The History of Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine was initially a Western Christian Liturgical feast day honoring one or more of the early saints named Valentinus.

 

The holiday was recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many countries around the world, however, it isn’t a public holiday in any country.

 

One of the more popular legends, and the reason it’s known as a holiday of love, is that St. Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roan Empire.

 

According to legend, during Saint Valentine’s imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

 

The day first became associated with romance during the 14th century, when courting your love flourished. In England during the 18th century, the holiday evolved into an occasion where lovers expressed their love for each other by giving them flowers, candy and sending greeting cards, known as valentines.

 

In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys were given to lovers as a romantic symbol encouraging the other to unlock the giver’s heart.

 

Valentine’s Day is Big Business

In the United States alone, close to 200 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent between lovers every year. This doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of little cards sent to the country’s school children to other classmates.

 

Additionally, Valentine’s Day has become increasingly commercialized and a popular gift-giving event in recent decades, with Valentine’s Day themed advertisements encouraging spending on our loved ones.

 

In fact, in the United State alone, the average Valentine’s spending has increased every year, from $108 a person in 2010 to $131 in 2013.

 

The Little Things Matter Most

It may be a big business, that keeps getting bigger, but it’s still a special day to show the one you love just how special they are to you and you don’t have to do it with money.

 

The best way to show that special person in your life how important they are to you is with three simple words, a nice dinner and some special “alone time”.

 

It’s my hope that you have someone special to spend this day with because everyone deserves to be loved.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Caffeine: Tea vs Coffee

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Caffeine is a big part of the lives of many adults. It’s the main reason coffee is so popular. Most people would find it very hard to believe that coffee gained its popularity because people actually enjoy drinking a cupful of bitter sludge. But hey, there’s no accounting for people’s taste.

 

More and more, we seem to be a civilization running on overdrive, trying to go faster, produce more and stay up longer. This is evident by the wide selection of energy drinks, energy pills and an ever increasing dosage of caffeine.

 

According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, an 8 oz. cup of Black tea contains 14-70 mg of caffeine. In comparison, an  8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine. Quite a difference.

 

Now, before you start thinking you need to forgo your favored morning cup of tea for coffee, just so you can get that jolt you need to get the engine going again read on.

 

It’s true coffee does contain quite a bit more caffeine than tea, however, tea contains other natural stimulants that are similar to caffeine including theobromine, theophylline and xanthine.

 

With this being said, even though the overall stimulants in tea and coffee are technically identical, tea affects us in different ways.

 

An amino acid called L-theanine, found only in tea, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It works with caffeine to calm the body without reducing the alertness caffeine produces. This allows tea drinkers to have the benefit of mental alertness and focus, without the jittery nervousness that caffeine is known for.

 

The next benefit tea holds over coffee is, the high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow down caffeine absorption. This provides a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and allows for a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.

 

There is a myth that tea contains more caffeine than coffee. This is actually true if you measure coffee and tea in their dry forms. However, it is false when you are comparing the two after they have been brewed.

 

This is because we normally use 2 grams of tea to produce an 6 oz. cup because 8 oz. of water makes the tea too watered down. However, 10 grams of coffee is used to make the same size cup. This is the main reason there is such a difference in the amount of caffeine contained in each drink, you are using more coffee to produce the same size cup.

 

The amount of caffeine in either coffee or tea depends on several different factors, including the method and length of brewing and steeping. In regards to tea, studies also show that the location of the leaf on the plant affects the content of caffeine in that tea. The newest leaves, highest up on the plant, contain the greatest concentration of caffeine and antioxidants.

 

Water temperature and length of steeping time have the greatest impact on caffeine content in tea. With this being said, a tea that is steeped for five minutes in boiling water will transfer a lot more caffeine than tea that is steeped for two minutes.

 

Another myth, promoted by several tea retailers, is that oxidation increases the level of caffeine in tea. There is no scientific proof that this is true. This claim results from measuring the caffeine in the cup after typical brewing methods and incorrectly attributing that to the tea itself.

 

There is a lot of recent concern in the United States about the possible dangers of caffeine. Caffeine tolerance varies a lot among different individuals. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It is a common misconception that people who are caffeine sensitive should only drink decaffeinated tea.

