Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hot road, no ice.


A Hot and sweltering drive to mom's house in Lancaster led me to ponder only one thought: where is my mason jar full of Ice cold brewed green tea!?

What is this change that has come over me, this passion for this cool liquid love I've found? Won't someone help? This is not the Connie I know. She is forever fond of the heat...but I do realize that it may be due to too much internal heat, looking at Chinese medicine. I am positive I am intuitively quenching a flame...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Results are in.

So here it is, my beloved green P'uerh cold steep after about 7 hours. It was plenty strong after about the first hour, so I had to keep adding water. Not sure what I was thinking, but up until this point I was only placing about a teaspoonful of tea into a quart sized mason jar. So I was  thinking I had put a lot of leaves, but that it wouldn't quite be so strong. I think I put a tablespoon of broken leaves, the fannings from prying the leaves from the cake. Instead of creating more fannings, I thought I would indulge.

I noticed a slightly perfumey, herbal green taste from the tea. I could taste the aged edge that makes it so distinctive. I am rather impressed that a certain freshness could be tasted when cold brewed. However it still gave a mild bitterness or a bite that occurs in the hot steep. 

I'm going to try a cold brew with my newer cake to see how the flavors will unfold. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cold brewing P'uerh.

Now I'm getting crazy.

I've decided, after a hot cup of brew, that I will now attempt cold brewing a 2010 Prevernal "green," or raw P'uerh. I learned so much about these tea cakes during the Tea Expo that I have to continue the exploration. I cannot tell you of all the particulars that P'uerh offers, but it is a way of life, and I am slowing stepping into it....or shall I say, steeping into it??

Like an aged cheese or fine wine, there is an art and a process to cultivating the flavors in P'uerh. Especially during the summer, I am really feeling the greens over blacks. It's incredible. The color is already forming. I will probably steep this one for two hours before tasting the initial flavors. without the bitterness and all of the oils intact, I am excited to taste a more distinctly floral or herbal flavor. I can say for sure, that I already love the color coming through. Hot and cold are two very different experiences. Makes me want to take a chemistry class.  I'll let you know how it tastes. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The surprising flavor fiesta of cold steeping.

I'm normally a hot tea drinker. My constitution has always preferred hot foods and drinks, to cold. I love warm, zesty, savory, spicy edibles and drinkables. So imagine my surprise when I made this amazing cold brewed tea and caught my world on fire. Up until this point, I had only thought that people would hot steep the tea, then put it into some ice and go from there. With cold steeping, not only can you leave jugs of tea sitting about, but it allows the full bodies flavor of the leaf to come pulsing through, resulting in a more fuller flavored and satisfying tea. The way I see it, the more one can have satisfying food and drink experiences, the less inclined one will feel to eat thoughtlessly and for entertainment, but for nourishment and pleasure.

I had first heard about throwing my leaves into a glass of cold water at the World Tea Expo I attended some weeks ago (at the start of the mercury retrograde phase, unsurprisingly). What I learned over the course of the several hours I was there, was mind boggling...but also, a sure sign that I needed just a bit more focus to become that tea sommelier or health expert, buying and tasting expert etc., in order to feel comfy professionally handling the leaf. And what drew my eye to the cold brewing practice was a company whose name I wished I could remember, that sold these wine bottle-shaped containers to steep tea in, for cold brewing only. The representative working the booth was kind enough to tell me about steeping the tea for several days. She let me taste a two day and a three day steep. This is where I first learned that the leaf would not become bitter as in a hot steep, where the brew would increase in flavor intensity at a much more rapid pace.

It was also believed that certain phytochemicals would not be manifest in a cold brew, but it seems to be that studies are showing otherwise. And what I found in flavor, was enough to help me make the switch to drinking cold greens for the major part of the summer. 

I have been experimenting with all my flavors of Green tea in cold steeps. Cocomint green is rapidly winning my heart. Ten Ren's "403" green laced with ginseng, has an award-winning color and flavor when cold steeped. I love that I can package it in mason jars and walk away for days, and come back to a cold glass of it whenever my heart desires such relief. I was a little bit disappointed in the gyokuro, whose green color I wanted to enjoy more so. So far it seems to be the only green tea I still must enjoy hot, if I want the color. It really is part of the enjoyment for me, whether the tea has a distinctive green color and taste.

I was less interested in steeping black or white teas for the potency I attain when they are heated. Powerful medicine, these brews...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tea stories of yore.

I Just decided to post some tea wisdom for the soul. It enlightened my afternoon. Hope you can find the same peace from it.

A master of the tea ceremony in old Japan once accidentally slighted a soldier. He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel. The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a fellow Zen master who did possess such skill.

As he was served by his friend, the Zen swordsman could not help but notice how the tea master performed his art with perfect concentration and tranquility. "Tomorrow," the Zen swordsman said, "when you duel the soldier, hold your weapon above your head, as if ready to strike, and face him with the same concentration and tranquility with which you perform the tea ceremony."

