Interesting Stuff: Who Knew?

There’s WHAT In My Tea?

Dear Kid,

We’re back to our discussion about tea (you thought I forgot, didn’t you? No such luck.).

Tea (all of the actual tea varieties we discussed the other day—pop quiz: do you remember them? White tea, green tea, Oolong, Black tea, and pu-erh) comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. If the beverage you’re drinking comes from the leaf or flower of any other plant, it may look like tea, smell like tea, taste like tea, and be marketed as tea, but it is not tea.

You’re joking. The box says tea.

If the beverage you’re drinking comes from the leaf or flower of any other plant, it may look like tea, smell like tea, taste like tea, and be marketed as tea, but it is not tea. DearKidLoveMom.comIt does. It’s wrong. What you’ve got in your cup is a tisane or infusion or some other brewed loveliness of herbs. It is not tea if it doesn’t come from Camellia sinesis. Most of the time, these non-tea beverages are called herbal tea which doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but who am I to argue?

Herbal teas are made from the roots, leaves, flowers, bark, seeds, and/or fruits of various plants, which may be more than you wanted to know.

More importantly, just because the beverage is Not Really Tea doesn’t mean that it isn’t delicious and wonderfully good for you.

There are umpteen bazillion different kinds of herbal tea and they all offer different tastes and benefits. For the most part, the stuff you buy in a box in the grocery store isn’t going to provide too many benefits (it’s been sitting around for a while and generally is only average quality to begin with) but if it makes you happy (and soothes your throat) enjoy!

There are tea snobs in the world. Fortunately, I’m not one of them.

Love, Mom

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Tea for Two and Things You Never Knew About Tea

Dear Kid,

It’s Tea for Two Tuesday. Seriously, it is.

There are lots of different kinds of tea to enjoy—I learned about more than coffee at Coffee Fest!

It’s Tea for Two Tuesday. Seriously, it is. DearKidLoveMom.comPu-erh tea is fermented tea, which is to say the leaves are fully oxidized and fermented, and, um, often moldy (in a good way). Think wine or cheese. I’ve never had it, but I’ve been assured it is an acquired taste. Until 1995, it was illegal to import pu-erh teas into the US.

The most common type of tea in the US is black tea. Black tea leaves are fully oxidized which basically means the tea leaves absorb oxygen after they’re picked (think rust on a car). The oxidation turns the leaves dark brown and black and impacts the taste of the brewed tea. They have the highest caffeine level of the teas (but not as much as coffee).

Oolong teas are semi-oxidized. Which make them the middle child of teas.

Green teas are not oxidized which is to say they’re dried without being allowed to absorb much oxygen which in turn is why they stay green. Green teas are subtle both in terms of flavor and caffeination.

White tea is pretty rare. It’s a delicate tea made from little tiny baby tea leaves picked at an exact time. It’s considered the healthiest of teas—but you’ll pay for all that healthiness.

None of this matters if you don’t like tea. Or if you only drink herbal tea which it turns out isn’t tea at all. Tune in tomorrow (or some other day) for more on the whole herbal tea thing.

Love, Mom

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What’s New In Coffee

Dear Kid,

Were you busy thinking there are no interesting innovations in the world of coffee? Silly you.

We met Taylor from Coffee Blenders yesterday. And brought home one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. Coffee Blenders is (and I quote) “the pioneer in functional coffee”. I don’t think they have covered wagons, but I haven’t done enough research to be sure.

What I do know is they’ve got some seriously cool stuff and a great cup of coffee.

It will not surprise you to learn that what caught my eye was a pouch labeled Lean Cup. Taylor and I had a lovely discussion in which she fed my already saturated brain all sorts of information about their different coffees.

This morning, I put the pouch to the test.

Step 0: Wake up after having stayed up late chatting with the GirlChild and friends. This is not an easy step. The Puppy made it easier by suggesting that it was time for him to be walked, thank you very much.

Step 1: After walking and feeding the Puppy, get a cup for coffee. Not a problem as I am well-practiced in the Art of Getting Coffee Cups.

Step 1: Get a coffee cup. DearKidLoveMom.com

Step 2: Open the packet. Easier said than done. Once I found the little tear place it wasn’t hard. Finding the place where they started the tear without coffee in my system…

Step 3 Open the pouch. DearKidLoveMom.com

Step 3: Place the little filter pouch in the coffee cup. Adorable yes? Yes. Realize you have to tear open the adorable little filter pouch. Panic for a moment envisioning difficulties and coffee going everywhere. Relax immensely when it turns out to be the easiest part of the entire process.

Step 3 Forget to open the filter. DearKidLoveMom.com

I spent a minute trying to decide whether to congratulate the inventors for making such a wonderful process or myself for flawless execution. Decided we could share the glory.

Step 3 Revised: Open the filter DearKidLoveMom.com

Step 4: Pour hot water in the little filter pouch (yep, I did that flawlessly too). Let the coffee bloom for 20 seconds (yeah, right, like I was going to time it) then add more water.

Step 4: Pour in hot water. DearKidLoveMom.com

Step 5: Enjoy.

Now here is the really, incredibly amazing part. (I hope you’re sitting down.)

It was dang good coffee. I mean, really, really good.

We all know that there are lots of coffees I don’t like and that pretty much no one is going to claim I have the most sophisticated palate in the world. I can live with this. I’m not a Master Coffee Expert Taster with certifications and whatnot. I’m just me. And I love this coffee. No, they haven’t paid me to say that (although they’re certainly welcome to).

The only problem is that I don’t have another pouch to have a second cup.

Life is hard sometimes.

Love, Mom

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March Madness and Saint Patrick’s Day!

March Madness and Saint Patrick’s Day!

