Jody Victor’s Favorite Tea Remedies

White Tea – Mightiest of Teas

White tea has finally arrived in America. While Chinese tea drinkers have known about the benefits of white tea since the Ming Dynasty, it has just recently been recognized outside of Asia. Now everyone from chefs to medical researchers is praising white tea’s delicate flavor and health benefits. Market researchers predict American consumers will soon share their enthusiasm and turn white tea into a hot new food trend.

Most tea drinkers know that all tea comes from the same source: the Camilla Sinensis tea bush. Whether the tea By now most of us are aware of the great medicinal benefits of drinking tea. But are you aware of the many health benefits and household uses of topical tea?

TEA REMEDIES For Health and Home

HEALTH Uses:

Use a cool, wet green tea bag to soothe a medical injection site

Use cool, wet tea bags to soothe bee stings and insect bites

Use cool, wet tea bags to reduce swelling and redness from allergies

Use cool, wet tea bag to soothe razor burn

Use a warm, wet tea bag on a boil overnight to drain it

Use warm, wet tea bags on the eyes to soothe pinkeye and under-eye bags

Use a hot, wet tea bag on a canker sore or fever blister to draw out infection

Use hot, wet tea bags on plantar warts for 15 minutes every day

Use cool, brewed tea to soothe sunburn

Use cool, brewed tea as a mouthwash to prevent tooth decay (contains natural fluoride)

Use cool, brewed tea for dermatitis, blisters, and shingles

Use cool, brewed tea for a sun-free tanning spray

Use strong-brewed black tea for a footbath to relieve minor aches and remove dead skin   (strengthens dogs’ pads, too)

HOUSEHOLD Uses:

Use brewed tea to rinse food odors from hands

Use brewed tea to dye fabric, paper, or plastic for an antiqued look

Use brewed tea for a meat tenderizer (add 1 C to marinade)

Use brewed tea to clean wood (soft cloth/wring well)

Use brewed tea to clean mirrors (buff dry with clean, dry cloth)

Use brewed tea to cut grease on stovetop and counters

Use tea bags or tea leaves in ‘fridge to absorb odors

Use nearly dry tea leaves to clean Oriental or Persian carpets (sprinkle on/sweep off with broom)

GARDEN Uses:

Use dry, used tea bags outdoors for a mosquito repellant (burn in saucer or ashtray)

Use old tea bags in compost pile to attract worms

Use old tea bags on soil around roses to give them a boost

Use cool, brewed tea to water acid-loving ferns on occasion

Use old tea bags at bottom of pots when potting plants and flowers to help retain moisture

Jody Victor Tells About the Japanese Tea Ceremony

Cha-no-yu, or “hot water for tea,” is a Japanese tea ceremony dating back 500 years.

The tea ceremony originated in China, where its practice eventually died out. Japanese monks studying Buddhism in China brought the “Way of Tea” back to Japan 1200-1300 years ago. They learned the manners and rules of tea appreciation and applied them to their daily rituals. The monks enjoyed drinking tea while in meditation and while reading their scriptures. The Buddhist monk, Sen No Rikkyu is recognized as the founder of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Sen No Rikkyu honed the simple tea habits of the monks into the ritual it remains today. He stressed four principles in his ceremony: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. These were the principles that were interwoven in the daily environment of the monasteries.

There are many different versions of the tea ceremony and they vary according to one’s teacher and his or her training. Most versions do have some common features:

  1. The ceremony always involves a host and several, but not many, guests.
  2. The ceremony can be held in a screened-off alcove of a main room, but if possible a teahouse and garden are built.
  3. The guests wait in a special waiting room until summoned by the host. They walk through the garden to the teahouse, which is traditionally elevated and has a three-foot-tall door.
  4. The host ceremonially decorates the teahouse with screens and a scroll or flowers.
  5. Guests are served a small meal, including a sweet.
  6. The host brings in tea utensils and begins to prepare the tea. The water is boiled and the tea bowl and whisk are heated. The powdered tea is placed in the bowl and whisked to a thick consistency. After the guests drink the bitter tea the host cleans the utensils and the guests examine and discuss the utensils.

A full tea, or Chaji, involves a meal and the serving of two different types of tea. Full tea ceremonies are held to honor special guests or to celebrate special occasions such as the anniversary of a family event, the blossoming of the cherry trees or the admiration of the full moon. For each occasion the flowers, vase, wall hangings and tea wares are specially chosen for the event, time of year and the desired atmosphere. The host will spend days going over minutiae to insure the ceremony is perfect. Through the tea ceremony recognition is given that every human encounter is a singular occasion, which will never repeat exactly again.

