News and Announcements
The confessional tone of many contributions to the Global Tea Hut monthly newsletter has led me to believe I already know some of you personally, though we are all spread out across the globe. Is there something in the nature of tea itself that lends itself to confessional storytelling? Or is this impulse brought about by the fact that we are sharing an intimate ritual, yet have never seen each other’s faces, so we compensate by baring ourselves to each other verbally? Thus, as we sip from our cups of tea, each of us in our own corner of the world, we can better imagine the Others. Inspired by your stories, I find it time to come out and bare myself, share my own story with those of you sitting in this circle of tea who are willing to listen:
Humans differ from animals due to two vital activities, as author Michael Ruhlman recently stated: “We use fire to cook our food, and we use language to tell stories.” The ritual of preparing, serving and drinking tea fits well into this distinction and perhaps even intensifies our human qualities by linking us to a millenary tradition. Much like cooking, tea brings together natural elements: water, plants, fire—and human intervention—utensils or teaware, and preparation skill. Moreover, the pause in our daily hustle-and-bustle that tea calls for, both when shared and sipped on one’s own, activates reflection, recollection, removal from the, at times, overwhelming experience unfolding beyond our tea table.
The perspective granted by the ritual of tea can be a gift, as it allows us to gather together pieces of our broken selves. When things fall apart, the grounding nature of tea can help us through, by simply anchoring us to the here-and-now, away from the foreboding anxieties of pain and distress. Tea grounds us as it connects us to immediate sensory experience, and facilitates a moment of repose, which, sometimes unassumingly, expands from a physical state to a more tranquil mode of being.
Though I have been a tea-drinker for a long time, always preferring it to coffee, my deep devotion to tea, and especially to tea as solace, is relatively recent, and is ironically marked by a family tragedy. In December 2011, my sister in Buenos Aires suffered a massive brain hemorrhage as the extremely unfortunate result of a medical intervention with a 2% risk. She spent most of two months in a coma. She is my only sister, twenty months younger, and though our lives took different courses in different places, she is one of the closest people to me in the world. Ten months later, as I write, she is still in the hospital, thousands of miles away, very gradually recovering, but with severe after-effects: she can barely move the left side of her body, and she has no short-term memory. The account still sounds somewhat anecdotal and unreal, even now as I sit here, sequencing the words on the page in front of me.
Back home in Barcelona in early 2012, after spending some time in Buenos Aires, struggling to make it through unfathomable pain at a distance, I found myself getting up out of bed earlier and earlier each morning, before dawn, to sit for a while in silence with just the sounds of my tea, before my family woke up and I was forced to find the strength to reassume my role of mother, wife, teacher. One day I realized that the tea was offering me some comfort, through the opportunity to let go of my story, to just sit and be. The direct immediacy of tea’s stimuli on my senses, along with its permissive nature, allowing me to not have to do, be, remember, think or speak of anything else in that moment, had me eagerly coming back for more.
Until recently, I had woken up each and every morning for five years to a long, strenuous Ashtanga yoga practice. For years this practice was my anchor, something secure I could rely on to accompany me every day, no matter where or how I was. But in this new state and situation, I found myself gradually and even at first unwillingly needing to soften my regular practice. At first, I would rise long before dawn to allow myself time for a session of sitting meditation followed by tea before the yoga. Somehow the repose and respite offered by the stillness, as opposed to the vigor of a practice that took more energy from me than I had to offer, seemed more fitting to the situation.
It took a while to accept this change in what had so long been a daily ritual for me; perhaps only now, as I put it down on paper, can I grasp that big changes in our lives require changes in even our most rooted practices. This is easy to observe in our habits on a small scale: we are often naturally inclined to drink more green tea and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables in the warmer months, whereas when the weather starts to change we crave more warming teas, such as Puerh or Oolong, and slowly-cooked meals. The seasons demand changes in our body’s requirements, functions and demands. So taking on the enormous challenge of accepting a life with a loved one’s health in serious danger meant, for me, learning to listen to the possibilities and requests my body, mind and spirit now set upon me. Though for a while I struggled to maintain the physical activity I was accustomed to, a morning session of silence and stillness with tea and meditation began to take shape, almost in spite of myself, as the way to make it through harrowing moments, one sip at a time.
