Tea is an adventure in a cup

Tea sommelier Carol Mark
Tea sommelier Carol Mark

The Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn is hosting an Afternoon Tea with a Modern Twist, Nov. 15, at the Holland Bloorview Conference Centre, 2-4 p.m., featuring certified tea sommelier Carol Mark.

At the event, “we will serve food paired with tea – things you would have had growing up in a kosher household,” Mark said in an interview.

Funds raised will go to Israel Elwyn’s preschool programs, which are located in various parts of the country.

“Currently, we are raising funds for a new preschool centre in the Haifa region,” said Moshe Greengarten, chairman of the board of Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn.

Founded in 1984, Israel Elwyn serves more than 3,000 children and adults with disabilities throughout Israel. The ultimate goal of all of Israel Elwyn’s programs is to provide individuals with the tools they need to lead more independent lives within the community.

At the tea, Mark will talk about various topics including the health benefits of tea, how it is ethically grown and processed, and kosher tea.

Mark, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, said that when she was growing up, tea was always served at family gatherings and at the New Year, and was also used as medicine.

After recovering from breast cancer, she said, she rediscovered tea as a tool for taking time to heal, as well as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Tea is a young scientific area,” Mark said. “It has been found through a study that women under 50 years of age who are drinking three cups of green tea a day lower their chances of breast cancer by 37 per cent.

“Tea is the new buzzword for health, as there has been research in this area, especially with green tea. For the first time in British history, green tea is outselling black tea, and this is also happening across the world.”

Originally a nurse and then an art gallery owner, Mark founded The Love of Tea, a purveyor of specialty pure blended teas that supports art and social change through its donation programs from tea sales.

“My start in the tea business was quite by accident. As part of my own recovery, I researched the health benefits of tea and started giving away tea to other people who were recovering. There are many components to my tea business, including at www.theloveofteamag.com, a newly launched e-magazine, which all together certainly takes up most of my life.

“I am also launching a bottled, healthy, to-go tea with no additives or sugar. Sugar has been identified as a main culprit underlying many diseases including cancer, and hidden sugar amounts to 80 pounds per year per person. When travelling I could not find a ready to-go drink I wanted.

“It also has a charity component and a percentage of each bottle will be donated to The Power of Health conference, which I established as an event to share best practices in health, food, medicine, alternative treatments slated for October 2016. We can only be healthier when we have the knowledge to make informed decisions.”

In the 19th century in North America, Mark said, “women could only legally gather together to work on women’s rights issues at teatime. In fact, the traditional tea events held by Jewish women’s social groups had the same aims. They would fundraise for special causes. I feel like I’m continuing the tradition of women’s political involvement and social change.

“Tea brings people together and provides a quiet, calming moment in the day to take time for yourself. That is why Silicon Valley has embraced tea to create moments of personal calm for their employees.”

Tea, Mark said, is “an adventure in a cup. There are distinct taste profiles reflecting the growing regions around the world. I cook with tea, from appetizers to main dishes, desserts and even tea cocktails.

“Tea comes from one plant, Camellia Sinensis, and the way it is processed determines the end product. Black tea is wilted and fully oxidized, white tea is wilted and unoxidized, oolong tea is wilted, bruised and partly oxidized, yellow tea is wilted and unoxidized, green tea is wilted and unoxidized and puer tea is fermented.

But, Mark said, “my main focus is health, and that means organic and pesticide free. I was shocked a few years ago to learn that many individuals like myself were using tea as a health benefit, but there was little known information on the use of pesticides. So to have a healthy cup of tea ensure it is organic and pesticide free as possible.”

With files from Susan Minuk.

Admission to the Israel Elwyn Afternoon Tea with a Modern Twist is $36 and a tax receipt will be issued. To reserve your seat, please contact Patricia at [email protected]