Tag Archives: Green Tea Party

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…

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An All-The-Oolong-Day Moment

I’ve been so entrenched in my Green Tea Party, that I decided I needed to pause my clique-ish behavior and try to make some new friends. Naivetea has been busy recently with some new and exciting teas, and I took the opportunity to take a day and make it all about Oolongs.

I began my day with Li Shan Oolong, which is grown in the highest altitude tea farms in all of Taiwan. Knowing this tea was so exclusive only made me feel that much more elegant as I experienced this lovely, delicate tea. It has the lightest floral perfume, and a soft sleek feel. The best word that comes to mind is refined. Sipping this delight, I almost felt underdressed. This is a tea with presence. A Lady Diana of teas.

As I journeyed forth through my day, I continued with a cup of Da Yu Ling. I have to say, it is truly remarkable how Oolongs that are both grown in similar regions can have such distinct differences. This tea had a smooth, almost buttery feel with that signature, yet mellow, floral perfume. The difference, however was in the tiniest peppery hint that brings to mind evergreen forests. As it was a rare, chilly autumn day in Southern California, this felt like the perfect choice.

As I made my way through the lunch hour, I chose to have a little fun and try the Kyoho Grape Oolong. As I opened the package, I was struck by the scent of grape Jolly Ranchers! Once I added the hot water the scent took on a level of sophistication that fused the grape with the floral. This is a robust tea, very full, and almost had the essence of grape Kool-Aid, though I don’t mean to cheapen the beautiful flavor. I was just amazed at the fact that a tea could maintain a profile of grape without that over-sweetness I associate with fruit teas and infusions. This was a perfect balance of grape and floral notes that was satisfying, but with a bit of playfulness.

And as the day approached evening, I was ready for something light. White Peach Oolong sounded like just the ticket. What a way to close out my day! This light and smooth Oolong had just a whisper of peach with no fruity aftertaste – a triumph in my book! As the rains continued, I lounged happily with my cup of sunshine. One word of caution – take care not to oversteep. I made this mistake once and encountered a slightly metallic taste. However, the greatest beauty of this tea is its ability to be delicious hot or cold. Some of the other Oolongs can take on an astringent quality as they cool. This Oolong is beautifully smooth hot or over ice. I can’t wait for the California sun to re-emerge so I can fully appreciate White Peach Oolong on ice!

A good day. A very good day. New flavors and fragrances accompanied me through the day, and not a stinker among them. Naivetea continues to surprise and delight.

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A Who Sencha Tea Moment

My green tea party continues.  Having dipped my tongue into a Refreshing Sencha earlier, I felt the need to experience true sencha. No enabling flavors or fragrances. Just me and Sencha. Mano a mano.

In this corner – Jen. Tea enthusiast. Enjoys black teas, white teas, oolongs, and has been leaning favorably toward greens. Eats sushi on most Saturdays, hates math, and has danced to accordian music in a Siberian forest.

In the other corner – Organic Japanese Sencha. Provided by DAVIDsTEA. Created in 1740 (not this particular batch)  when a tea merchant, Nagatani, perfected a new process of steaming, rolling and heat-drying green tea. Known as Japan’s preferred beverage.

We bow. The tea is steeped for two minutes. The Sencha appears in the cup dressed in a golden yellow. I expect wafts of new-mown grass to slap me in the face, but the greenness just brushes against me. I grasp the cup firmly for the first sip. What other word can be used to describe the encounter but S-M-O-O-T-H. It’s a full-bodied tea, well balanced, and satisfying. While my mind knows it is a green tea, it doesn’t hit me over the head with the notion. Maybe this journey has smoothed the rough preconceptions I’ve had. Maybe my palate is actually developing. (Think of that!)

I’m a sipper, not a fighter. We both laugh at this charade and decide to just hang out instead, this Sencha and me. I like this one. And I think it likes me.

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A Refreshing Sencha Moment

I’ve been nervous about stepping into the Japanese green teas. Sencha seems like the next logical phase of my journey, but I’ve kind of been putting it off. I’ve made excuses to make time with my other new friends, Dragonwell and a house green tea.

Leave it to MyTeaShelf to make the introduction go oh-so-smoothly. Well, helloooooo Refreshing Sencha! The description alone breaks down the barriers and dispenses with the formalities:

“Nice summer days call for something mellow after eating all those hot dogs. Try this refreshing tea that has a sencha base blended with aromatic herbs and the slightest hint of real dried mangoes. Hot or cold, Refreshing Sencha will give you a boost to get you through another bbq.”

Ah yes. That’s a tea I’d like to hang out with.

