We love food….and we love drinking Mama Tea, so we came up with the idea to combine the two and have some fun with our customers – a competition to come up with the most interesting recipe using one, or more, of the Mama Tea teas.
Once you’ve come up with a recipe, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) the recipe and some photographs of the finished product,, we’ll publish your recipe here on our blog and on our Pinterest board, a winner will be chosen and they’ll win a copy of “The Great British Bake Off, How to Bake”.
Your recipe doesn’t need to involve baking, it could be using mama tea as a stock for something, it could be using the herbs from a teabag for seasoning, be as inventive as you want to be and have some fun!
I love baking; I enjoy the process of starting with ingredients laid out on the worktop and a couple of hours later enjoying eating something tasty knowing I’ve created it. If there’s a birthday or a party coming up I’ll always bake a cake and if I’m going away for a weekend there’s nothing I like more than taking some home baking for the host but the downside is I have to limit myself to special occasions and gifts otherwise I’d be constantly eating cakes and biscuits and I’m not so sure my waistline would enjoy that! So when we decided at Mama Tea that September was going to be foodie month for us I thought was overjoyed at the thought that I’ve got an excuse to do lots of baking and experimenting, all in the name of work, hopefully the waistline doesn’t complain too much.
I don’t pretend to be a master baker or anything but I really do enjoy the process of creating something, sometimes my creations turn out really well and join the list of things I bake with confidence, other times my creations need some refining and practice and other times for one reason or other they just don’t work! So this coming month the plan for us at Mama Tea is to experiment and see where we can use our teas in cooking and baking as flavouring. My first port of call will be to revisit the mama tea flavoured cupcakes I baked in June. These just need a little refinement to get the strength of flavours right, and once I’ve done that I will publish the recipes and pictures here for you all to try too. Then I think it may be onto a mama tea inspired tea loaf….
If you have any ideas of what mama tea herbal tea could be used to flavour or enhance please post a comment below.
I’m having one of those days that everyone that writes regular blog posts experiences, the day where the ideas for blog posts runs dry and the inspiration is not forthcoming. I’ve done the usual; I’ve scanned the news websites, I’ve read other blog posts, I’ve looked at what’s trending on Twitter, I’ve even stared out the window at the trees imaging I’m Carrie Bradshaw in SATC and still the inspiration still does not come.
The view from the window
I was in a good mood this morning as I walked to work, it had felt like it was going to be a good day so this feeling of complete lack of ideas is a surprise. I normally find the ideas lacking when I’m tired or frustrated not when I’m feeling happy and relaxed. I keep checking the inbox in case a really important email comes in that I have to deal with and will allow me to forget about blogging for an hour or two, but no such email appears and I’m still staring at a blank page.
So off I go to make a cup of tea, a very British reaction to any situation. I come back to my desk with my cup of Cool Mama, take a sip and then inspiration hits me; why don’t I write about inspiration or my complete lack of it today! Why did making a cup of tea inspire me? Was it just removing myself from my desk and computer screen for five minutes? I do know that in all aspects of my life I’m normally at my most creative when I’m relaxed, the creative juices often go crazy when I’m on holiday and the ideas flow non-stop. I’m not one of those people that is creative under pressure and I’ve never managed to harness, control or force my creativity. Whatever it is, that cup of Cool Mama has worked as whilst writing this I’ve just come up with another idea for a blog post, looks like my creativity is back for now, thanks Mama Tea!
I’m an accessories girl, I love my beads, scarfs and bangles and for me no outfit feels complete without them so I thought I would have a look to see if there were any childproof, i.e. chew and grab proof, accessories available for mums to consider.
The first company I found was Gumigem with the tagline “teething with style”. They have a range of jewellery designed to be stylish and cope with the demands of a small child.
The jewellery is made from baby safe silicon, the same as conventional teething toys and each necklace has a breakaway clasp that will release if a child pulls too hard. This looks like a really lovely, well thought out stylish product created by Jenny MacLaughlan, a mum-of-two from Scotland.
Then next company I then came across with some interesting looking jewellery was mamajewels
(not related to mama tea). Amanda Waring was on a mission to design a necklace that “a baby can’t break, can be washed, sterilised and is completely non-toxic for when babies chomp on it, but still looks gorgeous”.
Mamajewels have a wide range of styles and products on their website, including some of the Gumigem products, which made it really hard to choose just two photos for this post but does mean there should be something to suit everyone’s taste.
Another company I soon came across was Monkey Mama
, this has also been created by a mum who was wanting to create jewellery that was stylish and safe for her child to play with. Not all her jewellery is designed with teething (but is safe for going in the mouth) in mind but it is all designed with grabbing and pulling in mind.
Some of these necklaces are very colourful and will definitely appeal to children in place of a toy when they’re in your arms.
