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I used to have acnes-prone skin when I was young. Nowadays not any more (maybe partly because I’ve grown older? ;-).

WHY ACNE PROBLEM?

Throughout the years I do have learned from my own experience that acnes might result from many reasons such as the diet, habits, hormone changes, stress, skin types, etc, or simply just genes.

Some medical opinion points out that most of the acne cases are related to genetics and manifest during teenage years. The reason for this was a study that was done with twins (identical vs normal). It showed that identical twins had similar acne situation while normal twins had big differences with their acne.

That being said, the typical western diet with processed foods, sugar and various industrial fats is also said to be the biggest external cause for acne. Smoking is the second biggest external cause for acne.

For some reason acne is very rare in cultures which consume little white sugar. Sugar increases insulin production and leads to insulin resistence and increased chance of diabetes as well as affects to the production of androgen. (Archives of Dermatology 2002;138:1584-1590).

If I add the Chinese medicine point of view on top it, it is said that acnes have something to do with the general body conditions. For example acnes in the chins of women often indicates that her hormones are not currently functioning in a balanced way. If you pay attention, sometimes especially just before or during the menstrual cycles one might be more prone to have acnes especially in that area.

Although many factors may result in acnes-prone skin, I do believe the concept of wholeness health and believe that adequate sleep, regular exercise, relax mood, healthy diet can improve the skin condition.

As you know, we are in the wild herb/berry business so we also like to tackle acne from the perspectives of nutritions.

USE BERRYPOWDERS AS PARTS OF NUTRITIONAL PLAN TO TACKLE ACNES

First, make a general list of foods to avoid. Yes, it is always more difficult to take away from diet than to add into diet. Ok, here goes, milk related and fatty products because they stimulate oil glands.

Foods with lots of processed sugars are also on the ban list for the reasons mentioned earlier. This includes sugar as such and various industrial sweets like candies and juices but also simple carbohydrates like white bread and pasta.

Second, take natural healthy gentle food is a kind gesture to your body and skin.

Here is comparison of different berry powders’s nutrition in view of combating acnes.

Lingonberry: it contains mostly easily extractable proanthocyanidins by percentage among wild berries. Proanthocyanidins have been used in many products that try to alleviate acne symptoms. Lingonberry includes also high percentage of Omega 3 compared to most berries.

Rose hip: it contains most proanthocyanidins by amount among berries. Finns all know that rose hip soup are great for skin.

Buckthornberries: this is the berries that contain most Vitamin C and Vitamine E. It also contains certain amount of proanthocynanidins. Buckthornberries have also some other nice surprises in their contents, like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which will help with skin and membranes. Also Buckthorn is just generally an excellent source of flavonoids and has vitamins C and E in it both of which are regarded as “skin” vitamins.

Bilberries (wild blueberries): although not being “marketed” as berries for skin, it has been our own all-time-favorites! Not only because it tastes great, growing all over Finland in summer time as Finn’s collective memories of summer, but also for its especially high contents of flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidant. For a general improvement of health, we always recommend to add the Finnish wild blueberries, aka bilberries into your meal!

More figures and charts can be checked from the Finnish online resource: http://www.arctic-flavours.fi/en/info/berries/nutritional+value+of+berries/figures/

I confess that I do eat wild berries regularly everyday, but I wouldn’t go so far to say that simply by taking berry powders and wild berries one can tackle completely the acne problem. To treat your skin, first of all you need to take care of yourself well. Only after your holistic health is in a good condition, the acnes would have nowhere to stay on your skin. It might sometimes sound like a long way to go, but it can also starts from a simple little change, such as to sleep half hours earlier, to stop smoking, to exercise regularly, and to love yourself and learn to relax. Of course, if on top of this some spoonfuls of berrypowders are added to the diet, you are really on the right track!

Buy from our shop: Bilberry powdersBuckthornberry powdersLingonberry powdersRose hip powders.

Lingonberries- many Finn’s favorite in the autumn

Buckthronberry – vitamin C, E, omega 3. the real power berry!

Bilberry – our all-time-favorites from the wild forest

Rose hip- berries for your skin

Rowans, the common tree that produces enormous berries from the autumn on, has been known as the holy tree in the Nordic land.

