Portable Tearoom – T Ching


The 2017 GRAMMY Awards gift bag is worth $30,000, including an $8,000 spa package. The organizer chose not to disclose this year’s value.

How are these swag bags distributed? They could not possibly be handed out right after the award ceremony, near the theatre exit, before the evening gown-clad attendees board the limousine to go home or after-party. Inside a gift lounge, every item is prominently displayed at its own booth where marketing representatives incessantly advertise and promote, hoping to obtain one more endorsement.

Last year, the OKAWA 1536 Project presented its version of portable tearoom MuJyoAn (無常庵) at the GRAMMY gift lounge. Only the OKAWA 1536 Lamp Shade, not an entire tearoom, was gifted to each recipient. MuJyoAn could be assembled in about an hour; no nail is necessary; some gentle hammering seems unavoidable. China’s Forbidden City employed building brackets called dougong (斗拱) in vast-scale structures that withstood 200 earthquakes through multiple dynasties, perfecting the interlocking technique!

Tearooms have been prefabricated, made portable, for centuries. In 1586, Japanese warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi dismantled, transported, and re-assembled his Golden Tea Room – the size of three tatami and consisting of gold ceilings and walls – at the Imperial Palace when he served the emperor a cup of tea.

Since T Ching published my post Backyard Teahouse in 2016, the State of California has relaxed some of its backyard building regulations in order to combat housing shortage and homelessness.

Main image from website. Preview image provided by author.



Zobo Tea – T Ching


I recently came across an article about a tea which is known as “Zobo” in Nigeria and apparently “Roselle” in other regions. For Americans, it’s a vibrant tisane know as Hibiscus. Earlier this year I returned to my second home in Southern Spain and much to my delight, I found a container of Hibiscus tea in the cabinet. I’ve always been drawn to the amazing color this tea produces but I’m reminded of the numerous health benefits that have been associated with this drink.

According to the article, Hibiscus Tea has the ability to “…treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, disturbances of the digestive and immune system, and inflammatory problems as well.” (Source)

It is always a bit frustrating when references are not listed to support health claims but it’s easy enough to google the information if you’re so inclined. If you are determined to drink it without sweeteners–which is always the best way to go–it takes a bit of time to adjust to the pungent flavor; which in a way is similar to unsweetened cranberry juice. Just imagine a warm summer’s day and a glass of this iced HIbiscus tea. Now that’s a thirst quencher.

Isn’t it wonderful that Mother Nature created so many medicinal plants to keep us healthy? Our great-grandmothers knew so many of these natural remedies which were lost when the pharmaceutical companies changed the course of healing from natural products to synthetic substitutes. With a focus on the most active compound, they left out hundreds of supportive phytochemicals that prevent any side effects and optimize the healing compounds of the complete plant. Today, with this new respect for the knowledge of the “Old wives tales”, we can return to the old healing traditions that have helped countless people around the globe. Ayurvedia is an excellent example of such an ancient healing tradition: Those interested in this system can always find pertinent information on Deepak Chopra’s website.

Image Source



Relax With Easy Summer Tea Cocktails


It’s summertime, and a good time to take a lighter approach to tea drinking. Iced tea is always a favorite, but tea can also be used in combination with alcoholic beverages to create unique, enjoyable, and TASTY summer cocktails. This article will focus on non-distilled beverages like wine as the alcohol source.  This is also ideal for cafes who want to offer interesting alternative cocktails without needing a liquor license. Plus, the alcohol levels are lower so that everyone can enjoy one or two without getting hammered. 

Planning a summer gathering? Mojitos are a nice summer cocktail, but if you have a lot of people, muddling the mint and preparing everything can be labor intensive.  The great thing about these tea cocktails is that they are easy to scale up in large quantities with minimal work. Plus, your guests will be blown away by the great taste, and the fact that tea is a major ingredient.

Regarding the alcohol,  most wine stores will carry small individual or half bottle sizes. You don’t need anything fancy. You can keep frozen lemonade concentrate on hand and use as much as you need. The recipes below are all single serving proportions, but just double or triple the amounts for how much you want. Garnishes like lemons, oranges, and mint are optional. When called for, simple syrup is a 50/50 sugar/water mixture.

Recipe #1: Tea Sangria

  • 1/3 cup tea – Blood Orange or other citrus tisane
  • 1/3 cup sparkling wine
  • 1/2 cup lemonade

Pour over ice and garnish with citrus.

