This week we introduce a new feature to the Blog that we’re calling Steeped in Memories. In it, we will periodically feature tea-related remembrances and stories written by Mighty Leaf fans. If you have a piece that you’d like to share, contact email@example.com.
To begin the series, we’re proud to feature the work of longtime tea lover Christy Birmingham. She has written a lovely tribute to her grandmother and the soothing power of a shared pot of tea.
With a wide smile I thankfully accepted grandma’s first phone invitation to dinner. I had been in Vancouver, BC, Canada for merely a month and loneliness hung heavy on me like a wet jacket.
My new surroundings included a roommate who locked herself in her bedroom for hours on her computer. There was little interaction other than the clicking of the keys I heard with my ear against her closed door. My second roommate (yes there were two) was easier to speak to but rarely at home as her boyfriend liked to take her out during the evenings.
My hometown of Victoria, BC seemed much farther away than the hour and a half ferry ride. I cried almost every time I received a phone call from my parents. That is, if my roommates were not already on the phone line.
I drank alone from my plain white teapot each morning before heading to the bus stop. A short commute up a steep hill took me to Simon Fraser University, the reason why I left Victoria. Trying to find my classrooms, I looked up at room numbers and corridor signs as I walked rather than looking into the faces of students walking by me. Occasionally one would brush my arm. Contact was made for a fleeting second. I was twenty-one and living on my own for the first time.
When grandma Norah opened the door to me on that first visit, her thin, pale arms swiftly circled my waist for a strong hug. I quickly recovered my balance and leaned forward over her frame to return the hug. We did not speak. Neither of us needed words.
This was my first visit to see grandma without my parents. It was an unexpected plus that my grandparents’ condo was only a ten minute walk from my basement suite.
While she tended to heating up the store-bought lasagna, I grabbed the plates and silverware from the drawers as she instructed me. I wondered if my parents were missing me at their kitchen table. I tried to memorize which drawer held the utensils for future reference.
After dinner she retrieved the familiar white rectangular canister labeled “tea” from the kitchen counter. She always followed her evening meal with a cup of Earl Grey.
Grandma let me choose our china cups from the kitchen cabinet. Each cup had a matching saucer but the sets did not match one another. Each set was unique with floral and spiral patterns of various hues. I recalled seeing many of them when I was a child.
I used to imagine her hosting events with her closest female friends, the ladies bringing my grandmother hand-crocheted tea-cozies and coasters as hostess gifts. The ladies sat with perfect posture as they drank from the cups I now graze with my fingers. They discussed their husbands’ jobs and the latest specials at the corner food market.
As we sat on the living room couch, I gazed at grandma’s teapot adorned with yellow and deep purple flowers. She explained that she had used the teapot for years when serving company. I marveled at the steady hand that painted such intricate artwork and the round plumpness of the porcelain base. A crack in the lid signified the many times this pot had been filled.
At the end of the visit grandma clutched my hand in her own, squeezing her fingers around my palm. Her hands felt soft and the warmth lasted longer than the handshake I had given my Criminology professor last week. As with the earlier hug, there were no words.
It was dark as I walked with quick steps back to my suite. I kept to the middle of the three roads before I reached my front door, for fear of being mugged by a stranger. I was comforted by the notion that grandma’s friendly face was close by.
I wondered if she would mind if I bought similar cups to those kept in her cupboard. Perhaps my roommates would allow me extra room on the kitchen shelves for my new set. My pale blue mug that I had used since I was a youth suddenly seemed better suited for storage as a memento rather than usage on a regular basis. I was excited by what else I might find in an outing to a china store.
Visits soon multiplied as grandma Norah welcomed me weekly for meals, cups of tea, and more hugs. My recall of our visits is vivid. My memories are as beloved as the china mugs and saucers from which we drank. It is a year ago that we lost this dear woman at the impressive age of one hundred.
As I lean back today in my chair, I take a sip of chamomile tea and raise my cup to her memory. I think of the warmth and comfort I felt as her arms surrounded me. I savor how the warm liquid surrounds my throat as I take another sip.
We love tea for many reasons. It tastes great and can energize or calm. Tea is one of nature’s most versatile products – not only can you drink it but you can use it to help heal, refresh and pamper the body. One unique way to take advantage of tea’s natural soothing qualities is to use tea bags as eye pillows – this can help reduce tired and puffy eyes. You can either use a tea bag or make your own eye pillow from loose tea and a paper tea filter. This may sound a bit alternative, but once you try it you might be hooked. It’s like a mini spa in a bag.
How to Make Eye Pillow out of Tea Bags
Steep a tea bag in warm water for 3-4 minutes to release the tea’s natural oils and aromas. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible and cool down in the refrigerator for a half hour or so. Find a comfortable position and place the chilled bags on your eyes (eyelids closed) for 20 minutes. Of course, if your eyes are feeling great, relax with tea bags even longer.
