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Organic High Mountain Oolong from Eco-Cha

T Ching - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:03

When I first began my tea journey eight years ago, I started with oolong.  My tea mentor and advisor told me, “You could try a different oolong every Monday for the rest of your life and you would still have several hundred to go.”  I was filled with regret that I wasted so many years on coffee.

Organic High Mountain Oolong from eco-cha is lightly fisted.  The leaves are long and brownish green when unfurled.  A teaspoon of the twisty nuggets expands beautifully. The tea is forgiving, unlike some blacks where you are punished for steeping too much or too long with a strong tannin knock on the roof of your mouth.  This tea from Eco-Cha can easily be steeped six times without tasting diluted.  Indeed, from the second steep on, the brew takes on new characteristics.  First, there is an hint of tobacco and leather, quite pleasant.  Succeeding steeps bring out a floral balance.  Some oolongs taste almost fishy.  Not this one.  It is pleasant and comforting.  I wanted to keep steeping and sipping, like getting a big warm hug.

I used water heated to 208 degrees.  The first steep was three minutes, to which I added thirty seconds to a minute for each successive steep.  The leaves lengthen and flatten with each steep.  The aroma is roasty-toasty, the mouth feel is smooth; the aftertaste lingers toward dried fruit.

Like many lovely oolongs, this tea is on the expensive side.  Given the number of satisfying steeps, however, it is an economical choice for oolong lovers out there.

Loading and post image from Eco-Cha.

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Organic Black Gold Tips from Treasure Green Tea Company

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

Organic Black Gold Tips is an excellent black tea for every morning. It has visible golden tips that provide smoothness and sweetness. Enjoy alone or with milk.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve noticed a sort of trend in my tea drinking and I think that Amoda Tea has helped me fully realize this trend.  I guess that I’ve always been aware of it, but I have a strong preference for black tea and when I’m given a selection of several different teas, if there is a black tea among the selections, that’s the tea I will usually reach for.  Such is the case with this Organic Black Gold Tips from Treasure Green Tea Company – one of the four teas featured in this month’s Amoda Tea Box.

This is a really lovely Black tea.  I love that it’s organic.  But even more than that, I love that it’s rich and full-flavored.  It’s deliciously smooth and pleasantly sweet with notes of caramel and cacao.  It’s full-flavored and robust without a lot of astringency and no bitterness.

I brewed this in my Breville One Touch tea maker.  I eyeballed it – but by the looks of it, the sample from Amoda was just enough for 500ml of tea!  So I poured 500ml of freshly filtered water into the jug and emptied the pouch into the basket.  Then I set the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and the temperature for boiling (212°F).

This created a perfect pot of tea – and with my awesome tea mug (a Christmas present from my daughter, Amethyst) – it’s actually a full cup of tea.  This baby holds 16 ounces of tea!

And this tea is quite lovely.  The kind of black tea that I like to start my day with because it IS rich and malty and full of flavor.  It’s smooth.  It’s not bitter.  There is very little astringency.  It’s all those things that make me so happy when I drink a cup of tea.

As I continue to sip, I start to explore beyond those notes of cacao and caramel.  There are notes of leather and almost a tobacco-ish sort of flavor.  Molasses.  Hints of warm spice.  There’s a lot of complexity to this tea.

A really lovely tea – I’m glad it was part of this month’s box from Amoda Tea.

The post Organic Black Gold Tips from Treasure Green Tea Company appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Honeysuckle Pu-erh Tea from The Persimmon Tree

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

The Honeysuckle pu-erh tea delivers a deep red infusion with a sweet woodsy, floral aroma. The finished brew is mild and earthy, with a lingering hint of honeysuckle. This honeysuckle tea can be steeped multiple times in a sitting without becoming bitter. This particular pu-erh is cooked and has been aged for about 4-6 years. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I first opened the tin of this Honeysuckle Pu-erh Tea from The Persimmon Tree, I got worried.  The earthy aroma was STRONG and this is the kind of earthy that I find very unappealing when it comes to pu-erh tea.  But, I tried to keep an open mind.  So I brewed the tea.

