Chateau Lake Louise
Chateau Lake Louise sits on the shore of the azure blue Lake Louise, only 50 minutes from Banff. The postcard setting is perfected framed with emerald green forests and snowcapped mountains that glisten under a dramatic Canadian sky. This was once a hideaway for Fairbanks and Barrymore, Monroe and Hitchcock. The highlight of the day for tea lovers is afternoon tea in the Lakeview Lounge. The preferred tables for two are each framed by a Palladian window allowing an uninterrupted alpine-like view of the lake and mountains. Afternoon tea begins with a colorful compote of fresh fruit. The tiered server soon appears bearing a creative array of tea sandwiches such as cucumber, smoked salmon, egg on wheat and chicken with mango pinwheels. Perfect English scones are served with a bountiful supply of clotted cream and preserves. The tantalizing sweets include miniature éclairs, custard tarts, handmade chocolates and shortbreads crowned with whole strawberries. An optional flute of champagne tops the afternoon off with one more bit of sparkle. The only problem here is that you don’t want to leave this sunny setting where staring out the window is relaxing and, thankfully, encouraged.
Lake Agnes Teahouse
The mountains framing Lake Louise are crisscrossed with hiking trails. One of the favorite routes is the Lake Agnes Trail that begins at the rear of the Chateau Lake Louise and climbs a thousand feet to the glacier fed Lake Agnes. A 90-minute walk will bring you to a glorious tea respite, unlike any you have seen. Built around 1900, the log chalet Lake Agnes teahouse hugs the shore of this emerald lake. Be warned! This is not a tea room for red hats and lace gloves. The chalet is warmed by a wood stove and lit by kerosene lamps. In fact, this is the only tea room I have visited that has an outhouse. It is so remote that supplies are brought in by helicopters or horseback and her hardworking staff lives onsite in another small cabin. The simple menu includes soup, sandwiches, tea biscuits, and homemade pastries. What’s most amazing about this sanctuary is an amazing assortment of 50 loose teas from all over the world. Tea water is heated in six huge kettles that continually simmer on a mammoth gas stove in the kitchen. It takes a lot of heat to boil water at an elevation of 8000 feet. The trek to Lake Agnes can be exhausting and more than a few out-of-breath adventurers turn back to the comfort of their hotel room. How sad to think that they missed the reward that lies at the end of their journey. Good things — and lasting tea memories come to those who persevere!
By Michelle Rabin, Ph.D. Contributing Editor
Walk into a friend’s home and you will likely be offered a beverage. T
he ritual seems universal. If you confess that you’re not feeling well, chances are that beverage will be a cup of tea. We all find tea physically soothing and emotionally comforting; perhaps that’s where the association of health and ritual began. Our mothers and grandmothers certainly weren’t privy to scientific research confirming the health benefits of tea, but through folklore had discovered its healing qualities. Science has not fully explained why the ancient ritual of tea is a calming influence. Public concerns about health, obesity and stress do not fully account for tea’s new-found popularity. I believe tea has a broader and deeper meaning to many of us. In a world that appears to be spinning out of control, most of us are searching for ways to reduce stress and bring peace and comfort back into our lives. We might not be able to improve the fiscal problems that are wreaking havoc around the world, or reduce the rate of global warming, but we can embrace a practice that holds a promise of comfort, health and inspiration. Jesse Jacobs, the founder of Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco and a prolific writer on the benefits of ritual says “The simple act of brewing, sipping, and savoring tea leaves in a cup elevates you above the chaos in life today. Filling you with flavor, calm, and vitality, the tea ritual is a vehicle for both inner peace and health, and interpersonal connection and happiness.” “This basic infusion of water and leaves connect the drinker from the moment to the artisan farmer thousands of miles away. And to the sun, soil, rain and wind that helped grow those very leaves. This simple experience allows the drinker to pause for just a moment, and to listen to their heartbeat. To perceive their surroundings and their life and to savor it all,” says Jacobs. www.TeaMag.com
Is tea really healing? Civilizations over millennia have used tea to treat illness in the body, mind and spirit. Science is slowly catching up to the intuitive wisdom of healers around the world and actively investigating the profound health benefits of medicinal plants and herbs.