How to Make Eye Pillows with Loose Tea
Fill two paper tea filters or muslin tea bags with 2 tablespoons of tea. Soak the bags in warm water for 3-4 minutes again to activate the tea. Wring any excess water out of the bags and chill in the refrigerator for a half hour or so. Relax with bags on your closed eyelids as instructed above.
We’re excited to announce the Mighty Leaf Tea Holiday Gift Giveaway on our Facebook fan page. Starting December 8, 2011-December 19, 2011 every day for 12 days we’re giving away a holiday tea gift that you pick. You can enter daily to win your holiday pick and a chance to win a Grand Prize drawing for a Timbuk2 bag. We will choose two Grand Prize winners. Timbuk2 is a San Francisco based company known for legendary durability and custom manufacturing.
To enter the giveaway visit our Facebook fan page.
To get a preview of the gifts that you choose for entry into the sweepstakes you can browse our Facebook Gift Pick page here.
Next time you’re relaxing in the mood-lit cabin of a Virgin America flight, treat yourself to a cup of Mighty Leaf. As announced recently, our teas are available on every Virgin America flight with beverage service. The three high-flying flavors–now regularly enjoyed above the clouds–are Organic Earl Grey, Organic Spring Jasmine, and Chamomile Citrus.
“Mighty Leaf is thrilled to be flying together with Virgin America as like-minded brands, living and breathing quality and innovation,” said Mighty Leaf CEO Gary Shinner. “Mighty Leaf was born with the passion of infusing life into the ancient tea tradition while championing the modern tea experience.”
So great was our enthusiasm, in fact, that Shinner and Jill Portman, Mighty Leaf’s President, took a trip down to the airport for a photo shoot to celebrate the launch. Enjoy these pictures, and next time you’re flying with Virgin America don’t forget to drink in the moment with Mighty Leaf Tea.
To celebrate our new all-natural, fresh-brew iced tea line, Mighty Leaf Tea invites you to take it easy…and take a picture! Impress the Mighty Leaf community on Facebook with photos of your favorite ways to stay cool naturally with iced tea, and you could win! (Enter here)
HOW TO ENTER
Show us how original and creative you can be by sharing a favorite iced tea moment inspired by the goodness of all-natural ingredients and the lazy moments of summer. You can submit as many photos as you like before September 15, 2011. You and everyone else can vote for your favorite entries starting on August 15, 2011, and from those we’ll pick three winners!
First Place: $350 in Mighty Leaf Tea plus a Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker Set
Second Place: $250 in Mighty Leaf Tea plus a Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker Set
Third Place $150 in Mighty Leaf Tea plus a Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker Set
Other Prizes: All of our top 15 finishers will receive boxes of our new iced teas.
After water tea is the most popular beverage consumed in the world. That may be a surprise for many living in the U.S. who only drink tea when they are sick or looking to chill out or relax. Of course, iced tea is consumed by the gallons here in the South and in refrigerated icy bottles drunk up like soda pop. But, good old fashioned hot tea reigns supreme in many parts of the world when it comes to what people drink on a daily basis.
Why is tea so popular? Tea is an ancient drink with a rich history. Many reasons exist that stem from the intrinsic benefits of the tea plant itself and others from cultural and historical develpoments. Here are some explanations not listed in any particular order of importance.
1. Taste and Variety: It’s plain and simple – tea tastes good and there is a lot of variety to taste. Whether hot or iced, tea refreshes and uplifts with its unique tastes and flavors. Like wine, the terroir or where its grown imparts a distinctive taste profile that can yield memorable and savory moments with a cup. Whether it’s a sencha green tea from Japan, yunan black tea from China or a Darjeeling from India, drinking tea becomes a vehicle for discovery and exploration.
2. Accessibility, Cost and Convenience of Making: Accessibility, cost and the convenience of making has made tea an important part of daily life around the globe. You can find tea in any store or market. Of course, the quality may vary but with tea’s growing popularity premium whole leaf tea is more readily available than in the past.
Although tea may appear to be expensive at first glance, when you factor in the actual cost per serving, it’s one of the world’s most affordable luxuries. The quantity of tea used to make a cup will vary depending upon the tea type, but the industry standard is that on average a pound of tea can yield around 200 cups. This is much higher than a pound of coffee which yields around 40-50 cups. Keep in mind that with some oolong and green teas you can also steep multiple times further impacting the overall cost per serving analysis.
3. The Importance of Ritual and Participatory Culture: The importance of the ritual of tea drinking plays a central role in many cultures around the world. Developed in China, the original tea ceremony focuses on the actual tea itself including the taste, smell and look versus the more predefined Japanese tea ceremony with strict, memorialized rules. In China, the host and those enjoying the tea will drink tea for a number of reasons including honoring guests, showing appreciation, celebrating a life event and much more.
