Healing and Joy Expressed in Many Mediums

Have you ever been surprised to find joy when surrounded by nature? Art can have the same effect. This is the hope of our featured artist this month, Chizuko Tikechi. Join us for the First Friday Art Walk on Friday, August 1st where you will be able to meet her while you sip on a fine Japanese Sencha green tea or a cool Matcha blend.

About Our Artist

Chizuko came to Omaha from our sister city Shizuoka in 1984. In 1992, she became a citizen of the United States and has been residing in Omaha since then. For over 25 years, she has been active in local cultural and artistic activities. She has also spent time teaching Japanese culture and art in different schools and communities throughout Nebraska.

About Her Work

Chizuko specializes in a wide variety of art mediums, a few of which will be featured at our downtown location. She does work with black and white ink wash painting and calligraphy. This type of art is called Sumi-e and uses calligraphy brushes to bring out images on rice paper. She has been studying this type of art since childhood and later studied under art masters in Japan. With her attention to detail and appreciation for simple artistic expression, Chizuko also creates artwork using a technique called Sashiko. This is a Japanese folk embroidery and quilting technique that uses a simple running stitch to create intricate patterned background. Some of her other talents include graphic design and Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.

Whether you are familiar with Japanese forms of artwork or enjoy learning new things, join us on August 1st to meet this incredible artist in person and learn more. Her hope is that her work will “linger and echo in our minds with ease.” Mark your calendars. See you there!

Add comment July 17th, 2014

Make Your Tea Even Cooler

There comes a point during the summer when an iced tea just doesn’t last long enough to cool you down and quench your thirst. Usually that time comes smack in the middle of July. Take your iced tea to the next level of cool. Try making tea pops! Here are a few recipes and tea suggestions that we think are worth tasting.

Simply Sweet Tea

Sweet tea pops can be as simple as brewing up tea as you normally would and dissolving a tablespoon or two of sugar while the tea is still hot. We recommend brewing up a Ceylon Star or a rich Keemun. Add some lemon juice if you desire. Then simply pour the tea into plastic cups, freeze partially and set a popsicle stick in the center before you allow the tea to freeze completely. You are then ready to enjoy!

Use this basic recipe outline to try more teas in tea pop form: 

Basic Tea Pop Recipe

4 Tbs Black tea of choice 

8 Cups water

1/2 Cup Sugar

32 Small plastic or paper cups

32 Popsicle sticks

Bring the water to a boil and then add tea leaves (Tea bags work well for holding the leaves together and easy cleanup). Steep tea for 5 minutes, then remove and add sugar. Stir until dissolved. Then fill each cup about 3 /4 full of tea, cover with foil and poke a popsicle stick through the center of the foil. Freeze and enjoy!

This recipe also works with green tea. Just follow the brewing instructions on the tea package.

Mangoes, Peaches and More

However, if you need something with a sweeter, richer flavor, try these Mango Green Tea Pops. Matcha Powder plus mango puree and coconut milk make for the perfect blend of tastes (and they are healthy too). Our Peach Paradise black tea can make for a wonderful summer treat as well with the freshest of peaches just coming in season. Try adding a little ginger for perfect Ginger Peach Iced Tea Popsicles.

Summer Companion black tea with its tart and sweet blend of red and black currants can also make for a delicious tea pop. A tablespoon of sugar dissolved into the tea as it brews will bring out the flavors even more.

Plenty of tea flavor combinations and seasonal fruits are just the beginning of a fun summer project. Get the kids involved and see what kind of new tea pops you can create!

Add comment July 10th, 2014

A Comforting Cuppa

They say that when it rains, it pours; when life gives you lemons, make lemonade ( or better yet, a glass of tea); and look on the bright side. But when bad news comes, you want to believe there is still hope for things to improve. What tea do you go to when you need some comfort? Ceylon with a healthy splash of whole milk is a personal favorite and so is a fresh Darjeeling. Get your favorite teapot out and brew up your best while we talk tea and words of comfort.

Taking Some Time

Grieving is a long, empty space of time to find yourself in. The pace at which most of us live life does not allow for much time, nor do we naturally want to take it even when we can. The rest of the world keeps moving on though, and when troubling times are rocking your boat, taking time to gather yourself and see your grief through to the end (because it does have an end) is important. Not sure where to start? Do you have that pot of tea brewing yet?

The simple act of going through the motions of something familiar will help you get started. Grief can seem a cruel guest to share a pot of tea with, but it is not as unkind as you might think. Grab a journal if you’ve got one and start writing down your thoughts. Get angry at grief and unfortunate times. Don’t hold your emotions back. By all means, get these thoughts out where they won’t consume you from the inside. If you’ve got a good friend, talking things out with them can be even better. Just make sure to invite the type of friend who can listen well.

Being a Friend

It’s often comfort enough for one who is grieving to simply know that she is not alone in that process. It helps to know others have faced troubling times and have found strength to press forward. If you can’t be that friend who shares difficult experiences, you can be a good listener. May I suggest bringing the afternoon tea to your grieving friend? As you take time to prepare the tea, you show hospitality, kindness and that you are ready to take time to be with that friend. It is an invitation for her to share what is weighing her down. You don’t have to know what to say. Just listen, sip, and be with her.

