A Zen Moment for a Portuguese Foodie!

Orange Pekoe Tea – Gorreana Tea

 

ZEN: Complete and absolute peace and tranquility

There is no definition in any dictionary that translates the word Zen into Portuguese.

This tranquility does not exist in our culture. We have to much ambition, drive and determination. Perhaps it’s the reason why our ancestors sailed the oceans and at one time conquered the world. This type A personality, AKA (workaholics) is in almost every Portuguese person. This is the reason why we’re the best cooks, the best bakers, the best sailors and candle stick makers! Plus add what ever occupation you want to add to the list!

January is supposed to be a month of reflecting on the past and planning the future, but I have no intention of doing any of it!

To be honest with you, I found myself wiped out on the morning of January 1st, 2013. Maybe it’s because I was sick with the flu all through the month of December, or, it may have been from the hectic Holiday Season.

But for what ever reason, I was so glad the year was finally over. Instead of reflecting and planning, I’m doing a little Zen therapy on myself.

Join me, discover how the Portuguese got the world hooked on tea, bake yourself a deliciously healthy Carrot Cake and have your own Zen moment!

A Japanese priest in the 13th century wrote a lengthy treatise on the health benefits of tea stating, “Tea is a marvelous elixir of health that has the capacity to prolong human life.  Most medicines treat only a single ailment, but tea is a panacea for all ills.” Gorreanatea.com

Maybe that Japanese priest was right? My parents drank chá de cidreira – (lemon balm tea) everyday and they lived until almost 90 years old. Like my parents I’ve turned into a daily tea drinker. Lemon Balm, Orange Pekoe and Tazo Zen tea are my favorites.

Growing up watching my parents drink tea, I never knew how it was made or where it came from. Many years later as I developed a taste for tea myself I discovered that it was the Portuguese traders that first introduced tea to Europe and even to India! It’s quiet fascinating that our Portuguese ancestors brought so many culinary influences around the world including tea.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to import tea in large amounts to Europe during the Portuguese expansion of the 16th century. They took their word for tea (cha), from Cantonese in the 1550s when they had trading posts in the south of China, especially Macau. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Macau it’s a region off the mainland of China which was a Portuguese colony until 1999 when it was transferred back to China. Both Chinese and Portuguese are Macau’s official languages.

In 1750, tea experts from China began planting tea on the Island of San Miguel, Azores Portugal.  Today, Gorreana Tea, founded by the Gago da Camara family,  is the only remaining of the 14 original tea producing estates and has remained family owned and operated for 5 generations. Learn more about the history of tea in Portugal here. 

In 1662, Catherine Braganza of Portugal married King Charles II and brought tea to the royal court of England for the first time. Still, much of the earliest days of European tea, was far too expensive at $100 a pound, to gain favor with anyone but the rich. Tea was not widely consumed in Britain until the 19th century.

How To Make The Perfect Cup Of Tea: From Gorreana Tea

Good water is essential
Fill an empty kettle with fresh cold water. If using tap water, let the water run for 5 seconds so that it is fresh. If you have hard water, for best results, use spring water.
Measure Your Tea 
For loose tea, place approximately one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup into the pot, or into an infuser placed in the pot.  If you don’t have loose tea, use one tea bag per 1-2 cups, depending on the size of the bag and personal preference.

Boil Water As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat.  Overheating the water causes the tea to taste flat.  Immediately pour the water into the pot, cover, and let stand.  If using green tea, allow the water to cool slightly before pouring onto the leaves

Steeping Your Tea 
How long to steep depends on how strong you like your tea and the type of tea you’re using.  Do not judge by color because some teas brew light while others brew dark.  Most teas will taste bitter if you steep longer than FIVE minutes.  If you have used an infuser or tea bags, remove them from the pot when the tea has reached the desired strength. Tea bags steep more quickly because the leaves are finely cut, so don’t let them steep too long. You may squeeze the bags gently before removing them from the pot to reduce drips.   If you placed loose leaves  directly into the pot, you may want to pour the tea into a second warmed pot through a strainer to separate the tea from the leaves. But if you plan to pour all the tea into cups soon, simply place a strainer over the cup and pour slowly from the original pot.
Perfect steeping time for tea
Adding Lemon, Sugar, Milk or Honey
If you add lemon and sugar to your tea, add the sugar first, since the citric acid from the lemon will prevent the sugar from dissolving.   Milk is often used in full-bodied black teas such as our Broken Leaf Tea. (Don’t use cream as it interferes with the taste of the tea.)  Also, Do not use milk with green tea (Many teas are better without).  Adding a little honey to tea is a personal preference, but it is a delicious way of sweetening your tea.
Storing Tea
Tea to be enjoyed properly must be sealed properly! It is that simple. Teas are known for there taste, color, aroma etc, and are very easily affected by other scents-which could alter the quality of a good tea. Often times, people will notice if they leave there tea in a cupboard for many months without being stored in a proper package or container, that their teas have picked up other scents from surrounding foods and spices. Grown hundreds of miles away from industrial pollution using traditional farming methods, when you open your package of Gorreana tea the first thing you will notice is the aroma of the high quality tea leaves! Fresh never tainted!

How to make a great Carrot Cake!

This cake is very easy to make and I can bet that most of you have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now! If shredding the carrots intimidates you, don’t kill yourself, or your arm, just shred them in your food processor!

I find that using oil in carrot cakes often leaves the cake greasy so I use margarine and yogurt for moistness instead. After you try this recipe and see how deliciously easy it is to make, you’ll never buy a store carrot cake again!  Enjoy!

 

 

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs room temp

3 cups shredded carrots

1 stick margarine (soft)

1/2 cup Pineapple fruit on the bottom yogurt (or any you prefer)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 cup raisins (optional)

Frosting:

1 Package cream cheese (room temp)

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 tsp  vanilla

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs, sugar, and margarine until creamy.  Add Carrots and yogurt. Combine all other ingredients except walnuts in a bowl. Add dry ingredients to the wet batter and mix for about 5 minutes.

Add the walnuts and raisins if desired and fold into batter.

Poor into 2 greased 9 in round cake pans. Cook in 350 degree oven for 30 -40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and frost with desired amount of cream cheese frosting. Top with more walnuts!

(If you like lots of frosting, double the frosting recipe)

Watch this video from the beautiful Gorreana Tea estates, which uses my photo that I took of their tea last summer on my patio table.

 

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