Grab and Go at the Airport

Grab is a new travel app that allows travelers to pre-order food, drinks and other purchases directly from their smartphones before they get to a location. Sounds great but does it really work? I decided to give it a try at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport.

It took less than a minute to download the free application and create an account. A credit card is required to be saved to the profile before you can place any orders.

Before I got to the airport, I searched for restaurants near my gate. The map was easy to navigate and I could take a look at all the eateries, terminal by terminal. However, in Atlanta, only 2 of the 5 terminals had Grab partnered locations listed. There were handful of options on Grab that were on Terminal T, though there were many other restaurants that were not part of the Grab family. For example, I would much prefer to eat at Corner Bakery (located across from my gate), but this was not listed as an option under Grab. Starbucks Coffee, which always has a long line, does not offer a Grab option either.

Starbucks location ATL airport

I decided to order from Argo Tea, which showed as a 5-10 minutes walk from where I was (It was not that far). The app gave guided directions to my destination. I have never dined at this place before, so was not familiar with their menu. The selections were briefly described, though not all ingredients were listed. It would have been nice to see a picture of the food, as I do tend to make a lot of my choices based on how fresh it looks. I ordered a kale salad, mushroom empanada, ruggelah and a medium latte. Once I made each selection, I could modify my order, for example make my latter with skim milk, and also comment any specifications. I asked for salad dressing on the side.

I entered a coupon code for payment and confirmed my order. Ordering was quite simple. Now I started walking towards Argo Tea.

grab menu

It was nice to see there was a separate line for Grab customers. I went to this line and the cashier asked me, “What would you like to order?” I said I had already placed an order on Grab, and she exclaimed, “Oh that was you!” It was only after I arrived that she started making my latte and packing my food. At this point she informed me that they don’t have empanada or kale salad. In fact, they don’t have empanadas on their menu at all. I told her that it was showing on their menu in the app, and she said it might be the menu of their Chicago location.

grab atlanta

The cashier allowed me to trade the 2 items with something else, though she didn’t know how to enter it in the cash register. I grabbed a spinach quiche and edamame salad instead, to try and stay in the same price range. The entire transaction took 5 or more minutes.

I never received a notification or receipt by email or text at any point. You can login to the app and then manually email receipt to yourself or your expense department. If you are a frequent user, it is convenient to see all your airport purchases in one place, though I doubt you will be having all your meals through Grab.

My review of Grab travel app:

Pros: 

  • Easy to use app
  • Great search feature
  • Convenient online payment

Cons: 

  • Limited selections
  • May not necessarily save time

Grab sounds like a great travel app that makes eating on the go convenient. I like the search feature and may just use that to look for places I want to eat at. I would probably try the Grab app again a couple of times to see if other businesses actually have the food ready to be “grabbed” and can provide a speedier check. Otherwise, if there aren’t any long lines, I would prefer to see, order and pick up food myself.

Grab is currently available in Atlanta and Austin, but launching in other cities very soon. To learn more or download the free mobile app for Apple and Android devices, click here.

A “Culturally Fresh” Lebanon

 

Go Eat Give had the pleasure of welcoming a new group of attendees to Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s Restaurant last week!  The Greening Youth Foundation, a non-profit that works with underserved and underrepresented children to create overall healthy communities, attended the event bringing 15 students from Grady High School in Atlanta. And, this will not be the only time that Go Eat Give will host the Greening Youth Foundation. We are excited to announce that Go Eat Give has decided to partner with the Greening Youth Foundation to create a new program entitled “Culturally Fresh”. The aim of the program is to help raise awareness of international cultural and environment issues among the youth in the southern United States.

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The night started off with appetizers – hummus and baba ganoush, and a Q&A session with Lebanese born Nicola, who was an educator himself before he opened his restaurant about 31 years ago.  The students were full of enthusiasm and asked him lots of questions about his life growing up in Lebanon and immigrating to the United States. In addition, they had to complete a treasure hunt assignment on Lebanon. The assignment included questions about the typical Lebanese diet, interesting facts, and history of Lebanon.

