Ready for International Tea Day with Kenyan Tea

 

Shereen Shabnam Tea

Courtesy: Kibenda Tea Estate in Nairobi

I love tea parties….it is the perfect laid back way one can catch up with friends and family and I love the fact that I have a tea house right across my home near Citywalk. But how much do we know about the tea we drink. When it comes to tea, one usually associates the hot beverage with India, Sri Lanka or China. But did you know that, according to the leading online statistics portal Statistica, Kenya exports more tea than any of these countries above? In light of International Tea Day on 15th December, here are some fun facts you probably did not know about Kenyan tea.

1. Tea was first brought to Limuru, Kenya by by G.W.L Caine in 1903 from India. A short drive from Nairobi, you can visit the Kiambethu plantation in Limuru and take a tour of this historical site.

2. Many know that tea is ‘chai’ in Hindi and Urdu; but did you know that it is also called ‘chai’ in Swahili? That means that when you say ‘chai tea’, you are actually saying ‘tea tea’.

3. Over 60 per cent of Kenyan tea is produced by smallholder farmers. That means when you’re drinking tea from Kenya, you are most likely supporting the local tea farming industry!

4. Kenya’s top export is tea, with $915 million worth of tea exported around the world in 2013. Kenya mostly exports tea to Egypt, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the UK and the UAE. In recent years, Angola, Vietnam, Philippines, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Czech Republic, Myanmar and South Sudan are slowly joining the Kenyan tea bandwagon.

5. Kenya mostly produces black tea but in recent years, the market has begun to diversify with green teas, white teas and even white matchas.

Festive Hampers from Mastihashop

Gift boxes at Mastihashop
Gift boxes at Mastihashop

Mastihashop presents a wide range of gift boxes and hampers for Ramadan, Eid, for corporate giveaways and for all the popular festive occasions like birthdays, house warming and picnics. Gift hampers can be customized and presented with the company’s branding.

The exotic Mastihashop collection reflects the modernization of traditional food remedies and include Mastihq infused chocolates, sweets, savoury products, cosmetics and skincare, pharmaceuticals, gifts as well as exotic coffee, ice cream, desserts and milkshakes.

Corporate gifts

Mastihashop, offers clients the perfect bite, the perfect gift and a cosy hangout for coffee, is located in the Aswaaq Building in Jumeirah 1, Al Wasl Road.

Mansoor Al Bastaki of Mastihashop
Mansoor Al Bastaki of Mastihashop

Under the creative direction of the parent brand, Mastihashop in the UAE has evolved with Mansoor Al Bastaki, Founder and Director of Mastihashop in UAE at the helm. According to him, patrons and discerning UAE residents like to experience exotic food and products they normally find during their travels at their doorstep.

Mastiha/Mastic is a natural and rare tree resin, which has proven to have health benefits with its anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Any raw Mastiha found around the world originates in only one place in Greece, in Chios Islands and Mastiha Shop is the sole supplier of the Mastiha raw resins.

 

Exquisite Greek products at Mastihashop Dubai

coktail loukoum 340gr

Mastihashop is a new Dubai department store experience with a cosy Boutique Café feel combined to offer an immersive social experience. Located in Aswaaq Mall on Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah 1, the Mastihashop collection reflects the modernization of traditional food remedies that include Mastiha/Mastic infused chocolates, sweets, savoury products, cosmetics and skincare, pharmaceuticals, gifts as well as exotic coffee, ice cream, desserts and milkshakes.

Mastihashop venue

Inspired and intriguedby the powerful healing qualities of Mastiha or Mastic and warm memories of his grandmother using Mastic for ailments, local entrepreneur, Mansoor Al Bastaki has embarked on a journey that has brought Mastihashop and its popular products into the UAE.

Mastihashop CoffeeMastiha/Mastic is a natural and rare tree resin, which has proven to have health benefits with its anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Any raw Mastiha found around the world originates in only one place in Greece, in Chios Islands and Mastiha Shop is the sole supplier of the Mastiha raw resins.

Mansoor Al Bastaki

Under the creative direction of the parent brand, Mastihashop in the UAE has evolved with Mansoor Al Bastaki, Founder and Director of Mastihashop at the helm. The exotic Mastihashop collection reflects the modernization of traditional food remedies and include Mastic infused chocolates, sweets, savoury products, cosmetics and skincare, pharmaceuticals, gifts as well as exotic coffee, ice cream, desserts and milkshakes.

