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Combat Loneliness With Tea With Friends

Three Dog Night once sang “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

It’s been 50 years since that song was released, and yet the line still resonates today.

Although we are more connected than ever through texting and social media, we have become lonelier human beings.

Being lonely

Earlier this year, MDLinx, which is a news service for physicians, went so far as to call loneliness “an epidemic.” It affects nearly up to 47 percent of adults, doubling the amount nearly a decade ago.

A 2018 survey from The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that more than 2 in 10 adults in the United States and the United Kingdom said they often or always feel lonely, feel that they lack companionship, feel left out or feel isolated from others, and many of them say their loneliness has had a negative impact on various aspects of their life.

To help combat loneliness, the U.K.-based Marmalade Trust launched in 2017 Loneliness Awareness Week. This year the week was June 17-22. The vision of the Marmalade Trust is to create a society where loneliness is recognized openly as something likely to affect us all and at some point in our lives.

Here in the U.S., we have National Cheer Up the Lonely Day, which is celebrated every year on July 11. Just like Loneliness Awareness Week, it encourages people to connect with others as a way to be less lonely.

Loneliness can be caused by a number of things: physical, mental or even financial health. And it doesn’t matter what age, the study found. Although loneliness is often associated with seniors, studies tell us that millennials — who are often thought as the most “connected” — feel lonely as well.

And if you look at the data collected during the 2015 General Social Survey, it’s sad. The survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. Often, the answer was “zero” for the number of close friends or confidants. 

KFF reported that the reason for the loneliness is because of lack of social support. Friends and families live farther away is a main reason. The other is that if they do have any social connections, it’s because of the lack of a deeper connection.

Combating loneliness

But how can you combat loneliest? It’s simple, reach out and connect.

One of the best ways we know to connect is through tea time, of course!

The idea of having tea is more than just an excuse to eat small sandwiches and to sip tea. It’s a time to share stories, laugh and to drink a nice cup of tea. Most importantly, it’s a chance to reconnect.

We have a great idea on how to combat that loneliness over a cup of tea or even a tea party.

• Invite people you barely know. Include neighbors you only wave at in the hallway or over the hedge. You’ll be amazed at how much you have in common.

• Ask everyone to bring their favorite tea with enough to share. You’ll be able to sample different teas as well as hear stories on why each flavor is his or her favorite.

 • Encourage your guests to bring their favorite tea cup. Ask them to share a story on why it’s their favorite, where they got it and the history behind it.

• Milk, tea, sugar, honey, plain? Play a guessing game with your guests. For those who either just use sugar or honey get to try milk. It’s about exploring new things and maybe having a laugh or two.

• Make a plan. The night of the first event, go ahead and set the next date for your tea party plan to  go to a tea house or a movie, or whatever the group decides. Having something to look forward to encourages you to keep in touch with your new group.

Loneliness can easily turn into depression. If you are having trouble sleeping; notice a change in eating habits (too much or too little); there’s a change in behavior such as being more agitated; can’t concentration or are having weight loss/gain, please seek a mental health professional.

But we hope that on July 11, you want to reach out to someone and celebrate National Cheer Up the Lonely Day with a great conversation over a cup of tea.

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How Tea Helps Roses

Nature is wondrous. Every element in it helps the other in nature. The sun helps the trees, which in turn feeds the air. And so, the circle continues every day.

If you think about it, then, using tea leaves to help in the growth of roses shouldn’t be that strange at all. Both tea and roses are said to have originated in China. The Chinese believe in Ying and Yang, and, in a way, that’s what tea and roses are to each other.

Tea leaves offer several benefits to help roses flourish. One is that tea, which comes from the cameilla sinesis plant, naturally has caffeine, among other nutrients. The caffeine can help to stimulate the soil, which helps roses.

Tea also has tannins, which is acidic. In order for roses to grow and thrive, roses must have slightly acidic soil in order to grow. Other elements that roses need in its soil is nitrogen and potassium. Tea continues nitrogen and potassium.

