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

La Vie en Rose Tea

At this time of the year when many wine drinkers turn to indisputably quaffable wines (Read: “rosé”),  I turn to drinking tall glasses of iced tea. But not just any iced tea. My version of choice involves lightly brewed delicate white tea flavored with the fleeting berries of summer, requiring nothing artificial, synthetic or nature-equivalent. It’s just pure berry flavor. Choose whichever berries are best in your area—red or black raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, boysenberries, ollalieberries.  In truth, everything but blueberries will work; they don’t release a flavorful liquid when pureed. You can use a combination of a few kinds if you’d like.

The method is simple and doesn’t vary no matter which berries you are using. Use 1 quart of the most fragrant berries you can find per quart of cold brewed tea. Puree the berries and then place in a medium-fine sieve over a stainless steel bowl or other container that fits nicely under your sieve with a few inches of clearance between the bottom of the sieve and the bowl. Stir a few times and then allow the mixture to drain of its own accord at cool room temperature for a few hours or–if the kitchen is hot–place the whole assembly into the refrigerator for a few hours.

Brew a quart of white tea using the cold brew method overnight if you can be leisurely about it, placing the loose leaves into a clean glass carafe. I use 20 grams of tea leaves per quart of good quality water.  Lest I run out, as I note the amount of brewed tea in the refrigerator dwindling, I set up another cold brew and allow it to brew slowly and lazily, for at least 24 hours in the fridge, even for as much as two days before sieving out the spent leaves.

Once the berry juice has finished dripping into the bowl, combine this flavorful liquid with the brewed tea, discarding the pureed mixture. Chill further if you’d like. I tend to serve this neat in chilled glasses sweetened to taste with a simple sugar syrup (boil equal parts by weight of sugar and water until dissolved and then cook further until it has the consistency of maple syrup, then chill and store in the refrigerator in a covered glass jar). I feel ice dilutes the delicacy of the drink.  

Place some berries in the freezer in a single layer and freeze for a couple of hours. Use as a garnish, throwing a few of them into each tall glass. Then say a collective “Aah” as you enjoy the drink. All together now…..

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Berinag Tea Revives You – T Ching

Guest Contribution by Anirudha Singh Dhanik

Berinag is a Himalayan town located 102 km from Pithoragarh (District Headquarters and easternmost Himalayan district in the state of Uttarakhand, India) and 160 km from Nainital. It is one of the six Administrative Subdivisions (tehsil) of Pithoragarh. National Highway 309A passes through Berinag. The closest prominent villages include Sangarh, Tripuradevi, Garaun, Dhanoli, Bana, Bhattigaon, Banoli, and Quarali.

Berinag gets its name from the Berinag Temple (called ‘Bedinag’ locally), which is a Nāga Devta Temple situated at the top of Berinag Hill. Berinag is among the many temples devoted to Nāgas namely Dhaulinag (Dhavalnag), Kalinag (Kaliyanag), Feninag (Faninag), Bashukinag (Vasukinag), and Pinglenag.

It offers a panoramic view of the Greater Himalayas, from Garhwal Himalayas to the Nepal ranges, especially lofty peaks like Panchachuli and Nanda Devi. The region was famous for tea estates developed during the British rule.

Berinag Tea was a highly sought-after tea in London tea houses and tea blenders for its kippery flavour. This tea was a well-known brick-tea made of leaves compressed into a solid mass and made from the leaves of a wild plant which grows in many localities in the Himalayas. It was grown in the most eastern Himalayan district in the state of Uttarakhand, but is now only grown in Chaukori which is famous for its tea gardens established by the Britishers. Laurie Baker, the connoisseur, loved Berinag tea remembering it throughout his life. Unlike other kinds of tea, Berinag tea is low in color which accounts for the delay in infusion. It is an old saying that Berinag Tea was very popular in Tibet and Daba Jongpen a Tibetan trader made a practice to buy tea from Berinag at very frugal price and label it “Chinese”, putting it in customary Tibetan regime skins to sell it to the  peasantry as the best Tibetan article without giving genuine credit to the Berinag Tea.

