Tea For Comfort

Once, a number of years ago, I dated a man who liked a television series called “The Big Bang Theory.” In it, there is a character with zero social skills who was VERY careful–thanks to his mother’s upbringing–that any time someone was upset he would immediately offer them a hot beverage. As he told one of the other characters: “…social protocol states when a friend is upset, you offer them a hot beverage, such as tea.” It was one of the few things that I actually appreciated from the show, because it truly is an extremely helpful rule to remember.

A few weeks ago, I was woken early in the morning by a phone call from my father, letting me know that my maternal grandmother had passed away sometime in the previous night. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but he mentioned that he thought my mother would like my company. I admit, it took me a few hours to get myself together. My grandmother and I hadn’t been close, but there is such a finality to things such as this. While getting ready to go, I packed three important things to take with me: a vanilla-flavored black tea, tea strainer, and the teapot that had belonged to my paternal grandmother.

When I arrived at my parents’, my mother was on the phone with a focused look on her face and my father was sitting by exuding an air of helplessness. I saw that my mother had a half-full mug of coffee next to her, and know that she only drinks one cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I immediately went into the kitchen and put on the kettle, and in short order placed a mug of sweetened and creamed vanilla black tea in my mother’s hands.

I took a total of two days off from work and I did all the driving, took my parents out to eat, researched, typed legal documents, and made many a pot of tea.

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Baking with Matcha 101 – T Ching

Over the weekend I held a Matcha Masterclass for baking with matcha. It was a mother-daughter class inspired by the many mothers here in Kobe, Japan, who kept asking me how to boost their children’s health with matcha when they hated the taste. Over the next few blogs, I’m going to share the most popular recipes and since Halloween is a HUGE deal in Japan (who knew?!), we are going to start with Green Monster Muffins!

But first, let me explain a couple points about culinary matcha. As with all matcha grades (premium, ceremonial, culinary, etc), there are various price points within the grade. Generally speaking, the higher the price point, the finer the matcha which leads to a difference in taste.

This culinary-grade or “category” of matcha I’m talking about has the strongest taste of all the grades of matcha because it needs to be bold enough to rise above the other ingredients in the recipe, especially when it is baked or cooked. And within the culinary grade, there are various tastes. When adding matcha to smoothies and recipes where heat is not used, increase the culinary-grade of your matcha which is best done by the price point unless you know matcha intimately!

For this recipe, I suggest using quite an affordable culinary grade, without going bottom of the barrel, because you will be using quite a lot of it. In fact, you might feel like calling me to double check the amount, especially with the recipe below!

Culinary matcha, in particular, needs to be balanced by sweetness. Don’t hold back! If you are a sugar no-no person, try using powdered stevia as an alternative. I have not substituted agave syrup in this recipe so I can’t guarantee it will work out. The white chocolate is also a must. All of these ingredients work together to create a delicious, super moist, sweet muffin you can’t put down.

Green Monster Muffins

Oven Temperature: 350°F/180°C
Bake time: 22-26 minutes (standard size), 30-35 minutes (jumbo muffins)
Yield: 12 standard muffins or 6 jumbo muffins

  • Whisk wet ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Stir in zucchini with a spoon followed by white chocolate chips.
  • Mix dry ingredients in another large bowl, sifting everything together TWICE.
  • Put all of the sifted dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and then slowly and gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet using a rubber scraper. You want to mix as little as possible to prevent tough muffins.
  • To fill the muffin cups, measure out 130g muffin mix and place in lined muffin tin…or eyeball it!

Wet Ingredients

Whisk together first:

  • 6 tbsp (85g) melted butter, cooled
  • 2 eggs

Add in the following:

  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (apple cider/white wine vinegar OK. Activates baking soda: don’t omit!)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar

Mix well and then stir in:

  • 2 cups (230g) shredded zucchini (adds the moisture to the muffins)
  • 1 cup (180g) approximately white chocolate chips or cut bar

Set aside.

Dry ingredients

Measure and add all to large bowl:

  • 1 3/4 cups (245g) all-purpose flour
  • 35 – 40g culinary grade matcha
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Optional streusel topping for the real sweet tooth!