All three of these companies offer bespoke jewellery design. Depending on your own personal style and taste I was pleasantly surprised to discover there are is quite a variety of jewellery available online that is designed to be childproof. I have not discovered any high street retailer offering child friendly and stylish jewellery but if you know of any let me know.
Antioxidant is a fashionable buzzword in the marketing of food and drink products here in the UK. We’ve all picked up on the fact they’re meant to be good for us and are now buying into the idea we should be consuming products with high levels of antioxidants to improve our health. Green tea and rooibos tea are two such products, so how do they compare?
Research has been done into the potential of antioxidants for disease prevention, in particular cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are found in varying levels in fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and other foods.
Green tea is made from unfermented leaves from the camellia sinesis plant and of the teas derived from this plant (green, black and white) it is thought to have the highest concentrations of antioxidants. Green tea is often perceived by consumers as a healthy equivalent to everyday black tea but many consumers do not realise that green tea contains caffeine.
Rooibos tea (or red bush tea) is derived from the rooibos plant in South Africa. Rooibos tea has long been consumed in South Africa (often with milk and sugar) but it’s popularity as a healthy beverage is now spreading. It also has high levels of antioxidants but it has no caffeine and low tannin levels compared to black or green tea. The South African Rooibos Council are conducting various interesting pieces of research into the health benefits of rooibos.
So in short as a healthy tea option rooibos tea wins! Both green tea and rooibos have high levels of antioxidants (although I have been unable to find figures to clarify exactly what this means) but rooibos has no caffeine whereas green tea has. Time for a cup of Glowing Mama I think…
Have you ever done that thing where you read a magazine article and think that thing they’re talking about will sort me out/change my life/make me slimmer only to discover it isn’t the miracle answer you hoped for? Well a few years ago that was me and nettle tea.
I read an article about how nettle was good for improving your liver function and at the time I was socialising a lot and felt my liver and body were taking a bit of beating with what seemed to be a constant flow of alcohol and rich food, so nettle tea it was, this would be my saviour. I duly headed out to the nearest deli and bought some, then it was straight back home full of anticipation for my new found friend. Long story short made a cup of tea and couldn’t drink it- it was so disgusting! Romance over, the box of tea went to the back of the cupboard.
A few weeks later I was visiting a friend and I was recounting the story of my brief affair with nettle tea and low and behold does she not produce a box from her cupboard with a pretty much identical story!
Nettle has traditionally been made into a “spring tonic” to cleanse the body and it is known to have diuretic properties, hence it’s role as a cleanser and the thought that it aids the function of the liver. This all being said if it’s not in a palatable form, we’re (or I’m) not going to benefit from it.
Enter Mama Tea and more specifically New Mama, which contains nettle. The Mama has made it palatable, more than palatable in fact it’s enjoyable! Okay that’s a wee bit of shameless plug for our teas but the story above is true and it is also true that Mama Tea has worked hard to find a way to make herbal tea taste great at the same time as capturing the goodness of the herbs. So don’t be put off herbal tea by one bad experience, give Mama Tea a go!
There are plenty that subscribe to the view that loose leaf makes the best cup of tea, is this really the case? Or can this debate be likened to the cork versus screw top debate in the wine world, where some traditionalists believe fervently that a wine bottle must have a cork for quality but research has shown a screw top preserves the wine just as well and has no effect on the quality of the glass of wine, the key thing is the quality of the wine to start with. So can the same argument be applied to tea? Is it the quality of the tea leaf that matters not how it is packed?
Until early in the twentieth century all tea that was drunk was loose leaf. In the 1900s a tea and coffee merchant from New York, Thomas Sullivan, as a way of cutting costs, started sending out samples of tea in hand sewn muslin bags. His intention was that the bag would be opened and the tea sampled but some clients didn’t do this and hence the idea of the teabag was born. Teabags started appearing commercially about 1904.
It was soon discovered that in order to maintain the quality of tea brewed from teabags, the loose tea needed to be cut finer and into smaller pieces. For tea leaves to fully infuse they need room to expand and as there is less room for leaves to expand in a teabag the leaves need to be smaller. Tea merchants also realised that as the tea is hidden in a bag the customer cannot see the tea and hence the quality of it, this combined with the need for a smaller leaf meant inferior quality tea crept into being used. Then over the rest of the twentieth century the teabag grew in popularity due to convenience and price (again kept low by the poorer quality tea being used), resulting in the image of loose leaf tea as the posh aunt to the inferior yet handy teabag.