After some years, an expert committee was appointed in 1827 to investigate the possibility of the successful cultivation of tea in Kumaon region and a tea estate was set up in Berinag. Soon after, Berinag Tea estate was bought from agents of Corbett by Dan Singh Bist. It was distributed by D.S. Bist & Sons, a company owned by Dan Singh Bist who is a billionaire philanthropist in India and popularly known as the Timber king of India. From the late 1900s till his death in 1964, Dan Singh Bist sought the tea in China, India, and London. The managers of the Berinag tea company discovered the secret of manufacturing Chinese brick tea, and their tea was admitted by unprejudiced Bhotia traders to be far superior to the Chinese article imported into Western Tibet via Lhasa. The secret ingredient not only rejuvenated the drinker but it catapulted Dan Singh like a shooting star. On 20 May 1924, at the age of 18 years, he purchased a brewery from the British Indian Corporation Limited and on those 50 acres began to build a home and office for himself and his father at Bisht Estate. Berinag tea was the number one brand in all three markets: Chinese, London and Indian. These details may be found in the Indian Government’s page of the Tea Board of India, where Berinag has file number B-803/LC and Chaukori is C-804/LC both listed as owned by D. S. Bist and Sons, on page 3 of  the Tea board document. Dan Singh Bisht even managed to get handsome quota money from the Tea Board Association Calcutta, something both Corbett, as well as the previous owner Robert Bellairs’ father (from whom Corbett had bought Berinag) had failed to do. Gradually the business declined, and by 1960 only a small tea garden survived. However, after his death the tea estate was taken over by settlers and encroached. Berinag was home to one of the best tea gardens in the country until Dan Singh Bisht died.

In the famous book “Footloose in the Himalayas” written by William McKay Aitken, regarding Berinag Tea he said the packaging was just the same as it was in the 1930s: Printed on one side of the box is the advertisement “Berinag Tea Revives You”, at the top is the claim “fresh from garden”, below which the garden itself is depicted. Beneath three snowy peaks runs a long factory building at chaukori with a red tin roof. Picking the tea bushes are the three ladies all with ebony bobbed hair. The girl in the foreground looks convent educated and carries on her back the long wicker basket peculiar to Kumaun. What is intriguing is the girl’s dress: Her salvar kameej is more Chinese than Indian and sports a mandarin collar.

Woefully the brand is forgotten except by older generations. The accidental death of the magnate Dan Singh Bist in 1964 left the brand without a successor. It’s disheartening to see the current condition of the tea gardens. But for now, let’s hope for the best.


  1.  “Tourist Spots” . Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2.  “Tea Board of India Licensing Department” (PDF). Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  3.  “U’khand tea: Raj days’ flavour goes brandless”. 2014-09-17. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  4. “Full text of “Western Tibet and the British Borderland: The Sacred Country of Hindus and Buddhists, with an …””. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  5. “The Other Side of Laurie Baker – Elizabeth Baker – Google Books”. 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  6. “Berinaag – WikiUttarakhand”. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  7. “Footloose in the Himalaya – Bill Aitken – Google Books”. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  8. “Uttarakhand Worldwide • View topic – Have a Cup of Tea”. 2005-08-05. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  9. Mittal, Arun K. British Administration in Kumaon Himalayas: A Historical Study, 1815-1947.

Japanese Tea vs Indian Tea – 10 Battles You Don’t Want to Miss – Part 2

In conclusion of yesterday’s post

4 Aesthetics: Japanese Tea uses more machinery

Most Japanese tea cultivation and processing is done by machines whereas most Indian tea cultivation is still done manually without machinery. Though there are a few farmers in Japan who hand-pick tea to ensure the best quality, most of the tea you see in grocery stores is those mass produced using machines.

5 Flavor: Indian Tea is Packed with Flavor

India produces some of the most flavorful teas in the world. The distinct spices of Chai tea–along with milk that is sometimes added–lends to its soothing and warm flavor. The taste of Chai is so pleasant it has become a popular drink in many countries outside of India.

The savory butter tea, or gur gur, is made from tea leaves, butter, water, and salt. It is so delicious that Himalayan nomads drink almost forty cups a day.

Another Indian tea well known for its flavor and popular all over the world is Darjeeling tea. It has hints of a fruity smell and flavor that requires no additional ingredients to enjoy.

6 Cost: The Surprising Price Differences Between Japanese and Indian Teas

According to a statistical report by Statista, in 2016 the average cost for one hundred grams of green tea in Japan was four hundred and ninety-one yen ($4.35 USD). Statista also reported that in 2015 the average cost for one thousand grams of tea in India was two hundred and two Indian rupees ($2.95 USD).

As you can see, the cost of tea in India is significantly lower than it is in Japan. This is due partly to the size of the country and India’s ability to produce larger quantities of tea.

