Mother’s Day Tea Party at home during quarantine

Mother’s Day Tea Party at home during quarantine

Spring has sprung and Mother’s Day is just around the corner! It’s a wonderful occasion to spend with family and celebrate the moms in our lives. 

Whether you are used to spending Mother’s Day at a brunch at your favorite restaurant or at the grandmas house, it’s probably going to be a little different this year. 

The quarantine situation over the last few weeks has sure made us more resourceful and creative with the things we can do at home. How about putting a little spin into your Mother’s Day tradition and have a fun high tea party at your house or back yard? Don’t have a back yard? Grab a thermos and a picnic basket and head outside!

What is High Tea?

Simply put, it’s a classic entertaining event often used to celebrate special occasions or milestones. Many tea rooms have been offering high tea or afternoon tea on the weekends. 

Instead of going to a cafe or restaurant, why not re-create the elegance and sense of tradition at home? You don’t have to be a gourmet to create a simple menu and can probably make use of a lot of dinnerware you already have on hand. High tea at home is a fun, stress-free way to make Mother’s Day truly special, and fancy too.

What you need

  • A set of cups, causers and tea spoons
  • A tablecloth and cute napkins
  • A tea kettle
  • Tea pot, infuser or large tea filters
  • Good tea (of cause)!
  • Sandwiches, cheese, pastries (store bought or homemade)
  • Additional knicknacks (team, lemon, honey, sugar cubes or sweetener of choice)

Preparing Your Tea

It wouldn’t be high tea if you didn’t take the time to properly prepare and serve this beverage of honor. First, prepare your teapot by bringing a kettle of water to a boil, pour a little into the pot, swish it around and then pour it away. Next, add your tea and fill the teapot with hot water. Allow it to steep for several minutes. 

Try a selection of different teas to last you throughout the event. Black teas include Earl Grey, Darjeeling, English Breakfast and Orange Pekoe. There are some great Oolongs from China, Taiwan or India, while Jasmine, Gunpower, Sencha or Dragon Well (Long Jing) are examples of green teas.

Note: green and white teas require lower temperature than black and herbal teas. Using boiling water will burn the delicate tea leaves and make your tea taste bitter. Wait a few minutes to allow your water to cool before pouring it over the tea leaves. 

In addition to your tea, provide granular sugar or sugar cubes, thin slices of lemon, cream in a creamer, strawberry jam and clotted cream (for the scones) and good-quality honey.

Easy tea menu ideas

When most people think of a high tea menu, they automatically get visions of little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. This is a classic tea treat, but whatever your choose, make sure your creations are easy to handle and eat. Traditional tea accompaniments include scones, small tarts, cookies and finger sandwiches. Try these easy to make recipes below or check the local bakery or market instead:

Don’t forget the music

Finish the mood with the perfect playlist. Here are some album ideas perfect for the event:

Tchaikovsky at Tea Time: A Refreshing Blend for Body and Spirit

Yesterday’s Love Songs/Today’s Blues (Nancy Wilson)

A Better Place (Julie Crochetiere)

Twentysomething (Jamie Callum)

Corinne Bailey Rae (Corinne Bailey Rae)

Local tearooms that offer Mother’s Day Tea party in a box

Local tearooms that offer Mother’s Day Tea party in a box

We love going out for high tea at any time of year, but it’s a really special occasion for Mother’s Day.

Most of us are safely quarantined in our homes and going out for a fancy afternoon tea is not an option right now. You can still enjoy your favorite tradition (or start a new one) and organize a high tea home delivery.

It’s the perfect solution for an at-home Mother’s Day treat, for yourself or to gift to your mum, grandmother or important person in your life.

These teashops and tearooms are making your planning easy by sending a complete Mother’s Day tea party in a box to your house. Place your order, set the table, get dressed up and make the most of this special day!

1. Sipping Streams Tea Company

The company

Located in Fairbanks, Alaska, Sipping Streams Tea Company offers loose leaf teas and tisanes, as well premium tea sachets, tea ware, tea assessors, local alaskan honey and more. You can also order their generous monthly subscription box.

The owner Jenny Tse creates all the blends herself. Her hand blends and teas have won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the North American Tea Championships.

Sipping Streams Tea Company was featured in the Tea Almanac of Fresh Cup Magazine 2009 and won 1st place for the Top Tea Infusion Competition at the World Tea Expo 2011. Jenny also offers online tea courses and workshop to tea enthusiasts and beginners.

What you get

Mother’s Day box comes in two sizes: for 3 and 6 persons. Each kits includes:

  • Elegant place settings for each person (plates, napkins, cute paper tea cups and spoons)
  • A beautiful 3-tier tray to display you tea snacks
  • 2 oz Raw Alaska Fireweed Honey Bear
  • Scone Mix * Tea Cookie Mix
  • Recipes and instructions for tea sandwiches
  • Choice of tea for each person:
    • Midnight Sun Herbal Blend
    • Organic Northern Serenity
    • Organic Earl Grey
    • Organic Ti Kwan Yin Oolong
    • Organic Dragon Well Green Tea
    • Assam Black Tea
    • Lavender Yerba Mate
    • 1,000 Mile Tea (check the website to find out more about this signature blend)
    • Masala Chai

Prices

From $55.99 plus shipping

And more

The DYI kits is very light and you can use it at home, at the park, to celebrate Mother’s Day, a birthday, or whenever you want to have a beautiful and classy tea time – it’s the perfect package for you!

