The Amazing Story of Pu-Erh Tea: Part 3 of 3

September 28, 2017

The fermentation of Pu-Erh tea demands a perfect mix of water, moisture, and air. This provides the conditions for the development of microbes and the necessary fermentation.

The fermentation process produces a substance called theaflavin often called the soft-gold of tea.

Clinical experiments show that theaflavin reduces blood fat and cardiovascular disease among other benefits.

In animal experiments, the mice fed theaflavin had their blood fat reduced by 30% compared to the control group’s 10% blood fat reduction.

Due to the process of producing Pu-Erh, the tea may be stored as long as a century without losing its flavor or health enhancing benefits.

The 110-days of fermentation for Pu-Erh is important to achieve the best flavor and enhanced, health benefits. The time must not be shortened. The temperature and humidity must also be stable and many warehouses are built partially underground to achieve this.

Pu-Erh got its name because it was first sold in a town by the same name.

I buy my Pu-Erh tea from Whole Foods Market or Sprouts Farmers Market, and I drink it early in the morning during my hour of exercise that ends with ten minutes of focused meditation.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Amazing Story of Pu-Erh Tea: Part 2 of 3

September 27, 2017

Pu-Erh tea is mellowed by aging, the period by which it is transported and stored.

The largest, tallest tea trees in the world grow in the mountains of Yunnan. This region also produces black, green, Oolong and other varieties of tea.

The leaves for Pu-Erh tea are divided into three sizes, and the largest contain most of the health benefits.

For centuries, the process of making tea from picking, to washing, to boiling, mixing, pressing, clustering, baking, and packing has been improved to enhance the flavor.

Dao Linyin, the governor of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous region in China says, “Pu-Erh tea contains many vitamins. Very few Pu-Erh drinkers get high blood pressure.”

Standards for selecting the thickest broad leaves for Pu-Erh tea means only about 30% of the tea leaves that are picked pass inspection to be processed into the final product. This selection process is important because the wrong leaves will have a negative impact on the fermentation process.

The fermentation step in the process of producing Pu-Erh tea takes 110-days.

Continued on September 28, 2017 in Part 3 or return to Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Amazing Story of Pu-Erh Tea: Part 1 of 3

September 26, 2017

The Chinese Tea Shop says, “The history of Pu-Erh Tea can be traced back to “Pu Tea” of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE) with the drying of leaves in the sun in Yunnan province. The plants in this region have large, soft leaves spaced far apart on large, tough stems. Today, Pu-Erh Tea with “large wild leaves” is highly prized.”

The mountainous region of southwest China in Yunnan Province produces this special tea.

The custom with Pu-Erh is to pick new tea and drink old tea. This refers to a practice unique for Pu-Erh tea of aging it in storage to obtain the unique flavor. The tea leaves are stored in a pile where the natural enzymatic breakdown process of fermentation begins. This creates heat and cooks the leaves adding a highly-prized complexity, depth, and smoothness to the tea.

In addition, modern science has recognized Pu-Erh for its health benefits beyond black tea. “The Pharmacological Elements: Vitamins B1, B2, C, and E, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, lysine, arginine, histidine, and cystine, linoleic and linolenic acids and  trace amounts of zinc, sodium, nickel, iron, beryllium, sulfur, and fluorides.”

In 225 A.D., when China was divided into the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu, the prime minister of Shu led a military expedition to Yunnan.

Historical records reveal that many of the Shu troops came down with eye diseases. After they drank boiled Pu-Erh tea, it was reported that the troops were cured.

The leaves for this tea were from tea trees in Yunnan. Over time, tea drinking for health benefits became a tradition in other areas of China including Tibet.

There is an old saying in Tibet. “Better three days without food than a day without tea.” Historical records show that Tibetans started drinking tea during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) in 641.

Tibet does not grow tea trees, so the famous Tea Horse Road from Tibet to Yunnan was opened. Over the centuries, Tibet traded thousands of horses with China for tea.

In the early 19th century, Emperor Daoguang named Pu-Erh tea as a “Divine Tribute to the Kingdom of Heaven”.

Continued on September 27, 2017, in Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Chocolate Tofu Pie

March 21, 2017

China was making tofu from soybeans more than two thousand years ago.

Shape.com says, ““Generally, less processed soy products, like tofu, are safe and healthy for most people. On the other hand, heavily processed soy-based products should be consumed in moderation, if at all,” advises Ochner, who says edamame, fermented soy, and tofu are considered among the healthiest in the soy family.

When in China, I get up early to go to the nearest market that makes fresh soy juice and I buy it without sugar or sweetener added. There is no comparison. It’s warm. It’s fresh. It’s China. It’s different from the genetically altered, American, factory-farmed soy juice sold in American markets. That stuff is “yuk” and I don’t touch it.

The Chinese invented tofu, but some Americans are reinventing it. For instance, I was introduced to Chocolate Tofu Pie at Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa, California, and I was hooked,.

Back home, I figured out how to make it by experimenting. The following recipe was the result.

Ingredients:

  • Two 10-ounce containers of soft or silken organic tofu
  • Two four-ounce packages of baker’s, unsweetened chocolate—but use only six of the ounces. This chocolate has no milk or sweeteners added.  Use six ounces of the eight.
  • One bag of malt-sweetened chocolate bits. There are no dairy or refined sugars in this chocolate. Use half of this bag. If you skip this ingredient, add more of the baker’s, unsweetened chocolate.
  • Agave nectar. This low absorbing sweetener is absorbed into the body slowly. You can use any sweeter you want.
  • One package of ready-made whole-wheat pie crust (recommended for fiber). You could also make a pie crust out of dates and nuts (see next video)
  • Use one tablespoon of arrowroot for a thickener

Directions:

  • Mix the tofu in a blender with the arrowroot or another natural thickener.
  • Heat the chocolate in a pan (double boiler hopefully) until melted and pour into blended tofu and mix.
  • Add the Agave nectar.
  • Taste to make sure it is sweet enough and that the bitterness from the baker’s chocolate is gone. Add more Agave if desired. Our daughter enjoys this step the most, since she is the taster.
  • Blend until it is all one smooth color.
  • Pour equally into the pie pans.
  • Put pies in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Let pies cool after cooking; put in refrigerator after they are cool.

