Compass Coffee Roasting’s Unexpected Chai


I have a habit of wandering through the quiet downtown in Vancouver, Washington on weekday afternoons as a favored form of easy exercise on almost any day it isn’t raining. I have come across various unexpected treasures in the surprisingly sleepy area. Often considered a suburb of its neighbor to the south–Portland, Oregon–Vancouver tends to be a little more on the subdued side. Yet every now and then it has the ability to surprise me. One such instance is a small, local coffee roaster that has only two cafe locations, one in Portland and the other in Vancouver. I occasionally check cafes out to see what kind of tea they offer and how they serve it (and once disappointed, order a dry cappuccino).

Imagine my surprise when I found that Compass Coffee Roasting has its own in-house chai! I absolutely had to order it. I asked the barista ringing me up about it, and he explained that they used to offer three kinds of in-house, but now have only the one and another two that are externally sourced. He expressed some regret over this fact, as it was his opinion that the external ones simply did not stand up.

I ordered mine with almond milk and then waited as it was prepared. After a final sprinkle of cinnamon on top–which the barista confided helps round out the flavor–my ceramic mug was returned to me. I was surprised to find it a quite traditional chai. It was extremely sweet to my tastes, but I find all chai to be that way so I can’t be a fair judge on the matter.

The initial flavors that hit me were ginger and the cinnamon from the topping. The inclusion of lemon peel helps give it a citrusy sweet pep that plays well with the ginger. I found that it had a pleasant but not overwhelming bite to it.

The initial flavor on the tip of the tongue is nothing but sweet and creamy, with a pleasing aroma of cardamom and coriander when it hits the palate. I found it to have a pleasantly lingering spice on the tongue, with the anise gently balancing out the pepper.

They had two lonely bags for sale on a shelf in the cafe. Yet when I checked their website, despite one article written about their chai in 2016 (when they still had three), I didn’t find any information about it. Nor did I find it for sale on the website, only coffee. So this particular local treat will sadly have to stay just that: local. But if you ever find yourself in either Portland or Vancouver and are a fan of traditional chai, keep this one in mind!



Tea Rituals – T Ching


How do you take your tea?

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? If dropping a teabag into a mug of boiling water is your morning or afternoon routine, would you take a moment or two longer to turn that practice into something much more special?

The “way of tea” and “taking tea,” as well as the making of tea, was elevated into a form of art in many cultures. Rituals were created as a way to celebrate tea in such style that it became a way to celebrate life: the simple and sometimes mundane things, as well as the significant, and spiritual aspects of life. It also could have been the other way around in celebrating life with tea it became a celebration of the tea, too!

Yes, all of that with a cup of tea!

Every aspect of that cup of tea was (and still is) taken into consideration. Everything from the freshness of the water to make the tea and how it would be heated to the precise temperature that would release the best qualities of the precious leaves, to the utensils to store, handle, and present the tea. Including, the container in which to steep the leaves, the setting to serve the tea, the vessel to receive the infusion, and to whom the beverage was offered, as well as who was preparing the cherished liquid and their state of mind.

Everything that it took to grow the leaves was reflected upon ceremonially, as well: from the planting of the seeds or seedlings to the soil, sunlight, rain, nutrients, and maintenance. All the effort by the many it took to hand-pluck the leaves, transport, whither, dry, roll, process, package, ship, and sell, indeed became something to celebrate.

Sadly, for most North Americans, all of the above goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and unaware. Just as we mindlessly gulp other concoctions oblivious to their contents, purchase foods prepared in substandard and inhumane conditions, consume deadly toxins added to food products, etc., etc., it is time to wake up!

Truthfully, it’s long overdue. When we start paying attention to our bodies, our minds, our health, our emotions, our relationships, our careers, our planet, our practices, as well as our path and purpose in this life then everything we do, think, drink, eat, and see, becomes a spiritual occurrence.

