Announcement: North American Sustainability Awards

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In recognition of all the hard work being put forth, globally, across the tea industry, we are announcing the inaugural year of our annual North American Sustainability Awards. These will be held at this year’s North American Tea Conference, Fall for Tea (September 20-22 in Niagara Falls).

Awards will be handed out in two categories:

  • Best Social Initiative
  • Best Environmental Initiative

Submissions can be made from all aspects of the industry: growers, importers, packers, etc. More information on how to make a submission, to come.

 

What is good for the heart is good for the brain

In May we celebrate Mother’s Day and honour special women in our lives. In your family, as in mine, tea may have been traditionally part of many treasured times with mothers and grandmothers. Although thousands of years old, tea is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, as scientists continue to find evidence of tea’s healthfulness. Studies conducted with both black and green tea have yielded exciting results suggesting that natural compounds in tea called flavonoids may help to maintain good health.

There is an important distinction to make however, between herbal tea and tea. Oolong, white, green and black are considered “true teas,” as their leaves come from the actual tea plant camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. Rooibos and herbal teas do not contain leaves from the tea plant but are infusions of other plants, spices or fruit. Since Herbal teas are not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, tea experts refer to them as a “tisane.”

We already know that tea is good for the heart, and healthy blood flow is also important for the brain. Our expert, University of Toronto’s scientist Dr. Carol Greenwood connects these by saying “What is good for the heart is also good for the brain.” There is a unique aspect of tea and health research that also supports brain health and cognition.

Connection of heart and brain. Vector icon of heart and brain sy

Here are some of the studies from recent scientific findings:

  • A recent human study examined the effect of the unique tea amino acid L-theanine (-glutamylethylamide) on attention related task performance. Task performance was measured by electroencephalographic (EEG), or the measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain as recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp. The results suggest L-theanine plays a role in attentional processing in synergy with caffeine. [1]
  • A published randomized human clinical trial found that subjects given a daily supplement with green tea extract and L-theanine extracted from tea experienced improvements in mild cognitive impairments (MCI). In a test of attention and self-reported measure of alertness, subjects consumed two cups of tea (100 mg caffeine and 46 mg L-theanine) versus a placebo beverage. Results indicated that accuracy on the Attention Switching task was improved after tea as compared to the placebo, as well as performance on two of the four subtasks from the Intersensory Attention task. [2]
  • Caffeine and L-theanine in tea may offer cognitive benefits and improve mental clarity and work performance. A cross-sectional study showed that participants who consumed more tea felt less tired and reported higher levels of subjective work performance.[3]

beautiful young woman having tea with grandmother or mother

In celebration of mothers and all the special women in your life, host a tea party, maybe even outside!  There are so many varieties and flavours to choose from. Did you know there is a difference between brewing black and green teas? For black tea use boiling water and steep 3-5 min, for green tea use hot water and steep only 2-3 min. Different types of teas should be brewed at different temperatures for different lengths of time. Here are some tips to help to get you started:

Steeping Instructions

Tea Type Preparation
White 80°C / 185°F (Steep 2-5 min)
Green 80°C / 185°F (Steep 1-3 min)
Oolong 80°C / 185°F (Steep 2-3 min)
Black 100°C / 212°F (Steep 4 min)
Herbal 100°C / 212°F (Steep 3-6 min)

How to Brew the Best Cup of Tea

  • Start with fresh-drawn cold water and bring to a rolling boil and let sit to temperature suggested above
  • Warm the teapot
  • Use one teaspoonful of loose tea or one teabag per cup (6 oz. about 175 mL or ¾ cup) of water
  • When the water is at the correct temperature, take the kettle to the warmed teapot and pour over the tea
  • Cover and let steep for times suggested above
  • Strain tea or remove the teabags. Enjoy!

For more information visit the Tea Types & Steeping Instructions page.

[1]  Kelly SP, Gomez-Ramirez M, Montesi JL, Foxe JJ. L-Theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. J Nutr 2008;138:1572S–7S.

