When growing wheatgrass, you must pre-sprout the grains before planting.
- Put grains into jar and soak. Make sure there is more than enough water as the grains will absorb it.
- Mix seeds up to assure even water contact for all grains
- Soak seeds for 8-12 hours
- Drain off soaked water
- Rinse and drain thoroughly
- Set onto a wet cloth evenly and let it set out of direct sunlight at room temperature
- Rinse and drain grains every 8-12 hours depending on climate (don’t let the grains become to dry)
- Depending on climate and temperature, small roots should appear in 2-3 days.
- Prepare the tray with soil at approximately 1inch deep and pat down well, making sure the soil is damp.
- Gently spread the seed evenly over the soil trying to make sure that it is only a single layer.
- Water well.
- Trays can be kept inside or outside. Wheat grass prefers filtered sunlight to almost full sun. A spot near a window is a good position as natural sunlight is best.
- Water at least once a day using a light to medium spray, ensuring that the soil is always moist and that the water is getting down to the soil and roots.
- The wheatgrass is ready for harvest when it is about 6 inches or more tall.
Mould growth is very common when growing wheatgrass. Because the shoots are grown very close together the moist conditions at the base of the shoots are the perfect environment for mould to grow, especially in the warmer times of the year.
As annoying as it may be, mould that grows on wheatgrass has been found to be harmless to humans and when you are ready to juice you can cut above the affected areas and make sure you rinse the grass before juicing.
It is not relevant how expensive the tea you buy, if you brew it wrong, it can be dreadful.
This is a lesson many beginners learn the hard way. Most people who claim that they “don’t like the taste” were repelled by an incorrectly brewed tea. This can create a terrible misconception that can last a lifetime. This can be easily avoided with better brewing techniques.
Most restaurants, cafés and households that serve tea try to cut corners by simply throwing all teas into the same temperature water and serving visitors without any direction. This makes about as much sense as opening a premium wine bar and serving white wines at room temperature, or opening a prime steakhouse and serving all steaks well done.
Steeping good tea does not take a PhD, but it is also not as simple as throwing it into boiling water and letting it stew. There are easy ways, however, to steep the perfect cup. In fact, there are nearly as many brewing methods as there are teas. We’ve evaluated the many steeping methods and will provide the most effective and functional ways to infuse the ideal tea in this article.
The trick to steeping tea correctly comes in five parts: water, weight, temperature, time and equipment.
Perfect water isn’t necessary, but if your water “tastes funny”, so will your tea. ‘Ideal’ water will have between 40 and 50 parts per million of mineral content. In a conscientious tea shop this will usually mean a rather expensive reverse osmosis filtration system and a calcium carbonate cartridge to introduce the proper amount of mineral content to the water.
Water that is too hard (too many minerals) will extract extra astringency from your tea and give you a harsh brew. Water that is too soft will not extract enough of the polyphenols that deliver astringency, health benefits and taste and you’ll have a weak, muddy cup. Fresh water is also best. When water boils, oxygen is released. The Chinese call water that has been boiled “dead water”. You can’t get the best cup of tea from water that has been repeatedly re-boiled.
Using too much tea will make your tea bitter and your wallet empty. Too little tea will bring a weak cup and a sense of longing. The volume that is considered the “golden ratio” of leaves to water is one teaspoon of most tea leaves (approx. 2 grams) per 6 ounce cup of water. Please note this is for a traditional 6 ounce cup.
Most mugs are nearly twice that at 10 to 12 ounces. Here’s where it gets a little complicated. A large, open leaf tea like a White tea or some Oolongs may require two or more teaspoons to equal 2 grams. Broken or tightly rolled teas like gunpowder may pack as many as 3 grams of tea into a single teaspoon. At the end of the day perfection is less important than keeping an eye on the leaf size and adjusting based on your taste preferences.
Some like it hot but, the ideal temperature depends on the tea. Use boiling water (100C) when preparing Black, dark Oolong and Herbal teas. These teas are tough, they can take the burn, and even require it in order to break down the leaf and release the flavor and antioxidants. However, it’s important to use cooler water when steeping more delicate teas, such as Green, green Oolong and White teas. Water that is too hot will cause a delicate tea to taste overly bitter or astringent. Water that is too cool will cause a tea to taste flavorless and weak. If you don’t have a thermometer or a kettle that lets you gauge temperature, you’ll typically find that boiling water that is allowed to sit for 5 minutes will have dropped to roughly 80C.
Allowing the tea to sit for too long makes most teas turn bitter. The rule of thumb is 3-5 minutes for most black teas (depending on your preference for strength) – any longer, and they’ll become overly astringent (a taste like bitter only located more along the sides of the back of the tongue). Dark Oolong and White teas, on the other hand, are much more forgiving. These teas will taste best when steeped for 3-5 minutes but will still be drinkable if steeped a little longer. For light Oolong and green teas, a little care must be employed, steeping for only 2 minutes, 3 minutes maximum if you’re looking for a strong cup.
The proper equipment is also very important in the steeping process. When hot water is added, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves some leg room. A large infuser area is essential to instill as much flavor into your cup as possible. Thus, commercial tea bags are not recommended, due to inadequate expansion room and low quality tea.