7 Impurities: Japanese Tea is Some of the Purest Tea in the World

A 2014 Greenpeace India study revealed that the presence of pesticides was found in leading brands of tea sold in India. These pesticides result in acute and chronic toxicity. In contrast, the chance of fewer pesticides in Japanese tea is related to their tea growing practices.

Black tea from India is also known to contain traces of lead, a toxin that can affect all organs in the human body. According to the Journal of Toxicology, to avoid lead exposure, the safest tea to drink is organic green tea from Japan.

8 Popularity: The Popularity of Indian Tea Reaches Beyond the Borders of India

Without question, teas that originated in India have gained popularity around the globe. Chai and Darjeeling teas are flavorful and aromatic teas common in many tea and coffee shops. The tea most popular in Japan and perhaps the one Japan is most renown for–green tea–didn’t have its origins in Japan but rather originated in China.

9 Weight loss: The Effectiveness of Japanese Tea for Weight Loss

Japanese green tea is known for its ability to help in weight loss. Catechins are flavonoids present in green tea that boost the metabolism, helping your body break down fat more quickly. Potent types of catechins are called EGCG. Caffeine, another component of non-herbal teas, causes the body to burn calories by increasing energy levels. EGCG and caffeine work in unison.

The Japanese drink green tea frequently, starting with their first meal and throughout the day. The regular consumption of this fat-fighting tea could be one of the reasons Japan doesn’t have an issue with obesity.

10 Aesthetics: The Timeless Beauty of Japanese Tea

Aesthetics is a formally established discipline in Japan that extends beyond the art of the tea ceremony. Outside of this elaborate ritual, the Japanese take pleasure in ornate teapots, cups, and saucers, as well as blossoming herbal teas where a dried flower unfolds after it’s placed into a clear pot or cup. The sight can be as meditative as it is beautiful.

There are no losers when it comes to Japanese Tea and Indian Tea. Both cultures have produced teas that are and will be enjoyed throughout the world for many years to come.

Both teas matched up when it came to health-related properties, and shared other similarities. Yes, they did differ in taste, pricing, impurities, and culture; but overall it comes down to what you like.

Which one is your cup of tea today?

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Japanese Tea vs Indian Tea – 10 Battles You Don’t Want to Miss – Part 1

India and Japan both have a love of tea that spans many centuries. The plant, Camellia Sinensis, is popular in both India and Japan and is used to produce most of the tea such as black, green, and white tea. However, there are many kinds of herbal teas that are also consumed in both cultures. This love of various teas is woven into the fabric of the history and culture of India and Japan.

Even though I am Japanese, I personally love India and Indian tea. I had a great opportunity to live in India (Chandigarh) for close to a year altogether, and from the experience, I was introduced to all different kinds of tea in India.  

Though I love Indian tea, I had a hard time finding Japanese tea in India.  That is where I started importing Japanese tea to India. (You can find Japanese tea in India from our site now.)

This article is through my experience and research for love of both Indian and Japanese tea comparing teas from both countries I love.

We will take a look at the many factors that show why tea is such a popular drink in these countries and how well Japanese tea and Indian tea will fare in a battle against each other.

1 History: India’s Tea History is Ancient

Tea became known in Japan around the 9th Century. Tea seeds were brought from China and the planting of them was greatly encouraged. (Read my other article 30 Surprising History About Japanese Green Tea You (Probably) Didn’t Know)

For Indian tea, the first record of tea consumption in India was between 750-500 BCE, in the ancient Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. It’s possible that tea consumption started much earlier than this, however, after the mention of tea in the Ramayana, there are no further records of tea consumption until the first century.

In the sixteenth century, Dutch travelers recorded Indian use of the Assam tea plant as both a food and to brew tea. Later, the arrival of the British East India Company brought large-scale production of tea in Assam, India. By the start of the twentieth century, the top tea producer in the world was Assam.

Indian tea consumption predates that of Japan.

2 Culture: The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an Exercise in Meditation

The Japanese tea ceremony, called the Way of the Tea, is one of the most elegant and beautiful cultural rituals in the world. The ceremony is a series of choreographed movements that are more about focus and intent than drinking tea. It is said that the one preparing the tea must do so from the heart.

This tea ceremony was first recorded to have begun in the sixteenth century. The teachings of Zen Buddhism saturate this practice which can be seen in the four principles that are central to its spiritual aspects. These principles are harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. (Read my other article – 30 surprising history about Japanese tea you (probably) didn’t know for more about Japanese Tea Ceremony.)

