Welcome To Florida Herb House!

Whether its organic herbs and spices you seek or are seeking the finest in all natural sea salt, pure undiluted essential oils, ionic liquid minerals, pure beeswax, loose leaf teas, herbal healing tinctures, or one of our home health test kits; Florida Herb House can help you. Shop over 2000 products online at http://www.sharpweblabs.com/ or http://www.floridaherbhouse.com/ or visit our retail store in Port Orange, Florida for all your health and nutrition needs. Shhhh.......Use this online coupon code for an instant 10-20% savings upon checkout. Coupon Code = FLORIDAHERB

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Simple Tea Buying Guide!

Today we are excited to join CEO and founder of "Florida Herb House" Stephen Sharp for some helpful tips and advice on choosing the right tea for your budget and health needs. Now lets hand it over to Stephen!

It's a pleasure to be here and thanks for having me! At Florida Herb House loose leaf tea is our best seller and it pays to do your research before shelling out $20 for some tea. Any tea in loose leaf form is in it's earliest stage of its life cycle. This means you are getting the best tea your dollar can buy. Supermarket and shelf stock tea just has too much age to compare to loose leaf teas. It can take several months for a pre-packaged tea to make it into your tea cup compared to a few weeks in many cases for tea to be harvested and then delivered in bulk form to our store. White, Green, Oolong, and Black tea taste from a tea bag will always be inferior compared to the taste from whole loose leaves. So when you steep your tea, please make sure it is from whole freshly dried leaves. We guarantee satisfaction at Florida Herb House as quality high grade tea is our trademark.
White, Green, Oolong and Black tea all are produced from the "Camellia sinensis" plant. "Camellia sinensis" is native to China and Asia and grown in many tropical regions throughout the world today. WikiPedia states, "It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is usually trimmed to below two meters (six feet) when cultivated for its leaves. It has a strong taproot. The flowers are yellow-white, 2.5–4 cm in diameter, with 7 to 8 petals."
The main difference in each one of these teas is when and how they are processed. "Processed" means picked, fermented (or oxidized), dried, etc. etc. Optimal time to pick the tea leaves is April-May with some variations expected. It can take several years for these plants to produce a plentiful harvest. Green and White tea is considered the least processed with the most antioxidants and the least amounts of caffeine. Green tea will have a pleasant grassy taste while White tea will boast a more floral flavor. White tea is actually produced using the plant's flower buds. The buds are picked before they bloom and then baked or steamed to halt any oxidation process. This preserves the high anti-oxidant properties of the tea. Green tea is made in a similar fashion but with the leaves of the plant. The highest quality green tea will contain only leaves while some lesser quality varieties will be leaves and twigs combined.
Next in line is oolong tea. Oolong teas are said to be the hardest of the four to create. Oolong tea is somewhere in between green and black tea. This is because they are only partially fermented "oxidized" during the processing cycle. Oolong tea has less antioxidants than green and white tea but more than black tea. Caffeine levels are in the middle.
Finally the most processed of the teas are black tea as shown on the left side of the screen. Black tea leaves are picked the same way green and oolong tea leaves are picked but these leaves are fermented "oxidized" the longest. The term oxidized refers to how long the leaves are exposed to a set air temperature and humidity. You can compare this to an oak tree leaf falling on the ground and beginning to turn brown. The longer the tea leaf is oxidized the more it is considered "processed". The tea leaves that are most processed have a unique taste that is loved by many but lack the high levels of antioxidants that the green and white teas contain. Black tea contains the highest levels of caffeine also and have a full bodied taste.
Basically there are 3 main things to consider when choosing your tea. You have flavor, nutritional benefits, and price.
White tea is has a light, delicate, flavor with a touch of sweetness. Green tea can have a range of flavors depending on many factors but most all will have a fresh green grassy taste. You will either love or hate green tea but it is a must try. Oolong tea will produce a woody, earthy taste with slight flowery taste and last of all black tea can be compared to your morning cup of coffee. It gives a bold, deep, earthy flavor.
The nutritional benefits of tea are vast and deep. Several studies have revealed the anti-cancer properties of antioxidant poly-phenols found in tea. From cancer fighting properties to health skin support it has been proven that 2-6 cups of tea per day is healthy addition to any diet. Some teas have higher antioxidant levels than others. To reap the amazing anti-oxidant properties choose either white or green tea. These are the least processed and have the highest levels of poly phenols (antioxidants) per ounce as well as the lowest levels of caffeine.
As far as cost goes, well we would have to give white tea the highest prices. A high quality Darjeeling White Tea can cost upwards of $150/lb.! Green and black tea have the most appealing prices as these are the teas which are produced the most. Supply and demand tend to dictate the cost of tea just as with anything else. Oolong teas are second in price after white tea. So in conclusion the cost from high to low is white, oolong, green, and black tea. Sampling different teas is not only fun and relaxing but healthy for you too! May the tea be with you always!