2. Tea and Toast

The company

Tea and Toast is a small woman owned company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind gift boxes centered around loose leaf tea.  Whether you purchase a box for yourself, to share with a friend, or to gift to someone you care about, there’s always an occasion well-suited for a cup of tea.

Create an unforgettable experience and surprise your mom, grandma, aunt, wife or sister with a gorgeous hand crafted gift box.

All their loose leaf teas are thoughtfully sourced, blended in small batches, and packaged by hand locally. Many teas and ingredients are organic and sustainable, so your favorite women can feel extra good about drinking their cuppa. Revive your tea cabinet with a fun blend like Anjour Pear Spice White tea or Lavender White tea?

What you get

Tea and Toast is a small woman owned company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind gift boxes centered around loose leaf tea.  Whether you purchase a box for yourself, to share with a friend, or to gift to someone you care about, there’s always an occasion well-suited for a cup of tea.

Create an unforgettable experience and surprise your mom, grandma, aunt, wife or sister with a gorgeous hand crafted gift box.

All their loose leaf teas are thoughtfully sourced, blended in small batches, and packaged by hand locally. Many teas and ingredients are organic and sustainable, so your favorite women can feel extra good about drinking their cuppa. Revive your tea cabinet with a fun blend like Anjour Pear Spice White tea or Lavender White tea?

The Tea Party Box For One or The Tea Party Box For Two are curated with high-quality loose leaf tea from around the globe, artisan honey sourced from US beekeepers, handmade sugar cubes, a small batch tea cookie baking mix made with all-natural ingredients, a vintage tea cup (or two cups in the two person box), and reusable napkins that is sewn and embroidered by hand.

The Tea Party Box For One Includes:

  • tea cup
  • package premium loose leaf tea
  • US honey sticks and handmade miniature sugar cubes
  • small batch tea cookie baking mix {choose your flavor!}
  • reuseable hand-embroidered cloth napkin
  • small package of non-toxic, unbleached and chlorine-free tea filters

The Tea Party Box For Two Includes:

  • 2 tea cups
  • 2 packages of premium loose leaf tea
  • US honey sticks and handmade miniature sugar cubes
  • small batch tea cookie baking mix {choose your flavor!} *gluten free options available
  • 2 reusable cloth napkins
  • small package of non-toxic, unbleached and chlorine-free tea filters

Inside the Tea Party Box, you’ll find a card detailing how to set the tone for your tea party, including brewing instructions, music recommendations, and more.

Prices

From $49 plus a small shipping fee

And more

Cookie baking mix comes in many fun flavors, including gluten free options. Tea and Toast also offers a small box and a special Quaran-tea box we all could use right now

3. Elden Street Tea Shop

The company

Elden Street Tea Shop is located in the historic downtown of Herndon, Virginia. Their tea collection features over 65 hand curated teas to try in the tea room or to take home. The tea shop is deeply rooted in the local community and holds many weekly tea events and monthly Afternoon Tea. 

Although the tea room is currently closed due to quarantine, they just launched an online store with home delivery. 

Elden Street Tea Shop’s Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea offering is very unique this year. In addition to ordering an afternoon tea box to go for yourself or your mom, aunt or a dear friend, you can also purchase a box for an essential worker mom you know or donate to someone in the community. An at home tea event that honors the hardworking mothers – what an awesome idea!

What you get

Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea box built to help you share the perfect tea time with your loved ones! 

Serves 2-3 people

Includes full afternoon tea:

  • 3 types of sandwiches
  • scones and clotted cream/ jams
  • assortment of locally made desserts
  • up to 3 tea sashes for steeping your tea
  • a beautiful collapsible 3 tiered tray
  • cute paper tea cups for all your home guests

Prices

From $34.95

Curbside pickup only on Mother’s Day morning, May 10. 

And more

* Food Accommodations can be made

4. Aylesbury Tea Room

The company

Aylesbury Tea Room, named after a town in central England, serves traditional English tea in a historic, quaint cottage in downtown Leesburg, Virginia. Mother’s Day gifts to order and pick up between Friday and Sunday morning. Make sure to place your order before 5 pm on Friday, May 8.

What you get

Savory Treats

Coronation Chicken Croissant

Egg Salad Croissant

Cocktail Sausage Rolls

Sweet Treats

Earl Grey Raisin Infused Scones

Fresh Strawberry Preserves and Double Devon Cream 

Fresh made Shortbread Cookies (x6)

Plus, you can add a tea, a handmade tea cozy, locally made scented candles and more tea items your mom would enjoy. 

Prices

Check the website or call for the alacarte pricing.

And more

In addition to a selection of teas and treats, Aylesbury Tea room also carries English China, handmade tea cozies, scented candles and many more MOTHERS DAY gifts.