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The second course included stuffed grape leaves, fried artichoke hearts, traditional fattoush salad, tabbouleh, and kibbee, which were all delicious. Later, the main dishes served were kafta with Lebanese rice, chicken a la beef, and chicken with artichoke hearts.  Dinner was especially exciting since most of the students from Grady High had never tried Lebanese food before!

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The bunch also had a unique opportunity to hear from Mr. Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center and adjunct professor at Emory Law.  He is also Lebanese born, specializes in Middle East conflicts, and speaks English, French, and Armenian.  Hrair discussed the culture of Lebanon, including how it evolved through time due to the influence of other countries and how this evolution has created the rich diversity of Lebanon’s population.

After the speaker and discussion, we were able to taste baklava for dessert (my personal favorite!).  Baklava is a rich and sweet pasty made of thin layers of filo dough and filled with nuts and honey.

Lastly, the students got a lesson in Dabke dancing from Nicola.  Typically there is a dabke leader, and the group joins hands together and stomps to the beat.  We had a blast, and theentire crowd at the restaurant got together for a line dance around the room.

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We are very excited about the future of Culturally Fresh and truly enjoyed the students joining in on the food, friends, and fun.

Go Eat Give is Coming to Washington DC

We are very excited to launch our second Go Eat Give chapter in Washington, DC starting March 2015! Over the past few years, we have received requests from all over the world to bring our programs to their cities. While our international travel opportunities are open to everyone, monthly events have been held only in Atlanta so far. It is with great pleasure that I am announcing our expansion into Washington DC, a city rich with diverse restaurants, people and knowledge!

Here are some ways to get involved with Go Eat Give DC …

Attend Our Launch Event

Join us at our launch-party on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 from 6:30-9:30pm at the new Hierarchy Special Exhibition Gallery attached to Napoleon Bistro & Lounge (1847 Columbia Rd, NW) in Washington, DC. Myself, board member, Lisa Waters and event planning intern, Austin Hill will be there to greet you and share information about our upcoming programs.

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Hierarchy’s 2-star Michelin Chef Gerard Pangaud, the youngest chef ever to receive 2 stars, will personally prepare light refreshments for guests. Artwork from Michael Owen, creator and lead artist of the Baltimore Love Project, will be featured on the gallery walls. There will also be a cash bar and goody bags provided. The event is FREE to attend by RSVP is required. Click here for more information.

Volunteer 

We are looking for DC based volunteers, interns and board members to help make strategic decisions, recruit members and plan events. If you are interested in becoming a part of a growing international nonprofit organization, send us your resume. Perks include cultural interaction, good food and hands-on experience. Email to info@goeatgive.com

volunteer at go eat give

Stay Involved

Participate in our local activities including Destination Dinners and Volunteer Vacations. Join Go Eat Give to receive discounts and FREE access for the entire year. Sign up to get newsletter updates, join our MeetUp group and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want to miss another event!

DC Launch Flyer

9 Places to Visit in Lebanon

Lebanon is a beautiful country in the Middle East, bursting with history, great food, and great culture.  It being a classic traveler’s destination, how can you decide where to go and what to see?  Since planning a trip can be quite the task, Go Eat Give has named the nine must see cities in Lebanon for your touring pleasure:

1. Beirut

This capital city of Lebanon is nicknamed “The Paris of the Middle East,” and is bustling with things to do. Along with great shopping and beautiful scenery, Beirut has a rich cultural history to explore. There are many museums and sacred religious sites there, such as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, the National Museum of Beirut, and the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

Beirut

2. Baalbek

Baalbek is located on the western end of Lebanon and is home to some of the most well preserved Roman ruins known to mankind.   The city dates back over 9,000 years and was previously known by the name of “Heliopolis,” or The City of the Sun, during the period of the Roman rule. Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus are all believed to have been worshipped at the Baalbek temples.