3 Types: Japan Tea Comes in Many Varieties

There are well over twenty different types of tea in Japan. With the history of tea in Japan spanning over a thousand years, this isn’t surprising. The Japanese have mastered the art of tea cultivation. Let’s take a look at just a few of the types of tea popular in Japan.

Tea plants grown under shade are used to make this tea. This process allows for the tea leaves to produce more chlorophyll. The additional chlorophyll gives the tea an intense green color. Matcha is the tea commonly used in tea ceremonies.

Sencha is green tea made from tea plants grown in the sun. It is consumed hot or with ice and is the most popular tea in Japan.

Aracha translates to “Wild Tea” in English. Aracha is green tea where the process of green tea keeps the original shape as it is cropped. Most green tea consumed are refined and processed green tea. In Japan, green tea is usually sold from the farmer to wholesaler where the wholesalers process and refine the tea. When green tea is provided to the wholesaler, the form of the green tea is usually Aracha since it has not been processed yet. This type of green tea is usually not distributed to consumers. However, due to being able to enjoy rich and natural taste and flavor, some fans prefer drinking this type.

(Here are some more types of Japanese green tea that are popular and available.)

How about Indian tea types?   Just like Japanese tea, Indian tea is full of health benefit.  Here are a couple of examples of Indian tea types known for their health benefits.

-Assam tea
Assam tea is a black tea that is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can help prevent certain types of cancer. In addition, Assam tea can improve cognitive function, increasing mental alertness.

-Nilgiri tea
Nilgiri tea is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. These two elements, respectively, help to maintain blood sugar and improve cardiovascular health.

-Chai tea
Chai tea is a combination of black tea and spices. Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, and clove are blended with black tea to produce a drink potent with health benefits. It can help reduce nausea, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation. It is also high in antioxidants so can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular issues.

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To be concluded tomorrow

Blast From the Past: The ritual of tea

My favorite way to spend a Sunday morning is to brew a big pot of tea and relax while planning my day.  Sometimes I putter around the house, straightening things up or doing laundry, but more often it is my tea, a book, and me – and some nice swing / standards music in the background (think Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, or Peggy Lee).  The tea is an integral part of my routine.  I can’t imagine up and getting going without it.  When I have brunch plans on Sunday mornings, I always enjoy seeing my friends, but there is usually a small moment when I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to drink my tea and ease into the day.

The type of tea is important, too.  On Sundays, I normally steep a flavored black tea blend.  Yes, that may make some of you consider me a philistine, but I enjoy it.  It’s kind of like eating healthy all week and on Sunday having an indulgent cinnamon bun or an old-fashioned fry-up.  During the week, and even on Saturdays, I drink oolong, or a nice Darjeeling, or my favorite Natela’s Gold black tea from Georgia.  I even throw in a green tea here and there (although I should really do this more often to reap more health benefits).  But Sundays are reserved for my flavored black teas.

One of my recent discoveries is to make a vanilla chai black tea.  I blend the following:

  1. 2 parts plain black tea, usually an Assam or a Ceylon – something with a bit of body
  2. 1 part chai tea blend
  3. 1 part vanilla black tea

This might sound horrid, but I love it!  I’ve tried chai made the traditional way, but I’m not a big milk drinker, so I don’t drink that very often.  However, I love the spices used in chai tea blends, so I like to incorporate them into my own personal blends.  I drink it straight – no milk, no sweetener.  The bite of the chai is tempered by the smoothness of the vanilla, so it makes it a great way to ease into a day.

There are many different tea rituals, from the gong fu tea ceremony, to the Malaysian “pulled” tea, to the very proper British high tea.  Everyone knows about these, but I’m curious to know what your own tea rituals are.  Do you drink tea from a certain cup, prepared a particular way?  Do you have someone with whom you share a love of tea, and make things “just so” when you get together over a cup?  Do you have a special tea shop you stop by often to get your daily fix (if so, you’re very lucky!)?  What is it about drinking that particular tea in that exact way that comforts you, or calms you, or gives you a sense of peace?

I often wonder whether it’s the ritual or the tea itself that has such a calming effect.  We know that some of the benefits of tea include various antioxidants that can lower blood pressure and create other relaxing effects, but I think that a great part of drinking tea is the calm that you feel when preparing the tea.  It forces you to slow down and take a few minutes out from your normal life.

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Written by Nancy Murphy, originally posted in August 2011

Ochazuke – T Ching

Three of the recurring characters in the Japanese drama Midnight Diner, also known as ShinYa ShoKuDou, are nicknamed Ochazuke Sisters – friends who are perpetually single and maudlin, and always order different flavors of ochazuke at the diner. Their banal life stories are abridged in the first season’s third episode, broadcasted in 2009.

