I was told recently about a drink called a London Fog (funnily enough, not invented in London). It’s a luxurious combination of earl grey tea, steamed milk and vanilla. It’s currently freezing here in Wellington so I thought I would share my recent discovery in the hopes it will brighten your day!
Here’s how to make the perfect London Fog at home:
1. Make the tea. Brew a cup of our Bergamot Sunrise. It’s a black tea with notes of citrusy bergamot. Bring water almost to the boil and steep one teaspoon of leaves in half a cup of hot water for two to three minutes. We want the tea to be nice and strong, so the flavours shine through the milk. Once steeped, strain the leaves.
2. Steam the milk. While you’re waiting for the tea to steep, add half a cup of milk to a small saucepan and heat gently. Almond or coconut milk are lovely, as they have a beautiful creaminess, but regular milk is good, too. Don’t allow the milk to boil. Whisk for a few minutes until hot and frothy (for a fog-like effect). Add the milk to the tea.
3. Add vanilla. Swirl half a teaspoon of good-quality vanilla extract over the frothy milk and stir.
A London Fog is a great pick-me-up. Bergamot has a natural boosting effect on your mood, so it’s the perfect drink to enjoy on a grey winter day.
How tea can keep you from losing the plot at work April 06 2016
Here are a few tips about how tea can stop you from losing the plot at work, so you aren't found at your desk like this...
1) Ever find yourself sitting at your desk, not really getting anything done but you can't be bothered getting up? I do this ALL the time. Even though I know it really isn't productive to keep sitting there. It feels weird taking a break to do star jumps or push ups like some of those 'Safe at Work' brochures tell you, but something as simple (and much less conspicuous) as walking to the kitchen to make a cup of tea can really improve your productivity when you get back to your desk.
Try: Fine Fettle - organic peppermint
2) Stuck on a problem, feeling stressed or the boss driving you crazy? Tea is prized for its ability to help you feel relaxed and alert (it's the L-theanine). It's also been found to be good for dealing with stress. Brew up, friend.
Try: Good Judgement Tea - organic and Fairtrade green tea
3) I'm an introvert but I get bored when I work alone for too long (or have a HILARIOUS story and no-one to share it with. Like the other day when I thought I saw my dad's bald head out of the office window but it turned out it was my terracotta pot plant). I digress. Going to the kitchen and making a cup of tea is a great way to connect with others (of course, only if you work in an office with other people!). In a world of technology overload, it's nice to have an old-fashioned conversation with a human. I highly recommend it.
Try: Kitchen Table Tea - classic breakfast cup
Let me know in the comments if you've got any more for me...
Ready for a healthy boost? January 26 2016
I recently met the talented Fi Jamieson-Folland and we got talking - about tea and about health. We decided to team up; to combine that into a blog piece about the benefits of tea. As a qualified osteopath, certified raw vegan, gluten-free chef, educator, writer and health mentor, Fi is well and truly qualified on the topic of health and wellness! I'll let Fi take it away below...
What if there's a way to give ourselves a daily dosing of antioxidants, that's been trusted and true for millions of people for over 3000 years? And what if this healthy solution is for an investment of just a few minutes and a couple of cents?
Alright - so I hear you asking ‘what is this wonder-boost, how does it work and how can I get it?’
Some of you will have guessed it - given that the lovely Katie Smith has asked me to contribute a few healthy, top tips for her Ritual Tea Company blog.
Yes, it's green tea.
Originally trusted by both villagers and health practitioners, where the leaves were originally chewed in Southwest China, green tea is now a mainstream and refreshing beverage and even a restorative ingredient in many health tonics and beauty products.
So what's so good about green tea?
This unassuming small leaf is packed with a veritable smorgasbord of agents offering potential health benefits; varying from protecting our cells to helping maximize our daily productivity.
Check out this impressive list of possible perks from your daily green tea cuppa:
- The natural form of caffeine combined with the L-theanin, can help to improve brain function, boost mood and energy levels.
- Some studies show increased metabolic rate, mild reductions in circulating blood sugar, and increased fat burning activity of our cells.
- The catechins can help with dental health and reduce infection.
- The powerful antioxidants may protect our cells from damage from a variety of damage including cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type II diabetes and heart disease.
It tastes good too!
Heating your water to the optimal temperature (just below boiling before you pour over your leaves) will draw out the right balance of amino acids, which give the flavour and sweetness - plus tannins, which give astringency.