* Order by 5:00 PM Friday May 8th for Pick up over the weekend.

What is it like to be quarantined in a tea garden?

What is it like to be quarantined in a tea garden?

The mist is falling over the Nilgiri mountains. All of a sudden, the village with colorful houses, the road and the vegetable farm disappear into a thick white cloud. The only way to know there is village down there is by hearing the loud music coming from the small temples scattered here and there. The sound of what seems to be celebration of the long awaited rain echoes in the air as it gets absorbed into the roar of thunder.

Normally, I would run up to the edge of the road to see the panoramic picture of the valley and try to spot a rainbow, but right now the furthest I can get to is the roof of the house. India has been under curfew for a few weeks now and leaving the property is plainly asking for trouble.

Just less than a month ago I used to hit these rolling hills every single morning and run until I’m out of steam (or water). Some days I would run up and down a steep hill and other days I’d venture out to the neighboring village or Doddabetta (the highest peak in South India which is less than five miles from where we are).

This is officially the longest I’ve stayed in India. With tea business coming to a temporary halt and nowhere to go, apart from the tea factory and the tea garden underneath, I’ve decided to hunker down and embrace the slow paced lifestyle of a South Indian village.

The sun rises at 6.30 am sharp regardless of the time of year. Typical in sub-tropical climate, the darkness of night turns into day light as if someone has flipped a switch. The morning sun looks like a giant red circle surrounded by a golden ring of fire, as it slowly emerges form the bright pink edge of the sky. The roosters may have crowed long before I’m awake but the sounds of the bells coming from the nearby temples announce the start of the day without fail. I linger in bed for a few minutes, partly to admire the colors of the rising sun and partly to make sure I can see clearly and do not step on a spider that could have creeped inside during the night.

The open patio downstairs is a perfect spot for morning devotions and a workout. Despite not being able to run outside I’ve been exercising religiously every morning, either by running up and down stairs and throwing a few squats, pushups and planks in the mix or by watching a video posted by my trainer back home. Working out gets me ready for the day, helps me keep my sanity and connects me to the piece of the world I belong to. This morning, however, my heart rate was up for a different reason. Shortly after I came down to the tea garden I saw a neighbor rushing through the bushes, shouting wildly and throwing rocks into what later appeared to be a herd of 30 bisons visiting our property.
I saw a pair of horns turn away and vanish behind the trees.

The wildlife comes to you, whether you want it or not
Bisons are not an uncommon scene around here. I, in fact, have my own history with these creatures which tend to appear every time I think about them (which is every time during my runs). The first time I learned about the bisons was during my visit 4 years ago when a local boy saw me running and warned me about them. I was sure he was just curious to chat with a foreigner and make an impression, until I almost bumped into a gigantic animal standing in the middle of the road. I backed out slowly and when I was out of the bison’s site, sprinted downhill as fast as I could. I’ve had quite a few encounters since then, all during my solo runs. On one of my runs to Doddabetta I was cornered between the bison and the fence that surrounded the woods. The creature kept leisurely walking towards me on the road making the distance shorter by the minute. I was getting anxious, unsure what to do in the situation. I felt a sign of relief when I saw two local guys on a motobike. I started waving and pointing to the bison. They didn’t seem to understand my concern but agreed to give me a ride 200 yards behind the animal where I felt safe to continue running. After I got home, having resolved to never run in that direction again, my husband assured me that it was safe to walk alongside a bison, as long as you don’t make any threatening moves. The very next day, as I was rather bravely running up the forest road, a huge wild bison jumped into the bushes right next to me. This is it! Bison is officially my least favorite animal right now! If there is one thing I don’t miss about running, this would be it!

Believe it or not, every day life here in the hills is not all centered around the wildlife encounters. In fact, no-one, including me, gets impressed about spotting a pair of horns here and there. And luckily, we haven’t seen cheetah yet! Though, there are plenty of colorful birds, spiders and all kinds of moths and bugs that don’t stop to amaze my toddler. I swear, a spider has taken a permanent residence in our bathroom. Keeping an eye on it when I brush my teeth helps me to feel I’m in control for a moment; but as soon as it starts moving towards me, I leave the premises.

Daily life at the hills
Every day life on the tea estate is simple and for the most part predictable.

As you may have guessed, the day begins with tea. A sweet concoction consisting of black tea, milk and sugar is a must have first thing in the morning. In fact, I remember being awoken at 6 am on a sleeper train so that I don’t miss my glass of chai. It’s that important.

After the tea and the morning devotions my mother in law puts a stainless steel jar in a small plastic basket, the kind every woman carries around here. Milk shop up the road is open 6-9 am, so it’s a busy place in the morning. The milk shop seems to be more of a men’s hangout spot, so, more often than not, she gives the basket to the neighbor and he brings it back after a little while, filled with fresh milk and eggs wrapped in a newspaper.

Just like many foods in India, milk is never consumed raw. It’s boiled promptly; a part left to cool in a stainless steel jar, a part mixed with yesterday’s yoghurt for a fresh batch of curd. Curd, a more watery variation of yoghurt, is served with pretty much every meal. Despite of the fact that South Indian dishes don’t contain milk or cream, a fair amount of it is used in tea, curd and sweets; and anything left over becomes homemade butter.

