A Journey Through the World of Tea

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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.

This Week in Tea: Volume VII

Our apologies go out for being so lacking in the posts this week. Between Jordan preparing for midterms in school, and my own general life complications, we were unable to put out posts Monday and Wednesday. This week has the potential to be another busy week, but we will attempt to put something up on the proper days. As always, thanks for reading and following our work, your support is greatly appreciated.

This week, Harvard Health Publications released a study about the benefits of drinking green tea.

All the Tea in China, a new book written by Sarah Rose is the subject of review over at Tea-Guy.com (not to be confused with Tea Guy Speaks).

Darya Pino, a San Francisco blogger, discusses her transition from coffee addiction, to tea drinking at [dp].

William of the Leaf reviews a traditional Anxi Tie Guan Yin.

Over at A Felicific Life, Nada is roasting oolongs.

Asiatic Fox shares the hopes of wellness with Ginseng Tea

Over at Floating Leaves Tea, blogger Shiuwen Tai shares a recipe that brings shrimp and Baozhong tea together.

Rich, from Sharing My Cup of Tea list some uses for old tea.

Lastly a big congratulations goes out to Hobbes of Half Dipper for the new addition to the family.

For links to these stories and more please visit our Delicious bookmarks.

This Week in Tea: Volume VI

A giveaway of Tipu’s instant chai is coming to its close over at Expanding Leaves, be sure to sign up before it ends.

What is Fucha pu-erh tea? This week Art of Tea has the first in a two part post about the tea that is gaining popularity in both Japan and Europe.

The science of Ceylon is explained over at The Taste of English Tea Blog.

Rishi Tea’s Serene Dream is reviewed at Lainie Sips this week.

Learn something about competition green tea over at Tea Obession.

Sir William of the Leaf shares a wild oolong he received this week.

Lastly Alex Zorach stumbled upon a cool resource for all tea lovers.

For this weeks links, and past links, please visit our Delicious bookmarks.

Metropolitan Tea Co.: Gunpowder Green

The other day, I was sent some of Metropolitan Tea Company’s Chinese Gunpowder Green tea by a friend of mine.

Gunpowder is traditionally a hand rolled green tea from the Guangdong province of China, and is named because it resembles grains of explosive gunpowder. Gunpowder green tea plays a pivotal role in Moroccan tea culture as mentioned in a previous article. The flavor of this tea is more smoky and leans more towards oolong than most green teas.

I steeped just under one tablespoon of leaves in 180°F water for about 3 minutes. The color of the tea after I steeped it was brown/green, expecting it to be bitter, I was surprised at how light tea the flavor was. The smokiness of this tea is nothing like that of a Russian caravan or a lapsang souchong It sort of lingers at the back of your tongue, and is really only noticeable if you really pay attention.

As far as greens go, Gunpowder is not your run of the mill vegetal/grassy tasting green. Now I have had this tea before in the past and enjoyed it. Today though, when I picked up a sample and steeped it, I have to say I didn’t enjoy it all that much. The smokiness was very light and it just tasted old.

Five Herbs to Keep Around

Whether you call them teas, infusions, or tistanes; herbs (along with flowers and fruit) steeped in hot water have become part of tea cultures around the world. There are even records that show almost every world civilization using herbal teas for medicinal uses.

I don’t often drink herbal tea, but I enjoy it from time to time. Lately, as I dive more into my major (nursing), I have become intrigued with herbal remedies. Here are some herbs that I think are good for everyone to keep around, just in case.

Cinnamon– The inner bark of a tree commonly found in South East Asia, has been found to help to relieve pain caused by headaches, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. Other studies have shown also that cinnamon can help lower cholesterol, help with the management of type 2 diabetes, and help fight leukemia.


Ginseng– This root commonly from Korea or China has been used for it’s engery boosting properites for over 5,000 years. Other uses are as an anti-aging supplement, improving athletic endurance, and helps with the prevention of some forms of cancer.


Peppermint– This hybrid of spearmint and water-mint is from most commonly from Europe. A traditional use for peppermint in the herbalist world is for soothing effects on the digestive tract. It also can limit indigestion and aid in alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.


Ginger– Another root from Asia, ginger is from the same plant family as cardamom, which is a spice often used in masala chai. Ginger has been known to be a pain reliever and also effective in reducing inflammation. It has been proven to be very powerful against Ovarian cancer, as well as help in the prevention of Colon cancer.

Licorice Root– Licorice root originates in southern Europe. It may not be everyone’s favorite flavor, but licorice can be called somewhat of wonder drug, as it has been found to aid in multiple health areas. Commonly used for sore throats by actors and singers, it can also help with chronic fatigue, viral infections, canker sores, gingivitis, and ulcers.

This Week in Tea Volume V

Without further adieu, what happened this week, in tea…

Jess Hodges continues her series of Tea around the world at Insani-Tea. This time it’s a trip to Sri Lanka

Tea Goober reviews Puttabong Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling.

In this week’s episode of Tea Show TV, Michael and Sam try Samovar’s Hawaii grown Oolong.

Over at The Voice of Tea, Cindy Gold’s tea cook book Culinary Tea is discussed.

T Ching‘s Laura Logsdon shares with how to freshen your home with your old tea leaves.

Travel and Tea takes a look at black tea from Kenya.

Do you know who Anna Russell is? Learn some English tea history in this Leaf Box Tea post titled Unstanding Anna.

For those free next Tuesday, Samovar will be holding another live event. Join founder Jesse Jacobs as well as Leo Babauta, Tim Ferris, and Susan O’Connell in a night of zen and life management.

Cinnabar of Gongfu Girl shares a comedic video titled Tea with Tyson (Mike Tyson that is).

Like always, you can see these links and more at our delicious bookmarks.

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