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Matcha Tea

Matcha Tea has been Acquired

I don’t think I’ll need a razor blade and a hundred dollar bill to consume this Matcha tea, but it looks like a green version of the stuff the “older guys” warned me about.  My first cup of Matcha – Green Tea is ready to be enjoyed as I write this post.  Generally my day starts with a pot of my favorite black tea, Lapsang Souchong  which is a very strong flavor, possibly tainting this review a little.

Matcha Tea Price

Yes, Matcha tea is expensive.  I just paid over $30 for 1 ounce of the good stuff.  I’ll let you know if the cheaper Matcha tea is a better deal when I do the math.  I only used 1/4 heaping tsp in my first 8 oz cup of tea.

Differences in Quality

My research has found at least two (2) different catagories of Matcha Tea with variations on those.

Ceremonial Grade and Culinary Grade matcha are the main Grades determined by the quality of the appearance, processing method and ingredients.

Within these grades inspectors look for, color, quality and texture density of the product.  Next the makeup of the powder is determined; e.g. was it made from stems or leaves or a combination?  Finally the coarseness of the powder is considered, the finer the better.

Once the quality of the product itself is judged, the handling of the product is considered.  Has it been exposed to oxygen for any length of time?  What method was used to grind it and how was it treated prior to processing.

Ceremonial Grade Matcha is the finest and therefore the most expensive grade.  It should not be mixed with anything else but enjoyed on its own.

Culinary Grade had five (5) levels within the grade.  It is a less expensive product making it more affordable to being used daily or mixed with other ingredients.

For a more complete description and explanation of Matcha and its grades, please visit “Epic Matcha” on line.

The Ceremony

As with many of life’s guilty pleasures, half the fun is the ceremony.  The cigar has it’s ceremonial clipping, smelling and lighting.  Wine has the ceremony of viewing the label, smelling the cork, decanting the bottle, “nosing” the wine while swirling the glass and looking for it’s “legs“.  The older guys tell me about a ceremony involving a white powder chopped with a razor blade and snorted with a rolled 100 dollar bill, but I digress.

The Matcha Tea ceremony is no less involved.

 

First Impressions

I think I was expecting a very strong green tea flavor.  You know, something that may be an acquired taste, but that isn’t the case.  I taste a somewhat grassy subtle undertone on the front of my tongue with that familiar green tea full mouth taste.  Reviews say that Matcha tea is naturally sweet. That may be so, but the sweetness isn’t sweet like sugar, it is more like the sweetness of coffee with just a little cream in it.  The flavor I detect is really more the lack of bitterness more than sweet.

Finish Notes

As the Matcha tea cools off, I detect a stronger “grassy” flavor.  I’ve just noticed that even though I used a whisk to mix the tea there is still at least 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon on the bottom of my cup undissolved.  Note to self – stir Matcha tea for longer than 15 sec in the future or use the stick blender.  I do notice that unlike some tea that tastes like tea in water, Matcha tea has the full body of a beverage that stands alone and doesn’t taste watered or dissolved in water.

Final Impression

I LIKE it.  I may even love it considering that the health benefits of Matcha tea are said to be equivalent to 170 + cups of regular tea.  I’ll give you more in-put over time, but for now, I’ve stashed my tea in its air tight can and put it in the refrigerator. – Jughandle out

 

Tea

Have you made the change from coffee to tea yet?

Don’t like that dry gritty feel that tea leaves in your mouth?

Not a fan of tea flavor in general?

You know all the health benefits of tea, both green and black, but just haven’t found the tea for you?

Go no further Fat Farmer

Things I’ve recently learned about tea other than the same old same old:

  • tea is best when brewed from loose tea leaves
  • there is no right or wrong as to how strong or how long to brew your tea
  • If you like cold or ice tea, any tea flavor will do, you can even mix flavors
  • tea leaves can be brewed several times
  • most teas do not have a shelf life like coffee
  • most tea does have caffeine but the tannin in tea makes your body absorb the caffeine over a longer (6-8 hrs) period of time.  No spikes like coffee
  • tea can mellow you and “even” your mood
  • you can add cream and sugar or honey or flavored syrups to tea – go figure – it is darn good that way and takes that tannin feel away from your teeth
  

My Favorite Tea

A couple of years ago now, I reconnected with a grade school friend that I haven’t seen or heard from in over 45 years.  As life does to all of us, Spencer changed from the mild mannered soft spoken “smart” guy I used to know into a brilliant, composer of amazing symphonies and other such incredible things.  We shared the story of each of our lives and he told me of the tea he keeps as a constant companion.