I arrived in Buenos Aires on December 17, three days before everything changed. As a holiday gift for Melanie I brought along a ceramic kyusu and two small porcelain teacups, some Genmaicha tea (which she loved), and one of my favorite cookbooks. As this was the first time in many years that I was traveling without my children, we were looking forward to some quality time alone together, time we really hadn’t had a lot of in the14 years we’d been living on separate sides of the globe. We had made plans to share that time cooking, drinking tea, chatting leisurely. Obviously, those plans didn’t come through for us, and the teapot and cups sat for months in her empty apartment, unused and gathering dust. I returned to my family in Barcelona in January not knowing how I could bear the pain of my sister’s agony, and living it from so far away.
But tea as solace throughout the past year has not been merely a solitary endeavor; in recent months I was finally able to share it with my sister. As soon as the school year ended in early July, I took my family to Buenos Aires for the entire summer (winter there). By then Melanie was well enough to take part in the tea-half of our projects, so one of the first things I did was pack up the teapot and cups from her apartment and, carefully wrapped, place them, together with two types of Japanese green tea, in the small nightstand next to her hospital bed with the very few possessions she has there (mostly toiletries, such as the red lipstick she asks for whenever someone comes to visit).
During the seven weeks I spent in Buenos Aires, we developed our own daily tea ritual: after our mother left, and as soon as Melanie’s lunch tray was taken away, I made some tea for us with hot water from the dispenser in the third floor hallway. Some days, when I offered, she may have said she didn’t care for it, but I prepared it anyway. The moment she took her first sip never, not once, failed to arouse a timid sigh of pleasure. She thanked me for the tea, every day. Sometimes, I brought along a treat to nibble on: dark chocolate, some pastries or dried fruit. We deliberated on which snack paired best with each tea.
These simple pleasures are the only ones she has now, and she reveled in them every time.
Tea, as Okakura Kakuzô reminds us in the classic Book of Tea, shows that well-being lies in simplicity rather than complexity. Confronted with the complexities of her rebirth in this new state, my sister highly valued these shared, stolen moments of simplicity, in which everything else could be put on hold, and well-being was limited to the steamy goodness of a sip of roasted Bancha. When I wheeled her down to the hospital gym for her afternoon rehabilitation session, I parted until the next day in hopes that the calm, alert state tea helps us attain might stay with her during the session, aiding her to work towards regaining her physical and mental functions.
The nurses giggled at our ritual, not used to seeing their patients drink tea other than the one served in the hospital for afternoon snack (plain “black” tea from a teabag with lots of milk and sugar). They also admired the teaware, implicitly acknowledging how nice it was for my sister to enjoy some beauty in the midst of the stagnant, aseptic hospital surroundings. Melanie has always had a strong appreciation for aesthetics, and there was so little beauty in this place. Bringing her beauty in the shape of a teapot from the outside world nourished her spirit as well.
After two months in Buenos Aires, in late August I crossed the Atlantic once again towards Barcelona to begin the school year. I sip my tea in the mornings on my own again, and wonder whether anyone has used the teapot and cups with Melanie since I left. I hope so.
Article by Camila Loew, originally published by Global Tea Hut in October, 2012. Global Tea Hut has generously granted permission to T Ching to publish past articles from their publication each week. These appear on Wednesdays.
Loading image from T Ching archives. Post images courtesy of Global Tea Hut and used with permission.
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Southern Boy Teas
Premium Organic green tea with organic flavors. Each 14g teabag will make one 2-quart pitcher of DELICIOUS iced tea. Re-steep the teabag and you can get a full gallon out of each one.
Learn more about this tea here.
Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.
The first thing that blew me away with this blend is the smell! The aroma of the dry sachet – it smells like a marshmallow treat! And the brewed tea smells like that too. The brewed tea smells a bit more like genmaicha than the dry sachet did, the dry sachet smells like a fresh batch of marshmallow treats. Mmm!
This is seriously good iced tea. If you liked the original Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha from 52Teas, you’re going to like this iced tea version from Southern Boy Teas. It’s sweet and tastes like the name suggests. It tastes like a marshmallow treat with a little bit of green tea flavor in there too.
Genmaicha is not usually a tea that I usually think of when I think “iced tea” because the toasted rice has a very warm flavor and it’s been something that I think tastes better when served hot. But, this really works well as an iced tea. It does have that delicious roasty-toasty flavor of the Genmaicha, along with the light, fresh green tea taste of the green tea. The rice of the genmaicha gives this just the right amount of warmth to give this marshmallow treat a “homemade” sort of taste (and homemade marshmallow treats taste better than those commercially packaged treats!)
To brew this, I heated a quart of water to 170°F and let the sachet steep for a 1 1/2 minutes. Then I strained the tea into my iced tea pitcher and resteeped the sachet in the second quart of water, adding 30 seconds onto the steep time. (Then I stashed the sachet in an airtight container and put it in the fridge so that I could steep it again for another pitcher of tea.)
