Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura

The Book of Tea
by Kakuzo Okakura

The increased interest in tea in recent years has resulted in many great books on the subject, with many more sure to follow. After all, tea is a vast topic and hardly one that can be dispensed with in the space of a few volumes.

If you'd like to look back to what some authors of yesteryear had to say about tea, you'd do well to start with The Classic Of Tea, by Lu Yu, a Chinese scholar of ancient times. Although, the last time I checked, this pioneering volume wasn't all that easy to get your hands on.

A work by another Asian scholar, The Book Of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura, is also worth taking a look at and is not nearly so hard to locate. The book has been in print continuously since it was first published in 1906 and is still available in a variety of printed and electronic editions, including this one, at Project Gutenberg.

This is not the time or place to debate whether The Book Of Tea is one of the most influential books ever written on the topic, but most observers will probably agree that it ranks high on the list. Okakura's work is a slim volume that introduces readers to his opinionated notions and his concept of Teaism and takes a look at how tea became such an indispensable part of Japanese life, both as a beverage and as aid to spiritual contemplation.

Not surprisingly, given the role of tea in Japanese culture and the Japanese tea ceremony, much of what Okakura discusses in this modest work has to do with this link between spirituality and tea. Among the topics covered, great schools of tea, prominent tea masters of yesteryear and the link between tea and Taoism and Zen (which the author refers to as Zennism).

Adagio Teas - Best Tea Online

teaBOT - Robotic Tea Maker

We're always up for a new tea gadget and so here's the teaBOT, which its makers describe as a gadget that makes "personalized loose-leaf tea through robotics."

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Advertise at Tea Guy Speaks

Nowadays Tea Guy Speaks has an active Twitter feed with more than 5,000 followers and registers about 15,000 page impressions per month at the Web site. Which is a modest number compared to many sites, but it's safe to say that as we embark on our ninth year we've amassed a rather substantial following in the tea community.

If you'd like to try targeting some of the tea lovers who visit us, either through advertising at the site, on our Twitter feed, or a combination of both, send an email to wileng3|at| We'll be happy to send information on our advertising rates.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tea Business Spotlight 17 - Tea of the People

Welcome to the seventeenth of our Tea Business Spotlights, in which we allow tea people to share insights on running their business. If you're a tea business owner and you'd like to take part in an upcoming spotlight, please contact us.

Tea of the People
Ontario, Canada

How long have you been in business?
Personally, my relationship with tea has existed for over a decade. While most of my friends gravitated towards coffee, I was attracted to tea because of it’s diverse variety and aromatic character. Only in my early twenties did I begin to understand the tea types, grades, and health benefits. Tea of the People has been in the making for over a year. Having launched recently, Tea of the People is a new company, with an old soul. Our innovative blends and socially conscious driven mission are built around providing honesty in every cup and empathy for the human condition.

What is the size/scope of your business?
When I spoke about Tea of the People, rarely used are words like “I” and “me”. Despite being the only person steering the ship, my family, friends and extended network were the best support system anyone could ever ask for. They acted as an advisory board and without their love and guidance; Tea of the People would not exist. Simply put, they are all co-founders of Tea of the People. In terms of scope, we are laser focused on getting our tea in health & wellness retail stores. Health & wellness grocery shoppers are among the most enlightened and passionate people when it comes to food and beverages. Winning over hearts and minds in this space is key because in doing so, you then have ambassadors and influencers spreading the word.