 

In fact, same as with coffee, decaffeinated tea is not caffeine free. It still contains 5-10 mg of caffeine per cup. A way to completely eliminate caffeine intake, is to drink herbal teas. All real tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which contains caffeine naturally.

 

Herbal infusions, such as Chamomile, Rooibos and Peppermint, are made from botanicals which aren’t related to Camellia sinensis, and are naturally caffeine free.
There are a lot of different factors to consider if you are caffeine conscious in regards to coffee and tea. However, if you are looking for a pick me up, coffee isn’t your only option and that is what a lot of people are being lead to believe. You can get your daily pick me up, while still enjoying an amazingly flavorful drink.

Edgar Allan Poe: The Master of Mystery and the Macabre

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You would be hard pressed to find anyone, especially among our fellow lovers of horror stories and tales of terror, who doesn’t know who Edgar Allan Poe was.

Best known for his poetry and short stories, Poe was also highly regarded as the leading author of Romanticism in American literature and he was one of the earliest American authors of the short story.

Poe’s themes and genres

Edgar Allan Poe’s best known fictional works were in the Gothic genre, which was very popular at the time and the main reason he wrote the genre. The main, recurring themes of a several of Poe’s works dealt with the questions surrounding death, fear of premature burial, coming back from the grave and mourning.

Several of Poe’s works were considered to fall into the dark romanticism genre, which focused on human fallibility and being prone to sin and self-destruction and also the difficulties with adjusting to social acceptance.

Not just another horror story writer

Aside from horror, Poe also wrote satires, humorous stories and hoaxes, which may be a little hard to believe considering the bulk of his other works. Poe was known for using irony and ludicrous extravagance for comic effect. Often times, Poe would use these characteristics of writing as an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity.

Creator of detective fiction

One thing many people don’t realize about Edgar Allan Poe is that he was considered the undisputed “Father” of the Detective Story. Poe literally created the template for all of the great detective fictions to follow. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was the creator of one of the greatest detective fictions of all time, Sherlock Holmes, once said that Poe “was a model for all time.”

Edgar Allan Poe only wrote three “true” detective stories, which included, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget and The Purloined Letter, however, in these three stories he created the standards that have been the foundation for all of the detective stories that followed including:

  • The concept of hiding clues in plain site, so they are overlooked by everyone who is searching for them.
  • The planting of false clues by the criminal.
  • The concept of observation and deduction.
  • The criminal ultimately being the least-likely person

These are only a few of the concepts used in today’s detective stories that Poe created. Poe also wrote other stories that did feature crime and/or mystery, however, they weren’t considered “true” detective stories because they don’t lay out all of the clues for the reader to solve the crime, so they were considered not “playing fair” with the reader even though they are excellent mysteries in their own right.

Poe the literary critic

Aside from his famous and extremely popular short stories and poetry, Edgar Allan Poe was also recognized for his work as a literary critic.

In fact, Poe was mainly recognized as a literary critic during his lifetime. He has been called the most discriminating, philosophical and fearless critic of American literature. Because of his sometimes abrasive reviews, Poe has also been said that, at times, to “use acid instead of ink” when writing his reviews of works in literature, which also gained him the reputation as a “tomahawk man.”

Many people only think of Edgar Allan Poe as the author who wrote The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven, but he has done so much more to entertain, enrich and even teach.

Do You Believe in Ghosts? Six of America’s Most Haunted Houses

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Do you believe in ghosts? Many people do, several don’t. According to the “Haunted House Report” posted by Realtor.com, 35 percent of the people surveyed claim to have lived in, or are living in a home that is haunted.

 

The alleged telltale warning signs that a house you are living in may be haunted are said to include having a cemetery on the property, a home which is over 100 years old, whether home has been the scene of a particularly gruesome crime or it’s near a battlefield and there is, of course, the giveaway sign, when a home keeps changing owners often and quickly.

 

So, with that being said, I’ve put together a shortlist of America’s six most haunted houses and their gruesome histories.

