TEA FOR TWO
Picture you upon my knee
Just tea for two
And two for tea
Just me for you
And you for me alone.
– Music by Vincent Youmans; Lyrics by Irving Caesar
Tea as a tonic for “joyous aging” is documented 300 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth when a Chinese army general wrote to his nephew asking him to send some “real tea” because the general was feeling old and depressed. However, the exquisite pleasure we find in a joy-giving cuppa was not known until the third century A.D.; prior to that time, the beverage was prepared as herbal medicine made with fresh green leaves gathered from wild tea trees.
According to Jane Pettigrew, a Londoner who has written four books about tea, “To match supply to an increasing demand and guarantee a regular crop, farmers began to cultivate tea bushes on their smallholdings, and a system of drying and processing was gradually developed.”
Pettigrew continued, “Tea’s popularity throughout China grew rapidly during the fourth and fifth centuries and hill plantations were established along the Yangtze River valley. Tea was presented as a gift to emperors, began to appear in taverns, wine stores, and noodle houses, and is recorded as having been used in barter trade with the Turkish people in A.D. 476.”
A fanciful story connects the origin of tea to Emperor Shen Nung resting under a tea tree with a cup of boiled, sanitized water when some leaves drift into the vessel and he finds the resulting brew to be a revitalizing joy. Confucius or some Chinese sage, says this is when SMILE-MAKING, SPELLBINDING tea is discovered for the world to treasure.
(Full Disclosure: In the most recent installment of this year-long, weekly series, “52 ODES TO JOY,” I wrote about “S.U.N.S. WINES,” and revealed “The JOYrontologist” will be hosting related wine-tastings beginning early in the quickly approaching new year. By pure chance, the day the “wines” article was published, I received a delightful invitation to be the speaker for a joyful group called “Young at Heart” at my local First Baptist Church next February. Even though I’ve been Episcopalian for many years, I grew up Southern Baptist and really didn’t want to schmooze the joys of wine with any group of charming, “Steel Magnolias.” So, I am thanking the ladies for inspiring me to launch an equally engaging exploration of freshly brewed, unfermented S.U.N.S. TEAS.)
S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) is the acronym “The JOYrontologist” developed after 40 years researching and studying “joyous aging.” Keep these four, simple elements in mind as you enjoy a spot of tea and S.U.N.S. joys.
S.U.N.S. TEAS LIBRARY recommended by “The JOYrontologist” includes all of the classics mentioned by writer, Abhishek Dey, in an article titled “10 Best Teas for Anti-Aging, Great Skin and Reduced Wrinkles” at the website top10teas.com (April 2020). Here, as in a library, I’m cataloging the teas alphabetically and adding some notes including some shopping sources besides the many teas on Amazon.com or on your grocer’s shelves:
1) CHAMOMILE TEA is an ancient tonic for a calming effect, and also for detoxing. For those interested in having younger-looking skin, unsurprisingly there are many in my audience, check out the YouTube videos for applying chamomile tea bags under tired eyes and on dark circles as a restorative compress.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Golden Chamomile Blossoms Tea which has a fruit nectar flavor blending apple and quince at Rishi-tea.com.
2) GINGER TEA which is made by chopping up bits of ginger root into boiling water has been valued by travelers for centuries because it soothes digestive issues and lessens the queasiness of “sea sickness.” Ginger tea also has a natural antihistamine which aids in relieving sinus congestion and allergic reactions.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Decaf Lemon Ginger Slimmer Organic which balances green tea healthiness with spirit-lifting citrus at theteaspot.com.
3) GREEN TEA is my no. 1 choice because it is slightly more oxidized than white tea, thus is good for blood flow and brain function. Green tea has half the caffeine of black tea, so a lifelong insomniac like me can enjoy a mid-afternoon-ish cuppa as a gentle pick-me-up. Per the health and beauty writer, Abhishek Dey, “High in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, green tea is fantastic for reducing damage cause to the skin by UV rays.”
Encouraging studies by the Mayo Clinic and the University of Chicago Medical School report green tea contains a substance called EGCG which appears to kill prostate cancer cells in lab tests.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Organic Darjeeling Green Tea with hand-picked leaves from deep in the rainy, mountainous region of Darjeeling, India. This is a loose tea, so you’ll need an infuser but the unique flavors of toasted rice and ripe squash will reward this wee bit of tea-brewing effort. Organic Darjeeling Green Tea is available at ThriveMarket.com.