Every awakening is something to celebrate. Every moment we take to reflect, to appreciate, to be in awe, to practice humility and compassion, turns our lives into sacred events.

To be in a place of choice puts us in control of our lives. To be in a place of oneness with everything around us connects us to everything beyond us.

When we can take something that appears to be straightforward such as sipping a cup of tea and turn it into something of significance we are on our way to enlightenment or at the very least, to wholeness.

Waking up is attentiveness to everything and everyone. We don’t have to understand all the workings and mysteries of the universe we only have to put ourselves in a place of calm and openness to receive balance.

Yes, it can be done with a cup of tea.

It has been done with tea for millennia. Your own tea rituals need not be based on the intricacies and practices of other rituals from around the globe. Although they are time-consuming, they are fascinating to learn but you have the power to create your own rituals with tea. Awareness and mindfulness are always a good start. Just as pray or bless our food before a meal oh, you don’t do that anymore? The few seconds it takes to bless our food is the beginning of being mindful and grateful for all we have for what we put into our bodies and the state of our minds as we bring the food and drink into our bodies.

Reverence is the foundation of all rituals awareness, acknowledgment, and appreciation of every sip, every breath, every heartbeat, every person, and every thing. For the entire time it takes to sip a cup of tea, mindfully and gratefully you are the ruler of your universe that’s how to take tea!

And, by gosh, that makes the tea taste so gooooood!

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Easy as Darjeeling-Peach Pie


As a long time tea lover, I believe that pie and a cup of perfectly brewed tea win out any day over the pie and coffee at the quintessential corner diner of your imagination. (Are there any corner diners left?)  But not just any pie and not just any tea. The champagne of teas, as Darjeeling from northeast India is known, not only makes a great partner in the cup to early summer peach pie but when used in the pie, the tea adds a subtle undernote to the juices that exude from the peaches when cooked. With its natural peach-scented flavor profile, Darjeeling pairs beautifully with the sweet tart peaches now overflowing stands at farmers markets in most parts of the country. It’s a pairing that I wait all year to savor. For my pie, I simply simmer the peaches, blanched and peeled, in brewed tea, sweeten the mixture to taste, thicken it slightly with a slurry of cornstarch and peach cooking liquid, add an accent of spices, and a bit of butter, and then let it cool before putting into the flakiest of all-butter crusts. As an optional extra, a homemade tea ice cream, made from tea-infused custard sauce, adds the final touch. And what do I like to drink with this? You guessed it—a nice Darjeeling.  Mae West’s saying “Too much of a good thing is wonderful” certainly applies here.

Recipe for Peach Darjeeling Pie with Tea Ice Cream

Serves 6 generously

Here’s a quick puff pastry dough that I like to use for this pie but feel free to use any dough that you like. It’s best to make the dough first since if it’s well chilled, it’s easier to work with and will yield a flakier end result.

For the dough:

  • 8 oz. (scant 2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold but malleable, cut into pieces, measuring approximately 2 inches long by 1 inch wide
  • ½ t. salt
  • 4 ozs. (one- half cup) ice water

Place the flour, butter, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, lightly toss the ingredients together until the butter is evenly coated with flour. Add the water all at once and mix gently again to distribute the water evenly throughout the dough. Do not overwork. At this point, the dough will be shaggy, not yet cohering into a rollable dough.

Turn the ragged mixture onto a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin, tap firmly on the dough to help it come together, frequently scraping it free from the work surface until the ragged mass starts to cohere. Using more pressure, roll the dough into a rough rectangle. Then fold one end of the dough toward the middle and the other end on top of that so you have a three-layer roughly rectangular shape. Flour the work surface lightly again and with the short end of the dough facing you, roll the packet into a rectangle again, being sure that the dough is not sticking to the work surface. Fold the dough again into a three-layer packet and chill. When the dough is well chilled, divide it into two unequal parts using one-third of the dough for the bottom crust and the remaining two thirds for a lattice top for the pie and return the two pieces of dough, wrapped well, to the refrigerator. While the dough chills, make the following Darjeeling Tea-Peach filling.