The next day, at the appointed time and place for the duel, the tea master followed this advice. The soldier, readying himself to strike, stared for a long time into the fully attentive but calm face of the tea master. Finally, the soldier lowered his sword, apologized for his arrogance, and left without a blow being struck.

Tea or Iron

The Zen master Hakuin used to tell his students about an old woman who owned a tea shop in the village. She was skilled in the tea ceremony, Hakuin said, and her understanding of Zen was superb. Many students wondered about this and went to the village themselves to check her out.

Whenever the old woman saw them coming, she could tell immediately whether they had come to experience the tea, or to probe her grasp of Zen. Those wanting tea she served graciously. For the others wanting to learn about her Zen knowledge, she hid until they approached her door and then attacked them with a fire poker. Only one out of ten managed to escape her beating.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Can't leave, gotta drink more tea.

It had been next to impossible to leave the house that day. I had officially purchased too many different varieties of tea and was certain that I would never be released into the day, for wanting yet another cuppa brew. Too much obsession ran through my head and heart, as I knew no cup would match what I have found in my own home. 

The delicious flavors and leaves were just all too fascinating and I had to make just one more cup to see how different one tasted from another, one brand to the next (though I'm pretty true to Adagio and Ten Ren these days). 

Would there be an end to the obsession?? Now that my pot offers precise temperature and therefore dictates accurate flavors, I'm not sure leaving the house is an option anymore.

I was literally pulling out three ceramic pots: one made 16 oz., 1 quart and 2 quarts. The largest one I made white tea in. The quart sized got the greens and the small one got a cup of black tea just for taste. Once the teas were made, I got to steeping and sipping on the variances between cups, documenting my findings. 

I am still learning how to talk about the body and leaf, and make it appeal to the tea community. Best thing to do is to keep talking to other tea afficionados who love the leaf as I.

Yeah. Busy day.

A Taurus Cuppa

Adagio thinks that Taurus tastes like oolong and white tea with the flavor of peaches on a mid spring day. Well I agree, as I bring the cup to my lips, a pleasant feeling of euphoria passes thru.

I'm actually rather intuitive about the tea I choose to drink. I sometimes get intercepted by what caffeinated influence I think need to be in place, but then I push that aside and I make the cup that speaks to me. It is indeed interesting that I was having a taste for a medium body, fruity and earthy taste, with notes of apple and marigold accent flavors threatening to take center stage. It's all I know, to allow the sensation into my space and drink the tea from within. So ultimately, Does it matter what the tea tastes like, if the experience and process has so much meaning? Sometimes I feel the taste pushes me thru the medium, a conduit to the Divine...

I take pleasure in knowing how much I attain from a good cup of tea. My obsession with the drink does not go unnoticed, nor is it shared alone, I am sure, though I sometimes feel rather alone in my desire to attain so many cups. Meanwhile, it is may, and the zodiac dictates a taurean energy flowing thru our consciousness. This may bring people to think about their money and how they spend and save, or make one feel rather domestic, or even plain sleepy and lazy. It's interesting how it just offers me a window for contemplation, and to take in spring's true messages. I am feeling that this tea played a larger role this morning in my breakfast than I am giving credit. I feel ready to thank the designer of this tea for tapping accurately into the pulse of this planetary leaning, to channel a cup of wisdom that is currently inspiring my taurean outlook.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Unpacking is starting to feel like a metaphor of sorts...

As I unpacked my box of Adagio teas after purchasing a rather large shipment, I began to see my obsession clearly through the eyes of a variety of flavors I felt I just had to have. With tea, I am not so sure this is a bad thing. However, I had to know that, no matter how much I brought in, I have to also either use it or pack it out, and a time of moving, summer, is fast approaching, and I want to be ready for what comes.

I am bringing forth many emotional waves of change as I prepare my white tea for probably the first time at the correct temperature. It never seemed to matter much to me, but once I saw that there was a teapot whose temperature I wouldn't need to check with a thermometer, it made me understand just how deeply I want to delve into the world of such hot liquified bliss, and how each moment could most possibly be spent drinking multiple hot cups of tea while unpacking boxes of tea and emotions.

White tea has never tasted better.
The interesting thing is, tea has never been mixed in my world until now, and I'm reading that one needs to pay attention to the most delicate leaf in the blend, as this leaf guides the temperature of the cup. It also affects flavor, and body. Some teas I've bought can take a little sugar, like the Chicago Jazz mint. I look forward to tasting each cup.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cups of Genius.

The multiple cuppa greets me warmly this evening.