And after only one minute of steeping in your favourite teapot or cup, the active ingredients will be busy doing their thing.
If you like the sound of the potential benefits of this humble leaf, check out the green teas in the Ritual range here.
And if having more energy, being more focused and productive in your day sounds interesting, then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. A FREE Alignment session maybe just the thing for you :)
Fi Jamieson-Folland D.O, is an Executive Lifestyle Consultant, with over 20 years experience in Europe, Asia and New Zealand as a qualified osteopath, certified raw vegan, gluten-free chef, educator, writer and health mentor. She lives in New Zealand and Indonesia with her husband Chris, relishing an outdoor lifestyle and time with family and friends.
Why people who hate green tea are probably doing it wrong November 20 2015
When I tell people that I blend tea, quite a few people have told me they hate green tea; that it's just too bitter. I try not to sound like a know-it-all-hyper-excited-about-tea-nerd and explain that this may be because of the type of tea they are using or the way they’re brewing their tea.
Here are three things you should watch out for when you brew a cup of green tea:
The quality of your tea
If you grab a pack of 50 green tea bags from the local supermarket for $2.50, the quality isn't going to be the best. That doesn't mean you need to splash out on Tieguanyin tea (a Chinese oolong selling at a cool $3,000 per kg), but a whole leaf tea will do the trick, at around $10 a pack.
Tea comes in different grades, according to the size and quality of the leaf. The stuff in those $2.50 tea bags is called ‘fannings’ or ‘dust’. Sometimes joked about (well, I hope it's a joke) is that fannings are what they sweep off the floor of the tea factory. Not ideal! The grade of tea we use at Ritual Tea Company is 'orange pekoe'; a quality, whole leaf. After you have brewed a cup of Ritual, you will notice that the dried leaves have unfurled to reveal a whole leaf. A whole leaf means you get great flavour and health benefits, without the bitterness.
The temperature of the water
The other reason green tea can taste bitter is the water. Please do not pour boiling water on your tea leaves. This burns them. For green tea, the water should be at about 80 degrees celcius. If you don’t have a kettle that boils your water to specific temperatures (yes, they exist!) then you can boil your jug and leave it to cool for a few minutes (3-5 should do the trick). Water that is just below a boil (97 degrees, to be specific), is perfect for a black tea. Green tea is more delicate than black tea, hence the difference in temperature.
How long you leave your tea to steep
Watch the amount of time you leave your tea to steep. I recommend one minute for a green tea. Anything longer means the brew can end up tasting bitter. Start taking note of the colour of your brews as well. The colour differs from tea to tea, but if you brew the same type of tea often, it can be a great indicator of whether the tea is brewed the way you like it.
Try it out and come up with a ritual that works best for you! I'd love to hear if these tips help you get the best out of your cup of tea, or if you've got any more tips.
Founder, Ritual Tea Company
How rituals can help your life July 19 2015
Ritual n 1 regular repeated action or behaviour 2 a ceremony involving a series of fixed actions performed in a certain order
Our lives are a series of small moments. The everyday things we do; our habits, routines and rituals, create this life.
‘Habits’ and ‘routines’ can sound really boring, but good ones are not at all boring. In this busy world we live in these habits, routines, rituals help frame our lives. It’s important to take time out to relax and recharge, as well as connect with those around us.
Here’s three things that I do (or am trying to do) that you could try and incorporate into your daily routine and see what difference they make to how you feel.
Tea is a ritual. It’s a tradition and an everyday fixture for millions of people around the world. In Eastern cultures, tea ceremonies have an ancient and important role in society. In modern times, drinking tea is a healthy way to unwind and recharge.
Set your morning up the right way by taking some time to prepare a cup of tea. Doing this provides a time for reflection. You’ll be surprised at what a difference this can make to how you feel, as you mentally prepare for the day.
When there is noise and clutter around you, you can find sanctuary in tea. A few minutes taken in the afternoon to prepare and enjoy a cup of tea can be helpful in enabling you to take a step back, reflect and recalibrate.
As well as allowing you to enjoy time to recharge, preparing and serving tea is a ritual to bond with others over; to connect with family, friends and work colleagues. Our connections with people make a big difference to how we feel and help to make us happy.