Recipe #2: Pina Colada Punch

  • 3/4 cup tea – Pina Colada style fruit tisane
  • 1/2 cup Pinot grigio

Pour over ice.

Recipe #3 Blackberry Sage Noir

 

  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1/4 cup tea – Blackberry Sage tea or other dark berry flavored tea
  • 1/3 cup lemonade
  • 1 oz simple syrup

Pour over ice and garnish with berries.

Recipe #4: Cucumber Melon Sake

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup Cucumber Melon Green tea or other melon flavored tea (lychee is another idea)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Squeeze juice from a slice of lemon

Combine all ingredients, and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Bonus: Alcohol-Free Recipe

  • 8 oz Lavender Raspberry Tea or other floral tea
  • 1/4 cup lemonade

Brew tea according to direction. Add lemonade, then slowly pour tea over ice. Top off with additional ice.

Images provided by author.



Tea’s Role in Shaping Health Conscious Americans


When I first became enamored with tea, I did what most newbies do – I explored the history of tea. Reading yesterday’s post, A Thirst For Empire, got me thinking about the role that tea is playing today in the 21st Century.

As a former Coca Cola addict–and I use that term clinically–I had often joked that if soda was my worst addiction, I was doing quite well indeed. Little did I know at that time that my four cans of Coke a day were very hazardous to my health. It was when I attended a conference of the American Herbalist Guild that I finally understood the dangers of soda. My personal introduction to tea was guided by my desire to eliminate soda from my diet and find something that was actually healthy for me to drink instead. A trip to Southeast Asia sealed the deal when I finally had my first cup of green tea that was properly brewed using high-end whole leaf tea leaves. The rest, as they say, is history!

Given my awareness of tea and my growing interest in green tea, I felt compelled to introduce Americans to this amazingly healthy brew. In my heart, I believed that if people could shift away from high-sugar beverages and come to appreciate and LOVE tea, it had the potential to have an impact on their health. I started T Ching in 2006 with a strong focus on the health benefits of tea. Much to my surprise, that didn’t sit well with tea aficionados at that time. They were very much turned off by the focus of health benefits and felt that the delicious taste and ritual of tea was what should be addressed. I disagreed. I believed that once people made the shift for health reasons, the taste and ritual would be the obvious next step in the progression for tea lovers.

Tea consumption has grown each and every year since 2006 and I believe the biggest driver has been the health benefits of tea. Over centuries, tea has played an important role in the culture of that time. I believe that’s happening now as well. As of 2016, supplement use in the U.S. became a 37 billion dollar industry. Tea is currently a 12.5 billion dollar industry and growing briskly. The general public “gets it”. They finally understand that we must each take responsibility for our health and wellness. We must manage our stress, engage in physical activity, and eat a healthy diet. Tea is an excellent part of a healthy diet.

It is most distressing to learn that our youngest citizens will be the first generation who aren’t expected to live as long as their parents. Our children are heavier than they’ve ever been and sicker than they’ve ever been. I believe there are 2 primary reasons for that:

  1. Decrease in physical activity. It used to be that kids went out to play after school, running around with their friends, maybe on their bikes or playing games that challenged them physically. Today’s kids are often found on their computers or smartphones. This decrease in physical activity takes a huge toll on general health.
  2. Increase in consumption of soda.  Go to any mall in the U.S. and you’ll see kids drinking soda. Next time you’re at a restaurant, check out what the kids are drinking. More than likely, it will be a soda. Health conscious parents encourage fruit juices which typically are full of added sugars and certainly without their pulp which plays an important role in how our body deals with the natural sugars in fruit. When I encourage young moms to introduce their little ones to tea, they become consumed with worry about caffeine. They are clearly missing the boat. A small cup of tea, lightly brewed, will have less caffeine than a few Hershey Kisses – and no one seems concerned about that! By encouraging a tea habit in our children, that will go a long way to ensure that they will become dedicated tea drinkers throughout their life. What child wouldn’t be interested in drinking a “grown up” hot beverage in tiny little cups?

I am proud to have been an early adopter, whose focus was on the health benefits of tea. I am delighted that tea is playing an important role in the critically important health and wellness movement that is sweeping the country and the globe. I believe consumers will be the ones to save our dysfunctional health care system by taking responsibility for their own health. With our focus on wellness, we can determine what each of us must do to increase the likelihood of abundant health.