The pies will be ready the next day.

Note: I usually shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for the ingredients used in the tofu chocolate pie.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s challenge to preserve its arable land

September 7, 2016

Arable land is where countries grow the food people eat. According to Nation Master, the U.S. has 174.5 million hectares (one hectare is almost 2.5 acres) of arable land, India has almost 160 million hectares, Russia almost 122 million, but China has less than 105 million (almost 40 percent less than the U.S). The trouble with that is that China has more than 1.3 billion people to feed compared to America’s 320 million.

Then there’s the water. Live Science.com reports that after 3 days, you’ll need water or you’ll die, but you can survive for 3 weeks without food.

To make China’s challenge more daunting, it almost has the same amount of total renewable water that the U.S. has at 2,813 billion cubic meters vs. 2,818 for the U.S.

Don’t forget that China has more than four times the people to feed.

That’s why it is vital that China protects as much arable land as possible while conserving water. That challenge is tough because almost one third of China’s land is desert — a process that has accelerated due to development and human activities. The deserts of China have also become a tourist attraction and that doesn’t help.

In addition, another third of China is mountainous with an additional 10% covered with hills. Combine deserts, mountains and hills and that accounts for about 70% of the country’s land surface.

One strategy to slow the spread of the deserts has been to create a grid of plant growth that will hold the sand in place. The Economist reported that since 1978, 66-billion trees have been planted by Chinese citizens with the goal that by 2050, there will be a forest stretching 2,800 miles along the edges of China’s northern deserts that will increase the world’s forest cover by more than a tenth.

However, due to the natural resources needed to fuel China’s growth and a huge population, northern China has become a boomtown and is attracting millions of people because of the opportunities to earn better money. At the same time herders have also been restricted from allowing their animals to graze on the areas that are being reclaimed from the desert.

This has caused a reduction in the size of herds, for instance, sheep and goats.

Yet, even with these challenges, China still produces more food than any other country on the planet. Agriculture is a vital industry in China, employing over 300 million farmers. China ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, tomato, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed and soybeans. Although accounting for only 10 percent of arable land worldwide, it produces food for 20 percent of the world’s population.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Long Love Affair with a Root

July 6, 2016

Ginseng is a dried root that the Chinese believe possesses magical powers because it’s shaped sort of like a little person.

My wife often cooks with ginseng. She slices the ginseng thin and it goes into the wok with what she is cooking—tofu, cabbage, edamame, Bok Choy, etc.

The Chinese also use Ginseng as a powerful herbal medicine.

At one time, modern scientists rejected these claims, but recent research shows it does help the body resist illness and heal damage caused by stress by stimulating the immune system.

I’ve never taken the herb for its healing properties, but I like what it does for the taste of food.

Ancient Ginseng History reports that ginseng was used as an herbal medicine over 3,000 years ago and in cooking as far back as 5,000 years. Chinese emperors valued ginseng enough to pay for the herb with its weight in gold.  In America, ginseng was also used by several North American Indian nations.

In fact, some Chinese are willing to pay a very high price for older ginseng roots. Business Insider.com reports that one ginseng root from a plant that lived for 65 years in the wild was going for more than a half million U.S. Dollars, because some buyers think roots that lived in nature for a long time are much more potent than farmed ginseng that costs a lot less.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man who unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 2 of 2

December 23, 2015

If you read Part One of this two part series, you are probably thinking it isn’t safe to eat in China so you will stick to American food.

However, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Struggles with food safety are not a specifically Chinese problem. Many countries, including the U.S. and Japan, have gone through similar growing pains in the food industry, says Wu Ming, a professor at Beijing University’s school of public health.”

Professor Ming is correct. Down to Earth.org reports, “Every day in the US about 200,000 people become sick, 900 are hospitalized and 14 die (that’s more than 5,000 annually) due to food borne illnesses (and few if any people are punished for these deaths). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about one quarter of the American population suffers from food poisoning each year.”

It’s just business as usual and those food deaths are collateral damage on the way to making profits.

New U.S. Laws for food safety cover all food except meat, poultry and some egg products and there are other exceptions too. In fact, the CDC.gov reports, “Every year, about 48 million of us, roughly one in six people in the United States, get sick from eating contaminated food—it could be you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, or other loved ones.”

And if you believe China is not doing anything about food safety, think again. I Googled “arrests in China for food safety”.

The first hit for 2014 from Food Safety News reported, “Chinese Police Arrest More Than 100 People for Selling Contaminated Pork.”

In 2013, The Guardian reported, “China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal.”

In addition, the U.S. is no saint. Sustainable Business Forum.com says, “Unlike the U.S., China arrests Food Safety Violators.”

Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News.com recently reported, “Current statutes (in the U.S.) do not provide sufficient criminal sanctions for those who knowingly violate our food safety laws,” said Leahy, who has become an outspoken advocate of food safety reform. “Knowingly distributing adulterated food is merely a misdemeanor right now, and the Sentencing Commission has found that it generally does not result in jail time.”

In conclusion, if you are in the food industry in China and want to take short cuts regarding food safety to boost profits while possibly killing people along the way, the United States is a safer place to commit murder while making a profit, because in China, you might go to prison and even be executed.

Return to or Start with Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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