Is drinking Hibiscus tea good for your health?

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You’ve probably read online some  vague comments like “studies prove a positive link between hibiscus consumption and reducing cholesterol”. The jury is still out on the claims that drinking hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and even kill intestinal worms. There is some evidence to suggest the hibiscus is a mild laxative and in some parts of Africa, people drink hibiscus tea to lower their body temperature (living in Asia, we’re familiar with the idea that eating some fruits such as lychees can make us feel hotter).

What can be said with confidence is that hibiscus is caffeine-free and virtually calorie-free. It tastes especially delicious with strawberries, which are in season in Hanoi right now.

Summer Lemon & Lime Iced tea

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  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp black loose leaf tea
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 large lime + more for garnish
  • 1 can club soda (unflavoured sparkling water)
  • Ice cubes


  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Turn off heat, add tea leaves, stir and let steep while cooling down completely or until lukewarm.
  2. Transfer tea to a large pitcher by laddling it through a mesh strainer, discard the tea leaves. Add maple syrup, squeeze lemon and lime juice, add the peels  to the pitcher, stir with a long wooden spoon and let tea sit for 10 minutes. Discard the citrus skins otherwise iced tea will be bitter tasting.
  3. Now you can store your iced tea covered with plastic wrap or lid in a fridge for quite a few days. Right before serving add ice and a can of club soda to a pitcher, stir and enjoy the best sparkling healthy iced tea (garnish with thin lime slices if desired). Tea tastes amazing without club soda too, adjust sweetness to taste.

Strawberry Iced Tea

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1 kg fresh strawberries

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

2 lemons

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Ice cubes

1 litre club soda

In a large saucepan combine fresh or frozen strawberries, brown sugar, and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove strips of peel from lemons; juice the lemons (should have 1/2 cup). Add strips of lemon peel, lemon juice, and rosemary to mixture in saucepan. Bring mixture just to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cover; cool to room temperature.

Press mixture through a fine mesh sieve; discard solids. To serve, fill glass with ice. To each glass add 1/2 cup Iced Tea and syrup to taste (about 1/2 cup). Garnish with fresh strawberries. Makes about eight servings.

Stirred, not shaken

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Is it kosher to stir your pot of tea during the brewing process to release the flavour? The answer is definitely yes. Ignore tea snobs who sneer at you for poking a chopstick into the teapot and giving the tea-leaves a good couple of twirls. Gentle agitation of the tea-leaves definitely helps to loosen the flavours and aromas and will definitely lead to a stronger, tastier tea. If you’re using an infuser basket, lift it up and down a few times to achieve a better brew.


5 Hacks to help you make the best iced tea on the planet

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  1. Use enough tea bags: You’ll need 2 tea bags for every 3 cups of iced tea. Any less and your tea will be tasteless. We recommend using strong tea as well – Darjeeling or Jasmine

     2. Don’t oversteep: If you prefer your tea stronger, use more tea bags rather than lengthening the steeping time. If you leave the tea bags to brew for too long, your iced tea will acquire a bitter taste.

    3. Add sugar to hot water: Dissolve sugar in boiling hot water first, then add it to your iced tea mix.

    4. Cool before refrigerating: Putting hot tea into a cold fridge will make your tea cloudy. Allow your tea to cool before you refrigerate.  

   5. Keep it real: Don’t use artificial lemon juice. Only use real fresh squeezed lemon juice from fresh lemons for the very best flavour.     

The story behind…. Matcha

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What makes matcha tea different from other Japanese green teas is that it is grown entirely in the shade, which gives the leaves a higher chlorophyll content than normal teas. After harvesting, the leaves are dried and then ground into a fine powder. Matcha powder is mixed with boiling water with a whisk to achieve a light, fluffy tea with a cloudy appearance and a sweet taste. The health benefits of matcha are amplified because when you drink this tea, you’re ingesting the whole tea leaf. It is rich in anti-oxidants and fibre, and contains a relaxant called L-theanine, making it a favorite with Buddhist monks, many of whom drink matcha to enhance meditation.

Chai Iced Tea

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Here’s our favorite recipe for Chai Iced Tea:

2 cloves

4 tea bags(such as Darjeeling or orange pekoe)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 ginger root

2 cardamom pods, broken

1/4 teaspoon aniseed

In large heatproof measure or bowl, steep tea bags in 8 cups (2 L) boiling water for 4 minutes. Discard tea bags.

Meanwhile, in saucepan, bring sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, aniseed and 1 cup (250 mL) water to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until clear and spices infuse, about 5 minutes. Add to tea; let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

Strain through cheesecloth-lined sieve into pitcher. Serve with ice cubes.

Makes 8 cups

Inside story: What is Darjeeling tea?

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Darjeeling tea, AKA the “Champagne of Teas” refers to tea grown in a tiny patch of land in West Bengal, in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are just 87 Darjeeling tea gardens in existence and they all produce a special black tea with a muscatel flavour. In recent years, some of these estates have started to produce Darjeeling oolong and green teas as well. It is thought that over 70% of teas that are marketed as “Darjeeling” are not in fact sourced from this district, so choose your brand carefully. Another issue to consider when you buy Darjeeling tea is the treatment of the tea pickers in the region. Most of the labourers on the Darjeeling tea estates are from the Nepali-speaking Gorkha ethnic minority. For decades, the industry has been plagued by claims that workers are paid a pittance, while the tea is sold for a king’s ransom.

The art of storing tea

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Moisture is tea’s biggest enemy, and in a humid climate like Hanoi’s, tea lovers must carefully strategise in order to preserve our tea if we want it to last more than a couple of months. Glass, lacquer, metal, ceramic or plastic jars can all be used to successfully store tea, provided they have tightly-sealed lids. Exposure to light also takes a toll on tea, so you may be safer using a storage container that blocks out all light, such as pottery or lacquer, and avoid keeping tea near windows- it’s much safer kept in a cupboard.

Once the temperature in your kitchen rises above about 27 degrees Celsius, tea will start to deteriorate, so you should definitely store tea away from sources of heat such as ovens and stoves. Finally, as tea is a such a porous commodity, it easily takes on the aroma of strong-smelling substances stored nearby. Keep tea away from spices and if you have any strong-smelling teas in your cupboard, store them separately from mild-smelling teas like green tea.