Mastihashop, offers clients the perfect bite, the perfect gift and a cosy hangout for coffee, is located in the Aswaaq Building in Jumeirah 1, Al Wasl Road.The outlet also offers beautiful gift hampers for all occasions and for corporate gifts that can be branded with the individual company logo.

Corporate Gifts Mastihashop

Moon Jars

NJD Moon Jar

Because one of the best routes to get to Fiji these days is via Korea, Tash and I have had the opportunity to see moon jars of Korea a number of times…the first time was when we had a couple of nights in Seoul where we experience the first snow Seoul had in years and our first sighting of a moon jar. More recently, we saw a really good moon jar exhibition in London at the Korean Cultural Centre. (Actually it will be there until the 17th of August 2013).

The moon jar is a vessel shaped albeit like the moon where the height of the body is almost equal to its diameter.

We learnt at the exhibition that the technique used to make the jar is by joining two separate parts that make the diameter of the base smaller than that of the mouth, so the shape appears unstable.

The beauty is that these slight imperfections, in harmony with the cream body actually highlight the sheer size of the voluptuous curves, lending to a greater dignity in the piece….that almost sounds like a description of me – voluptuous with some imperfections but overall in harmony with myself.

Anyway….moon jars were created by royal kilns primarily between the late 17th and 18th century and used for utilitarian purposes – for storing food, displaying flowers etc.

NJD2000

The exhibition was a nice detour as we introduced Tash to various parts of London. It is important I feel that mixed kids need to know both sides of their parents’ heritage and feel connected to our childhood, our upbringing and get exposure to the life we lived.

Tash is very lucky to have travelled the world – Over 20 countries before the age of 12 and having a connection to Fiji, UK, Spain, Malaysia and UAE will help her understand the strong influences of these countries she sees at home.

PS: *The artists in London whose work I saw included Adam Buick, Jack Doherty, Akiko Hirai, Gareth Mason and Yee Sookyung. There is also a beautiful video still of the artists at work called Aspheric Light by James Kelly.

Tash London1

Hey Sugar!

Shereen Shabnam art cakes

I love sugary sweet things…even my name ‘Shereen’ means sweet or is referred to as a synonym for sweets in so many cultures. Hence I always look out for anything that is sinfully delightful and news from Hey Sugar always puts a smile on my face.

With throngs of art lovers descending into Dubai this March, Hey Sugar Bakeshop gets into the spirit with a cool selection of art-inspired, Limited Edition cupcakes.

Munch on the masters as sets of 6 assorted cupcakes will be available exclusively at Hey Sugar’s Jumeirah Location for just 3 days, from the 21st till the 23rd of March….does that give me an excuse to get sugar injected and commit some calorie laden sin? Afterall it is in the name of art!

Afternoon Tea with Jimmy Choo in Hong Kong

MO Bar Jimmy Choo Shereen Shabnam

First let me clarify that I still have mixed feelings about Jimmy Choo….my sexy red heels remain uncomfortable the last I felt it but I still love the white bag, which for Choo, is NOT BAD since I normally use Luis Vuitton as a benchmark. However, I am delighted with the look of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental and the MO Bar at the hotel, which also looks beautiful in photos, has organised its latest fashion tea in collaboration with Jimmy Choo.

Jimmy Choo shoes and handbags are often worn by style icons around the world, from celebrities to royalty, and from musicians to heads of state.  Until 5 May, MO Bar’s Jimmy Choo afternoon tea will take inspiration from Jimmy Choo’s Spring/Summer 2013 collections, which will highlight the haute gypsy glamour of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and feature rich and vibrant colors and embossed leather, fringes and tassels, to reveal the fun-loving side of women.

Sidney Schutte, Executive Chef at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental says, “When creating this afternoon tea, we wanted to showcase Jimmy Choo’s Spring/Summer shoe wardrobe that is filled with bold and feminine shades. We have crafted edible miniature high heels and also took inspiration from the colours of the handbags and clutches, and have created some of the most fashionable-looking and delectable savoury and sweet items to convey their style.

Tea items include smoked salmon cucumber sandwiches made to resemble the design of the CAYLA clutch decorated with brightly coloured cream cheese pyramid studs; and the white chocolate bag based on one of Jimmy Choo’s signature leopard print designs.  “We are excited by this collaboration, which allows our guests to touch and feel the ‘Choo’s in a completely new way!” added Schutte.

