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The rich history of Chinese tea culture dates back to more than 4,000 years ago. Green tea, the oldest of Chinese tea, was a luxury beverage drunk by emperors before it became part of common culture along with formalised tea ceremonies. Today, this tea-centered way of life is not only still prevalent in the country, but it has also spread to other countries and influenced other cultures. Tea is the most popular refreshment in China, with the average person in China drinking 400 cups of tea a year according to US-China Institute. 

Navigating its vast history, here are what we think are the 8 must-knows of Chinese tea and its culture! 

 

1. Medicinal properties  

 

A famous legend tells the story of Sheng Nong who was poisoned after a day of eating various wild plants. As he lay on the ground barely alive, he noticed a bunch of fragrant leaves and out of habit, ate them as well. These leaves turned out to be tea leaves that detoxified his body of the poison and made him well again, portraying the benefits of tea on our bodies.  

More recently, tea has been found to have inflammatory properties due to its antioxidants. The multi-purpose beverage also helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of cancer. The Chinese also believe that different teas have ‘heating’ and ‘cooling’ effects on the body to balance out the body’s 氣 (qi), or life force.  

 

 2. Tea Across Cultures 

There are 6 main families of teas originating from China, namely white, green, black, yellow, wulong (better known as oolong) and pu’er tea.  While some of these teas are wildly popular and can be drunk in various places around Asia, they are not grown in the same area. In fact, different regions in China grow and harvest specific different types of tea, and they also have distinctive tea cultures and preferences! People in Beijing prefer flower-scented teas while Tibetans enjoy buttered tea. Mongolians enjoy their tea with milk and the Northern Chinese enjoy black teas and pu’er which is tea that has been fermented. 

Next time you make a visit to China, be sure to observe what the locals like to drink. You might be surprised at what you find! 

 

 3. A Sign of Respect 

With its long and deep-rooted history, tea is held in high regards. It was a tradition for someone of a lower rank to serve tea to someone more senior as a sign of respect. Nowadays, serving tea to seniors, colleagues or even guests, regardless of their status, has become a widespread symbol of respect in China. Don’t be surprised if you’re served tea after a pleasant chat with the shopkeeper of a hole-in-the-wall store! 

 

 4. Meaning ‘Thank You’ 

 

In traditional Chinese weddings, the bride and groom serve tea to their own and each others’ parents by kneeling in front of their families and presenting the cup of tea while bowing. This is done as a deep symbol of thanks for raising them into adulthood. As the Chinese also strongly believe in fate, the meeting between husband and wife may also be seen as only possible due to their parents’ years of care and guidance, another reason for serving tea as a sign of gratitude. 

 

 5. Tea Houses 

Tea culture in China isn’t just limited to it’s tea alone. There are over 25,000 tea houses in China. With the purpose of drinking tea and socialising, these tea houses are seen as a gauge of the country’s and cities’ economy. The more glorious the tea house, the more prosperous the country. Tea houses in China are also the birthplace of xiangsheng, or crosstalk — comedic monologues or dialogues rich in puns and allusions.  

 

 6. The First Pot Isn’t Drunk 

Surprise! The first pot filled with hot water is not drunk but actually thrown out. Hot water is first poured into the pot and left to settle for one minute to warm the vessel. Doing this ensures that the temperature of the water is optimal for brewing tea leaves. Warming the walls of the pot will prevent the second round of hot water from cooling down quickly, thereby bringing out the strongest flavour of the tea! 

 

 7. Strengthening the Teaware  

The most famous type of teapot in China is the Yixing clay teapot that’s been around since the 15th century. While the Chinese brewed tea for personal enjoyment, they also brewed tea to ‘wash’ their clay pot and cups. Pouring hot brewed tea on both the inside and outside of the teaware, they believed this would strengthen the mould and shape of the clay and deter erosion, allowing the clay to last longer. 

Nilufer Tea

If Chinese tea isn't your cup of tea, perhaps organic herbal tea may be more up your alley. After all, everyone has their own preferences and unique taste in tea. We recommend the Rose Paradise tea. It is full rosy goodness and strawberry sweetness. To add the cherry to the top, it creates a beautifully soft pink tea, perfect for your instagram feed!

Sakura tea (Sakurayu), or also commonly known as Cherry Blossom tea, originates from non other than the beautiful Japan. Although Sakura flowers are commonly associated with Japan alone, they can also be found in other countries in Asia like Korea and China. Wherever there is sakura, there is bound to be a whole lot of tourists, making those areas popular tourist attractions each spring. And it really is no surprise, because no one can dispute the beauty of these gorgeous pink blooms.