  • 1/3 c (45g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cold butter, cubed

In a food processor or bowl, pulse/mix the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter until it starts to clump with the other ingredients. It’s done when butter is not any larger than pea size. Top muffin before baking.

Bake 22 – 26 minutes for standard muffins and 30 – 35 minutes for jumbo muffins. Done when toothpick comes out fairly clean. Serve with coconut butter for a real scream!

Image provided and copyright held by author.

Online Social Networking Related to Tea – Part 1

Odd I’ve never brought this up before; there are lots of places to talk about and learn about tea online.  Writing a blog post about reaching a million answer views on Quora reminded me of the subject, so I’ll start there, and list others.

Quora: you can ask or answer questions about tea on Quora, more or less an expanded version of Yahoo Answers.  Comments work out like discussion threads but it’s not the same.  There is a personal messaging function, just no forum or thread-style discussion area.  I started writing about tea, and ventured into travel and culture related issues after.

lots of Quora stats to add a level of feedback, if one is interested

Tea Chat (forums): unfortunately this site has run its course, related to online forums having a natural lifecycle, but this had been the main dedicated tea forum.  Tea Forum is a more recent spin-off but it’s not that much more active.  Steepster is really a tea review site, also with a currently inactive discussion section.  There’s only so much tea discussion going on to support dedicated forums, and the next entry sucks a lot of the air out of the room.

Tea Forum; a new version of an old theme

Facebook groups: this is where people talk about tea online most now.  I co-founded one active group, International Tea Talk, which is focused on tea themes in different countries, but others have their own sub-themes:

handy that the groups, pages, and personal profiles all link in Facebook

Pu’er Tea Club: about pu’er, not as snobby as it might have worked out, but still what you might expect.

Gong Fu Cha: mostly US experienced tea drinkers, who don’t favor Western style brewing.

Tea Drinkers: my favorite beginner oriented group.

Local / city FB groups:  I’m in versions related to Thailand, NYCLAColorado, and more recently Melbourne.  Groups like these are ideal places to ask for local shop recommendations.

Reddit r/tea: this subforum is unusual, in terms of format and for people not consolidating into a common-perspective group, but it works for a lower experience level general discussion group.  Just as Facebook links personal profile details and interest groups Reddit works to make discussion across a broad range of interest areas available in one place, typically more anonymously.  They just don’t integrate.

Instagram: not a good place for discussion, just about pictures and limited video, but it’s so active for tea themes that I’ll mention it anyway.  I saw a really cool interview about tea culture in Russia by a Russian tea lovers page there but as far as I know those live “story” videos aren’t accessible later.  They do also upload some videos to Youtube.  Youtube is a media channel but not set up for social networking in that other sense, related to interaction.  TeaDB is a nice blog there, and Tea Fix hasn’t got far as a start on a podcast yet but they’re working on it.

Twitter: I don’t like Twitter, the format or the vibe (culture, as much as a grouping that broad has one).  It could work a lot better than it seems to for sharing information, but it can work out for sharing news links or as a self-promotion feed. Some “tea people” seem to use it for that, and to share other updates.

Google +:  that social networking site is nearly as dead as Julius Caesar, but it had such potential.  Google tends to really develop what it knows is going to work, like Maps, or Android, and throws the rest at the wall to see what sticks.  It would be possible to write an entire post about obsolete or marginal tea-themed social networking options but I’ll stop at G+.  LinkedIn isn’t marginal or obsolete but this would be a good place to add mention of it; tea industry professionals add profiles there, and some groups there relate to tea, as with lots of other subjects.

Images provided and copyrights held by author

To be continued tomorrow

Online Social Networking Related to Tea – Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post

Tea maps:  this isn’t conventional social networking, more like a wiki project, but the idea of groups communicating information overlaps.  Someone just mentioned creating a private version of one on a Steepster thread, a site that already has a map function, as Tea Chat did, both now obsolete.  This seems like a great idea but the details haven’t come together for any version to get relatively filled in.

