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Kabusecha Ochazuke with Salmon

Chazuke, or ochazuke, is a meal that gets its name from cha, meaning tea, and tsuke, meaning submerge. This Japanese dish includes pouring green tea over rice. Traditional variations include toppings of pickled vegetables like eggplant or daikon radish, proteins like salmon, tuna, sashimi, or roe, and vegetables like green onion, spinach, and mushrooms. 

This version of ochazuke includes salmon cooked two ways, a salty, umami version and a garlic, butter and herb version. It features one of our Teas of the Month, Kabusecha Takamado. This tea from Uji, Japan is covered two weeks before harvest, resulting in an infusion with less bitter and more umami characteristics. You may find this tea brings to the nose and tongue springy notes of spinach, pea shoots, and creamy nuts. This makes for a perfect pairing over rice and salmon, as it provides an umami depth of flavor in unison with the fish and fresh herbs. 

Salmon Kabusecha Ochazuke

Yields about 4-6 servings 

Prepare Jasmine Rice following package instructions.

Miso Salmon:

1 medium-large salmon filet
3 t miso
3 t tamari
5 t rice wine vinegar

2 T water

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine miso, tamari, rice wine vinegar, and water in a bowl. Add mixture to a sealable bag and marinate for up to 6 hours. 

Bake on baking sheet for 12-15 minutes.

Salmon Kabusecha Ochazuke


Garlic, Butter, and Dill Salmon:

1 medium-large salmon filet
2 T butter
2 large garlic cloves
4 T lemon juice
1 T fresh dill, or dill to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Melt butter and mix together with garlic, lemon, and dill in a bowl. Pour mixture over salmon filet and cover in foil, place on baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. 


For the Kabusecha concentrate:

Brew 3 tsp of Kabusecha Takamado in 1 cup of 175°F water for two minutes, right before serving so the tea is warm. 


For the plating:

Dill, garlic scapes, scallions, cilantro, and/or parsley
Sesame seeds
Wasabi
Soy sauce

Sesame Oil

Use a small bowl and pack down rice inside of it to form a rice ball. Flip it over onto a plate. Place salmon over the rice, and finish with your choice of fresh herbs. Pour over the Kabusecha Takamado infusion and top off with sesame seeds and other garnishes to tastes. Enjoy

Salmon Kabusecha Ochazuke

Antioxidants & the Spirit of Life!

 

Like traditional teas, herbal infusions are very often rich in antioxidants, and this month's Wellness Tea of the Month is no exception! What makes Spirit of Life so special is the type of antioxidants it contains, glutathione and aspalathin.

Aspalathin, which is found only in rooibos tea, has anti-diabetic properties, meaning it helps people with diabetes reduce their risk of vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, is one of the most protective molecules in the human body and has been shown to protect against inflammation, toxins, free radicals and pathogens. Think of it as your body’s own natural detoxifier. Without adequate levels of glutathione, you are at increased risk of some of the most serious health conditions, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. When levels are adequate or high, you’ll not only have protection from the conditions above, but you’ll have amazing energy, glowing skin, healthy detoxification, and stronger heart and brain function.

Talk about the Spirit of LifeAlmost all of the ingredients, including ginger, cinnamon, lemongrass and cardamom, have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, as well as diuretic and detoxifying effects! It seems that whatever ails you or has you dragging a bit, this tisane can help! It really covers so many bases and is the epitome of a wellness tea!

We love Spirit of Life paired with our Orange Blossom Honey for a bigger antioxidant boost! Read more about the "Surprisingly Sweet Side Effect of Raw Honey" on your health here!


*On Sale from July 15th- August 12th*
$12 a bag or $2.50 at the bar!

Simple Summer White Tea 'Sangrias'

I don't know about you but the last thing I want to do on a 90 degree day is turn on my stove and boil some hot water for my caffeine fix, and second to that is drinking a hot cup of tea. So what does one do when they need their tea but it's sweltering hot outside? Pull a pitcher (or jar!) of cold brew tea out of your fridge! Cold brewing tea is super easy and pretty much foolproof which is why it's our favorite way to prepare iced tea. Perhaps like me, you have a tendency to forget about your tea steeping on your counter, and by time you remember, the tea is bitter and unpalatable. With cold brew however, it's practically impossible to over-steep, so long as you don't forget it for days! I'll give you an abbreviated scientific explanation for why this is, so you can walk away from reading this blog with not only a few refreshing iced tea recipes but a little more knowledge too.

Why Cold Brew? Tea leaves contain a number of chemical compounds within them that when steeping break down, form complexes with one another and form new compounds. During the steeping process, thousands of volatile (aroma) compounds rise from the tea liquor and thousands of non-volatile (taste) compounds float within the tea liquor. Some of these compounds extract at a quicker rate than others. When you're brewing with hot water the time between extracting those first compounds and the last ones is very short so timing (and temperature) is everything. You have to stop the brewing process at just the right time to achieve the right flavor profile or else your tea will end up bitter. Cold brewing is the slow motion version of that process, the window of time between those first compounds being released and later ones being released is much larger so you have much smaller risk of ending up with a bitter cup of tea. The later compounds to release tend to be the more bitter and tannic catechins in green and white tea. Therefore, cold brewing tea tends to result in a less bitter, less astringent brew. You can also brew it stronger and have more of the theanine, more umami, more of the vegetal notes, and more of the high notes!

At Saratoga Tea & Honey we usually have 3-4 cold brew teas to choose from daily! And while we tend to be purists and love our cold brew unsweetened, sometimes you just want something a little more fun! Our Queen Bee put me up to the challenge to create some fruity tea mocktails to quench your thirst by the pool, at your picnic or at your bbq! For the three drinks below, I used three of our white teas as the cold brew base; Nan Mei Wild Buds, Bai Hao Yin Zhen, and Bai Mu Dan Wang.

At home, I have the Takeya Iced Tea Maker and I LOVE it, but since I was making three different teas I thought I would show you all how you can make cold brew with things you probably already have in your kitchen; a jar and a mesh strainer. Easy peasy!

First Step: Cold Brew. Place your tea in a 16oz jar. I just eyeball it with my cold brew because it's pretty foolproof, but if you want to be more economical than I am (I really should work on that!) you can measure out two loose tablespoons of white tea. It may seem like a lot but white tea is very voluminous and light. Fill your jar with filtered or spring water, cover and put in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours! Once your tea has done it's magic, strain it over ice into another glass! Now, for the fun add-ins!

Keep scrolling to see the thirst-quenching combinations I came up with!

Nan Mei with Peaches, Fresh Mint and Tupelo Honey 

Deliciously refreshing and summery, the idea of fresh mint and sweet peaches proved irresistible and what better honey to pair with peaches than famous southern Tupelo Honey! These add-ins compliment the tropical fruit and honeyed notes of the Nan Mei Wild Buds.

Bai Hao Yin Zhen with Cucumbers, Melon and Basswood Honey

The combination of cooling honeydew melon and refreshing English cucumber are a perfect pairing, and complimented by a touch of Basswood Honey, our light mid-western mono-floral that has a delicious hint of fresh spearmint. These add-ins accentuate the florality and vegetal notes of Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needles) one of China’s most revered teas!

Bai Mu Dan Wang with Strawberries, Lemon and Italian Lemon Tree Honey

Nothing says summer like the fresh flavor of ripe strawberries and an icy glass of lemonade. While there is no lemonade in this drink (you could certainly add some), the combination of fresh lemons and citrusy Italian Lemon Tree Honey adds that same thirst quenching quality. Also known as White Peony, Bai Mu Dan Wang is a more full-bodied white tea, and the perfect base for this combination of strawberries, sliced lemon and delectable honey from Sicily! 

There are so many fruits, herbs and florals that would pair nicely with these white teas, so get creative! I just went with what is in season and usually happens to be in my fridge. What are you going to infuse your cold brew iced tea with? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram and Facebook!