Inherent frugality

As we all have learned from the COVID-19 crisis, we can make do with very few things. Life at the hills is like that, simple and essential. Rice, vegetables, spices and lentils are daily staples, with chicken being an occasional Sunday treat. Long after I’ve declared state of pantry emergency, my mother-in-law continues to whip up meals, seemingly out of nothing!

Since single use plastic is banned in the Nilgiris, people are pretty ingenious about using rice and flour packaging as vegetable storage or trash bags. And you’ll be amazed about all the things you can do with newspaper! I doubt anyone even remembers anymore why newspapers exist in the first place. At least, I’ve seldom seen anyone reading one.

Another important commodity worth preserving is water. Unlike a big city where water comes from the pipes mostly abundantly, here in the hills you need to be strategic obtaining and using water. Well water is collected using pumps and stored in large containers high on the roof. The higher the container is placed, the more pressure is created for your shower or tap. After you’ve put such an effort into the process, you’ll think twice about wasting a drop of water. And it sure tastes twice as delicious this way.

If there is something worth splurging on, it’s clothing! It’s sort of a tradition to wear a brand shirt or sari on the New Years day, birthday and other occasion. It’s considered good tone to wear a fresh outfit each day. Hence, a lot of washing is going on. In lieu of a drier, clothes are simply laid out flat on the roof or hung on cords on the balcony. Hot afternoon sun takes care of the drying in no time. Daily washing is a lot trickier during monsoon season, I reckon.

Food culture

Similar to most eastern cultures, food is a huge part of life in India. Offering a freshly prepared meal is an unequivocal expression of love and hospitality. A large part of the day is devoted to peeling, chopping, soaking, grinding, pressure cooking one thing or another. As soon as lunch is over, it’s time to start thinking about dinner. Each meal is cooked fresh from scratch, including snacks and sweets. I remember once asking my mother-in-law for some desicated coconut. To my surprise, she took a whole coconut out of the cupboard, went outside to crack it on a rock and then scraped the flesh with a special tool. No big deal! Certainly not when compared to peeling pounds of tiny onions or garlic cloves for a dish. Needless to say, dried coconut flakes I was used to suddenly felt like processed food!

Tribal food is very simple but very special at the same time.

Breakfast usually consists of dosa (a thin rice crepe) or idli (steamed rice cakes) with sambar (spicy lentil curry) or some sort of chutney. Sometimes uppma, a dish made of wheat with onions and green chillies is served. My personal favorite is appam, a fermented rice and coconut pancake cooked on in a bowl like pan. Noteworthy, fruit or eggs are never on the breakfast table. Eggs are reserved for lunch and fruit – for an afternoon snack or custard desert.

After breakfast my father-in-law goes to the factory or the tea plantation to supervise workers. There is never shortage of work at the tea estate. Factory needs to be run, cleaned and maintained, the tea bushes need pruning and the tea leaves need to be dried and stored before the end of the day.

Mid morning is a tea break for everyone including the workers. My mother-in-law fills a thermos of piping hot sweet concoction and sends it down to the field along with some stainless steel glasses.

Lunch is the most important meal and always includes white rice, a few curries, an egg omelet and homemade yoghurt/curd. Darkened chicken curry or a special kind of beans are some of the local delicacies, along with a purple blob of raagi (millet) flour mixed with hot water. I’ve never quite acquired a taste for the latter.

Afternoon is the hottest time of the day, so it’s a good time for a little siesta, as long as there is no urgent work to be done.

Come six o’clock in the afternoon, the road fills up with women walking back from the fields carrying large baskets or metal jugs on their heads. Cows are returning from the pasture and the last tea trucks make their way to the factories carrying sacks of green leaves. This also means it’s time for tea. Late afternoon tea break is more elaborate and could almost qualify as dinner in my books. Variation of the tea snacks are truly unlimited: from spicy mix of nuts and lentils to deep fried sweets packed with jaggery (brown sugar), coconut, ghee and gram flour. Rice, lentils and sugar can be transformed into virtually anything.

With such a heavy afternoon snack, dinner time naturally falls to late night hours, usually past my bed time. Chapati (whole wheat tortillas) are a common alternative to rice (because a meal is not a meal without a carb!)

Tea vs. tea

When you live on a tea estate, tea can be experienced in many forms. I love walking in the tea garden, making a path between densely planted green bushes, observing the fresh leaves and looking for the newest white buds. The buds is the most delicate part of the tea plant and are used to make white tea and the highest quality green, black and oolong teas. You may have heard the expression “two leaves and a bud”. I pluck just enough buds for a day’s worth, to have fresh silver needle tea the next morning. Green tea requires a bit more effort: the leaves need to be steamed and rolled to extract the flavor before drying.

Each time I go out there I feel that my eyes and fingers get more adept at spotting the right leaves to pick. Yet, I’m not anywhere close to the professional tea pluckers who collect bags and bags of green leaves every day.

Plucking and making tea is no easy task and there is no better way to learn its value than doing it yourself. The fragrant and delicious brew you get as result is definitely worth it.