When No Friend Can Be Found

Sadly, friends can become scarce when tragedy strikes. You hope you have found a few who will not, but that may not always be the case. William Nicholson wrote, “We read to know we are not alone” in Shadowlandsa film on the life of C.S. Lewis. Believe it or not, companions can be found in books. Tea also goes well with a good book.

This message may come at a time in your life when you are the farthest from grief, but these times come. Take note and take comfort. They don’t last forever. And thankfully, they don’t come to most of us very often.

 

Add comment July 3rd, 2014

Tea with a Twist

Keeping cocktail recipes fresh, original and seasonal is the goal of Omaha’s own V. Mertz Restaurant. One of their famous cocktails even features our own Pinhead Gunpowder. Fugue State is a smooth blend of gunpowder tea, cognac, sloe gin, absinthe and a few other surprises. Their unique drinks were featured in the Omaha World Herald’s “GO” edition. Check it out here. Visit the restaurant in the Old Market to try the Fugue State for yourself, or read on for more refreshing ideas on blending tea with alcohol.

Sweet, Cool and Simple

You know what flavors of tea you like, but where to start when blending up your own cocktail creations? Try something simple first like this blend of sweet tea, lemonade and vodka. It is perfect for enjoying on a steamy summer evening.

      Alcoholic Sweet Tea

         1 cup sweet tea (try a basic/non-flavored tea to start with like Ceylon Star)

          ½ cup lemonade

          ½ cup vodka

          Pour all of the ingredients over ice. Stir well and serve immediately. (See original recipe.)

For something with a little more bite, but just as refreshing, shake up your favorite green tea with a shot of rum and a shot of cranberry juice. Pour it all over ice and enjoy! Read the full recipe here. You can also experiment with other tea blends and flavors such as Ti Kuan Yin oolong or our Organic Sencha green tea.

Refreshing with a Few More Ingredients

Want a drink that will make more of an impression? With a few extra ingredients, a twist of lime and a little more time, you can create a tea cocktail that your friends will want to recreate at home. Check out a couple of our favorites:

                Watermelon Tea Cocktail

           ½ small, seedless watermelon, pureed well for about 1 ½ cups of juice

           1 ½ cups dry, fruity white wine of your choice

           1 cup Fukamushi Sencha

           Squeeze of fresh lime juice

           Stir all together and serve chilled. (Recipe modified from www.samovartea.com).

          

             Rooibos Tea Cocktail


              6 Blackberries

              1/2 ounce shochu

              1 ounce sweet white vermouth

              1 1/2 ounces chilled brewed Organic Rooibos

              1 lemon twist

              Ice

Muddle the blackberries with the shochu, vermouth and tea in a cocktail shaker. Add the ice and stir. Pour all through a fine strainer into a chilled coupe and garnish with a blackberry and twist. (Recipe from www.foodandwine.com).

Be bold in your blending and enjoy! Then let us know what works.

 

Add comment June 26th, 2014

Matcha: The Most Out of Your Cup of Tea

Over the years you’ve probably heard a few things about the health benefits of tea. The internet is full of articles about what your cup of tea can do for you. Some of them are outrageous. Some are simple truths. But it makes sense that if the brewed leaves carry so many health benefits (antioxidant ECGC, catechins, chlorophyll, theanine), then consuming the whole leaf holds even more benefits. Matcha is composed of green tea ground into powder. Whisk it into warm water, add milk or honey if you desire. You can even put it on ice for a cold drink. Whoa-la! You have a super healthy way to start your day. Matcha, however, can be so much more.

Beyond the Cup

For some, the taste is too bitter on its own and even when milk or sweetener is added.  However, the good news is that in powdered form, matcha can be so much more versatile. It can easily be blended in with a smoothie and compliments sweet, fruit flavors such as bananas, berries, apples and more. With a little more time and ingredients, it can be baked into cupcakes or other sweet treats, including the frosting on top. You may add a few more calories, but the amazing health benefits will still be there in the baked goodies. Still hungry? It also mixes well with ice cream or yogurt. 

Recipes to Try

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie - The healthiest of these recipes is also very versatile. Throw in a handful of berries or another favorite type of fruit to try something different.

Coconut and Matcha Tea Cakes - This is a lightly flavored cookie that is a wonderful companion on a summer afternoon.

Matcha Green Tea Glaze - Already have a favorite cake, cookie or scone recipe? Try it with matcha glaze for a new twist.

Matcha Green Tea Pound Cake - This dessert is a little heavier, but a certain crowd-pleaser.

Matcha Tea Biscuits with Cranberries and Walnuts - Bookmark this one for a winter treat on long, cold nights with a cup of tea and good book on hand.

Ginger Green Tea Ice Cream - This list wouldn’t be complete without matcha ice cream! Try it today!

If you would like to know more about matcha, click here. Or to get your supply of matcha powder, click here . Have fun experimenting and enjoy!

Add comment June 19th, 2014

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