How to burn incense cones
The first step to burning incense cones is to choose a good censer because improperly burning this form of incense can be dangerous. While nearly anything can catch the ash from an incense stick, an incense cone will burn completely so the censer that is used has to be able to withstand the heat. Never burn incense cones on wood!
The most common form of the censer for incense cones is the small brass or porcelain burner. Unless you have a grilling style lighter to reach into the neck of the brass burner, it will be necessary to light the cone and get it smoldering before sticking it into the censer. Even if you have a long stemmed lighter, it’s still probably easier and better to light the cone and get it smoldering before sticking it into the censer. Since you will be putting the cone into the censer after it is already burning, it is important to have a censer with a mouth wide enough to fit your fingers into or using tongs without getting burned.
To get the incense cone smoldering, first light the pointed end and let it burn for several seconds before letting the flame go out naturally or blowing it out. Once the flame is out, the tip should continue to smolder. To help make the entire cone burn, you should increase the air flow under the cone by putting a small amount of sand or ash at the bottom of the censer. This is true whether you are using a small brass burner, porcelain burner or any of the other types of censers that are suitable for burning incense cones. Using the sand or ash will also help protect the censer and keep it from getting too hot since the sand or ash keeps the burning cone from touching the censer and acts as an insulator. Sand should be replaced after every four or five uses, while ash can be sifted and re-used indefinitely.
If the censer is not of the hanging variety, it should be placed on a ceramic tile or ashtray. Never use a brass or copper censer on a wooden surface because brass metal conducts heat very well, and even raised censers can burn the wood they sit on. Non-metallic burners don’t conduct heat like a brass or copper burner and, therefore, do not need to be placed on a ceramic tile or ashtray but you should still always test any new burner on a ceramic tile or ashtray first to make sure it doesn’t get too hot.
How to burn Incense Sticks
Stick incense is the most popular form of incense because it is convenient, burns consistently all the way through, lasts a long time, and produces a clean, high quality smoke. Though it is not exactly rocket science to burn an incense stick, this article will aim to cover some general tips and safety precautions.
The most obvious first step to burning an incense stick is to get it lit. To light the incense stick, hold a flame to the coated end until the stick lights on fire. If the flame does not go out naturally after several seconds, blow it out. You do not want the stick to be on fire. You simply want it to smolder. The tip should glow red and release a steady stream of smoke. It may take up to 30 seconds of smoldering before the true scent of the incense stick is released.
Once the incense stick is smoldering, you should place it securely into an appropriate incense stick burner. The most common type of incense stick burner is the “boat”. To burn an incense stick in a boat simply place the bamboo end of the stick securely into the little hole in the raised part of the boat. This hole is very tiny and on the more ornate incense boats it can sometimes be well hidden into the design so you may have to look very closely to find it. An incense dish or tray may also have one or more holes for burning incense sticks and, since these usually hold the incense stick vertically or near vertically, it is especially important with these to make sure the stick is snug into the hole so that it does not fall out and potentially cause a burn or fire.
If you want to burn more than one incense stick at a time, you can either use a dish or tray with more than one hole or use an incense “tree”. An incense “tree” is a column with holes drilled into it that hold incense sticks near vertically so that when filled with incense sticks it resembles a pine tree. Some dishes and trays may have up to five or even more holes for incense sticks, though most will only have one or two. Also, it should be noted that some incense boats have two holes for incense sticks but most only hold one. If using an incense tree, make sure it is sturdy and in a place where it cannot be easily knocked over.
If you have kids or pets and are worried about your incense burner getting knocked over, the safest way to burn incense sticks is to use an incense bottle. An incense bottle is just a decorative glass bottle with a split ring or clip in the bottle opening that is used to hold the incense stick while it burns. The stick hangs down into the bottle and the ash drops into the bottom of the bottle so that there is no cleanup necessary. Simply insert the uncoated part of the incense stick in between the two rings or into the clip, light it, and then slip it down into the bottle.
Similar to an incense bottle, an incense tower holds the stick vertically and completely encloses the stick. Unlike an incense bottle, an incense tower holds the stick up rather than letting it hang down. An incense tower has two parts; a base and a tube or column that fits down onto the base. To burn an incense stick in an incense tower, put the incense stick into the hole in the base and light it. Then slide the column or tube over the burning incense stick and fit it down snugly into the base.
The ideal way to burn incense sticks is in a large censer filled with sand or ash, such as a ceramic or stone pot or bowl. With this type of censer, you can burn many sticks at once and there is little to no cleanup. Sand must be replaced after every four or five uses but ash can be used indefinitely and the ashes form the burning incense stick can just be mixed in with the ash without having to be cleaned or emptied.
The cheapest way to burn incense sticks is to just stick them in the ground. Push the uncoated end of the bamboo into dry ground and clear away any combustible materials from underneath the sticks. If you’re going to burn them in the ground, however, it is especially important to not leave them unattended as a strong wind might blow sparks off the end that could start a fire. You should also keep burning incense sticks away from paths where anyone might walk next to them.
Finally, though “spaghetti stick” incense and incense cylinders make look similar to incense sticks, they do not have any uncoated stick and will burn all the way through so these can never be used in a wooden incense boat. The cylinders would typically be too thick to fit into the hole in a wooden boat anyway but the spaghetti sticks can fit so it is important to remember to never burn this type in a wooden incense boat. They can, however, be burned in a soapstone or metal boat.