A Journey Through the World of Tea

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Look Back on 2010..well sorta

Looking back at last year, tea became a even more prominent part of my life. But Tyros hasn’t been updated in quite some time, and that is alldue on my part. I let myself get busy and neglected it, and if there is one thing I have learned from tea, it is that you need to slow down some times to enjoy life.  So I would like to apologize for not updating regularly

It’s 2011, 2010 went by fast, and with new years brings new teas to review, and people to meet.

The following pictures are some of the tea treats that I have had the pleasure to part take in this past holiday season. I do apologizes at the quality of these pictures, my good camera has died on me.

This little lovely beauty is my first Yixing Clay Pot, (named it Gin) that I received from my Best friend Wes.

Along with the pot, Wes also got me this 2006 Pu-erh cake (above) and a 2009 cake (below). The 2006 cake has become the crown jewel of my teas because it was made the year I graduated from high school. I plan on taking my first sip of it come my twenty year reunion.

(/\2009 cake /\)

Last but not least this big bag of goodness is a custom blend specially for Tyros. Thanks to my friends over at Bourgea Tea for making this custom Blueberry white tea entitled “Blueberry Yum”. Keep your eyes out as I will get giving away some samples away sometime this week.

 

Over all this past year has been a good year for me and tea. Was able to cross off about 5 of the Lengendary Tea’s of China off my list, I met alot of awesome tea bloggers via twitters, blogs, and facebook, and got to take a look on how some of my favorite tea companies got started. So I raise a cup to 2011 and hope it will be another great year of tea.

Ken of Lahikmajoedrinkstea

Who are you?

I’m a musician and writer living in Munich, Germany.

 

What Blogs do you run?

Lahikmajoedrinkstea and lahikmajoeinbayern

 

How did you get into tea?

My wife turned me onto tea.  I was a coffee drinker until I married.  While brewing her a pot, I’d sometimes have a sip.  I’d had green tea on a trip to Japan, so I wasn’t completely new to tea.  My heart raced when I drank coffee, and slowly I started drinking more and more tea.

 

What’s your favorite tea?

Dark, strong teas are more to my taste (Assam Khongea and a good Friesland Blend).  I’ve slowly developed an affinity for more subtle tea, but 2nd flush Darjeelings (Singbulli and Margaret’s Hope) are still my preference.  The best Ceylon seems to come from the highest elevations, so I’ll never turn down a cup of Nuwara Eliya.


What’s your preferred method of steeping? (gaiwan, sorapot, etc.)

Am a bit embarrassed about this, but as much as I enjoy other sorts of steeping I don’t have any of the gear.  When I’m in a tea salon, I’ll happily go the gaiwan or sorapot routes, but at home I brew my tea in a very sturdy Art Deco pot that has treated me quite well.

 

What advice do you have for people just coming into tea?

This is actually what I try to address in my blog.  Don’t be intimidated by the snobbery.  The tea people who’s hearts are in the right place will be thrilled that you’ve joined the flock.  As much as there is to learn, and it can be daunting, we all had to start somewhere.

 

Green or Black? Why?

Although I love Oolongs and green tea, I find myself drawn to black tea.  At first, it was that I was interested in the history of tea and tea-producing cultures.  I’m fascinated by Japan and curious about China, but there’s something about India that I simply can’t shake.

 

How many cups or pots daily?

This one’s really hard to answer.  If I’m home in the morning, I can easily drink three or four pots before lunchtime, and I carry a few thermoses if I know I’ll be away.  I can easily polish off seven or eight pots in a day.

 

Tea enjoyed better with friends or solo?

When I first started doing research in preparation for my teablog, I found sites describing people getting together sharing rare varieties of tea with one another.  Am sure I’d take part in such experiences if I had more of a local tea community.  As it is, most of my tea comraderie is online.

 

Share with us some randomness?

One of my clients told me about a scam in some Shanghai teahouses where they prey on the gullibility of Western tourists.  They pour limitless tiny cups of tea without explaining that each one is rather pricey.  The dupe doesn’t want to appear rude, so he drinks everything that’s set in front of him, and unfortunately the bill can easily run in the hundreds of euros/dollars.

Featured Tea Company: Samovar

First of all let me start by apologizing for the rather long hiatus. With school and my father being sick, things got a little busy. Thank you to all of those for the prayers and wishes.

Today’s post is something I am rather excited about, today’s featured tea company is Samovar. For a little history on Samovar and how it came to be you can read their story here.

I’d like to thank Jesse for taking some time to answer a few questions.

Where are you located?

San Francisco

From what Country’s do you get your tea from?

China, Taiwan, Japan, South Africa, United States, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos

What do the customers mean to your company?