[2]  De Bruin EA, Rowson MJ, Van Buren L, Rycroft, JA, Owen GN. Black tea improves attention and self-reported alertness. 2011. Appetite, 56: 235-240.

[3] Bryan J, Tuckey, M, Einöther S.J.L. et al. The relationship between tea and other beverage consumption, work performance and mood. Appetite, 2012. 58 (1), 339–346.

Launch of the TEA SOMMELIER® Program at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute, Niagara College

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We here at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute at Niagara College are very excited to share that we’re launching TEA 101 this May!  Join myself and your fellow tea students as we dive into an introduction to this ancient beverage.   We will be learning about the different types of teas, how the tea grading system works, the origins of tea, and of course tasting (or “cupping”, in the tea world).  This all takes place at the Glendale Campus sensory lab, located right in the heart of [what I refer to as] the “gastro-haven” of Ontario.

It’s a wonderful time to be expanding on all things sensory at the college.  We already have well established wine and culinary programs and have an unrivalled beer program – tea is a natural progression for us.  We’re looking forward to bringing the world of this beautiful beverage to the Niagara Region – hope to see you there!

Kristina Inman 

Kristina Inman

Certified TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Professional/CAPS Sommelier

For more details, please visit us at: http://canadianfoodandwineinstitute.ca/programs/tea-sommelier-certification/

Beat Diabetes: World Health Day

April 7th is “Beat Diabetes” World Health Day and WHO states that “A healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and saturated fats can help prevent Type 2 diabetes, and also help people to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes if they have it.” http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2016/en/

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Adding tea to your diet is a healthy choice as it is a zero calorie beverage that pairs well with a bounty of healthy foods .

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The legendary health benefits of tea for today’s tea lover

Tea is an ancient beverage loved by people around the world. Black tea is the brew of choice in North America and Western Europe while Green and Oolong teas are popular in Asian countries. All these teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant and are linked to the potential health benefits. The difference is in way the Camellia sinensis tea plant’s leaves are handled after harvesting. Green teas are not oxidized but are rolled after steaming prior to drying; oolong teas are partially oxidized resulting in a light green to amber brew and black teas are fully oxidized leading to a darker colored liquid. Here are some more fascinating facts on tea and health:

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world next to water?
  • Tea was discovered by accident nearly 5,000 years ago?
  • Tea contains natural plant compounds called flavonoids that are good for your health?
  •  Tea can be a valuable addition to a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Tea drinkers tend to have lower risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and many other chronic diseases according to hundreds of published research studies

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THE SKINNY ON TEA AND WEIGHT[1]

Obesity is a major public health concern in the Canada, and few strategies provide long-term success. Several studies suggest drinking calorie free tea may aid weight management, helping people meet fluid requirements without the added calories of some other drink options. Preliminary research suggests that tea flavonoids may help increase metabolism and fat oxidation and improve blood sugar control.  Tea catechins (a type of flavonoid) may also provide modest shifts in metabolism that may promote weight loss and maintenance.

Tea Lover’s TIPS for March – NUTRITION MONTH 2016

Dietitians are food and nutrition experts who can help you make healthy eating/drinking changes. For Nutrition Month 2016 Dietitians encourage Canadians to make small changes that they can stick to over the long run.  You can feel good about enjoying tea as part of a healthy lifestyle. Consider these tips for your health and wellness that are related to tea:[2]

  • Unsweetened tea is calorie-free.
  • Drinking tea adds to your fluid intake and can help you satisfy your thirst.
  • Drink water or brewed unsweetened tea in place of sugary beverages
  • Try hot or iced black or green teas without added sugar or honey. Enjoy the taste of tea itself![3]
  • Taking a break with a soothing hot drink can help you relax and reduce stress.