Really, really good. I’m glad that this tea is now offered on the website (it was originally created as a “thank you” for the Kickstarter supporters) because I’m going to want more of this!
I appreciate the generosity of TeaVivre. The company has provided me with multiple samples of several types of green teas. The tea quality is very good. The label on each tea packet includes the place of harvest. Today I share with you three green teas: Huang Shan Mao Feng, Pi Lo Chun, and Bai Mu Dan.
The Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng in Grown in She County, Huanshan, Anhui Province. The aroma and taste are fruity. The leaves, curled when dry, are pretty.
The first Pi Lo Chun I drank was Huang Jian Lin's for Adagio Teas as part of the company's Roots Campaign. Read my review. TeaVivre's Pi Lo Chun was grown in on Dongting Maountain, Jiangsu Province.
TeaVivre's Organic Superfine Long Jing or Dragon Well has a classic appearance and aroma. I wonder if its organic status contributed to its good flavor. This tea was grown in Lin'an County, Hangzhou, Zheijang Province.
I have more teas from TeaVivre so watch this space for reviews. You can purchase the teas mentioned in this post on the TeaVivre website.
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: The Secret Garden Tea Co.
One of our staff favourites! Pair with desserts such as marzipan pear tarts, lavender shortbread, and chocolate bon-bons for a decadent treat.
Learn more about this blend here.
This Vanilla Almond Tea from Secret Garden is so smooth!
By the time I started writing this review, I was more than halfway finished with my first cup! It is just so tasty and so unbelievably smooth and easy to drink that it began to disappear quickly.
The dry leaf is quite appealing to the eye with lots of almond slivers and bright orange-yellow petals (calendula and sunflower) mixed in with the dark brown tea leaves. To brew this tea, I used my Breville One-Touch and added 2 bamboo scoops to the basket and poured 500ml of water into the jug. I set the temperature to 212°F and the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and I let the machine do it’s thing.
The tea brews up dark and sweet smelling. I can pick up on delicate notes of almond and vanilla but mostly what I’m smelling is the black tea. It’s not an overly fragrant brewed tea but I still find the aroma quite pleasant. It reminds me a bit of freshly baked cookies!
But the real treat is in the sip. As I mentioned above, it is one of the smoothest teas I’ve tasted lately. There is very little astringency, especially the first few sips. Now that I’m nearly finished with my first cup, I am picking up on more astringency than I experienced at the beginning of the cup. It’s a slightly dry sensation that I’m experiencing but it’s quite slight especially in comparison to other black teas that I’ve consumed.
This is so smooth from start to finish. It starts out smooth and creamy, I pick up on the vanilla immediately. As the sip progresses, I notice the almond and the sweet, nutty flavor accentuates the creamy, sweet vanilla tones beautifully. These two flavors were made for one another!
The black tea is a smooth, even-tasting black tea. It’s probably a Ceylon. It isn’t an aggressive, astringent, bitter or overly robust black tea. It is smooth. It melds amazingly well with the flavors of almond and vanilla. There is a slight caramel-y undertone to the black tea that further highlights the sweetness of this blend. I like that it is a sweet drink but not cloying.
Because it isn’t an overly sweet or cloying tea, I think it would make the perfect tea to serve along with dessert. You really wouldn’t want something too sweet paired with dessert because the dessert is already sweet. This is smooth, not too robust nor is it bitter or overly astringent. It wouldn’t detract from the delightful confection that you’re enjoying for dessert.
It would also make a lovely afternoon tea. A great tea to choose for a tea party or perhaps something to serve to guests after dinner. I find it to be a very “welcoming” sort of tea. When I sip it, I feel like it’s communicating to me: “Welcome home.”
Country of Origin: China Leaf Appearance: jade green, flat Ingredients: green tea Steep time: 1 minute Water Temperature: 185 degrees Preparation Method: glass test tube steeper Liquor: very pale, greenish I tend to not be much of a green tea person but there is nothing like the smell of Dragonwell brewing. With good quality green tea subtlety is key. At first, I was hardly able to taste Nicole Martinhttps://email@example.com
One long summer in Honolulu, Oahu, I spent the morning hours watching old movies on a local television channel. In addition to adaptations of literary works such as David Copperfield and The Count of Monte-Cristo, all of which I had then read only in Chinese, there were also obscure cinematic pieces like Elephant Walk and Green Mansions. My family had just immigrated to the States that year. Lack of close captions did not hinder me from comprehending the gist of the stories presented, or from concocting my own interpretation. I like to think that it was the programming manager’s unique sensibility that led to such an eclectic selection and presentation every morning, which in turn alleviated my angst stemmed from the trial of learning a new language in a less-than-ideal environment.
