Saturday, January 30, 2010

Novelty Infusers, Teabags, Teapots & More

From our Gimmicks, Gadgets, and Novelties Bureau, a few items worth noting. Like this Yellow Submarine tea infuser, for instance, as noted by the good people over at Gizmodo. For another rather innovative take on the infuser concept, have a look at the Chigra, an offbeat gadget that...well, see for yourself.

Spotted at Tea Finely Brewed recently, a truly novel take on the tea bag. And from Cool Hunting, "Wood You Like a Cup of Tea" teapot, as conceived by a Swedish designer.

What's a Zi Sha Tea Pet? Very good question. This was a new one on me. More here.

Image: Monkey Business Design Israel Ltd.

RedUmbrella Tea
Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Book Explores Tea as a Way of Life

New Book Explores Tea as a Way of Life
(from a press release)

“Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind; dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue; awakens thought and prevents drowsiness; lightens or refreshes the body and clears the perceptive faculties,” writes Lu Yu in his Tang Dynasty work, The Classic of Tea, one of the oldest treatises on tea. Author Solala Towler takes this understanding of the benefits of tea to a deeper level. “Tea is an important part of my life. I learned the natural way of life, the teachings of the ancient Chinese shamans, and my spiritual path through drinking tea,” says Towler. “It is impossible to separate Daoist philosophy from the practice or Way of Tea.”

This interconnectedness between the way of tea and Daoist philosophy and practice is highlighted in Towler’s new book Cha Dao: The Way of Tea, Tea as a Way of Life. By examining the interwoven relationship between tea and Daoist principles and practices, Towler provides the reader with a plethora of interesting anecdotes and an intriguing, well-presented historical philosophy.

In China, the art of drinking tea is about much more than merely soaking leaves in a cup of hot water. “The art and practice of drinking tea is rooted in Daoism and emerged from a philosophy that honored living a life of grace and elegance, of balance and harmony, of fulfillment and enjoyment.” This is, essentially, what the ancient Chinese called Cha Dao, or the Way of Tea.

Cha Dao takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the Way of Tea, from its origins in the sacred mountains and temples of ancient China, through its links to Daoist concepts such as Wu Wei or non-striving and the Value of Worthlessness, to the affinity between Tea Mind and the Japanese spirit of Zen. Interspersed are a liberal helping of quotes from the great tea masters of the past, tales from the author’s own trips to China, and traditional tea stories from China and Japan. The unique health benefits of tea are also explored, and a chapter is devoted to describing the history, characteristics and properties of 25 different tea varieties.

Cha Dao: The Way of Tea, Tea As a Way of Life

Buy Loose Leaf Tea in Canada
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Manly Tea, Hobbit Tea, Gold Tea & More

Specialty teas, anyone? Here news on several decidedly offbeat ones. First up, there's, a purveyor of tea for men. What exactly does that mean? Beats me, but they're offering a couple of bacon-flavored teas and a coffee tea, for starters. And, of course, the sounds kinda dubious beer-flavored tea. That's gotta be a first.

For something considerably less macho and with a fantastic sort of bent, have a look at the web site for Hobbit Tea, where you can lay your hands on such blends as Bilbo Baggins Breakfast Blend and Gandalf the Grey Tea.

From Den's Tea, comes Lucky Gold Tea, which they're offering thru January 31 as a 10th anniversary gift to customers who spend more than $30. They'll send you a bag of actual gold flakes and some sencha, which you can blend to make the tea. Here's what they have to say about it:

The gold flakes and 10 gram bag of Sencha are enough to make about three cups of lucky tea. Sprinkle the ultra thin gold flakes on your cup of green tea and cerebrate Den's Tea 10th Anniversary or any other important occasion this year. Since gold is an inert element, the gold flakes are safe to ingest and will not affect the taste of the tea. The combination of the gold and the tea are mainly for visual impact and Sencha Extra Green is the best tea to show off the gold flakes.

We've heard about wine and cheese pairing so often now that it borders on cliché. But how about pairing tea and cheese? More about this developing trend in this article from the World Tea News.

Image: Den's Tea

RedUmbrella Tea
Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Zhena's Gypsy Tea Re-Defines Fine Tea

New Luxe Leaves Collection Offers Hospitality A Cup Of Sustainable Opulence
(from a press release)

Zhena's Gypsy Tea, known for its dedication to sustainability and category creating offerings, is bringing another dimension of opulence to the enjoyment of tea drinking with twelve offerings of its new Luxe Leaves Collection for hospitality.

Each box of the Fair Trade Certified and organic tea contains 15 Full-Leaf Couture tea sachets made from biodegradable, GMO free, corn silk. The optimum design of the sachet allows for water to flow freely around the teas, so the steeping leaves can relax and luxuriously unfurl to mingle with the subtle flavors and sensory attributes of the tea.


Buy Loose Leaf Tea in Canada
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Screening: The Bitter Taste of Tea

The UCLA Asia Institute is pleased to present a film screening and discussion forum on tea and fair trade Wednesday, January 20.