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3. Jeita Grotto

Located in the center of the Nahr al-Kalb valley in Jeita, Lebanon, the Jeita Grotto is an amazing sight. The interconnected limestone caves, which can only be accessed by boat, span around nine kilometers in length. To make the grotto even more intriguing—it was a finalist to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Lebanese journalists and photographers tour the Jeita Grotto by boat during a media day to campaign for the selection of the Jeitta Grotto as one of the seven natural wonders of the world

4. Sidon

This is a Lebanese town that is filled with old history and remarkable sight seeing.   Located on the western coast of the country, it was one of the most important Phonecian cities and is now known as an active fishing town. Sidon is home to the largest Lebanese flag and also the Old Souk, a famous marketplace.

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5. Tyre

Tyre is another city in Lebanon that contains very interesting ruins and historic sites. One main attraction here is the Roman Hippodrome—an ancient stadium for chariot and horse racing! The Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is also the largest sandy beach in the country.

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6. Beit ed-Dine

Beit ed-Dine is a town famous for its’ magnificent Beiteddine Palace (shown below). This one-of-a-kind palace was built in 1788 and hosts the annual Beiteddine Festival and Beiteddine Palace Museum. Interestingly enough, after Lebanon’s independence in 1943 the palace was officially renamed the “People’s Palace” since it had been created by the people’s hard work and will.

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7. Faraya

Lebanon is known for it’s interesting climate, and this town is the perfect example why. Above this village lies the Mzaar Resort, which is a ski resort. The resort is only about 20 miles away from Beirut, meaning you could experience warm weather and winter all in the same day!

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8. The Cedars of God

Cedar trees are sacred and known to have covered Mount Lebanon in the past, but The Cedars of God is one of the last forests left in the country. This was caused by persistent deforestation by Lebanon’s ancestors, such as for shipbuilding and construction. The snowy area has great hiking and beautiful views.

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The name of this Lebanese village can be translated from Arabic into the “Monastery of the Moon.” It’s home to many important religious sites such as Saydet El Talle and the Mount of the Cross. This village is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A Travel Writer’s Must Have Apps

Have you downloaded hundreds of applications on your smart phone, preparing for an upcoming trip, only to realize you never used them? These days, there are free apps for creating packing lists, booking hotels, finding the best airplane seats, hauling a cab, tracking flights, reading brochures, and so much more. I don’t consider myself to be an App junkie. While I do keep abreast of new Travel Apps that are recommended by frequent fliers, there are a handful I find myself going back to over and over again.

Here are my top five that I absolutely cannot be without and why.

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1. Evernote – The easiest way to stay organized and not be scrambling for papers. For every trip I create a Notebook (e.g. India 2014), and within the notebook, I create Notes. This is where you can save a copy of your tickets, hotel booking, itinerary, travel guides you want to read later, directions, etc. You can also save audio recordings and photos of where you have been, with titles, inside a note. Meaning, whenever you need anything related to that trip, it will be in your folder. As a travel writer, I use Evernote to draft my blogs as I am, in the moment observing a place or reviewing a restaurant. The app sync between multiple devices and you can access it offline with a Premium subscription.

2. TomTom – Sometimes I rent a car in foreign countries and don’t want to pay extra for a GPS. The paid version of Tom Tom app works offline (meaning you won’t be using cell phone data or need to be on wifi) and covers most countries. No more asking for directions!

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3. Trip Advisor City Guides – It takes seconds to download a City Guide, and you have a wealth of information on your fingertips I generally spend some time on the plane or during transits to read about background information, attractions, restaurants and shopping, and  create my itinerary based on my saves. The City Guide app also has a map and gives offline directions to the attractions listed.

4. Skype – Although WhatApp, Viber and Kakao Talk offer free calling and texting, the downside is that the other parts needs to be subscribed to the channels as well. With Skype, I can call airlines customer service, hotels, family, coworkers, etc. With a monthly subscription you can get the unlimited calling, or pay as you go if you won’t be using it much.