In recent times there has been a concerted move to put the quality back into teabags and give the consumer quality and convenience. At Mama Tea we use the same quality of herbs in our teabags as we would in loose leaf tea, the only difference being that the herbs are cut to an exact size to allow the best expansion and infusion in the bags. Some companies are experimenting with newer styles of nylon bags and a larger cut of leaf in an attempt to align themselves with the quality associated with loose leaf tea. The tea leaves still need to be cut for these newer style of bags, just not as finely as for the “standard” teabag, and the resulting cup of tea will still be dependent on the quality of leaves used and the accuracy of cut-size relative to the bag size.
So in answer to the initial question, is loose leaf tea against teabags similar to the cork against screw top debate, the answer is yes, it is all to do with the quality of the raw ingredients. If you use the same quality of tea for loose as you do for teabag, and cut it to the correct size, you will get the same quality cup of tea. Ironically what started as a cost cutting exercise for Thomas Sullivan, of putting loose tea in muslin bags instead of tins, has become more expensive to produce for those of us that use the same quality for loose and bag, as we need to cut the tea accurately and loose leaf no longer needs to come packaged in a tin!
“a minty blend of chamomile flowers, spearmint leaf and marshmallow leaf”
The mama has paid a lot of attention to what is in her tea, she’s has had two pregnancies during both of which she suffered badly with heartburn. Working with a master tea blender and a medical herbalist she has come up with a tea that not only cools and calms but also tastes great. Here’s a few of the things that make this tea so great:
Chamomile flowers known by the Greeks as “ground apple” because of their smell, medical herbalists use them for their sedative properties to reduce stress-related hypertension, anxiety and insomnia.
Spearmint is the family to which your garden mint usually belongs to. It is gentler than peppermint (which mama tea would not recommend during pregnancy) and recommended by medical herbalists for heartburn and indigestion.
Marshmallow leaf is probably the least known of the herbs in Cool Mama, it’s botanical name is “Althaea Officinalis”, and is derived from the Greek “altho” meaning to cure. The root and leaves of the marshmallow plant are sweet and soothing to the digestive system.
Buy Cool Mama here or visit our website to find out more about all our caffeine-free herbal teas.
Five to one on the 16th May 2012 and we’re trying to find the BBC news channel on the BBC website, this is it, this is Mama Tea’s debut on the national news. How has the piece been edited? How much of Mama Tea is going to be shown? Will my hair look a mess? We have no idea whereabouts in the news broadcast we’re going to show up so the Mama settles down at 1pm on the dot to watch as I keep checking emails. I’m assuming the business bit will be way down the pecking order, and after the headlines at least.
Then there we are at 1:01pm!! Lead story on the news about the economy and unemployment figures released today, first person to be interviewed as part of the feature is the mama. We’ve collapsed into giggles and laughing so much that we miss what is said and I’m busy thinking I can’t believe they used a shot of me packing boxes of tea.
Barely has the mama finished speaking on the report and the phone rings, it’s an enquiry about the tea, they’d seen us on the telly! The phone call over and I realise it’s only 1:04pm, our national news television debut complete and I still don’t know what the mama said! I suppose I’ll just need to watch the 6pm news now to find out….
The phone rang, I was trying to concentrate on writing a blog post and was mildly annoyed at yet another interruption to my concentration. The voice on the other end said “My name is ….. and I’m calling from the BBC”, or words to that effect, and my mind was racing thinking what on earth do the BBC want to speak to Mama Tea about and more to the point how did they find us! Now if I’m honest if it was any other media organisation I would assume they were attempting to sell us advertising and I’d be trying to get them off the phone as quickly and politely as possible but it’s the BBC they don’t do advertising. I listened on and the jist of it was they wanted to interview Mama Tea as a good news story of a growing business against a backdrop of predicted poor unemployment figures, and all of this was to happen the next day!
At 3.30pm the next day Hugh Pym, a producer and a camera/sound man arrived at our office carrying a lot of technical bits and pieces. By this stage we were a combination of nervous and excited and not really sure what to expect. The office was soon taken over by all the technical stuff and I sat watching from the corner, just trying to stay out of the way whilst they set up. Hugh was chatting to the mama and doing a really good job at keeping the atmosphere relaxed.
Then it was lights, camera, action! Maybe not quite as dramatic as that but they moved quite seemlessly into filming mode, first interviewing the mama, then doing a series of action shots of us in the office(?) and then a short interview with me (aaagghh!). The strangest thing is they ask you to be as natural as possible in the most unnatural and posed situation, and all with a big light shining in your eyes!
Then as quickly as they had arrived they had gone again, leaving us feeling exhausted and a bit shell shocked at the intensity of it all. All in all they were in the office for about 1.5-2 hours for what will probably be about 40 seconds of film, we’ll have to wait and see the final result today. We are expecting the piece, or variations of it, to be broadcast today (16th May 2012) on the 1pm, 6pm and 10pm national news. Just imagine if I hadn’t answered that phone….