That tea was Lapsang Souchon.  I don’t expect many if any of you have ever heard or tried Lapsang (as I now refer to it).  It can be a strong tea, but it most assuredly has a flavor and aroma like no other tea.  The smokey almost peaty aroma and taste are reminiscent of a fine single malt scotch.  It is Sherlock Holmes’ tea of choice.

The Story of Lapsang  Souchong

Briefly from Wikipedia, the story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi hills. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the drying process by having their workers dry the tea leaves over fires made from local pines.

The smoke from those fires flavored the tea and the rest is history.

I will drink other tea, but I don’t really like it as much as coffee.  I brew my Lapsang in an iron tea pot and sometimes use the leaves as many a 3 times.  I’ll start drinking as soon as the hot water is poured over the leaves and continue to enjoy 3 or 4 more small cups as the tea brews and gets stronger. See, no rules.  If there is any tea left in the pot, I have been known to drink it cold.

I love Lapsang.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, Spencer is a Tea Pusher man or better put a “Johnny Appleseed of Tea”.  I’m now completely involved with the flavor and mellow of Lapsang Souchong – thanks Spencer.

If you don’t have a regular source for tea try the Fat Farm Store.  Lapsang Souchong tea is available here.

Get healthy, drink tea – Jughandle

Also see – Matcha Green Tea

 

 

Things NOT to put in the Freezer

This is a short FYI on what things you shouldn’t freeze.  As always I explore ideas that I have little knowledge of or would like to be more well informed about.

Dairy

You can freeze:

  • hard cheeses – to give them additional life, but usually they last pretty long anyway.

Don’t freeze:

  • eggs in their shells- they lose their consistency and can crack.  If you want to freeze eggs break them into a freezer bag and scrabble them.
  • milk or cream – they can separate

Spices

Apparently some dry spices with change flavor and get bitter if they are frozen.
Don’t freeze:
  •  pepper corns
  • cloves
  • garlic
  • green pepper
  • imitation vanilla
  • onions
  • paprika
  • celery
  • sage
  • salt

Fresh Vegetables and Fruit

Most vegetables and fruits have a high content of water that will break down the cell walls when frozen and get mushy and brown when defrosted.
Don’t freeze:
  • fresh lettuce
  • fresh spinach
  • fresh cabbage
  • any leafy vegetable
  • potatoes – they get grainy and soft
You Can freeze:
  • cooked vegetables

Canned foods

Never freeze canned food in the can.  It breaks the seal and can contaminate the food
Fish and Meat

I can’t find any fish or meat products that can’t be frozen but be aware that freezing does NOT kill harmful bacteria, it only slows the growth.  So never refreeze fish or meat that has defrosted or has been frozen before.  You can cook it, then freeze it again.  The cooking process kills the bacteria and gives you a fresh start if cooked properly.

Do freeze:

raw fish over night before eating as sashimi or sushi, because the freezing kills the parasites in the flesh.

Other Stuff

Don’t freeze:

  • Fried foods, especially deep fried foods, they will taste stale
  • Gravies and sauces with wheat in them will tend to separate
  • Cooked pasta will get very mushy
  • Crumb toppings on casseroles will get soggy.  Wait to add the crumbs until you are ready to reheat to serve
  • Soft cake frostings will get tacky and might separate
  • Artificial sweeteners (why would you want to eat them any how) will lose their effectiveness when frozen.
Remember when you do freeze stuff, to wrap them well, removing as much air as possible and to cool them before you freeze them.  A full freezer is more economical to operate. Label your food packages. Happy eating Fat Farmers – Jughandle

 

Day 1 – Egg Plant

Yesterday was day one of my journey into a plant-based diet.  I’m not calling it vegan or vegetarian.  That sounds too much like I joined a cult.

Expensive

We went to the new health food store near our house.  I thought they’d have vegetables and such but it was just a bigger version of every other health food store I’d ever been in.  You know, dried over priced, packaged, grains and sea weed.  We bought some organic vinegars and soy sauces.  I found my favorite pickles, Bubbies.  They had Kosher Dills and bread and butter chips.  We got both.  I got a honey lemon-aid and Darlene got a regular.  I did find black and white Quinoa and a couple of different rice mixtures, nothing special and it was 75 freak’n dollars.  Looks like the transition to a complete organic diet is going to be delayed for a while.