Besides the aforementioned matinee, the Disney channel contributed to my addiction to the small screen. Had Hayley Mills’s movies from the 1960s not re-run multiple times daily on the station, I would not have questioned the remaking of the1998 The Parent Trap.
Many years later, when my reading and listening skills in English improved, I introduced myself to the magazine The New Yorker and Mr. Garrison Keillor’s radio program A Prairie Home Companion. Mr. Keillor is also the host of the daily program The Writer’s Almanac. Catching A Prairie Home Companion fortuitously while on the road is easier and always a delight. The Writer’s Almanac, on the other hand, can be most readily accessed via the Internet.
Will you pick a favorite among the following tea-themed poems featured on The Writer’s Almanac?
The December 29, 2009 program ended with Dale Ritterbusch’s Green Tea. You can listen to Mr. Keillor reading this poem here. A few months earlier, also in 2009, Rock Tea by Gary Gildner was in the spotlight. And most recently, there was Margaret Hasse’s At the Tea Garden, from her poetry collection Earth’s Appetite – what a title for any publication!
The shortest and sweet Green Tea has my vote because I drink mostly green teas nowadays. Moreover, I have a penchant for English words like “celebration.”
It was not necessarily the grade F I received in the Communications class – or the teacher who made fun of the spelling and pronunciation of my last name – that made the learning environment in Honolulu less than ideal. The educational system is perpetually plagued by the disenchantment of major players, and by dearth of meliorism in general.
This summer I finally saw Mr. Keillor, in person, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Why didn’t the strangers sitting around me laugh heartily? Perhaps they were new to the hilarious characters featured in many of the regular segments? As always, the sketches were teeming with cultural elements that were distinctively American, and forms of sophistication that are both erudite and lucid.
Most likely Mr. Keillor has hosted a live program near wherever you are in the States. Search the archive, or attend a live performance the next time the troupe is in town!
Images courtesy of the contributor.
Despite its historical roots as an important trading post for tea, the Hong Kong of today is not that friendly towards teashops and the tea buying public. There is a lot of tea around – you encounter the drink everywhere. The default drink at a lot of places is weak, watered down tea. The favourite drink to order at a local restaurant is Hong Kong style milk tea. You can’t avoid the stuff. Yet, if you want a more “refined” experience drinking tea, or if you want tea that can be considered more specialized, this isn’t a friendly place.
The chief enemy here is really one that plagues the city for almost everything – high rent. The lack of land, the influx if large number of mainland tourists, and the sheer density of the city mean that every store front is precious. In a city that has always been built vertically to the extent that is possible given whatever current technology we possess, street-level stores are a precious commodity. When you stroll down some of the busiest shopping areas, you will see rows and rows of jewelry shops, luxury clothing stores, and pharmacies that cater to the mainland trade. Shops that cater to local needs are usually relegated to back streets and residential neighbourhoods. It’s a very strange sight.
In this context, it is very difficult for stores specializing in selling tea to survive. The first challenge is to overcome the rental market. Owners of stores often charge exorbitant rents for very small spaces if they happen to occupy good locations. Some even charge rent according to the amount of turnover the store does – so the more money the store makes, the more money the landlord makes. Unfortunately, tea businesses in general aren’t going to be that popular. There are really two paths to survival – one is to lower costs as much as possible, the other is to charge sky high profit margins to make the rent.
So for the cheap side, there are a few ways to do that. The first is to somehow own your own store – a number of older stores in Hong Kong do that, and are therefore impervious to rent increases. A lot of the shops on Bonham Strand, for example, are in this model. They bought their place fifty years ago, and aren’t looking to move. They make a decent living selling tea, and are happy doing it instead of, say, closing shop and renting it out to a fancy new restaurant. So they keep up their business and sell decent tea for cheap. They are, however, probably not profit-maximizing and shops like this are prone to closing when the older owners pass it on to their descendants.
The other option is to “go upstairs”, where the shops no longer operate on the ground floor, but move to a building inside. These are usually located in cheaper, older buildings, where they occupy what is basically an office space but renovated to be a teashop. Rents for these are much lower, and can often be supported by a small tea business. There are now a number of these in operation. I just visited one recently, called the House of Moments, where I took the above picture. The tea was all right, but it was rather expensive for what it was ($30 USD for an ounce of Taiwan roasted TGY). You pay for the space you occupy basically, and in Hong Kong, space is expensive.