To brew it, I grabbed my gaiwan.  I measured a bamboo scoop of tea into the bowl of the gaiwan and heated the kettle to 190°F.  I poured just enough of the hot water to cover the leaves and I let that steep for 15 seconds and then poured off the liquid and discarded it.  (The rinse!)  Then I filled the gaiwan with water and let it steep for 30 seconds.  Usually, I let my first infusion steep for 45 seconds, but the tea had gotten really dark by 30 seconds, so I decided to stop at 30 seconds.  I strained the tea into a teacup.

The fragrance of the brewed tea is softer than the dry leaf.  It still has some of that unpleasant earthiness to it.  I’m not getting a “sweet woodsy, floral aroma” as the description above suggests.  I’m getting a damp wood and earth aroma.  So, the worry that I felt before when I first opened the tin, it was returning.

But I took a sip and hoped for the best.

And fortunately, this tastes far less earthy than it smells.  I’m getting those sweet, woodsy elements and hints of flower that I’m missing in the brewed aroma in the flavor.  It’s a mellow tasting pu-erh with notes of earth but not overwhelmingly so.  Mostly what I taste is a nice, sweet caramel-y undertone with a top note of flower.  I don’t know if it’s honeysuckle that I taste during the sip, but I do taste a distinct floral note.  And the aftertaste, yes, I do taste the honeysuckle there.

The aftertaste is my favorite part of this tea because I am really enjoying that lingering flavor of honeysuckle.  It’s sweet, floral and really quite pleasant.

I only steeped my second infusion for 30 seconds as well, because it had already become even darker than the first cup was at 30 seconds.  This is a tea that I recommend keeping an eye on while it’s brewing!

This infusion was deeper in flavor.  The earthy qualities were a little stronger but not so strong that I found it off-putting.  In this cup, I noted flavors of leather, mushroom and raw cacao.  I still got that honeysuckle note in the aftertaste.  I’m tasting a little less of a caramel-y taste and a little more of a molasses flavor, instead.  Very deep flavor, very mellow and pleasant to sip.

Later infusions got deeper in flavor until they weren’t.  When I started to realize that the flavors were becoming lighter, I stopped steeping.  I lost count after six, but if I had to guess, I’d say I got nine infusions out of one measurement of leaves.

So this tea started out questionably with a rather unpleasant dry leaf aroma and even a slightly uncertain brewed tea scent, but the flavor is quite enjoyable.  I’m happy that there wasn’t a briny, fishy or overpowering earthy flavor to this pu-erh.  Nice.

The post Honeysuckle Pu-erh Tea from The Persimmon Tree appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

How To Read Tea Leaves: Nine Books About Tasseography

Tea Guy Speaks - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 14:30

Who knew there were so many books about tasseography (tea leaf reading)? Here are nine of them, spanning nearly a century. Note that the first two are available in free electronic editions.

Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves
by a Highland Seer (1921) link

Telling Fortunes By Tea-Leaves
by Cicely Kent (1922) link

Tea Leaf Reading
by William W. Hewitt (1992)

Tea Cup Reading: A Quick and Easy Guide to Tasseography
by Sasha Fenton (2002) link

The World in Your Cup: A Handbook in the Ancient Art of Tea Leaf Reading
by Joseph F. Conroy (2006) link

The Art of Tea-leaf Reading
by Jane Struthers (2006) link

Simply Tea Leaf Reading
by Jacqueline Towers (2008) link

The Cup of Destiny
by Jane Lyle (2008) link

Tea Leaf Reading For Beginners: Your Fortune in a Tea Cup
by Caroline Dow (2011) link

Get books about tea leaf reading at Amazon

Musing On Tea

The Sip Tip - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:23
 "Wine is sunlight held together by water."                                            -Galileo Galilei If that is true, then what would tea be?  I'd venture to guess it would be something along the lines of:  tea is life infused into water.  Or at least, that is how I've perceived it lately. All the good things in life, I find in tea, relaxation, happiness, and a calming energy,

Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong Tea from Tea Ave.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Ave.