The Bitter Taste of Tea:
A Journey into the World of Fair Trade
The film screening will be followed by a
forum on tea and fair trade.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz, UCLA

The Bitter Taste of Tea travels to tea estates in Sri Lanka, Kenya, India, and Bangladesh—some traditional, some fair trade—to expose unsafe work environments and labor exploitation. Finding little meaningful difference between fair trade and non-fair trade operations, questions arise: Are fair trade organizations such as the E.U.’s Max Havelaar Foundation being duped by tea growers? Or are growers doing the best they can in a brutal industry and a market that has yet to demand the quantities of fair trade tea that would create meaningful trickle-down profits for their workers? It is left to the viewer to weigh the arguments and decide.

Canadian Tea Gifts
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tea And Boobs

Is there a connection between the size of a woman's breasts and the amount of tea she drinks? Why, it's enough to send a collective shudder through the ranks of the world's plastic surgeons. But before you go racing off to your local tea shop to stock up let's consider the source of this gem of wisdom. As reported in the British press recently, a "stunner" named Keeley Hazell somehow arrived at the conclusion that not only do British women have the biggest hooters but that this is somehow the result of drinking tea. Whatever. As you were.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tea During Wartime

What lengths will people go to for a cup of tea? As these two audio clips from the First World War Poetry Digital Archive indicate, they will go to very great lengths indeed.

The clips are excerpts of interviews with British soldiers who served in the trenches during World War I and who relate how they ensured that they would get their tea in those difficult times.

Making tea in front lines. Constructing a small cooker.
Trench life. Making tea in dugouts.

Buy Blooming Tea Gift Sets in Canada
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Super Steep Teas

I've always felt that when it comes to tea, you get what you pay for - to a point. While cheap tea almost always tastes like cheap tea, I can't help but be skeptical about some of the premium teas that come with truly outlandish price tags.

Take Masa Super Premium, for example. It's a very high-end Japanese tea packaged in 750-ml bottles and bearing a price tag somewhat north of $2,000. Is it worth it? I highly doubt it, but if they'd like to send me a bottle I'd be glad to take a taste. Read more about this one at Luxist and Mellow Monk.

By the standards of Masa, Jin Junmei (Golden Junmei) is a relative bargain at a mere $100 per ounce. Read what Daniel Hong had to say about this rare Chinese tea in a recent article at T Ching.

RedUmbrella Tea
Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Monday, January 11, 2010

World of Tea 10

An underdog going up against giants? Now there's a notion that's sure to grab your attention. Take, for example, A Sri Lankan Underdog Battles Global Tea Giants, a recent article from the New York Times that looks at Sri Lanka's Dilmah Tea.

In contrast to Sri Lanka, which has long been a thriving center for tea production, Russia has, for many centuries, been a hotbed of tea consumption. Here's an interesting post from Gongfu Girl about Russian tea.

If we hear any news about Iran these days it tends not to be very good. But they do drink tea there, and, if this article is any indication, you'd better not try serving tea to an Iranian without a respectable selection of sugar on hand.

Indonesia is probably better known for coffee than tea. Here's a report on a initiative there to attempt to reverse that trend.

Last up, if you'd like to check out the tea scene in a place where it's almost as critical to daily life as breathing, check out a Tea in London tour. The next one is scheduled for September 13-18, 2010 and includes an optional full-day Tea Masterclass with tea expert Jane Pettigrew.

Stay tuned for more World of Tea, an occasional feature that gathers tea-related dispatches from around the globe.

Buy Blooming Tea Gift Sets in Canada
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tea Pillows, Hobs & More

Here are some interesting items I've run across lately. Nothing to gain by plugging them. Just thought they were nifty.

If you can't get enough tea during the day, get your mitts on a Tea Pillow. Yes, it is what it sounds like. Tea Pillows are filled with tea instead of feathers and, according to the people over at Tea GW, they "have been used in Asia and in particular China for hundreds of years, and now are growing in popularity" in the West. All manner of wonderful benefits are said to result from using them.

What's a HOB? Well, it's most certainly not your grandmother's tea cosy. Designed, as the manufacturer says, "to appeal to the growing number of male tea drinkers."

Next time you're shopping for a chair and a tea chest, you might as well kill two birds with one stone and pick up a Tea Chest Chair.

Last up, a rather eye-catching Japanese Tea Serving Set.

Canadian Tea Gifts
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Tea Review 108: English Tea Store Nine Bend Black Dragon

Nine Bend Black Dragon
English Tea Store

Here's what the English Tea Store's blurb has to say about Nine Bend Black Dragon:

Nine Bend Black Dragon Loose Leaf is a classic China Black tea. This tea is full bodied with deep burgundy depth and delightful oaky notes. Excellent as an after dinner tea!

Which is not completely off the mark, but it also doesn't tell you exactly what type of Chinese tea it is. I'm no expert on this sort of thing but I'd put my money on a Yunnan or perhaps a Golden Monkey.

In any event, this is a very good tea and by far the best of the bunch of the four samples ETS sent. I won't quibble with "deep burgundy depth" and "delightful oaky notes" and I'd add that there was virtually no trace of bitterness or astringency with this very flavorful tea.

Samples provided by English Tea Store
Tea Guy is a contributor to the English Tea Store's Blog
TGS Review Policies

Buy Loose Leaf Tea in Canada
RedUmbrella Tea, Canada’s Loose Leaf Tea Co.