 

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Joshua Ward House, Salem Massachusetts

 

Well known for their macabre history, Salem, Massachusetts is no stranger to disturbing legends and the Joshua Ward House is one place with one of the most prominent of these legends.

 

The house was built by Joshua Ward, a wealthy merchant sea captain, in the late 1780s on a foundation built by the notorious former sheriff, George Corwin.

 

Sheriff Corwin was a prominent figure whose passion for torture fueled the unfortunate events that became the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s.

 

Nicknamed “The Strangler” because of his preferred method of torture, which included tying his victim’s neck to their ankles until the blood ran from their noses, Corwin is said to be responsible for the death of countless witches.

 

One of these so called witches was Giles Corey, a man who was accused of witchcraft. Corwin crushed Corey to death by placing heavy stones on his chest in order to extract a confession.

 

Before Corey died, he cursed Corwin and all of the sheriffs that would follow in his position.

 

As legend has it, since proclaiming his curse, every sheriff has died while in office or has been “forced out of his post as the result of an ailment that had to do with the heart or blood”. Corwin himself died of a heart attack in 1696.

 

Today, it is said that many of Corwin’s victims, including Sheriff Corey haunt The Joshua Ward House.

 

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LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Built in 1832, the LaLaurie mansion is claimed to be haunted by several tortured slaves. In 1834, during a major fire at the manor, several of the neighbors were helping to save the contents of the home from the fire when they found tortured slaves chained up in the attic by the owner Marie Delphine LaLaurie, better known as Madame LaLaurie, a prominent socialite and, as it was later discovered, a serial killer.

 

The fire had started in the kitchen where, upon entering, an elderly female cook was found chained to the stove by her ankle.

 

According to the New Orleans Bee from April 11, 1834, bystanders found “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated. They were suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other”, who claimed to have been imprisoned there for many months.

 

The home, which had been rebuilt to resemble the original, was owned by actor Nicholas Cage from 2007 till 2009.

 

LaLaurie’s life is a mystery after the fire, however, writer Harriet Martineau claims that after fleeing the New Orleans, during the mob violence, she took a coach to the waterfront and traveled to Mobile, Alabama on a schooner and then settled in Paris. She is rumored to have died in Paris, France in a boar-hunting accident.

 

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Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

 

The Boone Hall Plantation was founded by Major John Boone and then sold to brothers John and Henry Horlbeck.

 

Like LaLaurie Mansion, the plantation is claimed to have housed mistreated and tortured slaves.

 

The Horlbeck brothers expanded the property’s brickyard and set some of their 225 slaves to work operating dangerous kilns for the local building industry beginning in 1817.

 

According to the legend, there have been several sightings of spirits within 20 feet of the plantation’s kiln. A slave girl and boy are the most commonly spotted of these ghosts.

 

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Dock Street Theater, Charleston, South Carolina

 

Originally built in 1809, as Planter’s Hotel by the Calder, the Dock Street Theater is the first building, in the Thirteen Colonies, that was designed for use as a theater.

 

There are claims that two entities continuously wander around the theater. One of them was Junius Brutus Booth, a famous actor and the father of President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth.

 

The other spectre is a nameless prostitute the locals called “Nettie” who is believed to have frequented the area in the 1800s.

 

Nettie worked at the hotel which is where she was struck by lightning and killed instantly while standing on her porch.

 

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Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

 

The famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest during the four-year war. Named for Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth, the Farnsworth House was home to Confederate sharpshooters who would shoot Union soldiers from the windows of the house during the conflict.

 

The home later operated as a makeshift hospital, and currently functions as a nine-room bed and breakfast.

 

However, five of those rooms are said to be haunted by the ghosts of fallen soldiers, along with a midwife called Mary.

 

Many guests claim to have seen Mary sitting on their beds at night.

 

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Home of the Villisca Ax Murders in Villisca, Iowa

 

An old white frame house sits quietly on a residential street in the small town of Villisca, Iowa.

 

On the night of June 10, 1912, six members of the Moore family, who lived in the home, and two other children were brutally killed in what remains Iowa’s worst mass murder to date.

 

The parents Josiah and Sarah along with their four children Herman 11, Katherine 10, Boyd 7, and Paul 5, as well as two of Katherine’s friends Ina 8 and Lena 12 were all found with severe head wounds created by an ax.

