Well, I threw my costume together in about three hours of sewing and adding velcro. I'm a girl scout leader and I wore this to our Halloween party on Wednesday. It was definitely a hit with the girls and their parents. The girls all think I have a "problem" because I drink so much tea so it was perfect. Everyone loved the tea bags tied in hair. I finally found a use for all the Lipton my mom has sitting around the house :)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
These coasters have a beautiful dark stain that shows off the natural grain of the wood. They have just enough room for a tasting cup and aroma cup to fit side by side. They allow an elegant presentation while also preventing spills. I love using them when I have tea with guests. They are very easy to clean and have not stained despite heavy use. A quick wipe with a soft cloth is enough to keep them looking like new.
I do wish that it was stated what type of wood the coasters were made of. I’m not sure if that would have influenced by decision but it would be nice to know if the wood used was sustainably harvested. Since most of our teaware comes from outside of the United States, I like to stay conscious of the impact my purchases have. That aside, I would definitely recommend these coasters.
Monday, October 27, 2008
This is another YouTube gem. Tea making tips from 1941. I'm going through tea withdrawals at the moment. My last cup was on Wednesday and that was a poor quality bagged gunpowder green. I froze my butt off at Maplegrove Raceway this weekend and forgot my new electric tea kettle at home :(
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Well, I finally caved and ordered a pair of "rice" cups off of ebay. I've been fascinated with the style for some time and thanks to the folks on Teachat have become quite fond of them. There are small cutouts in the porcelain that are filled with glaze, letting the light shine through your drink and your cup. They aren't super fancy but I wasn't looking to spend a whole lot. I cannot wait until they get here all the way from England.
Friday, October 24, 2008
‘Peacefulness through a bowl of tea’
Last Updated: October 20. 2008 11:31PM UAE / GMT
Four ideals of the tea ceremony, such as this one held at the Center for Research and Documentation, are harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. Nicole Hill / The National
ABU DHABI // When Hounsai Genshitsu Sen visited the palace of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, he saw it as an opportunity to “make tea from the bottom of my heart”.
Dr Sen, 85, is a grand master of tea and direct descendant of Sen Rikyu, the 16th century tea master to the shogun warlord who unified Japan. Dr Sen introduced his ancient art, with all its solemnity and formality, during a private ceremony on Sunday afternoon, in which me made tea for Sheikh Mohammed and presented him with a portable tea room.
The ritual of the tea ceremony
• Guests enter the tea room on their hands and knees, thereby eliminating social distinctions.
• As each guest enters, they first spend time bowing before a scroll hung in an alcove. The calligraphy written on the scroll will have significance for that particular ceremony.
• The guests may be served a meal. If not they will be given tea ceremony sweets, which will be eaten before the serving of tea.
• The utensils, including the tea bowl, whisk and tea scoop, will be cleansed in a precise order and using prescribed motions.
• The host places a measured amount of green tea powder in the bowl and adds hot water, before whisking the tea using set movements.
• The guest of honour is served first. The host and guest of honour bow to one another. The guest then bows to the second guest and says a set phrase, to excuse himself for going first.
• The guest raises the bowl in a gesture of respect to the host, then rotates the bowl to avoid drinking from its front, takes a sip, murmurs a prescribed phrase, and then takes two or three more sips before wiping the rim, rotating the bowl to its original position, and passing it to the next guest, bowing again.
• The procedure is repeated until all guests have taken tea from the same bowl, and the bowl is returned to the host. In some ceremonies, each guest will drink from an individual bowl, but the order of serving and drinking is the same
“I felt that this would be the best way to truly appreciate Japanese culture,” Dr Sen said. “I told the Crown Prince that tea should be a tool, a way of teaching people about respect and appreciating nature.”
To return the gesture, the Crown Prince served tea to Dr Sen.
Dr Sen, who is a UN goodwill ambassador and has visited more than 60 countries to spread a message of peace, was visiting the UAE for the first time. He came to perform his ancient tea ceremonies for dignitaries during the Forum for the Future conference in Abu Dhabi.
The summit, between Group of Eight industrialised nations and representatives from the Broader Middle East and North Africa region, wrapped up Sunday.
Dr Sen said Sheikh Mohammed had shown himself to “be very knowledgable about Japanese culture”.
“He told me he wished I had met his father, Sheikh Zayed,” Dr Sen added. “He said he believed that we would have got along very well.”
The Japanese tea ceremony is about far more than making a cup of tea.
Chado, or “the way of tea”, is a way of life.
As Dr Sen, who took Buddhist vows in 1949, told an audience of more than 100 Emirati students at the Centre for Documentation and Research yesterday, the ritual is about connecting with other people and nature. It is also a central element of Zen Buddhism and a cultural practice that embraces the arts, religion, philosophy and social life.
The ideals underlying the practice are wa, kei, sei and jaku – or harmony, respect, purity, and tranquillity.
“The tea ceremony is about integrating with your guest and about really dedicating your heart to another.”
Dr Sen, whose motto is “peacefulness through a bowl of tea”, added that the round tea bowl represents the earth while the green tea represents nature.