Time to say good night

The day wraps up as abruptly as it started. The starry sky somehow feels higher than I’m expecting it to be. The occasional growl of a wild animal coming from the woods break the silence.

Today I discovered the spider’s hiding place: under our bed.

Good night, the Nilgiris

COVID-19 action plan: 10 ways to protect yourself and others

COVID-19 action plan: 10 ways to protect yourself and others

COVID-19 has quickly risen from a few hundred cases to hundreds of thousands, becoming a pandemic affecting the entire world. It feels as if everything has been paralyzed and our lives became suspended in the air.

Doctors and scientists have been trying to crack the code and find a cure for this mysterious disease. Millions of peoples are urged to stay inside, social media becoming our only way to communicate with the outside world. With so many newsletters, articles and blogs posts flooding out inboxes and Facebook feeds, it’s hard to tell the truth from the hoax. And how can you if even the expert advice changes daily? Many people don’t even know they are infected feeling completely fine while others get really sick needing to be hospitalized. With testing been limited, no-one can tell with certainty whether they’ve got it or not. How bizarre is that?!

So what can you do to protect yourself and others against COVID-19?

If we were to condense it into just two points, they would be:

1. Be vigilant in preventing the spread of the virus (to protect others)
2. Keep your immune defenses strong (to protect yourself). A strong immune system is essential to resist any virus or disease.

Sounds easier said than done?

Here is our 10 step action plan:

1. Wear an appropriate mask in public places

If you have to go to a store or a doctors’ office, wear a mask. It can protect you from airborne pathogens and stop spreading the germs if you are a virus carrier but don’t know it. There are two main types of face masks that are being used. One is a standard surgical mask, which does not fully protect against all airborne bacteria but lessens exposure and one is N95 respirators, which offer more protection. Such devices are designed to prevent 95 percent of small particles from entering the nose and mouth area. But they only work if they fit properly, and are not suitable for children or people with facial hair.

Use precautions removing the mask and wash you hands.

If you don’t have a proper mask and can’t find it anywhere (which is the case right now, at least in the United States), you can purchase a handmade one from someone in your community. Many people have been sawing masks for hospitals and for the public. Or, make your own using a bandana. Not as effective but better than nothing.

Again, avoid crowded places when possible.

2. Avoid contact with people who may be sick
Especially as the virus progresses, try to limit exposure to people who are actively sick and coughing. A good rule of thumb is to assume that everyone you interact with could be a carrier for COVID-19 and act accordingly, keeping a good distance. People have been craving nature and streaming to parks and trails. By all means, go for walks and hikes with your family, but choose appropriate timings when the trails are not busy. If you see someone, keep distance but don’t forget to greet them and send virtual encouragement!
3. Keep surfaces clean
Touching contaminated objects is one of the leading causes of contracting an illness. Throughout the day you touch so many things other people may have touched – doorknobs, stair railings, appliances, your phone – and then you do the unthinkable without even realizing it: touch your face (or even worse, your mouth!). In your home make sure to keep surfaces clean with cleaner, particularly one containing clove or tea tree oil because they are natural antiseptics. Hydrogen peroxide has been shown to kills germs effectively as well. If you order food delivery, huge kudos to you by keeping grocery store less crowded and supporting the delivery people who are working hard and putting themselves at risk every day. Handle the bags with care and wipe them with a sanitizer before bringing them in. Wash the produce well or soak in vinegar for a few minutes.
4. If you are sick, stay home
When you’re already under the weather, your immune system is reduced, it’s best to stay at home and get better! Don’t rush to doctor or emergency room right away. Rest, hydrate and monitor your symptoms. If you have to step out, wear your mask! It may be a common cold or flu, but why spread the germs anyway?
5. Get fresh air and sunlight every day
Sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D correlate with an increased risk of respiratory problems, so it’s extremely important to get your daily dose of sunlight. Wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing to shield yourself from direct light. Note that while sunscreen is effective, it may inhibit vitamin D production.
6. Use garlic to scare the virus away
Garlic is a champ for its germ busting and immune boosting properties. Keep garlic in its raw form (heat reduces its nutrients). Garlic cloves were shown in a study by NIH (National Institute of Health) to help fight off common cold.
7. Load up on fruit and veggies
When eating fruits and vegetables, always look for variety; you want to have brightly colored food. Citrus fruits are a number one when it comes to strengthening your immune system as they pack a ton of vitamin C in them. Some leafy green vegetables contain a strong amount of vitamin C, such as kale and spinach. Choose fresh local and organic produce when you can.
8. Get enough sleep
Sleep is key to good health and strong immunity. Remember a saying: “Early to bed, early to rise keeps a man heathy, wealthy and wise”? We are not sure about the wealthy part, but not sleeping enough can surely throw your body off and lead to increased inflammation and the spread of germs. Plus, you’ll be groggy, cranky and less productive all day. When looking to fight off illness, sleep will be your best friend. Avoid too much stimulation such as screens and caffeine in the evening, keep you bedroom dark and cool and drink some relaxing herbal tea before bed. L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea promotes relaxation and helps decrease stress and unwind (NIH).