It’s as if Mother Nature knew what she was doing!

Experts tell us that tea leaves alone can’t help roses thrive, but they are a great addition to specially mixed rose fertilizers. However, any longtime gardener believes in the power of tea with roses.

Growing roses

Roses, as most gardeners would agree, are ones that need constant care and tending — from watering and pruning to spraying and deadheading. They are a finicky plant that requires a lot of work, but the rewards are beautiful.

When planting roses, the first step is finding a nice sunny spot six to eight hours daily. Soil too must be just the correct format for the roses — loose, acidic and well-drained. This is where tea can help. Soil for roses must be between 6.2 to 6.8 pH; tea has 6.37 pH.

Roses need to be watered often, and they collect water through leaves or the roots. By watering roses with cooled tea can help supplement the water that roses so desperately need. One inch of water a week is needed at first. Between June and August, roses have to be watered every day. The hotter the temperatures, the more water is needed. Soil needs to be wet, but not water-logged.

Because roses tend to attract fungal diseases it’s best to do the watering in the cooler morning hours. During this time, inspect the rose for bugs, molds, etc., and clean them off.

Tea leaves can be used, too, as a mulch. However, because roses are susceptible to diseases, it’s best to mulch a couple of inches away from the roots. Using mulch with roses helps to keep the water in the soil as much as possible. And because tea retains moisture, it will slowly add the moisture to the rose’s soil.

For more great tips on growing roses, go to https://www.davidaustinroses.com/us/advice-and-inspiration/the-basics-of-growing-roses

Drinking tea and roses

We sell a fine rose flavored tea called Rose Congou, which is a supple, firm non-broken black tea from China layered with fragrant, pink rose petals. This mellow, sweet-tasting tea, with a balance of strength, flavor and wonderful perfumed aroma is ideal for drinking in the mid-afternoon. Find it here: https://larkintea.com/product/rose-congou/

If you would like to try to make your own rose tea, the following is a simple recipe:

Rose tea

  • 1 cup of freshly cut or dried rose petals/blossoms
  • 3 cups of water (hot, but not boiling)
  • 1/4 cup black tea leaves
  • Honey, to taste

Before using fresh rose petals, rinse thoroughly.

In a saucepan, add hot water, roses, and tea leaves. Cover and steep for 5 minutes.

Strain the rose petals. Add honey for taste. Serve.

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Why Do We Put Ice In Tea?

This month as we raise our glasses to celebrate National Iced Tea Month, thank Frederic Tudor.

Although in 1795, South Carolina grew the first crop of tea in the U.S, it was Boston-born Tudor who commercially produced the ice with which we use to chill our tall glasses of tea.

In the early 1800s, Tudor had the idea that he could ship ice from New England to the West Indies. It took him 10 years to make a profit, according to a story by Mental Floss, but his wealth was fleeting, and he ended up in debtor’s prison. When he was finally released, Tudor set out to convince people that a cooler drink was preferred.

By the 1830s, Tudor was shipping ice to British colonists who lived in Calcutta. Before his death in 1864, he had successfully made Americans crave ice for those hot summer days.

Since then, America has an obsession with iced drinks, but most notably iced tea. In fact, nearly 80 percent of tea consumed in America is iced, according to the Tea Association of the USA.

Early iced tea

Originally, the first iced teas were thought to be introduced in the 1800s. These cold concoctions called “punches” were made usually of green tea with copious amounts of alcohol.

It was 15 years after Tudor’s death that the oldest sweet tea recipe in print was published. A recipe from 1884 that calls for black tea was nicknamed “Russian Tea” and is most like sweet tea today. Over the years, versions of it popped up from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to 1895 when it appeared in the Enterprising Manufacturing Co.’s cookbook.

By the time the U.S. was entering World War I, iced tea was a bonafide drink favorite. Southern states with easier access to sugar had their signature sweet iced tea drinks, while the North preferred unsweetened.

Most iced tea served in the U.S. is made of black tea, which helps the U.S. to be the third largest importer of tea in the world. As for the amount of sugar added to iced tea that varies from household to household, along with the use of lemon or mint or other flavors.  