Tea Description:

Known to some as milk oolong, around here we think of Alishan Jin Xuan as our dreamy, creamy oolong. An elegant tea with a refined, subtle taste, Alishan Jin Xuan’s fruity and floral aromas complement its smooth, milky mouth feel. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I received the amazing package that I received from Tea Ave., I was most excited about trying this Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong Tea.  I mean … hello?  Alishan?  My FAVORITE!  Of all the many different Oolong teas out there, Alishan is my favorite … especially a Jin Xuan (aka milk Oolong).

And given how much I adored the other two Oolong teas that I’ve tried from Tea Ave, I knew that I was in for an amazing treat with this Alishan Jin Xuan.  So, I got out my special Alishan YiXing mug and started brewing!  


I’ve had many different Alishan Oolong teas over the years, and many of them were Jin Xuan.  Some were ‘flavored’ Jin Xuan where the milky notes were enhanced with added flavors.  Others were not.  I’m happy to say that this is one that is not.  Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy a flavored Jin Xuan, but there is something just so amazingly, naturally beautiful about a pure Jin Xuan!

The creamy notes are generally more subtle in a pure Jin Xuan, but they are so soft and wonderful.  I love how the creamy notes don’t inundate the palate with the flavor so that other characteristics of the tea can be explored and enjoyed.  Notes of flower mingle with the notes of cream.  The floral notes are not sharp.  They are mild and meld beautifully with the creamy flavors.  Sweet hints of fruit reveal themselves and develop as I continue to sip.

I was surprised to find that later infusions were still just as creamy as the earliest infusions.  Sweet, luscious and thick on the palate.  The floral notes softened in later infusions as the fruit notes emerged stronger.  It’s difficult to really pinpoint the fruit flavors that I’m experiencing because the sweet notes of the fruit aren’t really present.  The sweetness of this tea is more from the creamy notes – almost vanilla-esque!

But the fruit notes taste more like the fruit but not so much of the sugar sweetness of the fruit.  It’s like an apricot or a peach that has had it’s sugars extracted from it, quite interesting.

A truly AMAZING Alishan Jin Xuan – this is a tea I’d recommend to all tea drinkers.  Not just Oolong enthusiasts!  I think that this is a tea that all tea lovers can appreciate and enjoy.

The post Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong Tea from Tea Ave. appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 03/21/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

Our premium buttery sweet organic Chinese fannings green tea blended with organic yellow cake, pineapple, brown sugar, and a hint of maraschino cherry flavors. This is ridiculously delicious. Don’t miss your chance to grab one.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

Really nice!  This Pineapple Upside-down Cake Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas is a really tasty treat!

I love that I can taste all the flavors:  I taste a buttery cake, I taste sweet pineapple, brown sugar and just a touch of maraschino cherry.  And I taste the smooth green tea.  It’s light, fresh and buttery, and those buttery notes meld really nicely with the buttery notes of the cake.

You’d think that with so many different flavors going on that you wouldn’t be able to discern one flavor from another.  And I have to admit that at first, I couldn’t.  My first glass – I was tasting kind of a muddled mess of flavors that were sweet and there was certainly a refreshingly tasty element to it but it was difficult to say – “oh, I taste the pineapple” or “I taste the buttery cake-like flavors” or “I can taste the green tea!”

But now that I’ve finished that first glass and am working on the second one, the flavors have come forward and have distinguished themselves on my palate.

I like that this is sweet but not so sweet that I’m overwhelmed by the sweet notes.  It’s sweet and maybe even a tad ‘dessert-y’ but it’s still refreshing enough to guzzle down when you need to quench that thirst.

Quite yummy!

The post Pineapple Upside-down Cake Iced Green Tea from Southern Boy Teas appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Percy’s Tea Strainer Treble Place Major

The Devotea - Sat, 03/21/2015 - 21:58

Today’s quite sensible title is probably a relief to those who question my more esoteric ones. As you all probably know, Percy’s Tea Strainer Treble Place Major is one of the Treble Place Major bell ringing methods. It proudly takes its place alongside Lou’s Carrot Treble Place Major, Cockup Bridge Treble Place Major and the others in its […]

The post Percy’s Tea Strainer Treble Place Major appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Breakfast Blend Black Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 03/21/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Rington’s Premium English Teas

Tea Description:

The Breakfast Blend 100’s is a hearty blend of the finest Assam and Kenyan leaf teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

After having a few less than exciting experiences with some of the teas I’ve tried from Rington’s, I wasn’t sure what this Breakfast Blend Black Tea had in store for me, but I braced myself, thinking I probably wouldn’t really care for it.  But you know what?  This is actually quite pleasant!

The flavor is bold and robust.  I’m not getting a lot of astringency from this tea and there’s no bitterness.  To brew it, I put one tea bag into a mug and brought the kettle to near boiling (205°F).  Then I poured 8 ounces of water into my mug and let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes.  I’m not sure if it’s the slightly lower temperature or the short steep time that contributed to the smooth, pleasant flavor of this tea, but I’m finding it enjoyable.

Maybe I’m not quite the snob I thought I was.  Ha!

Yes, after having experienced several very disappointing bagged teas I had resolved that maybe, just maybe, I had crossed over to the land of tea snobbery.  But I’m not hating this bagged tea as much as I thought I would so maybe I just had a few experiences that weren’t up to snuff and I’m not quite as snobbish as I thought I was.

Sure, I still prefer loose leaf and I shudder somewhat when I encounter a bagged tea.  I still put my nose up when I pass the tea aisle in the grocery store.  But, I can appreciate the convenience of the bagged tea – it’s certainly easier when you’re away from home to pop a bagged tea into a teacup and add hot water than it is to do the loose leaf thing.  And it’s nice when you can find a bagged tea that you actually like.  (I’ve had so many disappointments when it comes to bagged teas that I’d find in a hotel!)

All that aside, I’m finding myself quite pleased with this cup of tea from Rington’s.  The flavor is strong without being too aggressive.  It has a lovely malty note and a rich taste.  While I’m drinking this straight up, I’d imagine that it’d take the additions of milk and/or honey (or sweetener of your choice) quite well.  And this would be a nice choice for iced tea, too!

The post Breakfast Blend Black Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Friday Round Up: March 15th - March 21st

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 16:00
Tung Ting Oolong I love finding new tea blogs to follow (hence why I started this round up). What I love even more is finding one written by a 15 year old who writes some amazing tea inspired poetry. Notes on tea - Teatulia Teascopia, written by tea sommelier Gabriella, is definitely one of the most beautiful blogs out there. In this post she gives a succinct review of three of +Teatulia Tea'sNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

TBF: ten essentials for the tea drinker

T Ching - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 12:01

Wildfire. Tornado. Hurricane. Earthquake. Imagine having five minutes to pack up what you value – as well as what you might need – as you prepare to be a refugee. Everyone grabs the photo albums and the poodle. Those items go with you without thought. What else would be essential? Medicine? Comb? Blanket?

If you are a hiker or enjoy the wilderness, sooner or later you will develop your own “ten essentials” for travel. Most everyone agrees on extra food, clothing and water; pocketknife; fire start . . . you get the picture. The idea behind having the ten essentials in your pack is that you could survive a night out in the elements if necessary. While some hikers travel with just a water bottle and an energy bar – an ankle sprained a mile from your car can be a serious calamity.