Darjeeling Tea-Peach filling:

  • 20 grams whole leaf Darjeeling tea (fragrant and fresh)
  • 16 ounces water
  • 10 medium sized ripe yellow peaches (you will get a better yield of usable fruit from freestone but cling varieties will work too)
  • 6 ounces granulated sugar, approximate (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1-1/2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • ½ t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, cut up into ¼ inch cubes

For final pie assembly:

  • Heavy cream, as needed
  • Granulated sugar, as needed

Use a small paring knife to remove the skin of the peaches. Remove the pit and then cut the fruit into ½ to ¾ inch slices.

Bring the water to the boil. Add the tea leaves. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl. Discard the leaves. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove 5 ounces of the liquid and allow it to cool.

Whisk the cinnamon and nutmeg into it and then dissolve the cornstarch in that liquid, stirring until perfectly smooth. Then add the spice-cornstarch mixture back into the remaining sugared tea liquid. Cook over medium heat until the liquid thickens and the starch is fully cooked. Add the sliced peaches to the liquid and simmer until the peaches are tender but not mushy.  Add the butter and stir until melted. Allow the mixture to cool while you roll out the chilled pastry to line the pie pan.

Rolling the dough:

Place the empty pie pan onto a sheet of parchment paper and then trace the outline onto the paper. Set aside.

Roll the smaller of the two pieces of dough into a thin circle, large enough to cover the inside of the pie pan with a one inch overhang all around.  Place the dough into the pan without stretching it, allowing for an overhang of one inch (this overhang will be folded in once the lattice is in place.). Pour the fruit filling into the dough and place the pie into the refrigerator while you roll out the remaining dough for the lattice top of the pie.

(If you wish, instead of a lattice, simply roll the remaining dough into a thin sheet, trim it into a circle, one inch larger than the top dimensions of the pie. Use a round, square or other shaped small cookie cutter to cut out decorative shapes in a symmetrical pattern, cut a circle to fit nicely on top of the pie and fold in the overhang and crimp using a fork or other tool sealing the two layers together. )

For the lattice, roll the larger piece of dough into a sheet, about ¼ inch thick, large enough to fully cover the top of the pie. Cut the dough into thirteen even strips, each about ¾ inch wide. (The dough should be soft enough so that it doesn’t break when you manipulate it but not sticky or melting).

Turn the paper with the circle drawn on it over (marked side down) and place 6 of the strips within the drawn circle onto the paper, ¾ inch apart and parallel to one another. Fold back every other strip halfway and place a strip of dough perpendicular to the line of strips. Return the folded back strips to their original positions and then fold back the other strips. Place another strip parallel to, and ¾ of an inch apart from, the center cross strip and continue the process of folding back the strips and positioning the cross strips to complete the lattice on both sides of the center strip. Chill the lattice until firm, about half hour.

Final assembly of the pie:

Remove the lattice and pie from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Brush the edge of the bottom crust lightly with water. Carefully place the lattice onto the pie and fold the overhang over the edge of the lattice to enclose it all around the pie. Use a fork or other tool to crimp the bottom and top doughs together to seal.  Brush the lattice lightly and carefully with heavy cream. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Place the pie on a heavy rimmed cookie sheet (to catch any drips from the pie) and bake for approximately one hour and 10 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.

If desired, serve with Darjeeling Tea Ice Cream, prepared as follows:

  • 1 T. whole leaf premium quality Darjeeling tea
  • 4 ounces milk
  • 4 ounces granulated sugar
  • 5 egg yolks from large eggs
  • 6 ounces heavy cream

In a medium saucepan, place the tea leaves into the milk. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Allow to steep for 3 minutes. Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve into a small heatproof bowl. Discard the tea leaves.