How to make iced tea

For small quantities, bring fresh cold tap water to a full, rolling boil. Use 1 teaspoon of loose tea or 1 tea bag to 5 to 8 ounces of water. Pour boiling water over the tea. Brew 3 to 5 minutes.  Let it cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator or pouring over ice.

Ideas to liven up your iced tea    

Prepare tea as above, then try one of these ideas to give your glass of iced tea another twist:

  • Fresh or frozen berries — raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries
  • A sprig of lavender
  • Chopped cucumbers or a large spear that can be also be used as a stirrer.
  • Orange slices
  • A cinnamon stick
  • Peach slices
  • 4 Jolly Ranchers of your favorite flavor
  • Replace sugar with your favorite local honey

Lime Mint Iced Tea recipe

4 tea bags (black or green)

1 ¾ cups fresh mint leaves

1 ½ cups granulated sugar (adjust to taste)

1 quart boiling water

1 ½ quarts of cold water

¼ cup lime juice

In a large pitcher, add tea bags, mint and sugar. Pour in boiling water. Stir. Cover and let seep for 15 minutes. Strain out tea and mint. Add cold water. Let stand to room temperature before placing in fridge to chill. Add lime juice before serving.

If you are searching for more iced tea recipes be sure to return to our website or go to our Facebook page by clicking here. You can also see our previous blogs on iced tea called  “Say No to Sun Tea” and “Clouds in Your Glass.”

The way you flavor your tea is up to you; however, the best way to serve it is by the pitcher because iced tea should be enjoyed with friends.

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Time for Tea Cozy Contest

There is something nostalgic about a tea cozy.

In a world where we’re constantly on the go, we should make more time to slow down. We need to  take time to sip tea and chat with friends long enough that we need to keep our tea pot warm under a tea cozy.

Knitting also has the same mindset. Knitters are encouraged to take a breath between stitches, chat with their friends and slowly produce something that a loved one will cherish.

That’s the philosophy behind our Tea Cozy Contest. We want to encourage our friends to take those moments to enjoy the little things in life, like sipping a good cup of tea or a wrapping your tea pot with a handmade cozy.

History of the tea cozy

A tea cozy is defined as a “thick or padded cover a teapot to keep the tea hot.” The first documented tea cozy in writing was in 1867 England; however, it is thought that it might date back to the 1600s when tea was first introduced to England.

One tale says the tea cozy was accidentally invented in Ireland. A farmer leaned across the table, legend says, and his hat fell on top of the tea pot. When he later removed it, the tea was still warm.

A tea cozy is as varied as the tea drinker. Some are knitted like a woolen hat complete with a pom-pom on top; some are made of thick material, often with a decorative pattern; at restaurants some include a metal exterior to protect the inner fabric. The early tea cozy allowed the women of the house to have a creative outlet, while still having  the practicality of keeping the tea warm .

The tea cozy, though, would never be used during social teas with the elaborate silver sets because a silver set was meant to be shown, not hidden under a cozy.

How to enter

The tea cozy doesn’t have to be an original pattern but must have been made by the contestant.

In the past, we have been sent photos for our contest that featured a fun array of patterns of tea cozies — from the traditional to the whimsical. We’ve seen tea cozies that have looked like a vase of flowers, one that looked like a bunny, some have pom-poms, some don’t. Find a pattern that makes you smile and create it.

To enter, contestants must email a color, in-focus, clear photograph to pmtealady@aol.com or mail to The Larkin Co., 545 Warm Springs Ave., Martinsburg, WV 25404. Photos will not be returned.

All submissions must include name, mailing address, telephone number, email address and descriptive name of cozy.

Photos will be posted online at The Larkin Tea Co.’s website at www.larkintea.com. Visitors to the site will vote for their favorite. The tea cozy that wins the most votes wins.

Closing date is July 31, 2019. The winner will be notified by phone or email.