For the tea drinker . . . what are the ten essentials? I would have to say the first three are Doke Black Fusion, my cute little gaiwan set, and Calming Chai. Never leave home without them! After those, what else should the tea drinker have in her/his portable kit of ten essentials? I am looking forward to your lists! (And I expect that your essential teas will vary!)

The recommendations presented here are from Rosie Pussytoes, who contributed to the blog several years ago.  This post was originally published on the blog in 2008.

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Favorite Tea Ware: Theresa Wong of T Shop

Notes on Tea - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 18:00
As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from bombillas to matcha whisks. Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community. Today's faves are from Theresa Wong of T Shop on Elizabeth Street in New York's Nolita neighborhood.

I’m a big fan of gaiwan (a cup with saucer and lid uses for brewing tea) when it comes to making tea. I have more control on the tea when I use gaiwan, and it’s easy to clean so I can switch between teas using the same gaiwan. I have several gaiwans at home, but this one is always my favorite. This is my first gaiwan. Besides of its elegant clean looking, the reason why it’s my favorite teaware is because we’ve been go through a lot of tea moments together. When I first started to learn how to make tea, I started with gaiwan, so this gaiwan has been with me since the beginning of my tea journey. I used it almost everyday to practice making tea. When I went to friend’s house to make tea, I often bring this gaiwan with me. Even when I go out to tea events, sometimes I would use this gaiwan as well. This gaiwan is like my little tea-pal (instead of a teapet).

This gaiwan travel set is another favorite teaware among my collection. Yes, it’s gaiwan again! This travel set was a gift from a friend; she gave me this set before I went on a vacation years ago. Since then, I bought this set with me most of the time when I travel. Sometimes people I travel with are not tea drinkers, so they felt weird when they saw me bringing my tea and teaware with me even when I travel. However, it usually ended up we would have tea in our hotel room and my friends would ask for tea again in the following days. This set travels with me to different countries and allows me to have tea even when I travel. They are my travel buddies!

When it comes to favorite teaware, I am not sure how many of us would think of a water bowl. A water bowl might seem less important compare to the other teawares. You can still brew tea even without a water bowl yet the whole tea set up would look more complete and smooth with the existence of a water bowl. This water bowl that I use in T Shop, it’s my love at first sight. I knew I am going to bring it back to New York when I saw this in Taiwan. I didn’t even care who is the potter, or if he’s well known or not, etc. When I first saw the water bowl, it looks so simple and pure to me, yet it has a lot of details in it. It looks slim and simple but when I started using it I was surprised how much water it can hold. Sometimes by just looking at it, it somehow reminds me to create more space for my inner self. Gradually I start seeing crackle marks over glaze in the water bowl; these are really beautiful crackle marks. I started using this water bowl since the opening of T Shop, so the crackle marks in the water bowl also resemble the time marks of T Shop.

# # #

If you have not been to T Shop, I highly recommend it. Theresa is very knowledgeable, the teas are very good, and the tea ware selection is fantastic.

I am happy that Theresa agreed to participate on the Favorite Tea Ware series! All photos and stories courtesy of Theresa.

4 Reasons Why Your Green Tea Tastes Bad and How to Fix It

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 16:00
Green tea is the one variety of tea that people consistently tell me that they don't like. I always see posts on Reddit, Quora and other websites with similar complaints. Well, I'm here to tell you that green tea is actually pretty awesome! If your cup turned out less than stellar, it's most likely because of one of these four reasons. 1. Your water is too hot. This one is the most likely Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Expo excitement!

T Ching - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:05

Here we go again! Education, enthusiasm, entrepreneurship, and yes, excitement as the World Tea Expo approaches once again in Long Beach, California!

Awards, achievements, affiliates, accolades, along with a world-class advisory board consisting of Gail Gastelu, Mim Enck, Charlie Cain, Beth Johnston, (to name just a few), are some of the things tea people do when they get together. Yes, they acknowledge and appreciate each other, and all the great things they’ve been up to over the years. There is also an academy, World Tea Academy. This academy allows you to study and learn about the world of tea from the comfort of your home, in front of your computer. Not to worry, you will also be sent teas to taste and experience, as well as new friends/colleagues to meet.