When the guests arrive, they are not greeted at the door by their host or hostess but follow through a series of open doors to the machiai (waiting room). Here they are served a small cup of water taken from the kettle in the tearoom by the hanto (assistant to the host) as a foretaste of the water to be used in the ceremony. While in the waiting room the guests choose one person in their group to be the main guest. The assistant leads them, with the main guest directly behind, to the garden. They walk quietly and calmly through the water-sprinkled garden. Here the guests rid themselves of the dust of the world. This walk through the garden represents a breaking of ties with the everyday world and allows the guests to clarify their senses through the aural and visual enjoyment of trickling water, birdsongs, trees, plants and flowers. Mid-way through the garden the guests sit and relax on the koshikake machiai  (waiting bench) anticipating the approach of the teishu (house master).

Just before receiving the guests the host fills the tsukubai (water basin), which is set among low stones at the entrance to the teahouse, with fresh water. Taking a ladle of water the host purifies his/her hands and mouth then proceeds through the chumon (middle gate) to welcome his/her guests with a bow. No words are spoken. The host leads the assistant, the main guest and the others (in that order) through the gate, which symbolizes the way between the coarse physical world and the spiritual world of tea. The guests and assistant purify themselves at the basin and wait to be invited into the teahouse.

The entrance to the tearoom is a sliding door that is so low (usually 36”) that everyone must stoop or crawl to go through. It is a symbolic gesture of humility. The door points to the reality that all are equal in tea, irrespective of status or social position. The last person in latches the door.

Once inside, the guests spend a few minutes admiring the kama (kettle), the furo (hearth), and the Buddhist scriptures on the scrolls adorning the walls. They then kneel on straw mats and sit back on their heels. Greetings are exchanged and the guests watch while their host performs the ceremony of lighting the charcoal fire.

Each guest is served a meal consisting of three courses. White rice, soup, raw fish and pickled vegetables are set out on a tray made of fresh cedar. These dishes are eaten with each course. Sake is served followed by the first course consisting of yakimono (grilled foods), which are served in individual portions on ceramic plates. The second course consists of uminomono (seafood) and yamanomono (mountain food), which signify the abundance of the sea and land. The host eats during this course and is served sake by each guest acting as host, if only momentarily, insuring equality of all in the tearoom. The third course, konomono (fragrant things), is served in small ceramic bowls. Brown rice is served in salted water in a lacquer pitcher. It represents the last of the rice. The host then invites the guests to return to the garden (or waiting room) while he/she prepares the tea. Once the guests have departed the room is swept and the scrolls are removed and replaced by flowers. The utensils for preparing the tea are arranged. Over thirteen individual items are used. Each item is costly and considered an art object.

If tea is served during the day a gong is sounded; in evening a bell is used. Usually struck five to seven times, it summons the guests to return to the teahouse. They purify hands and mouth again at the water basin before re-entering. The host enters with the chawan (tea bowl), which holds the chasen (tea whisk), the chakin (a bleached white linen cloth for drying the bowl), and the chashaku (tea scoop). These items are arranged next to a stoneware jar called the mizusashi. The stoneware jar contains fresh water, symbolizing purity and is touched only by the host.  The tea is held in a small ceramic container called a chaire, which sits beside the stoneware jar. The host then retires to the preparation room and returns with the kensui (waste water bowl), the hishaku (bamboo water ladle) and the futaoki (a green bamboo rest for the kettle lid). Using a fine silk cloth the host purifies the tea bowl and scoop. Much significance is found in the host’s careful inspection, folding and handling of the silk cloth. Hot water is ladled into the tea bowl, the whisk is rinsed and the tea bowl is emptied and wiped with the linen cloth.

Lifting the tea scoop and tea container, the host places three scoops of tea per guest into the tea bowl. Hot water is ladled into the bowl from the kettle creating a thin paste. It is then whisked into a thick liquid consistent with pea soup (adding more water if needed). The host passes the tea bowl to the main guest who bows in accepting it. The bowl is rotated and admired. The guest then drinks some of the tea, wipes the rim of the bowl, and passes it on to the next guest. When all of the guests have tasted the tea the bowl is returned to the host who rinses it. The whisk is rinsed and the tea scoop and tea container are cleaned. They are offered to the guests for examination. A discussion of the objects and presentation takes place.

The fire is then rebuilt for usa cha (thin tea). This tea will rinse the palate and symbolically prepares the guests for leaving the spiritual world and re-entering the physical world. To compliment usa cha, higashi (dry sweets) are served. The thin tea is made in the same manner as the thick tea, using less tea powder of a lesser quality. This time the guests are served the tea in individual decorative bowls. The guests express their appreciation for the tea and their admiration for the art of the host. They leave as the host watches from the door of the teahouse.