The other option, which is to charge high margins, is really geared towards the gift/tourist trade. The Best Tea House has increasingly gone that way in recent years. There’s Fook Ming Tong, which is also just an expensive gift shop that happens to sell tea. Then there are things like TWG Tea, which shamelessly puts 1837 on their logo even though the company was founded in 2008, and whose colour scheme is an obvious attempt at ripping off Mariage Freres (whose 1854 on the logo is at least real). They usually occupy nice malls and have prominent displays. These places are really to be avoided by those of us who really want to buy decent tea – only visit if you want something with decent packaging.
It’s really rather unfortunate, but given the local infrastructure, there isn’t much that could be done. There’s a reason Taiwan has a relatively thriving tea scene – it’s cheap to set up a good shop and cheap to keep it running, where in Hong Kong it’s the opposite. If you were an alien visiting the city you’d think we all eat gold here, but in fact, it’s a place where small businesses have a hard time surviving. If you want to buy good tea when you’re in Hong Kong, visit Bonham Strand to try your luck. Otherwise, just skip right on ahead to somewhere else.
Leaf Type: Black
This warm and inviting blend brings memories of sitting fireside with a good book. Notes of apple, cinnamon and spice come together to warm and soothe. Ingredients: black tea, dried apple, cinnamon pieces, blackberry leaves, safflower petals, natural flavours.
Learn more about subscribing to Postal Teas here.
I was very excited to receive my Postal Teas box today. This box is actually September’s subscription – which arrives in October. Kind of confusing. Maybe I should just call it October’s box?
Anyway, this month’s featured tea company is Monarch Tea Company. I was excited to see that this is the featured tea company this month, because I had noticed that this company was featured earlier this year, before I became a subscriber. I’m glad to have this opportunity to try some of their teas.
The first tea that I am trying is this Apple Spice Embrace. Perfect for this evening for two reasons: first, it’s a cold and wet day here in the Pacific Northwest and a warmly spiced tea suits me just fine on a day like this. Second, my daughter is visiting this evening and its a tea that I think she’ll also appreciate.
I notice the packaging right off the bat. The teas are in Kraft, foil-lined pouches and they are “sealed” with a bit of whimsical black polka dot fabric tape. The front of the package has a label with the name of the tea and the ingredients (all the important stuff to know), and the back of the pouch is marked with the elegant Monarch Tea logo. I like the combination of whimsy and elegance and simplicity.
When I opened the pouch, I inhaled deeply to take in the fragrance. I notice a “black tea” aroma with notes of cinnamon. The cinnamon isn’t overpowering and I kind of expected it to be (it seems that in blends like this, the cinnamon is the main event, and I like that it is a gentle presence here.) There is a light apple-y scent beneath the notes of cinnamon.
I brewed this tea in my Breville One-Touch, pouring 750ml of freshly filtered water into the jug and measuring 3 bamboo scoops of tea into the basket. Then I set the temperature for 212°F and the time for 2 1/2 minutes. When I poured my cup of tea, I enjoyed the scent: hints of apple mingling with notes of cinnamon and a front note of black tea – much like the dry leaf, although it isn’t quite as aromatic.
This is a tasty cup of tea. The black tea notes are prominent. A brisk tasting tea – I suspect a Ceylon – but there are some subtle malty notes to this as well. It’s smooth and moderately astringent. A sweet, honey undertone that complements the apple notes.
The apple note isn’t in your face. It’s a subtle taste of apple, offering a slightly sweet, delicately tart flavor that reminds me of the flavor of an apple pie filling, complete with a light touch of cinnamon. I think that the cinnamon is my favorite part of this tea because it is a rather light touch of the spice. All too often when it comes to cinnamon in a tea, it’s been added with such a heavy hand that it becomes all about the cinnamon. Here, the cinnamon softly accents the tea. It’s a gentle warmth. Lightly sweet, lightly spiced.
Overall, a really pleasant autumnal tea and as I eluded to at the start of this review, it’s just perfect on a day like today when it’s cold and wet. I like that I’m curling up to a warm cup of apple-y spiced goodness.
Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Caraway Tea Company
Juicy aromatic currants paired with the delicacy of white tea leaves delivers a smooth flavor profile with a deeply fruity finish. There’s a lot of flavor is this healthy white tea.
China Pai Mu Tan, China Cui Min, rose hip peel, freeze-dried blackcurrants, flavoring, mallow blossoms, cornflower blossoms.
Learn more about this tea here.
Learn more about UniqTeas here – UniqTeas is the “sister site” of Caraway Tea where you can create your own unique tea blend!
