A Long & Distinguished History

Ganoderma lucidum is a key ingredient in the Organo’s line of products that compliments the healthy lifestyle that is at the core of Rae’s way of life. At Organo, they use only the finest Ganoderma lucidum, creating a flavorless, invisible powder that adds amazing properties to everything from coffee and tea to personal care products.

Here are some facts about the incredible history of this truly incredible mushroom:

  • Ganoderma lucidum goes by many names. It is also known as the “Lingzhi” mushroom and the “Reishi” mushroom. The Chinese name, Lingzhi, means “spiritual potency”, while the Japanese name, Reishi, translates as “King of herbs.”The Vietnamese name for the Ganoderma mushroom, “linh chi,”literally means “supernatural mushroom.”
  • The botanical name, Ganoderma, derives from the Greek words ganos, which means, “shining”, and derma, which means, “skin”. This refers to the shiny exterior of the mushroom’s cap. The word Lucidum is also Latin for “shining.”
  • Ganoderma lucidum has a long and prestigious history — and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest mushrooms known to have been used medicinally.
  • Shi-Jean Lee —the most renowned doctor of the Ming Dynasty —strongly endorsed the effectiveness of Ganoderma in his renowned book Great Pharmacopoeia(Ban Chao Gang Moo). In it, he wrote, “long-term taking of Ganoderma will build a strong, healthy body and assure a long life.”
  • The proliferation of Ganoderma lucidum images in art began in 1400 AD, and they are often associated with Taoism. However, the mentions of the mushroom soon extended beyond religion.
  • The Ganoderma or “Lingzhi” mushroom was often mentioned in ancient Chinese texts such as medicinal and herbology books, and was featured in much artwork, including wood block prints in early mycology (the study of fungi) history books.
  • The first book wholly devoted to the description of herbs and their medicinal value was Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, written in the Eastern Han dynasty of China (25-220 AD). This book is also known as Classic of the Materia Medicaor Shen-nong’s Herbal Classics. It describes botanical, zoological, and mineral substances, and was composed in the second century under the pseudonym of Shen-nong (“the holy farmer”). The book, which has been continually updated and extended, describes the beneficial effects of several mushrooms with a reference to the medicinal mushroom Gandoerma lucidum. [1]
  • Ganoderma lucidum is a potent source of antioxidants. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicinesays it contains one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in any food.

 

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Source: www.rachelorsie.organogold.com/blog/ogtreasures

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/

 

China: The Birthplace of Reishi

Organo Gold has strong ties to China, not least because it is home to the miraculous Ganoderma mushroom that lies at the heart of all of our products. We thought we’d revisit the remarkable history of the remarkable mushroom that is Ganoderma lucidum.

The History of Ganoderma

  • For as many as 4,000 years, Ganoderma Lucidum has been recognized by practitioners of traditional Asian medicine as the highest ranked of all herbs found in the Chinese pharmacopoeia.
  • The Chinese name for Ganoderma, Lingzhi, means “spiritual potency,” while the Japanese name, Reishi, can be translated as as the “King of Herbs.”
  • Shi-Jean Lee — the most renowned doctor of the Ming Dynasty — strongly endorsed the effectiveness of Ganoderma in his famous book Great Pharmacopoeia[Ban Chao Gang Moo]. In it, he wrote that “long-term taking of Ganoderma will build a strong, healthy body and assure a long life.”
  • Ganoderma mushrooms are unique in that they grow on wood, mostly out of large trees. At Organo Gold, they source only the finest quality organic Ganoderma, grown undisturbed on maple logs high in the Wuyi Mountains of China’s Fuxhou region.
  • Our natural log harvested Ganoderma is superior to plastic bag harvested Ganoderma. Some companies attempt to cut corners and use plastic bags to harvest their Ganoderma, but this means the precious spores cannot effectively propagate, which makes the end product much less potent.
  • Once our mushrooms are harvested from the maple logs, they are then processed at one of the largest Ganoderma facilities in the world. Here, using the latest technologies and only natural processes, our agricultural and food scientists gently dry, sterilize and process the mushrooms, transforming the tough, woody caps into a fine powder.
  • That fine, flavorless powder is then added to the entire range of Organo Gold products, from coffee and tea to supplements and even our soap, body lotion and toothpaste.