9. Drink lots of tea

Although tea may not be a miracle cure, there is researchers at Harvard University found that drinking five cups of black tea a day quadrupled the body’s immune defense system after just two weeks. This immune boosting effect is due the high theaflavin content. In black tea. Theanine, a unique non-protein amino acid in tea which can enhance the immune functionary regulating the secretion of cytokines (NIH). Tea also contains catechins, including ECGC, which act like a cleanup crew against free radicals. We recommend you drink 3 cups of tea a day during flu season.

As a bonus, drinking tea can make you happier! Based on our own ‘research’ and experience! Get your cute china out! Or, a big cozy mug will do too!

10. Don’t forget to exercise
Daily exercise does the body plenty of good. Exercise doesn’t have to be extremely strenuous – or even strenuous at all to qualify as exercise and allow your body to reap its benefits. Even walking for thirty minutes a day will make a difference in your immune system. Someone who doesn’t workout is more susceptible to getting sick rather than someone who does.

Regular exercise also helps to deal with daily stress and maintain your sanity during this crazy time! Plus, it’s also a lot of fun! Try a family hike or a bootcamp in your backyard, basement or living room.

Running out of ideas? Check out all the free workout classes available right now!

Our personal favorites are Beach Body on Demand, Daily Burn, Cosmic Yoga (for Kids) and Sarge Fitness workouts online. Check with your local gym if they have a live broadcast. A lot of gyms do. Or, browse YouTube for any ideas you like.

IF YOU FEEL SICK

According to the CDC, if you traveled in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:
* Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
* Avoid contact with others.
* Not travel while sick.
* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
* Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

As always, stay healthy and strong, get out for a walk and drink your tea!

How to maintain your peace of mind despite COVID-19

How to maintain your peace of mind despite COVID-19

COVID-19 virus outbreak has likely generated more conspiracy and conflicting “news” that any other pandemic in history. You’ve probably seen thousands facebook posts, emails and WhatsApp message sharing various sources of information and advice how to protect yourself. 

While is world is being shaken by this mysterious disease, the media and virtually anyone with a speaking platform feel have been fiercely sending out all sorts of communication, ranging from actionable steps to plain speculation. 

Despite the amount of information floating around (or maybe because of it), we may feel more confused than ever:

– Is it safe to step outside at all?
– Should I wear a mask? What about gloves?
– How should I do grocery shopping?
– Is it safe to accept packages?
– Will I get sick if I come close to an infected person?
– Is 6ft a safe distance?
– Does the virus spread through animals?
– Can you get COVID-19 more than once?
– Will drinking apple cider vinegar, baking soda, orange juice – add your magic pill here – cure coronavirus?
– Will there be a vaccine?
– And the most controversial one: can I take elderberry syrup?

Have you asked yourself one of these questions? I have and honestly, I haven’t gotten specific answers to most of them. All I know at this point is that:

Currently there is no known cure for COVID-19

COVID-19 has been shown to manifest differently in different people, from hardly having any symptoms to serious complications and even death. Still, many people have recovered. Although many people and doctors have referred to various vitamins, oils, teas, steam bath etc. that have helped them or their patients, no prescription or over the counter medicine has officially been recommended by the CDC as of now.

Think beyond yourself
By continuing to observe social distancing, being mindful of our hygiene and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I hope that by now we all have a better understanding about the essential, must have things and the non-essential, nice to have things and activities. Forgot to buy almond bread? Rather than rushing to the store, how about trying your baking skills? Or maybe pancakes is what for breakfast today?
Things can wait
Seriously. I used to stress out each time my daughter took a longer nap and missed her swim class. Now we haven’t stepped a foot in the pool for what seems like months. And it’s OK. The pool will be there after all this is over. We sure miss our friends and extended family, trips to the farm, the movies or the library, or simply running and playing outside. But it doesn’t mean that we’ll never get to do those things again. It’s just a temporary break and when we go back to all the things that fill our every day lives we’ll appreciate them so much more!
Help those in need
While the majority of people are hunkered down in their homes, those essential workers are on the front lines taking care of the sick or delivering much needed supplies. Others may be stuck in their homes alone without access to basic things. Yet, how can we help someone while maintaining a safe distance? This can sure be a tricky one. Be creative and research the regulations in your state. Can you pick up extra groceries on your quick shopping trip and drop them off for an elderly neighbor. A lot of people have been sawing masks for medical workers. Hospitals are in need of virtual Spanish interpreters. Single parents, kids, nurses, teachers and pretty much everyone needs encouragement right now.

Can’t go outside? A simple phone call or a video chat may brighten someone’s day.

Got your Instacart delivery? How about an extra tip and a 5 start review?

Support local businesses
Although many of us have been financially affected through layoffs or not being able to work during this time, small business owners are having it the hardest. Stores have been closed and non-essential businesses have moved online or disappeared all together. This means someone’s family struggling to put food on the table or an entrepreneur’s dreams being shattered. Before you rush to Walmart or order prime, think what products can you buy from a local farm or mom and pop store? Many places have a safe curb side pick up.

Your favorite shop has closed down? Check if they have an online store.