It’s not uncommon to pick up a magazine weekly and read about a recent scientific finding confirming the remarkable properties of a given botanical. The beloved Camellia sinensis is the current media darling, demonstrating great promise in protecting us from disease and improving our health. This September the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health will bring researchers from all corners of the globe to Washington, D.C. to share insights into their latest research. They will present compelling evidence that tea nourishes and protects our bodies, aids digestion, reduces cholesterol, even fights cavities.
But in every instance these benefits depend on consuming three, four or even five cups of tea a day. This is where the ritual of tea plays such an important role in promoting good health. The importance of ritual Tea’s rich history, inspiring countless legends and rituals reinforce the idea it must be taken frequently, socially or alone. Without realizing it, we participate in rituals every day. Some are related to our faith. Christian rituals at Easter, Christmas and Ash Wednesday are good examples while Jewish traditions are observed on the Sabbath, Passover and the ceremonial Bris. Muslims prostrate themselves in daily prayer and gather for Ramadan and Hajj, further demonstrating the varied faiths and how they incorporate meaningful rituals and spirituality in their religious observations. Other rituals we celebrate are cultural. American families traditionally gather around the Thanksgiving table. In July lawn chairs are the norm as we enjoy a BBQ with family and friends before watching the fireworks display. The Mexican’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) pays tribute to those who have passed by welcoming the spirits of their loved ones, encouraging them to return for a brief visit. Canadians observe Remembrance Day, or Poppy Day to honor those in the armed forces who died in service to their country. Many nationalities participate in celebrations welcoming the New Year. These rituals, many of which involve food and drink, are essentially habits. We don’t always stop to ponder what they mean or how to do them, they are simply part of our consciousness. Scientists are fascinated by the study of habits because of the power they have to influence and control behavior. On the one hand, we are conscious of our purposeful actions, like making a cup of tea, while at the same time, we unconsciously engage in other activities. Through repetition we allow our mind to be involved in other activities while the body is on auto-pilot, effortlessly engaged in the habitual behavior. Personal ritual There are many ways to establish a personal tea ritual. An important consideration is establishing a specific routine that you can easily follow. There are no right or wrong tea rituals as long as it’s something that speaks to you, enveloping you in a state of relaxation and balance. I’ve come to look forward to the tranquility as well as the creativity it sparks in me. By establishing a daily tea ritual, we can enlist the meditative properties that have the potential to produce powerful effects on our mind, body and spirit. How does a tea ritual accomplish this? We are all familiar with stress and how it impacts us emotionally, causing us to feel anxious, overwhelmed and exhausted. Even more damaging is how it affects us physically, as it wreaks havoc on our health. Our bodies release small amounts of cortisol into our blood stream in response to a crisis, which enables us to take whatever extraordinary actions are required to keep us alive and away from harm. This fight or flight response is innate and serves us well until the crisis becomes chronic instead of acute. Today, our excessively stressful lives cause most of us to secrete far too much cortisol into our blood streams, leaving us open to serious chronic illnesses such as auto-immune diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease to name a few.1 Research confirms that even brief periods of relaxation can reduce cortisol levels, lower heart rates and make us feel less anxious and stressed. The results of a double blind study2 in which half of the subjects incorporated tea into their lives for
“Scientists are fascinated by the study of habits because of the power they have to influence and control behavior.” six weeks, found that those drinking tea had significantly lower cortisol levels and a greater sense of relaxation. A personal tea ritual encourages these beneficial periods of calm in your day. A family ritual Barbara H. Fiese, Ph.D. Professor, Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana, reviewed 50 years of research on family rituals3 to identify the important dynamics of family rituals and why they have a positive impact on the family system as well as its members. A family ritual can provide an important sense of
Spiced Keemun and Cranberry Simple Syrup Yield: roughly 4 cups Tea Syrup 5 cups water 4 cups sugar 1 lime wedge 2/3 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries 4 each Star Anise or 2 teaspoons whole Anise Seed 1 teaspoon clove 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper 4 tablespoons full bodied black tea leaves, preferably Keemun
photos by Julian Landa
Stir water, cranberries, Star Anise, clove and black pepper in a saucepan and squeeze in lime. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and simmer until light syrup forms. Remove from heat and stir in the tea leaves. Let cool, then strain well. Cake layers being brushed with Spiced Keemun and Cranberry Simple Syrup.