So, fears pushed aside, I brought out my official “cupping” set and tried to show this tea that I knew what I was doing. It politely smiled at my show. So tactful, this blend is.

It’s warm yellow hues lightened me up considerably. It’s fragrance was a bit grassy, but there was a fruity sweetness to it. Here we go. The first sip.

Now this is how one should be eased into green teas. Summer-y tones of mint and fruit create the lightest backdrop of sweetness that mellow the grassiness that wants to overpower. Within a couple of sips, I got distracted and then even forgot that I was drinking green tea. It was like making a new friend that was so easy and natural they blend seamlessly into your family, it’s a no brainer to invite them to the family reunion.

And so, I ease into Japanese green teas – fearing the samurai but encountering the geisha. I’m pleasantly surprised and relieved. Who knew this tea journey could be so fraught with peril! (In my imagination, that is.)

Shall we meet again tomorrow?

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A Summer Morning Moment – Finally

Yes, I live in Southern California, and yes, it is typically beautiful weather most of the year. This summer, however, has been suffering from an ongoing case of June Gloom. For those of you unfamiliar, June Gloom is the presence of a marine layer that hangs around for most of the month of June, leaving the skies looking overcast. More Seattle than San Diego. The gloom has persisted for much of July, and finally we’re seeing trace glimpses of what summer days (and in particular, mornings) are all about.

To celebrate, I took the dog on a walk to enjoy the sunshine-y brightness, that beautiful morning light where everything seems clearer, more brilliant, and more dazzling than any other time of day.

Ed (our dog) was terribly excited at the prospect of being out and about in the early morning hours. There was apparently a lot of doggy news he had been missing out on, and he had a lot of sniffing up to do.

We took our time, soaking up the sun and the quiet. We saw bunnies racing up the hills and darting under bushes, birds of every size and shape chasing each other and singing their morning songs.  And then we also saw a couple of signs pleading with the good people of the neighborhood to be on the look out for a lost, small, black and white lap dog. Ed and I looked at each other sadly and shook our heads. “Coyote snacks,” we agreed. The circle of life.

With a summer morning soaked into my June-Gloomy  bones, I was ready to continue my path on my green tea journey.  As luck would have it, I had just received a shipment of Tamayokucha from Two Leaves and a Bud, a tea company I was recently introduced to. This tea is described as an ‘extremely green’ tea. However, it was still from China and  is a Gyokuro style tea, which means it is covered for its last weeks of growth to bring out the floral notes of the tea.

I opened the package and was hit by the scent of pure summer. Early morning memories from my childhood of the neighbor’s lawn being mown at 7 in the morning. The fresh cut grass, soaked with dew. I brewed the tea, and the steeping liquid was still infused with that summer scent, but was much more mellow and slowly turned more earthy. The first sip. It’s much brighter than the greens I’ve been exploring. A hint of sweetness and bitterness at the same time. It’s… intriguing. An acquired taste. And I’m hell-bent on acquiring that taste.

I’ve spent my last few mornings now with this tea, and each day it becomes more familiar, no longer a stranger, not so abrasive. My palate is changing with this journey. I’m appreciating the new nuances, profiles and earthy flavors that I ran from in the past. And so my journey continues. I seem to keep gathering new companions along the way. But I’m also glad to have my old companions continue on, who are tried and true.

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An Empress Jasmine Moment

I’ve had a mini crush on Lindsay’s Teas since I discovered them at the World Tea Expo (then known as ‘Take Me 2 Tea’) in 2003.  Her Envelope Teasers, I must say, are brilliant. These are individual tea bags (yes, I said tea bags) tucked into the cutest little envelopes. They are great for slipping into a purse, providing as party favors, etc. I wish I could find these in vending machines!  When I discovered our neighborhood coffee house, The Neighborhood Cup, serves Lindsay’s Teas (loose leaf, by the way) I was thrilled. And for my Green Tea Party, I had to invite them to the shin-dig. In particular, I thought a royal presence would be a good thing, so enter Empress Jasmine.

A Chinese green tea, the aroma is a gentle jasmine – almost comparable to an oolong. But the steeped liquid is a medium amber –  closer to my black teas than the greens I’ve been exploring recently. I can’t help but sit and just inhale the lovely perfume for a minute or two, but then it’s time for the first sip. It is stronger than the other greens and I wonder if perhaps there is some black tea blended in. The earthy green-ness is there with the lightest hint of grassy sunshine. I detect a touch of astringency, but I wonder if that is my fault for possibly over-steeping.

The Empress and I passed a lovely morning together. She may not be as approachable as I would have hoped, but as with all my Green Tea Party guests, I think the more time we spend together, the more chummy we will become.

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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!

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