Archive for the category ‘Drinks’

Black, Green, Oolong and White tea leaf Varieties

By

There is a tea on store shelves that has some people confused as to exactly what the difference is between it and the old standby teas is. It is white tea and this tea leaf is considerably more expensive than Black, Green or Oolong teas.

All four teas are derived from the camellia sinensis plant, so it has many people wondering why the white version of this common beverage is so much more costly than the others.

Although picked from the same plant, it is the method by which each tea is processed for consumption that makes the difference between oolong, black, and green tea. Black tea is fermented, while green tea is steamed rather than fermented, so as to allow the leaf to retain the majority of the polyphenols and antioxidants within it. The processing of Oolong lies somewhere in the middle of the way in which the green and black teas are processed.

White tea is most similar in its processing method to green tea, but what makes white tea truly unique is the period within which it is picked. For white tea, the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant are picked and harvested before the leaves of the plant are fully open.

The picking occurs at a time when the young buds of the plant are still covered in a fine white hair and hence is the reasoning why white tea is the name given to the tea leaves derived from this special picking.

White tea leaves are much rarer than other tea leaves and for this reason, much more expensive. White tea leaf is also the healthiest of any of the commercially-sold teas currently available to consumers.

Catechin concentrations are highest in unbroken unfermented tea leaves. As these are the main component of white tea, the antioxidant content surpasses even that of green teas for the health benefits that it can provide. Studies also suggest that white tea contains a higher level of gallic acid and theobromine than do varieties of green tea.

One of the most noticeable differences between green tea and white is that the green variety will have a bitter or grassy taste to it, while the white tea does not. The sweeter more subtle flavor of white tea makes it much more pleasurable to consume.

White tea usually contains even less caffeine than green tea which was previously known to be one of the lowest caffeinated teas available. Another significant difference between green and white tea is that the white variety contains less fluoride than does the green.

White tea is classed into four distinct groups. The highest quality of white tea is known as Silver Needle and this leaf is made from only the white buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant.

The next highest ranked category of white tea is White Peony and it is comprised of both the unopened leaves and young buds of Camellia Sinensis plant.

Long Life Eyebrow is the next category of white tea and it is made from the remaining leaves after the first two higher grades of leaf and bud have been removed.

The lowest category of white tea is referred to as Tribute Eyebrow. Although the lowest of the grades of white tea, it is still a beverage higher in antioxidants and other health benefits than black, green, or oolong tea. 

In a few instances, a name may be present on packages of white tea that is not a reference to its grade. Some varieties of white tea may instead bear the name of the area in which they are produced. Darjeeling Tea is one of these brands and it derives its name from where it is produced in India.

The majority of white tea is currently produced within China and Japan.

Other than the current high price tag it sports, the white leaf variety is currently one of the most excellent health choices in tea for consumers. White tea is currently one of the best options in a healthy hot beverage.

Christmas coffee: Special treat and comfort beverage

By

The holidays are a special time for people all over the world. One of the things that makes this time of year so unique is that people are a little less uptight and not quite so rigid in their daily activities. For example, this is the time of year when people allow themselves to indulge in treats like coffee. This might sound rather strange to the average coffee drinker, but it is something that happens during Christmas time. Even non-coffee drinkers will occasionally indulge in the phenomenon known as “Christmas coffee”. 

The actual definition of Christmas coffee varies by coffeehouse, store and individual. Some people choose to grab a cup of holiday cheer at their favorite coffeehouse and some prefer to create their own Christmas brew at home. No matter where it is brewed, or the additives put into it, Christmas coffee is a special treat that just seems to comfort people. 

The flavors

You can find holiday flavored coffees just about everywhere you go beginning in October (sometimes as early as September). Peppermint, pumpkin spice, egg nog and gingerbread are just a sampling of the fabulous flavors you can find during the holiday season. Check your local grocer’s coffee aisle or your favorite coffeehouse to see what they offer. 

For those who like to create their own brews, you can do this easily with the help of flavor extracts like peppermint and vanilla and/or ground spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Simply add the extract or spice to the coffee grounds before brewing. The aroma of Christmas coffee brewing on those chilly mornings is a pure delight!