For more information, go to https://larkintea.com/tea-cozy-2019/

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How To Host An Easy Afternoon Tea

Would you like to host an afternoon tea but don’t have the time or inclination to spent hours in the kitchen?

The following menu has been planned around items that are readily available at any supermarket. Just remember that nothing sticky or too moist should be served. Bite size is the right size. Everything should be easily eaten with the fingers.

MENU

SANDWICH AND SAVORY COURSE: *

  • Chicken Salad Sandwich – Deli
  • Pimento Chees Spread – Dairy
  • Mini Quiche – Freezer
  • Devilled Egg or Egg Salad Sandwich – Deli

SCONE COURSE: (Scones do NOT have to be served!!)

  • Scones – Bakery
  • Clotted Cream – Deli (Sometimes called Devonshire Cream) Again, it is not obligatory to serve clotted cream. A buttered scone is equally as good.
  • Jam

DESSERT COURSE:

I like to garnish the serving plates with whole strawberries and/or colorful seedless grapes. It is not necessary to serve ALL these items, they are merely suggestions.

  • Donut Holes – Bakery or Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Mini Chocolate Eclairs or Cream Puffs – Freezer
  • Small “store-bought” cookies
  • Mini Phyllo cases filled with lemon curd – Freezer
  • Tea Breads – Bakery

*Notes:  Suggest using Pepperidge Farm Thin Sandwich Bread because it has a firmer texture and is more suitable for tea sandwiches.  If the chicken or egg salad filling is too moist, drain off the excess moisture.  Don’t be overly generous with the filling or it will ooze out the sides. After preparing the sandwich, press down firmly on the top layer.  With a sharp bread knife,using a sawing motion, cut off all the crusts and then slice the sandwich into quarters. Each guest will get one quarter of the sandwich. (It is customary to provide four different types of sandwiches or savories per person.)

If you don’t have a tea set, ask your friends to bring their own cup and saucer and to share its history with the other guests. 

Remember the importance of afternoon tea is the memorable time spent with one’s friends, not all the elaborate food and fancy china.

A Very Simple Table Set-up

  1. It is customary to use a table cloth for the table.
  2. Place a side plate in front of where each guest will be seated.  
  3. A luncheon knife goes to the right of the plate.
  4. The pastry fork (or a salad fork can be used) goes to the left of the plate.
  5. Place the folded napkin on the center of the plate
  6. Set the tea cup and saucer at the top right corner of the plate. Keep the tea cup handle pointed towards the right. The teaspoon goes behind the cup and across the saucer.
  7. The tea pot, trivet, sugar bowl and milk pitcher should be placed at the center of the tea table, so that everyone can easily handle these items. If you are using bagged tea instead of loose tea, make sure to provide a plate(s) where your guests can deposit the used tea bags.
  8. The serving plates for the food should also be put in the middle of the table.
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How To Store Tea

If you are buying expensive teas and not storing them properly …. You are wasting your money.

Teas that are vacuum-packed or in sealed tins have a life of about two years. Once opened, it should be stored in an opaque, air-tight container and kept in a dry, dark place as light and heat will interfere with the quality and life of the tea. Never, store it in a glass container. If the shop where you purchase tea keeps and displays it in glass containers, then it is a sign that they know nothing about tea and we highly recommend not buying from them. Plastic containers are not good because the tea will take on the odor of the plastic. Make sure you don’t keep it near strong smelling spices or foods as the tea will take on both their aroma and flavor.   It is for this reason, we also recommend not purchasing tea from a place that sells strong-smelling candles, potpourris or coffee. Never, never put it in the fridge of freezer.

Your tea is past its prime as there will be no aroma and it will produce a bitter or flat-tasting cup.

Buy little and buy often to ensure total freshness. (That is the reason we package in 2 oz increments.)  Keep the tea in its original, foil-lined bag and express the air from the bag before sealing. To keep control of your “stash, write the purchase date on each label.

We recommend tin canisters. Before using, rinse out with warm water. Then, towel dry.  If storing a particular type of tea, first place a small amount in the canister and shake well with the lid on. Discard these leaves which will have absorbed any odors in the canister and imparted the appropriate fragrance for storage of tea. Now, fill the canister.