One electric kettle is going, while at least three pots of tea are made to brew. As I sit to the work, a deep solace washes over me, along with maybe the third cup. When I say cup, I mean mug, at least 16 to 20 ounces worth. I usually do not attempt to slam multiple cups of black tea in the evenings, but I do crave one mug of a rich brew to satisfy my desire to take part in an evening of rambling, studying and perusing both informative and entertaining, educational and spiritual articles and views.

All the while, the tea quietly plays genius to all my mental ramblings.

My brain is alive and surely on its edge amidst the beginning of the mercury retrograde phase, which always tends to inspire my pen or the typewritten word. I joyfully engage in deep intellectual discourse with my geniuses each, understanding the inspiration of the leaf, expertly embedded with care in each cup.

Speaking of geniuses, experts, leaves and retrogrades, in my evening drinks I have been studying the zodiac blends offered by Adagio tea company. The blends are each so individually gorgeous in their presentation, including packaging, fragrance, blend and flavor. They are so satisfying, leaving me to think that the combination of leaves and flavors are so perfect, they inspire an enhanced state of astrological awareness, corresponding to that particular sign and planet. I love it, the concept and the execution of such tasty, quality goodness. Let's discuss the moment we are in.

Taurus is the moment we are in...however, I am drawn this evening to white teas. Taurus definitely offers the white tea leaf, blended with oolong, peach flavor, apple pieces, marigold petals, and apricot pieces. The flavor is down to earth, grounding, soothing and mildly fruity. The white tea is so earthy that I may not have thought much of the taste if it were not due to apricot, peach and apple playing a starring role in its overall outcome. Taurus makes me feel that both feet are on the ground and after drinking a cup, go back to work.

It's interesting that the pisces blend is the cup I'm drinking now, and it gives me a different view on things. (Definitely, pisces comes before Taurus, even in tea world.) My tea class taught me that the perfect cup involves a variety of elements, and it is often said that many will be offended by the taste of a tea whose temperature is wrong. This intrigues me, for the difference in taste tonight seems to be due to that very concept. I have always been aware that teas take a variety of temperatures depending on type of leaf, but I have never really cared, or gotten anal about it. Now that my tea drinking is becoming more refined, I purchased an electric tea kettle by Adagio, to keep my mind focused on more important things, letting the teapot find the perfect temperature for the tea.

Now, the pisces blend contains rooibos, black tea, chamomile, white tea, orange peels, lemongrass, cornflowers, orange flavor, and grapefruit flavor. It is an interesting idea that I had never loved this flavor before and now, total acceptance and enjoyment of the taste. It is soft, floral, orangey, with a light bite, since there really can't be too many black tea leaves. It is perfect for a late night, or the last, cup. It is not surprising at all that a dreamy sign whose energy is dreamy in nature, be perfectly replicated by a cup of tea. It's really hitting the spot.

Monday, April 29, 2013

She dreams of tea

Such simple wisdom in a cup.

I dream of having a tea shop one day, and for every goal I have, I look for the dream crew I will hire to go with it. Funny thing was,  a student came up to me and mentioned his same desire, to own a tea shop. Now, I found that very intriguing, as this student is a mere 13, but does take on meditation rather seriously. So when he said this, I was not in the least phased by his admission. So I asked him why. He told me he wanted an Asian warrior decor and room for meditation. I just thought that was so spiritually advanced of him that I wanted to further pursue the discussion. I asked him why he thought of opening a shop and he said, "tea is peaceful." Hm.

Yes. Tea IS peaceful.
Tea is peace.
Tea IS.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Time To Reorder Some Tea.

I'm having a bit of a tea lull.

You see, I purchased a large amount of tea about 3 or 4 months ago, and it's still affecting me, in the sense that I am still drinking the same stash. Well I just realized today, that not all of my teas are hits. I have also noticed that I've actually drank most of my 16 oz. bags of tea, and my canisters are becoming suspiciously empty. So then now what? I have to find a use for the teas I have, but I also need to order more. Oh poo.

Of course it's really not all that bad, because I get to try new and awesome flavors should I choose that. But at the moment I am a little bit confused. This much I know. I do not want another huge batch of black tea, because I feel I bought too much at the last order. Secondly, there are some tea blends I made that I love, but I have to pay extra to blend them. That, or I pay extra for all the big containers of tea I'd be buying. Either way, it's overage of something, tea, or money.

So far, I'm ordering apple, cream, Irish Breakfast and earl grey moonlight from Adagio Teas. Maybe I'll order some more Ti Kuan Yin as well. That oughta liven up my collection.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Digestion no Question with Tea in Possession.

I just ate a banana, and now I'm itching for a cup of tea.