Shop The Finest Tea Here!Stephen Sharp

Florida Herb House

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Where To Buy The Best Saffron?

Born, raised, 20 Min's South of Boston, MA and now living in Florida the herb and spice expert and CEO of "Florida Herb House" Stephen Sharp shares his knowledge of Saffron and how to select the best Saffron for your culinary creations.

Foods Bitz: Where does Saffron come from?

Stephen Sharp: Saffron comes from the crocus sativus plant. We purchase all our Saffron for sale at Florida Herb House direct from 3 different countries, Iran, Spain, and Greece. We choose our location depending on who is yielding the highest quality Saffron threads. Iran and Spain produce about 80% of the world's Saffron supply.

Food Bitz: Why is Saffron so expensive?

Stephen Sharp: That is a great question! Saffron requires huge amounts of work to produce. The best Saffron you can buy is the Saffron Threads. Each Saffron flower only has 3 threads or "Stigmas". On the top of each thread or stigma is an anther. The anther is the head of the thread and can weigh more than the thread itself. Often lesser quality Saffron has the anthers mixed in with the threads as they add weight. It takes over 13,000 individual threads to make just an ounce of Saffron so you can see why it is so expensive. Anywhere from 400,000 stigmas or upwards of 85,000 flowers are required to yield a pound of saffron! Also the intense labor involved in the picking and processing plays a large part in the high costs. We pride ourselves at Florida Herb House by offering the finest Saffron threads without the "Anthers".

Food Bitz: What are the Saffron stamens?

Stephen Sharp: Another great question! The male part of the flower is the stamen. Stamens are half the size of the stigmas. When dried the stamens are yellowish in color. Their appearance in the spice is a giveaway that the saffron being purchased is not top grade and has added dead weight. The lighter the color, the more stamens there are. True saffron powder has a rich vermilion color. The highest quality Saffron should not have any stamens mixed in with the threads as the yellow stamens offer little if any culinary value.

Foods Bitz: What are the Saffron stigmas?

Stephen Sharp: In a good crop, each plant typically produces several flowers. The stigma or female part of the flower is the actual source of saffron. The stigmas are painstakingly picked by hand. Then they are dried or cured and transformed into pure saffron.

Foods Bitz: What about fake and imitation Saffron?

Stephen Sharp: Yes some companies sell another flower called Safflower or "American Saffron". They advertise this as "Saffron" to unsuspecting customers. The color of your Saffron is the first clue to its quality. The general rule of thumb is high quality Saffron should be a uniform red color and the threads should be brittle.

It should have a distinct aroma also not a musty smell. Florida Herb House sells both Safflower and Saffron and advertise our Safflower as "Safflower" so not to confuse any novice spice buyers. We also sell both the mixed Saffron (Saffron Threads Mixed With The Stamens) and also the pure Saffron threads (Saffron Threads With No Stamens Or Anthers) for a great variety of choices for all types of chefs and cuisines. Every ounce of our Saffron ranks highest on the color and aroma scale!

Foods Bitz: What does Saffron taste like?

Stephen Sharp: Saffron has a very light natural favor. Its earthy aroma when used properly helps many chefs look good or even great in many cases. It does take some practice to learn how much Saffron to use in a particular recipe. The flavor from Saffron can not be boiled away which makes it an easy addition to any recipe calling for it.

Foods Bitz: How do you cook with Saffron?

Stephen Sharp: If you use too much Saffron in a recipe, your food will result with a medicine like taste. Use just the right amount and saffron will add a unique pleasant and lightly spicy flavor to a dish. Most recipes will call for a good pinch of the threads. Just a quarter teaspoon will season rice for four or six people. Cookbook authors often recommend soaking the threads in water or milk before adding to a recipe. This also encourages that gorgeous yellow color to shine through.

Foods Bitz: What foods is Saffron used with the most?

Stephen Sharp: Saffron is commonly used in many Asian dishes as well as various fish and rice recipes. It is the backbone to a French Bouillabaisse. Chefs consider it a must for paella, as well as for arr oz con pol lo, chicken with rice. Risotto Milanese is the Italian offering for saffron rice. It also can be used in tomato, potato, and soup recipes.

Special thanks to Florida Herb House and Stephen Sharp for his time and expertise on this
woderful spice. Try some Saffron in your next culinary creation and watch all you friends and family guests Ohhhhhh!! and Ahhhhhh!! you when you mention that one word....SAFFRON!!

Food Bitz - Lee S.