“This is a reminder that the earth and the green of nature is very precious to us,” he said. “I hope that you will feel thankful for the greenery of the planet and that this will lead to peace and an appreciation of nature.”
Dr Sen said the tea room, a room with tatami, or straw matting, where the tea ceremony takes place, was developed during the era of the samurai.
There were four distinct classes in Japanese society in the 12th and 13th century: the nobility, the warriors or samurai, merchants and everyone else.
“Yet in the tea room there were no distinctions, all were equal. They shared one bowl, which showed their equality. This is why the tea room developed. It was also a place where trust developed, as the sword was left at the door.”
Dr Sen said his ancestor, Sen Rikyu, who was tea master for the shogun Oda Nobunaga, and after his death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan, advised the warlords.
“Even these powerful warlords were expected to leave their weapons at the door of the tea room,” Dr Sen said. “Sen Rikyu told them ‘if you always carry weapons they will eventually destroy you. They must be tempered with culture’.”
After the lecture, guests were treated to a demonstration of the tea ceremony in a temporary tea room set on the stage.
The tea ceremony is the perfect embodiment of the Japanese phrase ichi go ichi e, which literally means “one time, one meeting” but can be translated as “for one time only”.
Great emphasis is placed on the choice of flowers, the wording of a scroll that must hang in an alcove in the tea room, the utensils used and the choice of ingredients if a meal is served before tea. Everything must be savoured, as it will never recur.
Besides the calming effects and social benefits of the ceremony, green tea, which was once used as a medicine, is also beneficial for health.
As Dr Sen said: “It contains vitamin B and C and antioxidants. Some studies have shown that drinking green tea may help prevent cancer and diabetes.”
“I hope you drink tea every day,” he added. “I believe that tea can fit into your culture very well.”
The Quran contains many of the same principles of the tea ceremony, such as respect for others, he said.
“These are the rules we must not break if we are to live with other people.”
Following the lecture, students flocked to greet Dr Sen. A number of girls from the Japanese club at Zayed University were pleased with the opportunity to practise their Japanese.
Abdul Rahman Saif Zayed, 18, a student at Abu Dhabi Men’s College, said the event was “fantastic”.
“We are very happy that he came here to teach us new things about another culture and how to respect another culture.”
Dr Sen said Abu Dhabi was a “wonderful” city.
“One reason is because the location used to be a desert and yet there is so much beautiful greenery here,” he said.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The Tea Association of the USA has a fun tea test on their website. I got 18 correct and 15 incorrect. Not too bad considering I am relative newbie. Some of the questions are debatable though. Like "Can a tea bag make a great cup of tea?". As a bagged tea convert I have to say that bags do not hold a candle to loose leaf tea. Fannings could never produce the same amount of flavor that a whole leaf would. See how you score and post it in the comments on this post. You can take the test Here.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
|Photo: Hamilton Beach|
Luckily, the tea is fine without the added ice. I just have to let it cool off in the refrigerator a bit longer than usual. The two quart size is perfect for me since I am usually the only one who drinks it. I’ve made several different kinds of tea, including herbals like rooibos, but black always seems to come out the best. I usually use about five teaspoons of dry whole leaves. I love to add a bit of mint to make it even more refreshing. Overall, I’ve been very satisfied with it and I would definitely recommend this tea maker.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
|Photo: In Pursuit of Tea|
I ordered the handless version of this pitcher because I loved its simple lines. It pairs beautifully with my gaiwan, which is also white but with blue accents, without taking away from its beauty. This pitcher is actually slightly smaller than my yixing teapot but that is quickly remedied by pouring a cup or two before filling the pitcher. The mouth is just three fingers wide so I do have to have to be cautious when I am cleaning it.
You can find out more about this pitcher here.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It holds just enough tea to have a cup for myself and a cup to share with a friend. However, it is a little short for some varieties of flowering teas. These blooms would definitely be better off in a taller pot. It seems that the pitcher style pots are more practical for this application. While a pot that is not made of glass would do the same job, I love how this one enables me to view the leaves as they unfold.
You can find out more about this teapot here.
Friday, October 17, 2008
|Photos: Boulder Tea|
The aroma of this tea was fresh and vegetal, very similar to that of the dry leaves. The first few sips were slightly astringent but subsequent sips were much easier on the taste buds. It was light, sweet and very refreshing. It had an almost minty quality to it as well. I have to say that the only thing that put me off was the accumulation of dusty bits of leaf at the bottom of my cup. However, all sencha that I have tried had this issue it is probably just me being weird about it.
You can find out more about this tea here.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I would like to give this a perfect 10 but I think the name is a bit of a misnomer. Being named Chocolate Delight, I expected the tea equivalent of a cup of hot cocoa. Would this tea by any other name taste as sweet? I have to say yes. I think the description they gave on the back of the package summed it up perfectly “Think more Aztec than Hershey’s”. With that being said, this was a delicious black tea. It had a rich and nutty taste with just a touch of creaminess. The second infusion was a bit different, it actually smelled and tasted like mocha. My inner chocoholic thoroughly enjoyed this tea.