[1] USA Tea Association  http://www.teausa.com/teausa/images/Tea_Council_-_Tea_&_Health_Brochure_-_2.14.pdf

[2] ERO http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Antioxidants/Tea-Time.aspx#.Vs0drvkrKUk

[3] Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Campaign

Halifax Tea Festival

By: Ashton Rodenhiser, Halifax Tea Festival

Halifax Tea Festival (1)

All welcome to the second annual Halifax Tea Festival. Steeped by World Tea House this event is sure not to be missed. Held at the Maritime Hall of the Halifax Forum on Windsor street in Halifax, NS welcome over 20 exhibitors from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. Festival attendees will have an amazing opportunity to meet tea growers, shop owners and artisans while they sip many samples and take in live music and learn from various workshops throughout the day.

World Tea House will be hosting a tea bar full of many goodies to try and taste. DAVIDsTEA, Satya Tea, Tea Geek’ery and many other tea experts will interact with folks and they teach and learn together. Ticket holders will also have the opportunity to get free henna design by Halifax Henna. Why not get a tea leaf reading while your there as well and purchase a pottery mug for your new tea? So many opportunities to share in the warmness that tea brings.

Halifax 2

For more information and to purchase advance tickets please visit: www.halifaxteafestival.com

Twitter: @halifaxteafest
FB: Halifax Tea Festival

Love Your Heart!

Valentine’s Day is a great time to celebrate love, but also can be a reminder to make healthy heart choices as part of your everyday life! An intricate part of this romantic holiday is, of course, chocolate. The Aztecs were among the first to use chocolate as gifts and believed it to be a source of spiritual wisdom, energy and to heighten sexual prowess. Richard Cadbury, whose famed British family manufactured chocolate, was the marketing genius who first packaged chocolate treats into the heart-shaped boxes in the 1860’s – the rest is history! Dark chocolate, which contains 70% cocoa mass, supplies the body with important amounts of polyphenols that are potentially capable of having beneficial effects on chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In a single leaf of tea, one third of it’s weight is comprised of flavonoids, which are released when the leaves come in contact with hot water. Flavonoids in foods have positive health effects that can help reduce the risk of heart disease through high antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory benefits.

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Tea and chocolate pairings

“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.” – John Q. Tullius

Ever since the introduction of the British afternoon tea tradition, tea has been considered a beverage that is best accompanied by an assortment of delicate sandwiches and pastries. What may not be well known to many people is that chocolate and tea are absolutely made for each other! Here are some suggestions for pairing teas with various types of chocolate to create your very own tea tasting:

Perfect Match Tea & Chocolate Pairing (chalkboard)

Host a heart-healthy tea party

If you are hosting an afternoon tea party, you can create a health conscience menu by replacing some of the foods or ingredients that are high in fat and sugar. The Tea Association of Canada’s dietitian Lucia Weiler has a few suggestions for a healthful and delicious tea time! This Valentine’s Day, enjoy a heart-healthy tea party with these menu tips.

Heart-healthy tea party menu tips:

 Tier 1 – Tea Sandwiches:

  • Egg Salad with watercress (Vegetarian)
  • Hummus and alfalfa sprouts (Vegetarian)
  • Cucumber and radish with a light cream cheese (Vegetarian)
  • Smoked salmon with minced fresh dill, light cream cheese and cucumber
  • Beef and horseradish (www.tea.ca) with a jar of roasted red pepper
  • Cheese (cheddar) with apple slices (leave on apple skin for colour and fibre)

Try cherry tomatoes for garnish.
Use different soft breads (look for whole grains with at least 2 grams fibre in each slice). Cut sandwiches in different shapes (square, finger, circle, moon – try cookie cutters).

Tier 2 – Sweets:

  • Grapes, berries and dried apricots
  • Biscotti or other lower calorie cookies (Skip the scones, cream, jam and rich pastries.)
  • Chocolate (a selection of fine thin slices of dark chocolate)

Easy Tea From A Teabag Versus Quality Brew

Teas:

Serve in pots. Use your favourite set or mix and match a variety of tea pots and cups.

Best Brewing tips:

  • Green and Oolong – brew for 3 minutes in 80C degree water.
  • Black tea – brew for 5 minutes in boiling water (100C).

On the side:

  • Lemon slices
  • Sugar (brown and white)
  • Milk

Just a reminder: tea without milk or sugar is a zero calorie beverage!

Enjoy the month of February!