4) HIBISCUS TEA is joy-giving even to the eyes with its garnet red color, and your nose and tastebuds will enjoy the fragrant tartness. This is one of the most popular, anti-aging teas and is easily found at your grocer. Hibiscus tea is enjoyed both hot and cold, year-round.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: U.S. Wellness Hibiscus Flowers which are whole petals with a tart, fruity taste. You can also use these delightful petals in salads and breakfast jams.
5) JASMINE TEA releases a lovely, calming floral scent like a garden in the American South on a summer evening. This tea protects red blood cells, bolsters the immune-system and may even help maintain healthier weight levels.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Jasmine Green Tea with a fine blend of freshly plucked jasmine blossom and silky-smooth green tea at teasource.com.
6) MATCHA TEA is an intense, deep green color and may even help anti-aging more than “green tea.” Matcha helps fight bacterial and fungal infection and also detoxifies the skin.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Matcha Green with Turmeric, a distinctive, earthy blend of Matcha, green tea and turmeric which lends a peppery finish. This is a great tea to give a gent who thinks tea-sipping is all about acting ladylike, pinkie-pointing and twee. You can certainly find sexier, boutique tea purveyors but a good “go to” for this winner is bigelowtea.com.
7) OOLONG TEA is known for strengthening bones, providing gum-health and preventing tooth decay—and, oh yeah, great flavor.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Organic Plum Oolong Tea which teases the palate with the tart combination of hibiscus, Asian plum and rosehips with traditional Chinese oolong at arborteas.com.
8) PEPPERMINT TEA has been an American herbalist staple since colonial times. It settles the stomach and refreshes the appetite while enhancing digestion. The menthol in this tea encourages cell redevelopment and may help with hair loss and hormone imbalances.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Harney and Sons Peppermint Herbal is described at their easy-to-navigate website as “Our marvelously brisk peppermint comes from Washington State and the leaves produce a wonderfully aromatic and crisp tasting tisane (herbal tea).” This classic edition for every tea library is at harney.com.
9) ROOIBOS TEA, known as “Red Bush,” comes from a bean plant in South Africa. It is low in caffeine and has a charming, nutty flavor. (Charming nutty is a good thing.) Flavonoids in rooibos fight unwanted pathogens to help with allergic reactions and fight eczema.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Palais des Thes Tahitian Rooibos, a sophisticated, caffeine-free pairing of almond and vanilla flavors. This tea has been cultivated in the Cedarburg mountains of South Africa for the last 300 years and is available in the U.S. at us.palaisdesthes.com.
10) WHITE TEA is considered the “Champagne of teas” and has only a small amount of caffeine. Researchers consider white tea one of the best for anti-aging health benefits. Native tribes in South Africa rely on white tea for its high antioxidant level which lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels for better heart health.
“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: Bai Hao Yin Zhen Silver Needle Tea which has a luxurious, delicate, sweet, slightly woodsy flavor. You’ll find this selection at tealyra.com and many other teas to explore and gift, both straight, one-plant teas and blended.
Now that we have our “tea library” wish list, perfect for many on your holiday gift list, let’s reflect on “S.U.N.S. joyous aging” with a creative brew for each of the four S.U.N.S. elements.
S.U.N.S. TEAS (Smile-Making)
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough nor a book long enough to suit me.”
– C.S. Lewis
ORANGE MINT TEA
- 15 orange mint leaves (an alternative is Republic of Tea Orange Ginger Mint Herbal Full-Leaf Tea)
- 4 cups water
- 1 tbsp. honey
- Pour hot water over a few fresh orange mint leaves (or alternative).
- Steep for 10 minutes and add honey to taste.
- Orange slices can be added for the palate and also for the eye.
S.U.N.S. TEAS (Uniting)
“Find yourself a cup of tea, the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things.”
– Saki from “The Complete Saki”
BROWN SUGAR JASMINE OOLONG MILK TEA
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp. oolong tea leaves (loose)
- 1 tbsp. jasmine tea leaves (loose)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups brewed tea
- 1/4 cup whole milk (Half and Half)
- 3 tbsp. sugar syrup
- Crushed ice (if drinking chilled)
- In a medium-sized pot add 4 cups water and bring to a low boil. Add jasmine tea leaves and oolong tea leaves, then let steep for 5-8 minutes. Allow the tea to cool down before straining.
- While the tea is cooling, make the brown sugar syrup. In a small pot, add brown sugar and water and melt the sugar over low heat. Stir to prevent sugar sticking to the bottom of the pot. Let the brown sugar thicken.
- Pour the cooled tea into a glass and top with Half and Half or whole milk. Spoon the brown sugar and drizzle over the sides of the glass. Serve with crushed ice if drinking chilled.
S.U.N.S. TEAS (Neighboring)
“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem. Fallen off a bicycle? Nice cup of tea. Our house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit. Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has traveled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.”