Darjeeling and Pear Sangria Yield: 10 cups 4 tablespoons loose-leaf Darjeeling tea leaves 6 cups boiling water 1 bottle Riesling wine, chilled 3 pear(s), thinly sliced 1 apple, thinly sliced 1 cup apple juice, chilled 2 tablespoon Simple Syrup, or to taste Place the tea leaves in a large glass measuring cup or pitcher. Pour over the boiling water and steep for 3 minutes. Strain, discarding the leaves and returning the tea liquid to the container, and let cool completely to room temperature. Add the chilled Riesling, pears, apple juice, and simple syrup to taste. The Green Tea and Lemongrass simple syrup shown in this article was used, but feel free to use your favorite tea syrup. Chill, and if possible give the flavors a day to meld before serving. Serve over ice. This Sangria will hold well for 3 or 4 days.
Spiced Black Tea Syrup Yield: roughly 4 cups Tea Syrup 5 4 1 1
cups water cups sugar lime wedge tablespoon whole allspice, toasted and crushed 1 teaspoon clove 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped 3 tablespoons full bodied black tea leaves Stir water and sugar in a saucepan. Squeeze in lime, add allspice, clove, pepper and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until light syrup forms. Remove from heat and stir in the tea leaves. Let cool, then strain well.
The Statler Yield: 1 cocktail 2 oz good quality aged rum (I used Barbancourt Haitan Rum) 1/2 oz spiced Black tea syrup 1/2 oz Grand Marnier 1/2 oz lime juice Shake well with ice. Strain into rocks glass with fresh ice cubes. Garnish with orange zest or wedge
Lemongrass Green Tea and Ginger Simple Syrup This syrup is wonderful stirred into seltzer for your own fresh ‘ginger ale’. Consider using it to replace a traditional simple syrup when making a fresh fruit sorbet or granita, or for Tea Sangria’s. Yield: roughly 4 cups Tea Syrup 5 cups water 4 cups sugar 1 lime wedge 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh lemongrass www.TeaMag.com
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh gingerroot 4 tablespoons sencha or other green tea leaves Stir water and lemongrass into a saucepan and squeeze in lime. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in ginger and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and simmer until light syrup forms. Remove from heat and stir in the tea leaves. Let cool, then strain well. March/April 2012
Dan Robertson, “The Lost Tea Garden of Pedong” I live in… Naperville, IL with my wife and two daughters. When I am not writing for Tea… I’m running The Tea House, leading the World Tea Tours (Tea Tour of India and Ceylon this October), organizing the Cupping Events, writing for the International Tea Cuppers Club, teaching, lecturing and promoting tea around the world, working on my upcoming book Cultures of Tea, blogging and taking my daughter to swimming lessons. Find me at www.theteahouse.com, www.WorldTeaTours.com, www. teacuppers.com, Email: email@example.com.
Jennifer Quail, “The Rhythm of a Ritual” I live in… New York and Venice, Calif. When I am not writing for Tea… I am visiting friends in new and old places and writing about design in its many forms from interiors and furnishings to fine jewelry. Tea makes me… slow down and take a deep breath. I drink tea (times) a day…three to five times a day. Follow me on Twitter @JQwanders
Linnea Covington, “Tastings” and “Know Your Tea” I live in… Brooklyn, New York When I am not writing for Tea… I write about all sorts of fun food stuff and the best part, I get to taste it too! And when I am not eating, I usually can be found at the Museum of Modern Art or watching movies. Tea makes me… Relaxed at the end of the day, excited in the morning, and grateful in the middle of the afternoon. I drink tea (times) a day…Three to ten....is that a lot? Too little? It’s hard to say. Follow me on Twitter @linneacovington
Libby Basile, “Top 10 Tea Apps” I live in… New Haven, CT When I am not writing for Tea… I’m in the kitchen testing out a new recipe. I love to cook and bake. My kitchen counter is always loaded with homemade cookies or cupcakes. Tea is… part of my morning routine. I love the ritual of preparing it. Starting my work day with a cup of tea is just one of life’s little rewards. I drink tea (times) a day…Whenever the urge strikes! When I am working on an article for Tea Magazine I can’t stop myself from turning on the kettle and brewing a pot. Follow me on Twitter! @LibbyJaneB
Cynthia Gold, “Sweet Simplicity” I live in… Arlington, MA When I am not writing for Tea… I teach about the Culinary side of tea, and I am the Tea Sommelier at L’Espalier, a French Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston Tea makes me… appreciate the simple things in life I can be reached at… firstname.lastname@example.org, and I am always happy to chat about the culinary side of tea.