Tag Archives: International Tea Moment

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 Quieting of the Mind Tea Moment

I just went to Nordstrom during lunch today to pick up a couple of things and saw a woman get attacked in the parking lot.  I heard a commotion and turned to see a young man in a hooded, black sweatshirt practically jump on her back, trying to grab her purse. At 11:30 a.m. in the morning! She fought him off,  and there were 3 – 4 of us who saw it happen. My heart went out to her. How terrifying!
The thing that impressed me, however, was the number of people who jumped in to assist. One woman who saw it happening started honking her horn and she called 911. Another woman saw him jump into a car with 3 other guys, and she drove around to us to give a description of the car and its passengers. An employee saw where the getaway car had been parked and was able to show security the spot so they could review security camera footage and perhaps get a license plate number. I didn’t know what to do except ask her if she was hurt and follow her around with her shoes that had flown off during the attack. Horrible.
Back at home, feeling the after effects of adrenaline and thinking of that brave woman who fended off her attacker, I felt the need for tea. As fortune would have it, I had just received a package from my dear friends at Naivetea. In addition to a gift I had ordered, there were samples of new delights in the world of Oolong. One struck me as just the thing: Dong Ding Oolong. The name alone made me lighten up, and the earthy, nutty fragrance helped plant my feet firmly back on the ground.
Steeped in my new/old teacup from the Ashland trip, I took in the mellow amber color and inhaled more of that nutty earthiness, reminding me a bit of Genmaicha with that hint of roasted rice. And then, the first sip. It is not often that the flavor of the tea exactly matches the fragrance of the tea, and yet here it was. Such a direct translation! I found it intensely comforting that what I smelled was what I tasted. This is reality. This is comfort. As though I had my own, personal map that was shouting at me in bold letters, “YOU ARE HERE!”
And now I can continue my day, holding that woman in my heart, praying that her raw nerves were being soothed, that the potential fear would release her and she would not spend the next days, weeks and years looking over her shoulder.


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A Hamburg – Shanghai Milk Oolong Moment

One of my greatest joys is when someone shares their own international tea moment, and when I received this one, it was especially lovely. Abadia has been a long-time reader and provides some of the greatest tips when I’m on the lookout for something in particular. So, please enjoy this tea moment, provided by Abadia and her daughters, Sara (13), Maren (10) and Isabel (8). All photos are courtesy of Sara (well done!)

Dear Jen,

I found it! Milk Oolong!
And it’s wonderful!

I was in Hamburg with my girls and we visited a tea house, Shanghai Yu Garden, that’s a replica of a famous tea house in Shanghai. This house is also a cultural centre and a bridge between both cities (Hambug and Shanghai). 
The tea house has a website, but unfortunately not in English. www.yugarden.de

We had there “Yum Cha”, that’s the chinese tea time, and they served us incredible “Dim Sum” with the tea.

I tasted their Milk Oolong.

The nice woman (all the employees come from Shanghai) gave me a little bag with some Milk Oolong, and I’m wating for a special moment to drink it.

Next time I will try their the “Dragonwell”!

Greetings from hot (really hot) Germany!


To Visit:

Shanghai Yu Garden
“Hamburg-Shanghai Europa Tourismuszentrum”
Feldbrunnenstraße 67
20148 Hamburg

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A Tangier Tea Moment

An international safe house. The heavy and intoxicating scent of spices in the air. A pirate’s hideout. The center of World War I espionage. Ah, the romance and excitement of Tangier…  All in one perfect cup.


A painting by Louis Comfort Tiffany depicting a market outside of the walls of Tangier.

It’s a Wednesday. Typically, this is my day at home with Edie. No work, no commitments. Just me and Edie. However, October begins tomorrow, and with it comes a circus of events, presentations, travel and adventures.  Today is my day to prepare. For the past week, I’ve felt like a deer in headlights – not knowing whether to step forward or turn and run for the hills. And now, it’s time to get it together and make a plan. And what better way to get one’s thoughts together than over a fresh cup of tea.

Enter my friends at American Tea Room. Yesterday, I was thrilled to receive my order of new teas. I had asked them for recommendations, and they answered my call admirably. Not only did my order come with their 2 suggested black tea blends and 1 re-order, they also sent samples based on my prior interests. Have I told you lately that I love the Royal Family at American Tea Room?

And so, I began my day with an exotic trip to Tangier. Upon opening this new tea, eyes closed, I was swept away to a land of intrigue and destiny. The heady aroma of apricot drenched in an evening mist surrounded and enveloped me.  Opening my eyes, I was met with a visual feast – the black, whole leaves of Sri Lankan tea spiked with the fiery red and orange apricot and saffron petals. The anticipation of the first sip was nearly unbearable.  A watched pot may never boil, but a monitored steeping  can seem interminable!

Tangier, take me away...

