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If you ask any oversea Taiwanese: what drink they miss most from home, I bet more than half of them will say: bubble tea.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreelau/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bubble tea is a tea beverage originated in Taiwan in 1980s. Nowadays it can be found in many East Asian countries as well as in Canada and the States. Since a few years ago it also started to be available in a small tea house in Paris, opened by Taiwanese of course. Drinking bubble tea has been such a huge trend in Taiwan that nowadays it is not especially “trendy” any more as everybody drinks it and takes it to their heart as a natural part of daily life. Bubble tea has even been considered as one of the “innovations” from Taiwan and no doubt as one of the most representative food/drink from the island.

So, back to the essential question: what is bubble tea? In short, it is black milk tea mixed together with boba balls (made from a mixture of tapioca and carrageenan powder). Sounds weird for those who never tried it, but as long as you try it, you will love it!

Nowadays bubble tea has so many variations. For example, boba balls can differ in sizes, tastes, ingredients, in addition, tea type can also be replaced. Some add green tea instead black tea with popular variations such as jasmine infused bubble green tea. Different spices and fruit taste can be added into the tea, so you could easily find coconut bubble tea, banana bubble tea, mango bubble tea, peach bubble tea, green apple bubble tea, passion fruit bubble tea, kiwi bubble tea etc, just to name a few. For those who prefer non-fruit flavors, taro bubble tea, pudding bubble tea, barley bubble tea, sesame bubble tea, ginger bubble tea, almond bubble tea, lavender bubble tea etc. are common choices. With bubble tea, sky is the limit.

It is also noted that bubble tea can be served cold or hot. I myself prefer hot ones but cold bubble tea was the one that originally got its unique status in Taiwanese tea scene.

There will be more posts about Taiwanese Bubble Tea here in the future. So stay tuned.

THE SUBLIME DESIGNER

Naoto Fukusawa is a designer who can simplify until his designs have only the essence of the function that they need to perform. As a lover of Scandinavian design, I have always enjoyed Mr. Fukusawa’s work. This combined coffee and tea maker is no exception.

Naoto Fukusawa's tea maker design for Plus Minus Zero Co., Ltd.

THE TEA MAKER

First of all, this tea maker is very compact and therefore easily fits into any kitchen. Secondly, the overall style is just absolutely sublime you have to line up a number of tea makers to find one that comes even close to this one. The compact size makes this the tea maker of choice for singles and couples with no kids.

What’s notable is that the water passes through a double activated charcoal filter from the top and into either tea leaves or coffee grounds. For a person who wants to brew some quick tea the traditional tea bag and hot water is still the way to go. However if you enjoy the occasional tea ceremony without all that complicated waving and whisking then this tea maker is a nice compromise for you.

According to Chinese ancient wisdom, one of the best drinks during the wintertime is Ginger Tea. Ginger has always played the role of warding off colds and flu in Chinese herbal medicine system, because colds and flu are considered as “coldness” from outside, while ginger can enhance the “warmness” from within.

In fact, it doesn’t take a Chinese medicine practitioner to know the benefits of ginger to human body, because the daily experience has long taught us that ginger always helps when we get cold, and it FEELS good to have many cups of ginger tea during freezing days.

Besides, a Japanese respected doctor and best-seller book author also recommends people to drink ginger black tea for the same reason: it keeps your body warm as well as keeping your whole immune system stronger.

Despite being called as Ginger Tea in Chinese (Jiang Cha), there is not always “tea” in itself. In fact, the most common way of making Ginger Tea, is to peer some ginger roots and slice them into thin slices, add them and some brown sugar into boiling water, wait for 10 minutes then it’s ready. If you prefer, you could also add some real tea leaves such as black tea or green tea, but most of the time Chinese drink it without “tea leaves”.

In next post, we will explain you step-by-step, how to make ginger tea.

Coffee and tea drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes says a new study that was published in Archives of Internal Medicine. The study shows that people who have three or four cups of coffee or tea a day lower their risk of the type 2 diabetes by at least 20%. It is probably antioxidants like lignans and chlorogenic acids that are involved with this magic trick. One thing is for certain it is not the caffeine, because decaf coffee has the greatest effect.

Dr. Kaijun Niu, at Tohoku University Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering in Sendai, and his colleagues found that men and women who are aged 70 and older and drank four or more, versus one or fewer, cups of green tea daily were 44 percent less likely to have symptoms of depression. This means that drinking several cups of green tea every day will very likely improve your spirits (like a true scientist, Dr. Kaijun Niu suggests further studies before any strong recommendations can be outlined). Also several prior studies have linked green tea consumption to reduced levels of psychological distress, so this information is very solid. Furthermore, through history, green tea has been associated with positive effects to both body and soul.

What makes Dr. Kaijun Niu’s research findings even more interesting is that if green tea was to be substituted with black tea, oolong tea or coffee then there are no beneficial psychological effects. What seems to explain this is the amino acid theanine, which apparently has soothing effect on the brain. Looks like all kind of treatment and processing of tea will diminish the nutritional value of the tea. Naturally this is especially true for coffee, which is roasted. After reading about this study, I’m willing to make the recommendation that we should always drink and eat as lightly processed beverages and foods as possible for example berry powders.

Days in front of the screen take toll on your eyes. Organic wild forest blueberry has fantastic nutritional values, which are not diluted by production processes that are associated with common blueberry pills.

WHERE THEY GROW?

Forest blueberry grows wild in the land of thousands of lakes under the midnight sun. Sparsely populated Finland has vast forests and pure nature. It is safe to pick blueberries here, in fact they are so tasty that picking takes time – delicious blueberries quickly find their way to berry picker’s mouth and not only to the basket.

HOW BLUEBERRIES BECOME TEA?

It takes a long process for us to have some fine blueberry tea in our cupboard. Collecting them from forest is the time consuming part as nature enthusiasts crowd Finnish forests and hand-pick the blueberries from the ground while avoiding wolves, bears, wolverines and mooses. At times it can be pretty scary inside thick woods. After getting the raw material collected the real transformation from a berry to a tea powder starts.

WASHING AND DRYING

First the blueberries are washed and after that they must go through natural drying. As a process, the drying is the best method what comes to preserving important nutrition of the berries. Throughout the drying process, temperature never rises over 40 degrees of Celsius therefore even the most delicate nutritions are undamaged.

GRINDING

Dried berries are grind into fine blueberry powder and then vacuum packed for optimal preservation. Mechanical grinding doesn’t lower the nutritional contents of the blueberries actually grinding helps in getting the most out of the blueberries as seeds and skin are both broken so that nutrition is more easily digestible.

HOW DOES IT TASTE?

It tastes like blueberries do – really.

Making tea is so simple but yet so very difficult. Whole cultures have dedicated their cultural lives to get the tea just right and they have been doing it for generations and then some more. Luckily this is not about making the perfect cup of tea, instead this is about how to make a decent cup of tea.

I drink at least 10 big cups of tea every day. To drink this much is not that healthy, but I do it anyway, because I like to drink tea. This blog is about tea.

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