MO Bar’s Jimmy Choo tea set will feature mouth-watering savoury bites such as Foie Gras High Heels on Crispy Brioche Bread, Ham Mousse Sandwiches with Savora Mustard, and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches with Cucumber and Cream Cheese.  Sweet temptations include Milk Chocolate High Heels filled with Lemon and Chocolate Biscuits, White Chocolate Bag filled with Lychee, Rose and Raspberry Mousse, Chupa Chup Macaroon filled with Passion Fruit and Mango Cream, and Green Tea, Strawberry, and Yuzu Mousse Shooter, as well as MO Bar’s signature light-as-a-feather Ginger and Raisin Scones.

Intimate, contemporary and ideally placed in the vortex of Hong Kong’s financial and luxury shopping districts, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong sets the standard for personal service and stylish sophistication.

Multiple health benefits of rooibos tea

Checking out rooibos flavours with Hala

Caffeine-free tea from South Africa is linked with treatment for diabetes, cancer and heart disease

I love alternative healing and detoxing therapies and thanks to some forward thinking individuals and gorgeous nutritionists in the UAE like Hala Barghout, I often get enlightened on what I should be eating and drinking to keep myself fairly healthy. Especially as I have a huge appetite for the good stuff in life, super foods somehow help me keep a balance so that my voluptuous figure doesn’t go totally toxic.

I first got introduced to rooibos tea when Eric came home few years ago raving about it and coaxed me into bringing some of the more organic stuff back from one of my previous trips to Cape Town.  Since then, friends have brought this herbal tea for me plus one can also get them easily here now in nutrition shops in UAE.

As Hala mentions, rooibos offers a range of health benefits and has been shown to slow down cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and help with a range of other conditions, including diabetes. Rooibos is a national drink in South Africa but it’s not just about taste –rooibos contains a complex and unique blend of antioxidants that play a major role in boosting the body’s natural defences.

I met Hala at Pullman Hotel after a long time – my last contact with her was when she enlightened me about the benefits of kiwi fruit. This time, it was all about rooibos which she delightfully tells me also contains no calories and no caffeine, and researchers have found that it can help to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, prevent liver disease as well as cut the risk of heart disease and stroke.

New evidence has just emerged of the anti-diabetes potential of rooibos, following a joint study conducted by the Diabetes Discovery Platform from South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and the South African Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) Infruitec-Nietvoorbij Institute.

Researchers found that an aspalathin-enriched extract of green rooibos is able to lower raised glucose levels in the blood of diabetic rats. Aspalathin is a unique antioxidant found in nature only in the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis). When combined with rutin, another key compound in rooibos tea, the glucose-lowering action was further enhanced.

Working with diabetic rats, the researchers were able to show that the Rooibos extract could achieve a glucose-lowering effect comparable to existing diabetic drugs.

Hala said that research has also shown rooibos to be effective in easing stomach cramps and other digestive disorders, relieving allergies and soothing itching skin. Substituting regular tea or coffee with rooibos, drinking camel’s milk instead of cow’s milk, adding kiwifruit to the fruit bowl – these are all easy steps to a healthier lifestyle. In fact, to get the maximum health benefits from rooibos tea, researchers in South Africa recommend the consumption of up to six cups per day, spread throughout the day, including a cup at bedtime.

I was not able to meet with Fanus Schoeman, South Africa’s Consul-General in Dubai but he had mentioned earlier that there is a large potential market in UAE for rooibos tea. He hopes the health benefits will help rooibos win many new fans in the UAE.

The rooibos plant is indigenous and unique to the Cederberg and surrounding areas of the Western and Northern Cape in South Africa, where rooibos tea is produced. The plant and the tea brewed from it were first documented in 1772, and today the tea can be found in 72% of South African homes. About half the annual production of 12,000 tonnes is exported, and it is already widely available in UAE supermarkets.

The manner in which the rooibos leaves and stems are harvested and dried determines whether the tea will be the traditional amber or red colour or the lighter and milder green variety. Both versions are entirely natural products and contain no colourants, additives or preservatives.

The Rooibos Council in South Africa is currently funding AED 1 million worth of independent research to advance the understanding of the health-promoting properties of rooibos – and in particular its ability to slow down and prevent various forms of cancer as well as its potential to protect heart health in individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease. Other topics being researched include the possibility that rooibos could be beneficial in slowing down the effects of ageing, its anti-obesity properties, its role in post-exercise recovery and its potential in combatting stress.

Looks like I am switching from my dear Maxim’s premium organic tea to rooibos to get my detox accelerated and my chakras aligned. Could this be diva’s next ultimate health drink alternative?

Rooibos tea in glass