5. Google Translate – Since most of the trips tend to be international, Google Translate is a life savior. I use it to practice a few basic phrases (Hello, How are you? Where is the bathroom? Thank you, Goodbye) before I get to the foreign country. If I am at a restaurant and don’t know the word for chicken, I can look it up. Communication is so much easier with Google Translate.

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6. Airport by Travel Nerd – I was looking for an accurate app that would give airport maps by terminals and a directory of what retail and restaurants are at each terminal. When you just want a Starbucks, look up your Travel Nerd app.

7. Flight Track – Possibly the most basic flight tracking tool. All you need to do is enter your flight number and date, and it will show you where your plane is exactly. I do this at one time, for all legs of my flight. You will receive alerts for delays, terminal changes, gate numbers, and alternative flights.

8. Convert – One stop app for converting currency (most up to date exchange rates), weight, area, speed, temperature, etc.

Do you have any travel apps that you swear by? Share them with our readers by leaving your comments below.

How Not to Fall Sick on Your Next Vacation

You planned every detail, put aside savings, and waited all year for that two- week vacation abroad. The last thing you want to do is fall sick during your time in the magical new place and not be able to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, our bodies do get sick every so often depending on what we expose ourselves to. In our day-to-day life, we come into contact with co- workers, friends, kids and neighbors who could pass on an infection to us. Travelling intensely magnifies your chance of picking up germs, as you pass by thousands of people at airports, train stations and attractions. Add to that the changes in weather, time, altitude, latitude, sun exposure, air quality, food, water, and sleep patterns and your body becomes a lot less resistant to fighting the cocktails of bugs you may have picked up along the way.

After travelling to almost 50 countries, I still don’t have all the secrets that will prevent you from falling sick. I travel almost every month and do fall ill from time to time. What I have learned through my own pitfalls is that taking certain precautions can help keep you healthy while on the go.

1. Drink lots of water – but not tap water – throughout the trip. Make sure you drink only boiled or bottled water from reliable sources. Keeping hydrated will help you deal with many illnesses caused by heat, humidity and high altitudes.

2. Avoid taking ice in your drinks. Oftentimes, tap water is used for making ice, so be sure to ask the server if the ice is made from filtered water before consuming it. To be safe, drink only pre-packaged sodas, juices or hot beverages. A few weeks ago, I thought I was drinking a vitamin-packed fresh orange juice at a market in Cuenca, Ecuador, but ended up with a stomach flu due to the unfiltered water mixed in with the juice.

Eating at the market in Cuenca, Ecuador
Eating at the market in Cuenca, Ecuador

3. Carry a surgical face mask when travelling to cities where pollution may be a problem. Properly wash the mask from time to time or use a disposable one. Changes in air quality can cause respiratory problems, sinus and throat infections or even the flu. Not realizing that the valley trapped all the pollutants from motorcycle exhausts, I found that my expectation of breathing clean mountain air in the Himalayas was unmet. The moment I arrived in Kathmandu, I started coughing insatiably and had to run to the pharmacy for medicine.

Motorcycling through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal
Motorcycling through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal

4. Do yoga, meditation and stretches every morning. Even if you are not used to exercise, you will find that a few minutes of engaging your organs will aid in better digestion and give you more energy to enjoy the rest of the day. If your hotel offers group exercise classes or a gym facility, be sure to take advantage of it.

Doing yoga every morning in Bali, Indonesia
Doing yoga every morning in Bali, Indonesia

5. Do not forget to take your vitamins every day just as you would at home. If you take multivitamins, fish oil, B capsules, probiotics or any other supplements, don’t stop just because you are on vacation. My chiropractor swears that if you take 1000 mg of Vitamin C and 3 to 4 tablets of zinc daily, you will never fall sick.

6. Use your judgment before deciding where to eat. Don’t think that just because the restaurant is well-rated it will meet your sanitation requirements. Take a peek into the kitchen to ensure that the floors and counters look clean, there are no flies or insects hanging around, and the chefs are wearing gloves and hairnets for protection. Especially when travelling to third world countries, it’s important to understand that every culture has its own standards of hygiene.

