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Move over chocolate? Tea-infused desserts are here.

Tea, I just realized, is not just a drink but a key to wellness.

I never paid attention before because I'm a coffee drinker and my concept of wellness is mistakenly limited to whiskey and gin ... but as we grow older, it becomes wiser to prevent illnesses rather than to resort to medicine.

So I was very happy to learn about Sekaya botanical infusions.

Essentially it is tea, although called 'botanical infusion' because the varieties technically go beyond tea.

According to Marie Judy Abrina, marketing manager of Sekaya, if the leaves are not from the evergreen shrub species Camellia sinensis, which produce teas like chamomile, jasmine and the like, it is not tea but tisane (herbal tea). Both tea and tisanes, however, are considered botanical infusions, hence the terminology used by Sekaya.

Sekaya, while foreign-sounding, is in fact a local brand by Unilab. 'Since Unilab is focused on the healthcare of the Filipino, it was decided that it is time that we also come up with natural products that will respond to complement that vision,' Abrina explained at the launch last week.

She described a global trend wherein wellness is no longer just in supplements but in food. 'We want the Sekaya brand to be on top of that emerging trend,' she said.

Sekaya botanical infusion -Photos courtesy of Sekaya

Plant-based healing

So Sekaya has studied botanical infusions (teas and tisanes) for specific wellness purposes. Pu-erh Trim, for instance, capitalizes on pu-erh tea from Yunnan, China, which helps boost metabolism. Their Mango Summer botanical infusion, on the other hand, combines marigold petals from Egypt and black Ceylon tea leaves from Sri Lanka with ripe mango essence. This serves as an antioxidant and unlike the usual herbal tea, is best prepared iced. Hibiscus, meanwhile, prepared using hibiscus petals from Egypt, helps in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. And the list goes on.

Since the products are from Unilab, which values the trust the public puts in the brand, each tea or infusion is first certified organic and quality-tested.

Tea as ingredient

At the launch, we also learned that tea, like herbs, can be used not only in wellness but also for flavor and dimension in everyday meals.

Last Christmas, Sweet Sally Desserts (0917-7962731) created biscuits and cakes using a variety of Sekaya infusions: choco banana muffins with Sekaya's Hibiscus infusion, brownie walnuts bites with Sekaya's Green Earl Grey tea, mango cranberry oat cookies with Sekaya's Mango Summer tea and ginger snaps with Moroccan Mint Tea.

Last week, chef Wilson Cariaga of Tagaytay Highlands went beyond deserts and enhanced ordinary chicken skewers with a Pu-ehr tea rub. He also poached salmon in Pu-ehr tea and created a mayonnaise with cranberry infusion.

He also created other desserts that were tea-rrific: mango summer panna cotta with Sekaya's Mango Summer Tea; yogurt parfait with Sekaya's hibiscus tea; and an orange pound cake with ground Earl Grey.

Sekaya hopes hotels and restaurants will be encouraged to use botanical infusions so that customers get not only flavor but also wellness benefits when they eat.

Drink hibiscus this summer. It has three times more antioxidants than matcha.

Herbal infusions

Filipinos, according to a study, are in fact most concerned about the health and wellness of their families. Hopefully, consumers will be encouraged to start drinking tea-instead of soft drinks and coffee-not only for the flavor but also for the added health benefits.

It also helps, of course, that the teas taste good. After learning of all the benefits, I will start drinking more tea ... although I admit I may start by eating tea-infused cookies and banana breads before giving up my coffee.

Sekaya botanical infusions are available online. Visit Follow @sekayaph on Instagram or search SekayaPh on Facebook.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 18, 2018
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