Lavender Tea Blends

picture101It’s time for our April Wellness Teas!  Lavender is synonymous with springtime here at Crowded Earth Kitchen.  The signature color of lavender buds, combined with their fresh, clean scent, are an assurance that the warm summer sun will be here soon enough.  While we wait, let’s warm up with a cup of tea!

Lavender teas have long been recommended by herbal experts for soothing the stomach, serving as a sleep aide, and relieving headaches.  Crowded Earth Kitchen is featuring two lavender tea blends today.  The first, Lavender Passion Flower Tea, combines lavender with passion flower leaves.  Available in the herbal section of many markets, passion flower leaves have a long history as a folk remedy for anxiety and insomnia.  Lavender Passion Flower Tea has an earthy taste and a springtime fragrance reminiscent of freshly cut grass.

Our second lavender tea blend, Lavender Chamomint, combines lavender with the soothing power of German chamomile and the perky zip of peppermint.  While also offering calming properties, the herbs in Lavender Chamomint have also been used by women as folk remedies for pre-menstrual symptoms and menstrual cramps.

picture390Lavender Passion Flower Tea

(makes 12 cups)

Combine 2 heaping tablespoons of dried passion flower leaves with 2 heaping tablespoons of dried lavender buds.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of this mixture.  Steep for 5 minutes.

~

picture391Lavender Chamomint Tea

(makes 15 cups)

Combine 2 heaping tablespoons of dried lavender buds, 2 heaping tablespoons of dried German chamomile, and 1 heaping tablespoon of peppermint.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of this mixture.  Steep for 5 minutes.

Enjoy, and Be Well!

Crowded Earth Kitchen will revisit the topic of tea from time to time.  If you have a favorite herb or type of tea that you would like to see featured, please comment below!

Wellness Teas, Part II

picture101Last month, we explored a few of the many connections between tea and wellness.  Did you enjoy the After Dinner Blend, or perhaps the Healthy Blood Pressure Blend?  Today we will share two additional herbal varieties, Healthy Skin Blend and Stress Relief Blend.

Be Well!

Healthy Skin Blend (makes 15 cups)

I’ve often lovingly referred to this blend as “Teenager Tea,” because of the healthy skin properties inherent in these herbs.  Rooibos is made from the leaves of the Calicotome villosa plant, and is chock full of antioxidants, including Vitamin C.  Dried raspberry leaf is also high in antioxidants and has a long history in folk medicine.  There are many accounts of raspberry leaf being steeped as a purification brew and applied directly to skin rashes as a poultice.  Rosehip has long been used in skincare preparations, although the jury is still out as far as scientific research is concerned.  Finally, ginger contains chemical properties which may help to regulate natural oils for healthy skin.

To prepare this blend, simply combine the following four ingredients, readily available in spice shops or the bulk spice section of better markets (pictured clockwise from top):

picture098 (2)1 heaping tablespoon Crystallized Ginger

1 heaping tablespoon Red Rooibos

2 heaping tablespoons Raspberry Leaf

1 heaping tablespoon Dried Rosehip

~

Combine all ingredients in a small container (4 ounce jelly jars are pretty, reusable, and just the right size).  For each cup of tea, add 1 teaspoon of the herbal blend to a tea ball or empty tea bag (available wherever loose teas are sold).  Place the tea ball or tea bag in a mug along with 8 to 10 ounces of boiling water.  Steep for 7 minutes for a mild, caramel brew with a slightly astringent aftertaste.  Enjoy!

Stress Relief Blend (makes 12 – 15 cups, depending upon strength)

I don’t know how anyone could enjoy a cup or two of this delicious, soothing tea and still feel stressed.  The combination of chamomile and peppermint is sublime, with ginger providing a pinch of punch and a dash of sweetness.

Combine the following ingredients (pictured clockwise from top):

picture0992 heaping tablespoons Chamomile

2 heaping tablespoons Peppermint

1 heaping tablespoon Crystallized Ginger

~

~

After combining, spoon 1 teaspoon of the herbal blend into a tea ball or tea bag.  Steep in 8 to 10 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes to create a sweet, minty beverage.  If you find you like your tea beverages a bit stronger, use an extra 1/2 teaspoon in your next cup.

Enjoy, and Be Well!

As promised last month, Crowded Earth Kitchen will revisit the topic of tea from time to time.  If you have a favorite herb or type of tea that you would like to see featured, please comment below!

For Love Of Pomegranates

picture267 Crowded Earth Kitchen has featured pomegranates in several recipes this month, and with good reason.  Pomegranates are essentially the perfect winter fruit.  Pomegranates are high in fiber, contain a wealth of vitamins including Vitamins C and K, and are widely considered a “superfood” due to their abundance of antioxidants.  Pomegranates contain a particularly amazing compound called “ellagitannin,” which breaks down to form another amazing compound, “ellagic acid,” in the human body.  Also found in foods such as raspberries, strawberries, and walnuts, ellagic acid has been shown in medical studies to have powerful anti-cancer properties.

Oh, and pomegranates are delicious.  Why wouldn’t they feature prominently in winter recipes?

It occurs to me that I never actually demonstrated what I believe is the easiest, least messy way to open a pomegranate and capture all of those juicy, jewel toned, nutrition packed arils.  My apologies.  Let’s open a pomegranate together and enjoy a simple winter fruit salad, shall we?

Ingredients (makes 1 quart of fruit salad)

1 pomegranate

6 – 8 clementines, tangerines, or oranges

1 peppermint tea bag

picture240Directions

Step 1)  Use a paring knife to score a pomegranate all the way around in a circle, about 1/2 inch from each end.  Use the tip of the paring knife or a finger to gently pull up the leathery skin.  After the ends are loosened, simply pull them off.

picture241Step 2) After the ends are removed, you will be able to see the pattern of the white, pithy membranes inside the pomegranate.  These membranes resemble the white pith found on the insides of oranges.  Use your paring knife to score through the pomegranate skin, end to end, along each section of white membrane.

picture242Step 3) Over a protected work surface, pull your pomegranate apart along the lines you’ve scored.  Notice how there is NO JUICE in this picture.  That’s not a camera trick… careful scoring really will keep all of the juice where it belongs, inside of the arils!

~

picture244Step 4) Separate the pomegranate arils.  This is very easy.  Simply lift away the papery white membranes inside of the pomegranate, and the arils will come right off in your hand.  As shown in the photo to the left, one pomegranate contains about 2 cups of tightly packed arils.  That’s a lot of fruit!

picture268Step 5) Combine your pomegranate arils with sectioned clementines, tangerines, or oranges in a pretty bowl.  For maximum flavor, serve your winter fruit salad only slightly chilled.  Ice cold fruit is less flavorful than fruit which has been allowed to warm up a bit!  Garnish your winter fruit salad with a few flecks of peppermint from a tea bag.  Enjoy!

Crowded Earth Kitchen hopes pomegranates become a winter staple in your pantry!