out your fireplace. Before you begin cleaning, sprinkle wet tea leaves over the area. The tea will keep the ashes from spreading all over as you lift them out.

9. Perfume a sachet: If you like to create sachets to keep drawers smelling fresh, try perfuming them with the fragrant aroma of your favorite herbal tea. Open used herbal tea bags and spread the wet tea on old newspaper to dry. Then use the dry tea as stuffing for the sachet.

10. Tend to plants: Acid-loving plants like ferns, citrus trees and gardenias thrive when you add a little tea-spiked water to their soil once in a while. You can also use tea leaves to increase the nitrogen levels in the soil, creating a nice fertilizer.

Taken from:

Adapted from Readers’ Digest; Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things and

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Brewing Tea

Brewing a cup of tea seems pretty simple proposition on the outset, but as anyone who has suffered through a bitter, over-steeped cup can tell you, to do it well requires a pinch of know-how. If you have the packaging for a particular variety of tea, reference that first to determine its ideal brew time and temperature; otherwise, try this  handy reference guide below.

HowtoBrew

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What Is Tea?



Tea is a drink that is produced from the combination of cured leaves of the Camellia Sinensis (tea) plant with hot water. Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, after water. The Camellia Sinensis plant thrives growing in tropical and sub-tropical climates, hence its origins on the continents of Asia and Africa.

The first recorded consumption in the history of tea was in China, as early as the 10th century BC. Soon, it spread to Korea and Japan. During the 16th century Portuguese exploration of the Far East, tea was traded with the West and as a result, the tea plant spread to the rest of the world. It has been said that Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese queen consort to King Charles II, introduced the drinking of tea in the UK.

tea-leavesIt wasn’t until the 19th century until tea drinking became a common pastime for all the social classes. Now, tea drinking occurs as a daily occurrence not just as a component of afternoon tea or a tea party. In the UK, it has become a ‘national drink’ of sorts and an integral part of British culture.

Types Of Tea

teasThere are (at least) four different types of tea: white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea. The type of tea depends on the type of tea processing it undergoes. Tea leaves are prone to wilt and therefore oxidise, if they are not dried quickly. As the chlorophyll breaks down, the tea leaves darken and release tannins; this process is called fermentation in the tea industry.

Tea as we know it in the UK is more often sold as teabags. Most popular brands of teabags are usually made by blending a variety of different teas together. Tea is renowned for containing numerous antioxidants and less caffeine than coffee. There are also certain teas used in diets and tea for weight loss.


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Younger Americans Are Ditching Coffee For Tea

tea wisdom

Few places can compete with the United States when it comes to coffee consumption. After the European Union, Americans are the world’s greatest coffee lovers, with the average person drinking 23 gallons of it in 2013. However, research conducted by YouGov suggests coffee is starting to lose its traditional dominance.20150226_Coffee_Fo1

Tea consumption has grown 20 percent since the turn of the millenium and it’s becoming the beverage of choice for a whole generation of young Americans. When people under 30 were asked if they preferred coffee or tea, both proved equally popular, garnering 42 percent of the vote each. The most likely explanation for tea’s rise is its perceived health benefits, with green tea in particular proving a hit.

Coffee still finds favor among older Americans, especially those aged 65 and over. 70 percent of people aged 65+ said they preferred coffee compared to just 21 percent who preferred tea. However, with tea’s momentum and popularity among young millenials showing little signs of waning, coffee’s dominance is set to erode over time.

Niall McCarthy Contributor

tea wisdom


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Tea Superstitions

To stir the pot counter clockwise will stir up trouble,
To make tea stronger than usual indicates a new friendship,
To spill a little tea while making it is a lucky omen,
If the lid is accidentally left off the teapot, you may expect a stranger bringing bad news,
To put milk in your tea before sugar is to cross the path of love, perhaps never to marry,
Two teaspoons, accidentally placed together on the same saucer, points to a wedding or a pregnancy,
If two women should pour from the same teapot, one of them will have a baby within the year,
Tea spilling from the spout of the teapot while being carried indicates a secret will be revealed,
Undissolved sugar in the bottom of your teacup means that there is someone sweet on you,
If the tag falls off the teabag while it’s in your cup, you will lose something within a week.