Reddit’s tea map version

Issues with online groups

The main problem with online tea interest groups–beyond activity tending to drop off at some point–seems to be people being on the same page, sharing perspective.  Facebook groups work well for sorting that naturally; if you talk about scope beyond group theme interest you probably won’t hear much back, or feedback could be negative.  

That’s why it’s odd that the Reddit subforum works; it isn’t sorted, beyond an emphasis on most people being newer to tea.  That’s also probably why it has 120k+ members and almost none of them seem to be regulars, beyond the moderators.  There are some but they are exceptions.  Vendors had seemed to be more active in the past but a few scandals about product promotion inconsistencies may have thrown off the friendly neighborhood self-promotion vibe.

this shaving forum previously had a developed tea discussion theme (here)

Related to self-sorting there seems to be a natural split in membership of people relatively new to tea or else really far along a learning curve.  That makes sense, that to everyone else in between there wouldn’t be as much point.  Others who like tea could just drink it instead, and skip focusing on a learning curve.  Vendors make up half the people discussing tea on the experienced end, and the rest are probably a bit obsessive to take a drink interest so far.  Relatively few don’t actually have some form of business interest.  Take me, for example; why keep going on about the subject?  I suppose it’s a long story, only partly because I am obsessive.

Vendors account for a lot of the interest in social networking about tea, related to doing it, and providing content as a foundation, in some cases.  But even though tea is a potentially bottomless subject to learn about and experience for most people it’s about drinking a version they know and like, so all that only goes so far.

Trying out holding tea tasting events recently reminds me of how important the real-life aspect is to social networking related to tea.  People can all talk about what they bought from Yunnan Sourcing together (in their FB vendor-theme group), but in general, it helps really sharing the drink in person.  

Someone new to tea can try a lot of types fairly quickly through some sort of meet-up or tasting, and experienced tea drinkers can share more interesting versions with each other.  Some teas just don’t come up a lot, and even if the internet makes really local, rare teas available now the range of all types is so broad that you can’t hope to try most of it.  Reading blog reviews only goes so far; sharing teas with each other in person covers a lot more ground, the actual experience.

The two themes can definitely work together.  Discussing tea online helps with reaching out to a broader group for more information and input, and networking there can help with finding local cafes, shops, meet-ups, and events, to bring the experience back into real-life scope.

conference panel; online meets real life, from a post about Polish tea culture

Images provided and copyright held by author

Blast From the Past: Do you love something chocolate-tea?

Fresh off of presenting pairing sessions at the Los Angeles International Tea Festival, which were enthusiastically received, I got to thinking that not only can one pair tea with chocolate, and tea with cheese (yes!); placing tea and chocolate in closer proximity  – in a tea cup – makes for an inviting early fall beverage, particularly for those who like dairy in their cuppa. Tasting a range of single-estate teas from the Assam region in preparation for my pairing sessions, I came upon some which had an almost chocolaty essence which set my creative impulses afire. With a bit of a fall nip in the air, I’m inspired to propose the following.

First: Source some good, single-estate Assams, such as those from Doomni, Langharjan or Nahorhabi with hints of malt and cocoa, buying enough of the tea to use to brew and to infuse the heavy cream required to make the Tea Truffles recipe given below.

Next: Scour the chocolate bar aisles in your local specialty food store. Look for names such as Guittard, Valrhona –  both larger scale producers – and then, look further for smaller bean-to-bar producers such as, Mast Brothers, Dandelion, Theo and Tcho. Check the labels for the percentage of total cocoa solids and cocoa butter content. I like to use chocolates which tend to be a bit more bitter  – 60-70 percent range.

Finally: Buy some good heavy cream.  Now make the Tea Truffles as follows.

Yield:  8 generous sized truffles

1 c. plus 4 T. heavy cream

2 T. good quality Assam (or other favorite) tea leaves

8 ounces high quality chocolate, cut into small pieces (roughly ½ inch)

Place the chocolate into a stainless steel or other heatproof bowl.

