Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Round Up: May 24th - May 30th

Chemical Compounds in Tea
+Tony Gebely brings us a fascinating list of some of the chemical compounds found in tea. Thinking about the science behind it really makes each cup that much more amazing.

Sip It Slowly, And Other Lessons From The Oldest Tea Book In The World
I've really enjoyed NPR's Tea Tuesday series. In this latest installment, Jeff Koehler writes about Lu Yu and The Classic of Tea. I managed to find an inexpensive English translation years ago but they are almost impossible to find now.

Rolling In The Green with Den's Tea Sencha Green Tea Pyramid Bags
I love that I'm constantly finding new tea blogs lately. One that caught my attention this week was Drink Tea, Punk!, written by +Renee S. H.. She recently tried the green tea sampler from Den's Tea. This same assortment was my first introduction to Japanese green teas many years ago.

Podcast 022: Urasenka School of the Japanese Tea Ceremony
I always look forward to new episodes from +Ricardo Caicedo. In this week's episode he interviews Reina Sakao of Sakao Enterprise. I was especially interested in her comparisons of the different tea ceremony schools.

Da Yu Ling, sorrow and joy
Stephane of +TeaMasters shared a bit about the issues facing the industry in Da Yu Ling, Taiwan's highest tea mountain. Make sure you check out the video of the tiny monorail. I'm not sure if I'd be brave enough to ride that!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Repairing Yixing with Kintsugi

I'm a very accident prone person but thankfully that fault has rarely extended to my teaware. I was a bit hearbroken when the lid of one my yixing teapots became the latest victim. I've dropped this lid on numerous occasions but my new apartment has ceramic tile floors that are very hard. The pot isn't a particularly nice one but it is the second yixing that I ever purchased. It's also dedicated to Taiwanese oolongs like Dong Ding, one of my favorite types of tea. While trying to figure out what to do, I remembered a repair kit that I had seen on Pinterest a while back.

A company in the Netherlands called Humade put together this kit that they call New Kintsugi. I was incredibly nervous but excited to give it a try. It basically combines epoxy and gold powder. Flashbacks to crafting in Girl Scouts and making repairs on porcelain figurines when I worked at a Christmas store popped into my head. The texture was similar to crazy glue but a bit less sticky. It mixed easily and applied fairly cleanly. The gold powder was somewhat messy but not out of control. Ladies, if you've ever opened a new pot of loose eye shadow you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

The instructions said to mix a bit of powder into the epoxy prior to applying and then lightly dust the seams while they are still tacky. After letting it dry for a few hours, it was time to see what the final results were. It wasn't an expert job but it definitely turned out better than I expected. The sides did wind up a bit too thick to properly fit on the pot but that was easily remedied by sanding it down with my nail dremel. It will need to cure for 48 hours but I'm looking forward to using my pot again. Hopefully the repair will hold up over time.

Update: So far so good. The epoxy does soften up a bit when exposed to hot water. That's not a bit deal in this case since it's the lid but I wouldn't suggest this repair method for cups or other vessels that need to hold hot water.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Teatulia White Tea

Country of Origin: Bangladesh
Leaf Appearance: small, covered in silver hairs
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: mesh infuser and ceramic teacup
Liquor: amber

It's not every day that I get to drink a silver need from Bangladesh.You know that your blog is getting old when the last time that you reviewed a tea was 5 years ago. That is exactly what happened with this white tea from Teatulia. I first wrote about it way back in June of 2010. There was a noticeable improvement in the look and quality of the leaves since the last time that I had it. The leaves were downright pretty. I was happy to find the brewed tea to be just as beautiful. It was sweetly floral with an abundance of fruity notes. I wish that I could find a perfume that smells the way that this tea tastes. That probably doesn't make any sense to anyone who isn't a real leaf-head like myself but there you have it. It resteeped a bit drier but still very enjoyable. I still have a quite a bit of this tea left and I definitely plan to play around with it a bit. I think it could be even better if brewed in a gaiwan. At less than $7/oz this tea is an absolute steal. Even better, you'll be supporting a certified B corporation who works to improve the lives of their workers.

White Tea sample provided by Teatulia.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Global Tea Hut: April 2015 - Temple Mist

I love that the teas from +Global Tea Hut often seem very seasonally appropriate. In with spring comes a Yunnan green tea called Temple Mist. When I receive my shipments from them, bowl brewing is usually the go to for my first session. The leaves of this tea were wiry and curly, typical of a Mao Feng leaf style. As they unfurled, the leaves were large and quite beautiful to look at. I tend to be a bit heavy handed with my leaf to water ration but that didn't negatively affect the taste. The taste was vegetal and sweet with just a hint of astringency. It stood up to several bowl refills which makes me inclined to give this a try again in a gaiwan.