– David Walliams
GINGER-TURMERIC HERBAL TEA
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 lemon wedge
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan; add turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain tea into a large mug or glass (remember that turmeric stains); stir in honey and serve with lemon wedge.
S.U.N.S. TEA (Spellbinding)
“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation.”
– Lin Yutang
PUMPKIN CHAI TEA LATTE
- 2 cups water
- 1 tea bag black tea (Lipton)
- 1/4 tsp. chai masala mix
- 2 shakes pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tbsp. yogurt or French cream
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and place the tea bag in. Steep for 2 minutes and take the tea bag out.
- Add 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 teaspoon chai masala spice mix and 2 shakes pumpkin pie spice mix. Bring to a boil (slowly) on medium heat stirring occasionally. Keep at a boil for a few seconds and then turn the burner off.
- Pour into a high-speed blender. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and yogurt/French cream. Blend on high until steam starts to escape from the top of the lid, about 2 minutes. Pour into cups and enjoy.
S.U.N.S. TEAS JOY JAUNT
With your appetite teased for tea, you might enjoy someone else brewing you a cuppa and serving that with tasty scones and a slice of nostalgia. If so, I encourage even “armchair travelers” to explore “Six of the Best Vintage Tearooms” according to travel/culinary writer, Rhiannon Batten in British Home and Antiques Magazine (April 2021). Here are the tantalizing websites for each: LadyScarlettsTeaParlour.co.uk, MackintoshattheWillow.com, TheFourTeas.co.uk, TheVintageTeaRooms.co.uk, HiddenTreasure.biz and NorthernBelle.co.uk.
S.U.N.S. TEA “TEE HEE” LAFF
Three ladies are sitting in a café sipping tea, bragging about their great sons. Soon it becomes a contest to see who has the most impressive.
The first lady proudly declares, “We are Episcopalian and my son is a priest. When he walks into a room people call him ‘Father.’”
The second lady replies, “We are Catholic and my son happens to be a Bishop. When he walks into a room, people say, ‘My Grace.’”
The third lady with a smug smile says, “We’re Southern Baptist and my handsome, muscular son plays football in the SEC. When my son walks into a room, all the women say, “Oh, my God.”
JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK
Oct. 29—Tracee Ellis Ross
Oct. 30—Charles Atlas
Oct. 31—Juliette Gordon Low
Nov. 1—Kinky Friedman
Nov. 2—Richard Serra
Nov. 3—Dwight Yorke (soccer striker)
Nov. 4—Will Rogers
GREEN TEA SEAFOOD SOUP—RHODE ISLAND SEAFOOD
Each week, “The JOYrontologist” shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. This nutritious and delicious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.
- 2 cups short-grain brown rice
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 package (about 0.8 oz) toasted, seasoned nori
- 2 green onions
- 2 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
- 1 lb. seafood
- 8 tea bags of genmaicha
- 1 tsp. black sesame seeds
- Soy or tamari sauce
- In a medium saucepan, bring rice, 1/2 tsp. salt and 4 cups water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rice is tender to the bite, about 50 minutes. Remove rice from heat, uncover and fluff with fork.
- Meanwhile, cut nori into 1/4-inch strips and set aside. Slice green onions crosswise (including green parts) and set aside.
- Broil the seafood. (see instructions online, if needed)
- When rice is cooked, bring 8 cups water to a boil. In a large teapot or pitcher, pour water over tea bags. Let steep 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour 1 cup cooked rice each in 4 large soup bowls. Place broiled seafood on each bed of rice. Pour 2 cups hot tea over each. Sprinkle with green onion and black sesame seeds. Serve immediately, with bowls of nori and tamari on the side if you like.
1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS
926. Southernness Tea that I created with the Charleston Tea Plantation
927. “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical, “Wicked,” sung by Kristen Chenowith in solo concert
928. The positivity of motivation speaker, Zig Ziglar, at an annual meeting
929. Sun tea at the beach
930. Sweet tea at Aunt Cille’s so sugary you could stand a teaspoon
931. Tearooms in British railway stations
932. Tea-staining botanical prints
933. Tea at The Ritz
934. Clark’s Teaberry chewing gum
935. An indigo blue tea kettle during my “indigo Bendigo” period
936. “Elevensies” and other teatimes with my Anglophile mum
937. “Tea for Two” the song, the film, the experience
938. Making a teepee with quilts
939. A Japanese teahouse in a San Francisco garden
940. Serenity savored even more in maturity
HAPPY TEATIMES THIS WEEK!
Read all the installments in this series at www.cullmantribune.com/tag/odes-to-joy-2022.