Tea For Me Please

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Want to learn more about tea? Come follow my journey with the leaf. Fun and informative posts, tea reviews and more.Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.comBlogger1662125
Updated: 18 min 58 sec ago

How Long Have People Been Drinking Tea?

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 16:00

When I got into tea one of the first stories that really grabbed my imagination was that of Shennong. Who doesn't love the idea of a mythical horned emperor accidentally discovering the beverage that changed the world? Some versions say that a Camellia Sinensis leaf fell into his mouth while others say that it fell into some boiling water. This event occurred at the oddly specific time period of 2437 B.C. It is fairly unlikely that a single raw leaf would add much taste, let alone cure the 70+ poisons that he supposedly ingested. Nevertheless, the fable does lead one to wonder, how long people have been drinking tea?

Shennong - "the divine farmer"
The written word is sometimes a good indicator of how long something has been a part of people's lives. A Contract with A Servant by Han Dynasty poet Wang Bao is one of the earliest written accounts. Lu Yu's Classic of Tea, published around 760 C.E., is generally considered to be the first book on the subject of tea. Tea was already an integral part of society by that time period, particularly for the literati. The first mentions in English did not occur until about 1,000 years later. We've got a lot of catching up to do!

What about archeological evidence? Tea leaves have been found inside of the mausoleum of a Han Dynasty emperor. This potentially proves that tea was being consumed as early as 140 B.C. Although they were barely recognizable due to decomposition scientists were able to detect the presence of theanine, a substance only found in tea. Another excavation found Camellia Sinensis roots in a neolithic settlement on China's eastern coast. The plant material was carbon dated to an even earlier period of 3526- 3366 B.C. That would actually pre-date Shennong's infamous discovery.

It's important to keep in mind that ancient people may not have been preparing tea in the same fashion as we do today. It was used for medicinal purposes or as part of a soup-like preparation with spices. During the Song Dynasty, tea leaves were ground into a powder and whisked, not unlike the way matcha is prepared in Japan today. Wine and beer both predate tea by several thousand years but it's still pretty old as far as man-made beverages go. Isn't it neat that we're still enjoying tea in 2017 and that the culture around it is still evolving?

TLDR; it's hard to know exactly but we definitely know that people have been drinking tea a very, very long time!

Friday Round Up: May 14th - May 20th

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 16:00

White2Tea & The Post Truth Era of Puerh
MattCha's Blog made some interesting observations about how the puerh landscape has changed over the last couple of years. I'm not sure I agree with the political correlations but there are a lot of good points made.

The Efficiency of Machines vs Our Preference of Taste
Tyas at The Tea Crane Blog pontificated a bit on how the use of machines has changed the way that Japanese green teas taste. Having had the privilege of trying some lightly oxidized selections, I can say that we share a similar preference.

Hello old friend...
+Courtney M. Powers wrote about a tea that I remember fondly. We enjoyed it many moons ago at World Tea East in Philadelphia. Talk about a blast from the past!

15 of the Best Tea Advice & Tips for Your Tea Journey
+Lu Ann Pannunzio collected some great advice from tea bloggers, vendors, and tea drinkers. You might even see a tip from yours truly.

Creating Your Own Tea Oasis
+Rachana Rachel Carter has put together an amazing oasis of relaxation around her tea tray. Check out this weeks post for a guide to making your own place to relax and enjoy tea.

Adagio Teas Hunan Gold

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, curled with scattered golden tips
Ingredients: yellow tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

+Adagio Teas recently sent me a gift certificate. After sifting through their site for a bit I was really excited to stumble upon a yellow tea. This one hails from the Hunan Province of China. Although it is categorized on their site as green tea, the processing differentiates it from being a true green tea. After the "kill green" step the leaves are wrapped in material, usually paper or cloth. This is repeated several times with the leaves being dried in between.

The dry leaves were small and fairly dark in color with golden tips scattered throughout. Under certain lighting conditions, they almost took on a blue cast. I made sure to try this tea using the western style directions provided (180 degrees for 3 minutes) but vastly preferred it gongfu style so that is what I am basing my review off of. It tasted just fine when making a big mug of it but my glass gaiwan really intensified the texture and aromas.

It's hard to say what grabbed me first, the beautiful golden liquor or the intoxicating aroma. It was mellow and light with sweet floral notes. A crisp fruity quality almost reminded me of a 1st Flush Darjeeling. The mouthfeel was incredibly smooth and thick without any bitterness. It re-steeped well so make sure that you hold on to those leaves. As far as yellow teas go this one isn't super expensive. I'd definitely recommend picking up at least a sample size if you've never experienced one before.

Hunan Gold sample provided for review by Adagio Teas.

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 16:00

I had heard about this book quite a long time ago and I was so excited by very the idea of it. A fiction novel based in Yunnan is right up my alley, especially if tea is involved. The author, Lisa See, did a ton of research and incorporated many real life aspects of the tea industry into her story. She even went so far as to travel there with Linda Louie of Bana Tea Company in 2014. Her efforts paid off because everything that the main character experienced felt very authentic.

I hate when there are spoilers in book reviews so I'll try my best not to do that. This book follows the life a young girl named Li-Yan. She is a member of Akha ethnic minority living on Nannuo Mountain. The reader is given a lot of background information on the beliefs and customs of the Akha as well as insight into daily village life. Some of the rituals are harsh to read about, particularly those involving newborn babies. Those sections left me a bit weepy on my morning commute.

We follow Li-Yan throughout her life as she struggles to find happiness as well as the life of the daughter that she was forced to give up. These are themes that I think are relatable to anyone, even if you know nothing about tea. There are nuggets that will make any puerh lover happy throughout the storyline, though. The tea market crash of 2007 and the modernization of Yunnan are both major occurrences in Li-Yan's life. Even our beloved World Tea Expo gets a mention along with familiar names like Dr. Selena Ahmed.

I was dismayed to see some negative reviews on Amazon but the vast majority of them complained about having to learn so much about tea. Can you imagine not being interested in the crazy and complex world of tea? Don't let them sway you from diving into the world of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I've heard rave reviews from several tea friends, even before I finished reading it myself.

Bana Tea Company offers a special book club tasting package for this book. It sounds like the perfect way to share this story (and puerh tea) with friends.


Friday Round Up: May 7th - May 13th

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 16:00
The Correlation Between Puer and Cat People
Cody at The Oolong Drunk conducted an informal study that confirmed my own suspicions. A lot of tea people are also cat people! That makes them doubly awesome.

Jalam Teas Bang Pun Unfermented Puerh

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: loosely compressed, mixed greens and browns with visible buds
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

I have a treasure hoard full of mini puerh cakes from +JalamTeas that I guard as though I were Smaug on Lonely Mountain. Only less violent...maybe. There are some posts coming down the pipeline that will group several teas from similar regions in Yunnan but in the meantime, I wanted to share this gem with you all. It was sent out to subscribers just after I moved into my apartment back in 2014. Time flies when you're having fun but the wonderful thing about puerh is that it is actually better to let it sit around for a bit.

Spring harvest teas are usually considered the most desirable but there are times when I enjoy the astringent strength of late summer puerh. This tea hails from the Bulang Mountain range in southern Yunnan. It was grown at 1,400 meters above sea level. This height is still high altitude by most standards but not super premium. I really