I recently read ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ by Richard Carlson. One of the tips that piqued my interest is ‘do nothing’. I get this, but I don’t do it enough. There’s always a million things to do and if I do take some time to relax, I usually feel bad about it!
Taking some time out to sit and do nothing is incredibly hard, but is really beneficial as well. Start with just ten minutes, perhaps with a cup of tea in hand (that way you can’t look at your phone as well!).
Get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every night
Recently I took part in a two day workshop called ‘The Art of Deliberate Success’. The author of the book and creator of the programme, David Keene, said to me “it sounds so simple but if you go to bed earlier, you will find it easier to wake up in the morning”. He was right. SO simple, yet I hadn’t been doing it.
When we were kids, most of us probably had a set bed time. When we got older we could decide for ourselves and for me this has meant getting in a bad habit. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning is a work in progress, but when I do, I notice what a difference it makes. I have more energy and I feel more organised (because I’m not rushing about and I have time to make that cup of tea).
If you give any of these things a go, I'd love to hear about how they went for you. If you have any other rituals, routines or habits that work for you, I'd love to hear about them too. Feel free to leave a comment below.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
Argentinian tea rituals July 07 2015
I was lucky enough to experience the rituals of Argentinian tea drinking culture right here in New Zealand when our Argentinian friends Lilo and Virginia came to stay. Ritual Tea Company is named so because of the amazing and beautiful rituals around the world’s second most consumed beverage. The rituals are different in every country. Here’s my experience of yerba mate tea from Argentina…
My sister Jess became friends with Lilo while they were working on a mountain in Canada. Being so far away from home, Jess didn’t want to endure seven months without her favourite Ritual Tea, so she took supplies! One day Lilo arrived in Jess’s room, planted himself on the floor and started chatting. Jess was making a cup of tea at the time so she made one for Lilo too. He loved it. Rituals around a cup of tea are strong for Lilo; being Argentinian, a cup of mate tea is never far from hand. Lilo associates tea with home, good people and good conversation. And so their new ritual and friendship began.
Back in New Zealand Lilo brewed me up my first taste of yerba mate. Yerba mate is a herbal brew (‘yerba’ meaning ‘herb’), so it’s not officially ‘tea’. It’s a species of the holly family. Lilo brought a white bag of Yerba Mate that looked like a 1.5kg pack of flour. The packages are this big because they drink so much of the stuff. Next out came the vessel – made out of a dried pumpkin – wow! Lilo’s friend had engraved the plains of Argentina and two horses on the outside of the pumpkin, using a magnifying glass and the sun! His friend gave him the vessel as he left Argentina to travel the world, so he would always be reminded of home. When Lilo sticks his nose in the sack of tea and says “it’s like home in a bag”, you can feel the emotion.
The brew is prepared by filling the vessel about three-quarters full with the dry leaves of the mate plant. A metal straw is added (at a specific angle!) and it is then filled up with water at 80°C, the same temperature as green tea; hot but not boiling. I’m silly and ask Lilo if he wants a thermometer - he’s done this ritual a thousand times before and knows the heat of the water by touch. If you can put your hand over the steam and can leave it there, it is the perfect temperature. I’ll have to try this next time I’m brewing up some green tea! If you brew the mate with hotter water it will become bitter, just like green tea.
The water always gets poured by the owner of the vessel and they drink the first round. It gets refilled and passed clockwise (always clockwise). All up, around one litre of tea is consumed. The taste… smokey, bitter, strong. And apparently I’m not even drinking a particularly strong brew. The second round is much nicer, it’s a bit cooler and the strength has reduced a little. As Lilo says, it’s all about the ritual. As much as I enjoyed the taste, it was the rituals around the brew that really captured me (and that adorable pumpkin that fit perfectly in my hand!).
Lilo and Virginia have gone now but to remind them of their time with us, I gave them some Ritual Tea which I hope they enjoy on their travels around the rest of New Zealand.
Good things take time May 17 2015
Life is getting faster and faster.
I’m generation Y, and as fellow twenty-somethings know, most of the time we can have what we want, when we want it. I'm attempting to slow things down. To wait. As the Mainland man says, “good things take time”; cheese, bread, goals, businesses, long trips to delicious places.