Lunch

I had Red Quinoa for lunch seasoned with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  I was satisfied then, I’m not so sure I can speak for another round today.  I do drink a lot of water, which seems to help fill me up.

Dinner

I tried to be interesting for dinner.  I fried egg plant slices in my newly acquired toasted sesame oil with sweet onions in rings and a clove or two of garlic.  I arranged a nice bed of alfalfa sprouts on a plate covered with rocket arugula leaves as a nest for my eggplant.  After pulling the eggplant from the skillet (possibly a little to late) I added the remainder of the Quinoa I had for lunch to the hot pan with the onions.  I tossed those around a little and seasoned everything with tamari sauce and plated it.  The meal was ok, but neither of us went for more and Darlene didn’t eat all of her onions.  I finished the meal with a pot of hot tea.  I was far from full, but not hungry either.  I didn’t photograph the process or the final product because I was embarrassed.

Conclusion

I conclude that there must be better, more satisfying plant-based dishes out there and I intend to find them.  If you have a special sauce or dressing for your greens, please let me know.  I don’t want to sound like a whiner but I’m pissed that the system has screwed up everything, even eating, and that I have to forage for food that won’t poison me or clog my arteries.  I’m in the first stage of grieving but I’ll get better.  Hang in there with me, I’ll still be looking for interesting meat recipes, I’m just trying to correct for years of improper diet right now. – jughandle

I Think I’m In Trouble

Hello my name is Jughandle and I’m addicted to food.

Meat in particular

I’m in trouble because I enjoy writing this blog to my followers and I’m afraid that what I’m about to tell you might change that.  A few of you might not like what I have to say and will switch me off.  Please find out what I’m talking about before you do.

First I’ve got to mention that the mission statement for the Fat Farm is to shoot straight, point out and encourage anything that  supports healthy living and good food.  That last part is where I’m afraid I’m going to lose a few hard line carnivores.

Forks over Knives

If you, like me, are a touch over weight, maybe even obese and even those that seem to be healthy but are big meat eaters, then listen to what I’m telling you.  We are in serious trouble.  I haven’t checked my cholesterol in years, not because I’m an ostrich with my head in the sand, but mostly because I am among the 30,000,000 uninsured in this country.  No matter what the doctor would tell me, all it would do is worry me.  I can’t afford the drugs or the tests.

The movie Forks Over Knives is a HUGE Wake-up call.  Please watch this movie or read the book.  Please.

The movie points out that we can take charge and REVERSE the effects of diabetes, heart disease and even CANCER!

Studies show that test rats on a 20% animal protein diet tend to develop various cancers.  When the same rats are put on a 5% animal protein diet, the cancers stop developing and go away.  When returned to a 20% diet the tumors return.

Cha, cha, cha cha changes

The tone of Jughandle’s Fat Farm Blog is going to change to focus more on a plant-based diet.  I’m not yet comfortable with giving up meat completely, and I hate the term Vegan.  All I’m saying is that I’d like us to work together to save each others lives.  Who among us does not know some one that suffers from diabetes, heart disease or cancer, or is just plain fat?

This never was  intended as a light easy reading blog.  This blog is intended to make a difference in all our lives.

I really want you all to watch the movie, Forks Over Knives.  It is full of evidence to show that we need to eat a heavily plant-based diet not to save the animals (a noble cause), but to save our children and ourselves.   Watch the following trailer:

 

 

If I’m wrong about this please write and tell me. Or better yet, write me and tell me how to make this happen.  I’m a meat lover, I need your help – Jughandle

 

Matcha Green Tea – Super Tea?

Matcha is a fine ground, powdered, high quality green tea and not the same as tea powder or green tea powder.  Matcha is also used to flavour and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi.  Blends of matcha are given poetic names called chamei (“tea names”) either by the producing plantation, shop or creator of the blend, or by the grand master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of some tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master’s konomi, or favoured blend. – from Wikipedia


Production

Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves.  Several weeks before harvest, tea bushes are covered to prevent exposure to direct sunlight.  This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids that make the resulting tea sweeter. Then only the finest tea buds are picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder which is known as matcha.

It can take up to one hour to grind 1 ounce of matcha.

Note that only ground tencha qualifies as matcha, and other powdered green teas, such as powdered sencha, are known as konacha.

The highest grades of matcha have more intense sweetness and deeper flavour than the standard or coarser grades of tea harvested later in the year.
The most famous matcha-producing regions are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka, and northern Kyushu.

Grades

Matcha is generally expensive compared to other forms of tea, although its price depends on its quality. Grades of matcha are defined by many factors.