Image cred: pixabay

Sakura tea is a Japanese infusion that is created by steeping pickled cherry blossom flowers in boiled water. The cherry blossom flowers are prepared by being pickled in plum vinegar and salt, and they are then left to dry before being steeped in water to create the perfect Sakura tea. The resulting Sakura tea is a beautiful pink clear herbal tea that tastes slightly salty but also has a subtle hint of earthy and flowery notes. Besides being incredibly aesthetically pleasing, Sakura tea has numerous health benefits as well.

1. Anti-Ageing properties

Sakura tea has a high concentration of polyphenol anti-oxidants that are known to fight free radicals that damage DNA causing premature aging. By drinking Sakura tea, there will be less free radicals in your body, and this will slow down the aging process by combating lines, wrinkles and skin dullness. It can help you age gracefully and give you brighter skin and clearer complexion.

2. Anti-inflammatory

If you constantly battle with skin problems like redness, irritation and inflammation, LOOK NO FURTHER! Sakura tea contains nutrients that prevent the production of nitric oxide, which is one of the base cellular chemical compound that causes and aggravates skin inflammation. We all know that the perfect concealer from Sephora covers up the blemishes perfectly, but wouldn’t you rather tackle the root cause? Just think of all the money and time you’d save!

Image cred: Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Sakura tea can also help to lighten uneven skin pigmentation that is caused by sun exposure by inhibiting the production of melanin. It also cleanses the skin of toxins to leave your skin bright, healthy and happy.

3. Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases

Much like other teas, the nutrients like flavones found in Sakura tea can help reduce the risk for heart disease. It lowers your LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) and keeps your heart healthy and safe from cardiovascular diseases.

4. Beautifying benefits

Sakura tea is rich in antioxidants which reduces the body’s free radicals. By doing so, it reduces acne, minimizes puffiness, reduces your dark eye circles and keeps your face silky smooth like a baby’s butt.

The antioxidants also stimulate healthy hair growth, reduce dandruff, add shine and give you softer and better moisturised hair. It’ll be like you are in a hair commercial whenever you swish your hair *everything is in slo-mo*

5. Whitens and protects your teeth

Image cred: Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Tannins in our food are what causes stains and these make our teeth appear yellower (sobs). A protein found in tea will create a natural chemical barrier that protects your teeth from discoloration. Combine this with your regular tooth brushing habits and you’ll regain those pearly whites in no time! Also, tea can change the pH in your mouth and that may be the key to preventing cavities from forming. It also does not erode your tooth enamel (protective coat) unlike other beverages.

6. It is low in calories

If you do not add any sweeteners or sugar substitutes to your Sakura tea, it is virtually calorie free - which is great news for those seeking to lose weight or simply to manage their weight better. We really understand the woes of the weight loss journey, and sometimes water just won’t satisfy that craving for any sort of flavour you might have. Sakura tea is a very good and healthy substitute, for it has subtle salty and flowery notes that dance on your tongue! You could always add fruit slices to snazz it up a little and ultimately, you will feel refreshed and energized.

7. Other health benefits

The benefits of Sakura tea are endless, it might lead you to believe that it is a miracle drink. It reduces the risk of stroke, cancer, mental illnesses, improve the immune system, lower blood pressure, and protects your vision. However, please be advised that tea is not a substitute for medicine, it merely complements it to speed up your healing process and provides your body with the nourishment it needs.

Fancy yourself a cup of Sakura tea? Nilufer Tea is releasing the new tea: Sakura tea. Catch a taste of spring and experience flowers dancing in your mouth with this new and beautiful tea. Feel fancy and healthy with just a sip and you definitely won't regret it!

Harnessing the power of herbs and flowers can feel a little like magic. My grandma used to have a little herb garden and not only did she cook with the plants she grew herself, but whenever I went to her with complaints about a wound, an aching stomach or being unable to sleep, she’ll nod her head sagely, go out into the garden and pluck a something that will make me feel better. Drinking whatever she gave me felt like a healing potion that only she could make. She used to tell me the juice of this plant could help with wounds or that the leaves of another were good at keeping the common flu at bay. Obviously living in the city has greatly diminished my hopes for my own extensive herb garden and I can barely recognise one plant from the other. However, having a basic knowledge of which plants help with which ailments can greatly improve your lifestyle and strengthen your body. You do not have to be a grandma with years of experience to harness the power of nature. Here are some herbs to get you started:

1. Chamomile

Let’s start off with an easy one, shall we? Everyone and their grandmas know about the benefit of chamomile on sleep and it’s not a myth. Traditionally, chamomile has been used to help with insomnia because it is mildly sedative. This may be due to the certain flavonoids that affect the brain. Although not many clinical trials have been done, there was one study that showed the inhalation of chamomile oil vapours reduced the production of a stress-induced hormone. The benefits of chamomile have been recorded for thousands of years and it is one of the oldest and most widely used herbs. It is no surprise why – it doesn’t just induce sleep, it is also anti-inflammatory, helps with the common cold and digestion by soothing the stomach, calms irritated skin and stimulates the immune system.