Slowing increases our ability to see greatness in small things. A flower in the crack of a pavement or a child smiling. I believe a cup of tea is in this same vein, it takes more than a moment to boil the jug, more than an instant for the leaves to brew and then at least ten minutes to sit down and enjoy it. That’s the best way. Of course I've also been known to make my tea then rush around doing the dishes, making the bed, putting on washing… stopping every few minutes to take a gulp… but it’s not nearly as satisfying or fulfilling.
Some of my best thinking is done when I stop and let my brain work its magic. The best places I find for my 'personal strategy sessions' are while going for a walk alone, having a long, hot shower and sitting down with a cup of tea.
Create the space to tap into your inner brain. When you next brew a pot of tea take the time to sit, limit (or better yet eliminate) distrations and disconnect (no phone, no internet). Take a moment and find sanctuary in tea.
“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.” ― Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales
Tea isn’t just what you have when you go to your grandma’s house to visit. It’s making a comeback in today’s busy world. Where people are rushing from one thing to the next, it’s a healthy way to unwind and recharge.
There are so many health benefits associated with drinking tea, especially the green variety, here’s just a few of them...
- Green tea is a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells from damage. Free radicals are increasingly linked to many serious, chronic illnesses like arthritis, diabetes and cancer.
- Green tea aids in weight loss – it is loaded with potent antioxidants called catechins. These catechins can help speed up your metabolism.
- Tea is better than water for hydration; when you drink tea you are rehydrating as well as taking in all those healthy antioxidants. Next time you head out to the gym or out for a walk, try cold-brewing some green tea in your drink bottle for re-hydration instead of drinking water alone.
- The stable energy release which occurs when you drink green tea means people can find themselves more productive and focussed when they drink green tea, compared to coffee.
- Studies have shown that the microbial and antioxidant compounds in green tea can help clear your skin. To benefit, brew a cup of green tea, let it cool and use it as a face wash. For oily skin, mix our peppermint blend with green tea for an oil blasting wash.
Make it your ritual.
Artisan tea April 06 2015
We are very pleased to have the seal of approval from Life Magazine! This article appeared in a recent edition of Life Mag...
Tea has been around for thousands of years but is at the beginning of a resurgence of the kind that the coffee industry has experienced over the last ten years.
Joining the artisan world of single origin coffee, craft beer and bean to bar chocolate is Ritual Tea Company. The Wellington company hand-blends Fairtrade and organic tea from the world’s oldest organic tea plantation in Sri Lanka, the Idulgashinna plantation. Producing 11 different varieties, everything from stock standard earl grey to herbal varieties like Madagascar vanilla and chamomile and lavender.
Founder Katie Smith says Ritual Tea was so named because tea-drinking is a ritual. “When there’s noise and clutter around you, you can find sanctuary in tea,” she says. In today’s busy world, people are looking for a healthy way to unwind and recharge. Taking time out to enjoy a cup of Ritual Tea is the perfect way to do this.
People are very aware of what they are putting into their bodies. The health benefits associated with drinking tea (such as the powerful antioxidants) mean that Ritual Tea is a healthy brew that is also a pleasure to drink.
The Ritual Tea Company range is available at Moore Wilson’s Fresh, Commonsense Organics and also online at ritualteacompany.co.nz.
Spring Cleaning October 06 2014 1 Comment
It’s spring and what better time for some spring cleaning. Not just the usual spring cleaning (like washing the windows and clearing out my drawers), but a total spring clean of KTea. Over the last few months we have spent a lot of time researching, blending, tasting (the best bit!), talking, drawing, thinking and planning. Out of all that ‘Ritual Tea Company’ has emerged. Ritual Tea Company is about showcasing tea, the most popular drink in the world, after water. How delicious and healthy it really is, when it is created and brewed properly; with care and attention.
Tea is a ritual. It is a tradition and an everyday fixture. Taking time out to prepare and enjoy a cup of tea should be a relief and an escape. In Eastern cultures, tea ceremonies have an ancient and important role in society. In modern times, drinking tea is a healthy way to unwind and recharge. Preparing and serving tea is a ritual to bond over and it provides a time for reflection. When there is noise and clutter around you, find sanctuary in tea. Make it your ritual.
We’d love to hear about your tea rituals, do you have a breakfast tea every morning or a lemongrass tea when you aren’t feeling well? When my grandparents arrive I always put the jug on to boil. Before anything gets done, tea must be consumed!
Share with us your tea ritual and we’ll pop a bag in the post for three lucky people!