Jody Victor Suggests Herbal Teas

Herbal Teas For Your Health

Since the beginning of human history people have had a significant reliance on plants for both sustenance (food) and wellness (medicine). One method of using the nutritional and medicinal elements of plants is by brewing them into tea. To make the perfect cup of herbal tea all that is required is a pot or kettle to boil water in, a teapot or glass canning jar for steeping and a strainer. It is important to use glass, porcelain, or earthenware pottery for brewing because some metals can react with the herbs. Always warm the steeping container with hot water beforehand to prevent the tea from cooling off too quickly and to prevent the container from breaking. For straining the tea you can use one of the many strainers or tea balls available but the simplest is a fine-mesh stainless steel gravy strainer. If you do use a tea ball, use a big one.

Herbal teas can be brewed from many parts of the plants: leaves, roots, bark, seeds or flowers. They can be brewed alone or in combination. The different parts of the plants require different brewing techniques. Teas made from leaves or flowers are infused to protect the delicate oils from evaporating. To make an infusion, place the herbs in the warmed teapot or canning jar, gently pour the boiling water over the herbs, cover to prevent evaporation, steep for 10-15 minutes, and strain. Use one teaspoon of dried or 3 teaspoons of fresh, bruised herbs per cup of water.

Teas made from the roots, bark or seeds are decocted to release their properties. A decoction requires the roots or bark to be cut into small pieces. The seeds are bruised with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon. Place one half to one ounce of the prepared herb into a pot with 2 cups of cold water. Bring it to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, simmer for 10-20 minutes, and strain. To make a tea from both roots/bark/seeds and leaves/flowers make the decoction first then pour the strained decoction over the leaves/flowers and infuse.

Most herbal teas are delicate enough that a sweetener is not necessary but sugar or preferably local honey can be added. If iced tea is desired follow the same procedures as above but brew double-strength. After straining, chill for 30 minutes and pour over a glass full of ice.

Here is a list of the more popular herbs used in teas and their uses:

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) – High in A, K, and D vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Increases energy.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) – Helps with urinary tract infections, kidney stones, night-blindness, cataracts and varicose veins.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) – Aids nervous stomachs and indigestion.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) – Good blood cleanser. Helps with tonsillitis and inflamed gums.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – Helps with indigestion and heartburn.

Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) – Good for migraines, arthritic pain, nausea, and depression.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) – Improves blood circulation in the brain.

Hibiscus Flowers (H. sabdariffa roselle) – High in vitamin C. Good cranberry-like flavor.

Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) – Helps assimilate calcium. Good for circulation, bladder, liver, and glands. Nourishes nails, skin, hair, bones and connective tissues. Contains vitamin E, pantothenic acid, copper, manganese, sodium, cobalt, iron and iodine.

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale L) – Calming. Active against ringworm and tapeworm. Good flavoring.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – Relief from allergies, colds, flu and headaches.

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citrates) – Good for digestive problems, diarrhea, stomach aches/cramps and flatulence.

Mint (Mentha) – Antibacterial. Antiparasitic. Heals ulcers and improves concentration.

Raspberry Leaves (Rosaceae rubus) – Improves digestion. Helps clear intestinal waste. Prevents hemorrhages and diarrhea. Supplies iron, builds blood and increases energy.

Red Clover (Trifolium pretense trefoil) – Helps with respiratory and skin disorders. Acts as an expectorant for coughs. Relaxant for asthma.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – Aids with depression. Good during menopause.

Jody Victor’s Fun with Tasseography

The Art of Tasseography

Tasseography is the ancient art of interpreting patterns made by tealeaves in a teacup. Even though tasseography is usually associated with gypsy fortunetellers, the tradition evolved a long time ago from Asia, the Middle East and Ancient Greece. “Tasse” or “tass” is an Arab root meaning small cup or goblet. Modern tasseography is associated with the Scottish, Irish and the cultures of Eastern Europe. The significance of this cross -cultural and historical tradition is related to the primal human desire for understanding the self. Tasseography is not an application of magic or mystical activities, but rather a tool for tapping into the subconscious by applying meditation to pattern recognition and symbolism. The significance of symbolism in psychological study has theoretical foundations from Plato through Karl Jung. The process of tasseography stimulates the imagination to create individualized interpretations and solutions. Tealeaf reading is a fun and creative way to listen to your own self.

