Celebrating Lukewarm Tea Month! by JT Herself In December, at a holiday party, I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who leads a most interesting lifestyle! Besides being one of the most cheerful and positive people I have ever met, Darlene is a Rawist who operates Raw Food Diet Inspiration.com. For those of you that are not familiar with this movement of Rawists, they believe that any food products heated past a specific temperature (118 Degrees F) lose their enzymes. They prefer un-processed, un-cooked and organic (or biodynamic) food sources for the majority, if not all, of their diet. So, how, might you ask, would a Rawist enjoy a warm cup of tea in January? In celebration of Hot Tea Month (although, I think in the case of a rawist it should be Luke Warm Tea Month) I am going to share some wonderful "brewing" tips and ideas for those looking to warm up in the morning without swallowing a hearty teaspoon of cayenne! I will touch more on brewing techniques in a later article, but there are a couple of avenues a Rawist could take to enjoy a cup of tea or herbal blend on a cool morning. Let's talk "lukewarm brewing" first. This is not even close to a technical tea term, but an easy way to keep track of two methods of brewing to stay under 118 degrees. In my discussions with Darlene, she is fine with warming up the water on the stovetop as long as you can still stick your fingers in it. You can even purchase an inexpensive thermometer to keep track of the water temperature. Your other option is to cold brew your tea. As a Las Vegas resident, this is one of my favorite ways to brew in the summer. Add the proper amount of tea/herbal blend to your pitcher, add water, and place in the refrigerator. I suggest allowing the brew to sit for at least 8 hours (I usually let mine brew overnight). It can then be heated on the stovetop or microwave to take the chill off the brew. So, let's talk tea. In general, most teas (green, oolong, and black) have been dried in temperatures exceeding 118 degrees in processes known as pan firing, wood firing or the forced air method. White tea is the exception in that it is a very young leaf, still possessing the "white fuzz", that is plucked, and allowed to dry via the sun. Therefore there is no "processing" necessary. White teas possess a mild (non grassy) flavor and brew a beautiful yellowish cup. Traditionally, they would be brewed for 2-3 minutes in water 176-194 Degree F. If choosing to brew this tea via the "lukewarm method", you would want to play with the steep times as you would likely have a very weak cup at 2-3 minutes due to the lower temperature. Herbal blends are always a wonderful option as well for our rawist friends as fresh herbs and fruits will allow you to create a flavor that compliments your tastebuds! Common herbal ingredients include: lemongrass, peppermint, chamomile, lavender, ginger, lemon/orange zest, basil and rose petals (rosehips). The sky is the limit. If "you" (Insert: You, Market, Local Farmer, or Neighbor) can grow it, you can brew it! It is important to note that when purchasing "flavored" white teas, that they will likely contain ingredients that have been dried at higher temperatures or will have flavorings that may not adhear to Rawist food requirements. It is best to choose an orthodox or unflavored white tea. What a great reason to experiment in the kitchen! Rawists can combine these herbal and fruit ideas with a quality white tea to create a flavored variation . White tea brewed with lavender or peppermint would make a lovely cup in the morning. I would love to hear your feedback! Send me your brewing ideas, ingredients, recipes and/or methods. For those of you looking for more information on the Rawist lifestyle, please visit Darlene's website: Raw Food Diet Inspiration.com. Even better, Darlene and I had a chance to chat about a fresh food diet and the world of tea! Check out the podcast at: darlenenavarre.podbean.com!