IMG_1731Bring the cup of cream to a boil (reserving the 4 T. of the cream).  Add the tea leaves, stir and reduce the heat to simmer, cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to stand for about 10 minutes. Now pour through a fine meshed sieve into a small bowl. Add the remaining 4 T. of heavy cream which approximately replaces what is absorbed by the tea leaves. Stir the mixture immediately to melt the chocolate completely – if it does not fully melt, place the bowl of a pot of hot water and stir until it does. Allow the mixture to cool and then scrape or pour out into a flat shallow bowl or pan. Refrigerate, covered, until firm, about an hour. Once the mixture is firm, spoon out tablespoonfuls of it onto a parchment- or foil-lined sheet pan. Chill again, covered. Now remove from the refrigerator and round the rough tablespoonfuls using the palms of your hands.   Store the completed truffles in the refrigerator in a container with a tight fitting lid until ready to use.

Brew your favorite Assam (or choose from those listed above), using 3 grams per 6 ounces of good quality water, brought just to the boil. Infuse for about 3 minutes (taste as you go to arrive at the degree of extraction that you like). Place a truffle at the bottom of a nice china cup, set onto a saucer. Decant the brewed tea into the cup, stir gently, inhale deeply and enjoy!

Image courtesy of Lauren Wemischner

Originally posted by Robert Wemischner in September 2014

Calamity Is Running Out of Tea

“Do we have any more tea?”  My husband held aloft a Tealet tin in which we store each week’s leaf.  

“Look in the cabinet,” I took a deep gulp of Goomtee Muscatel, “I’m sure there’s another packet of Doke.”

“Nope.  Unless you have a hidden stash someplace, this is it.”  I looked more closely: about a teaspoon of leaf remained.  Not enough for another morning of leisurely tea drinking and solving the world’s problems in six steeps. There wasn’t even enough to take on just Oregon’s foibles in one steep.  I searched high and low, finding three dusty tea bags, a small packet of matcha and two ancient flowering tea balls.

This has never happened.  Hoarder by nature and teacher by trade, between well-meaning gifts of exotic word stew blends (cinnamon pumpkin black hibiscus spice comes to mind), it had been ten years since we had been “out” of tea.

We. are. out. of. tea. 

This will never do.  Immediately I got online and put in an order to my favorite tea company and ordered a kilo of black teas, including Giddapahar, Jungpana, Harmutty, Goomtee muscatel, and our go-to Doke Black Fusion.  “That’s all well and good,” Rafe crossed his arms in a most presidential way, “what are we going to drink in the meantime? DO NOT suggest those bloomin’ balls!”

“That’s flowering tea; it’s beautiful.”  Why I argue in these situations is beyond me.  Is there some auto-pilot that clicks on when you’ve been married for thirty-plus years that you argue even when you’re way out on a limb?  

“Why would anybody choose their tea because it flowers in the water but tastes like bilge water?”  To my credit, I did not ask how he knew what bilge water tasted like.

“Lemme run to the store and get some.  I saw bulk tea at Huckleberry’s. I will pick up a hundred grams of Assam.  That should last us until we can resupply.” I grabbed my keys.

“Take the Toyota, will you, and fill it up with gas?” Much as I hate getting gas, I was at fault for failing my tea inventory duty so I agreed, grabbed his keys, and was out the door.  The Toyota is an SUV about four times the size of my Jetta, but I am comfortable driving it.

To say that I found the tea choices daunting would be an understatement.  It’s been at least ten years since I shopped retail for tea. The choices have exploded!

There are HUNDREDS of choices of tea bags in no fewer than three places in the store.  Whole leaf can be found in three places as well.

Finally, just as I was about to experience sensory overload, I found the bulk whole leaf organic Assam and scooped out a few ounces.

The carry-out lad was interested and we talked tea as he bundled my purchases into the bag.  Into the parking lot I went and I did not see my Jetta. I walked up and down the rows of cars, clicking the automatic lock, knowing it would trigger a flash of parking lights. Nothing. Then, I walked up to every charcoal grey Jetta in the lot, coming to two conclusions: first, there are a lot of 2009 Jettas out there; and second, my car had been stolen as I blithely shopped for tea.  Rats.