Championships, courses, classes, core education sessions, and of course, camaraderie! Every expo is a reunion, and it is also an introduction to what’s new and trending, and also to who’s new. Over 80% of those in attendance are there to see what is new, and every year new people are drawn into the wonder-filled world of tea.

Teachings, tastings — touching and sensing tea almost to the point of overwhelm — just the way we like it!

Take Me To Tea” was the name of the first tea expo I ever attended — and I was immediately hooked! Yes, that’s a photo of my original binder from the year 2004 — I have not missed an expo since. I found the people I met at my first expo to be kind, helpful, knowledgeable, open to share ideas and experiences, and overall, extremely welcoming. I will admit that they spoke a language I didn’t fully understand but I had signed up for classes and was learning every day of the event, and by the end of my first tea expo I felt I had indeed scratched the surface of tea — but wanted more.

Exhibitors were very generous with samples and give-aways, and with all my purchases, getting home to San Diego was indeed a challenge. I never traveled on an airplane again to another expo after that! Driving allowed me to take home all my gifts and purchases easily.

Many of the people I met and took classes with will be life-long friends, and returning year after year, we took more classes together. Some of us have traveled to tea-growing countries together, and still to this day – over 11 years later, I look forward to finding them, catching up, sharing stories, encouraging new endeavors, reinforcing dreams, and wishing them all well until the next expo.

We are friends, we are alumni, and very much like a family: tea friends become like family, and every year the family grows. It’s easy to approach a stranger at a tea expo and strike up a conversation, and by the time you walk away, you’ve made a new friend. Some of those new friends you will keep for life.

Please enjoy this three minute video of some of my tea adventures, and several of the tea expos I have attended.  Watching,  you will get at least a glimpse of the quality of friendly folks one finds at these expos.

We are all one in the world of tea. The tea industry needs each and every one of us: we each bring our own unique gifts and talents to all our tea endeavors and this is the recipe for success. Collaboration – not competition – is the answer.

Image 1 courtesy of Dharlene Marie Fahl

Loading and Image 2 courtesy of Rajiv Lochan.

The post Expo excitement! appeared first on T Ching.

Legendary Recycling

The Devotea - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 19:58

We were watching a David Attenborough show about silk the other day, and he mentioned Leizu. It seems that according to Chinese legend, Leizu was sitting under a tree in about 2700 when a silk cocoon fell into her tea. She watched it unravel, and from there, a silk industry was born. Pretty amazing, and yet, pretty […]

The post Legendary Recycling appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Last chance to vote for T Ching!

T Ching - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:00

Don’t you hate those on-line surveys which ask you to do one thing, and just a click and a half later you are in a maze of self-help windows?  Just one tentative click – and Whooooosh. The survey to nominate the Bests for the World Tea Expo 2015, however, isn’t an internet rabbit hole leading you to unbidden territory.  It is safe, quick, and effective.

T Ching is Everybody’s Tea Blog.  Please go to this link (same as above) and vote for the Bests in each category.  If you like T Ching’s diversity of contributors and topics, please consider nominating us in the Best Blog category.  Nominations close tomorrow.


The Editorial TChing Team.

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Tea Infused Beauty with Puritea Naturals

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 16:00
I've had the good fortune to receive samples of everything music CD's to pillows filled with tea. The one category that I always approach with a bit of skepticism is beauty products. Apologies in advance to my male readers, the struggle is real! I have sensitive, blemish-prone combination skin that gets painfully dry in the winter months. Cleansers, toners and moisturizers that won't make mattersNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

The Seeker

T Ching - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 12:01

There have always been seekers. People dissatisfied with the normal view. People searching for more meaningful vantage points. Wandering down the same worn paths looking for teachers, looking for answers. It was like that long ago too. Sure, they left behind villages instead of cities, walked instead of flew; but the journey is the same. Fulfillment never cared about Himalayan buses or ancient paths up a Chinese mountainside, anyway. Then and now, the genuine movement happens inside, and it doesn’t really matter where you are. The questions are the same. So are the answers.

