DIY Coconut Tea Rose Sugar Scrub

Here’s a great way to use our Sencha Cherry Rose to help your dry, itchy, winter skin! Thanks Kellie!

DIY Coconut Tea Rose Sugar Scrub.

Check out our beautiful glass tea pot which boils water on the stove and steeps your tea right in front of you. From stove to table in one go!

Tea Blog

Awhile back I heard an alarming report that teacups might be going completely out of favor with tea drinkers and be replaced by mugs. Now, an intrepid tea and coffee guy on Facebook has posted an item about kettle sales in the UK being down. Oh dear, is this signaling the demise of the tea kettle? As a kettle devotee, I had to look into this further. Could it be true? Here’s the scoop.

Mintel, a high-quality provider of Market Research, reported that sales of tea kettles in the UK has declined 7% in the past five years (8.1 million sold in 2007, and only 7.5 million sold in 2012). Sounds calamitous! The cause for this decrease is said to be that consumers are switching to using other appliances such as coffee machines, one-cup hot water dispensers, and microwaves (to heat the water). In addition, hot drinks are not as…

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It’s Magic!

I’ts Magic!.

It’s Magic!

ImageThe mind of my 5-year-old son is startling sometimes. In his world, it is okay to send chickens down the tree house slide and to ride the dog like a horse. He believes the duck he met at a pond 15 miles away is going to show up at our house someday and be his pet. Joseph has asked the house fairies to give him magic fairy dust so that he can open a portal in the TV so he can go and fight bad guys and he is pretty convinced we should be writing to Santa right now in order to get the gifts he is envisioning for Christmas. You see, Joseph invents toys in his mind, toys that are going to take Santa a lifetime to create, patent, and mainstream. Just last night, Joseph was insistent that I find him a submarine so that he can search for treasure at the bottom of the ocean. This was after he requested my help in making capes for three of his friends… “one white as snow for Chloe, one pink as a baby for Gracie, and one blue as the sky for Maggie.” Little Cassanova has asked repeatedly for a love potion, which I concocted from dried lavender, purple sugar crystals, and warm water. When he sprayed it on me, I pretended to be madly in love with him (which I am of course) but it doesn’t have quite the same effect on others. In fact, it had the opposite effect on his sister. Next potion on his list? A sleeping gas. “Mommy, do you know how to make any other potions besides love potions?” NOPE! “Fiddlesticks. I need a sleeping gas so I can …” and I got lost in the tale he wove of bad guys and good guys and fights and battles and portals and … I’m dizzy.


Potions, gases, portals, fairies … the world is very magical for my little guy. Someday, he’ll stop asking for potions, stop believing in fairies, stop asking Santa for presents because “reality” will settle over him. The bad guys he goes off to battle may be less sinister, more commonplace, your run-of-the-mill greedy, narcissistic co-worker, employer, or colleague. C’est la vie. (Excuse me while I wipe the tears away. As much as the world of make-believe drives me crazy, I will miss it when it’s done.)


There’s the magic of kids, the magic of innocence and imagination where situations and life challenges are played out in a safe environment. And there is magic, the kind that goes beyond illusion and imagination to dabbling in or full immersion in the occult. I was recently listening to Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom (CompassioNow founders and Compassion Tea directors) speaking on KKLA, a radio station in Los Angeles, about their work with the “least served” in Africa. They mentioned that among the difficulties they face in bringing successful medical care to rural peoples in Africa is the traditional, cultural practice of consulting the local shaman. In 2007, there were estimated to be as many as 200,000 indigenous traditional healers in South Africa compared to 25,000 Western-trained doctors. 60% of the South African population consults these traditional healers first or exclusively. I asked Wendy if this statistic holds true for the rest of Africa. Her response was affirmative for the countries CompassioNow works with.  In Zambia, for instance, there is a missionary to the Tonga people who states, “The Tonga culture is steeped in witchcraft, ancestral worship, and other occultic practices many of which form part of their traditions…. Traditional healers play an important role in health care. They normally take care of the ill with herbal and other plant remedies.”


The shamans of Africa follow centuries of traditional methods for treating illnesses. Many African cultures believe that ancestors from the spirit world guide, protect, or attack the living. Witchcraft, pollution from impure objects, or neglect of the ancestors are believed to be the three major causes of illness. Bringing harmony back between the living and the dead, the diseased and the harming spirits, is the primary job of the shaman. Herbal concoctions (muti), animal sacrifice, burning of incense, conjuring, throwing the bones, purification rituals, and ancestral channeling are all methods of restoring this balance and harmony, which will then alleviate the patient’s suffering.  Usually, the shaman undergoes some ritual or divination to speak to the spirit world to gain insight into the problem. In consultation with the spirit world and the patient, the shaman will come to a desired course of action, which may or may not include consulting Western medical practices.