7. Many people may say otherwise, but my advice is to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables when travelling so long as they are peeled and properly washed. Constipation is the number one complaint that travellers have, so make sure you get your required daily intake of roughages. I love going to the Caribbean as there is always a variety of affordable fresh fruits available.

8. Don’t eat street food. It can be very tempting to eat where the locals eat so you can taste authentic dishes and save money, but try to have self-control. Know that street food is not always bad, but your stomach has not yet acquired the native enzymes to break it down properly. While in Honduras, I gave into temptation and tried Baleadas (wheat taco) prepared by ladies on the wayside and came home with a rare type of Caribbean hook worm.

9. Eating at people’s homes can be a bit trickier. You don’t want to sound like a snobby foreigner and also want to be grateful to your host. Be polite and use your good judgment. In India, it is considered rude to decline food or drink when you are invited into someone’s home. It doesn’t matter whether you are hungry or not, you simply have to accept it.

10. Long flights, strange beds and flat pillows can cause back and neck aches that make a trip less enjoyable. I always take my own Tempur-Pedic pillow with me, even if all I have is a carry-on bag. If you don’t find the bedding comfortable, ask the hotel’s housekeeping staff to bring you a firm pillow, preferably with an anti-allergy pillow cover.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional and this article is not meant to appear in a medical journal. These tips are based solely on my own personal experience of working as a travel writer and crisscrossing the world every few weeks.

20 Homemade Tea Recipes

Tea production, tea brewing, tea ceremonies and tea drinking, are an integral part of many different cultures. Every region favors its own variety of tea leaves, depending on what is locally grown and available, as well as regional flavors. Here is a mind boggling glossary for tea lovers and wannabe’s from around the world. What better place to experience it than in the Spice Bazaar of Istanbul?

Tea_and_spices Istanbul_spice_market

 

1. ISTANBUL TEA

Istanbul Tea includes herbs (golden flower, roses, hibiscus) and fruits (orange, apple, strawberry) that gives sweet and sour taste. Istanbul tea can help you get the daily vitamins that your body needs by drinking a cup every day.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

2. ANTI-STRESS TEA
Anti-stress Tea includes herbs (melisa, chamomile, amaranth, rose, hibiscus) and fruits (orange, rosehip) that calms and relaxes. Anti -stress tea can help you to get a better quality time of sleep.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

3. OTTOMAN TEA
Ottoman Tea includes herbs (green tea, amaranth, cardamom, rose) and fruits (apple). Ottoman tea is good for digestion. You can drink it after a heavy meal to feel comfortable. It also helps your metabolism to be stronger.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

4. APPLE TEA
Apple Tea includes natural apples. You can drink it by itself or you can add it into other teas such as black tea, green tea. You can also boil it to use it for different purposes as fruit salads, deserts and alcoholic or non- alcoholic beverages.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also give it a boil to make it stronger and faster. After straining it, you can drink the tea and with the left overs you can make apple pie as mixing the leftovers with powdered sugar and laying on the pie-dough.

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5. ORANGE TEA
Orange Tea includes natural orange peels. You can drink it by itself or you can add it into other teas such as black tea, green tea. You can also boil it to use it for different purposes as fruit salads, deserts and alcoholic or non- alcoholic beverages.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also give it a boil to make it stronger and faster. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

6. LEMON TEA
Lemon Tea includes natural lemon peels. You can drink it by itself or you can add it into other teas such as black tea, green tea. You can also boil it to use it for different purposes as fruit salads, deserts and alcoholic or non- alcoholic beverages.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also give it a boil to make it stronger and faster. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

7. VANILLA TEA
Vanilla Tea includes vanilla beans and black seylon tea.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also boil it with milk for 4-5 mins, strain it and put cinnamon powder on top to have “hot milkshake” . You can also use the boiled vanilla tea “milk” for your pudings to have “vanilla tea puding”.