If it weren’t for bad luck; I’d have no luck at all.  I run out of tea and my car gets stolen and my husband is going to poop a peach pit.  Near tears, I convinced the carry out lad to help me. No luck. Finally, I decided to face the music and call my husband, “Someone stole my car,” I sobbed into the phone when he picked up.

“Your car is in the driveway,” he sighed, “you drove the Highlander.”  

Eureka.  The moral of this story is: don’t run out of tea.

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What is Chaga? – T Ching

What is Chaga?

Chaga is a type of slow-growing, non-toxic fungus typically found on birch trees. The exterior looks like burnt charcoal. This odd-shaped mass found in forests may look like just another mushroom, but inside it is a super powerful source of nutrients and anti-oxidants.

How is Chaga harvested?

Chaga should only be harvested from living trees and great care must be taken to ensure the tree is not damaged or the chaga is over-harvested. The chaga is then dried and broken into chunks or ground into powder. It’s a good idea to make sure you are buying from a reputable vendor. Many Chaga vendors will let you know exactly where the Chaga comes from.

What are the health benefits of Chaga?

Chaga Mushroom is an adaptogen. Adaptogenic plants and mushrooms help to bring the body back into balance and have beneficial effects on the nervous system, immune system, the GI tract, the cardiovascular system, and the endocrine system. By supporting the body and mind in these ways, adaptogens help us to cope with stress, stay healthy during the cold and flu season, fight cancer, and lift us out of the dark depths of depression and adrenal burnout.

Chaga = Massive amounts of anti-oxidants

You already know that eating foods rich in anti-oxidants will help prevent many forms of disease and help you feel better. And anti-oxidant rich tea, such as green tea is a great way to keep anti-oxidants circulating in your bloodstream throughout the day. Because of the way Chaga grows, it accumulates an enormous amount of anti-oxidants over time.

Let ORAC speak for itself:

ORAC (Or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) measures the free oxygen radicals that food or supplement can absorb in your body.

For example, 1 gram of blueberries has an ORAC value of 24.5. Gogiberries contain even more at 400. The tropical acai berry one up’s that with a score of 800. But Chaga is the real champion. Forget 1,000 – 2,000 or even 10,000. 1 gram of Chaga comes in at over 36,000 on the ORAC scale, making this the pinnacle of anti-oxidant containing food!

What does Chaga tea taste like?

Chaga mushrooms do not taste like a typical mushroom found in a grocery store. It has a somewhat earthy flavor with a slight bitterness. It also contains a naturally occurring form of vanillin, the same as what is found vanilla bean. You can drink chaga mushroom straight just like any other herb. But because it is so dense in nutrients and anti-oxidants, the chaga mushroom lends itself to be an ideal component when blended with other herbs. Like cooking with mushrooms, the earthy flavor will complement many other herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, and honeybush.

How often should you drink Chaga?

Chaga is probably best used as a general health tonic, and 2-3 cups per day seem to be the going dose. Of course, drinking it in a blend with other beneficial herbs will lower the overall dosage, but give you exposure to a variety of other beneficial compounds. Some users will increase dosage especially if they are sick or have an on-going health issue. If you are drinking Chaga for this purpose, make sure you do your research! The “ideal” dose will vary from person to person, but we always like the middle way, a mild serving every day will expose you to a gentle dose of benefits. Like anything else, excessive consumption may have side effects.

Other general benefits from Mushrooms (reprinted from Time magazine)

“Besides anti-oxidants, mushrooms are brimming with phytochemicals which have anti-inflammatory properties and can protect the body from a number of diseases. A study in 2017 found fungi to be the best source of two disease-fighting antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione. Low levels of the latter have been linked with higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Mushrooms are increasingly being used to replace red meat. Store mushrooms in a refrigerator in a sealed paper bag, and prep them by wiping them down immediately before cooking. Meaty porcinis are one of the most antioxidant-rich fungi. But you can enhance the nutritional prowess of nearly any variety just by putting a pack of mushrooms in the sun. Putting them in natural sunlight for 30 minutes grew the vitamin D content between 25% to 100% of your recommended daily dose. If you chop them up first, you’ll increase sun contact and maximize vitamin D production. If you want extra vitamin D and antioxidants, grind air-dried and sun-bathed mushrooms into a powder. Mushroom nutrients are heat stable, so they won’t degrade when cooked. Toss the powder into foods such as pasta sauces, casseroles and bread flour for a nutrient boost with a disguised taste.”

