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Category: Tea

Tazo Tea

Only 10 years after the time the company was founded, Tazo Tea appears to be on its way to taking over the tea world. It’s the featured tea at all Starbuck’s locations (the company is owned by Starbuck’s) and appears on the courtesy trays at the better hotels. With its distinctive packaging and names such as Envy, Om, and Lotus, Tazo has made tea the drink of hipsters rather than spinsters.

Tazo Tea is sold in five formats: bagged, whole leaf, latte (a.k.a. chai), bottled, and pitcher-sized bags for iced tea. Teabags are available in six varieties each of black and green teas, and nine kinds of herbal teas. Their whole leaf tea comes in bags or in tins with a stainless steel infuser in the top section. Five flavors are available at Starbuck’s and at some upscale and organic markets.

Tazo Tea is imported directly from the growers and blended according to recipes created by the founder, Steven Smith. This ensures that no inferior teas have been incorporated into the blend and that conditions at a blending facility have not adversely affected the tea. The result is a superior, if pricey, tea. One variety goes for almost $50 a pound, but true tea connoisseurs won’t blanch at that.

Tazo Tea Is Available Online

You can always find Tazo Teas at your local Starbuck’s, but for the most complete selection, shop online. Many websites carry not only single varieties, but also assortments and gift baskets. A basket full of high quality Tazo Teas would be a welcome gift for any occasion.…

Stinging Nettles Have Been Used Used for Tea, Twine and Tincture

Stinging nettles are likely familiar to anyone who spent time as a child camping in the wild. Brush against them or unwittingly grab a stem and the experience won’t be quickly forgotten. They’re covered with tiny needle-like hairs that cause a painful stinging or burning sensation and leave a rash.

The plants are widespread throughout most of Europe and North America.

The scientific name, Urtica dioica, sounds appropriate for a plant that “hurts” when touched. The genus name (Urtica) comes from a Latin word meaning “to burn.” The species name refers to the fact the plants are dioecious, having separate plants for male and female.

Despite the sting, nettles are attractive plants that typically grow in stands in damp woods, disturbed areas, or almost any moist ground where they can get a foothold. They grow to about 4 feet tall with delicate toothed leaves growing opposite each other on slender stems. Clusters of tiny greenish flowers hang from the leaf axils during the summer. Plants are perennial, although the stems die back to the ground in winter. They spread by underground rhizomes, and can become pest where they’re not wanted.

The sting comes from several chemicals in the hairs, including formic acid.

Boiling Deactivates the Stinging Hairs

The stinging may seem an unlikely start for a plant that has been woven into fiber and swallowed as medicine for thousands of years.

Today nettles are a favorite of wildcrafters and wild food enthusiasts. They’re harvested using gloves then immersed in boiling water to deactivate the sting.

Over the ages, nettles have been used in folk medicine for a variety of ills, including colds and as a general tonic. A compress of nettles was used for muscle and joint aches. Today, nettle tinctures, as well as dried nettle for making tea, are sold in health food stores.

Some of the benefits associated with nettles are often attributed to high nutrient levels contained in the leaves.

Wild food enthusiasts have numerous recipes for preparing nettles to eat, including simmering in soups and sautéing, once the initial cooking has removed the sting. Young leaves are collected from the plants in the spring before the flowers appear.

A Fiber for Clothing and Fishing Nets

Many people throughout the ages have used the inside stems of nettles as a fiber for clothing. The outside bark would be removed for use in basketry, while the inside fibers were softened and processed for weaving. The inside stems can also be separated and twisted into cording. Native Americans used nettle fiber for snares and fish nets.

The rhizome and roots of nettles are bright yellow and have been used to produce a yellow dye.

For anyone who enjoys rural or woodland walks, learning to recognize stinging nettle can help avoid accidental contact and the resulting sting and rash.

Guidance with positive identification and preparation of plants from specific locations should be sought before attempting to collect any wild plants to eat.…

Dark Chocolate and Bitter Orange Cake: A Grown Up Tea Time Treat

The combination of dark chocolate and tangy orange flavours make this cake a sure fire winner. It's easy to make, dress it up or down to suit the occasion.

There's something about dark chocolate – the thin sort in the fancy wrapping paper which oozes sophistication but is also quite moreish. These days, the newspapers seem to be full of medical reports extolling the health benefits of chocolate – woohoo!

This recipe is packed with dark chocolate and therefore (probably) health benefits. If you whisk the chocolate sponge by hand, you will certainly work off a few calories as well as making a lighter more delicious cake, so go for it. It's the perfect end to an afternoon tea, or if you use double cream for the filling, a very impressive dessert.

Whisked Chocolate Sponge Cake Recipe: Ingredients

  • 5 medium sized eggs
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • tsp of grated orange rind
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • One and a half ounces of melted butter
  • Pinch of Salt
  • For the filling:
  • About 10oz of creme fraiche or a small carton of double cream
  • Half a jar of good orange marmalade
  • For the chocolate ganache icing:
  • 4oz dark chocolate
  • 4 oz double cream
  • A little grated chocolate

Dark Chocolate and Bitter Orange Cake: Method

Break the eggs into a large heatproof bowl and add the sugar. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan of hot water and whisk the eggs and sugar together for at least five minutes until they have more than doubled in bulk and resemble a pale golden mousse (see the illustration below).

Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled. The whisk should leave a ribbon trail in the mixture when you lift it up (see illustration).

Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in half the sifted flour and cocoa powder mixture, add half the cooled melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour/cocoa mixture and the rest of the butter. Fold the mixture through gently but thoroughly until all the ingredients are amalgamated.

Pour the mixture into a lined spring clip cake tin (8" in diameter). It's best to have brushed the greaseproof paper or tin foil used for lining with butter and dusted it with flour and caster sugar in advance.

Bake for about half an hour at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F, Gas Mark 4) or until the top of the cake is firm to the touch and the edges are coming away slightly from the cake tin.

Allow to cool thoroughly before filling and icing.

To Fill and Ice

When the cake is quite cool, slice it in half through the middle with a sharp knife. Spread the creme fraiche or whipped double cream onto one half and the orange marmalade on the other. Sandwich the two halves together.

To make the chocolate ganache icing, melt the dark chocolate and double cream over a low heat. Remove from the heat, transfer …