Thanks A-Latte Comes to Life!

I have a Latte 101 blog post entitled “Thanks A-Latte!” and wanted to show everyone how easy it is to make gourmet latte at home. This saves you time and money…also, makes you sound pretty cool! I did this in one take…I’m still learning how to do side shots correctly LOL If you enjoy, PLEASE like and share my video…also, subscribe to my YouTube channel for new videos every week! #GBYD #GourmetLivesMatter #RaezCafe

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

On Chill

Here’s one of my NEW videos for Rae’s Cafe! A tip on freezing fruit for portion control and fast freezing. If you enjoy this video, like and share the video. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for new videos every week! Have a wonderful day 🙂


Coffee in the Philippines

Coffee is becoming increasingly popular in the Philippines, both as a beverage and as revitalized agricultural industry. Here are some fun facts about the coffee industry, culture and traditions of the Philippines.

  • Coffee is strongly associated with family and traditional holiday celebrations, such as Christmas, a time when many people enjoy coffee with friends and family after mass services during the many festive celebrations leading up to Christmas Day.
  • Coffee is often a popular addition to so-called “balikbayan boxes”, which are care packages that are often sent home by family members working overseas. Such boxes usually contain sought-after items such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and magazines.
  • The growth and export of coffee beans was once a major industry in the Philippines, which 200 years ago was the fourth-largest coffee producing nation in the world.
  • The coffee growing industry was struck by a bout of fungus known as “coffee rust”, which spread through much of Africa and Asia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, devastating the industry in the Philippines in around 1889, and forcing many farmers to switch to other crops.
  • The Philippines now has a comparatively small coffee industry, but efforts are being made to revive it, as coffee popularity and consumption continue to rise.
  • The Philippines is believed to be one of the few places that can grow all four primary coffee bean varieties — namely Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa.
  • One particular type of Liberica coffee is known in the Philippines as Kape Barako (in English, Barako coffee), and is said to take its name from the Tagalog word for wild boar — because apparently the animals are fond of snacking on the plant’s leaves and berries.

Philippines & Skinny Jeans

Sheza-Peach Atlanta Style Iced Tea

Peachtree Street is, of course, the main street of Atlanta, and many are familiar with the expression “She’s a Georgia peach,” — referring to the fruit for which the state of Georgia has become so renowned.

In honor of its southern roots, this iced tea is best served in a Mason jar, on a porch, with nothing but Georgia on one’s mind.

Here’s to all those who hold Atlanta, Georgia, close to their hearts.

Atlanta-Style Sweet Peach Tea:

  • 8 x sachets of OG Red Tea
  • 2  x ripe peaches
  • 1 x sliced lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. honey, agave syrup or raw sugar
  • Ice, for serving
  • Fresh mint, for garnish
  1. Mix up a pitcher of OG Red Tea, add your sweetener of choice and the freshly sliced peaches, then let the tea mixture cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. To serve, pour tea over ice cubes into Mason jars for an authentic southern touch, and add slices of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint.

She's a Peach!

Inside the Teacup

You may not be alone if you’re hard-pressed to explain the meaning of the term “tasseography” — but it’s the term given to the art of reading tea leaves. It is sometimes known as “tasseomancy” or “tassology”, and can also be performed using coffee grounds, or essentially any beverage that leaves sediment in the cup. Today, we thought we’d take a look at the history of this practice.

The reading of tea leaves can be traced back to fortune tellers in medieval Europe, who did readings of splatters of wax, lead and other molten substances. This is believed to have evolved into tea-leaf reading in the 17th century, a short time after Dutch merchants introduced tea to Europe via trade routes to China. Most tea-leaf readers examine the remaining tea leaves against the white surface of the tea cup and look for a range of symbols. These can vary amongst different diviners, but some common symbols include:

Acorn: Continued or improved vitality.

Anchor: A symbol of luck, in business or in love.

Apple: Achieving knowledge.

Birds flying: Good news.

Candle: Enlightenment.