Many service business owners have been refunding monthly membership fees as a curtesy to their clients. Consider supporting them by signing up for their programs and classes online.

Even if you have to cut down on your usual spending, you can still help out by writing reviews and testimonials and referring your friends.

Be informed but don’t obsess about the news
Well, coronavirus is no longer breaking news. Increasing numbers of patients despite the state wide and country wide lockdowns and the impending financial crisis have become
our new reality just over the course of a few weeks. Media has been going crazy featuring stories from the hospitals and publishing daily statistics. As terrifying as these news may be, governments are taking all the measures imaginable to stop the outbreak. In the meanwhile, we need to do what we can: take care of ourselves and our families, help where we can and keep others safe by staying at home. It’s important to be informed about the latest updates on your area and other places should you absolutely need to travel there, but having TV on all day long is guaranteed to drive you insane! Plus, think what you could be doing with your family instead?
Fact check before you share
s we all have experienced, social media has been a real blessing during this time. It helps us to be connected with our loved ones and know they are ok. Kids can get a daily virtual hug from grandma or chat with their friends. Virtual classes, hangouts, webinars and support groups have been invaluable to keep our spirits up. On the other hand, Facebook and WhatsApp have become a major source of rumors. Remember: media thrives on drama, fear and sensational headlines, and literally anyone can write anything they want just to draw attention. Before sharing that article about the latest breakthrough cure with your friends or clients, do a fact check first. Does this article come from a credible source? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages are from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Last, are you in a position to share and recommend a ‘treatment’? Most of us are not.
Stay positive
Numbers don’t lie. Any life lost is a tragedy, not to mention thousands. The world’s economy is shaken up to the core. Companies can’t afford to pay workers. As result, there are not enough people for the essential tasks our society needs. Stores may be running short on supplies. Sounds like a vicious cycle. Yet, for every sick person there are thousands who are safe, healthy and well staying in their homes. If you are still working and have at least a part of the income coming in, you are batter off than thousands of people around the world. Even if you’ve been laid off, there is still hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. In times like this share kindness and it will come back to you.

Take care of that self care

Now may not be the perfect time to start that detox program you’ve been planning on. It’s a stressful time for everyone and survival mode is in full gear. Yet, it’s not the time to let go either. Staying strong and healthy, both physically and mentally, is what will help us thrive and not simply survive in these turbulent times.

Can you go outside for a walk, run or just a few minutes of sunshine? Vitamin D is essential for our health and boosts immunity and serotonin levels. Stuck inside? Take advantage of all the online resources available and try a fun family Bootcamp or a yoga class. Tune in for an encouraging message from your church (our pastor comes to the sanctuary every Sunday morning for a broadcast). Or tune out for 20 minutes of meditation.

Do what makes you feel you: cook a fancy Friday night dinner or a Sunday brunch, plan a FaceTime movie night with a comedy and a giant bowl of popcorn.

Ran out of snacks? Instead of doing another haul of coke and pretzels (or Cheetos or your guilty snack of choice), put your imagination (or Pinterest skills) to work and see what you can make out of simple and healthy ingredients at home. Try mini sandwiches, cucumber slices with hummus, colorful fruit cups, homemade jello or filling avocado mousse. What better time to get those cookbooks out? 

Build bullet proof immunity
While no one can guarantee you’ll never get sick, boosting your immune health will help you and your family become more resilient to germs and kick that cold’s or virus’s butt.

A diet rich in fresh fruit, veggies, proteins and healthy fats, lots of liquids, exercise, fresh air and positive attitude are key to combating stress and keeping your defenses strong. Did we mention: ‘don’t stress’?!

Pray and expect with joy
There has hardly been another time in our lives to show us how fragile life is and how helpless we humans can be. It may look like the end of times. Nations have been brought to their knees and people regardless of their spiritual beliefs are trying to see through the curtain and interpret where the world is heading.

We are praying. For our friends and relatives, for our business and companies, workers, parents, families and people around the world.

We are praying out of joy and not out of fear. We are praying that we all come out of this as a stronger, kinder and more united society and better citizens of our planet.

Looking back at history, there have been plagues and pandemics as big as this, and the earth stood and persevered. And it will, again.

We all are waiting for things to be back to normal sooner or later. Yet, life can never be the same again. Because if it were, we would have wasted a grand opportunity.

What is happening to tea during COVID-19 outbreak?

What is happening to tea during COVID-19 outbreak?

The reality check

Truth be told, we underestimated the extend to which COVID-19 would take over the world when we planned our trip to India this year. Yet here we are: within just a few weeks things took a drastic turn. Borders are closed, schools are out indefinitely, events and social gatherings are cancelled, store shelves are empty as people are stocking up in anticipation of worse, families are isolating themselves and resolving to virtual interactions with the rest of the world. 

In this unprecedented situation businesses governments, teachers, parents and business owners have had to take measures to keep everyone safe. This spin on the worlds’ affairs certainly demands quick decision making, wisdom and a lot of creativity. Parents have to assess the risks of going to work and exposing themselves to germs against staying at home and facing income losses and other consequences. Parents have to decide to what degree to limit their children’s social interactions, rearrange their daily routines to maintain everyones’ sanity. Businesses have responded by changing their strategy and offering virtual services, online shopping and home deliveries in lieu of the physical locations being closed. The speed with which these changes are happening is quite impressive! 