I know that it seems as if most of my tea posts are in the vein of Dr. Seuss, but it is very important to understand that tea really does much to change the way I live my daily life. Tea is a balanced part of why I can eat my daily bread, so to speak (Don't get it twisted in the days of the gluten-free trend). It is a very deeply instilled practice to drink the tea and use it to find myself in some of the deepest, most profound meditations. Tea is recommended solace against the backdrop of woes in the world. I just had a jasmine cup and now, a cucumber lime white tea. It sounded so different and delicious that I could not leave it in the store. It was an unnatural act at that moment and I could not deny myself the pleasure of that experience. So I indulged. I'm not a big bag afficionado, but sometimes they have some of the most interesting blends. All my mind settles on is the fact that I just bought a box worth twenty teaspoons of the bottom of the barrel tea fannings, just like the 2 percent "other" that hotdogs possess. But I digress.

I didn't steep the bag long, and for some reason, it was perfectly on the money. The lime essence rang true against the very soft hint and mostly mental cue of the cucumber. The white tea leaves graciously played father to the flavors and married the two with no objections. The fragrance of the cup threatened a much different, more orange-inspired flavor to come forth, but the easy steep and brilliantly blended flavor made the original intention a complete success.

Ultimately, having a cup of something hot can help with digestion, but with tea to steep with it, provides greater benefit even by its association.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tea as medication, leads me to meditation.

Yes. My body is weary and hurting, I am taking on the energies of others, I have rehearsed all day and worked all week, I've dealt with emotional meltdowns because in order to heal you must feel. Sooooo...into a cup of coffee we go.


I only use coffee when there is a dire need for a head change with a caffeinated jumpstart, and apparently this is what we are dealing with. So I grabbed a Starbucks by clear past 3. I'm not too well hydrated, I haven't exercised beyond the dancing we did today, and I promised I'd go to a show tonight, so my time is limited. Once again, coffee takes the lead. But I know what happens if I keep the coffee in my body by itself...

So I'm making a cup of tea.


Tea after coffee is never sweeter. Tea after everything is truly the right thing to do. I use tea to medicate the coffee, making it safer to drink, believe it or not. You see, coffee spins me out. I know. I should be able to just drink the tea and not the coffee...but then there are these DAYS, you know? It's very simple. Those are the days when you just have to do what you have to do. So it's coffee. But the tea...the tea has high power. The tea is far more useful, kind of like a bandage instead of a bullet to the head. That's a rough analogy. It's more like a kiss on the forehead instead of a slap on the face. There. That sounds better.

Okay. Having said that, my tea drinking in full bloom keeps me from crazy immunity issues. The more tea I drink, the more I feel my mind, body and soul sending me deep messages. These deep messages definitely speak to a more intuitive process somewhere within, like traveling into the pit of my wellbeing. Tea goes in and finds me. I'd like it to fish out some discipline for me, and that award-winning book that's waiting to be written. It will be. I am already victorious if I'm even courting the idea. How about all those books I still need to read??? Tea will find that time I'm looking for, to sit with a cup of it, and wax on and off over a book that needs to read...and written.

You see? Above you will find a meditation. The tea, it led me there.

The Tea Shot

It might be a bit bold and bitter to take a heaping tablespoon of tea and steep in about 4 oz. of water for 5 to 10 minutes, but it succeeds in making a killer cup of tea latte every morning. In fact I'm sure many tea pundits would probably shriek at me, for flavors, tannins, character, and the like. But what if that tea was seriously only intended for the purpose of providing a bit of caffeinated early morn bliss, if there ever could be some? Tea latte has been my savior many a morning.

Having said that, I practiced with making a tea concentrate with a larger volume of tea and water for a lesser steep time, then stored the concentrate, using a quarter cup per latte. I don't like them watered down, if what they are is latte. It still maintains the flavor of the tea you're making. I'm thinking it worked.

I'm also trying flavor oils directly in the tea, or flavored syrups. It simply makes me a happier person, and that makes the entire world a safer place to be. ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Using coconuts to cream my tea.

My tea is often more of a utiliTEA than a dramaTEAc event. Okay, kidding aside, I've been trying to find the perfect addition to the one fancy breakfast drink I choose to have daily: my tea latte. I make a tea concentrate with one heaping tablespoon of tea and steep for about ten minutes. I know that directions from other books and sites might give a variation on that theme, but my numbers work well for me. Up until this last month, I had been using soymilk. However, I decided that the soy was beginning to work the same in my mind as all the other products I had been consuming in boxes, packages and cans, and I thought I needed to make a change somewhere, so I'd begin with soy and most glutens. Well either way, the soy had to go. What was I left with? Coconut milk contains lauric acid, which is very healthy for fat metabolism. Considering that in addition to its creamy and satisfying taste, made me feel like this was a good idea.

The only thing is, after some time the coconut cream gets a little old. I grow tired of the taste and stop using it. I'm wondering if I use coconut smoothie to sweeten my tea, if that could work. My smoothie is made with a banana, coconut milk or cream, and a little bit of agave. Maybe if I continue to experiment I'll find ways to keep the coconut in my tea for longer stretches in time. I'll get back to you on that one.