September 30, 2009

Cozy Tea Season Arriving

Like seasonal fashion change following leave foliage colors, my tea selection also shifts from herbal, green and jasmine teas to an array of seasoned bronze-colored and full-bodied oolong teas. Likewise, the glass teapots will be replaced by pottery ones at my tea corner. Time to enjoy fall's beauty and ambiance with our favorite tea and friends!

September 4, 2009

Book club: one of my source of happiness

The late summer evenings are ideal time to relax with tea and music. Stretching comfortably on sofa near an open window, the gentle summer breeze and warm lamp light create quite a cozy setting for book reading. One great source of happiness for me is to read books assigned by my book club. It opens a scope of interesting subjects which I would not approach on my own initiative. At the monthly meet, each person presents viewpoint drawn from his/her own life experience. In less than two hours, I get to travel across time and space (along with my own imagination) in group idea exchanges. Happiness indeed!

August 3, 2009

Principle of Tea Preparation

One of my goals during the March trip to Taiwan this year was to visit "Luyu Tea Art Center" in Taipei. Although I didn't have time to take the series of tea classes, I did observe a teacher closely when she prepared tea for me to taste. With her help, I picked out several reference books and tea preparation DVDs. One book is especially helpful in explaning the importance of water temperature and steeping time:
  • Water temperature: if close to boiling point, caffine (which is bitter) readily dissolves into water.
  • Steeping duration: Both astringent and tea's essence elements (phenolic compounds and amino acids) release readily to hot water. The concentration of compounds extracted to the water is closely related to steeping time. Other influencing factors are the degree of tightness of the tea leaves and the amont of tea used.
From my experience, the above principle is quite agreeable with the resulting tea quality. Try for yourself with a light green Oolong: Use 1 flat tablespoon tea, add 8 oz. water at 195 degree F (before a rolling boil), steep for 5 minutes. The first steep is quite delicious!

July 4, 2009

Tea Storage Guide

Most of my tea-loving friends have the nice problem of "tea overflow": various teas in opened or sealed containers lining on the pantry shelf. The surplus teas require some tender loving care to keep them fresh. The World Tea Newsletter has articles covering sound principles for proper tea storage: purchase tea in small, vacuum-sealed package and after opening, store it in a tight container in a dry, clean place (avoid odor, light and humidity).

June 18, 2009

Prudent Answers for "Tea and Health"

I am happy to share this Q&A article from World Tea News with the readers. It gives prudent answers to questions my friends often ask me. Tea is such a rich and complicated natural element, questions on this subject would often receive "yes, but..." explanations from a conscientious tea scholar. My principle for health upkeep is "to eat and drink one's favorites provided by nature, but in a modest manner". The health benefits of tea could well be from the calming atmosphere than all those hard-spelling antioxidants! Look at the radiant Taiwanese tea merchant in the photo. I took this picture while he was preparing tea for customers to taste.

May 25, 2009

My pride and joy (Camellia bush)

March 2009: plein de vie et ma joie!

jolies fleurs

about 3 months before the flower show

March 9, 2009

Winter Tea Time

Only if the air were warm and cozy like indoor's, I would love to put a cushion on the bench and sip my coffee (yes, hot coffee) with buttery crescent under this crystal myrtle tree!

Better sitting in a cozy corner inside to enjoy my tea. A cup of mellow Oolong would be nice.

How about some snacks to compliment the warm tea.

Heavenly bamboo and English holly branches are great for bringing winter cheers!