Tag Archives: green tea

A “Thank You Green Tea Lovers” Moment

Dear Green Tea Lovers,

I’m always so happy to receive packages of tea in my mail box, and the receipt of your package was met with excited enthusiasm. For various reasons, I wasn’t able to indulge as quickly as I’d like. I had a couple of weeks that were devoted to herbal infusions, and we’ve been in the midst of real estate chaos, so it was easier to fall back on old favorites than to put the effort toward new introductions. And then, this Sunday, I felt ready for a new green tea. And considering all the stress I’ve been feeling and the waves of nostalgia I’ve been battling through as I pack up our first home – the home where my baby was brought home from the hospital, learned to crawl to walk… Well, let’s just say I was drawn to the description of your tea that said, “Shincha has a higher content of L-Theanine… considered a natural anti-depressant and stress reliever.”

I brewed myself a Sunday morning cup of your tea and actually sat down (after weeks of feeling like I was in constant motion), and had that first sip.

Thank you for introducing me to such a lovely and subtle green tea! It’s color and flavor are spring itself. Golden yellow, refreshing, smooth yet full. The grassy flavor I have come to associate with Japanese green teas is very delicate in this brew, not at all overpowering. One cup was not enough, so I made an entire pot. And Monday I made another pot. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. I literally can’t get enough! As you may remember, I was formerly an avoider of green teas and have worked hard to learn more about them, experience them and, now, enjoy them. Yours is one I would recommend to first-timers and old hat aficionados alike. 

I’m looking forward to trying the other tea you are introducing to my palate, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to try it until I get my fill of Shincha Shizuoka. And there’s no telling how long that may be.

Happy New Year to you!

Sincerely,

A Fellow Green Tea Lover

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A Decision Making Moment

We all have those moments in our lives with our significant others where decisions must be made wholly together. They are typically the bigger decisions: should we buy a house, should we sell our house, should we start a family, should you or I pursue the new employment opportunity, should you or I go back to school, should we add to our existing family, should we do two or more of the above simultaneously, etc.

For us (and maybe it’s for me more than for him), sitting down and discussing the issues over tea can get us out of our usual discussion routine where one will drop comments on the other out of the blue, with no context or warning. And then off he or I will go – chasing Edie or starting a load of laundry. These drive-by thought grenades are not intentionally unsettling. They just tend to happen in the course of busy lives.

Today, we sat down over a gift from Obubu Tea, to ponder, to discuss. And while the tea itself became the majority of the conversation, it did what was intended. It put us on the same page, and that is exactly where we needed to be.

It was rather fun dissecting the two Senchas: The first, Sencha of the Earth, the other, Sencha of the Spring Sun. Even inhaling the fragrance of the dry leaves gave a clear understanding of how very different Senchas can be.

Sencha of the Earth produced a dark yellow liquid with a fragrance reminding me of wet leaves in a New England forest. The first sip for me brought the earthy greenness I had always associated with green teas. Gene referred to it as the slightest bit of fishiness, and I had to agree. That was the element I could never quite put my finger on. Having journeyed through many green teas now, however, this doesn’t deter me any longer. I have a new appreciation for greens. What we found most interesting about this one was wherever this tea hit your palate first is where the aftertaste would remain.

Sencha of the Spring Sun produced a light copper liquid with a fragrance more reminiscent of wet grass, rather than wet leaves. This first sip was brighter and more substantial than the other. Gene was reminded more of a black tea than a green tea, which is perhaps why we slightly preferred this one. Or maybe it had more to do with the fact that this chilly weather made the thought of Spring Sun more appealing. What we found interesting about this brew was that even after steeping, this Sencha seemed to continue to deepen and develop.

One variation we look forward to trying with these Senchas is adding Obubu’s roasted brown rice in order to produce a Genmaicha. In this world of artisan products, what better way to provide a one-of-a-kind experience than giving you the roasted brown rice to blend to your individual taste? Brilliant!

The result of this moment? We’ve agreed on the initial path we would like to pursue. We have a plan. Where it will take us is a complete mystery to us today, but at least we’re not allowing ourselves to hang in limbo.

One decision down! How many more to go? Who knows. Life, as they say, is a journey – not a destination. And as today is also the first Sunday in Advent, we are reminded that life is also about new beginnings. Each day, each month, each year is a new beginning. It’s not a bad thing, but it is a good reminder to take a Moment and be thoughtful about how we want to approach these new and renewing beginnings.

An International Tea Moment is having a holiday drawing! Learn the details here.

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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.

