I treated myself to a facial at The Woodhouse Day Spa in Orlando. Sand Lake Road is around 20 miles from my house, and certainly there are closer day spas, but this one came highly recommended from my friend Lara. If it has been a while since you have been to this area of town, near Bay Hill and Dr. Phillips and often known as Restaurant Row, it has certainly transformed. I felt as if I were driving through West Palm Beach, rather than just the other side of Universal Studios. Wow!
The Woodhouse Spa
The Woodhouse Day Spa matches this ritzy neighborhood quite well, being located in the Dellagio Town Center. The spa itself has an upscale feel, light and airy in the lobby, but a dark wood floor hints at the calming atmosphere within. The spa is clean and friendly and I definitely felt whisked away from the frenzy of Orlando. I chose the Essential Purifying Facial, which included a head, neck, and arm massage, and so I was left feeling extremely relaxed and refreshed by the end.
One of the standards of a day spa is the offering of tea while you wait. The Woodhouse features Harney & Sons tea, which is certainly a respectable brand. I found myself enjoying the Earl Grey while reading a wonderful little coffee table book on Tea. A long-time tea drinker, I found this reading fascinating.
Origins of Tea
Knowledge of tea dates back to almost 5,000 years ago in the Chinese and Tibetan area. Legend says water had just been boiled when a few tea leaves blew into the drink of Emperor Shennong, changing the color. He braved a sip, being pleasantly surprised with its sweet taste. He later championed tea for its restorative properties. Tea quickly grew to other countries, but remained exclusive to the Far East until Marco Polo brought back this commodity along with silk and other goods. Of course, the growing of tea plants remained fairly secret until the British plied this information via the opium trade.
All teas come from the same type of tea tree, the Camellia sinensis; however, the climate, soil, and watering all have an influence on the quality of the tea leaf. It is then the processing of this tea leaf that determines whether it is black, green, white, oolong, or other.
Black: Black tea comes from tea leaves being processed to stop the oxidation process, and then heated once again to preserve the flavor. Black tea usually has more caffeine than the other varieties, but its flavor is usually bolder and lasts longer.
My Favorites: Any of the Assam teas (from Northern India) and Lapsang Souchong (dried over pine bark for a smokey flavor…not for the faint of heart!).
Assam Tea Gardens in Northern India
Green: Green tea leaves are leaves that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. They contain less caffeine and boast several health benefits.
My Favorites: Gyokuru (grown in the shade to increase the chlorophyll) and Matcha (a powdered green tea, often used to flavor ice cream).
Traditional whole leaf green tea serving
White: White tea comes from the tips of leaves before they open…often still safely inside the felt-covered buds. Because of this, white teas are very mild and sweet in taste.
My Favorites: Silver Needle (from the Fujian Province and best when harvested between March 1 and April 1) and Ceylon White (from Sri Lanka).
Silver Needle white tea
Oolong: Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that is processed somewhere between a black and green tea. These teas are often rolled into long curly strands or into small balls known as “gunpowder” tea.
My Favorites: Four Great Bushes and Pouchong (a light floral aroma).
Oolong tea rolled into curls
There are other types of teas: yellow, blends, infused, Pu-erh, etc. But, with a general knowledge of black, green, white, and oolong, you can start experimenting to see what type you find desirable.
Great Orlando tea houses to try: Infusion Tea in College Park and Dandelion Communitea Café in Little Vietnam.