If you’re a regular reader of T Ching, then you’re already aware of how terrific tea is. Make an effort to turn on your extended family and friends to this amazing beverage. The gift of health is the most important gift of all.

Image Source



The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – everything but tea!


On May 20, 2018, this tea drinker enthusiastically attended The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon.  Sponsored by Opportunity Connections, this fundraiser was loads of fun for kids of all ages.

Opportunity Connections is a “private, non-profit organization that has been serving people in the Columbia Gorge since 1967.  We offer assistance for people with developmental disabilities to live as independently as possible while working and enjoying activities in their own communities.”  Several of the adults receiving services are former students of mine, and the opportunity to see them dressed in their finery at a beautiful historic hotel was too good to pass up, so I purchased a ticket and put it on my calendar a full month ahead of the date.  Certainly, I would have time to convince someone to go with me.

After the third friend turned me down (now I know how teen boys feel when Prom rolls around), I could not possibly handle another rejection and resigned myself to going alone.  First hurdle side-stepped and the second loomed: dress. What is it about a tea party that just screams out “girly dress”? Dresses and I have never been comfortable companions.  My ’50’s childhood had a weird dress code: little girls wore dresses to school until we developed a “waist,” at which time we could upgrade to separates – skirts and blouses or skirts and sweaters.  Hosiery was another milestone reserved for first communion or bat mitzvah (age 13). I never did develop a waist, a point of great consternation for my mother, meaning the benchmarks of my first communion, nylon stockings, and separates arrived on the same day; sealing my utter distaste for the dress.  I had to have one for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, however, and I found one online. Advertised as a “tea party dress,” I was set.

All dressed up and wearing sensible shoes, I arrived fashionably late and was seated at a table with the Mad Hatter, two fetching children, and their grandparents.  The dining room was festive with “Alice in Wonderland” decorations, place settings, and a lovely teacup at every place. Scores of children dressed to the nines scampered about, some in full costume.  I caught sight of several former students. A silent auction was held in one room, croquet outdoors, a free make-your-own-hat station in the foyer, and an impressive display of beautiful – if impractical – teapots.

Soon, a three-tiered serving tray of scones, biscuits, lemon tarts, chocolate-covered strawberries, and tiny sandwiches, – crusts cut off – arrived.  My very first tea party, with all the classic trappings, was about to begin. A server dressed like Alice herself brought around a pretty teapot and poured English Breakfast into my cup.  Not very hot, it was pleasant enough, and I drank six or seven cups as I watched the proceedings. I was most interested in what the children were drinking. The choice was simple – water or English Breakfast.  I walked around the dining room, hearing some variation of “Moooooom, I don’t like tea,” at least a dozen times. The adorable little girl at my table dumped her tea into a water glass, splashed some cream into her cup, and drank that.  (Her grandfather later reported that after two egg salad sandwiches, a lemon tart, and three chocolate covered strawberries, the cream in the cup made a hasty return trip.)

Although the afternoon was quite pleasant, I sensed a missed opportunity.  The goal of raising funds for a most worthy cause was realized by the large turnout, successful auctions, costume contest, and generous donations.  But why mediocre-quality English Breakfast tea for a largely under-ten-years old crowd? Why not jasmine pearls – a tea that most children like? A child’s first tea experience should be memorable – as this one certainly was – and leave the kiddos wanting to drink more tea.  Most of the children in attendance left thinking that tea is nasty, and many will carry that impression with them forever, refusing to experience the tremendous variety of good whole leaf tea.

If I can figure out a way to do so diplomatically, I hope to persuade the organizers to include quality and kid-friendly whole leaf tea next year.  Instead of tea being the afterthought of a splendid event, why not make it one of the features the children – and adults – look forward to? Ideas are welcome, readers, so bring them on!

All photos provided by author, photos of children used with permission.



Blast From the Past: Are tag lines poetry?


Poems of the 21st century can be quite different from prior centuries. I like to think of advertising taglines as a kind of poetry for this new millennium. With thanks to both the dairy council and Nike, I submit these tea gems for your delight.

GOT TEA?

TEA…JUST DRINK IT.