Tangier, take me away…

A clear, medium amber liquid with nearly no sediment, a light apricot fragrance with the subtlest hint of something foreign and floral – I can only guess that is the saffron petals – and then the first sip.  Ah… Light, yet substantial. Mind-clearing and refreshing.  The passion, strategy, cunning and romance of this city’s history is now running through me, and I’m ready to walk confidently into October.

It may be true that I have not physically visited this magical and mythical city of Tangier, but I have experienced it all the same.


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A Toulouse Tea Moment

The year I turned 21, I went on an exchange program to Pau, France. With every intention of immersing myself in the French language and culture, I soon fell into the expected rut of hanging out with those most like myself – at least most like my nationality. I spent all hours of the day and night with Americans. A motley crew, to say the least. A hippie, a scholar, an angst-ridden socialist, a newly divorced and experimenting homosexual, a small town cheerleader, an anarchist, a hairdresser, a cross country runner, a white girl who preferred dating black men, … and here I was. A white bread goody-two-shoes from Boise who knew nothing but church, family, and a whole lot of conservative status quo.

My semester with this lot gave me an infinitely richer education than my Bachelor and Master degrees combined. I learned what it meant to be open-minded, to appreciate people for who they were, and the gifts and talents they each brought to the table. I learned about living in community – of filling in the gaps for a friend when necessary and having confidence they would do the same for me in my times of need. I was introduced to foods and beverages, card games and books I never would have found on my own, and they in turn were introduced to me and my quirks – namely my penchant for tea (and red wine, as it turned out).

On one overnight excursion toward the end of the semester, a trip set just for the American students, we went to Toulouse and Carcassonne. At lunch before the journey back to Pau, we all sat together, trying to translate American pop songs into French (we had crashed a karaoke bar the night before). As we sat at the end of meal with our cups of tea, we ended with, “Stop in the Name of Love,” (or, “Arret a la nom d’amour”) as captured here.

Stop! In the Name of Love

Stop! In the Name of Love

My heart was breaking as I anticipated the end of the semester and facing the world without these comrades, and yet my cup overflowed knowing I had changed because of them. For the better.

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A Fatima Tea Moment

It was in September of 1998 that my boss/soon-to-be-sister-in-law decided she (we) needed to go on a dental mission to Europe. This was not unusual. She had already packed me off to Siberia and Venezuela for ‘missions’ such as these, and I am always up for a good adventure. This time, our mission took us to Fatima, Lourdes, Paris, Liseaux… Wait a minute. This was no mission! This was a pilgrimage! Still. I’m always up for adventure.

I had visited Lourdes a few years before while a student in Pau, France, and had been a bit taken aback by the feeling of entering a religious Disneyland of sorts. A bit overwhelming with a lot going on. Fatima, however, was so peaceful, so calming. Though full of life and color and food and vibrancy, it was soothingly mellow and hospitable. A Portuguese village, rather than a French carnival.  The group we travelled with was quite a mix of folks, and there always seemed to be drama – often caused by our tour guide, now that I think of it.  But R and I managed to sneak away from time to time and complete our missions. One, to “network” with a Portuguese dentist, one, to give away some toothbrushes, and one, of course, was a tea mission.

With a brief window of free time, we broke away and found a quiet cafe overlooking an empty, but pretty, courtyard. We ordered tea and sat there, reliving the crises-of-the-moment as they had happened over the past couple of days. And then R sat back in her chair, raised her cup and said, “Well, it’s just another international tea moment.”

“Ah,” I thought. “Yes it is.”

And so it shall be called An International Tea Moment

And so it shall be called An International Tea Moment


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An Amsterdam Tea Moment

In the spring of 2005, just as the cardinals were meeting in Rome to elect the new pope, Gene and I embarked on our first trip to Europe together. His first trip to Europe, ever. Amsterdam was our second major stop on the whirlwind tour, and our first impression was of awe at the number of bikes, both parked and ridden, throughout the city and the whole of The Netherlands.
The architecture made everything look like gingerbread houses, and the canals and foot bridges enhanced the feel of walking through a fairy tale. Even stumbling across Anne Frank’s home where she and her family hid in the attic for so many long months, there was a feeling of suspended reality. (And no, I had not been smoking anything.)  
While exploring the neighborhoods was our primary focus, and peering in the windows of the numerous “coffee shops” a favorite pastime, you can imagine how I was absolutely stopped in my tracks at the sight of a Tearoom called Jennifer!
A tea shop named 'Jennifer?' Of course I pop in.

A tea shop named 'Jennifer?' Of course I pop in.


There was no question that we had to take a tea break.
Mmmmm... Jennifer Tea

Mmmmm... Jennifer Tea


The selection was very basic, and the furnishings had the distinct look and feel of Ikea, but I delighted in the knowledge that here, in a sea of coffee houses, I had found my port-of-tea.
Jennifer Croissanterie and Tea Room
Raadhuis Straat
Amsterdam 1016 DD
The Netherlands

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