February 24, 2008

First bitter, then sweet

(Note: This blog entry is composed specially for the TJ middle school cultural class on Friday.)

For young people who has not been exposed to Chinese tea (no sugar and milk added to the tea), it will be interesting to note your taste buds' reception to the very first sip of green tea. The tea leaves in the photo above right were freshly picked from tea shrubs. Commercial "green teas" are its products shortly after drying and toasting. Therefore green tea still retains certain natural leafy taste. Depending upon individual taste threshold, one may taste a slight bitterness upon sipping. However, subtle sweet taste of green tea will certainly emerge and linger long afterwards.

If you have dined in Chinese restaurant, "Oolong tea" is most likely the tea served with your meal. Oolong (means "black dragon" in Chinese) tea undergoes further processing (biochemical oxidization under controlled atmosphere) than green tea. The artisan process transforms most bitter leaf elements into mellow and complex-flavored ones; therefore the various pleasing characteristics of most Oolong teas (photo shown above left).

Besides technological advances of tea making, tea drinking has played an integral part of Chinese culture along with calligraphy, music and literature activities. Interested readers may check into my web site's reference sections to expand your tea knowledge. :))

February 14, 2008

Beautiful Camellia Flowers

(photo credits to my music & art club friend Isabel)

For Valentine's Day, roses are the most popular flowers to send or receive. To add interests for the day, here are some prized camellia flowers (from a variety of tea shrubs) for my readers. The photo with prolific blooms is the 2008 first prize winner camellia "Elena Nobile". The others are just as beautiful in their own ways. Enjoy the mini-flower show and happy Valentine!

February 7, 2008

Tea and Chinese New Year

Even though the atmosphere of Chinese New Year celebration (this is the year of cute rat) here in America is promoted by few timely festivities, it still helps to evoke my memories about the joyous street fun and family warmth when I grew up...... After the new year eve's big meal, hot Lun-gen (i.e. dragon well) tea was a must to temper the sumptuous food. Then on new year morning, after dressing up in new red outfits, my sisters and I would line up in front of my parents for red envelops. There was always a glass of hot tea with gentle steam raising by my father's side. After the breakfast, we would accompany my father to a round of visits to friends and relatives for new year's greetings. The first thing the host would do upon our entering the house was preparing the best tea for my father. Then the conversations full of new year's plesantry followed...

"Social Intelligence" by Daniel Coleman brings out an interesting concept about positive social interactions as "vitamins for well-being". The author refers to quite a few pinoneering researches on the immune system's reactions to either positive or negative relations. In light of abundant reports about tea's benefits to health, what a nice idea to promote the social benefit of "tea drinking " as a "well-being vitamin "!

February 4, 2008

Tea for Warm Memories

(photo courtesy of Carol Gillott )

For most people, the word "tea" conjurs up the image of peaceful setting, one alone or with friends in a warm and cozy place. Likewise, "coffee" calls up the image of livlier, albeit sensory-filled atmosphere. The recent article in NYTimes by Judith Warner about the life's memorable moments (coffee for her) draws overwhelming responses by the readers. Comments after comments relate to warm sentiments of coffee or tea moments in their life. One can sense how dearly the role coffee or tea has imparted in the essense of humanity. The drinks are God's bountiful gifts--for us to share and savor those tender memories again and again.