The Ritual of Tea

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Tea.

So much to love and enjoy! What makes savoring tea special for you?

Do you feel like you just need to step out of the busyness of your day? I love moving into the ritual of making tea to do just that. Add herbs and you have a mindful cup of goodness supporting your well-being. Herbs are strong allies and one reason I love using them in my blends.

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Refreshing the Spirit

Boosting Vitality

Reducing Weariness

 

These have been the driving forces for centuries of tea drinking. I participate in the ritual of making and savoring tea daily because of how it makes me feel. The act of preparing centers me, the aromas ground me, and the taste transports me.

There are many ways to savor tea and I believe that the way you prepare it affects the experience. What is your common method of preparing and drinking tea? 

To make the most of the experience, I encourage you to find a beautiful cup. Select on that brings you joy. It could be the color, the way it fits your hand, how it feels on your lips, the memories of a certain place it evokes, or even a quote that inspires you. Use this mug as often as possible in your tea ritual. Allow its beauty and familiarity to set your tea time apart from the rest of your day.

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Loose leaf teas and whole herbs naturally lend themselves to the ritual of tea. Turn the steeping process into part of the entire experience by watching the leaves unfurl in the hot water. Whether you are making a cup or a pot, using whole leaves brings a flavor complexity missing in the finely chopped leaves of a tea bag.

To prepare a single cup in your mug, select something that allows the tea and herbs room to open as they steep. I prefer a tea infuser basket as it allows the most room for your tea and herbs to expand. It is open on top, allowing you to further slow down as you watch your tea transform. The ease in cleaning an infuser basket promotes frequency in performing your tea ritual.

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A tea kettle to heat the water completes the ritual when I am home. The slow heating of my water to the temperature I desire; followed by slowly pouring it over the tea. Smelling the tea and herbs in the steam as a preview to the drinking experience prepares me to savor my cup. Sipping the prepared cup and tasting all the flavors present. 

A breath of calm marking moments of my day.

Tea has a way of bringing together community. Invite your closest friend over for a cup of tea. Savor the experience together.

 

When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment.
— Muriel Barberry
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Herb Spotlight: Peppermint

Ready for a great tasting, easy to grow herb for your garden?

Peppermint is part of a huge family of herbs. It is actually a hybrid between two other types of mint, water mint and spearmint. Like all mints, Peppermint grows well in most locations. It prefers moist soil and will spread easily. In fact, the trick is to keep it from spreading everywhere! All mints have the square stems with opposite leaves. Peppermint has a purple stem. Out of the mint family, Peppermint is considered the herb with the most health benefits. It’s cooling, calming, and aromatic. Peppermint leaves make a great tea. You can find it in my Lavender Mint Dream tisane.

This herb is most used for cramping and upset in the digestive tract along with menstrual cramps, headaches, congestion, insomnia, nausea, and colds and flu. The menthol present in the herb is often extracted and used in a variety of products. It is this constituent that helps to soothe the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and uterus.

Mint has had a varied and useful past which is really fascinating to me. Early references to mint encapsulated all the varieties as there were no differentiation.  In ancient Palestine mint was an acceptable form of tax payment. In Greek mythology Pluto fell in love with a nymph named Minthe and Persephone in a fit of jealousy turned the nymph into the plant mint. Greeks also used mint to prevent milk spoilage. It has long been used as a way to mask distasteful flavors and to enhance flavors when cooking.

Some things to keep in mind with mint is some do not recommend it in large doses for pregnant or breast feeding women. Most cautions are about peppermint oil, which is highly concentrated and can be lethal in too large of quantities. The leaf is a much safe form. It is recommended for morning sicknes as a tea. The best thing is to consult your doctor or wellness professionals to determine its safety for you. It is possible to develop symptoms of an allergic reaction as well.

 

Resources:

  • Castleman, Michael. The New Healing Herbs. Revised and Updated. Bantam Books. 2002. p.465-471
  • Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs A Beginner’s Guide. Storey Publishing. 2012. p.184-187
  • Peppermint. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved on June 6, 2016. Retrieved from            http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/peppermint
  • Peppermint. Mountain Rose Herbs. Retrieved on June 6, 2016. Retrieved from  https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/peppermint-leaf/profile
  • Peppermint Oil. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health https://nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermintoil

 

Lavender Mint Dream Cheesecake

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Don’t you agree that Lavender Mint Dream Cheesecake sounds so decadent? Or should I say dreamy?

I have a few favorite desserts and cheesecake is one of them. I admit this recipe was a bit of a challenge. It took a couple of times to get the taste of the Lavender Mint Dream the way I wanted it to have. This is a very mild recipe with just a touch of the Lavender Mint Dream present.

I selected the Lavender Mint Dream for this recipe as lavender pairs really well with baked goods. I enjoy using it in small amounts by itself when baking as it can be very overpowering. But here, combined with the peppermint and chamomile in my Lavender Mint Dream, it has the perfect balance.

Part of the success is in using a lot of tea for a small amount of water and letting it steep longer than you would when drinking a cup. I use both the liquid and the softened herbs in the recipe to get the flavor I wanted. My first go at it was with just the liquid and it really was not as strong a taste as I wanted. The herbs also give texture and color to the cheesecake too that I find perfect for this time of year.

Create the recipe, make a pot of tea, and take it all outside to enjoy the view and sounds of a warm summer night.

Lavender Mint Dream Cheesecake

Makes an 8” cheesecake

 

Lavender Mint Dream prepared tisane

2 ½ Tablespoons Lavender Mint Dream

¼ cup Hot Water

Instructions:

  • Place Lavender Mint Dream in glass measuring cup
  • Pour the hot water over the tea
  • Stir and let steep until cool, about 30 minutes
  • Set aside for use in recipe below

Crust

2 cups crushed Graham Crackers (I use Gluten-Free ones here)

¼ cup Ghee or Butter, melted

1 Tablespoon of Steeped Lavender Mint Dream (liquid and herbs)

Filling

2 packages Cream Cheese, softened

2/3 cup Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoon Gluten-Free Flour

½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 ½ Tablespoons Steeped Lavender Mint Dream (liquid and herbs)

2 Eggs, set out to bring closer to room temperature

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375° (350° if you have a dark springform pan like mine)
  • Crush the graham crackers and melt the butter or ghee
  • In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers, melted butter, and steeped tea
  • Blend until the graham crackers have absorbed all the liquid
  • Press into the bottom and 1” up the sides of the pan
  • Set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and coconut sugar
  • Blend until well combined and then some
  • Blend in the flour, vanilla, and Lavender Mint Dream
  • Add the eggs and combine well
  • Pour the filling into the pan
  • Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes, until the cheesecake is mostly set with a little wobble in the center
  • Remove from oven and set pan on a wire rack
  • Cool for 30 minutes and remove springform
  • Cool completely then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours