by Loran Diehl Saito
Discovered by accident in China several thousand years ago, black, green, and oolong tea all come from the Camellia sinensis plant. They differ in the way they are processed—black tea leaves are allowed to oxidize for 2-4 hours. Oolong leaves are partially oxidized, and green tea leaves are not oxidized, but steamed, rolled and dried. Herbal teas are not tea at all, but infusions of other plants with charms of their own.
Tea is potentially rich in health benefits. On its website, the Tea Association of the USA (www.teausa.com) reports outcomes from extensive research on tea and health. Tea can play a role in: Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; reduced risk of certain cancers; improved oral and bone health; strong immune system; reduced levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol); reduced weight gain and enhanced insulin activity; and reduced risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.
River Valley Market offers many wonderful choices of tea—both true tea and herbal infusions. Begin your store-wide tea tour in our Bulk Spices department. We carry more than 20 varieties of bulk teas from Frontier Natural Products Co-op, a buyers’ cooperative. Frontier also provides us with bulk rooibos (red bush herbal “tea”) in a variety of flavors, as well as other bulk herbal infusions.
It’s hard to find local tea (tea plants prefer warm climates). However, River Valley Market is proud to offer Tease™ loose leaf tea in tins, produced by Tea Guys in Hatfield, available in traditional varieties, as well as enticing flavors like green walnut, papaya ginger white, and strawberry kiwi. We also sell Tea Guys Hojicha, a Japanese tea that is roasted over charcoal at a high temperature, giving it a red-brown color and mild flavor.
Thai Tea and Peanut Dressing
Delicious over raw or steamed vegetables
1 cup smooth old-fashioned peanut butter
½ cup freshly brewed black tea,room temperature
½ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies
Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.