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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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An Ashland, Oregon Moment

It’s something that occurs every two years, and while some might think of it as a reunion of sorts, I tend to view it more as a pilgrimage. Whatever you want to call it, it is a four-day event that I do whatever I can to attend. It started with my Mom and her sisters and sister-in-law getting together in Ashland, Oregon to enjoy each other’s company and catch up on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Over time, the daughters have joined in the event, and then daughters-in-law.

Aunt D (who serves as the glue for this ever-growing melange) reserves the biggest rental home she can find, and we all descend from various parts of the country to get together and cook, eat, sing, play music (for those with that talent), hand-sew beautiful baby quilts, knit, crochet adorable play food and animals (again, for those with talent in those areas), attend the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare festival, go on walks, explore the cute shops (and wine bars) of the picturesque downtown, talk as though it’s going out of style, and this year… enjoy afternoon tea.

At the last Ashland event, I was a brand-new mom there with my tiny baby Edie, and I was in nothing more than survival mode. Being among the most loving, nurturing, encouraging, hilarious women for a few days was the greatest blessing I could have received at that time. So now, being able to leave my ‘big-girl’ Edie to have a father-daughter weekend while I made the journey back to this oasis, I was delighted to be able to bring something fun to the table. (Literally).

With Aunt D providing the perfect mix and match of thrift store tea cups, and Aunt M and new cousin-in-law C as my sous chefs, we whipped up some tasty treats and had quite the table spread. Sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese with dill; pear and brie; a modified Waldorf salad sandwich; puff pastry with savory salami and goat cheese. Cranberry-orange scones with local raspberry preserves, lemon curd and mock Devonshire cream on the side.  An assortment of berries. And for a little sweetness, shortbread and chocolate cookies. 

 The decision of what teas to present was a snap, thanks to the kindred spirits of American Tea Room. David provided the as-always perfect recommendations.

The table was set, the food laid out, and I carefully brewed each pot according to suggested instructions. The first pot was presented: Ruby Black.  I first experienced this lovely brew on Mother’s Day at the first ever American Tea Room High Tea. In only its 3rd year of re-introduction and production in Taiwan, American Tea Room is the sole purveyor of this tea in the entire United States. You haven’t had amazing black tea until you’ve had this black tea. It is rich and fulfilling, and has a maltiness to it. And as my sister-in-law, S, kept saying after each sip, “It’s so smooth! It’s just so smooth!” Yes. Yes it is.

The second pot: Milk Oolong. I’ve been telling my cousin, H, about this one for nearly a year. Unable to have any dairy, she has been missing cream in her tea, and this, in my opinion, is the best possible solution. Not only is this a most heavenly Oolong with a gentle floral perfume and the subtlest natural sweetness, it is also infused with an inexplicable creaminess though no cream nor anything else is added to this tea. The tea is hand-processed using multiple unique methods, and the result is this magnificent sensation. H, and the rest of the table, was delighted.

The third pot: Immortal Green. Mindful of my measured journey into greens this summer, David suggested this fan favorite. A Japanese sencha with peach and passion fruit infused throughout, this green tea is not only approachable, it is the life of the party! I watched as woman after woman around the table cautiously brought their cup to their lips, bracing themselves for that greenness or grassiness or earthiness or whatever it is that is coming to meet them. And then, with that first, glorious sip, the eyes widen, the face lights up the tinest bit, and they go in for that second sip – which is now no longer just a sip, but a slurp! Success!

And even when the tea party was over, it wasn’t over, as each guest oohed and ahhed over receiving tea to take home. David had sent samples of Choco – Late (cacao husk, vanilla bean and rooibos) and Marrakesh (a Morraccan mint green tea).

The teas and treats were lovingly received, as were each of us around the table. This is what it is all about. As we talk and laugh and share stories or ideas or memories, we weave each other more deeply, more securely into each other’s lives. This is what first made me fall in love with the idea of tea. It is something that gives us a perfect excuse to be together and create these moments that feel so precious and so critical at the same time.

The countdown to Ashland 2012 begins…

Waldorf Salad Sandwich (As requested by the Ashland Gals)

Salad:
3/4 cups walnuts (or pecans) coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 scallions finely sliced
Salt to taste

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey

Prepare dressing in small bowl and put in refrigerator to chill. Prepare remaining ingredients and place in larger bowl. When ready to assemble sandwiches, pour salad dressing over other ingredients and combine well. Butter 8 slices of whole wheat bread. Spread salad in a quarter-inch even layer between 2 buttered slices. Cut into quarters.

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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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