People believe that rowans can ward off bad spirits and bring good lucks. As you see, we also take some rowan berries home alongside with rose hips, all wild ones in the clean Finnish nature, to give us good fortune for the coming autumn.

In the Nordic, there are many myth surrounding the Rowan trees. One of them being so that birds eating rowan berries will get bit “drunk”, in fact birds are just extraordinary happy during the snowy autumn and winter when eating rowan berries, as not many berries in the nature have the strengths to go on through the cold winter as the rowans.

Rowan berries are also elected as berries of 2014, as it has a lot of vitamin C and minerals. In the coming posts we will introduce more recipes with the rowan berries. Stay tuned!

We also offer Rowan Berry Powders from our shop, check it out!

 

Rowan fruits also known as Rowan berries.

Rowan berry powders

Bilberry, blueberry, bog bilberry…. sounds confusing?

We took the below photo for you a couple of weeks ago from a countryside cabin, deep in the Finnish forests, where we got all of them around.

Have a look, can you recognize them, which one is which one??

→ Click here to read more

As mentioned in the previous post, the garlic tea was excellent in relieving my son’s cough.

Another great natural remedy for coughing is Manuka honey. Many know that honey has certain antibacterial functions which have also been proved in the latest related research in Finland.

image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Manukaflowers.jpg

Manuka honey is produced in Australia and New Zealand specifically from the Manuka flower, which has especially strong antibacterial properties compared to general honey.

The way to use it is simple:

INGREDIENTS:

One spoonful of Manuka honey

HOW TO USE IT:

Before going to bed, take one big table spoon of Manuka honey, let it naturally melt in your mouth and swallow it. It soothes the night cough. If needed, you can take it in the same way two to three times a day.

When my son had coughs caused by the cold last month, I used both Manuka honey and garlic tea to help him. Both natural remedies proved to be efficient.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION:

You can find many Manuka honey products from Amazon.com. I have personally chosen the Comvita Manuka Honey UMF 10+ and I am very satisfied with it. The higher UMF number is, the stronger antibacterial properties it has.

Comvita Manuka Honey UMF 15+ 250 gr/8.8 oz

FURTHER NOTES: WHAT CAN BE CALLED MANUKA HONEY

– to be labelled as Manuka Honey, at least 70% of its pollen contents should come from manuka flower (Leptospermum scoparium)

CLARAFICATION OF DIFFERENT RATINGS

. There are different product rating for Manuka Honey in the market, such as UMF, MGO, ACTIVE.

I found a very good page that explained the difference very well. Here I cited some of the paragraph here:

“UMF stands for “Unique Manuka Factor.” It tells you what the full non-peroxide antibacterial rating of the Manuka honey is. Since Manuka honey’s antibacterial nature comes from many factors, the UMF rating takes them all into account and gives you a final rating. The most common UMF ratings are UMF 5+, UMF 10+, UMF 15+, and UMF 20+. The “+” after the number just means that it could be more than the number given, but that it won’t be less.”

“ACTIVE means that the honey in question has some sort of peroxide activity, but it doesn’t guarantee any antibacterial quality.”

“MGO stands for a substance called Methylglyoxal (pronounced meth-uhl-glahy-ok-suhl). It sounds fancy, but it’s just an organic substance found in Manuka honey that has one part to play in Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties. While MGO plays an important part in Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties, it isn’t the only component that makes Manuka honey such a powerful natural antibacterial.”

(contents above are cited from NZMANUKANATURAL)

Based on this information, I recommend you to choose Manuka honey product that has a clear UMF rating.

Garlic is nature’s antibiotics.

It’s a common herb used in the kitchen for adding flavor in cooking, on the other hand, it is also one of the most effective herb for fighting colds and respiratory infections.

There are many ways of using garlic to relieve coughing. Here I share one of them which I just used today for relieving my child’s (3-year-old) coughing.

Photo Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Opened_garlic_bulb_with_garlic_clove.jpg

INGREDIENTS:

1. garlic cloves, 30g (approximately 1 whole garlic bulb) 2. brown sugar, 10g (approximately 1 big spoonful) 3. water, 200ml (approximately 1 small coffee cup)

HOW TO MAKE IT:

1. Put all the ingredients together into a kettle. 2. Boil the water, then let it simmer for 5 minutes.

That’s it! Simple, isn’t it? After the tea is slightly cooled, serve it warm for the coughing kid. In no time you will notice the difference!