Everything. There is no company without our customers. We exist to share the tea experience with our customers.

What are some of the difficulties with selling tea?

Teaching people that good tea is so simple.

This is a three-parter. What tea does every one order?What  tea would you suggest for tea newbies?What is your most uniquetea?

1.They are all different, just like every person is different.

2.Ryokucha, Earl Grey, Ocean of Wisdom, Downy Sprout, Nocturnal bliss, Samovar breakfast blend, Moorish Mint

3.Nishi Sencha, Bai Hao Oolong, Masala Chai, Ryokucha, Royal Garland, Maiden’s Ecstacy

What makes your tea company unique?

We are not a tea company. We are a company that is here to foster positive human connection. Tea is our vehicle, and the means which we achieve our mission: creating this connection. We are also unique in the deep artisan relations we have with our suppliers, and, the fact that we are the only tea company in the country with the high caliber of tea that we offer, and make available in 3 urban locations, and on a website.

In three words, can your sum up the culture of your company?

Positive Human Connection.

What is the companies mission?

See above. Also, please check out our mission page which speaks to our unique culture.

Be sure to check out Samovar on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Tea Company: Bourgea Tea

What’s the history behind the company, how did you get your start?

We started in October 2008. I wanted to supply students on my campus with higher quality tea. I also wanted to change peoples views on tea.

Where are you located?

We are based out of Anderson IN.

From what Country’s do you get your tea from?

The teas are grown in China, Sri Lanka, India, and South Africa.

What do the customers mean to your company?

Customers are obviously important to all companies. I want my customers to feel that received good service and if they are new to tea I want them to fall in love with tea.

What are some of the difficulties with selling tea?

Most people think tea tastes bad. There is also lots of competition. Sometimes it can be hard to standout when you have a small budget.

This is a three-parter. What tea does every one order? What tea would you suggest for tea newbies? What is your most  unique tea?

The white peach and detox are the most popular teas. I think that people who are new to tea should start with the white peach. I call the white peach my gateway tea because its the tea that gets people into tea. My most unique tea is my lucari chai. It has pineapple in it and uses green tea as the base instead of black tea. It was created for a couple that got married and wanted their own tea.

What makes your tea company unique?

Every tea is hand blended. It was started out of my dorm room.

In three words, can your sum up the culture of your company?

indy, healthy, charitable

What is the companies mission?

The vision of the company is to change the persona of tea from its stigma as a drink for older ladies in fluffy hats and young girls at tea parties to its splendor as an amazing, flavorful resource for all those who need something spectaculicious to drink. Throw yo’ pinkie up and let the TEA revolution begin!

Don’t forget to check Bourgea Tea out on Twitter and Facebook.

Matcha 411

I love matcha. I love everything about it; whether it ranges from the vibrant green color to the distinct vegetal aroma. Ever since I was first introduced to this special treat back in early May, I have been drinking one bowl every day. As a matcha tyro, my goal is to spark your interests in the art of this unique tea.

Origin:

Now, imagine that you are a gyokuro leaf, a special type of Japanese green tea. Your roots are buried deep into Uji earth, a region in Japan where only the best matcha is produced. Fifteen to twenty days before your leaves are picked off; only 10% of sunlight is able to shine through the trees above you. This important step will provide the sweetness and robustness found in your leaves and no where else. Leaf processing begins thereafter where you are steamed and carefully dried. Your stems and veins are removed so only the most delicate parts remain. The end product is ground in a traditional stone grinder and a very fine powder is produced. Hooray, you are now matcha tea!

Preparation: The General Procedure

  • Have all of your utensils CLEAN and READY
    • Japanese Tea Ceremony
      • Chasen|Whisk
      • Chashaku|Bamboo Scoop
      • Chawan|Matcha Bowl
      • Chakin|Hemp Cloth
      • Tea Caddy
      • Ceremonial Grade Matcha
      • Etc.
    • Janna/College Student Prep:
      • Chawan (A tea bowl/cup)
      • Chasen (Whisk)
      • Chashaku (Bamboo Scoop)
      • Filtered Water
      • Matcha of your choice

Note: As a college student, the matcha process can be very expensive; especially in terms of buying ceremonial grade matcha and the associated tea accessories. It CAN be done, I promise! Don’t be afraid of the price, it is well worth it! Also, you can hold back on purchasing specific materials, etc., but always make sure you are using high quality matcha and filtered water for premium results. When I first started, I only had my trusty chasen. Now, I have a chawan, chashaku, and a chasen.