The mountains were beginning to mist like they do now in so many scroll paintings. The seeker leaned on a boulder and caught his breath. The path was getting steeper. He looked down behind him. Ahead were clouds. Behind they parted and he saw the lush green valley he’d come from. So many villages. So many towns. Teachers. Questions. Debates. And, he thought, “So many insights.” He felt experienced.

He brushed a fold in his long robe aside and swung his water skin around for a drink before starting on his way again. As he walked up the mountain trail, he wondered what he would find ahead. He was told that these seven mountains were home to the wisest sages in the Middle Kingdom. He wondered what they would look like. Had they too once walked all around looking for answers? He liked thinking they had. Like him, had they too sought out one teacher after another? And questions that only opened up thousands more in turn? Had they really found all the answers? Were their clothes also tattered from sleeping outdoors? Maybe none of that mattered. His questions did, though. He again began pondering what he would ask when he got to the top. He was rehearsing. At the same time, he knew that dramatizing the future or past wasn’t becoming of a seeker. One should live in the present. He’d learned all that long ago. Often achieved it, too. But he still loved making up questions. Like poetry, they are. And besides, these were the wisest men around, so his questions had to be perfect. He might only have one chance, and he’d spent a long, rambling life waiting for it.

That night he slept in a small cave he found halfway up the mountain. The fog had rolled off around dusk and the night sky shown like a diamond palace he’d once dreamt. There were a few times when he had stopped to wipe the sweat from his dirty brow that he’d wondered why teachers always lived up in the mountains. Then, he’d thought it was to keep away from people like him. That had made him smile and start walking again. Now he wasn’t so sure, though. The air was clearer; the stars closer, and the breeze quieter. Maybe they just liked it up here? Or better yet, maybe they too had come down long roads like him? Vowing not to stop until they felt fulfilled? Maybe this openness was a part of that fulfillment. He wrapped his robes about himself and leaned back against the small cave wall. He thought about the animals that had lived in there over time. Their lives. Their journeys without question. Almost pulled or led, they were. How unfortunate. He loved his journey. He loved the role he played in it. He loved the anticipation of new places and new lessons. He felt grateful to be here. He thanked his ancestors. He thanked the mountains, and would have smiled but he fell asleep.

The next day the path began to climb higher and higher. He more frequently had to use his hands now. By midday he’d torn his robes in three separate places. It had been hours since he had thought about his questions, or even the wisemen. Many times the path was small and curved around unprotected cliffs, so he’d had to concentrate on walking and climbing more and more. The air had also gotten thinner. There weren’t any more poetic stops, filled with landscape metaphors.  No more lines that sigh. Only deep and conscious breaths, rocks to be avoided or stepped on, footholds to find, and sometimes even the vertigo of looking down a seemingly limitless drop that started only inches from his face. The mountain was the mountain, and for now his questions would have to wait.

He stopped to rest long before dusk. As he sat and worked on recapturing his breath, he saw that the rolling mist was now as far below him as it had once been above him. Normally, such a sight would have inspired poems full of philosophy, but history has always shown that the needs of the body will always outweigh such things. And right now his body needed to rest, needed it so badly that he had to focus on it. He had to try. He drank some water and lay back against a comfortable boulder. He was exhausted. And the minutes before his breath lessened and finally passed into a silent rhythm—those few minutes before he slept, were all much quieter than any written sentiment could be.