Why & How Bees Make Honey 🐝

The phrase “busy as a bee,” is one we hear plenty of times throughout our lives, but upon further researching about how and why honey is made, I have discovered how truly remarkable and hard-working these creatures are. The western honey bee, Apis mellifera, is a eusocial, or true social insect in the order Hymenoptera. This means that their colonies, or hives, include overlapping generations, a division of labor, and they partake in cooperative care of young, or larvae. Honey bees have developed these little worlds and high-functioning societies within their hives to make sure the collective needs of survival are met. 

There are about 20,000 known species of bees in the world, including bumblebees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, and carpenter bees. Out of these, a smaller percent produce honey. While not the only species that produce honey, Apis mellifera is the species that has been globally recognized as the honey bee. Honey bees are not native to North America, but were brought over by the European settlers in the 1600s (1). The act of beekeeping and consuming honey can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Since then, the domestication of bees has grown and developed, and they are currently an important aspect of agriculture in North America, not just for the honey they produce, but because they are also responsible for pollinating crops we rely on.

Bee on Flowers

Within honey bee colonies, different bees have different important roles. The queen is responsible for mating and laying eggs, ensuring the colony has enough members to keep surviving. Worker bees are female bees that are unable to mate. Their primary roles include gathering pollen and nectar. When worker bees are young, within the first few weeks of their lifespan, they are considered house bees, and spend their time maintaining the hive by defending it, tending to larvae and pupae (brood), producing wax and royal jelly, and clearing debris and dead bees from the hive. Worker bees make up the largest percent of the population within a colony. Drones are male honey bees, who develop from unfertilized eggs. Their only role is to fly to Drone Congregating Areas and mate with queens from other hives. Together, these different castes work together to ensure a colony is successful. 

So why do bees make honey? These active insects feed off of nectar and pollen. However, in order to successfully metabolize them and fulfill their dietary needs of vitamins, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and minerals, they need to change the chemical compositions of nectar and pollen into honey and bee bread (2). Honey is then stored long-term for colder months, or times when there is a lack of vegetation. Hives have high reproductive rates, and a healthy queen might lay up to 2,000 eggs each day. Therefore, there are many mouths to feed in a hive, averaging at about 40,000 bees.

Worker bees create wax, which they secrete through special glands. This wax is then chewed, softened and molded into honeycomb in order to store honey and house the brood. To create 1 pound of wax, bees must consume 8 pounds of honey (3). The bee brood consumes royal jelly, a substance secreted by worker bees and fed to the brood and potential queens. Worker bees consume a combination of pollen, nectar, digestive fluids, and honey called bee bread (4). To create all of these food and shelter sources, and feed a whole hive, honey bees need a lot of energy. They can fly up to 15 miles per hour, and visit millions of flowers in order to gather the nectar and pollen they need. They carry a high percentage of their own body weight when they gather nectar and pollen. After all of this tiring work, bees need high energy food sources. This is why they make and store honey. Having honey as a food source they can stockpile and overproduce in case of low pollen weather conditions creates a healthy hive prepared with a food and energy source for long-term survival. 

Bees need honey for survival. But how do they make it? The first step is gathering nectar and pollen from nearby flowers. honey bees will forage in about a five mile radius of their hive (5). Karl Von Frisch studied the ways in which honey bees communicate, and discovered that bees perform dances denoting how far and in what direction surrounding food sources are to other worker bees (6). They gather nectar with their proboscis, or a long tongue, and store it in a specially designed honey stomach, or crop. They gather pollen and store it in a specially designed basket on the back of their legs called a corbicula. 

Nectar starts out at about 80% water, and is thin, clear, and not very sweet. Once back at the hive, the worker bee will transfer it to a house bee, who chews it and transfers it to another house bee, who then chews it and transfers it. This process is repeated for up to about twenty minutes, once the nectar reaches only about 20% water (7). During the chewing process, the chemical compounds of the nectar are changed, and the enzyme invertase, found in a bees saliva, helps break down water content and change sugars into glucose and fructose (8). The transformed nectar substance is then deposited into honeycomb, where bees continue to remove water content by fanning it with their wings. Once it has reached the desired consistency it is covered with wax and stored until it is needed. Pollen is also stored until needed.

Due to selective breeding by beekeepers, and the bees' tendency to overproduce, it is not a threat to bees to harvest honey in moderation. Most beekeepers harvest honey twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Since bees stay within about five miles of their hive to collect pollen and nectar, beekeepers position their hives within that range of the desired plants they want the bees to pollinate. This is how monofloral honey is produced. For example, our Orange Blossom Honey is not infused with orange flavor from the fruit, but has an essence of orange flavor notes from the nectar and pollen gathered from the blossoms of orange trees and other nearby citrus plants flowering at the same time. 

Clearly, honey bees stay very busy to ensure a hive is working together in unison. We are so thankful for our ability to enjoy the sweet result of all their efforts. The next time you reach for your favorite honey, you may find yourself with a new appreciation for the bees that made it possible. 

 

Endnotes:

1.   https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/BeeBasics.pdf
2. Taylor, Michelle A., Alastair W. Robertson, Patrick J. Biggs, Kate K. Richards, Daniel F. Jones, and Shanthi G. Parkar. "The effect of carbohydrate sources: Sucrose, invert sugar and components of manuka honey, on core bacteria in the digestive tract of adult honey bees (Apis mellifera)." PLoS ONE 14, no. 12 (2019): e0225845. Gale Academic OneFile (accessed March 27, 2020). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A607540213/AONE?u=nysl_ca_she&sid=AONE&xid=54e4a537
3.  https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/special-programs/beekeeping/about-honey-bees.aspx
4. http://nordicfoodlab.org/blog/2015/9/4/bee-bread
5.  https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-life-of-bees/bees-make-honey
6.  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Karl-von-Frisch
7.  https://www.beeculture.com/the-chemistry-of-honey/
8.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h4uVVFCvVg

Temporary Shop Guidelines

We are so grateful for your business and support through these challenging months. With great excitement, we are happy to announce our shop is open!

Monday-Saturday 10-6, Sunday 10-5

  • Masks are required to enter.
  • Bar seating is suspended at this time.
  • Please maintain a 6 ft social distance between other guests and staff.
  • A limited number of customers will be allowed in store to shop.
  • No Public Restrooms
  • To-Go Orders will be placed and delivered to you outside.

Our staff is working safely and efficiently to serve you and sanitizing stations are available for your safety.

Thank you for your understanding and support. 

It is our great pleasure to be here to serve you,

Your Friends At Saratoga Tea & Honey Co.

Crimson Berry Vodka Cocktails

Our Herbal of the Month, Crimson Berry, is one of the shop favorites!  It is tart, fruity and beautifully red; so when we heard our great customer Denny Severin was making cocktails out of it, we had to find out more!  These two refreshing summer drinks are so easy to prepare, and only require a little bit of time for the vodka to infuse. Enjoy, and thank you, Denny!

Crimson Berry Cocktail

Procedure 2-3 Days Ahead: Infuse 3 T of Crimson Berry to ½ liter of vodka for 2-3 days in refrigerator. Once infused, strain off the vodka from the herbal leaves and berries. Place in sealed jar in refrigerator. The infusion will last a very long time!

Crimson Berry Lemonade
1 ½ oz Crimson Berry Vodka
5-6 oz lemonade
Splash of club soda (optional)

Shake or stir in ice filled glass. Enjoy!

Saratoga Mule
1 ½ oz Crimson Berry Vodka
½ cup Ginger Beer
½ oz lime juice
Garnish with line wedge (optional)

Pour into ice filled glass. Enjoy!

Italian Acacia Honey Almond Walnut Cake

This wonderful cake has a moist almond flavored batter and a beautiful honey cream cheese frosting. The double toasted almonds and walnuts layered on top add a tremendous extra depth of flavor and texture. The use of Italian Acacia Honey in the cream cheese frosting adds a light and sweet essence with delicate flavor notes of vanilla. The richness and complexity of flavors are too hard to resist and are paired perfectly with an afternoon black tea

Italian Acacia Cake

For the Cake:

1 ½ c all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
½ t nutmeg
½ t cloves
1 stick of soft butter (8 T) 
2 t almond extract
¼Italian Acacia Honey
½ c brown sugar
2 eggs
¾ c vanilla Greek yogurt
¼ c crushed walnuts
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Butter and parchment line an 8 inch cake pan.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in large bowl.
  • Cream together butter, sugar, and honey. Mix in the almond extract, yogurt, and eggs.
  • Fold in dry ingredients to wet ingredients until well combined.
  • Fold in ¼ cup walnuts, crushed to desired size.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes on the lower rack of the oven, until the edges of the cake are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Italian Acacia Cake

    For the Frosting and Topping:

    2 T butter softened at room temperature
    3 T  cream cheese softened a room temperature
    ¼ c Italian Acacia Honey
    1 T confectioners’ sugar 
    ½ c toasted walnuts and almonds 
    1 t extra virgin olive oil
    • Add the walnuts and almonds in the prewarmed 350°F oven and toast for 8-10 minutes, stirring once.
    • Combine honey, butter, cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, whisking together until well combined and fluffy. 
    • Spread over the cake in an even layer.
    • Add toasted nuts on top of the frosting.

    Catch Some Seriously Sweet Sleep with this Honey Hack! 😴

     

    Lucky are those who sleep well for 8 hours straight. For some, getting a proper night’s sleep is near impossible and for many this involves midnight trips to the fridge. Dealing with insomnia can be really frustrating and being unable to sleep well for several nights in a row affects everyday life and performance. Fortunately there is an easy (and tasty!) remedy that can help you get a smooth and sound night’s sleep. And it works like magic!

    This trick, backed by science will help you fall asleep almost instantly, dramatically improve the quality and length of your sleep and wake up refreshed and energetic everyday!

    Thirty minutes before going to bed, take a teaspoon of your favorite raw honey with a sprinkle of sea salt and let it dissolve under your tongue. These two ingredients help prepare the body to rest throughout the whole night. The sugar contained in honey elevates the levels of insulin in the blood slightly, which then releases serotonin. When we are in a dark room, serotonin converts to melatonin which promotes restorative sleep. Honey also contains an adequate amount of glucose which the liver converts to glycogen for the brain. If there isn’t enough glycogen to provide fuel for the brain, the adrenal glands dump more stress hormones, namely, adrenaline and cortisol. And high amounts of these hormones contribute to disrupted sleep and consequently low energy in your hours awake.

    The other ingredient in this magic mixture is sea salt. Sea salt can also help lower stress hormones, such as cortisol. Low levels of sodium can cause blood volume to decrease. The sympathetic nervous system responds by activating adrenaline and triggering the fight or flight response that then makes it difficult to get to sleep, and also remain asleep. Salt also helps in the production of energy so it will be sustained throughout the night. This, in addition to raw honey, reduces the impact of spikes in stress hormones, like cortisol that make you wake up in the middle of the night.

    So tonight, grab your favorite jar of Saratoga Tea & Honey mono-floral or infused honey, get a nice spoonful and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and look forward to bedtime knowing that within moments you will be quickly drifting off into (and remaining in) a deep, restorative sleep!


    For extra help, try our Field of Dreams herbal tisane! We also sell a sweet Field of Dreams Gift Basket with our Spanish Lavender Honey and a Moonspoon cherry wood tea infuser and honey dipper!

    Lemon Bars À La Provençale

    An herbal twist on a classic recipe, these La Provençale lemon bars will make your whole house smell like a lavender and lemon dream. They are a sure way to brighten up any rainy, chilly, or dreary Spring day. This blend includes aromatic lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, and mint.

    Ingredients for the Shortbread:

    2 t La Provençale Herbal Tisane
    ¼ t salt
    1 ¼ c AP flour
    1/2 c good butter

    ¼ c sugar 

    Short Bread Preparation:

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    • In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, salt, and La Provençale.
    • Transfer to a bowl, add in softened and cubed butter, then bring together the dough by hand kneading. 
    • Press dough into a 9x9 panned, lined with parchment paper. 
    • Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the edge of the shortbread crust is golden brown.

      Shortbread

    For the Lemon Filling:

    ⅔ c fresh lemon juice
    1 T lemon zest
    1 ⅓ c sugar
    3 T AP flour
    4 eggs
    ⅓ c milk
    Powdered sugar

    La Provençale Herbal Blend

    Preparation:

    • Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
    • Combine sugar and lemon zest in a bowl until the oils from the zest have been absorbed by the sugar. Then add flour.
    • Whisk eggs in a separate bowl.
    • Combine sugar, flour, and lemon zest mixture with the eggs, lemon juice, and milk.
    • Stir well, then pour over the shortbread crust.
    • Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.
    • Allow to cool and garnish: sift powdered sugar and sprinkle La Provençale herbal leaves over the bars.

     

    Enjoy La Provençale Lemon Bars with your favorite tea!

    How To Keep Tea Fresh

    by Kyra Fiber

    If you are an avid tea collector, you may not get around to drinking all of your teas as quickly as you had hoped when you bought them. And although tea, if kept dry, won’t go rancid, it can get old and stale. But don’t worry! We at Saratoga Tea and Honey are here to help you keep your tea fresh; plus, we can also help you identify which of your green teas have gone old.

    Green tea

    How Do I Keep My Green Tea Fresh?

    Green tea, especially Japanese green tea, is quick to get old and lose flavor. It is important to store your tea properly to allow it a long, happy lifespan. Here are some simple rules to follow to keep your tea from losing its flavor:

    1. If it is in a sealed container, refrigerate it.

    Keeping tea in the refrigerator can be hazardous due to the higher humidity, but if your green tea is unopened and sealed, you can keep it in the refrigerator for a short period of time to prolong freshness.

    1. Store away from sunlight.

    All tea should be kept in opaque containers in a cabinet to avoid contact with too much light. If the tea is warmed from sunlight, it can change its flavor.

    1. Store in an airtight container.

    With air comes moisture and other odors. Moisture can change the flavor of the tea and can grow mold; surrounding smells can change the flavor of your tea. Do not store your tea with potent aromatics, such as spices.

    1. Store away from heat.

    Try to find a cool, temperate place to keep your tea. Storing it in a place with large fluctuations can change its flavor.

    I keep my own tea in a large metal tin (once home to Christmas cookies) with other similar teas so that the flavor isn’t largely affected. I keep this tin stored away in the pantry, away from anything with too strong of a scent!

    How Do I Know When My Green Tea Has Passed Its Prime?

    A clear indicator of the quality of all tea is its aroma and its flavor. Smell your tea leaves. You should be able to smell a fresh aroma; if you can’t, then your tea might be a bit too old. Once steeped, smell the liquor itself along with the steeped leaves. If you still don’t get a strong aroma, your tea is likely too old. This will be clear when you take a sip and taste slightly leafy water. It may be time to say farewell and fetch a new bag of tea…

    With green tea, the color is a great indicator of its quality. To demonstrate this, I used two teas of my own that I got from Saratoga Tea and Honey of course. I used two Japanese green teas with the staler being Miyabi Shincha (top) and the fresher being Sencha Sumire (bottom).

    Sencha SumireMiyabi Sencha

    The older tea is yellower and has almost no flavor whatsoever. The fresher tea has a bright green color and a rich, vegetal aroma, indicative of a steamed green tea.

    As always, we are happy to help with any specific questions: Email Us, we love to hear from you! We wish you many happy steeps!