  • The Process
    • Place 3 scoops of Matcha using the Chashaku into your matcha bowl/cup. If using a teaspoon, measure out 3/4ths.
    • Boil water to around 170 ° and measure ~1.5oz.
    • Now add a little bit of water in order to avoid making clumpy matcha. To ensure that the powder does not clump together, I make a paste first. Pour a little bit of the boiling water into the bowl. Use the Chasen to whisk in an “M” shape motion. Do this several times until the mixture becomes viscous.
    • Add the rest of the water, and whisk vigorously. This process should last for a minute or two and there should be a good layer of froth at the top. Your arm should also be tired! For the picture below, I added organic soymilk for a different treat :)
  • Enjoy!
    • Sip it alone, or sip it with others. Personally, I enjoy matcha alone so I can harvest its benefits & experience the Zen. Also, be sure to slip it SLOW! Savor the moment!

Tips for Purchasing Matcha:

  • Know the main differences:
    • Food/Culinary grade: Used in baking in cooking
      • I.E. Yummy Matcha Cupcakes
    • Ceremonial grade: Used for tea drinking
      • Thin (aka Usucha)
        • More common
        • Stronger than thick tea (in terms of taste)
      • Thick (aka Koicha)
        • Made from older tea plants
        • More expensive
        • Sweeter
  • Buy smaller portions at a time:
    • Instead of buying 200g at one time, purchase only 30g at a time so your matcha can be guaranteed fresh
  • Look at the color:
    • Is it bright? Or is it dull?
      • The brighter the green, the fresher it is!
  • Expiration Dates:
    • I’ve found that the more reputable matcha sellers have expiration dates on their products to determine freshness.
  • Review the website:
    • Does the seller claim where he/she gets their matcha?
  • Order from a trusted site:

Enjoy your matcha experience! :)

xoxo,
Janna

A New Tyro: Janna Laverdière

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! My name is Janna, and I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Maine! For now, I currently reside in Michigan but I do miss home once in awhile. As a 20 year old junior at Michigan State University (Go Green! Go White!), I am studying Nutritional Science and specializing in Environmental Science. Someday I hope to attend the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, and become an Integrative doctor later down the road. I’m passionate about holistic health, wellness, and my new obsession with tea! :) I especially love to travel, and appreciate the little things in life.
Where are you from?

Maine :)

How did you come to enjoy tea?

Oh gosh, I had always known about tea for the longest time. However, as a child who grew up in the U.S. I was never truly accustomed to it. The summer of my sophomore year in college, my boyfriend (not at the time) introduced me to tea. He actually sent me an ingenuitea (by Adagio) and the green tea starter set. After trying this high quality tea, vs. bagged tea, I fell in love.

Whats your favorite tea?

I absolutely love Matcha! I couldn’t live without it! But if that wasn’t an option, then I would say Oolong. Something about it just reaaalllyyy hits the spot. :)

What is your favorite tea moment?

My favorite tea moment was possibly visiting Samovar for the first time. I was blown away by how beautiful it looked! I went to the location by the Yerba Buena gardens, and although I didn’t have anyone to share the experience with, it was absolutely beautiful for the first time. I enjoyed their Matcha Nouveau (matcha with soymilk), which was fantastic :)

Is tea better solo or with friends?

I think it really depends on the mood. When I’m drinking Matcha I like to drink it alone so I can focus on how it affects my body and soul. Something about Matcha just really adds that extra kick in my step, it’s indescribable. However, if I’m drinking green, or oolong, or something along those lines, I like to share the experience with another. It makes the social experience a whole lot better- :)

Lastly what advice would you give to people just getting into tea?

Ooh! I used to be one of those people. You just gotta dive into the water, and explore! Be open minded, and although you may not like it at first, give it a few more tries. It’s like when you first hear a song on the radio, and you think to yourself, “Ehh.. this isn’t that great.” Then all of a sudden, once you hear it the second or third time it’s your new favorite song.
I know one of the biggest problems I had when starting out was the bitter taste from steeping too long, especially with green teas. Once I figured out the tricks of the trade, which takes some trial runs, tea became a lot more enjoyable to the point where it is now a passion of mine!

Don’t forget to follow Janna on Twitter.

This Week in Tea: Volume VIII

This week, Ken over at Lahikmajoe Drinks Tea shares what teas he drinks throughout his day.

Inspired by Ken’s post above, Corey over at Asiatic Fox tells of his tea drinking habits.

Do you all remember your first time with Pu-erh? Over at T Ching, Holly Erdogan shares her first experience.

If there is one thing to know about Jackie from Leafbox Tea, it is that she loves tea and chocolate, so it was only a matter of time until Peter wrote a post about it.

At A Tea Addict’s Journal, Marshall helps you evaluate tea for purchase.

The Sip Tip‘s Adam Yusko is writing about stale tea this week. It’s something I think many people can sympathize with.

Like always, for links to these stories and more, please visit our Delicious Bookmarks.

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