There may be much to learn from these ancient traditions. According to a Wikipedia article titled “Traditional Healers of South Africa,” “Botanists and pharmaceutical scientists continue to study the ingredients of traditional medicines in use by [shaman].” However, there is also much concern about the old ways. While people are often “called” into the shaman “profession” by recovery from a serious illness and they subsequently undergo an intense initiation process, charlatans also abound. The missionary in Zambia notes that, “Many [of the traditional healers] require some form of payment and villagers live in fear of these healers because of their supernatural powers.” Wendy explains further that a shaman may tell a person “I’ll heal you” and will demand a cow or goat as payment. The shaman provides a medicine that doesn’t work. When the patient returns, he or she is told that if he or she stops taking the medicine (which isn’t working, remember), then he or she will be cursed. The patient must then provide payment for the curse to be lifted before the patient can stop taking the medicine. For further example, Wendy tells of a time a woman in Zambia went to her local shaman because of sores on her leg. The shaman prescribed a concoction of ash and rabbit hair. The concoction ended up giving the woman a horrible infection.


Shaman charlatans may not just be ineffective medical caregivers.  The Wikipedia article also notes that “Some [shamans] have been known to abuse the charismatic power they have over their patients by sexually assaulting them, sometimes dressed up as ritual.” Wendy recalls that the shamans offer help beyond medical care, too. It is common knowledge among the Tonga people that if a villager wants a fellow villager killed, he or she can go to the shaman who will give the villager a stick the size of a match to place in the water container of the intended victim. When the victim goes down to the lake to fetch water, the stick will turn into a crocodile and kill the person.


Despite the obviously occult nature of the shaman’s care, most rural Africans still turn to these “doctors” because of the lack of western medical care. The missionary in Zambia states, “Amazingly, there are many clinics built in the valley [near Lake Kariba in Zambia where the Tonga people live], but these are under-staffed and most have no medicines. Simple training in hygiene and first aid measures could prevent many illnesses.” In an article titled “Inside South Africa’s Rural Healthcare Crisis” posted on the Voice of America webpage, Dr. Thembinkosi Motlhabane of the Zithulele clinic in the Oliver Tambo region of South Africa explains that he doesn’t have the medical equipment and medicines to treat his most seriously ill patients. He has to wait for an ambulance from Mthatha, a larger medical facility 60 miles away, to come collect those patients. This could take hours, if the ambulance comes at all.  Liz Gatley, another doctor at Zithulele, comments, “(Our) patients struggle to access care, so they often only get to us when they are very, very sick…. I know it sounds like a silly thing to say but when doctors who come from other parts of the country come here, they comment to us on how sick our patients really are.” Ncedisa Paul, a local community health worker, said “many children in the countryside are killed by diseases that are easily treated in more resource-rich areas – again because of the great distances involved in accessing healthcare, and lack of clean water.” 


 The Voice of America article goes on to state:

Disease rates, as well as numbers of deaths, spike when rural public healthcare facilities run out of medicines and other essentials and the government fails to deliver important medical equipment. “We’ve run out of TB treatment; we’ve run out of antibiotics,” said Gatley. “It’s happened that we were down to one or two IV (intravenous) antibiotics, which is ridiculous.” 

She said hospitals and clinics endure regular shortages of the “most basic” of medical apparatus. “We’ve run out of surgical gloves. We’ve run out of oxygen many times before… Sometimes it means people die.”

Gatley said public health workers order basic supplies from the government, but they never arrive. “So now we buy all our stationery ourselves, like printing paper, which we need for data sheets, and our whiteboard markers and so on,” said Shannon Morgan, an occupational therapist at Zithulele hospital. “I run a department on donations and self-bought materials. We use our own cars and petrol to visit patients who are too disabled to come here.” 

Health workers claim South Africa’s public healthcare system, especially in the more isolated districts, is characterized by bad management, administrative inefficiency and poor planning.


These are exactly the same situations that CompassioNow hears regularly from the clinics it helps, exactly the same situations it strives to prevent through its donation of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals to those clinics. It often feels like an uphill battle. But it is essential to keep trying, because the places our clinics serve are seeing greater and greater numbers of lives saved.


Wendy poses this dilemma:  “What do you do when you are 5 hours by bicycle from the nearest medical clinic and your child is bitten by a snake? The villagers will tell you to take your child to the shaman because just last week the shaman healed a child that was bitten by one. If you decide to go the Western medical route, you set off on the 5-hour bike ride, and your child dies while you are trying to get help. When you get back to the village, the people will say, ‘Cursed are you! You should have gone to the shaman!’” This goes beyond the love potions and sleeping gases of a boy in the throes of childish magic. This is a matter of life and death.