 

The investigators on the scene believed that all of the victims except for Lena Stillinger had been asleep at the time of the attack. They also believed that Lena attempted to fight off her attacker because of the presence of defensive wounds on her arm.

 

While there were many suspects, Reverend George Kelly, a traveling minister and suspected pedophile, was twice tried for the murders but was acquitted both times. To this date, the case remains unsolved.
So, I ask the question again. Do you believe in ghosts? There seems to be a lot of people who do.

How do Great Writers Come up with Brilliant Ideas?

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As a writer, I’m sure you have struggled with how to come up with a great idea for a story. You aren’t alone, it happens to all of us. Some writers will assume that since they aren’t coming up with a good idea they have writer’s block. This isn’t the case because writer’s block usually has more to do with discounting your work as not being good enough.

 

Coming up with an idea might seem like a random process. However, there are a few simple ways to increase your chances of creating great ideas for your writing. Every writer wants to come up with a great idea every time they start a book but many don’t consider what an idea really is.

 

An idea is a connection, even the simplest idea is a combination of ideas you already have. We are constantly forming these connections spontaneously and unconsciously. It should also be noted that an idea will form when two different thoughts combine in an unexpected or unusual manner.

 

Here are a few tips that will help you develop a reserve of ideas to draw from.

 

Be confident and open minded

Stop thinking you’re not a creative person, or that only a chosen few brilliant minds can create brilliant ideas. You are a writer, no matter what you write you have and can create more ideas.

 

Investigate all ideas, even the ones you think are dumb

Never focus on only coming up with “great” ideas. At first, focus on quantity rather than quality. Most people have trouble coming up with ideas because they’re worried their idea will be “dumb.”

Be open minded

The more exposure you have to different situations, people and places the more options you give your mind to form connections. Try new things, travel, read different books, don’t be afraid to do the things you normally do in a different way.

 

Immediately save all your ideas

Get into the habit of recording all of your ideas. Write them down in a notebook, type them into your tablet or add them to a voice recorder. The way you record them isn’t important, just make sure you always have the ability available. If you don’t record your ideas the minute you get them you may forget them. Having an idea and then forgetting it is worse than not having an idea at all.

 

Never assume you need not record ideas, because you’ll remember them. Many ideas will come to you while you’re resting or asleep. Keep a notebook by your bed and get into the habit of recording your ideas as soon as you wake up.

 

Be grateful for the ideas you receive

Whenever you come up with a great idea for writing, be thankful for it. This will create an additional positive reinforcement that will encourage the creation of more new ideas. This may seem strange, but try it, it works.

 

Don’t sweat it

If you find yourself not coming up with any useable ideas for a few days, don’t sweat it, it happens. Ideas will come to you when you least expect them and you will find out when you’re on a roll, the ideas come rolling in.
When the ideas are coming in nonstop, that’s the time to record them and bank the ones you don’t use for when you have a dry spell. You will build up your reserve of ideas, which you will add to in spurts.

Free Radicals How Antioxidants Protect Against Them

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In the descriptions of several of our premium tea blends we include the fact that they are an excellent source of free radical fighting antioxidants. We also go on to explain a few of these crucial benefits to your health.

 

We all know that antioxidants are good and help provide several health benefits to our bodies. However, what are free radicals and what do they do to our bodies?

 

We hope to answer some of your questions about antioxidants and free radicals in this article, while explaining just how much damage free radicals can cause on the human body, as well as how helpful and powerful antioxidants are.

 

Free radicals

 

Free radicals are atoms, or groups of atoms, with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. These highly reactive radicals, once formed, can start a chain reaction.

 

The main problem with free radicals occurs when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membranes. When this happens, cells begin to function poorly, or die altogether.

 

This leads to an overall decline in a person’s health and several health concerns like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, increased aging and cancer just to name a few. The human body has a defense system called antioxidants to prevent this damage from happening.

 

Antioxidants

 

Antioxidants are molecules that safely interact with free radicals and put an end to the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that combat free radicals, the main micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C.