Originally posted in June 2007, written by Michelle Rabin

Image Source



Summer Solstice and Foraging – T Ching


On the day that this is posted, it will be the day of the Summer Solstice: the longest day and shortest night of the year and generally considered to be the beginning of summer. Whereas normally I would have taken the day as a personal vacation day (and religious holiday) from work, I’ve only had my current job for four months so couldn’t easily take time off just yet. So to celebrate early, I donned my apron (useful for carrying things) and my husband and I wandered outdoors in the early evening at the end of a hot day.

Our property is forty acres of tree farm, about an hour’s drive outside of Portland. We decided to go out and see which edible plants we could find, as well as enjoy being together and in nature. One of the first things we spotted was an eastern cottontail. Then it was checking the tree line and next to the barn for plants. We found herb robert, daisies, and thistles. Finally we gathered some field horsetail, pineapple weed, wild carrot, and a single stalk of henbit.

Next we forayed (carefully) through the sheep field to the creek. I snipped off a couple blackberry flowers and a few leaves. We looked for agates in the water and I was grateful to be wearing my waterproof sandals because I was able to wander straight into the water. My husband pointed out raccoon tracks, and I found a couple bobcat prints in the soft mud right next to the water. All while discussing some of the various native composite fruit species (and how many of them I have sampled).

As it got later in the evening we headed back to the house. I did some quick research online to be sure of what plants we had gathered and how useful they might be to us. We decided that we wouldn’t use the horsetail because it can be a problem for people prone to potassium deficiency (such as myself), and double- and then triple-checked that we had, in fact, gathered wild carrot and NOT poison hemlock! We eventually decided on the pineapple weed.

Wild carrot, pineapple weed, henbit, and blackberry; all on my lace apron.

Pineapple weed (Matricaria discoidea) is also known as wild chamomile, and for good reason. It grows low to the ground and the flowers have no showy petals; yet the smell, flavor, and medicinal benefits are similar to that of its domestic relative German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla).

After snipping off the flowers, I washed them thoroughly. Then it was into the mesh strainer and boiling water poured over the top. The nice thing about tisanes is that for many there is no such thing as oversteeping, since they don’t contain tannins. Since we hadn’t harvested all that much, I let it steep for 15-20 minutes. A half spoonful of raw, local honey stirred in is just enough to enhance the flavor. A flavor which–in my opinion–is simply divine. The flowers smell incredibly sweet and fragrant, and that translates to the flavor and makes an amazing tisane. Not as floral as German chamomile, pineapple weed is sweeter and almost fruity. Many think that the aroma and flavor are reminiscent of pineapple, thus the name. I know that we will be harvesting more in the next few weeks, and drying it for future use.

For now, my husband and I shared that mug of tisane after dinner; to unwind at the very end of the day and quietly, peacefully, welcome the Summer.



Shining the Spotlight on Great Japanese Cultivars – Part Two


Continued from yesterday

This elite variety is reserved for Gyokuro and is not widely grown. Seen mainly in the Uji region of Kyoto and some parts of Shizuoka, Gokou has a very distinctive sweet taste and characteristic Gyokuro fragrance. This is premium at its best! Because it’s a slow grower, it has a longer harvesting time, perfect for shade-grown cultivation.

Predominantly hailing from Kagoshima, Yutaka Midori is grown for Sencha and Bancha production. Bless this variety because it gets a bad wrap! Most Yutaka Midori is grown in non-organic conditions where it’s easier to bring the fuller flavors front and center.  Organic teas, on the other hand, have a challenge with finding the best flavors and aromas. Because of being conventionally cultivated, it can yield larger quantities. It is often sold as Aracha for tea shops across Japan to “finish”, and is blended with other varieties to alter the taste, aroma and color, meaning the true Kagoshima essence is eventually lost. It’s a profitable commodity and is widely traded. When you get an authentic, organic, unblended Yutaka Midori, the pure, fragrant brew is heavenly. When you have the chance, try this in its organic form as it might just be the best organic tea you’ll find.

Incredible Sayama-midori gets a round of applause for really kick-starting the whole registration of cultivars in 1953. This slow grower develops incredible nutritional components and is famous for producing great Sencha.

First developed in Saitama Prefecture, Sayama-kaori is often compared to Yabukita. This hearty, strong variety is an excellent one for high productivity. “Kaori” means fragrance in Japanese, so it’s no wonder this variety scores high on aroma as well as having a strong taste to match. Producing a tea with a very strong floral nose and a sweet and creamy taste, Sayama-kaori is the Eau du Parfum of the Japanese tea world.