It’s our privilege and pleasure at Rae’s Cafe to bring this ancient treasure to the Western world, and it’s such an honor to visit the land where the wonders of Ganoderma were first discovered.

ReishiBirthplace

All the Coffee in China

China was the birthplace of tea almost 5,000 years ago, when it is said that tea leaves fell into a pot of water the emperor Shen Nong was boiling. While more legend than historical fact, this tale nonetheless illustrates the central role that tea has played in Chinese culture for literally thousands of years.

But while coffee may have taken a while to make inroads in China, it is rapidly becoming more popular. So popular in fact, it has even provoked alarmist headlines, wondering if coffee will overtake the ancient Chinese affiliation with tea. “Is Coffee a Threat to Chinese Culture?” asked a headline in the Bejiing Review, April, 2013? “As the number of cafés continues to grow in China, could the teahouse become a thing of the past?” queried writer Elvis Anber. That’s unlikely, but the massive recent growth of the coffee industry — and the increasing widespread acceptance of coffee houses amongst the influential younger and more affluent demographic — does reveal a pro-coffee shift in mainland China.

Here are some facts and figures about the history and amazing growth of the coffee market in China:

  • Coffee’s history in China goes back to the 19th century. Coffee is thought to have made its first appearance in China when a French missionary planted beans throughout the Yunnan Province in the 1890s. And many Western missionaries and businessmen brought coffee with them to treaty ports such as Shanghai.
  • During the 1920s and ’30s, as Shanghai basked in its reputation as the cosmopolitan “Paris of the East,” cafes became one of the many examples of the city’s international flavor, but were shut down after Mao and the Communists took control of the country in 1949.
  • The reemergence of coffee shops in Shanghai since the 1980s has been part of the reemergence of China itself on the global stage. As historian and writer Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote in his essay ‘All the Coffee in China’, the recent proliferation of cafes and coffee culture in mainland China’s big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing represents “both a novelty and a resumption of an old cosmopolitan trajectory that was interrupted for a time.”
  • Coffee is seen as a symbol of the Western lifestyle and China’s emerging middle class, and is associated with fashion, modernity and prosperity. Not surprisingly, coffee consumption in China is highly concentrated in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — appealing to adventurous, open-minded, young, affluent, urban consumers. These consumers are more exposed to Western influences and tend to look up to Western lifestyles.
  • “Café chains only really began to appear in China in the late 1990s, and have since grown very rapidly in number,” said Matthew Crabbe, Director of Asia-Pacific Research at Mintel, the UK-based market research company, in a recent press release. Part of the appeal, particularly for the aforementioned young, affluent crowd, are the lifestyle factors associated with coffee and café culture —namely those of exclusivity and luxury.
  • According to Mintel research, the number of cafés in China rose to 31,783 in 2012, double the 15,898 of 2007. That’s about 1,025 cafés for each of the Chinese mainland’s 31 provinces and municipalities.
  • China’s coffee market has reportedly grown by an estimated 10-15 percent annually over the past decade, in comparison to the worldwide average of just 2 percent.
  • In 2006, coffee consumption in China was roughly 45,000 tons. Some industry analysts predict this number could reach 300,000 tons annually by 2020.

AlltheCoffeeinChina

Japanese Tea History Part 2

Tuesday, we looked at how tea arrived in Japan, by way of Buddhist scholars who brought it back from China in the early 800s. Since then, tea has grown to become an important part of Japanese culture. Here’s a look at how tea became such an integral and popular item in Japan.

Tea History in Japan: Part 2

  • In 1740, Soen Nagatani developed Japanese sencha, an unfermented form of green tea. To prepare sencha, the tea leaves are first steam-pressed, then rolled and dried into a loose tea. The dried leaves are brewed with hot water to yield the final drink. Sencha is now one of Japan’s mainstay teas.
  • The other more traditional type of green tea in Japan is matcha, the finely powdered green tea that is the focus of the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha is prepared using shade-grown tea leaves that are rolled, laid flat to dry and then stone ground to form a bright green, fine powder.
  • At the end of the Meiji Era (1868–1912), machine manufacturing of green tea was introduced in Japan, and began replacing handmade tea. Machines took over the processes of primary drying, tea rolling, secondary drying, final rolling, and steaming of the tea leaves.
  • The first time tea was exported from Japan was in 1610, by the Dutch East India Company from Hirado, Nagasaki.
  • In 1859, when the ports of Nagasaki, Yokohama and Hakodate were opened to foreign trade, tea became one of Japan’s main export commodities, with an estimated 181 tons of tea exported in that year alone.
  • The three largest producing regions for Japanese tea are Shizuoka, Kagoshima and Mie. Shizuoka, which is located in the area between Mt. Fuji and the Pacific coast west of Tokyo, accounts for around 40% of Japan’s annual commercial tea production.
  • While Japanese culture is now renowned for the elaborate tea ceremony that developed over thousands of years, in today’s fast-paced modern culture, convenience is key. So ready-to-drink green tea products, particularly bottled or iced in vending machines, now account for an estimated 20% of all green tea consumption in Japan.
  • Green tea is so ubiquitous in Japan that whenever tea or “ocha” is offered, 99.9% of the time, it is green tea, which of course comes from the same plant as black tea, but does not experience fermentation or oxidization, and instead is steamed soon after being picked to stop the oxidization process.

Of course, we at Rae’s Café have always admired green tea, which is why Organo’s Organic Green Tea is one of our most popular products.

Part 2-Japanese Tea History

Japanese Tea History Part 1

Obviously, Japan has a long and storied history when it comes to tea. So, we thought we’d take a look at how tea arrived in Japan, and how it became an integral part of Japanese culture over the years.

Tea History in Japan: Part 1

  • Tea is thought to have been first brought back to Japan from China by Buddhist scholars, who were sent as envoys to learn more about Chinese culture.
  • Ancient texts indicate that the first batch of tea seeds were brought back to Japan by a Buddhist priest named Saicho in 805, and then by another named Kukai in 806.
  • After that, during the latter part of the Heian period (794-1185), Emperor Saga was said to have encouraged the cultivation of tea plants in Japan.
  • At this time, tea was extremely valuable, so it became a drink of the royal classes, and was enjoyed primarily by imperial court nobles and Buddhist monks.
  • In 1191, in the early Kamakura Period (1185-1333), Eisai, founder of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, brought back a new type of tea seeds to Kyoto from Sung-dynasty China.
  • It was Eisai who wrote the first specialty book about tea in Japan, called Kissa Yōjōki or How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea. The two-volume book was written in 1211 after Eisai’s second and last visit to China. The first sentence states, “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.”
  • Eisai was also said to have been instrumental in introducing tea consumption to the warrior or Samurai class.
  • Slowly, green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan — a brew for the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood, alike. Production increased and tea became increasingly accessible, though was still a privilege enjoyed mostly by the upper classes.
  • The pastimes made popular in China in the 12th and 13th centuries – reading poetry, writing calligraphy, painting, and discussing philosophy while enjoying tea – eventually became popular in Japan, particularly within the Samurai society, and helped spur the development of the tea ceremony.
  • From the late 15th to the late 16th century, tea masters such as Murata Shuko, Takeno Joo and Sen no Rikyu developed a new tea ceremony, referred to as Wabicha. This style of tea ceremony gained a strong following among Samurai, and is the origin of the tea ceremony still practiced today.

As you can imagine, there’s so much more to the history of tea in Japan. So stay tuned for Saturday’s post, where we’ll look at the next stages in the evolution of tea culture in Japan.

Part 1-Japanese Tea History

Ethiopian Ceremonial Coffee

Traditional Japanese tea ceremonies are well-known across the globe — but many people are unfamiliar with some of the elaborate rituals surrounding coffee. One such ritual with a long cultural history is the coffee ceremony that is still performed to this day by Ethiopians. The nation is considered the birthplace of Arabica coffee, it’s no surprise that coffee has a special significance. Coffee is revered with almost spiritual significance in this ritual, which has been performed for thousands of years.

Let’s take a look at the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which takes the humble green coffee bean – and guests at the ceremony – on a journey through the roasting process, and then the brewing process, before it is finally poured and served for guests in small ceramic cups.

  • The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is an integral part of their social and cultural life, and often takes place two or three times per day.
  • An invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship and respect, and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality.
  • The ceremony can take 2-3 hours, and gives attendees time to catch up on local news, share their experiences and problems, rest, relax and spend time chatting.
  • First, the hostess performing the ceremony spreads fresh, aromatic grasses across the floor. She begins burning incense to ward off evil spirits, and continues to burn incense throughout the ceremony. She fills a round-bottomed, black clay coffeepot (known as a “jebena”) with water and places it over hot coals.
  • Then, the hostess brings out the washed green coffee beans and begins roasting them in a pan on a small open fire or coal furnace. The traditional coffee roasting pan is similar to an old fashioned popcorn roasting pan — it has a very long handle to keep the roaster’s hands away from the heat.
  • To ensure that the beans are all evenly roasted, the hostess will shake the beans, then will take the pan around the room so that all attendees can experience the powerful aroma of the roasting coffee beans.
  • When roasted, the coffee beans turn a dark brownish black color, and are often slick with the aromatic oils that are released during the roasting process.
  • After the hostess has completed roasting the beans, she grinds them by hand into a coarse ground using a tool similar to a mortar and pestle. The “mortar” is a small, heavy wooden bowl called a “mukecha” (pronounced moo-key-cha) and the “pestle” is a wooden or metal cylinder with a blunt end, called a “zenezena”.
  • The grounds are then added to the now boiling water in the jebena coffeepot, and when ready, the hostess pours the coffee from the pot onto a tray of small, white china cups, from a height of one foot above the tray, without interruption — a feat that can take years of practice to master.
  • After adding sugar if they desire, guests “buna tetu” (or “drink coffee”), and praise the hostess for her coffee-making skills and the coffee for its flavor.
  • After the first round of coffee, there are traditionally two additional servings. The three servings are known as “abol”, “tona” and “baraka”. Each serving is progressively weaker than the first. Each cup is said to transform the spirit, and the third serving is considered to be a blessing for those who drink it.
  • Coffee is usually served without milk, but with sugar. In some villages, variations also include the addition of salt, butter or honey.
  • Depending on the region, the coffee is often served with traditional snack foods, such as popcorn, peanuts or cooked barley.

Coffee clearly has a long and reverent history in Ethiopian culture. The Ethiopians have a saying, “Buna dabo naw,” which translates literally to “Coffee is our bread.” This demonstrates the central role coffee making, and drinking, has not only for providing sustenance, but for the important social bond it provides for those who share it. We’ll drink coffee to that here at Rae’s Cafe.

Ethiopian Ceremonial Coffee

Aztec Hot Chocolate History

People tend to think of hot chocolate as a warm, comforting drink, one served up to small children on a cold night. But it was once revered as a great tonic for warriors, who needed energy and sustenance to tackle challenges such as big battles or arduous journeys. In fact, hot chocolate has a history as rich and colorful as the drink itself.