Chaga recommendations

Buy Chaga from a reputable vendor. Regardless of pure chaga or a chaga blend, the company should disclose where exactly the chaga is sourced. It’s important to purchase from sustainable sources, and we prefer to stick with North America.

How to Make Iced Tea, Fast!

Guest contribution by Paula Geerligs

IT’S STILL SUMMER TIME. My summer heat survival strategy? A fridge full of iced tea, of all kinds, ready to drink. The great thing about tea is that it counts as water, so you can stay cool and hydrated while sipping on something tasty. And the good news is that you don’t have to wait forever for your tea to cool down. I have some tricks up my sleeves, including a method for making a quick iced tea in less than 10 minutes. This might even be the fastest way to make iced tea (if you have a faster method, please share!)

So, here’s how it works:

  1. Use half hot water, and half cold water
  2. Use more tea leaves than you normally would use

You will also need ice cubes, and a strainer or large empty tea bags.

This is How I Make Iced Tea, Fast!

In this example, I make 6 cups of tea.

First, I measure out my tea leaves: roughly 6 heaping teaspoons, plus a little extra (that’s, a teaspoon per cup, plus some!)

I filled my empty tea bags with the leaves, but if you don’t happen to have tea bags, you can steep your tea loose and pour it through a strainer after!

Next, I poured 3 cups of hot water over the tea bags. Let your tea steep. Don’t forget to cover your vessel! Your water temperature and steep time will vary, according to what kind of tea you use. I used an oolong, so I let my tea steep for 5 minutes.

Once your tea is done steeping, remove the bags, or remove the leaves through a strainer. At this point, your tea is still hot, so if you’re a sweet tea kind of person, now is the chance to mix in your sweetener. Otherwise, skip this step.

Then, add the cold water! I added 3 cups of cold water.

And the final step, add some ice! After adding the ice, begin swirling the iced tea as quickly (and as carefully) as you can: this is an important step, as it will affect how cold your tea gets. Swirl, swirl, swirl!

Here’s another tip: while you’re making your tea, let your glasses chill in the freezer.

And one more tip! Invest in sphere-shaped ice molds. The round ice keeps your drink cool, and melts slower, so your drink is less likely to become diluted.

That’s it! Serve up your tea in your chilled glass, add your ice cubes and…

Stay cool, friends!

Images provided and copyright held by author

Tea Desire – T Ching

As the desire for tea is growing is the desire for better tea happening, too?

I’m a little surprised to see that the tea selection in the grocery stores in my hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan hasn’t changed that much over the years. Red Rose and Tetley still seem to occupy the most shelf space.

While spending some time with family and long-time friends, I decided to visit the senior community of Sherbrooke Community Centre during my stay in Saskatoon. I reached out to them prior to arriving and was invited to do a tea presentation for their residents. My first job as a teenager was at this same community. The street address is still the same but the changes that have taken place there are truly amazing. 

For almost four years, I brought tea into senior communities in the San Diego area, and have kept my finger on the pulse of senior living ever since. I was thrilled to learn of the Eden Alternative Philosophy that’s been implemented at Sherbrooke. It addresses the three dreaded areas of concern in senior communities: loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. (You can learn more about this aging concept here: THE EDEN ALTERNATIVE.)

Of course, doing a tea presentation fits right in with this philosophy!

I also needed to find some tea to serve at my demonstration. In the spirit of what I’ve always “preached” in the tea industry about collaboration versus competition, I reached out to a Saskatoon tea company. In the true fortitude of Canadian hospitality, the owner of Tea Desire, Heidi Aupers, responded to me with warmth and kindness.

Tea Desire opened their first tea store in May 2005. Tony and Heidi Aupers, the founders of Tea Desire, are experienced entrepreneurs. They bring European and Canadian market experience to their tea stores where they stock the finest loose-leaf teas and teaware. (TEA DESIRE CANADA)


With two stores in British Columbia and one in Saskatchewan, I’m always more attracted to teaming up with smaller tea shop owners than going to the “big guys or girls” with my ideas.