Why tea?
With the global economic recovery still lagging after the worst recession in close to a century and so much frustration with our political bodies, the general feeling is people are becoming increasing disconnected from one another. Tea is one of the few things that does the opposite. Consumed all over the world, tea connects men and women in our communities and with civilizations from the past and future. Tea transcends time and space and to help drive the tea industry in a more healthy and socially conscious direction feels incredible.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
When Founder & CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey, is asked what ought pre or current entrepreneurs do to be successful, the answer is “start”. Heeding to this simple, yet profound advice, the earliest roots of Tea of the People can be traced back to an impromptu trip to my favorite grocery aisle, the tea section. After much research, their appeared to be glaring issues with the tea space that few, if any, had thought about disrupting. From there we just “started” learning as much as we could about getting the company off the ground.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
We use only the most nutritious and meticulously produced ingredients in the world. Companies throw around the words “highest” and “finest” when it comes to quality but won’t tell you the “type” of green tea they use, for example, and often times, forgo blending real ingredients with their tea. When somebody buys our Acai x Goji Dragon Well green tea, not only are we excited to tell them that Dragon Well was once drunk exclusively by Chinese emperors and that it’s the most antioxidant-rich green tea in the world, but you are getting a huge handful of actual goji berries with your blend. Our biggest strengths are quality, nutritional value and flavour uniqueness.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
Starting a business in any industry is painstaking and tea is no different. The biggest challenge was perfecting the blends. It took about 6 months to finalize our inaugural lineup. For months we worked with food scientists and tea experts, where we faced roadblock after roadblock. Truthfully, it wasn’t known if we could get Dragon Well to taste delicious with super fruit or where to begin with barrel aging Madagascar cocoa beans with organic rooibos. On top of that, we were met with a ton of opposition from the tea space because Dragon Well has never been blended with anything before. Nearly every major tea distributor and company, when discussing our vision, scoffed us at. But something beautiful happened in each of these moments. Very few teas excite and surprise us anymore because everything under the sun has been done, so when I received such passionate reactions, I knew Tea of the People’s was on to something.

How's business?
Since launching, things have been crazy. We did not foresee this much excitement around our innovative teas and story. Magazines, blogs and thought leaders in the health & wellness, foodie and social entrepreneurial spaces are writing about Tea of the People and that feels both amazing and humbling.

Tea of the People has advertised at Tea Guy Speaks

Be More Kermit Lipton Tea Commercial

Tea of the People - Providing honesty in every cup and empathy for the human condition

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Miito: The Electric Kettle "Reimagined"

Here at Tea Guy Speaks we love a good tea gadget and here's one we recently ran across.

Miito is an innovative product that heats liquids directly in the vessel to be used, hence eliminating the heating of excess water. Simply fill your cup with water, place it onto the induction base and immerse the rod in the liquid. The induction base heats the rod, which then heats the liquid surrounding it. Miito works with non-ferrous vessels of any size, for example a pot of tea when inviting guests. Miito can also heat your soup or milk for a coffee. The clean shape of the rod allows it to be cleaned easily.

Tea of the People - A new company, with an old soul

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How to Cold Brew Iced Tea

Depending on where you hang your hat it might be a little late in the year to be thinking about iced tea. But here's Arbor Teas' guide to cold brewing anyway.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Weighing Tea on a Ceylon Tea Estate

from Ceylon in 1893: Describing the Progress of the Island Since 1803, Its Present Agricultural and Commercial Enterprises - link

Adagio Teas - Best Tea Online

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tea Business Spotlight 16 - Tea Vue

Welcome to the sixteenth of our Tea Business Spotlights, in which we allow tea people to share insights on running their business. If you're a tea business owner and you'd like to take part in an upcoming spotlight, please contact us.

Tea Vue
Maryland, USA

How long have you been in business?
Since 2013.

What is the size/scope of your business?
We are a startup, online loose leaf tea and tea ware retailer with Amazon as an additional distribution channel.

Why tea?
Our love for tea is multifaceted – the expansive and diverse taste, character, and health properties along with the rich history and ceremonial tradition have been most intoxicating for us.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
While conducting research for a consulting engagement, we became aware of the untapped potential of the tea market in the US and globally. Through the compelling business opportunity, we found an even greater appreciation for the complexities of tea.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
Our mission is to personally curate only the finest quality teas for our customers. We strive to create an experience through not only the tea itself but with our branding and personalized service. Every Tea Vue tea is presented to the customer in packaging that is worthy of with the tea it holds.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
Although the market potential is significant, it is a challenge to educate consumers on how to discern widely-available, low grade, bag and loose leaf tea from loose leaf tea of the highest quality.