Cat: A deceitful friend or relative.

Dog: A loyal friend or relative.

Elephant: Good luck, good health and happiness.

Heart: A lover. If close to a ring, marriage to the present lover. If indistinct, the lover is fickle.

Heavenly bodies (Sun, Moon, Star): Good luck — great happiness and success.

Kite: Wishes will come true.

Palm tree: Good luck — success in any undertaking.

Triangles: Unexpected good fortune.

Here at Rae’s Cafe, of course, we firmly believe that there’s a fortune of a more substantial kind to be found in our coffee and tea cups, thanks to our incredible products. But that doesn’t stop us from being fascinated by this ancient art of tea-fueled fortune-telling. Let us all raise a glass of OG tea in praise of good fortunes all around!

Inside the Teacup

10 Fun Facts About Soap

It’s easy to tell when people start using Rae’s Premium G3 Beauty Soap — they generally cannot stop talking about soap! And sure, we realize that with its amazing moisturizing formula — packed with goodness such as grape seed oil, Ganoderma lucidum and antioxidant-boosting glutathione — this is certainly more than just your average bar of soap.

But there’s actually a lot more to a humble bar of soap than meets the eye. So, let’s take a look at some fun and interesting facts about the history of soap:

  • The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. A formula for a soap-like substance, consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil, was found written on a Babylonian clay tablet that dates back to around 2200 BC.
  • The ancient Egyptians are believed to have bathed regularly and used the combination of animal and plant oils with alkaline salt to produce a soap-like substance.
  • Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote of the Phoenicians using soap as early as 600 B.C.
  • Early soaps were generally used for cleaning clothes and for curing animal hides.
  • It was the Romans who are thought to have first begun using soap on their bodies as part of bathing, and thus spread their soap-making skills across Europe.
  • By the eight century, soap was common in France, Italy, and Spain, but the rest of Europe rarely used it until the 17th century.
  • Soap production began in England around the end of the 12th century. Soap-manufacturers had to pay a heavy tax on all the soap they made.
  • Early soap makers simply boiled a mixture of wood ash and animal fat. A foam substance formed at the top of the pot, and when cooled, it hardened into soap.
  • Around 1790, French chemist Nicolas Leblanc patented a method of making lye from an ordinary salt, replacing the wood ash as an element of soap. Another French chemist, Eugene-Michel Chevreul, discovered the chemistry behind the relationship of glycerin and fatty acids and put the soap-forming process (called in English saponification) into concrete chemical terms in 1823.
  • Soap was manufactured with industrial processes by the end of the 19th century, though people in rural areas continued to make their own soap at home. By 1890, many different types of soap were offered by the five major companies that emerged in the soap industry, these being, Colgate, Morse Taylor, Albert, Pears, and Bailey.

Squeaky Clean

France: A History Steeped in Coffee

When France is mentioned, one of the first images that comes to mind is that of the typical French café, with those small, round bistro tables. Such cafés have provided refuge and inspiration to countless coffee-loving writers, artists and intellectuals over the years, and have been captured in many films – making them an integral part of Parisian and French history and scenery. So, it’s no surprise that France has a solid cultural history when it comes to coffee. In fact, France was something of a pioneer in the coffee trade, with the French being some of the first to believe in the potential of these now beloved beans.

First Came the Beans…

1644: Pierre de La Roque, a merchant, introduced the first coffee beans to the French city of Marseille.

1707: Ship owners and traders in Saint-Malo, a port city in northwestern France, teamed up to buy the privilege of the coffee treaty in Arabia, for the princely sum of 7000 francs. As a result, two ships — “Le Curieux” and “Le Diligent” — sailed towards Moka (the famous city in Yemen from which the term “mocha” is derived). After several months in Yemen, a commercial treaty was signed.

1715: The Sultan of Yemen offered 60 coffee plants to Louis XIV. The first export would soon follow, with Captain Dufresne d’Arsel, who transported them to Bourbon Island near Madagascar. Now known as Réunion, the French island remains to this day a small producer of sustainable, fair trade coffee beans.