Dear Kid,

As you may have heard, we’re in the midst of March Madness.

This means that some people are spending 20 hours a day watching basketballs on multiple screens (hmm…who could that be?) and others are blinking in confusion (either because they know nothing about basketball or because they are too busy drinking green beer to care).

Happy Everything! DearKidLoveMom.comHappy Saint Patrick’s Day.

So it turns out that lots and lots of people care about basketball. A lot.

Even those that don’t care all that much seem to find it necessary to flip back and forth between channels if there is only one screen (like in our family room, but I’m not naming names).

So far (in March Madness), there have been upsets, questionable calls, kind of ho-hum games, and knuckle-biters. This was entirely predictable.

Coming up, there will be upsets, questionable calls, ho-hum games, and knuckle-biters. This is entirely predictable—I just predicted it.

Love, Mom

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Daylight Saving Time, Jewel Day, and Where Is My Coffee?

Dear Kid,

It’s Jewel Day (the gemstone kind).

Unfortunately, I can’t find anyone handing out free samples. Which is just as well because (as with so many things) it’s hard to stop with just one.

It’s also the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. This is the one where we lose an hour. Which is sad. And no matter how hard you look, you won’t get it back until the fall (believe me, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to find it). DearKidLoveMom.comIt’s also the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. This is the one where we lose an hour. Which is sad. And no matter how hard you look, you won’t get it back until the fall (believe me, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to find it).

The official term is “Daylight Saving Time,” and not “Daylight Savings Time.”

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as Daylight Saving Time (hard to imagine, but true). Then Benjamin Franklin (Ben was the 15th child in the family and they’d run low on names by then so he doesn’t have a middle one) was visiting Paris. He wasn’t allowed to fly kites there (lightening strikes were considered pre-existing conditions by the insurance plans) so he sat around thinking deep thoughts, subtly making fun of the French for being lazy, and wondering how he could further confound people’s biological clocks. (Life Lesson: Never deprive influential people of their kites.)

In 1784, Ben wrote an essay in which he first suggested Daylight Saving Time. Some of his French Amis were delightfully taken with the idea (they obviously missed the subtlety) so it was completely ignored.

There are (according to My Friend the Internet), several possible people who might take credit for seriously advancing (get it? advancing? Ha!) the idea of Daylight Saving Time. It might have been a bug collector. Or maybe not.

Fast forward to 1907, when William Willett of London, England, suggested that clocks be advanced 20 minutes each of four Sundays in April and set back 20 minutes each of four Sundays in September. This was such a ridiculous idea that it was seriously considered.

Countries located near the equator do not observe DST, as the daylight hours there do not vary with the seasons.

In 1916 Germany officially adopted DST to conserve coal during WWI. The British liked the idea so much they immediately adopted it.

Confusion followed. So did a bunch of great excuses for being late.

It took a while for the concept to cross the pond, and in 1918 the US launched DST as an energy-saving practice.

After WWs I and II, we ditched the idea (remember, back then there weren’t cable boxes and cell phones that automatically updated) until the 1970s when we pretty much ran out of energy. DST was officially mandated to save energy in the winter.

But get this: Daylight Saving Time only saves energy if you go outside to enjoy the extra daylight. Otherwise, we just spend money on energy for things like lighting, heating, air conditioning, and Netflix.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established the system of uniform DST throughout the U.S.

Also, it turns out that changing time is not good for human health. You’d think one hour wouldn’t be a big deal. You’d be wrong. It’s a big, honkin’ deal. Incidents of heart attacks, strokes, car crashes, bad test scores, grumpiness, and general illness go up when the time changes (in either direction).

(You got sick a week early. Face it, you’re a trend setter.)

Feel better and don’t forget to set all your clocks.

Love, Mom

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Puppy Mills and Frat Houses

Dear Kid,

It was too early to go to a party at a frat house (“too early” being defined as anything before midnight), so Pi and I were deciding what to do. We decided to go to the mall.

It turns out that there is a pet store in the mall. With puppies and other live cuddly things.

Including a hedgehog who was sound asleep and did NOT want to wake up to play with me.

The hedgehog had absolutely no interest in waking up to meet me. DearKidLoveMom.com

Back to the puppies.

Let’s be clear: Pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are terrible, horrible places that treat animals in a terrible, horrible way.

PSA: Do not buy animals from pet stores. Do not buy animal supplies from pet stores that sell puppies. Don’t encourage them. Don’t create a reason for them to purchase more puppy mill inventory.

I feel strongly about the horrors of puppy mills. I also feel incredibly drawn to these poor little dudes in the store.

Pi and I went in and asked to see a little bulldog puppy. He was fast asleep but woke up enough to blink at us. Then he cuddled himself in our arms and (mostly) went back to sleep.

He was the definition of adorable. Or should I say adorabull.

Then he cuddled himself in our arms and (mostly) went back to sleep. DearKidLoveMom.com

He was also not in great shape.

I am not a vet, but it was obvious that there were several health issues screaming through his fur. Still not a vet, but I suspect some of it was nutrition, some of it was genetic, and some of it was environmental and behavioral. (Yep, pretty sure I covered everything possible there.)

As we sat there cuddling this lump of fur, Pi said she felt really sorry for him. I did too. But—as I said to her—at least we could make him feel safe and loved for a few minutes of his life. It’s all we can do.

He was the definition of adorable. Or should I say adorabull. DearKidLoveMom.com

I love that there are puppies for college kids to snuggle. Sometimes college students need to be reminded that there are puppies in the world, to have the opportunity to hold something small and precious and warm, to look into a pair of eyes that hold nothing but trust and acceptance no matter what happened on the calc exam.

As long as the store is there I hope students go in and snuggle the puppies.

As long as they don’t buy them.

Love, Mom

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