What would you do differently, if anything?
We would have commenced pursuing Tea Vue years ago.

How's business?
Repeat business is strong – everyone that has tried Tea Vue’s tea extols praise and becomes an ongoing customer. Reaching those that are not yet aware of Tea Vue is the challenge.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be in the tea business?
Life is precious and too short – pursue your passion whether tea or otherwise.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Funny Iranian Tea Commercial

Adagio Teas - Best Tea Online

Featured Tea Book - Book of Tea Classic Edition

from the publisher:

Now available in a gorgeous hardcover slipcase edition, this "object d'art" will be sure to add grace and elegance to tea shelves, coffee tables and bookshelves. A keepsake enjoyed by tea lovers for over a hundred years, The Book of Tea Classic Edition will enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the seemingly simple act of making and drinking tea.

In 1906 in turn-of-the century Boston, a small, esoteric book about tea was written with the intention of being read aloud in the famous salon of Isabella Gardner, Boston's most famous socialite. It was authored by Okakura Kakuzo, a Japanese philosopher, art expert, and curator. Little known at the time, Kakuzo would emerge as one of the great thinkers of the early 20th century, a genius who was insightful, witty—and greatly responsible for bridging Western and Eastern cultures. Okakura had been taught at a young age to speak English and was more than capable of expressing to Westerners the nuances of tea and the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

In The Book of Tea Classic Edition he discusses such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the secular aspects of tea and Japanese life. The book emphasizes how Teaism taught the Japanese many things; most importantly, simplicity. Kakuzo argues that tea-induced simplicity affected the culture, art and architecture of Japan.

Nearly a century later, Kakuzo's The Book of Tea Classic Edition is still beloved the world over, making it an essential part of any tea enthusiast's collection. Interwoven with a rich history of Japanese tea and its place in Japanese society is poignant commentary on Asian culture and our ongoing fascination with it, as well as illuminating essays on art, spirituality, poetry, and more. The Book of Tea Classic Edition is a delightful cup of enlightenment from a man far ahead of his time.

The Book of Tea Classic Edition

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tea Review 153 - Mellow Monk Kuma Green

Kuma Green 1228
Mellow Monk

I don't get around to reviewing tea much these days. I have the best intentions but a lot of my writings about tea appear elsewhere and so I don't have as much time to devote to this site as I'd like. So on those rare occasions when I do review tea here it's usually something that's a cut above the rest.

Take Mellow Monk's Kuma Green 1228, for example. I've had the pleasure of sampling some Mellow Monk teas in the past and it was always a memorable experience. This time around was no exception to that rule. It's certainly worth a look. Here's what they have to say about it.

A brightly herbaceous guricha-style sencha, with a sweetness highlighted with fruity highlights — apples, melon, and white wine grapes — as well as citrus notes and a hint of jasmine. [Note that this is not jasmine green tea; the hint of jasmine is naturally present in the tea.] Made from yabukita tea plants grown in the rolling hills of Kuma County, tended and crafted into tea by artisan Kazuo Watanabe.

Image: Mellow Monk
Sample provided by Mellow Monk
Tea Guy Speaks Review Policies

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Who Invented the Tea Kettle Whistle?

Who Invented the Tea Kettle Whistle?
By William I. Lengeman III

If you’re like me – or the majority of the people on Earth – you probably don’t give a lot of thought to tea kettle whistles. All that really matters is that they work when the water starts to boil. Not so long ago, while writing an article for this site on the science of tea kettle whistles (yes, there is a science of tea kettle whistles), I got to wondering about the origins of this device. Was there a time when people using tea kettles had to make do without whistles, or did they always exist? And who was the first person to come up with this simple yet effective device?

Well, let’s see. It’s obvious that a trip to the patent office is called for...


Adagio Teas - Best Tea Online

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Look at Artistic Tea Commercials

Much of my tea writing these days appears at The English Tea Store blog. Here's an article I wrote for them recently.