The gift in April's envelope appealed to my inner chocoholic. It was a small bit of Gaba Baba, a chocolate bar made with gaba tea, kava, blue lotus and tumeric. I wasn't really able to pick out the individual ingredients but it was certainly very tasty. The magazine always makes for good reading. I particularly enjoyed the articles about Wu De's trip to the home of Dragonwell and experiences on his recent tour. There was an article called Circle Towards the Center that I found very intriguing. It encouraged us to be conscious of the directions that pour tea using each of our hands. While I've never noticed a taste or texture difference, circling towards the heart has always felt more natural for me. I definitely think I'll doing some experiments with this soon.

Monday, May 25, 2015

World Tea Expo - The Last Day and Heading Home

Many of my housemates had shipped out by Saturday so I took advantage of taking a nap in a nice big bed. Tea partying all night takes a lot out of you! The expo being over, +Natasha N and I decided to have a bit of a tourist day. We started things off by walking to the Long Beach Museum of Art. Admission was free since they were having an art auction. None of the pieces were within our price range but it was enjoyable to walk through nonetheless.

We grabbed a matinee show of Avengers and took a walk by the waterfront. We initially planned to go to the aquarium but it was a bit pricier than I was expecting. As luck would have it I spotted a whale watching boat ride for much less. We didn't see any whales but we did catch some sea lions hanging out on a buoy and take in some beautiful views.

We grabbed dinner at a cute local place and came back to the house just in time for even more tea imbibing. I slept like a baby that night. It had been a very long week! The end of expo is always a bit sad. +Natasha N likened it to con depression. We all said our goodbyes and I headed to yet another bus station so that I could make my way to airport. 

Unfortunately I received a notification from Jet Blue that my flight had been canceled. After a long and frustrating phone call, I secured the last seat on the only other flight going to New York. I was supposed to be landing at 10:45pm but I would now be arriving at 6:00am the next day. Jet Blue gave me food vouchers for lunch and dinner but they could only be used past the security check point. The bulk of my day was spent lounging around Long Beach Airport. Thank god for free soda refills! I do have to say that they had some of the best airport food that I've ever had.

The airport has an outdoor seating area so I took in the sunset before grabbing a panini and Manhattan cocktail. My redeye was a sleepless flight and despite my exhaustion, I had to go to work because there was no one available to cover my shift. It was all worth it in the end though.

This was a fantastic week spent renewing connections and beginning new ones. I've learned so much about tea and even more myself and where I want to go in this industry. Before heading to Long Beach, I promised myself that I wouldn't go next year because I wanted to travel to Taiwan. After this week I don't think I can miss out on all of the fun that will take place in Las Vegas next year. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Round Up: World Tea Expo 2015 Edition

This World Tea Expo edition of the Friday round up is a bit of an extended version. I want to share with you guys all of the great perspectives out there. These talented and passionate folks aren't just fellow bloggers, they're my friends. If I missed anyone, let me know!

+Geoffrey Norman 

A Business Trip with Benefits
Bitter Gourds and No-Pants Awards
Pocket Oolongs and After-Parties

+Ricardo Caicedo 

World Tea Expo 2015
World Tea Expo 2015 Part 2
World Tea Expo 2015 Part 3
World Tea Expo 2015 Part 4

+Linda Gaylard

World Tea Expo 2015: Random reports, Pt. 1

+Tony Gebely 

World Tea Expo 2015 Highlights

+Charissa Gascho 

Oolong Owl at World Tea Expo 2015 – Day 1
World Tea Expo 2015 Day 2
World Tea Expo 2015 – Day 3
Oolong Owl’s World Tea Expo 2015 Haul

+Jen Piccotti

A World Tea Expo 2015 Moment - Day 1
A World Tea Expo 2015 Moment - Day 2

+Katrina Ávila Munichiello

One Word at a Time - Passion Rediscovered
My Picks from World Tea Expo


World Tea Expo 2015 Day One
World Tea Expo 2015 Day Two
World Tea Expo 2015 Day Three

+Rachana Rachel Carter

Tea-Ceré Matcha Making Magic
World Tea Expo 2015: Special Thanks and Mini-Announcement

+Chris Giddings

2015 World Tea Expo Foodie Tour
Followup: 2015 World Tea Expo Foodie Tour

+Naomi Rosen 

Tea and Tweezers

+Jo J 

World Tea Expo 2015 Overview
World Tea Expo 2015 - The Tea
World Tea Expo 2015 - Tea Equipment
World Tea Expo 2015 - Core Conferences & Affiliate Programs
World Tea Expo 2015 - The Awards
World Tea Expo 2015 - Wrap Up

+Nicole Schwartz 

World Tea Expo 2015 Day 1
World Tea Expo 2015 Day 2
World Tea Expo Tea Blogger Roundtable
World Tea Expo Banquet and Awards
World Tea Expo Day 3
Tea Seed Planting Workshop