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8. GREEN TEA -JASMINE TEA
This tea includes green tea and jasmine flowers. Green tea is very good for immune system and jasmine flowers have a calming effect on the body.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

9. JASMINE FLOWERS TEA
This tea includes white jasmine flowers. Jasmine flowers have a calming effect on the body. You can drink it by itself or you can add it into other teas such as black tea, green tea. You can also boil it to use it for different purposes as fruit salads, deserts and alcoholic or non- alcoholic beverages.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

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10. RED TEA
Red Tea includes herbs (hibiscus,rose) and fruits (cranberries, rosehip, pomegranate) that gives sweet and sour taste. These herbs and fruits gives strength and boosts immune system. Red tea is also written on many article as being effective on heart.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea. After cooling down the tea, you can pour it into empty ice tray to make red ice cubes. These red ice cubes goes really well with both alcoholic (such as vodka) and non-alcoholic (such as lemonade).

11. GREEN TEA
This tea includes green tea leaves. You can drink it by itself or you can add other teas into it such as orange, lemon, apple, jasmine tea.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

Turkish_tea

12. TURKISH TEA
To make Turkish tea you should use Caydanlik which is a small tea pot-brewer (demlik) on top of a kettle. Pour 3 cups of water into the larger kettle. Put the Turkish tea leaves and 2 tbsp of water into the teapot and place it on the kettle. Bring the water in the kettle to boil over medium heat. Then turn the heat off. Wait for the water to settle*, then pour half of the boiling water from the kettle over the leaves into the brewer. Let it brew for about 5 minutes**. Then pour the brewed tea into tea glasses using a small tea strainer. Fill in half of the tea glasses with the brewed tea and the rest with the hot water. Serve Turkish tea with sugar cubes.

* If you pour boiled water immediately over tea leaves, the tea will lose its vitamins. ** If you extend brewing time, the taste will get bitter. Also freshly brewed Turkish tea should be consumed within half an hour of brewing time.

13. LINDEN TEA
This tea includes linden flowers. Linden tea is very good for respiratory system especially on winter. Some of the articles say that linden helps losing the fat stocked in the body.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and ad ice to make ice tea.

14. SAGE TEA
This tea includes sage flowers. Sage tea is very good for respiratory system especially on winter. Some of the articles say that linden helps losing the fat stocked in the body.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and ad ice to make ice tea.

15. WHITE TEA
This tea includes white tea. White tea leaves and buds are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before they are lightly processed to prevent oxidation or further tea processing. White tea is very good to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stronger bones and it is antibacterial, antioxidant and antivirus.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and ad ice to make ice tea.

16. POMEGRANATE TEA
This tea includes pomegranate buds or/and flowers. Pomegranate tea leaves and buds are dried under the sun. Pomegranate tea is very good for relaxing both nerves and stomach.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and ad ice to make ice tea.

17. ROSE TEA
This tea includes rose buds or/and flowers. Rose tea leaves and buds are dried under the sun before its open. Rose tea is very good for relaxing both nerves and stomach.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and ad ice to make ice tea.

18. JASMINE BALLS
This tea includes jasmine balls. Jasmine flowers have a calming effect on the body. One of the ball can make a bowl of tea for 3-4 people. You can add more hot water on to make more tea at a time.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 of the ball, wait for 3-5 minutes and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

19. GREEN TEA-LEMON-MINT
This tea includes green tea, lemon peels and mint leaves. These three herbs are very good together for immune system, stomach and respiratory system.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot water, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make ice tea.

Indian chai in Kolkata

20. CHAI
This tea includes black seylon tea, cardamom and ginger. Home of the CHAI is India.

How to make the tea : For one glass of hot milk, put 1 teaspoon of the tea, wait for 3-5 minutes, strain it and drink. You can also cool it down and add ice to make iced CHAI.

~ Courtesy of Ucuzcular Spice Team. The shop can be found at the world famous Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.

