Tag Archives: Bill Waddington

A Green Tea Wrap Party Moment

With elections completed (thank heavens), and tea partiers having made their statement – whatever it is (frankly I haven’t paid attention) – I thought I’d wind down my own Green Tea Party movement with a fond remembrance of all I’ve learned and experienced.

For those of you who wonder who won, well, Green Tea did.

I began my Green Tea Party with the objective of exploring green teas and trying to develop any kind of appreciation for them at all. What I discovered was an incredibly vast spectrum of flavors, colors, and intensities that surprised and delighted.  I have been won over.  Here’s a walk down memory lane:

I started with my Green Tea Exploration Moment. Part of my motivation was the feeling that my family had been sick too much for too long. Began my journey with Wen Shan Bao Zhong from Naivetea and Genmaicha from American Tea Room.

Next  was A Long Jing (Dragonwell) Moment. David from American Tea Room recommended I begin with Chinese green teas to ease my way into the greens. Along the way I discovered fun legends involving dragons and village wells. (Thus the name…)

Ceylon Vithanakanda, FOPA House Green Moment happened next. A visit to Bill Waddington’s TeaSource in Minnesota provided a fascinating insight into another person’s tea obsession, with the bonus of acquiring some exquisite teas.

An Empress Jasmine Moment was next, with my introduction to a green tea blend from Lindsay’s Teas. My love for Chinese green teas was growing. I was beginning to see what all the buzz was about!

A Summer Morning Moment led me to explore a “greener” Chinese green tea from Two Leaves and a Bud, called Tamayokucha. The deeper you dive into this world of tea, the more fascinating facts you uncover, such as this particular style of tea is covered for the last few weeks before harvest to bring out a specific flavor!

My first tentative steps into Japanese greens was facilitated by MyTeaShelf in A Refreshing Sencha Moment. This introduction transformed my view of Japanese teas from scary Samurai to engaging Geisha.

In An Ashland, Oregon Tea Moment, I got to do what I most enjoy – share my tea discoveries with some of my favorite people. One of these teas was Immortal Green, a Japanese sencha with peach and passion fruit from American Tea Room.

Feeling braver, I decided to go right for the unadulterated stuff in A Who Sencha Moment. DAVIDsTEA provided some lovely Organic Japanese Sencha, and my newfound love of green tea took strong root.

In A Letting Go Moment, American Tea Room’s Marrakesh (a Chinese green with spearmint!) helped drive me to find clarity in what was truly important in my life and what needed to be tossed aside.

There have been other green tea moments, of course. The green tea samples I brought to a routine doctor appointment because I remembered she had said most green teas don’t agree with her and I thought she might like to try just one more (Marrakesh). The Harney and Sons Pan Asia tea bags I carry with me on all business trips because they are easy – though apparently they look like baggies of weed, which may explain why my carry on bag has been hand searched more than once. The Green Peony tea from Peet’s Tea given to me as a gift from a friend – the tea is hand crafted so that you place it in your tea cup, pour hot water over it and it looks like a blooming peony in your cup. Beautiful! 

It’s been a transforming journey, this Green Tea Party. I have fallen in love with something that less than a year ago would “gag me with a spoon.”  Thanks to all my tea friends and gurus who helped me see the light on this one!

As we approach the holidays, some of you may be dreaming of a White Christmas. Well, I’ll be dreaming of White Teas. I feel a new obsession coming on…

I’m on Facebook too! Join An International Tea Moment’s new Facebook Fan Page! http://www.facebook.com/TeaMoment.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Tea

A ‘House’ Green Moment

The Green Tea Party continues… I have to say that I was instantly impressed that TeaSource had a ‘House’ green. When I asked owner, Bill Waddington, what green tea he would recommend he immediately recommended the TeaSource Green. Typically, one might be a bit skeptical of the ‘house’ anything, but in this case I’m feeling that the House Choice is one that deserves special attention.

 This particular green tea is a “Mao Jian” tea from the Hunan province of China, where tea production is recorded as early as 350 B.C. Its name literally means “hairy tips,’ or as Bill describes it, ” a downy tip tea, a new or spring tea, and a high grade tea-perhaps not Emperor’s level high grade, but way above average.   It is usually a darkish green leaf with a slight twist.”

I’ve spent my week with this house specialty, and despite Aesop’s musings that familiarity breeds contempt, I found that in this case familiarity bred harmony. I’ve had the package of this green tea for a while now, and opening it created a sense of holiday. Would I like it? Would it surprise or disappoint?  As it steeped, my anticipation grew. The resulting liquid was a strong buttery yellow leaning toward a hint of amber. There was the slightest bit of sediment, but the brew was clear.  I looked. I inhaled the sweetness of grass mown on a summer morning. And then… the first sip.

I have always associated the taste of cut grass with green tea. But now I am also associating an earthiness. If I could assign a taste to the rich soil composed by an organic farmer, that would be the undertones of my growing understanding of green tea.

This tea has more grassiness to it than the Dragonwell I tried before. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being a handful of my freshly cut lawn, the Dragonwell would be a 1.5 and TeaSource Green would be a 2. To say that I enjoyed this cup of tea would be overstating my experience. I tolerated it, knowing that my palate was biased against it. I didn’t dislike it. But if I had other choices, it would not be my first, second, or even third choice. That being said, I poured another cup on Tuesday, on Wednesday, on Thursday. Each day, I would sip on two or three cups throughout my mornings. Each cup introducing me to new nuances, new depths, even new aspects of the grass I so dislike. In my desire to understand this tea, I have found that it has become a comfortable sweater. A dog-eared book. Something that represents the safe and familiar.