This morning upon waking up my kid kept having some dry coughs from his cold, after drinking this simple garlic tea, suddenly he just coughed much less! The sweet taste of brown sugar balances well with garlic so there is no difficulties to temp little kid to drink it.

Besides, brown sugar has often been used to warm up body’s circulation system in Chinese medicine theory to fight against colds, by combining brown sugar and garlic, you get the most natural remedy from kitchen for fighting cold and relieve coughing.

After being absent from this blog for over a year, now I am back again, with a little addition — the Tea Prince!

Yes, now we have a little tea baby, who will definitely like to drink tea in the future, like his daddy and mummy.

I have to confess first, that I haven’t been drinking much tea during the past 1.5 years as I have been trying to avoid caffeine intake during the pregnancy and breastfeeding. I know that there are also caffeine-free tea available, but in any case I just kind of leave it all for a while. However, not drinking any common tea doesn’t mean that I have not drank anything that is called or named “tea”. In fact, during this period of time I have been taking especially different kinds of Chinese health “herb tea” which boost my health condition, including the Red Date & Longan tea.

In the coming posts, I will share more on those healthy tea or soup that are easy to make and good for your health.

Stay tuned!

A few week ago we received two samples from Obubu Tea, a tea brand produced by local farmers from Kyoto region. Last weekend we started to try one of the samples: Sencha of the Wind.

Following the clear instruction coming along with the sample, we brew it for altogether three steeping, respectively with 20, 10, 30 seconds. As Tea Emperor and I come from different cultural background and have different habits in tea drinking, it makes sense to write our reviews separately in two posts, with some basic introduction of our own background.

As a person growing up in Taiwan, tea culture is not unfamiliar to me. Although not a tea expert nor have I been especially keen drinker for Kung-Fu Tea, I have been used to drinking tea along with lunch or dinner in restaurants or in art tea houses. The most common tea served in Chinese restaurants are for example Oolong, Pu-er, Jasmin or Tei Kuan In.

My first-time experience with real Japanese Sencha was back 2 years ago when I visited Kyoto. There I have had unforgettable experience with the locally produced Sencha and Macha. I simply fell in love with those teas and brought some loose tea leaves of Sencha (Sencha Gold, from UjinoTSUYU, 宇治の露) as well as combination of Sencha and Macha (from Santory, 伊右衛門) , and bags of Macha powders with me back to Finland.

Now residing in Finland I have been having slight problems of finding quality Sencha or Macha tea around, therefore it was a really pleasant surprise for me to find Obubu Tea from Twitter and found that it is possible to get delicate Sencha loose tea and Macha powders directly from farmers in Kyoto region! Personally I have always liked the idea of how the Internet can empower local small players and help them to reach the world. Therefore the existence of Obubu Tea already made me delighted before even tasting their tea.

Now comes my experience with Sencha of the Wind.

The first steeping came with very fresh and mild flavour with pleasant fragrance from tea leaves. Compared to the Sencha Gold which I bought from Uji (near Kyoto), Sencha of the Wind is sweeter, lighter and milder. The second steeping was my favorite, as it brought further out the taste of tea leaves, stronger yet without any bitter after-taste. The third steeping was lighter than the 2nd yet remain its freshness. The instruction recommended 3 steeping altogether, and indeed after the fourth steeping the tea was already too light for me. I don’t know how the name of the tea initially came from but all in all the drinking experience was exactly like breeze of the wind in the spring, sweet, gentle, smooth and pleasant.

After drinking the tea we proceeded to eat the brewed tea leaves with soya sauce. It was amazingly tasty! Interestingly, although being a first-time “tea leaves eater”,  the taste seemed so natural to me, reminding me some fresh side dishes of Japanese cuisines. I ended up finishing all the Sencha leaves as I really loved the flavour of tea leaves dipped in soya sauce. I guess my high appreciation of eating those delicate Sencha tea leaves probably came from my own culinary and cultural background: I often eat tofu, noodles, Japanese sea algae, sushi, and cooked pork stripes with soya sauce, just to name a few. In my experience, as long as the ingredients are fresh with high quality, dipping with soya sauce is often one of the best ways to draw out their original flavour. Those brewed Sencha tea leaves tasted really tender and delicate, honestly I can be easily addicted to this “tea salad”!