6 Ways to Wind Up with the Best Deals during Shoulder Season

  1. Book early—reserve a room in advance to reap benefits like peace of mind, plenty of selection and discounts that are only available if you book ahead. For example, the oceanfront Courtyard by Marriott in Carolina Beach is currently offering 20% off when you book a weekend stay 14 or more days in advance.1605-Final
  2. Stay standard, but be prepared to upgrade—as with rental cars, it can be worth the risk to book a standard room, or the cheapest available, and hope for an upgrade upon check-in. Often, when reservation agents hear the reason you’re visiting—i.e. honeymoon, anniversary, long overdue vacation—they’re happy to offer you a free or low-cost upgrade if they have the rooms available. Chances of getting an upgrade are greater during shoulder season when more rooms are available.
  3. Look (and book) online first—before you pick up the phone to call the reservation agent, look at the property’s website to see if they’re currently offering any online-only specials. For example, the Blockade Runner Beach Resort at Wrightsville Beach has weekly e-specials that are only available online.courtyard 3
  4. Consider a longer stayVictory Beach Vacations in Carolina Beach is running a deal for buy three nights, get the fourth free. Often hotels don’t advertise their discounts for extended stays, so be prepared to bring up the subject.
  5. Shoulder, shoulder season—stay during the week for cheaper rates. Many properties such as Dolphin Lane in Carolina Beach and Darlings by the Sea in Kure Beach offer double discounts in the shoulder season. Not only are rooms cheaper because it’s not summer, but they’re also discounted again for stays that fall between Sunday and Thursday.Kure Beach
  6. Don’t limit yourself to discount websites—while websites like Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia can be convenient for quickly finding hotel rooms, they often lack the more charming accommodations that offer character, and in some cases—lower rates. Leave it to the locals—a.k.a. visitor bureaus—to provide the best inside information on accommodations in the area. For example, the Wilmington and Beaches website lists accommodations for all three neighboring beaches and regularly posts updates on special packages and promotions. This is information that comes from the proprietor and is information that discount websites may not be privy to.

~ Courtesy of Wilmington and Beaches CVB

Which bubbles are you drinking?

As we raise a toast to bring in the new year, the excitement and cheering often times drowns out the knowledge of the contents of the champagne glass. For most people, the mere fact that there is an icy cold, gold color, bubbly liquid, served in a long stem crystal glass is enough to mark the ceremonious occasion. But some of you connoisseurs may want to know the basic differences between Sparking White, Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Cremant and Spumanti. Whether you want to buy a bottle as a gift, or show off your expertise at the bar, this broad overview would help you distinguish your bubbles.

top-champagne-brands-most-searched
Image courtesy of Wine Folly

Sparking White Wine – Any white wine injected with carbon dioxide to produce bubbles falls into the category of sparkling white wine. There are also red sparkling wines such as Italian Brachetto and Australian sparkling Shiraz.

Sparkling wines and Champagnes are categorized as Extra Brut, BrutExtra dry, Sec and Demi-sec depending on their sugar levels. It is easy to find a good sparkling white wine under $30.

Champagne – In order to officially be called Champagne, the bubbly needs to be from the Champagne region of France and made in accordance with specific guidelines. A good bottle will cost upwards of $60.

Cava – Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine that can be either white or rose. You can find it in varying levels of sweetness from the dry brut nature to a sweet wine. It generally has more bubbles than other sparking wines. Expect to spend around $10 for a decent bottle.

Prosecco – Originated in Italy, as a cheaper alternative to Champagne. Some of the ones you find today are of very high quality and comparable to Champagne. Budget unto $20 for a bottle of Italian Prosecco.

Cremant – The French terms “Mousseux” or “Crémant” are used to refer to sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region. This is made according to the Champagne method of fermentation in the bottle, but sometimes use different grape varieties. Generally, Cremant is less bubbly than other sparkling whites.

Espumante – A Portugese sparkling white wine and probably the cheapest version of this category. They are on the sweeter side. Its Italian name is Spumanti.

There are still other many regional versions of the bubbly drink found around the world.

While wines are named based on the variety of grapes used, sparklers need to be produced and processed according to strict guidelines in order to be labeled.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

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