In another small bowl, using a whisk, beat the sugar with the egg yolks until pale in color. Add the tea-infused milk and stir with a spoon or heatproof silicone spatula until dissolved. Place the mixture into a medium sauce pan and using the spoon or spatula, stir, without aerating, until the mixture thickens slightly (the temperature of the liquid should be 180 degrees F.) The mixture should coat the back of a spoon. Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl set over an ice bath and cool quickly, stirring occasionally. When cold, stir in the heavy cream and mix until just blended. Then freeze the mixture in an ice cream machine, according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place the ice cream into a container with a tight-fitting lid and allow to firm up further, about two hours, until just before serving the pie.

Cut the pie into six equal wedges and serve with a scoop of ice cream and a cup of Darjeeling (or other tea of your choice). Now take a bow!

The post Easy as Darjeeling-Peach Pie appeared first on T Ching.



What is Tokonome Yaki Teapot and Why Does Tea Taste Better With This Kyusu?


If you’re a lover of tea, then you might have heard of the term “kyusu” which means “tea pot” in Japanese. The Takoname Yaki is both a remarkable and historic teapot which dates back to the 12th century. Because of the way the teapot is made, it gives the tea a distinguishable flavor, making it well-liked amongst green tea enthusiasts. 

The Unparalleled Craftsmanship in Tokoname

Tokoname is a city located in central Japan (on the coast of the Chita Peninsula) and is known to contain Japan’s oldest and largest kiln. At one point, it was estimated that there were as many as 3,000 kilns in Tokoname; the five other ancient kilns were known as Shigaraki, Tanba, Seto, Echizen, and Bizen. The pottery made in Tokoname is created with an unmatched craftsmanship and artistry. The very first teapot created was by Inaba Takamichi and was made with white or rough clay. The creator of the first red clay teapot, Sugie Jyumon, worked with a doctor named Hirano Chuji, and eventually launched the Red Clay Tokoname Teapot. With its notable capabilities, the Red Clay Tokoname Teapot received recognition for its ability to withhold water without the use of a glaze on the pot.

Keeping the Tradition Alive

The hand-crafted works of art of the Tokoname Yaki are carried on through future generations of potters who keep the tradition alive. Today, potters who create ceramics now incorporate different types of clays to create truly exceptional works of art. Although there are many kinds of Japanese ceramics to choose from, the Tokoname Yaki stands out from the rest because of the distinct artistry and craftsmanship that goes into making it. Tokoname Yaki is well-known for making various types of products ranging from teapots to bonsai vases.

A Unique Flavoring

Although the Tokoname Yaki is known for many types of sculptured pottery, it is renowned for its noteworthy teapots. The reason why the Tokoname Yaki teapot is so favorable amongst tea enthusiasts is because of the way it sweetens the flavor of the tea, giving it more a pleasant and smooth taste. Because clay is the material that is used to make the teapot, it is recognized to intensify the umami of the tea. This is because the clay used to make the teapot is infused with iron-rich minerals which contributes to the overall taste of the green tea. More specifically, this tea pot separates the flavors individually and allows the drinker to taste each distinct note of the tea. There is a reaction that occurs with the tea and minerals in the clay that minimizes the harshness of the tea, and instead emphasizes the tea’s unique flavor.

Because of the teapot’s porous surface, it allows the fragrance of the tea to be integrated. Tokoname Yaki pottery is known to have a combination of iron-infused clays and the pots are usually finished with an unglazed surface. In the instance of a Tokoname teapot, the porous surface of the pot allows the drink to be absorbed in the pores giving the tea a unique flavor.

The Tokoname Yaki’s surface is not glossed, has a built-in strainer, and an easy-to-grip handle. The built-in strainer allows you to steep the leaves without getting any of the tea leaves in your drink while allowing you to skip the hassle of brewing. The design of the Tokoname Yaki Teapot stands out from others with its detailed features standing out in its handle, spout, and lid. Although you can steep different kinds of teas with the Tokoname Yaki Teapot, the best and most known tea to pair it with is green tea (including Sencha). Because of its design, this teapot is an extraordinary take on the cliché, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout”. The Tokoname Yaki Teapot’s ability to bring out the richness in the flavor of the tea is intriguing and is definitely something worth trying.

