Monday, March 10, 2014
Do you ever notice flavors evoke images in your mind? We all know a nostalgic dish can send us right back to childhood, but what happens when you sip tea? When I focus on flavors in tea, I can picture an entire landscape associated with it. I feel as if I'm transported to a different place, and can hear, see, and taste it.
Sometimes I'll see a sunny field of wildflowers if the tea is bright and floral. I can smell the daffodils and feel the sunshine. Or I'll be walking through crunchy leaves on a fall day if the tea is woodsy and nutty. A smoky campfire crackles in the background.
I'm currently drinking a pu erh which tastes leathery and ever so slightly smoky. I'm travelling on the back of a motorcycle in a wooded area of France with a leather jacket clad rider. I can hear the motor and smell the exhaust. Occasionally we'll pass a small stone house or animal.
For me, the visualizations associated with the tea I'm drinking is part of the meditation. My mind can go somewhere else, away from where I'm sitting. This transformation will happen anywhere that I'm sipping. Sometimes I just need to clear the thoughts from my mind, but I do enjoy this creative escape.
Have you experienced this transformation? Do certain flavors bring you to specific places?
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
With the frigid NY weather we've had this winter, I am daydreaming of springtime adventures. A pre-spring event to take note of is the 9th annual NY Coffee & Tea Festival is March 22nd and 23rd. If you are considering taking the trip, I urge you to do so. It's a great opportunity to meet and chat with vendors, and learn a few things. There are free and paid events to check out to further enhance your experience as well. There are always lots of freebies and samples at the event which is an added plus!
If you haven't bought tickets yet, Sunday is still available. If you're new to the event, check out my post from last year to get an idea of the festivities.
We're trying to set up a blogger meet up during the event. If you are going, let us know in the comments!
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
This morning a coworker made too much coffee and offered me a cup. I don't normally drink the gasoline that comes out of the office drip pot, but this person grinds his own beans, uses an electric kettle, and brews in a Chemex pot. My mug was empty so I figured I'd give it a try. I usually add milk to my coffee and I have to admit this cup was super smooth and flavorful without a drop of anything extra. I started to happily sip the coffee, enjoying the flavor and even thought to myself 'gee, maybe I should drink coffee more often' when I was reminded why I stopped in the first place. After a few minutes I started to feel nervous. I felt an unpleasant quivery feeling in my core. This is not the same quiver I get when I hug my children or look into my husband's smiling eyes. It is more of an 'um, my body is telling me this is not good' sort of feeling. Even though I drink endless cups of tea during the day, a large cup of coffee still gives me the jitters.
So as much as I love the idea of preparing coffee and enjoying the diversity of flavors, it's just not for me. But I can absolutely understand why you'd want to drink both. I also admit I've been seen drinking coffee on an occasional weekend morning in a small restaurant cup. I do much better with a small serving and not the mammoth 'small' size most cafes use for to-go cups. Sometimes the smell is just too tempting to resist.
I found it interesting that my co-worker's brewing process reminds me a bit of my own tea ritual. The joyful attention to detail is an important part of the process. Hand grinding beans and watching the water brew through the glass pot can be a meditative experience. Chemex pots are gorgeous enough to tempt me to brew coffee, but I have to remember the after effects. Has anyone tried to brew tea in a small Chemex? I'd love to know the results.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
tea drunk also hosts classes, check out their events page for the schedule. I hope to try one soon. This is a true NYC gem, a place you can't find anywhere else in the city. Go sit at the tea bar, chat with with expert staff, and enjoy a beautiful tea. We will definitely be back as soon as possible!
tea drunk: 123 E. 7th St NY, NY Highly Recommended
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Last week I showed off some of my favorite tea cups. This week, I am sharing a few of my favorite tea steepers. I don't really use these, because they typically don't allow enough room for the tea leaves to open up and exude their happiness. But I've been gifted a few over the years, and now they've become a fun collection. Each one has a little story either about where I found it, or who gave it to me. Sometimes the memories of an object are far more significant than their use.
The Manatea is one of my most favorite steepers, gifted by dear friends. It is a happy little creature and a popular conversation piece. I haven't used it to brew tea, but I imagine he'll look adorable hanging on the edge of a mug!
Do you have any tea steepers? I'd love to see some of your favorites!
Friday, February 7, 2014
|Kanro Gyokuro prepared cold-can you spot the ice cube?|
I recently had a beautiful tea tasting at Ippodo, well known in Japan for high quality teas. The teas I tasted were fresh, vivid, inspiring. It was such a pleasurable experience.
Chihiro, one of the tea experts at Ippodo prepared many delicious teas for us. The first was the kanro 'sweet drop' gyokuro. Ippodo is well regarded for their gyokuro, and I couldn't wait to taste it. Since this was prepared cold, it took 20-30 minutes to brew. So more on this amazing tea later...
The first tea I tasted was hosen sencha,one of Ippodo's most popular teas. It is a mid grade sencha that is slightly bitter and vegetal. A delicious well-balanced sencha, and I can understand why it's so popular. The sweet freshness lingers on the tongue long after it is tasted.
I was fortunate to have arrived after they recently received the delivery of spring nodoka matcha. I love matcha but cannot seem to get it right when I prepare it at home. Chihiro mentioned the secret is to sift the matcha in the bowl before adding water. This seems like such a logical step, but one I have skipped over. I can't wait to try again at home! Water was taken from a decorative pot and added to the matcha bowl. The spring matcha was light and fresh, yet almost chocolaty with slight bitterness and umami. Definitely not like others I've tried.
Next we tried a hojicha, roasted sencha that is low in caffeine. It was smooth and bitter, reminding me of coffee you'd find in New Orleans that has chicory added to it. I could see this as a good starting point for coffee drinkers looking to move over to tea. I've had hojicha before, but not one quite as flavorful as this.
|Kanro Gyokuro, not sweet, but a precious drop indeed|
|The matcha selection. The Nodoka is in the back, in the pretty pink box|
If you are new to Japanese teas you may feel intimidated to enter this small shop. But take my advice, and go! The staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Tell them what flavors you like best, and they will steer you towards the right tea for you. The teas here are high quality and better than many Japanese teas you can find around the city. Ippodo occasionally offers tea workshops, and one will be coming up in April. You can follow their facebook page for updates.
A big thank you to Chihiro for presenting such lovely teas, and to Ana for coordinating the tasting!
|Don't be intimidated, amazing tea awaits!|
Monday, February 3, 2014
Many tea lovers have a tea collection of some sort. Tea canisters, advertising, pots, steepers, you name it we can obsess over it. Each collected piece has a unique story to tell. Now that the fourth season of Downton Abbey has started, I've been thinking about my small collection vintage tea cups. I started collecting tea cups years ago, mostly inexpensive versions for tea parties. Nowadays my daughter and I will enjoy an occasional impromptu chamomile tea party, and I usually break out these less expensive 'fancy' cups. It makes our tea moment extra special. We get creative, imagining we are in a beautiful mansion, taking tea with royalty.
I also have a few cups I lock away in the china cabinet, away from curious little fingers. A few of my favorite cups are shown above. They are vintage Shelley, Paragon, and Meissen. These are definitely not for daily use. When I see them I dream of afternoon tea with beautiful sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream. Perhaps something you'd see on Downton Abbey. The Meissen cup is actually from my grandmother, who also had an eye for collecting. Each vintage cup has its own special history. I love to imagine where they've been, and who has held them.
Do you have any tea collections? Why do you collect tea accessories? Let me know in the comments!