The manager of the Saskatoon shop, Angella, and former customer Anna–now working in the teashop–were simply wonderful to meet and a delight to work with! So much so, that Angella volunteered to help me with the senior tea presentation.

These were the selections of tea we chose to serve: White Champagne Cassis, Green Strawberry Champagne, Oolong Raspberry, Rooibos Summertime (strawberry & rhubarb), and a Black Lychee. Yes, for my senior demonstrations, I have learned that the flavored teas are received quite positively over pure and “plain” teas. As predominately “prairie” seniors, I knew these flavors would be a hit. I chose the lychee-flavored black tea as something that would be new to them and sure to be a delight. The White Champagne Cassis was overwhelmingly the hit of the day!

I am most grateful that Angella was extremely efficient at preparing the teas we had selected for the seniors to taste because it was a challenge to keep up! The event was very well attended and tables were added throughout the presentation. We were also most appreciative of the four volunteers that assisted with the pouring of the teas.

Over 40 seniors sipped and socialized at our tea demonstration. Due to privacy restrictions with photos, I have only one photo to share of just a fraction of our attendees.

I am currently updating my tea slides to put together a fresh slideshow of my trips to the tea fields of Japan, China, and India to present next week in another tea-tasting event for these seniors using teas from Tea Desire.

Sherbrooke Community Centre refers to their community as a “village.” Thus, providing the feeling and experience of everyone living and thriving together as a village — which is what I definitely experienced with all the helpful hands that assisted me in bringing this tea event to their seniors.

Tea Desire responded to me in a manner most befitting of the village concept. As I have been stating for over a decade now, the tea industry needs all of us! When we implement the “village” concept as it applies to our mission, passion, or vision with tea when we all come together, our individual power ten-folds. If we all applied this sentiment, we would quickly learn that the fearful concept of “competition” and rivaling each other with our tea businesses would no longer be necessary. That place of distrust, beating out one another, getting the jump, and basic survival tactics, is just not a good or healthy way to live. Life is about thriving not just surviving.

Reach out to your community, as well. Many are still new to the world of tea and the experience of sipping good tea. If they are not coming to you go to them! Collaborate; find ways to expose your product and to express yourself and your passion.

Images provided and copyright held by author

Blast From the Past: Tea roses, not rose tea

While reading about roses, I kept coming across “teas” and wondered how roses and teas were related.

What are tea roses?  Not surprisingly, they are so named because the fragrances of some varieties resemble that of Chinese black tea.  Rose historian and author Brent Dickerson elaborates further by comparing the scent to “a newly-opened sample of the choicest tea”.   Tea roses originated in China and were introduced in the West in 1808, a year ancient enough to categorize tea roses as a type of “Old Garden Rose”.  The most interesting characteristic of tea roses may be their petals with their pointed tips and curly edges.   I thought my favorite crimson rose in the garden was a tea rose whose petals have a conspicuous pointed tip; however, through additional reading, I learned that tea roses should be in pastel shades of white, pink, and yellow.

And then there are the widely popular “modern” hybrid tea roses, which were created by hybridizing hybrid perpetual roses and tea roses.  All roses introduced after 1867, the year the first hybrid tea rose “La France” was developed, are considered “Modern Roses”.

rose gardenAt a rose garden, I discovered the dazzling “Rio Samba”, which seemed to exude a tea scent; however, after standing next to the bushes for a bit I realized the tea scent actually came from the foliage.  I asked the gardener which rose was, in his opinion, most fragrant; he pointed to a white rose with seemingly uncountable layers of petals, and I clearly heard him say “Jean Valjean”.   Later I searched for this rose on the Internet, but a rose with such a name appeared non-existent.  To me, this rose is more “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” than “Jean Valjean”.

I have not been too disappointed by not being able to detect the “tea scent” in the tea roses or other varieties.  Many rose growers actually characterize the scent of tea roses as fruity.  I will continue my search.

Originally posted in August 2009, written by Ifang Hsieh