  • Location on the tea bush –  Where leaves destined for tencha are picked on the tea bush is vital.  The very top would have developing leaves that are soft and supple. This gives a finer texture to higher grades. More developed leaves are harder, giving lower grades a sandy texture. The better flavor is a result of the plant sending all its nutrients to the growing leaves.
  • Treatment before processing =  Tencha leaves are traditionally dried outside in the shade and are never exposed to direct sunlight.  Modern drying has mostly moved indoors. Quality matcha is vibrantly green also as a result of this treatment.
  • Stone grinding –  Stone grinding is an art form in itself. Without the right equipment and technique, matcha can become “burnt” and suffer degraded quality.
  • Oxidation – Oxidation is also a factor in determining grade. Matcha exposed to oxygen can easily become compromised. Oxidized matcha has a distinctive hay-like smell and a dull brownish green color.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of green tea and matcha are widely acclaimed. Consequently, matcha and green tea can be found in health food products ranging from cereal to energy bars. In 2003, researchers from the University of Colorado found that the concentration of the antioxidant EGCG available from drinking matcha is up to 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from other commercially available green teas.  Matcha is said to boost metabolism and not just because of the caffeine which is 1/2 the amount found in coffee.  It is known to also help reduce cholesterol levels when consumed regularly.   The aforementioned health benefits of matcha green tea can largely be attributed to the fact that the whole tea leaf is ingested, as opposed to just the steeped water in the case of ‘bagged’ green teas. This means that it delivers a much higher potency of catechins, chlorophyll, and antioxidants. Matcha contains more antioxidants than blueberries, gojiberries, pomegranates, orange juice, and spinach.

There is evidence from clinical studies that suggests that theanine, when consumed by drinking Japanese green teas, may help to reduce or moderate mental stress responses.

Research has also shown that the EGCGs which are a group of antioxidants called catechins, speed up the metabolism, helping the body burn stored body fat.  Not to mention it significantly delays the onset of cancer as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 1  All antioxidants inhibit the aging process by restoring cell tissue and reducing inflammation.

As far as caffeine goes, Green tea contains tannin witch slows the absorption of caffeine into the blood releasing it over the course of 6-8 hours, unlike coffee.

Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one – Ancient Chinese Proverb

Matcha tea is now available from the Farm Store here.  Don’t worry, the price through the Farm Store is no higher than any other price from Amazon.com – Jughandle

 

 

Sugar Destroyer – Gymnema sylvestre

Better known as just Gymnema, this natural herb has been a treatment for diabetes for 2000 years.  It is widely known and used in Asia and the far East and has just recently been introduced to Europe and the United States.  The active parts of this herb are gymnemic acids.

Uses

Keep in mind that much like most herbal remedies, modern science has done relatively little research on its properties and effects.  That is not to say that gymnema isn’t a powerful natural drug and should be used with restraint and caution.

That said, Gymnema which means “sugar destroyer” has been used to treat, diabetes, high cholesterol, stomach ailments, constipation, water retention, liver disease, not to mention obesity and “sweet tooth”.

For Weight Loss

Gymnema lowers the desire for sweets.  Some say this is done by blocking the sugar or sweet receptors in the tongue.  This effect lasts for about 2 hours after ingesting Gymnema.  Studies have confirmed that people given Gymnema have less desire to “snack” than those who haven’t, under the same conditions.

Is a strong Antioxidant

Gymnema researchers in India where it has been used for centuries, have found that it has strong antioxidant properties

Other possible benefits

How Gymnema Works

Theories have it that Gymnema suppresses the blood glucose level by inhibiting glucose uptake in the intestines.  For weight  loss it is believed that Gymnema reduces the body’s craving for sweets which in turn lowers caloric intake.

Side Effects and Interactions

Side effects of Gymnema are low when taken as recommended.  When taken in large doses Gymnema can cause hypoglycemia in people prone to that.  Always tell your doctor everything that you are taking because Gymnema can interact with prescription antidepressants, other herbal products like St. John’s wort and salicylates like white willow and aspirin by enhancing the blood sugar-lowering effects of Gymnema.  Some stimulants like ephedra may reduce the effectiveness of Gymnema.
I am blogging about Gymnema because I found it offered in combination with Matcha Green Tea at one of my tea sources.  Neither I nor the Fat Farm are recommending that anyone use this herb.  I am only offering this information to benefit both you and I.  I have not used either Matcha or Gymnema yet. – Jughandle

 

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