As I was preparing this review, I had the teacup sitting just under my nose (well, about a foot from my nose) and I enjoyed the fragrance of the tea. It smells really yummy. And as I was enjoying the aroma, I started thinking: there really aren’t a lot of currant flavored white teas. I’ve encountered quite a few currant flavored black teas and maybe a couple of currant flavored green teas, but I think I’ve only tried a couple of currant flavored white teas.
And that’s a shame, because I think that the tart with a touch of sweet flavor of currants seems really well paired with the crisp sweetness of white tea.
What I’m drinking now – this White Currant Tea from Caraway Tea – tastes a lot like a sweet wine, only without the tannic quality of a wine. Sure, tea has tannins too, but I find white teas to be less tannic than black teas. Perhaps this is because I brew my white teas at a lower temperature. Or perhaps it’s because they’re just less tannic. I don’t know.
Disclaimer: I’m not a tannin expert.
So, imagine if you would, a sweet red wine without the tannins. Now, imagine it … served hot. That’s what I’m tasting now. Since I don’t usually drink wine hot, I’m thinking that this tea is a stunner served iced. (Then again, I don’t drink wine much at all. Hot or otherwise.)
The currant flavor is lightly tart – not puckery – and there is a pleasant sweetness to it too. The white tea is not overpowered by the flavors of this tea. It is light and refreshing with delicate vegetal notes and a sweet, airy quality. I also notice a hint – just a hint! – of a warm, gentle spice to this too. Like a slight peppery kick. It’s a nice contrast to the tart and sweet fruit notes and the light sweetness from the white tea.
A really good tea. This is one that I’d happily drink again!
Displaying teacups has always been a challenge for me, especially on shelves that are higher up. I recently found some nifty stands on Amazon that were a great solution. They're just simple plastic pieces that allow the saucer to stand up behind the teacup. Not all cups will fit perfectly but I didn't run into any where I couldn't make it work. Some of my saucers have pretty designs that were Nicole Martinhttps://firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Chinese, the heart is the central life image, and a source of thought and intelligence. A healthy life includes essential time-taking activities, such as repose.
Take time for repose – it is the germ of creation. The Chinese believe that during a deep breath, the energy of heaven is brought in through the nose into the heart/mind. The dictionary definition of repose includes, but is not limited to: freedom from that which excites, disturbs or stirs up; resulting in peace, tranquility, and calm. Synonyms include ease, quietness, peace, and relaxation.
In our busy lives, as we are pulled this way and that by technology; financial worries; and daily annoyances, it is easy to forget the healing power of deep breathing. Breathing deeply through the nose, then exhaling loudly and fully are excellent ways to lose stress and let go of life’s indignities, large and small.
Practice this as you prepare your tea: inhale deeply through the nose, and loudly out of your mouth. With each breath, say goodbye to something in your life that robs you of repose. After the tea steeps, put the cup up to your nose and take a deep draught of the energy of heaven. Rest yourself.
For me, two teas are perfect for repose . . . one is Jasmine Pearls, a jasmine tea that reminds me of a peaceful summer Sunday. Meditative Mind, a well-named blend from the Tea Spot, lends itself to repose as well.
This post was inspired by a lecture on Chinese characters given in 1991 by Chinese scholar and illustrator Ed Young.
Leaf Type: Herbal
Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.
Enjoy the refreshing and cooling flavor of peppermint straight from the leaves. Peppermint can be enjoyed on its own or added to another tea blend. The soothing leaves lend well to any sweetener. We recommend a touch of honey and lemon when enjoying these herbal leaves hot or iced.
Ingredients: Peppermint Leaves
Learn more about this tisane here.
Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Co-Op program here.
Crisp and cool!
Yes, this is plain and simple pure dried peppermint leaves. That doesn’t make them any less enjoyable! The leaves produce a really invigorating yet soothing drink that is tasty served hot or cold. It’s especially nice after a spicy meal because I like the way peppermint tames the tummy after eating my chili! (And I love chili this time of year!)
The tisane tastes very refreshing. It’s a very uplifting drink. And mint is a big hit in this household – this is something I can brew and chill and know that my daughter will pour herself a cold glass of this rather than reach for a sugary soda.
To steep this tisane, I used below boiling water. I generally do this with all herbs, because it’s been my experience that boiling water can scorch the herbs and they end up tasting bitter. I don’t know if this is the case with all herbs, but I’ve noticed it with some herbs so I’ve just taken to the practice of using under boiling water for all herbals. 195°F ought to do it! I steeped 1 bamboo scoop of leaf in 12 ounces of 195°F water for 10 minutes and this produced a very minty cup!