2. Rose

Rose is one of those plants which you assume is only around for its beauty or for its popularity during Valentines Day, but the truth is this plant has its own myriad of benefits. They have been in use since the ancient Greeks and Romans who used them to perfume their baths. Roses offer beauty enhancing benefits, and its essential oil is highly antibacterial and therefore, great in managing acne and acne prone skin.  Its calming properties can reduce swollen spots or redness. Since roses are natural astringents, they help to tighten pores and tone skin. Plus, unlike alcohol toners, roses have a moisturising effect on your skin and does not dry it out.

3. Lavender

Image cred: redfox on Unsplash

Lavender is another one of those herbs that’s popularly used to help with relaxation. The natural compounds in their leaves and flowers can be ground and applied directly to your temples or brewed in tea to relieve the mind of anxiety and balance your mood. Lavender tea has also been used for thousands of years to induce sleep and it is helpful for insomnia. Not only that, it has strong anti-inflammatory components which can help reduce swellings and calm irritated skin.

4. Coriander

Coriander is a herb as well as a spice commonly found in many households that make curries or masalas. This humble plant native to the Mediterranean is packed full of health benefits. It has eleven compounds of essential oils, six types of acids, minerals and vitamins. All of these various components have their individual benefits. Coriander lowers skin inflammation, and it has disinfectant, detoxifying, antiseptic, antifungal and antioxidant properties which are ideal for clearing up the skin and fortifying the body. It also helps improve cholesterol levels and lowers blood sugar and is sometimes used to help with diabetes.

5. Lemon

Everyone knows that lemons are a good source of Vitamin C, but what exactly does that mean? Vitamin C does more than just prevent common colds, it also may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and high blood pressure. Better yet, research has also proven how useful Vitamin C in lemons is in improving the quality of our skin, and even in reducing wrinkles. Lemons also have a variety of other benefits such as aiding digestion, speeding up weight loss and preventing kidney stones.

Of course this is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using plants for your benefits. A little research will yield a plethora of uses for the herbs and flowers that are readily available to you. If you are still a little confused on how you should use herbs and flowers, an easy way in is through teas. There are a many available in the market containing a huge variety of herbs. Why not try Nilufer’s caffeine free Lemon and Chamomile tea or Rose? They are made from organic ingredients that have been grown without any use of pesticides. Shop here today!

Written by: Annmaria Patteri

"When life gives you lemon, make lemonade."

This proverbial phrase has stuck around since time immemorial - and for a good reason. Few fruits can be as versatile as lemons. On their own, they might be a bit too sour to the taste, but when paired with sweet or savoury flavours, they spice things up a notch.

Apart from their culinary uses, lemons actually house a multitude of health benefits. Starting your day with a glass of warm water with lemon can go a long way in protecting your health. Read on to find out how incorporating lemons into your diet can offer a plethora of  various health benefits!

1. Maintains body pH 

Although lemons are high in citric acid, once digested, their minerals are dissociated in our bloodstream, which actually helps to alkalise our bodies. More often than not, our bodies are more acidic due to the large amount of meat and carbohydrates we consume. Consuming insufficient fruits and vegetables, which are alkaline in nature, can also result in an imbalanced body pH. A body pH that is too acidic can result in various diseases - such as eczema, acne, and premature aging.

2. Prevents weight gain

Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which can help to fight cravings and make you feel full for a longer period of time. Thus, before every meal, drink a glass of lemon water with honey to prevent over-eating, and prevent the extra pounds from packing on!

3. Strengthens the immune system

Lemons have a high vitamin C content, which are powerful in boosting the immune system. By enhancing T-cell proliferation, Vitamin C helps to prevent allergies. However, since Vitamin C is not synthesised by our bodies, we have to religiously ensure that we hit the daily requirement of 500mg a day. While Vitamin C tablets can help to do the trick, turning to natural fruits and vegetables is still the best way.

