Dining with Miss Lil Nickelson:”It’s Tea Time” In Harlem

November 6, 2011

Any day is a perfect day to sip on a mug of hot tea; paper cups just won’t do. It’s one of those fall days that give us a preview of our winter days to come. Tea is a versatile beverage; it invigorates and stimulates your mind or can calm and sooth you that can be consumed hot or cold.


Can be naturally caffeine free health benefits abound for tea lovers like me:

  • Helps to regulate blood sugar
  • Contains antioxidants to boost up the immune system and aids in detoxifying the body
  • May help control allergies and fight colds
  • May inhibit the growth of certain forms of cancer
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Promotes healthy teeth, skin and bones
  • Helps improve digestion
  • Is a delicious source of vitamins, particularly Vitamin C

As I sit here writing this article I am sipping on a mug of cinnamon vanilla lemon black tea with rooibos. It is a loose black tea with 10% of the caffeine contained in a cup of coffee. It contains black Chinese tea, rooibos, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, safflowers and sunflower petals. It has a sweet and zesty flavor that invigorates and stimulates your mind. I steep two teaspoons of loose teas in 16 ounces of water heated to 195 to 205 degrees for up to three minutes. Black teas help to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and blood pressure while they promote healthy teeth, skin and bones. Black teas contain 10 – 20% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

I would encourage people looking to reduce the amount of sugar laden sodas their family members (particularly children) drink to look to loose non-caffeine teas like rooibos and chamomile, which are great iced or hot.

Rooibos is grown in South Africa. It contains no caffeine with its natural sweetness it is great plain and flavored. It is aromatic and is high in antioxidants, rich in minerals and vitamins. It is good for your skin and complexion and helps improve digestion. It also may help control allergies and fight colds. You should steep one and a half teaspoons of tea in 8 ounces of water heated to 208 degrees for five to six minutes.

Chamomile tea is an herbal blend made from whole chamomile flowers. It contains no caffeine with a floral flavor that can have subtle taste of lavender, lilac, sweet fruits or honey. It is great before bedtime because it is calming. It is great after a meal because it helps improve digestion. You should steep one and a half teaspoons of tea in 8 ounces of water heated to 208 degrees for five minutes.

Everyone that wants to live longer and better should add green teas to their beverage list in the 21st century. When paired with harmonizing ingredients it creates a diversity of flavors for those that consume it. The antioxidants in green tea boost up the immune system, and lowers cholesterol. Green tea helps regulate blood sugar. Due to the polyphenols present in green tea it may help prevent the growth of certain cancers. Green teas contain 5 – 10% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

White teas are among the most, mild variety of teas in the world because they contain only 1% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee. The tea buds are picked when they are the youngest, yet unopened buds and wilted shortly in moderate daylight. White teas are extremely high in antioxidants which aid in detoxifying the body, and may inhibit the growth of certain forms of cancer. They are good for the skin and help to improve the complexion.

When I was a child I thought that all teas came in a bag and were bitter like Lipton tea. When I discovered loose and blended teas as an adult I began drinking black tea, green tea, white tea, rooibos, fruit blends and herbal blends. As a diabetic I have substituted drinking loose teas I make hot and then drink cold for the sugar laden cold beverages I used to consume. I use less honey or sugar (depending on my mood) because of the natural sweetness in the tea itself. Through the years I have purchased the accessories needed to enhance my drinking experience like tea filter bags or 2 inch mesh strainer tea ball (for individual cups), and a 20 ounce steel & glass tea-pot with a removable strainer/infuser and metal tins (in 4 or 8 ounce). I give teas as gifts to friends fighting major health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. So now you know why that after water, loose teas have become my beverage of choice.

Where can you purchase these loose teas at? In Harlem you can purchase loose teas at the Fairway Supermarket on 133rd Street and 12th Avenue. One of my newest tea purveyors I discovered Christmas time last year at the outdoor market around Central Park is Spices and Tease. In October 2011 they opened up a brick and mortar store at 2580 Broadway in between 97th – 98th Streets on the Upper West Side in Manhattan; online ordering will be coming soon but check out their offerings on their web site http://spicesandtease.com.

Harney & Sons has been selling teas for over 25 years; they supplied teas for my former franchise soup business. Last year they opened a store in the Soho section of Manhattan at 433 Broome Street. Their web site is www.harney.com. They educate as well as sell tea and accessories. My fourth choice I discovered while dining at Le Bernadin (a fine dining seafood restaurant in Rockefeller Center) named Serendipitea. Their web site is www.serendipitea.com, and they will also educate you.

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