Peppermint isn’t something I can drink all day long because it is a very strong minty flavor and after a while, it does end up getting a little too much. But like I said, I do like to have peppermint leaves on hand for after a spicy meal, and it’s also quite nice to sip on when I’m feeling a little under the weather (especially with an upset stomach) because it perks me right up.
It’s also nice when served with a little citrus. The description above suggests lemon, but my personal favorite is lime! I love the taste of lime with peppermint! Also, if you want to give a boost to your favorite green or black tea, add a little bit of peppermint leaves to the loose leaf green or black tea before brewing to add a bright twist to your favorite tea. It’s a good tisane to have on hand.
In February the TEA garden is plannedBack in June I wrote about what was to be the beginning of my tea garden at our place in northern Michigan, Pemberly Pines. In an area that is in a Plant Hardiness Zone of 4 (for comparison purposes, northern Alaska is Zone 1 and southern Florida is Zone 11), the gardening season isn't very long, but what time we do have, we certainly make the most of it. The tea garden flourished this summer and provided some very enjoyable tea times with family and friends.
My husband, Chris, built planters to be placed in the tea garden.
We planted herbs and flowers and added some teapot decor.
I labeled most of what I planted except for whatever was in the
big redwood planter. The seeds grew like crazy, but I was never
quite sure what they were.
Chris made the planters and transports plants in the tractor
Planting herbs, flowers and mystery seeds.
Tea garden tiles bought in February look lovely without snow
Not sure what I planted in here, but it really took off.
By August, the tea garden was in full bloom - just in time for our family reunion. In between paintball, outdoor movies, and golf, there was still time for a tea party.
Mystery plant? It's like a chia pet!
Herbs held on and hoping they return next year.
Having tea with Rachel and sister-in-law Cara in August
Pemberly also treated us with a bumper crop of blueberries - great with tea time
Last weekend, we were back up to Pemberly Pines with good friends, Rik and Carol, for our annual color tour of northern Michigan. We also walked the grounds of Pemberly and it was clear it was time to put the tea garden to bed. Rik took this picture which best captured the end of the tea garden for another season.
Seasons changing at Pemberly and the tea garden will take a hiatus.
It's time to switch from iced-tea by the pond to earl grey by the fireplace. I'll have a few months to figure out what to add to next year's tea garden and maybe figure what's growing in the redwood planter.
From Japan: Historical and Descriptive, by Charles Henry Eden (1877)
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Darjeeling Tea Lovers
GOPALDHARA WONDER ‘GOLD’ one of the most popular tea among the Darjeeling Tea Connoisseurs. A very limited stock is manufactured from the YOUNG TEA PLANTATIONS of this garden and this particular lot has been tagged as GOLD due to the supreme quality.
Learn more about this tea here.
The dry leaf looks a lot more like a green tea than a black tea. The aroma is pleasantly floral. Because the leaves are more “green” than black, I would advise not going higher than 195°F to brew this tea – that’s what I used and I’m quite pleased with the result. This is my usual ‘go-to’ temperature when it comes to Darjeeling teas, because they don’t seem to be as fully oxidized as other black teas are, even though they are usually categorized as a black tea. Darjeeling teas tend to be a little more delicate and should be treated differently.
I brewed these beautiful pale green, silvery tipped leaves in my Breville One-Touch. I used 2 bamboo scoops of leaf and 500ml of water heated to 195°F, and steeped the leaves for 2 ½ minutes. As I said before, I’m quite pleased with the resulting tea. Delicious!
Then again, I’ve been blown away by all the teas that I’ve tried from this company. Let me tell you, Darjeeling Tea Lovers KNOWS Darjeeling tea. If you’re a devotee of Darjeeling tea, this is a company you should be exploring. They have some of the very best Darjeeling teas I’ve ever tasted.
And this Gopaldhara Wonder Tea is indeed a wonder! Wonderful, that is! Sweet, crisp and refreshing! The liquid is somewhere between gold and green. It’s much paler than many Darjeeling teas that I’ve had this year. And it has a “greener” sort of taste to me. It tastes lighter and cleaner than a typical “black” Darjeeling. This doesn’t have that “muscatel” flavor that you might expect from a Darjeeling. This tea seems more focused on the sweet, delicate notes of flower. I taste notes of jasmine! Nice!
There are also delicate vegetal notes. Not so much vegetable (as in steamed veggies) as it is lightly grassy. But this is a sweet grassy note, not a bitter one. The sip starts out sweet and I pick up on the floral notes right away. Toward mid-sip, some of those lightly sweet, grassy notes start to come into focus. The sip ends with a floral note that is jasmine-esque, and this flavor lingers into the aftertaste. There is a light astringency at the start of the cup, and this astringency does develop as I continue to sip, but never becomes a really strong or what I would call astringent tea, instead, it’s a moderate astringency that leaves the palate feeling clean and invigorated.