Originally tea was stored in a small container known as a “tea caddy.” The name came from the Malayan word “catty” meaning pound. The first caddies were jars with terracotta lids but as tea became a prized commodity, these were replaced with ornate chests with a lock to ensure the tea’s safe-keeping. Once tea became cheaper there was less concern with the appearance of caddies, and as a result they fell out of use, as tea was now kept in decorative canisters in the kitchen.

The British are well known for their decorative tin ware. We are now importing a selection of canisters that are available in our on-line store or at the various shows and festivals we’re participating in this year.

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Clouds In Your Glass? (Cloudy Iced Tea)

As people experiment with iced drinks, many are frustrated by cloudy iced tea.

“Clouding” refers to the opaque, fog-like appearance of a tea’s liquor that sometimes occurs after brewing. It is generally seen as a negative quality because people assume that tea should be completely transparent. Some believe that cloudiness is an indication of poor quality tea, that it contains foreign particulates or that it will adversely affect flavor even though, in reality, clouding has no impact on taste. The problem is made worse because iced tea tends to be served in clear glasses, displaying the “defect” for all to see.

There are two reasons that iced teas become cloudy.

  •  Hard water which contains high concentrations of minerals when brewed with tea can form 
    visible solids which do not dissolve at cooler temperatures.
  •  The natural building blocks of tea are thought to cause the clouding, especially Theaflavins. If
    the tea cools too quickly the Theaflavins will not remain suspended and the teas will cloud.

Solutions:
1. Allow the tea to come to room temperature before putting it into the fridge or adding ice.
2. If the tea has already clouded, add a tiny bit of hot water to it before serving.
3. Make sure that you are steeping in water that’s minerally balanced.

Our Recommendations:

Nilgiri – Glendale tea that produces a crystal- clear drink. (Now packaged in iced tea pouches and called
“Fresh Brew Black Tea.”
Other teas that do not cloud are:
Rooibos-based teas such as Lemon Soufflé
Fruit Blends – Verry Berry, Strawberry-Kiwi or Blood Orange.
Herbals – Dragonfly Song or Mint Refresher

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Say No To Sun-Tea

 

If you are still making Sun Tea, be aware that it is not recommended by The Tea Association of the USA as an acceptable means of steeping tea. The reasons concern both taste and safety.
Tea, being an agricultural crop is subject to contamination by bacteria, as is virtually every food or beverage item that is consumed. While careful attention is exercised during the process of the tea leaves there is always the risk of post- production contamination. While this is of little concern if tea is prepared following the guidelines of the Tea Association. There are potential concerns about Sun Tea for
the following reasons:
  • The containers used may be dirty or become contaminated during the long exposure in the sun and ambient air or the hands of the preparers may not be sufficiently clean.
  • The temperature of the water used for steeping sun tea generally is insufficient to kill off any bacteria that may be present.
  • The conditions typically present by leaving water in the sun are ideal for the growth of bacteria (low temperatures and long periods of time.)
  • To maximize the taste of the tea and to realize all the healthy properties the water used to steep the tea should be close to the boiling point and the steeping time is ideally between 3 and 5 minutes.
If you do make Sun Tea and it has a thick or syrupy appearance, it may be due to the presence of a ropy bacteria called Alcaligenes Viscolactis commonly found in soil and water. Discard immediately and sanitize the container. A few years ago, several people became ill after drinking tainted iced tea. It was determined that the tea had been made with tap water only heated by the sun to 130˚F and then left to sit at room
temperature for more than 24 hours. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and The Tea Association of the USA recommend the following when making tea:
  • Brew tea at 195˚F for three to five minutes.
  • Brew only enough tea that can be used within a few hours.
  • Never keep brewed tea for more than eight hours at room temperature.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize tea-making equipment regularly.
  • Instead of making Sun Tea make tea (cold brew) overnight in the refrigerator as you would in the sun.