WTP @ The 2015 World Tea Expo: 3 Days in 30 Minutes
WTP @ The World Tea Expo, Ep.2: The Tea Equation

+Gary Robson
World Tea Expo 2015 - Day 1

Thursday, May 21, 2015

World Tea Expo 2015 - Day 3

The guys at +The Finest Brew promised to share some 28 year old "pocket oolong" if I won an award so their booth was one of my first stops. +Geoffrey Norman and +Chris Giddings had already been there for some time (not that I'm surprised!) but we were soon joined by +Rachana Rachel Carter+Nicole Schwartz+Ricardo Caicedo+Charissa Gascho, Phil from +World Tea House and TJ from World Tea Podcast soon gathered around. Ghi brought out a 25 year old oolong to compare this one to. It was great to have a crowd of bloggers to compare notes with. Most of us preferred the older tea, making mention of the notes of pipe tobacco.

Check out this video of some of the craziness:

+Charissa Gascho, otherwise known as Oolong Owl, is well known for her knitted feathered friends. We all took the opportunity for a photo shoot with some of them.

Being sufficiently tea drunk, we went to go drink even more tea at the ITCC Cup Warming. Phil skillfully brewed teas from around the world. Assam, Japan, China and Bihar were all represented.

Having visited almost everything on the floor, I reached the point of inevitable trade show overload. My solution to that, just as it was last year, was to go for a nice walk by the waterfront. A cup of chocolate chip mint ice cream also helped.

Now that another World Tea Expo had come and gone it was time for the after party. We kicked things off with a backyard tea planting workshop led by Jason and Timmy of +The Great Mississippi Tea Company. They were so knowledgeable and gave us many tips that I'll be using with my own plants at home.

+Jo J+Darlene Meyers-Perry and I were hungry so we ducked out to grab dinner at a local chicken and waffles spot. All I can say is, they don't make chicken like that in New Jersey! We were all very full but very happy by the time all of the food was gone.

On the way back to the beach house there was a bit of an adventure. You can read more about +Geoffrey Norman's daring rescue here: World Tea Expo - Being Rescued by The Lazy Literatus

By the time I got there I missed some party guests that I was looking forward to seeing but there was still plenty of fun to be had. At one point there was even an Irish folk song written about me. You can read the lyrics on +Geoffrey Norman's Teaku Tuesday.

Lots of tea drinking (accompanied by some cognac) and laughs made for a long and memorable night. Not everyone stayed up to the wee hours but those that did played Cards Against Humanity until around 5am. That is not a memory I will soon forget!

World Tea Expo 2015: World Tea Awards Dinner

I really don't know if there's anything better than getting dressed up to attend an evening gala with your closest tea friends. +Rachana Rachel Carter had the brilliant idea of reserving a table for all of us. Everyone looked fabulous, particularly +Geoffrey Norman who had borrowed a festive hat from +Michael Petersen. I had a bit of nervous excitement because I was nominated for two awards, Best Tea Blog and Best Social Media Reach. Our hosts Kevin Gascoyne and Bruce Richardson wrangled the crowd well, peppering in plenty of laughs. I couldn't help but smile at the camaraderie among all of the industry greats. It was especially significant for me to be aboard the Queen Mary. I wasn't aware of it last year but my great grandfather worked on the grand ocean liner. How cool is that?

Dinner was served speedily as everyone eagerly anticipated the announcements. Best Social Media Reach was the first to be called and I was in a bit of shock when I heard my name. As I made my way up to the stage the only thing I could think was, please don't let me fall! My heels and those high gloss hardwood floors were not a match made in heaven. I just want to say a big thank you to each and every one of my readers and social media followers. Your enthusiasm for tea makes it very easy to do what I do. Who wouldn't want to engage with such awesome people? Congratulations to all of my fellow nominees and winners! It was an honor to be on the same stage as all of you.

Thanks for snapping this picture of me +Rachana Rachel Carter!
I didn't win Best Blog but I was very glad that +Tony Gebely did. World of Tea provides a wealth of information for tea lovers, something that we all strive for. +Elyse Petersen won the well deserved award for Best Industry Innovator. She's a mover and a shaker, exactly what this industry needs! The Cha Ching Lifetime Achievement Award was officially renamed in memory of John Harney. Many of us felt his absence this year and it made me a bit misty eyed to hear so many wonderful memories shared. The award was presented to James Norwood Pratt this year. I could truly listen to that man talk about tea for hours and his acceptance speech was one for the ages.

Although there were several mentions of John Harney's passing, I was disappointed that not a single mention was made of Steven Smith. He was an industry innovator in his own right and his legacy deserved recognition. The rest of the night was a whirlwind of warm hugs, congratulations and fun photo booth moments.

Some of my favorite tea bloggers

The Teavengers