To concoct an authentic bowl of ochazuke (お茶漬け), simply pour tea over rice. It is not so easy if one doesn’t know how to cook rice, is it? Toppings are optional. One of the Ochazuke Sisters orders plum every time while the other two prefer salmon and cod roe. A few months ago I stepped inside an izakaya whose menu specifies no topping choice for ochazuke. I should have questioned this establishment’s “legitimacy” and perhaps step away after recalling that the space, unusually vast for izakayas, was previously occupied by an all-you-can-eat buffet chain. Not only a teapot but also a teacup accompanied the bowl of rice. I regretted taking a sip as it was salty soup stock–that is, dashi–not tea! Dashi is a popular alternative to tea. Why present the teacup when the teapot’s content is not meant to be drunk alone?

A China television project erred in a similar manner and much grander scale with its re-make of Midnight Diner. Instead of titivating and flavoring their production with Chinese culture and tradition, the creators set up a center bar and served dishes such as instant noodles. “Laughingstock,” the top review reads.

So many Japanese dramas, including Midnight Diner, drew inspiration from manga – Japanese comic books of which I am not a fan. On the other hand, I like to think that a few of the manga writers deserve the Nobel Prize more than the rumored shortlisted Haruki Murakami whose literary success is inscrutable to me.

In the original production, Midnight Diner’s proprietor smokes inside the tiny kitchen! He put down the cigarette and without washing his hands proceeds to prepare whatever dishes his customers request. None of his patrons has ever voiced disapproval… In health-conscious states like California, it is not uncommon to see non-smokers walking swiftly by smokers; some even cough, unintentionally due to foul odor, maybe intentionally to disclose their contempt.

Tea Rainbow?

Life on the 45th parallel has its advantages.  Summer days are almost sixteen hours. Every berry – black, blue, rasp- and straw- grow here as well as cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, and pears.  TChing contributor Robert Weminschner could make a different scrumptious dessert every day for fifty-three days! So, it was with Robert’s sense of adventure – and my handy flask of fresh-brewed Doke Black Fusion – that I headed into the raspberry patch a few weeks ago.  

I was the first customer, and the only person allowed to pick raspberries.  The weather was clear and hot, with Mt. Hood (in photo above) forming a breathtaking backdrop to the south. “I see you brought your tea,” the owner said as she pointed me to the row.

“Never leave home without it,” I walked from the fruit stand through the orchard.  Beautiful and serenely alone in my own raspberry universe. Seventy-five yards of raspberry vines, seven feet tall and seven feet thick.  Berries hung heavy and fragrant on the vines. Jam, Pie. Syrup. Tarts. Scones. Jam cookies. Filling. Custard. Shortbread. I planned menus and re-runs in my head of Robert’s recipes and luscious tea syrups. I listened to the peaceful country sounds of proud chickens, a cow calling a calf, dogs barking.  There was a screeching sound of some bird I couldn’t place some distance away but mostly relaxing, farm sounds. Soon, I had twelve pints of beautiful berries; time to take a break.

I found a grassy spot at the end of the row and pulled out my tea and PBJ.  I half- crouched, noticing thistles and nettles and stickseeds, tiny morning glories and even tinier dainty pinks.  Content, all was right with the world. I opened my flask of tea and took the first sip followed by a grateful gulp.

There is no phonetic rendition that can describe the shriek that erupted from directly behind me.  Like I had been shot from a spring, I catapulted into the air, my tea exploding from my cup like a fountain.  I swear I saw a rainbow in the arc. Then I came down right into a particularly thick collection of nettles, thistles, a rogue blackberry bramble, stickseeds and face to face with this incredibly beautiful blooming hen-and-chicks (photo above). I gasped out some words that grown women should not say as an enormous – from my vantage point of face-on-the-green – peacock strutted regally by, giving his tail feathers an indignant shake.

Stickseeds – tiny balls that stick to your hair, socks, shirt, jeans, and hat like velcro – covered me from head to toe.  I was grateful that the raspberries were out of the path of destruction, but I told that peacock he owed me a cup of tea. He gave me stinkeye as only a bird can.  I picked stickseeds out of my clothing for a good five minutes before I picked up the flask. Lucky Day, a good mouthful was left!

Next time, I will pack a spare flask in the car.  You never know.

Images provided and copyright held by author

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