4. Improves appearance of skin

A cup of warm lemon water can go a long way in clearing up your skin and giving you that fresh, clear complexion you have always wanted. The high Vitamin C and antioxidant content in lemons help to reduce skin aging by improving collagen production. No wonder Vitamin C facial products are always such a hit!

5. Aids with digestion

Incorporating lemons into your diet, be it through eating them directly or adding them to a glass of water, can help to improve digestion by increasing bile production, and flushing out toxins and unwanted materials out of the body. Lemons can also reduce symptoms of indigestion such as bloating.

6. Lowers risk of kidney stones

The high content of citric acid in lemons can help to lower the risk of kidney stones, a study conducted at the American Urological Association reveals. Citric acid can help to eliminate or slow down the formation of kidney stones by forming urinary citrate, which helps to reduce the formation of crystals.

7. Keeps scurvy at bay

Although scurvy is no longer as prevalent as it was before, it still affects some adults, who are severely deficient in Vitamin C. In order to keep this debilitating disease at bay, ensure that you consume a sufficient amount of Vitamin C a day!

8. Cleanse the body of toxins

Lemon has always been known for its naturally detoxifying properties - many people add lemons into their detox plans to help them flush out toxins from their body. By acting as a gentle and natural diuretic, lemons increase the rate of urination and helps to increase the rate of toxin removal from our body.

9. Improves blood circulation

Vitamin P, which are bioflavonoids that help Vitamin C perform its function, are found in lemons. Vitamin P can help to strengthen blood vessels and therefore improve blood circulation, reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

10. Improves function of the nervous system

Lemons are also high in potassium, which works hand-in-hand with sodium to transmit signals from the brain to the nervous system. Low potassium levels in the body can actually result in anxiety and depression.

As seen above, a small, unassuming lemon can actually house so many health benefits - there's no reason now to not incorporate lemons into your diet! If you are finding difficulty doing so, try the Floral Blossom Tea, or the Lemon Chamomile Tea from Nilufer Tea for an all-natural way of incorporating lemons into your diet. Nilufer Tea only uses lemons sourced from Setouchi, a quiet city in the Southern Okayama Prefecture in Japan. These lemons are organic and 100% pesticide and impurity free.

Acai berries? Nah, lemons are a much cheaper and accessible alternative. Be it directly from the fruit, or from herbal teas, be sure to get your fix of lemons today and reap the multitude of health benefits!

Life can throw you some hard-hitting curveballs, leaving you to neglect your health and overlooking the “common” headache you get once in a while, and actually might even be more than that. You often brush it off, masking the often fleeting but sometimes unbearable and constant unease with a painkiller, and hope for the best.

Headaches are one of the most common health problems, and they can get so bad that you’ll find yourself experiencing bouts of nausea and vomiting. Popping painkillers every time you have one can do more harm than good in the long run, and leave you in the wake of some nasty side effects.

Here are some more effective ways that are gentle on your body while helping you to manage persistent headaches.

1. Drink herbal tea

Image cred: pixabay

Green tea, chamomile tea, ginger tea, and peppermint tea are just some of the beverages known to be able to relieve migraines and some of their accompanying symptoms. Drinking them can help to ease your mind, and thus relieve the throbbing pain in your head.

Chamomile is packed with antioxidants, and together with its ability to calm anxiety and reduce inflammation, chamomile can help to lessen the impact of headaches. Ginger, too, has anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties, while peppermint has the ability to relax the nerves and reduce spasms in your gastrointestinal tract that can actually aggravate headache symptoms.

So if you find yourself frequently experiencing sudden and recurring migraine attacks, you can get yourself a cup of warm Nilufer Tea and let it work its magic. With quality herbs and fruits, the organic herbal tea will not only help ease your headaches, it can also confer a range health benefits for your body.

2. Go gluten-free

Image cred: pixabay

Many of us get headaches every now and then. But if you’re especially prone to them, you may have a gluten allergy, or even a celiac disease. So get yourself checked and take the necessary steps to cut gluten out of your diet. Common foods that contain gluten include wheat, oats, certain types of noodles, pancakes, waffles, and malt beverages.

3. Take B-complex vitamins

Various forms of vitamin Bs aid in the formation of neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which may be lacking in those who suffer from migraines. When your body is short on one or more of the essential B vitamins, it causes energy slumps, unfocused thinking, and headaches. As these vitamins are crucial in regenerating brain cells, and improving immune function and cardiovascular health, it isn't surprising then, that a lack of them can cause your body to feel less than optimal.

To help your body synthesise adequate amounts of vitamin Bs required for a more optimised body and mind, you should consume foods that are rich in B-complex vitamins. Such foods include rice, whole-wheat pasta, potatoes, eggs, chicken, fish, milk, and green leafy vegetables.