That’s from me for now. Tea Emperor’s own review post will come soon after mine.

More info about Obubu Tea can be found from here

Remember I have been looking for a convenient tea infuser with good design? Well, although not being my favorite, this one does catch my eyes:

Designed by Pablo Matteoda from Argentina, Sharky tea infuser has won the 3rd price in the “Beyond Silver” competition organised by designboom.

In designer’s own words:

INFUSION means to extract certain properties from an soluble ingredient such as tea leaves , herbs or fruit by soaking in liquid (water) until it gets saturated. So we can say that a infuser is the in charged of make this happen. This is a ludic point of view about the color given off from the phenomenon, wich makes more interesting the waiting of the whole process.

I like the idea and the way designer interprets the concept with. Comparing to many other tea infusers, this one seems more creative, original with distinctive style.

Unfortunately I do not plan to get Sharky tea infuser to my home. And if I have chance to try it out somewhere, I would rather use it with green tea than for example rooibos tea or any other tea with red tones in order to avoid a “killing shark in my cup”.

Maybe I still prefer to drink my tea with peaceful and soothing mind. That’s what tea is for me.

Designer’s blog is here

So far we have been existing on Twitter for about 1 month, but only started more actively twitting from this week, thanks to all the new friends and followers, it’s been really nice to have you around!

This week we are happy to find many interesting twitterers to follow, to read and learn things about tea, life, zen, health, taste and much more. We decided that from now on every Sunday we will have a small post of Tea- Twits links to record our own twitting activities as well as to re-thank all the friends who share their time and knowledge with us online, through posts or tweets:

Interesting articles we read and tweeted during this week:

Does Richard have perfect pinch?

China – Global Tea Producer (RT  @teaguyspeaks)

Interesting history of Pork Rib Tea, which is actually not “tea” and More about the Pork Rib Tea (our own related post)

Comparing Teabags – Not all teabags are created equal! (RT @englishteastore)

UK Tea Council predicts in 2010 “Afternoon Tea will become more popular during business meetings” (RT @highteasociety)

Taiwan Teachings: A curious tea lover heads across the world

“Wood You Like a Cup of Tea” Pot (RT @teaguyspeaks)

RT @teaformeplease: RT @tea_robot: Loose tea has one tenth the carbon footprint of teabag tea

Special thanks to  @joiedetea who RT our post: Drinking tea – back to the harmony of nature

and to @englishteastore who #followfriday us, to @LittleYellowTPot for adding us to your list, thank you all!!!

We really enjoying twitting, so maybe our weekly Tea-twits list will grow longer and longer all the time?!

Go follow those nice twitterers above and of course, welcome to follow us.

In HuaShan Culture Park , Taipei, the 1914 Connection Cool & Easy Tea is currently on exhibition until March 5, 2010. In this exhibition, a group of Taiwanese young designers born after 90′, present their design works around the concept of “tea”.  In contrast to the traditional tea ceremony and tea pots, their modern design transform the concept of tea into objects that bring sensation and joy to daily life.

You could find tea design in different areas such as designs for a conceptual tea house, tea snack packaging, tea leaves container and tea pots. The design tea pot above is called “Tea Bag”, quite interesting, isn’t it? I like it! Below is a fisherman fishing tea, lovely!

In addition, discussion forums on the topic of tea are held on every Saturday and Sunday during the exhibition, where experts from different field including literature, travel, food, yoga are invited to discuss and share their experience on tea. Some works in the exhibition also explore the relations and dialogues between tea and flowers.

Due to my current residing in Finland, I wasn’t able to see the exhibition in person. Thanks to the social network community I at least get to see some of the tea designs from Flickr.

Below is slideshow of photos taken by  Aeternitas. on Flickr, including HuaShan Culture Park in Taipei and some designs from Cool & Easy Tea Exhibition. Please, go have a look and feel the modern, young, fresh tea design from Taiwan.

More info on the tea design exhibition:

HuaShan Culture Park – Tea (in Chinese)

Other posts related to Taiwan: New fusion kitchen? Taiwanese afternoon tea! Taiwanese Bubble Tea (Pearl Milk Tea)

Other posts related to Design: Hang your tea like hang your T-Shirt?! Blomus – Loose tea infuser

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