Designs Lasting Through the Ages

The design of the Tokoname is both unique and ergonomic, making it easy to use and also aesthetically pleasing. The pottery of Tokoname Yaki stands out from the others, and different techniques are used when potters create these wonderful works of art. For instance, with the method of Mogake, the potter places seaweed on a teapot prior to placing it in the kiln. Another technique used is one called shizenyu yakijime where the teapot is placed in the kiln without the use of glaze. The overall look of the design can be manipulated based on the atmosphere of the kiln and the temperature used when firing the product. Every potter that creates a sculpture is different: some choose to leave a rougher, sandy texture while others prefer a smoother finish. In years past, potters only used the wood-fired method to create their products, but now have the ability to also use the electric-kiln method. Various styling and skillful craftsmanship are put into finishing the decorative part of the Tokoname Yaki pottery. It is said that the red clay took the form of an orange color instead of actual red. Nowadays, the pottery is created using a mixture of variegated red clay and no longer of the original red clay.

The pottery of the Tokoname Yaki has a practical, yet innovative design that has lasted through the ages and continues to capture the admiring eyes of artists and tea admirers alike. Its design is truly remarkable, one of a kind, and allows you to appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes behind the craftsmanship of this art form.

Try authentic Tokonomeyaki for better taste of your green tea now.

 



Coexistence: Elephants, Tigers, and Tea


When this blog first began over a dozen years ago, one of the goals of the founders was to increase tea consumption.  Not only is tea tasty and offering endless variety, there are some four thousand years of anecdotal evidence of teas’ medicinal and health benefits. As world consumption and demand for tea continues to increase,  an unintended consequence has been the displacement of endangered species. While we all love elephants, a tea worker’s life can be ended with a single swipe of a ginormous trunk. The conflict with tigers and their kin is so well-documented that there are several teas with “tiger” and “lion” in their titles.

“Tea gardens represent a significant chunk of the forests that have been cut down.” (Source)

In an effort to preserve both forest creatures and tea estates, the University of Montana has created the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) outlining standards and incentives to protect endangered species.  A side benefit has been that tea farmers who adopt wildlife-friendly practices such as buffer zones and areas for the animals to drink and rest – can often sell their “elephant-friendly” tea  for higher prices.

Two questions linger: is the larger market willing to pay higher prices, and are those higher prices worth the sacrifices tea growers make?

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What Does July 4th Mean To You?


Most of us tea lovers associate the Boston Tea Party with the 4th of July.  The day of American Independence. Decorations abound with Red, White, and Blue patterns everywhere you look. If we scratch below the surface, however, what can we see? In 1912, Robert Haven Schauffler wrote “[I]t behooves us as true Americans to enter the splendid new movement which is endeavoring to make the Fourth over from a day of shallow jingoism and unmeaning brutality and carnage into a day of initiation into the meaning of true citizenship and a festival of deep and genuine and beautiful patriotism.”

Patriotism is defined by Wikipedia as “Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values.” With this definition in mind, I have to say that this year feels different for me. When I think about patriotism, I think about pride in America. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel proud to be an American. I feel ashamed. My grandparents, on both sides, emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. They came from Russian. Poland, and Austria. My maternal Grandmother lost her 4 sisters during the Holocaust as they decided not to emigrate to the U.S.  The vast majority of us Americas came from scattered countries throughout Europe and beyond. Some came to avoid persecution while some came to seek wealth, financial independence and freedom.

Leaving British rule over taxation was a worthy agenda at the time but we did it by stealing the land from the Native Americans. Although we have started to right that wrong, Native Americans continue to feel “less than” the rest of Americans. Our next crime was the brutalization of slaves. And yes, we are making progress there as well but ask any African American you know if they feel entirely equal to their white-skinned neighbors. Despite having a black president for 8 years, the prejudice remains in many parts of the country.