Most of the next day was spent in the same repetitive toil. The way up a mountain is filled with mists and green valleys that inspire paintings, but the higher steps are always of uniform rock. Many of the rocks he held looked alike, and since he wasn’t thinking about much other than where to put his foot next, they might as well have been the same. By early afternoon, he’d found another winding trail that seemed to level off. He rounded a few cliff sides and wound around a few rocks before he came to a nice clearing with a few scraggly mountain trees and a small wooden house. This was it. He was, however, more tired and relieved than nervous about what the teacher would look like or what he would ask him when he saw him. He could save his questions for later.

He knocked on the makeshift door, but there wasn’t any answer. Maybe no one lived here anymore. He waited on the dirt porch of the one-room house and rested. After a while, a man came around the same path he’d come from carrying two large pails of water suspended from a shoulder harness. He had a long white beard that made him look old and wise, but his sprightly gait and beaming smile seemed almost ageless. Also, his skin was more weathered than aged. He was, the seeker guessed, much the same as any wiseman anywhere should look. He wondered how they had passed each other without meeting, but didn’t think long about it before the old sage was upon him. His eyes were clear and comforting. He invited the seeker inside and offered him a cushion to sit on next to an old table that looked as if it had been hewn out of a giant tree—knots, curves and all.

The old man heated up the crystal mountain water and brewed first a light golden tea and then a deep and ancient leaf, wiser and older than even him. The seeker had never tasted anything like it. They had tea farms in many of the villages he’d passed through, but none like this. So refreshing and deep were his draughts that the entire world seemed to pour itself over the brim of his cup. At that moment the whole universe was only drinking tea. Maybe the mountain nourished these special trees? Maybe his long journey had parched him? It didn’t seem to matter. They didn’t talk, just smiled and drank cup after cup. There was no need. No meditation. No philosophy. No questions. Only tea. The seeker didn’t mind. He loved the tea. It was the best he’d ever had and he enjoyed focusing on the aroma and flavor of each cup.

When the old sage finally paused and leaned back against the wall, the seeker set down his cup and did the same. He looked out the window cut into the side of the old wooden room. The view was exquisite. He could see past twisted and gnarled trees to a river valley flanked by giant citadels of stone. The trees wove around themselves like stanzas he’d once written and the mountain and river seemed to speak for themselves. He didn’t care, though. He was comfortable and the world was quiet. He looked over at the smiling sage, at his long flowing beard so symbolic and true, and saw that he too was watching the view. His first and only thought that day wasn’t a question. It had nothing to do with seekers, masters, paths or even whether his work was complete. No. His only thought was that he really didn’t have anything pressing to ask the old man now that he was here. It was really amusing. But like much that day, it didn’t matter. They hadn’t really been his questions anyway. Not anymore than any of the thoughts he’d ever had about anything spiritual had ever been. He had always borrowed them. Now he could return them.

Written by Wu De for Global Tea Hut February 2013

Loading image from TChing archives.  Post images courtesy of Global Tea Hut.

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Mandala Tea Temple Stairs 2014 Ripe Pu'er Mini Tuocha

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 16:00
Country of Origin: China Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly compressed Ingredients: puerh tea Steep time: 30 seconds Water Temperature: 212 degrees Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan Liquor: very dark I'm a sheng girl through and through but one does not say no to mini tuoacha from Mandala Tea. I was intrigued when I read on their site that these were custom pressed from higher quality material.Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Readers' 6 Favorite Oolongs

Notes on Tea - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 14:55
Image: Oolong tea leaf photo by Shizhao via Wikimedia (source)
Some of the entrants in the now closed Tea Ave Oolong Giveaway told us about their favorite oolongs. My current favorite is the LiShan from Tea Ave.

Julie Mitchell -- Jasmine Oolong from Teavana

Jee of Oh, How Civilized -- Winter Sprout from Song Tea & Ceramics

Gail Vincent -- Wuyi and Phoenix oolongs

Stephanie Rodriguez -- Tie guan yin and red robe oolong

Is yours among the list? If not, please tell us your favorite in the comment section.
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