The Japanese tea ceremony (The Way of Tea or Chado) is highly revered for its connection with Zen Buddism and a refined attention to detail. The preparation and serving of matcha tea is elevated to performance art with an emphasis on aesthetics and harmony. Drinking strong black tea from a Samovar is a key component of Russia’s tea culture tradition. In Morroco, drinking mint tea (a mixture of gunpowder green, fresh mint leaves and sugar) is a national pastime. You can find chai wallahs everywhere in India serving up fresh cups of chai tea. Afternoon and high tea in England highlight the importance to the British of tea in society and their culture.
4. Caffeine: Let’s be honest – lots of people like tea because it’s a good alternative to coffee and provides them with a caffeine boost. Waking up or making it through a long afternoon at work can be difficult. A hot cup of tea provides a nice pick-me-up and makes it easier to get through the day.
5. Health Benefits: Many studies have been published that have concluded that tea may have positive health benefits. You can learn more here about the health benefits of tea.
James Norwood Pratt has played a large role in disseminating information on tea in the United States and in 2010 wrote a comprehensive work on tea, James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary. Enjoy this video where he chats with the viewer about his take on tea.
We are excited to provide a sneak peek at our new fresh brew Iced Tea Collection launching soon in select retail stores and online. Using our original artisan designed whole leaf pouch, we’ve created four new flavors that allow you to create your own fresh brewed iced tea without wasteful bottles. Each box will contain four biodegradable whole leaf pouches that yield a 1/2 gallon brew. Here is what you can expect with regards to the new product and flavor experience:
Sunburst Green: Sweet orange and citrus notes mingle with refreshing, smooth chinese green tea leaves.
Organic Black: Refreshingly rich and smooth south Indian organic black tea.
Calypso Mango: Succulent mango and tropical fruits blend with premium black tea.
Ginger Peach: Juicy peaches and refreshing ginger drench black tea leaves.
Making traditional matcha green tea is fun and easy. We are big fans of matcha, the premium Japanese powdered green tea that inspired the Japanese tea ceremony and provides the main ingredient in a variety of tea treats, including green tea lattes, smoothies and ice cream. Rich in antioxidants and nutrients, its complex and addictive flavor may quickly become a favorite of yours too. It also contains an amino acid, L-theanine, that is know to promote calm and a relaxed mind.
By using a tea bowl (“chawan”), bamboo tea scoop (“chashaku”) and bamboo whisk (“chasen”), you will be whipping up bowls of froty matcha in no time. Find your inner tea master and check out our video for more details.
Valentine’s Day conjures up images of chocolate and flowers, but what about tea? Herbal potions, balms and other assorted plants and flowers have been used for centuries in connection with the pursuit of romance. So why not go old school and spice up your Valentine’s Day with some tea. Of course, you can always complement the gift with flowers and chocolate if necessary. We have 5 Valentine’s Day tips to share.
Create your own tea party for two by pairing tea with fun and playful teaware. Our Matryoshka Tea Set for Two with stackable Russian doll tea cups is the perfect place to start. The teapot will put a smile on their face everytime they see it in the kitchen. If you make some sweets or sandwhiches to accompany the tea party, it will be an event to remember.
#2 Morning Tea in Bed
Start the special day off by preparing your loved one with morning tea in bed. Wake them up with our Organic Earl Grey, Vanilla Bean or Orange Dulce. Add some pastries, some sweets, fruit and, of course, lighting some candles can never hurt. Throw in the morning paper and the surprise is complete.
#3 Spa Treatment
Be good to someone you love and pamper them with a spa tea gift designed to soothe, restore and delight mind and body. Choose from our unique selection including our Matcha Clay Mask , a Spa Tea Book or our Oasia TeaFusion Spa Bath Pouches. For a unique twist, instead of using cucumbers on the eyes to reduce stress and tension, try using our tea pouches.
Satisfy their urge for chocolate with a healthy and flavorful chocolate truffle tea alternative. Made from the finest tea, chocolate, fruits and spices, our truffle teas make an indulgent and memorable gift.
#5 Tea Cocktails
Shake it up on Valentine’s Day with a new tea twist on cocktails. Serve up their favorite champagne, gin, vodka, sake or other spirits blended with our versatile tea infused Aperi-Tea mixers. Awaken and refresh with Chamomile Citrus Berry, Green Tea Tropical and Orange Jasmine Mango.
Of course, you can also make cocktails using our tea pouches or loose tea infusions as mixers for your favorite celebratory beverage. Check out this video on how to brew tea cocktails along with some tasty new recipes.
Happy Valentines Day All!