1719: A former French soldier by the name of Mourgues introduced a few coffee beans to the French settlement of Guiana in South America, producing the first abundant harvests in 1722.

1720: On a visit to metropolitan France, naval officer Sir Gabriel de Clieu discovered a new plant, the coffee tree, in the royal greenhouse. He was able to obtain two shrubs from the first doctor of the king, with the mission of implanting them in Martinique, the French-settled island in the Caribbean. The coffee plants thrived and spread quickly to nearby islands that had also been colonized by the French, including Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic.

1727: Back in Guiana, where coffee was flourishing, a visiting Brazilian officer was gifted some coffee beans by the French governor’s wife — and these are thought to have been the start of Brazil’s now incredibly successful coffee growing industry.

1730: Coffee was also flourishing in Martinique, and some enterprising colonists decided to export the beans back to European nations, such as Ireland and Denmark, where it would continue to spread across Europe and beyond.

… then the Machines

1800: The Archbishop of, Paris Jean-Baptiste de Belloy, was an innovator when it came to coffee making, inventing the first percolation system and what is considered one of the first coffee makers. His system, dubbed “La Débelloire” or “Le Dubelloire”, consisted of two stacked containers separated by a compartment that contained the coffee. Boiling water was poured into the top container, the coffee beans were slowly infused into the water, then trickled into the bottom container.

1820: What we know today as the espresso machine first came from the mind of Frenchman Louis-Bernard Rabaut, who developed a machine that used steam to force hot water through finely ground coffee beans that had previously been roasted.

1825: The Cona-style siphon coffee maker first made an appearance, and featured two glass globes on top of one another, attached to a stand, using air pressure to extract the coffee. The patent for this contraption was registered by Jeanne Richard in 1838.

1855: The World’s Fair in Paris provided a showcase for an invention by Edouard Loysel de Santais — the hydrostatic percolator. This was a machine that produced large quantities of coffee using extraction pressure. This machine provided a starting point that would enable Italian inventors to create the commercial espresso machine almost a century later.

So you see, coffee owes a lot of its cultivation and preparation history and development to the French.

France's History Steeped in Coffee

Africa: A Coffee Continent

Ethiopia is thought to have been the birthplace of coffee — by now we all know the story of the Ethiopian shepherd who noticed his goats becoming particularly energetic after eating the vivid red coffee berries. So it’s no wonder that Africa has a rich history in coffee, as well as a thriving coffee industry. Africa is one of the top coffee producing regions in the world, with many nations, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, counting coffee as one of their key crops and exports.

Here are some tidbits of information about the coffee industry past and present throughout the continent of Africa:

  • The coffee plant originates from the highland forests of Ethiopia. It is believed that the first plants were found growing wild in the region of Kaffa, which is where coffee derives its name.
  • Today, Ethiopia is Africa’s top exporter of Arabica beans, and the nation’s coffee industry employs an estimated 12 million Ethiopian people.
  • A wide range of dry and wet processed coffees are produced in Ethiopia, and all have a reputation for their winey, fruity and floral flavors. Ethiopian Arabica is considered by many to be the finest coffee produced in Africa.
  • The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) in Ethiopia is the largest organic coffee exporter in the world.
  • The nation of Uganda produces primarily Robusta coffee beans, and the humble bean accounts for approximately 75 percent of the country’s export revenue and provides employment for around 80 percent of all rural workers.
  • In Kenya, the export of coffee beans is one of the biggest industries, yet tea is a more popular beverage in Kenyan culture.
  • Kenya’s high-grown, wet-processed Arabica is considered one of the worlds great coffees, and is characterized by a flavor that is full bodied, acidic, slightly winey and very smooth, with a dry winey aftertaste.
  • Coffee berries provided a precursor to the modern day energy bar — it is believed that some East African tribes would mix the berries with animal fat to form edible energy balls.

Africa the Coffee Continent