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.

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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.


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.


Featured Tea Blogger: Deb of Tea and Travel

Who are you?

I’m Deb, I love traveling and I love tea – I’ve been living in Toronto for the last six months. Before being here I was living in Sydney, Australia and the UK (after growing up in New Zealand). Professionally I’ve worked as a PA in the publishing and retail sectors. Personally I would love to make a living from writing and publishing about topics I care about.

What Blogs do you run?

Tea and Travel, I write about tea and tea related travel destinations, do tea reviews and interviews with tea bloggers, tea store owners, tea-ware designers, the Way of Tea practitioners etc. I also really love tea photography and share great photos that I come across.

How did you get into tea?

Back in 2004 Brad, my husband, had a colleague who drank loads of loose leaf green tea at work, then he got into it, then I got into it, and the rest is history.  There are so many things I love about tea, there is so much history, so much to learn and discover – and there are some fantastic people in the tea community that are always willing to share, have a chat and share their knowledge and experience. Tea people are awesome.

Whats your favorite tea?

I love so many and am willing to try anything new but, I’m a big oolong fan, Tieguanyin / Iron Goddess of Mercy is a real favourite; but I also love roobios and a really good quality chamomile.

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

At the moment I steep in a white, porcelain teapot.  The Sorapot is amazing, a little out of my price range at the moment but I think it’s beautiful (and I’m hoping to interview Joey, the designer soon!)

I have a real fondness for glass teapots; I know they don’t have the same history as some of the old style clay pots, or Japanese side handled pots but I enjoy watching the leaves change and unfurl with each steeping. For me it’s a bit like watching fish in an aquarium.

I also have two tea mugs from ittala that made the trip from Australia to Canada (we only came her with two suitcases, so they had to be special to make the cut!) they are by my favorite European designer Klaus Haapaniemi

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

Give everything a try!  You can go into a tea store and buy 50g of loose leaf tea for a few dollars and just experiment; also trust yourself, everyone has different tastes so if you find something you like just explore it further – you never know where things will take you.  Also, there are some great resources online and some great in-store tea experiences to explore.  Tea is a big category but don’t feel intimidated, just pick somewhere to start and then just keep going!

Green or Black? Why?

Green, I think. I really love Japanese green teas like genmaicha/brown rice tea and matcha; although I usually have my matcha as a latte with soy milk (& sometimes a little honey) it’s like desert tea.

How many cups or pots daily?

Usually a few pots in the evening, after work; more on the weekends.

Tea enjoyed better with friends or solo?

Both, I love hanging out in the evenings with Brad, sharing a pot of something new – but then having tea during the day, at work is a little calm amidst the chaos.

Share with us some randomness?
I studied Plant Science at University and worked in a lab, pre-grad for a few months for a Summer. The project I helped on was published in the journal Phytochemistry (back in 2001) and while I absolutely loved the experience, it did teach me that wasn’t the path I wanted to take in life – for me, tea is much more enjoyable, and real, expression of my love for plants and plant science (as well as history, travel, social history and writing).



Featured Tea Company: Imperial Tea Court

Q- What’s the history behind the company, how did you get your start?
A- The original Imperial Tea Court opened in San Francisco Chinatown in 1993. It was started by Grace and Roy Fong. Grace is a native of Beijing while Roy is from Hong Kong and was previously working as a tea wholesaler. They opened Imperial Tea Court to bring the finest Chinese teas and tea ware as well as their experience of traditional Chinese tea houses and tea culture to North American tea lovers.

Q- Where are you located?
A- While the original Chinatown tea house has closed, there are two Imperial Tea Courts in the Bay Area, one in the San Francisco Ferry Building and another in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, adjacent to Chez Panisse. In addition, the spirit and fine teas of Imperial Tea Court are available to a global audience on the Imperial Tea web site.

Q- From what countries do you get your tea?
A- Imperial Tea Court is focused on the finest green, oolong, and puerh teas from China. These teas are personally selected by Roy Fong on buying trips to China. Unlike most Chinese tea vendors in the U.S., we do not rely on middlemen. Because of customer interest we also offer a few top-quality Japanese and Indian teas. In addition, Roy is preparing newly acquired ranch land in Northern California as a tea farm. We look forward to offering customers some unique California-grown teas when the plants are mature in a few years.

Q- What do the customers mean to your company?
A- It’s all about the customers! Our greatest pleasure is opening the eyes of Western tea lovers who may not know about the extraordinary history of tea culture in China and the exquisitely rare and delicious historic teas of China.

Q- What are some of the difficulties with selling tea?
A- One of the biggest challenges is overcoming the common view of tea as a quick, cheap beverage. It’s a tribute to the tea plant that even the processing remnants that are used in commercial teabags have a pleasant, refreshing taste. Imagine how much more potential there is in fine tea leaves carefully picked and processed by trained professionals. Cognoscenti in China pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars per pound for the rare teas that we offer in our tea houses.

Q- This is a three-parter. What tea does everyone order? What tea would you suggest for tea newbies? What is your most unique tea?
A- Our two most popular teas are our Organic Everyday Green, a delicious and affordable green tea with the additional health benefit that it’s certified organic, and Roy Fong’s signature Monkey-Picked Tie Guan Yin, a richly flavorful oolong tea that Roy personally processes with traditional firing techniques. For newbies we recommend the Monkey-Picked Tie Guan Yin. Packed with flavor and aroma with both floral and roasted notes, this tea appeals to a wide range of palates and is truly an awakening, for people used to teabags, about what they’ve been missing in terms of fine tea. Our most unique tea is unquestionably our incredibly rare Imperial Tribute Harvest Purple-Tip Puerh, which was produced entirely from the first leaf-buds of a grove of ancient wild puerh tea trees deep in the tropical forest of China’s Yunnan Province. The leaves are so full of nutrients that they’re actually a reddish purple color, rather than green, and the tea tastes sweet and fruity with no bitterness. This tea is delicious to drink now but will continue to improve with age over many decades, similar to Bordeaux wine.

Q- What makes your tea company unique?
A- What truly sets us apart is Roy Fong’s 25 years of experience in Chinese tea markets, his deep contacts with Chinese tea producers that give him access to teas that simply aren’t available to the average buyer, and our commitment to offer some of the world’s finest traditional Chinese teas to our customers.

Q- In three words, can your sum up the culture of your company?
A- Our tagline says it all: “Experience the tradition.”

Q- What is the company’s mission?
A- Our mission is to share some of the world’s rarest and finest tea with our customers and spread the appreciation of Chinese tea culture around the globe.

Be sure to check Imperial Tea Court on Facebook and Twitter.