Let’s not forget about Japanese internment camps. Racial fears contributed to horrible decisions that were made to protect us from Japanese people, many born in this country and many who later served in the war effort. Yes, the government has apologized, but significant harm was done to so many people. Even then, however, children were not separated from their parents. Today, fear of immigrants has led to over 2000 children being torn from their parents, whose only crime was a misdemeanor. Children as young as 9 months old have been placed in detention centers and foster centers around the country without the ability to be easily reunited with their parents. Who would have thought such a thing could be possible in America in 2018? Why are we not learning the lessons from the past? Each mistake provides an opportunity to learn and hpefully not repeat the past. Why are we not learning these important lessons? I believe FEAR has taken us prisoner. I believe that individually, the vast majority of us are good people. We can’t let our fears take us off course. The State of Liberty, on Ellis Island where my grandparents arrived in this country tells us “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearing to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homelesstempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

On Saturday I participated in a Families Belong Together rally in Portland Oregon. The Washington Post concluded: “Hundreds of thousands of people turned out from coast-to-coast Saturday in “Families Belong Together” rallies to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and implore their fellow citizens to turn out to vote in November’s midterm elections.” I was particularly impressed with the number of children who participated, carrying signs and singing the slogans. I remember rallies back in the 60’s when we marched against the injustice of Vietnam but WE were the children in attendance. Today, young liberal and conservative parents are teaching their children what it means to be an American.

I believe at our soul, we are a country of inclusion. Our citizens represent the tapestry of nations left behind to come to the “Greatest Country in the Free World” to begin a new life of democracy, liberty, and justice for ALL.  Barack Obama sent a recent message to all of us and his words, as always, are important to hear.

“You are right to be concerned”………..”Do not wait for the perfect message, don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote’” ……… “Boil it down….If we don’t vote, then this democracy doesn’t work.”

So I ask, as you are sipping your favorite tea this 4th of July, give some thought to who you are as an American and what kind of an America you want your children and grandchildren to live in.  Our very future lies with each of us and the choices we make and actions we take today and tomorrow.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Written by Michelle Rabin, speaking for us all.

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Blast From the Past: Finding the Joy


You don’t have to look very hard to discover that there is a lot wrong with the world today and that there are a lot of things we could worry about. On the top of the worry hit list; our health and all that impacts it in a negative way.

Here is a little tongue-in-cheek article about all the things we can worry about from the moment we awaken to the time our heads hit the pillow at night (and even afterwards). The point of my article, however, is that despite impending doom always waiting just around the corner (or maybe because of it), it becomes incumbent upon all of us to work that much harder to find the joy in our lives or, better yet, create it.

One easy way to do that is by focusing more on the simple pleasures of tea, rather than just drinking it down 3 – 6 times a day to get enough catechins in your system to help with all those health problems lurking around the corner. Take the time to stop and find the joy in the moment. Look at the color and shape of the dry leaves. Appreciate the person who plucked each one of those leaves by hand and another who shaped it. Take a moment to close your eyes and inhale the rich aroma of the wet leaves in the pot after infusion and let it fill your senses. Look at the color of liquor. Taste it. Make a point of preparing and sharing a cup of tea with someone in a peaceful setting. Let go of your thinking and just bask in your surroundings and the connection with the other person. In those brief moments you can find the joy.

Make a point, every day, of finding the joy in some part of your day no matter what else may be occurring in your life. I can think of nothing more healthful than being in the moment with a delicious cup of tea and sharing it with another person.

Originally posted July 2008, written by Sandy Bushberg

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What Is Anamu Tea and Why You Should Try It


Tea is a well-known miracle herb, blessed for its many medicinal uses, that happens to have a cousin who also packs a powerful punch and leaves nothing on the table. Anamu–a plant that derives from the Phytolaccaceae family and Petiveria genus–is also used and consumed in tea form. Because of its strong, garlic-like odor, you may have seen it be referred as “garlic weed” or many of its other various names. Like the Camellia Sinensis plant family, the anamu plant also grows in a bush/shrub-like structure about 1 meter in height and can be used to create an anamu tea-like concoction that has major health and therapeutic benefits in fighting diseases.