While the globe is in limbo

Supply chains have been complicated by travel restrictions, port closures and production facilities being idle due to quarantine. People all over the world are worried about stores running out of basic food and hygiene products and non-essential shopping is taking a back stage. 

It feels like the universe has pressed a pause on our lives. Travel plans are canceled, families have been separated by borders, even weddings have been postponed! 

Although this a stressful and uncertain time for many people, it’s an opportunity for all of us to take a break from the daily grind, slow down and reflect on our lives. While we are in the waiting period, we can find the positive in these circumstances and use this downtime to reconnect with our families, get to know our children, play outside, take a walk in nature, refresh our minds and think about what is really important to us. Plant a garden, take on DIY projects, learn a new skill, rearrange the house, read a novel or a personal development book you’ve been putting off for months, play board games and have meaningful conversations with your loved ones. Possibilities are endless.

It’s also a perfect time to put on a kettle and brew a nice cup of tea. Rather than setting a timer and filling the time in between with another urgent activity on your list, just sit quietly and watch the leaves unfurl as the color of the liquor intensifies. Sip your tea slowly and savor the aroma and the warm and relaxing feeling it provides. To take it to the next level, how about experimenting with some fun blends using herbs and spices in your pantry? Try a chai blend with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamon; green tea with a dash of turmeric, sweet lemon tea, or moroccan green tea with fresh mint. Let your creativity and your tastebuds run wild! Do a tea tasting with family and see what they think of your blending skills!

What’s happening with GavaTea

As many of you know, GavaTea has signed up to become a sponsor of OOTYULTRA race in the Nilgiris. The race was set to happen on April 5 but got postponed to September for obvious reasons. Conducting even a relatively small race like this (just shy of a 1000 participants) still carries a potential risk since runners would be coming from all over India and overseas. To make matters worse, India has temporarily closed access to all incoming visitors which prevented the international runners from attending. Safety first, so the plug was pulled early. Despite the dissapointment, having this kind of certainty was a relief for everybody. Race or not, training never goes in vain. We too keep running to maintain our fitness and enjoy the incredibel views the Nilgiris have to offer. Climbing up these steep hills gets me every time!

With a tentative new date of September 27, 2020 we still have a lot of work to do, from securing volunteers to preparing tea samples and prizes for all the runners. 

While the world is seemingly standing idly, tea bushes keep growing, the leaves still need to be plucked and processed. Tea plucking is naturally a pretty isolated job. Women work solo or in groups of two or three and leave the sacks of tea leaves on the curb side to be picked up by the factory trucks. Most factories in the Nilgiris are run by micro  growers and manufacturers with just a handful of workers. 

For the last few weeks we’ve been visiting tea estates in search of the perfect blend, reviving our own factory by installing new machines, flooring and building additional rooms for the workers to live in. We’ve been also finalizing our licenses, certifications and packaging and building relationships on all levels of the supply chain. And best of all, we’ve been tasting a lot of different teas to bring you the best seasonal varieties! We are also trying to support the local tea workers by giving them additional earning opportunities working on construction and cleaning. 

How is the Nilgiris District coping with COVID-19

Just like the rest of the world, the Nilgiris and the state of Tamilnadu are treating the disease seriously. Quarantine and social isolation are in full action. Schools, parks and hotels are closed and public gatherings are cancelled. The authorities are ordering all tourists to leave the district, since the virus is thought to have been brought in by foreigners. Technically not a foreigner but still looking like one, I oddly feel responsible and more compelled to stay away from questioning looks. 

Meanwhile, in the village surrounding the tea estates, the ladies go to the fields and come back in the evening carrying totes with empty lunch (or tiffin) boxes on their heads, the milkman opens the shop every morning, the children keep running wild and worship at the temples continue with even more rigor, as people are asking the gods for relief. 

Free from the uniforms and classes, local boys and girls play with the village dogs or roll self-made buggies constructed of paint cans and colorful ribbons down the road. Teens are barely to been seen. With their parents having no time or capacity to “homeschool”, older kids will be helping with farming or other household duties.  

A message from GavaTea to our customers

So, this is here we are. Stranded on the mountains in one of the most beautiful places in the world, among the farms and tea plantations, is not the worst place to be. With orders and events being suspended, we are definitely affected and our launch may be delayed. We are making the most out of the situation and praying for the safety of our customers and families around the world. 

If there’s one thing the world needs now, it’s a little more joy. With our encouraging social media posts and progress updates we at GavaTea want to help keep your spirits up and brighten your day in every little way we can. We continue to work towards getting the best quality Nilgiris teas to you all. 

Thank you for sharing our passion for tea, for your patience and ongoing support!

Stay safe!

Your GavaTea team

Latest update:

The Indian government declared a nationwide curfew on Sunday, March 22, 2020 as a preventative measure. Join us at 5 pm Indian time for a cup of tea and a moment of solidarity!