 

Antioxidants’ role in preventing cancer and heart disease

 

Research has shown lower rates of cancer in people whose diets are rich in foods that contain large amounts of antioxidants. Studies have also shown that, antioxidant packed, green tea can help improve your circulatory system by improving the function of certain types of cells that occur in this system. This helps to fight against heart disease and keep your heart healthy before serious issues develop.

 

Intense scientific research is being conducted into antioxidants and whether or not they are beneficial in the fight against cancer and heart disease.

 

Are antioxidants the fountain of youth?

 

Antioxidants are also thought to have a role in slowing the aging process as well as other significant health benefits. Research data is being updated regularly, so there will be much more information on the health benefits of antioxidants in the near future.

 

The effects of exercise on free radicals

 

Endurance exercise can increase oxygen use from 10 to 20 times compared to when the body is resting. This greatly increases the generation of free radicals, arousing concern about enhanced damage to muscles and other tissues. The question is, how can athletes effectively defend against the increased free radicals resulting from exercise and do they need an intake of extra antioxidants?

 

It isn’t yet clear what portion of antioxidants is required by the human body and how this differs from person to person. However, these questions and others are being researched extensively and are expected to be answered within the next couple of years.

 

There is a major push by scientists to answer these questions because they may be at the root of how we can prevent, or even eliminate several serious health concerns that claim the lives of large portions of the population every year.

 

Over time, free radicals are capable of doing an extreme amount of damage to the human body and without combatting this damage to cells, the health problems can become very serious and irreversible.
Antioxidants provide a powerful defense against the damage caused by free radicals and can prevent a lot of the damage caused by them before reaching the point of no return.

The White House – America’s Most Iconic House is Haunted

 

It is the most iconic house in the United States, if not the world. It is home to leaders of the free world. The most famous address in America, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is also the country’s most famous haunted house.

 

Guests, staff members and even Presidents themselves have all reported hearing unexplained noises, feeling the presence of ghosts and even seeing unexplainable apparitions.

 

Abraham Lincoln

 

The most frequently reported ghost sighting over the years at the White House has been the ghost of one of the most popular presidents of all time, the acclaimed 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, whose life was tragically cut short by a bullet from an assassin’s gun on April 15, 1865.

 

The first person to reportedly see Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). According to her, the very tall and lanky former president was standing in the Oval Office looking out the window, across the Potomac to the former Civil War battlefields beyond.

 

First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969, reportedly felt Lincoln’s presence one night while watching a television program about his death.

 

However, the most notable sightings of Abraham Lincoln’s ghost were during the long presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945). This was most likely because President Roosevelt also presided over the country during a time of great turmoil and a brutal war.

 

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used the Lincoln Bedroom as her study, and claimed she would feel his presence when she worked there late at night.

 

During her visit to the White House, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard a knock on her bedroom door in the night. When she opened the door, she reportedly saw Lincoln’s ghost , wearing his familiar top hat, and she fainted dead away at the sight.

 

One of the most notable sightings of Lincoln’s ghost came from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on one of his visits to the White House during World War II. Churchill loved to retire late, take a long hot bath while drinking a Scotch and smoking a cigar to relax.

 

On this occasion, he climbed out of the bath naked, except for his cigar and walked into the adjoining bedroom. He was startled to see Lincoln leaning on the mantle of the fireplace in the room.

 

Always quick with a comeback, Churchill simply took his cigar out of his mouth, tapped the ash off the end and said “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.”
Several psychics believe that Lincoln’s spirit remains in the White House to be on hand in times of crisis and to also complete the difficult work that his untimely death left unfinished. Whatever the reason for Lincoln residency at the White House, one thing is for sure, his is a much more welcome spirit than the others that roam the earth.

The Health Benefits of Different Teas

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Coveted for centuries in the East as the key to good health, happiness and wisdom, tea is gaining the attention of researchers in the West who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas.

Research studies have shown that tea can provide help with cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It can also assist in weight loss, lower cholesterol and provide mental alertness. Tea has been found to also contain antimicrobial qualities.

“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” said Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD, spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

However, nutritionists agree that brewed premium, organic provides the maximum health benefits, with less calories, sweeteners and preservatives over bottled, instant or “name brand” tea.