Like green tea which also fights against cancer or tumors, anamu tea benefits can range from controlling organisms in the human body such as from fungal and bacteria growth, boosting your immune system, as well as treating digestive problems such as bloating and flatulence by fighting bacteria in the intestines. Or it can even be used plainly as a stimulant. If you’ve never tried anamu in the form of tea, it’s definitely not a common drink but easily can be one of the most important ones you’ll ever consume for your body!

Some interesting uses for Anamu:

  • Has been used in South American in women to relieve pain from childbirth
  • Treats respiratory signs of cold and influenza
  • When crushed into a paste, it can treat muscular pain (spasms) and arthritis
  • Used as a way of controlling ticks in cows (kills insects)
  • Indian Natives used to use it to protect against witchcraft

While the leaves of the Anamu plant can be consumed in a tea, the real beneficial advantage is found in the roots, which can be ground up. You can also grind the whole plant (leaves, stems, and roots) and make a powder of it to mix with your food. Companies such as Zokia Nutritionals, SipaCupa, Purelife Herbs and a few others produce Anamu tea which can be best consumed with two cups of hot water either with honey, sugar, milk, chamomile, lemon, etc.

Where does the anamu plant grow?

Anamu is a rare native plant that originally comes from the Amazon rainforest but has since been spread into more modern, civilized areas such as Florida and Texas; and can be found used in daily practice in many countries such as South and Central America, Africa, and especially the Caribbean such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Since the Anamu plant can grow in many climates, it can now be found in many diverse areas all over the world. Rossi Naturals—a permaculture farm located in the rainforest of Puerto Rico–says, “Anamu will reproduce at various times of the year… we grow Anamu in various areas, we use it in our teas and it works fantastic in repelling mosquitoes.” So If you’ve been indecisive about trying a new tea and just so happen live in an area that is humid and tropical, growing some anamu right in your backyard might be a great idea. Whether you choose tea over coffee, as Zokiva would say “If you’re going to drink tea, it may as well be a disease-fighting tea.” Give anamu tea a try!

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What Does July 4th Mean To You?


Most of us tea lovers associate the Boston Tea Party with the 4th of July.  The day of American Independence. Decorations abound with Red, White, and Blue patterns everywhere you look. If we scratch below the surface, however, what can we see? In 1912, Robert Haven Schauffler wrote “[I]t behooves us as true Americans to enter the splendid new movement which is endeavoring to make the Fourth over from a day of shallow jingoism and unmeaning brutality and carnage into a day of initiation into the meaning of true citizenship and a festival of deep and genuine and beautiful patriotism.”

Patriotism is defined by Wikipedia as “Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values.” With this definition in mind, I have to say that this year feels different for me. When I think about patriotism, I think about pride in America. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel proud to be an American. I feel ashamed. My grandparents, on both sides, emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. They came from Russian. Poland, and Austria. My maternal Grandmother lost her 4 sisters during the Holocaust as they decided not to emigrate to the U.S.  The vast majority of us Americas came from scattered countries throughout Europe and beyond. Some came to avoid persecution while some came to seek wealth, financial independence and freedom.

Leaving British rule over taxation was a worthy agenda at the time but we did it by stealing the land from the Native Americans. Although we have started to right that wrong, Native Americans continue to feel “less than” the rest of Americans. Our next crime was the brutalization of slaves. And yes, we are making progress there as well but ask any African American you know if they feel entirely equal to their white-skinned neighbors. Despite having a black president for 8 years, the prejudice remains in many parts of the country.