An excellent afternoon tea – break out this tea when you have special guests over that you’re looking to impress! Or save it for an afternoon when you have time to reflect – this is one of those teas that I’d call meditative! The kind of tea that I want to enjoy when I don’t have a 101 different things to do … or the kind of tea I want to enjoy when I do have 101 things to do but I want to forget about them and just enjoy a moment for me!
Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Yerp, I’m going to say it: I’ve found my thrill… and it’s Blueberry Hill Shou Mei. This is a crisp, refreshing shou mei white tea blended with real freeze-dried blueberries and organic flavors. No, it’s not as far out there as some of our blends. It’s not peanut butter, bacon, tuna fish sandwich on rye flavored tea. Just delicious, amazing blueberry flavor in our lovely hay-like shou mei.
Learn more about this blend here.
Learn how to subscribe to 52Teas’ Tea of the Week program here.
Yeah, I’ve had a few blueberry teas. Blueberry teas are not as popular as say, strawberry teas, but there are still quite a few blueberry teas out there and even some blueberry white teas and I’ve tried a few of them. But that doesn’t make this Blueberry Hill Shou Mei any less tasty!
One of the things that I enjoy about a 52Teas blend is the fact that there are (usually) chunks of the thing that I’m tasting in the blend. Like for this blend, as I was scooping out the tea into my Breville One-Touch tea maker, I found a couple of freeze-dried blueberries. Not just one little tiny berry. These are large berries and I must have scooped out at least three in the 2 1/2 bamboo scoops of tea that I measured into the basket of the Breville. (I generally use a little more leaf when it comes to white tea because the leaves are bigger and create more “space” in the scoop when I’m scooping it out.)
My settings for the tea maker: 500ml of water into the jug, 170°F and 3 1/2 minutes steep time. Delightful results!
This tastes just exactly how I hoped it would. Sweet blueberry-ish goodness with pleasing white tea notes of hay. The white tea is crisp and refreshing and doesn’t hide behind the flavor. The blueberry tastes sweet and a little tart and it tastes true to the fruit.
It’s a really enjoyable cup of tea that tastes wonderful served hot and even better iced. The tea can be resteeped and it still tastes wonderful. This is a win – even if it isn’t one of 52Teas more unusual creations. Sometimes simplicity is just plain tasty!
from the publisher:
Now available in a gorgeous hardcover slipcase edition, this "object d'art" will be sure to add grace and elegance to tea shelves, coffee tables and bookshelves. A keepsake enjoyed by tea lovers for over a hundred years, The Book of Tea Classic Edition will enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the seemingly simple act of making and drinking tea.
In 1906 in turn-of-the century Boston, a small, esoteric book about tea was written with the intention of being read aloud in the famous salon of Isabella Gardner, Boston's most famous socialite. It was authored by Okakura Kakuzo, a Japanese philosopher, art expert, and curator. Little known at the time, Kakuzo would emerge as one of the great thinkers of the early 20th century, a genius who was insightful, witty—and greatly responsible for bridging Western and Eastern cultures. Okakura had been taught at a young age to speak English and was more than capable of expressing to Westerners the nuances of tea and the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
In The Book of Tea Classic Edition he discusses such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the secular aspects of tea and Japanese life. The book emphasizes how Teaism taught the Japanese many things; most importantly, simplicity. Kakuzo argues that tea-induced simplicity affected the culture, art and architecture of Japan.
Nearly a century later, Kakuzo's The Book of Tea Classic Edition is still beloved the world over, making it an essential part of any tea enthusiast's collection. Interwoven with a rich history of Japanese tea and its place in Japanese society is poignant commentary on Asian culture and our ongoing fascination with it, as well as illuminating essays on art, spirituality, poetry, and more. The Book of Tea Classic Edition is a delightful cup of enlightenment from a man far ahead of his time.
No matter what life throws your way, everything is a bit better when you take a moment out for tea. I'll be presenting various teas here as I am enjoying them and encourage you to join me, setting aside cares of the day for at least a short time.
This is Barry's Gold Blend that we used to be able to buy from World Market but now have to find elsewhere since we moved and they don't have a store near our new location. (I think the nearest is in Wichita, Kansas - quite a drive away, but I guess we could always take the risk of shopping online.) And of course, I always cut open the bags and dump the loose tea in the pot for steeping. Tastes better that way.