A Look at Artistic Tea Commercials
By William I. Lengeman III

Maybe you’ve noticed or perhaps not, but there’s a wonderful world of tea videos and commercials out there. It’s easy to access nowadays with video sharing sites everywhere, and it’s especially interesting to see what tea commercials you might have missed if you don’t watch much TV or don’t live in a country where a certain ad campaign might have aired.

When it comes to style, tea commercials run the gamut. Based on my unscientific observations, it seems like the most common and the most popular of the bunch are the funny ones. But there are also many that attempt to get their message across in a more artistic fashion. Here are a few of the highlights:


Eco-Cha - Responsibly Sourced Artisan Tea. Direct from family-run farms in Taiwan.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ben Fogel Typhoo Tea Commercial

I'm not sure who Ben Fogle is but if you're in the UK I guess you have a better idea. Here he is in a brief commercial for Typhoo, complete with peppy tea drinkers and bouncy music.

Teas Hope - Tea Shop

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Arty Kusmi Tea Commercial

In the category of arty tea commercials, this one for Kusmi Tea is certainly worth a mention. It's apparently part of a series of four similar tea commercials for their various blends.

Teas Hope - Tea Shop

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What You Need to Know About Expensive Tea

Much of my tea writing these days appears at The English Tea Store blog. Here's an article I wrote for them recently.

What You Need to Know About Expensive Tea
By William I. Lengeman III

Fabulously expensive stuff, whether it be tea, shoes, cars, or jeweled doggy dishes, makes for good press and you can curse or envy (or both, if you’d like) the people who can afford such items, depending on your inclination. The topic came to mind recently when I found an article that claimed to list the Top 5 Most Expensive Teas In The World. Maybe they are and maybe not, but they are expensive.

Tea economics is a topic I’ve discoursed on before, but it’s one that’s important enough to revisit from time to time. For my money there are basically two guiding principles when it comes to tea economics, each of which I offer with a caveat attached.


Teas Hope - Tea Shop

Saturday, January 04, 2014

How to Become a Tea Sommelier

Much of my tea writing these days appears at The English Tea Store blog. Here's one of the recent articles I wrote for them.

How to Become a Tea Sommelier
By William I. Lengeman III

So, what about this whole tea sommelier thing anyway? It’s a relatively new concept and one that we’ve talked about previously in these pages, including this article by our Esteemed Editor. Obviously taking a cue from the more established profession of wine sommelier, tea sommeliers are looking to raise the bar for tea consumption, oftentimes in places where fine dining is committed. But it’s still a burgeoning field and one that’s relatively wide open.

If you had the right mindset and a little bit of luck on your side, I’d wager that you could set yourself up as a tea sommelier simply by saying that you are one – assuming that you know tea well enough. But of course, like most other vocations and avocations, it certainly doesn’t hurt your cause if you have some sort of validation for your claims.


The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Tea & Hangovers

When it comes to hangovers, Robert Benchley said it best, "the only cure for a real hangover is death."

So where does tea fit into this picture? Can it cure a hangover? Probably not. Can it ease the ill effects that are part and parcel of the hangover experience? Perhaps. Puerh, in particular, is thought by some to be helpful in taming a hangover, thought it's unclear if there's any actual research to back up this assertion.

Despite those savvy marketers who want us to believe otherwise, there probably is no such thing as a hangover cure. Researchers can’t quite agree about what causes a hangover, but there are steps you can take to make them a little less painful.

Most notably - remain hydrated, consuming other liquids (like tea) before, during and after your revelry. This is particularly important, since alcohol consumption tends to lead to dehydration. Some have also suggested that the caffeine and theanine in tea may help with that morning after fuzziness.

For general info on hangovers, look here and here.

For more on the curious malady known as tea drunkenness, look here and here.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Hangover Tea

Here's some info on an alleged hangover cure that mixes Japanese kukicha tea, umeboshi plums and soy sauce. Which doesn't sound so appealing but then neither does a hangover.

Gifts for lovers of tea with free wrapping of all items.