Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tea Festival: Republic of Tea

Traveling The Gardens of India, taught by Barbara Graves, was one of the classes I had the pleasure to attend at this year's tea festival. Known as Minister of Commerce for the Republic of Tea Company, Barbara led us through Darjeeling and Assam.

Darjeeling means "Land of the Thunderbolt" and is 1,500 to 6,000 feet above sea level and very vertical. Tea has been grown there since 1830. Darjeeling is known as the Champaign of Teas as it is a very unique tea grown in a small area. This tea will never be confused with another. "The mist makes it special," says Barbara, when speaking about the climate.

Some facts: There are 1,000 acres to a garden; 1,600 workers plus another 500 during plucking. 4500 kilos are plucked per day! From what Barbara told us, the plantations here provide a good standard of living for the workers. Plucking from 8am-noon with an hour for lunch with grandmother and family members. Then more plucking 1-4 pm. (I thought, wow! Only an 8-hour work day!) The tea planations are responsible for the whole villiage.

Darjeeling tea is typically not taken with milk, it is so light.

We tasted several teas: A 2005 First Flush (which most agreed was a bit flat); a 2006 First Flush which had a little more floral note. To me it tasted "fuller" and a little "silky." First Flush is the first plucking in spring, and produces a small leaf, greener in the cup and lighter to the taste. Then, the plants are left to rest--more rain, more sun--and the leaves are bigger on Second Flush. More body, more amber. From July through mid-September the monsoons come and the tea is not very good. From mid-September through November is the Autumnal Flush producing a more toasty flavor. Second flush and Autumnal Flush are popular in the United States.

Barbara recommends drinking First Flush in the same year it was plucked.

We tasted a couple of other First Flush teas, which the Republic of Tea labels as "Darjeeling Nouveau." According to Barbara, global warming has affected the Darjeeling crop, producing smaller leaves, but she says "they are hardy little souls!"

Monday, April 10, 2006

You Are Cordially Invited To Learn About Tea With Me

The tulips are up in Boulder, Colorado, USA! If you live in a place where it snows, you know the thrill of the first tulip leaf sticking up through spring snow. If I'm feeling overworked or funky, all it takes is a walk downtown through the dozens of blooming tulip beds to lift my spirits.

Tulips and Tea in one day put me over the top!

I've been working on a new tea project which I can't wait to tell you about!

"Start Sipping" Is A New Online Mini-Course

As more and more people become curious about tea and all its benefits, I wanted to create a course on tea that comes easily and effortlessly to your email box, and can be read at your leisure. Every 3 or 4 days a new article will arrive in your email box on some tea-related topic. I've done my best to provide well-written articles to inform and inspire us all to try new teas.

Did I mention it is FREE?

If you'd like to check it out, click over to my sign up box at www.SwitchToTea.com, and you'll immediately be started on the tea course.

What Are YOU Sipping?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Initiation

Here are some photos of my newest Yixing pot's initiation to it's favorite tea. It's a special day for a teapot, no?

I use a stainless steel pot with my veggie steamer basket on the bottom. Love to watch the lazy steam as my pot luxuriates in its favorite tea bath. Makes me want to make an oolong bath for myself!

This pot is bathing in Tieguanyin Oolong from Generation Tea. [generationtea.com/?switchtotea in case you want to check out a teapot or some tea.]




Monday, February 13, 2006

Taking Time to Live by Thich Nhat Hanh

I absolutely love this excerpt by Thich Nhat Hanh. Enjoy!

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Years ago in Vietnam, people used to take a small boat out into a lotus pond and put some tea leaves into an open lotus flower. The flower would close in the evening and perfume the tea during the night. In the early morning, when the dew was still on the leaves, you would return with your friends to collect the tea. On your boat was everything you needed: fresh water, a stove to heat it, teacups and a teapot. Then, in the beautiful light of the morning, you prepared the tea right there, enjoying the whole morning, drinking tea on the lotus pond. Nowadays you may have a lotus pond, but you do not have the time to look at it, let alone enjoy it in that way.

A tea meditation is a remnant of these times when we used to spend two or three hours drinking a cup of tea. In Plum Village, we are fortunate to have tea ceremonies several times a month. We come together to enjoy a cup of tea, a cookie, and the company of others for about an hour and a half. In a serene, affectionate, and informal atmosphere, we share poems, songs, and stories. We need only two minutes to drink a cup of tea, but in taking time to be with others, we nourish mutual understanding and happiness.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Wow! It pays to ask for what you want!

In our family we draw names for holiday gifts between four siblings plus spouses so we only have to buy one gift. It's kept a secret until a few days before Christmas when packages arrive. This year I spent the holidays with most of my family who now live in Florida.

I opened my "secret santa" gift from my sister and voilà! A wonderful new Yixing Pot, a packet of oolong from Generation Tea, and two tea books--all from my list [The Green Tea User's Manual by Helen Gustafson and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry].

I initiated my baby teapot right away.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Here is a holiday tea tip

Who else is eating too much chocolate and sweets this holiday season? I know I’m not the only one! Just because my sister has a steady stream of “from scratch” bownies coming out of the oven the past few days I have been visiting.

Did you know that having a few cups of tea after your meal or with your dessert can help you digest all that holiday food? (In the case of our family, that would be lobster tails and spaghetti after our traditionally huge Italian Christmas Eve Feast.)

There are lots of digestive teas in tea bags on the market, but try this instead.
Make a small pot of your favorite tea, whether loose or in a tea bag.

Grate some fresh ginger root or get some peppermint leaves from the grocery story (or your kitchen pot garden if you have one). Put a pinch of the ginger in the pot before you pour the water. If you use mint leaves, throw a few leaves in the pot. This is so much better than the pre-bagged teas that have the herbs in it already. Who knows how long they’ve been sitting in that teabag? Fresh is always better, wouldn’t you agree?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Pu-erh Society

After the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival Donna Fellman (http://www.bodhidharmateacompany.com/) decided that we needed to keep sipping Pu-erh together. The Pu-erh Tea Society has been meeting monthly in Boulder, CO. It's free, and you bring either Pu-erh or food to share.

Tom, my hubby, accompanied me to one of these tastings, and he has not been the same since.

He says that first sip of Pu-erh changed his life! One of the teas we have come across is a 9-year-old Pu-erh that Tom loves because he says "It reminds me of a Cape Cod basement." He is hooked on Pu-erh and brings a thermos of "Cape Cod Basement" to work.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but when we first got married he was chugging double lattes. A few years later he switched to Chai with a shot of Espresso (called a Hyper Hindu) and now at last he is hooked on tea!

The photo is of Al, one of the Pu-erh experts in the group, digging into some Pu-ehr that had been aged in a Pomello.