I am being reminded of something as I watch Edie navigate through her second year of life. Nothing comes without practice, frustration and repetition. Whether learning to walk, saying a new word, figuring out which shoes goes on which foot, or experiencing new flavors, the first time is never a charm. It takes persistence to get to a point where one can say, “I tried this again and again, and I’ve decided I can do this well,” or “I’ve decided this is of no value to me.” Children get frustrated at new things and express that frustration often in loud and annoying ways. But they try again. They figure it out. They intuitively know they’ve got to do it this time and next time and the time after that. In that spirit, I look to the next leg of my journey. Not that drinking a new tea is ground breaking or oh-so-difficult. I completely get the fact that these musings are frivolous and privileged in several ways. But that willingness to be open, to try something new. It’s something I don’t want to lose, and this is one small way to keep that willingness alive and exercised.

Until next time, drink green and prosper!

4 Comments

Filed under Education, Tea

A TeaSource Moment

This week I found myself back in the Twin Cities for a speaking engagement, and of course had to designate some “me time,” also known as “tea time,” before heading home again. Before my last trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Jason Witt had suggested I visit TeaSource, and unfortunately I couldn’t make it work. This time, however, I more than made up for it and may have found my new favorite Twin Cities destination! I contacted Bill Waddington, founder and owner of TeaSource, to see if he might have a few minutes to chat with a tea enthusiast who would be passing through. He graciously agreed, and on Friday afternoon I made my way over to a quaint and cozy corner of St. Paul near the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University.  This location itself could take me down another anecdotal lane, but I’ll leave that for the moment.

As I walked in the front door, I was greeted by the sight of two entire walls lined with tea cannisters. It’s one of my favorite sights. If I could somehow configure a wall of tea in my own home… Anyway, I acted as a fly on the wall for a moment, admiring the conversation between an employee and two women trying to choose a tea pot, because a third wall was lined with tea pots of various sizes, shapes and materials. The employee was great about finding out exactly what kind of tea they most enjoyed, how much they typically consumed in a sitting, did they like hot tea or cold tea. Then she educated them very succinctly and hospitably about her recommendations. It was a mini lesson in tea pots, but not stuffy or boring. Very accessible and interesting. Nice! Then I noticed a woman placing an order for tea at the counter. She asked for two or three different teas, the names of which were foreign to me. I watched how at ease she was with the place, how comfortable she felt about these teas. Obviously a regular here who had tried many different teas (of the 250 that may be in stock at any given time), had found some current favorites and was stocking up for home.

I was greeted warmly by Bill, and he immediately offered to brew a pot of tea. I asked him his current favorite, knowing very well that “favorite” is a fleeting concept where tea is involved. After a bit of discussion, we decided I should be introduced to Ceylon Vithanakanda, FOP, his current go-to black tea. The dry leaf had, as he described it, a ripe fruit aroma, almost like a cantaloupe at its peak of ripeness so that in just a few hours it would be over-ripe. The steeping pot of tea and two clear tea glasses were placed on a wooden tray with a timer and he carried it out to the casual  seating area at the front of the store. Patrons were seated comfortably at small tables for two or on the bright red sofa in the lounge area. A place to visit, a place to study, a place to reflect, the perfect place for tea.

As the tea steeped, I asked Bill how he got into this world of tea. He explained he has always been a tea drinker, and around his 20’s he began to wonder if there were really, really good teas to be experienced, like there are really good wines or chocolates or cigars. He happened to work in a library at the time, and would occasionally flip through periodicals looking for tea related articles or papers. When he would come across a name of a tea expert, whether a grower or exporter or other, he would write a letter and ask if he could buy some tea from them. These letters would make their way to China, India, Japan, and other tea growing regions around the world. As has been my experience in the tea microcosm, the response to him was very positive. Relationships were formed, Bill was introduced not only to the intricate and nuanced world of tea but to a circle of mentors who would continue to expand his network to this day.

At one point, we realized that we had been in the same tea cupping class in Boston in 2003, he as an assistant to the instructor, Michael Spillane, and I as a student. The tea world, as with all industries, is a small one!

Ceylon Vithanakanda, FOPBut I am forgetting to spotlight the star of this Moment. The Ceylon. Bill had wanted me to try this one because, while not a rare or expensive Ceylon, it is full bodied, with a lot of mouth feel, the fruit tones in the aroma transferring to the liquid itself. He admitted that even with access to much more rare or expensive Ceylons, he found himself coming back to this one again and again. The steeped liquid was a very orange, almost red, amber, and I was very happy to indulge in that first sip… Full, rich, hitting every point on my palate. This was just the kind of cup to start your day with purpose and momentum. I could envision consuming gallons of it in just a day. Yes. I like very much.

While there are many anecdotes I could share from this moment, what I enjoyed the most was being able to sit and chat casually with someone whose passion for tea led him to a life where he can continue to learn, continue to explore, provide education to others and introduce them to this amazing world where he has been led.  And in my search for green teas, he provided his own recommendation that I’m really looking forward to trying!

Run, don’t walk to TeaSource:

St. Paul Store
752 Cleveland Ave. So.
St. Paul, MN 55116
(651) 690-9822
Store Hours:
M-Thurs 10:00–9:00
Fri-Sat 10:00–10:00
Sun: 10:00-5:00

3 Comments

Filed under Education, Tea, Tea Room, Travel