The additives

Additives include sweetener, cream/milk, hot cocoa mix, whipped cream and candy sprinkles (usually chocolate). During the holiday season a wide variety of special liquid and powdered creamers are available to give your coffee a cheerful boost. 

Some people like to add bits of crushed candy canes or marshmallows to their Christmas coffee. Cinnamon sugar is becoming a popular way to top off holiday coffees also. It is even possible that someone, somewhere has dropped a chocolate covered cherry in their steaming cup! and let it slowly melt and mingle the flavors with the coffee. 

The mug

The final stage in creating the perfect Christmas coffee experience is the mug or cup it is poured into. If you are buying your coffee at a coffeehouse then it is more festive if it comes in a holiday themed cup. 

At home, you can choose your favorite holiday mug or just a mug that you really like. Some mugs are like old friends, very comforting. The mug may have cracks and the design might be fading but Christmas coffee wouldn’t be the same without it. 

Christmas is a time for slowing down and appreciating some of the little things, like a good cup of coffee. It is also the time when everyone, it seems, comes up with their own version of Christmas coffee. Whether you add peppermint, cinnamon or whipped cream to your cup of coffee, it goes down smooth and makes you feel good. It is doubtful that the same coffee would taste as good any other time of the year. 

For some people, the holidays just would not be the same without Christmas coffee. The flavors that make up a good Christmas coffee, like peppermint or gingerbread, are only available during the holidays. It might be wise to stock up on your favorite flavors while you can!

Buying High End Coffee on a Budget

By

Coffee lovers can’t imagine starting their day without their favorite brew. The problem is fitting that brew into an already tight budget. The is even worse if the preferred brew happens to be of a finer quality. Good quality coffee does not come cheap. 

Work it into the budget

Sit down and create a new budget. The reason for doing this is because you will need to see where you can cut costs to afford your favorite quality coffee. The other reason to redo your budget is that it is a good idea to do once in a while. You never know when something has changed and gone unnoticed since the last time you really looked at your budget. Some people get into such a habit of paying bills each month that they might end up still paying for products or services they no longer want/need or even receive. 

Believe it or not, coffee can have a place in your budget under either grocery expense or entertainment/fun. Depending on how much your favorite quality coffee costs, you may have to cut some corners to comfortably fit it into the budget. 

Trade and save

The idea is to stop doing something like having fast food lunches and save that money up until you can afford to get your coffee. It really comes down to sacrificing one luxury for another. If you are serious about your coffee, then it will not be too tough to give up those fast food hamburgers, or whatever luxury you decide to trade in for your coffee. 

Please note that while coffee is very critical to a coffee loving person, you should probably continue paying your rent and light bills. It would not be very easy to brew coffee in the dark or outside in your car! Joking aside, swapping one luxury for rich, aromatic coffee could be your ticket to continued morning bliss.

Coffee clubs

Joining a coffee club can be the answer to your high end coffee dilemma. Many clubs are available and offer higher end coffees not generally available in grocery stores or coffee shops. Generally, clubs will send you the coffee of your choice once a month or every three months. 

Perform an Internet search for coffee clubs and choose a few to learn about. Once you have narrowed it down to the one club that offers everything you want and need, then sign up for that club. Be sure to read all of the information before signing up. You want to know about prices after the introductory offer and how often the company sends out the coffee and when/how you will be billed. 

Coffee shop

If you do not brew coffee at home and opt to indulge your coffee cravings at a coffee shop, then you are probably spending at least $5 a day. By the way, that is $150 in an average month! Still, if home brewing is not your forte, then ways to help take the bite out of the coffee shop trip include cutting down to one cup a day or a couple of smaller sized cups a day. 

You might even consider changing what type of coffee you order from your favorite establishment. Some coffee drinks are more expensive than others, but the coffee itself is higher quality than most grocery store shelf coffees. 

High end coffee does not have to be wishful thinking any more. You also do not have to settle for coffee brands you do not like; all you have to do is get creative. You can rework your budget to fit high end coffee in or you can simply trade one luxury for your coffee. 

If you really want to have that favorite roast, then you may have to sacrifice something else in order to get it. If none of these suggestions will work, then you may have to search for a comparable coffee that is less expensive.