Not to be confused with saEmidori, Samidori is often regarded as one of the best varieties in Japan.  This treasure produces some of the most remarkable Gyokuro and Matcha there is. With a characteristic sweetness and a brew that is on the yellow side, Samidori is a slow grower with a precious yield. This charmer is grown mainly in the Uji region of Kyoto but certainly has a presence in Yame.

The subtle elegance of Asahi is perfect for creating Matcha and often celebrates First Place in tea tasting competitions across Japan. With a short harvesting period, this variety commands a high price tag for its rarity and award-winning quality.



Shining the Spotlight on Great Japanese Cultivars – Part One


When I was young and living in Nagoya, drinking literally gallons of Japanese green tea, I didn’t know there was a difference in green teas and the word cultivar certainly wasn’t in my vocabulary. It wasn’t until later in my tea-drinking life that this topic became almost an obsession.

Cultivar means plant variety; like with tomatoes where you have Roma, Hillbilly, Brandywine, and let’s not forget Mortgage Lifter (google it!). It’s the same in the tea world.

Camellias have over 50 varieties but there is only one Camellia sinensis, the most famous of the flowering plants, which is the tea plant. OK, that’s not exactly true because of the Camellia sinensis, there is the sinensis strain so Camellia sinensis sinensis (small leaf, cold climate), which is found in Japan and China, and the Camellia sinensis assamica (large leaf, semitropical climate) found predominantly in India.

Even though Camellia sinensis is the tea plant, there are more than a whopping 3,000 varieties! Enthusiastic farmers up and down Japan are experimenting with creating their own hybrid cultivars all the time. Some make it to “registration” after rigorous scrutiny by the plant police, while others are tossed on the scrap heap never to be heard of again. Currently, there are approximately 80 certifiable cultivars on the Japanese registry and most come from Kagoshima, the hotbed of creative cultivars!

Let’s now take a look at some of the most popular cultivars.

Asatsuyu truly has a memorable taste yielding a brew with a deep shade of green. It’s a pretty fragile variety, you could even call it shy, and more often than not, it produces a relatively powdery finished product. It has gentleness about it and its sweetness really shines through. While not a brilliant one for Fukamushi steaming because it’s so delicate, masterful craftsmen can create a Fukamushi out of this, and when they do, it’s stunning! Asatsuyu is a favorite of many tea aficionados, whether they can identify it in the sip or not.

Synonymous with Japanese tea, this cultivar has clout! It’s known for its hardy productivity and adaptability to soil and climate conditions. Because it’s strong, close to 90% of tea farms cultivate this variety. Being so stable, farmers can expect to rely on it for fairly high-profit margins. Yabukita, however, tends to lose its quality fairly quickly, so the prudent farmer watches his crops like a hawk and swoops in with clippers at exactly the right moment for harvesting. Large estates tend to use a number of different cultivars to extend their harvest since Yabukita’s quality is so short-lived, but this daddy delivers a rich taste and refreshing aroma.

Crossed between Yabukita’s strength and Asatsuyu’s charm, is precious Saemidori. Introduced around the 1970’s, it didn’t become popular until 1990 when it was finally registered as an official variety. Producing prized Matcha, Gyokuro, and premium Sencha, this variety is mostly used in organic farming where creating superior tasting organic teas is often a challenge. It has a stronger aroma than Asatsuyu and is known to be an early bloomer meaning it has a short harvest and therefore produces smaller yields. The good news for farmers is that, like Yabukita, there is a good profit margin with this cultivar.

This variety is a cross between Yabukita and a native Shizuoka variety called Zairai. With flavor notes, a deep green color and an aroma similar to Yabukita, this gem is widely cultivated, especially in Yame, the famous Gyokuro region. Often in partnership with Yabukita, this slow bloomer allows farmers to harvest the Yabukita first and the Okumidori next, making full use of the harvesting season.

Part two will be posted tomorrow.



Top 100 Tea Blog List Critique


I recently saw an online group post about a top 100 tea blogs list by Feedspot, which I’m critiquing here.  According to the listing part of the criteria is as follows:

“The Best Tea blogs from thousands of top Tea blogs in our index using search and social metrics.”