4. Keep active

Image cred: Avrielle Suleiman on Unsplash

Staying in one position for an extended period of time, like sitting in front of your computer hunched over, can lead to body tension and induce headaches. This position, with your head jutting out, puts an extra 20 to 30 pounds of pressure on your neck!

So to ease the immense strain you’re putting on yourself, try to take a break every 30 to 60 minutes. Stretch regularly and move your head and neck around in a circular motion. This will relieve the built up stress and can help prevent headaches.

5. Stay hydrated and well rested

The body is made up of around 70% of water. Hence, it is no wonder a feeling of unease wells up in the body when one is not properly hydrated. Consuming too much coffee, sugary drinks, and alcohol can leave us dehydrated and this is certainly one of the contributing factors that lead to a throbbing headache. Hydrating yourself with water may just be that simple (and free) remedy you need to keep you feeling full, energized and headache-free.

Image cred: Jez Timms on Unsplash

You can also quench your thirst with fruits and vegetables – watermelons, strawberries, cauliflower, and   spinach contain about 92 percent water per volume, and they may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water.

Having poor sleeping habits can also cause frequent headaches. Not getting enough shuteye and sleeping too long can trigger migraines. So get some proper rest and change up your hectic lifestyle, so you no longer have to suffer through each day!

Written by: Anna Fernandez

We would like to thank Cherilyn from All things Vegan sg  for allowing us to steal her wonderful sweet treat recipes to share will all our Nilufer Tea Blog readers!  Cherilyn is a vegan living in Singapore and is very passionate about veganism and would like to share the love with everyone ?
Check out her blog to learn more about the Vegan lifestyle and learn more about how Vegans in Singapore are doing it!
 

 Healthy and delicious Vegan Unicorn Cupcakes and Pancakes Recipes

SAM 1910
So lately I've been seeing so many unicorn cupcakes on social media and I decided to try making some hella cute cupcakes as well. Click on to view how to make these little unicorn ?  cupcakes!

Unicorn Cupcakes ?

Prep time: 1hour       Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Ingredients:
Vanilla Sprinkled Cupcakes

Frosting

Decorations:
View Cupcake Jemma's video here.
Instructions:
For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.
2. Add the apple cider vinegar to the non-dairy milk. leave it to curdle.
3. Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy.
4. Sift over the butter and sugar mixture alternating with the milk mixture. Blend until no lumps are present.
5. Add sprinkles and use a wooden spoon to carefully mix the sprinkles into the batter. OR use a spatula to fold it in.
6. Place the batter into 15 cupcake holders.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
For the frosting:
1. Cream the butter until creamy and light in colour.
2. Sift in the icing sugar and add in the vanilla extract.
3. Divide the batter into 4 separate bowls and add in food gel. ( each colour for each bowl )
4. Use a cling wrap and lay it out.
5. Place strips of the different coloured icing onto the cling wrap and roll it up.
Refer to cupcake Jemma's youtube video on unicorn cupcakes to learn how to do the icing and the decorations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW6nIhcNDbs
Photos:
SAM 1917
SAM 1915
SAM 1909

WHOLEWHEAT BANANA PANCAKES

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This recipe for pancakes is absolutely amazing. They make the perfect breakfast if you are craving for something warm and sweet. It is simple and very yummy. It can be made really quickly so time isn't a problem at all! I personally love these pancakes as they are super easy to make and satisfies my taste buds. So here they are!
Remember, if you do make them, please tag me on Instagram@cherealkiller! I would love to see those delicious pancakes that you have made. I have a video posted on youtube here.
Prep time: 15 mins          Cooking time: 10 mins
Ingredients:

Steps:

  1. Warm 60ml of soya milk in the microwave or in a small pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Place the flax meal in a bowl, add the warmed milk, stir well, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the apple cider vinegar into the remaining soya milk and set aside to thicken and curdle.
  4. In another small bowl, mash the banana with the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and maple syrup.
  5. Whisk in the flax mixture, curdled soya milk into the banana mixture and blend well.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wholemeal flour, buckwheat flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the wet ingredients until just combined and fold in the nuts (optional). The mixture should have a thick consistency.
  7. Heat a frying pan or a cast iron griddle over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates immediately.
  8. Lightly oil the griddle and drop scoops of batter to your liking. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook further for about 1.5 mins. Grease the pan a little between each batch to prevent sticking.
  9. Serve the pancakes with maple syrup and berries (optional)

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