Start with a white or light colored teacup and make a cup of tea with any leaf tea. If you do not have loose -leaf tea you can open a tea bag and use the tea that way. Once your tea is cool enough, begin sipping. Leaves may be floating so do your best to avoid consuming too many. If you are right -handed use your left hand to hold the cup. If you are left -handed use your right hand. If you are ambidextrous, reach for your cup, stop, and then use the other hand. This procedure of drinking from the other hand coordinates left and right brain activity to stimulate problem solving. Using the opposite hand also tends to make you slow down to focus and organize your thoughts. Not that you have slowed down and are quiet and relaxed identify an issue foremost in your mind. It’s that one thought that keeps stubbornly returning to your attention no matter how much you meditate on relaxing your mind to block out all thoughts.

Leave a small amount of tea (about a teaspoon) at the bottom of your cup. Now give it three good swirls. The tealeaves will disperse around the interior of the cup. Gently dump out the remaining liquid into a saucer and wait three breaths before turning your cup back over.

Tealeaf reading is a highly personal process. Abstract pattern recognition taps into our subconscious with the most relevant reading produced by the individual who drank, meditated and swirled the tea. In a way it is similar to the Rorschach (ink blot) Test. We are most likely to recognize symbols that have a connection to the matter at hand. Therefore you are the most qualified to read your own tealeaves.

If your cup has a handle, begin there and read clockwise. If your cup has no handle, begin reading from 12 o’clock. Make a note of the first symbol you see. It is the symbol related to the issue that was foremost in your mind while you were drinking and meditating. Mentally divide the cup into three sections: rim, middle and base. The rim area is above the tea level when you first poured your cup of tea. The base is the level of tea left before you dumped it out. The middle section is the area between the two (rim and base). Note where the first symbol you saw is located and if it is next to another symbol. Note whether you see bubbles, twigs, or droplets in your cup. Work quietly and take your time. Leaves on the bottom of the cup (base) foretell the distant future. The sides (middle) foretell the not too distant future. Leaves on the rim area tell the present. The pictures and symbols that you see very clearly are more significant than those that are unclear.

Here are some interpretations of the pictures you see (many more can be found on tea websites):

Anchor – success in business

Aircraft – journey/travel

Bird – good news or message

Bouquet – romance

Circle – trust and love

Castle – open horizons

Diamond – surprise windfall

Dog – good and faithful friends

Elephant – be patient

Eagle – power and strength

Fire – passion

Fish – good fortune

Gate – beware of opportunities around you

Globe – long distance travel

Hand – if open, destiny / if closed, argument

Hat – a change in roles

Ivy – not a good time to be independent, trust friends

Insect – distractions

Jewels – material success

Knife – caution against sharp words

Kettle – a special visitor is coming

Ladder – promotion

Lines – advancement, long life

Mountain – a difficult, but possible, goal

Mouth – listen carefully

Necklace – complete: personal relationship stability / broken: instability

Octopus – warning

Palm tree – wealth

Pig – greedy or jealous person

Question mark – reconsider your plans

Rake – at a crossroad and destiny is determined by hard work

Rainbow – good luck to come

Spoon – you will be comforted by someone’s generosity

Stair – your position will improve

Tree – family unity

Turtle – lasting success through patience

Urn – be aware of distinction between material and spiritual success

Vase – a secret being kept from you

Volcano – obstruction in your life

Wheel – events outside your life will change your direction

Wolf – you will be challenged or betrayed

Jody Victor Talks About Teas Grown in America

Americans have not only been drinking tea for a long time but have actually grown it on our own soil.

Longing for exotic luxuries Queen Elizabeth of England founded the East India Company in 1600 in order to import fine woven cloths, spices, herbs and other riches from the East. The East India Company held exclusive rights to the English-Oriental trade until 1833. In the beginning of this enterprise the tea shipments were meager and subject to tariffs so enterprising merchants/pirates ignored the imposed monopoly and illegally imported tea themselves. These illegal shipments increased the supply of tea on mainland England and stimulated its sale by offering the forbidden tea at a lower price. Thus tea was no longer served exclusively to English high society but also to regular English subjects and by the middle of the eighteenth century tea had replaced ale as England’s national drink.

As tea drinking blossomed in England so it also blossomed in the English colonies. By the turn of the eighteenth century tea was publicly available in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The colonial tea trade was exclusively with England. King George III placed higher tariffs on tea imported to the American colonies as a way to pay for the expenses of the French and Indian War. The higher tea taxes caused the colonists to take action. On December 16, 1773, a band of sixty outraged colonists, dressed as Mohawk Indians, gathered at Griffin’s Wharf and boarded the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, and tossed 342 crates (45 tons) of tea into Boston Harbor. Known as the Boston Tea Party this act of resistance ignited a series of events prompting the colonists’ fight for independence.