Facebook and Twitter follower counts are cited, so there is some justification, although for some entries both are listed as “n/a.”  I’ll mention what they missed, and why the list doesn’t work related to that.  Of course, many of the entrants are good blogs and reference sites, with a lot of familiar names:  World of Tea (which changed names and theme), TChing, Tea DB, and Tea For Me Please.  It includes some of my favorites:  My Thoughts are Like Butterflies, Oolong Owl, Sororitea Sisters (good for basic reviews), and Lord Devotea’s Tea Spouts, which is nice for opinion posts (rants).

A lot of entries are sales sites.  If a vendor creates reference content that’s a different thing, and many do also put out a blog.  Evaluating if content transitioned from product marketing description to actual background information would be difficult (if a blog really is a blog).  The Hojo vendor articles seem like a good example of such an effort; they create nice articles, even though I’m not sure their content is 100% accurate.

What’s missing might be a bigger problem than what’s there.  I’ll cite my FB group discussion comments about that:

It’s missing Steep Stories, Tea Geek, Tea Addict’s Journal, The Half Dipper, Death by Tea, Tea in the Ancient World (my own blog), and the Global Tea Hut’s magazine.

 

Also Tea Master’s Blog, probably the best reference about Taiwanese oolongs, and Tea Journeyman, a good basic review blog.  Tea Obsession is now inactive but the old posts are a great reference on Dan Cong.  Mattcha’s Blog has moved onto other scope, after a period of inactivity, but old posts are still a great reference on Korean teas.

 

Steep Stories is my favorite blog, and for overall reference Tea Addict’s Journal is pretty far up the list, definitely top 10. Tea Geek is mostly inactive now but still a good reference blog. My Japanese Green Tea is the best Japeanese tea reference blog I know of, and Puerh.fr is a great classic pu’er reference site.

 

This list is just not a well-informed effort.

It is what it is, a blog ranking site that cuts and pastes search results material, a Top 100 Tea Blogs list that stops at number 86.  If a bot made that list then it’s not a very thorough bot.  I checked the Top 60 Whiskey Blogs list there and that leaves off at # 53.

What goes into a good tea blog?  About tea review methodology. 

Whatever someone happens to like in a tea blog defines what is good, so any list would be subjective; unless it was only an attempt at ranking stats.  Stories can be nice, or a lifestyle theme, about everyday experiences, or research.  If the criteria used is Facebook and Twitter followers along with Google search metrics that actually sort of works; it’s clear and objective.

I’m not implying that tea reviews are at the core of a good tea blog (although many are only that, for content), but I did comment on how those map out further in that online discussion.  It related to a criticism by someone else that many blogs aren’t informative, that they really don’t describe how good the teas being reviewed are.

It’s natural for reviewers to not want to say negative things about teas, to communicate what is positive instead, probably at least partly related to being given free samples for review.  A reviewer skipping mention of teas they don’t like only solves part of the problem.  No matter how that’s cut off there would always be some boundary condition, or aspects that don’t work as well in some teas, or typical attributes that could be there but aren’t. Different bloggers deal with all that in different ways.

 

Some reviews express so little description that this particular problem hardly comes up, but that’s an exception. More often bloggers include no subjective content at all, to the degree that’s even possible, mentioning aspect descriptions but not how much they like the aspects or tea in general. It works better than it sounds but that approach skips a lot.

 

There are two other potential approaches that tend to never come up: placing the tea quality on a scale related to what else they’ve tried, or evaluating trueness to type, if it’s what one would expect from that version. Bloggers almost never mention value either; teas are sold as better or worse with pricing indicating that level, implying it. If you buy one Longjing for $8 per 50 grams and a second for $25 you’d expect the second to be better, even if the descriptions were a close match. There’s no way to really wrap all this up in the form of conclusions, just talking through the background a bit.

Of course, actual vendor pages are something else; they’re describing what they sell, and may or may not include any other content.  Lots of vendors do go further but more don’t.

Even if a person did try to evaluate tea review or research theme content, versus condense a Google search ranking, they would need to be very familiar with tea to do so.  That listing site, Feedspot, seems to be more an automated rating system with a link forwarding function, like Bloglovin (a feed reader), designed to also include ranking along with subject type sorting.  At least it did work well as a starting point for talking about my own favorites and what goes into a tea review.

Images provided by author.