Here are some fun facts about the history of hot chocolate in ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures:

  • The first chocolate beverage is believed to have been created by the Mayan people of around 2,000 years ago, and a cocoa beverage was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD.
  • An early Classic (460-480 AD) period Mayan tomb from the site of Rio Azul, Guatemala, was found to contain vessels bearing the Mayan glyph for cacao, and the vessels contained the residue of a chocolate drink.
  • In ancient Mesoamerica, the cacao drink, known as “xocolātl” was considered sacred and was used during initiation ceremonies, funerals, and marriages. During this time, cacao beans were also used as currency.
  • Montezuma II, the last ruler of the Aztec empire, was said to have kept a huge storehouse of cacao, and to have drunk up to 50 golden goblets of chocolate a day.
  • Montezuma II is also said to have decreed that only men who went to war were to imbibe the precious cacao drink, and thus cacao became a regular part of military rations.
  • During the battles between Montezuma II’s forces and the Spanish conquistadors who invaded Mexico under the rule of Conquistador Hernán Cortés, it was noted that the Aztec’s chocolate drink helped to fortify and energize the men, as one Spanish observer noted: “This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.”
  • After defeating Montezuma’s warriors and demanding that the Aztec nobles hand over their valuables, Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, bringing cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment.Drinking chocolate or hot chocolate soon became popular amongst the elite in Spain, and then spread across the rest of Europe.

So, it seems we have the ancient Aztecs and their precious cacao beans to thank for the delicacy we know today as hot chocolate. And while the modern version — particularly the tasty Rae’s Gourmet Hot Chocolate that’s also infused with Ganoderma lucidum — may be a lot more refined than its ancient predecessor, it certainly remains a powerful elixir, and one that we have happily added to our beverage repertoire.

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Espresso Machine History 101

Espresso is defined as “coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans.” Sounds simple enough — and it is, when using the right equipment. Of course, using Café products (such as the BrewKups in Black Gold) provides an espresso-like coffee with even less steps.

Espresso today, of course, is the hero of the contemporary coffee scene — and the basis of many best-selling coffee drinks, such as the latte, cappuccino, mocha, macchiato and of course the traditional double espresso. For those coffee history buffs out there, today we’re going to take a trip down caffeine memory lane and look at how the modern espresso came to be:

The history of espresso can be traced back as far as 1884, when Angelo Moriondo lodged a patent for a “steam-driven instantaneous coffee beverage making device” in Turin, Italy. This patent is notable, and is considered by many to be a precursor of the espresso coffee machine.

Then, 17 years later in 1901, Milanese manufacturer Luigi Bezzera came up with some improvements to the espresso machine. He patented a number of these, the first of which was applied for on the 19th of December 1901. It was titled “Innovations in the machinery to prepare and immediately serve coffee beverage,” and the patent was granted in June, 1902.

Bezzera’s machine was a gigantic, steam-driven contraption with two groupheads called the Tipo Gigante. It is said that Bezzera, the owner of a manufacturing company, devised the machine in order to reduce the amount of time his employees spent on their coffee breaks. His invention yielded a coffee maker that used a combination of water and steam – forced under high pressure through the coffee grounds – to rapidly brew the coffee. Hence the name, “espresso machine.”

The downside to Bezzera’s machine was apparently that the device’s combination of hot water, steam and intense pressure produced a fast but bitter brew. In came Desiderio Pavoni, who purchased Bezzera’s patent in 1905. He became the first person to realize that the bitterness was the result of the steam and the very high temperatures it imposed on the coffee grounds. So, Pavoni began experimenting with various temperatures and pressures, and eventually discovered that brewing at 195 degrees with an 8 to 9 BAR of pressure produced the best results. This is the basis for espresso machines as we know them today.

The modern day espresso machine dates back to 1947, when Gaggia introduced the revolutionary piston lever Gaggia Crema Caffe machine. This was the first machine that was capable of consistently introducing pressurized water (8 BAR or higher) into coffee in a manner that was easy and inexpensive enough for everyday commercial use. Before that, almost every commercial and consumer espresso machine was steam driven and therefore, more akin to the modern day Moka brewer.

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