Let’s not forget about Japanese internment camps. Racial fears contributed to horrible decisions that were made to protect us from Japanese people, many born in this country and many who later served in the war effort. Yes, the government has apologized, but significant harm was done to so many people. Even then, however, children were not separated from their parents. Today, fear of immigrants has led to over 2000 children being torn from their parents, whose only crime was a misdemeanor. Children as young as 9 months old have been placed in detention centers and foster centers around the country without the ability to be easily reunited with their parents. Who would have thought such a thing could be possible in America in 2018? Why are we not learning the lessons from the past? Each mistake provides an opportunity to learn and hpefully not repeat the past. Why are we not learning these important lessons? I believe FEAR has taken us prisoner. I believe that individually, the vast majority of us are good people. We can’t let our fears take us off course. The State of Liberty, on Ellis Island where my grandparents arrived in this country tells us “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearing to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homelesstempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

On Saturday I participated in a Families Belong Together rally in Portland Oregon. The Washington Post concluded: “Hundreds of thousands of people turned out from coast-to-coast Saturday in “Families Belong Together” rallies to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and implore their fellow citizens to turn out to vote in November’s midterm elections.” I was particularly impressed with the number of children who participated, carrying signs and singing the slogans. I remember rallies back in the 60’s when we marched against the injustice of Vietnam but WE were the children in attendance. Today, young liberal and conservative parents are teaching their children what it means to be an American.

I believe at our soul, we are a country of inclusion. Our citizens represent the tapestry of nations left behind to come to the “Greatest Country in the Free World” to begin a new life of democracy, liberty, and justice for ALL.  Barack Obama sent a recent message to all of us and his words, as always, are important to hear.

“You are right to be concerned”………..”Do not wait for the perfect message, don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote’” ……… “Boil it down….If we don’t vote, then this democracy doesn’t work.”

So I ask, as you are sipping your favorite tea this 4th of July, give some thought to who you are as an American and what kind of an America you want your children and grandchildren to live in.  Our very future lies with each of us and the choices we make and actions we take today and tomorrow.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Written by Michelle Rabin, speaking for us all.

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Has This Ever Happened To You?


My day started out crazy busy and I didn’t even have a chance to make my ritual green tea first thing in the morning. Fortunately, my husband asked if I’d like a cup of tea and I quickly thanked him while he handed me a steaming mug.  Fast forward and I’m getting my car keys and thinking that I’m a bit thirsty and perhaps should grab a water on the way out when I remember I hadn’t even taken one sip of my tea. If only this wasn’t a frequent scenario. This story, however, has a happy ending because last week I was sent an interesting tea mug to sample and it saved the day.

Glowstone Smart Mug is an innovative British teaware design that created a way to keep your tea warm, at 150 degrees.

After an initial 5-hour charge, you simply keep their empty mug on an electrified, wireless base waiting to be filled with your favorite brew. Once you’re ready, simply fill the mug and you’re good to go. The tea will stay warm for your continuing pleasure. Once you’ve finished your tea, simply rinse the cup and replace it onto the charging pad so it will be ready for your next cup of tea. The creators provided a number of important features for our enjoyment: This fine bone china mug is dishwater safe and the charging station automatically turns off when the charge is complete. You can also plug your base into the computer if you’re working long hours and want your tea nearby. Their ergonomically designed handle makes the sipping an entirely delightful experience. How they manage to keep the base comfortable to the touch amazes me.

The cost isn’t for the faint of heart, coming in at $169 or 2 for $299 but if you plan to keep it for years, I think it’s a reasonable investment into the enjoyment of your daily tea.  For someone like me, who doesn’t like room temperature tea and doesn’t even like iced tea, I’ve wasted so many cups of tea by being distracted by my life, it makes perfect sense that this will end those wasted cups forever. Glowstone is offering our T Ching community a generous 15% discount – to the first 50 orders – so that should help with your decision making. Please use code TCHING15 when placing your order. Since my husband keeps using MY Glowstone mug, I think I’ll have to spring for one for him as well.

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