Commercial tea cultivation in America had been attempted since 1744, when tea seeds were sent to the Trust Garden in Savannah, South Carolina. The first recorded successful cultivation of the tea plant is recorded as growing on Skidaway Island near Savannah in 1772. As luck would have it, South Carolina has a small pocket of land suitable for tea plants, which need sandy soil bathed in heat, humidity and rain. Junius Smith, a horticultural pioneer, succeeded in growing tea commercially on his Golden Grove Plantation in Greenville, South Carolina, from 1848 until his death in 1853. Dr. Alexis Forster oversaw the next short-lived attempt in Georgetown, South Carolina, from 1874 until his death in 1879.

In 1884, almost ten years after Forster’s endeavor began the federal government became interested in the tea experiments down south. America’s fast clipper ships and its ability to settle debts in gold had made it the world’s largest importer of tea. Commissioner of Agriculture, William G. Le Duc wanted to find out if America could profit by producing its own tea. He planted an experimental farm outside Summerville, South Carolina. Four years later the government gave up the project. They concluded that the area’s climate was too unstable to sustain the tea crop.

Fortunately the dream of a prosperous tea plantation on home soil still lived in the imagination of a wealthy and scientific philanthropist named Dr. Charles Shepard. In 1888 he established the Pinehurst Tea Plantation not far from the government farm in Summerville. Dr. Shepard faced two challenges. The first was labor problems. It was estimated that it cost about eight times as much to pick one pound of tea in South Carolina than it did in Asia. Dr. Shepard solved this problem by opening a school and making tea-picking a part of the curriculum, essentially ensuring a force of child labor while providing them with an education they might not otherwise have obtained.

The second challenge was the need to produce the highest quality tea. The labor expense of hand-picking needed to be offset by the production of the freshest, top quality tea. The best teas grown abroad at that time were rarely shipped outside their country of origin because the journey took a great toll on the delicate premium leaves. Dr. Shepard was confident that South Carolina would fill the void. In an interview in an 1898 issue of Cosmopolitan, he assured that “in this field the American grower need fear no competition from the Orient. Such teas demand a high price; but if no better can be otherwise obtained, there will be no scarcity of buyers.” His persistence proved fruitful when he won the tea-drinking public’s attention at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair where his oolong tea took first prize. At that same World’s Fair, Richard Blechynden, a tea vendor, dropped ice into his hot cups of tea to boost sales in the summer heat. The result was the first iced tea, which has become a tradition of supper tables in the American South.

Dr. Shepard’s plantation thrived until his death in 1915, after which it remained unattended until 1960, when Thomas J. Lipton bought the property. Lipton rescued the remaining plants and used them to open a research facility on Wadmalaw Island. Mack Fleming, a horticultural researcher at Trident Technical College, was hired as manager of the operation and is credited with a more modern solution to the labor problem. He invented a mechanical harvester, which was a hybrid of a cotton picker and a tobacco reaper. It did the work of 500 pickers. Still, Lipton concluded, as the federal government had almost 150 years earlier, that the unstable climate and high cost of labor in South Carolina made tea production unfeasible.

Finally in 1987, Fleming with his tea horticulturist skills and William B. Hall, an expert, third generation tea taster purchased the farm from Lipton and established the 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation. The Charleston Tea Plantation proclaimed that their tea was grown, withered, cured, manufactured, prepared, and packaged in America and was the freshest available to American consumers, containing no pesticides or fungicides. It was inspected by the FDA and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and provided jobs for American workers. Along with being designated the Hospitality Beverage of South Carolina, the Charleston Tea Plantation’s American Classic Tea also earned the badge of an official White House tea in 1987.

An article in the September 13, 2000, Wall Street Journal titled, “US Tea Grower Is In Hot Water”, suggested that in spite of fourteen years of continued business the Charleston Tea Plantation was having trouble in the marketplace. The article quoted Fleming’s regret concerning their company’s inadequate advertising budget- “Call it entrepreneurial stupidity” and Hall was quoted as saying- “We’re just trying to hold our heads above water.” Eventually due to their differences of opinion and the financial stress, Fleming and Hall decided to sell the tea farm. In 2003 the Charleston Tea Plantation was auctioned off to R. C. Bigelow for $1.28 million. Bigelow stated that they wanted to “preserve a piece of American history”. They spent the next few years restoring the plantation and in January of 2006 the Charleston Tea Plantation was re-opened to the public.