You can find out more about this tea here.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
|Photo: Mighy Leaf|
The liquor was a deep reddish color and had a floral aroma. This tea was surprisingly traditional, a classic rooibos taste with just a hint of tropical flavoring. Mighty Leaf managed to find a perfect balance, where the rooibos isn’t overwhelmed but is complemented by other ingredients. It was relaxing and invigorating at the same time.
You can find out more about this tea here.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This tea was a little darker than I would expect from a green tea. It tasted slightly vegetal but the vanilla was a little overwhelming, almost too sweet. The second and third infusions were much better because it lessened the sweetness. For someone with a sweet tooth, it might be ideal but it was not really for me. I would recommend this tea to the right person but I probably wouldn’t buy it for myself.
Monday, October 13, 2008
|Photo: Seven Cups|
The taste of this tea was delicate and sweet in such a way that I struggled to describe it when I sat down to write this review. It was mellow with just a hint of that characteristic Oolong flavor that I love so much. I was able to get eight very good infusions from about a tablespoon of this tea. I bought it on sale but even at full price it is an excellent value.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The design on the pot invokes an image of the sun rising over water. This is created by a method called “jiao ni” and is accomplished by mixing clay and using it to create a natural landscape design without painting on the surface. I seasoned this pot according to the directions on Seven Cup’s website. It took most of the day but it was worth it because my first cup of tea was absolutely perfect. Subsequent steepings have been even better. I think I'm in love :). I will have a review of their Oolong tea that I used in it forthcoming.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
|Photo: Adagio Tea|
This is exactly what a mint tea should be. The mint definitely took prevalence over the green tea, in fact I could barely taste the green tea. I would normally consider that a bad thing, if it weren’t for the fact that this tea was so incredibly refreshing. It was cooling and refreshing like no other tea I have tasted. I have brewed straight mint leaves and it wasn’t nearly as good. I think the green tea dramatically improves the taste and crispness of this blend.
You can find out more about this tea here.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I have found this tray to be easy to clean and extremely durable. A rub with a soft towel quickly eliminates any water spots or tea stains. I have accidentally left tea in it and it suffered no ill effects. After months of almost constant use, it still looks as good as it did the day I received it. I have heard that bamboo trays can have issues with leaks and cracking but I have never had any problems. I love avoiding the usual clean up duties, all I have to do is empty the tray when I am done. It also saves my hands from having to carry extremely hot cups of tea.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
|Photo: Andao Tea|
Their small size forces me to slow down and really savor the tea that I am imbibing. It is so relaxing to actually take that time to enjoy tea rather than gulping it and running out the door as was my usual practice. They are also great for sharing with my family members, most of whom find my tea habit bizarre and intriguing. Not as much tea is wasted since they can try just a small sip. Of course that is usually followed by the "eeewwww" face but that is whole other blog topic :)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I love it because it enables me to make a small amount of tea rather than a large pot. I am the only loose leaf tea drinker in my house so it is unreasonable to make more than I can drink. I’ve used it to brew most types of tea and have had success with each and every one. I particularly like it for green tea. It has been tricky figuring out a pouring technique that minimizes spills and burned fingers. This a problem endemic to all gaiwans and beginners like myself. I am looking forward to a lot more cups of tea brewed and shared with the help of this gaiwan.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Taste of Tea is a perfect companion to The History of Tea. It explains the process of making tea as well as the different blends that are unique to each tea growing region. The beautiful pictures of each variety are paired with tasting notes. These are really useful when I come across a tea that I have never tried before. I find myself returning to both of these books again and again, especially when writing reviews about new and foreign teas. The only thing that author left out was pu-erh tea. This tea has grown increasingly popular and it deserves more than just a glancing mention. I would have appreciated some discussion of tea ware as well. These two things aside, I would definitely recommend this book.
You can find out more about this book here.
Monday, October 6, 2008
|Photo: Mighty Leaf|
I wish I could say the same for the taste. I don't know why but most chocolate teas that I have tried came off as bitter rather than a sweet indulgence. I could not taste any of the pear or caramel. Perhaps it was the combination of cacao nibs and chocolate chips that ruined this blend. The bitterness was still there but was slightly reduced with a second steeping. I am glad that I was able to try a sample before springing for the sampler pack.
You can find out more about this tea here.
Hi! My name is Nicole and in case you didn't already know, I am crazy about tea. I'm twenty four and I've lived in New Jersey for all of my life. Tea is one of my newest passions and I'm excited to start exploring. I have always enjoyed the standard Lipton black tea while having late night chats with my mother. When the time came for me to go away to college, I stated to branch out and try some the herbal teas in the grocery stores. One day, I discovered flowering teas in a magazine. That opened up the flood gates and now I have at least three cups of tea a day whenever I can. I now have two overflowing shelves full of tea and teaware. I've just purchased my first yixing pot so Oolong is the favorite of the moment. I love trying new teas and adding to my collection. I am a reviewer for Teaviews: http://www.teaviews.com . It's a great site and anyone who loves tea should check it out. I'll be posting about the different teas and teaware I try as well as tea houses in my area. I hope someone will enjoy reading what I have to say.