Here are the basic tea blends and their respective health benefits:

Green, Black and White Tea

Most any beverage that is steeped is called tea, however, purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea to be actual tea. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids.

The most potent of these flavonoids are known as ECGC which help fight free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease and clogged arteries. These teas also contain caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain by heighten mental alertness.

The more processing applied to tea leaves, the more they lose their overall content of antioxidants. Oolong and black teas are oxidized, or fermented, so they have lower concentration of antioxidants than green teas. However, their antioxidizing power is still very high.

Here is what some research studies have found to be the potential health benefits of tea:

Green Tea

Several studies have shown that green tea leaves, which are steamed, are high in concentrations of EGCG. The antioxidants in green tea have been shown to interfere with the growth of cancer in the bladder, breasts, lungs, stomach, pancreas and colon.

They also prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, reduce risk of stroke and improve cholesterol levels.

Black Tea

Made with fermented leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown black tea to protect the lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also reduces the risk of stroke.

White Tea

White tea is uncured and unfermented, studies have shown that it has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels. There are also some claims that Wuyi, a variety of oolong tea, shows weight loss properties.

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh is made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. Studies have shown that pu-erh provides weight loss benefits and reduces LDL cholesterol.

Herbal Tea

Made from herbs, fruits, seeds or roots, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black and oolong teas. However, their nutritional benefits are based on their own specific properties. This makes it difficult to list all of the health benefits available in herbal teas without listing each ingredient separately.

For more information on the health benefits provided by our numerous blends of premium herbal tea please refer to the Herbal Tea category on our site.

Zombies: The Popularity of the Undead

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With the recent increase in popularity of zombies, I thought it would be interesting to dig up (pun intended) some history about our “undead” friends. A zombie is defined as, “a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse.”

 

The first zombie movie was White Zombie, released in 1932. The movie was based on the book The Magic Island by William Seabrook, and tells the story of a young woman’s transformation into a zombie because of a spell delivered by an evil voodoo master.

 

One of the most popular zombie movies, and the first film to depict zombies as reanimated cannibalistic cadavers, was Night of the Living Dead. Starring Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea, the film was a low budget production, completed for $114,000. The movie went on to be a financial success and a cult classic grossing $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally.

 

Night of the Living Dead eventually received critical acclaim and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, as a film considered to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.

 

The undead have always been popular characters in horror films and television programs in one form or another. However, the recent increase in popularity is mainly due to The Walking Dead television program that premiered on October 31, 2010 on AMC and has gone on to consistently increasing Nielsen ratings. This has been unusually high for a cable series.

 

The term zombie comes from Haitian folklore, where it means a dead body that is reanimated through various methods, usually magic. However, the modern depictions of zombies don’t always involve magic but often popular science fictional methods like radiation, metal diseases, viruses and scientific accidents.

 

The zombie belief has its roots in traditions brought to Haiti by enslaved Africans, and their individual experiences in the New World. The belief is that the voodoo deity Baron Samedi would collect them from their grave to bring them to a heavenly afterlife in Africa (Guinea), unless they offended him in some way.
If this happened, they would be forever a slave after death, as a zombie. A zombie could also be saved by feeding them salt. Several scholars have pointed out the significance of the zombie figure as a metaphor for the history of slavery in Haiti.

On Ben Affleck and Slavery

I would like to share an article with you which I really enjoyed.

Matthew Barlow

A few years back, I was contacted by the producers of Who Do You Think You Are?, a popular TV genealogy show, to help them with an episode.  The show was predicated on tracing the ancestry of celebrities, attempting to capitalize on the boon in genealogy amongst the masses, and was based on a popular British version.  For an upcoming episode, they were working with Rosie O’Donnell, whose Irish ancestors had passed through Montreal, living for a time in a long-defunct neighbourhood in the city’s east end.

So I met with people from the show when they came to Montreal, spent the good chunk of a day with them, showing them what mid-nineteenth century architecture in the city looked like, using Pointe-Saint-Charles in the stead of this defunct neighbourhood, which was destroyed by the expansion of rue Notre-Dame in the 70s.  Not surprisingly, the majority of the Montreal part was excised…

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