You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Tea Enjoyment’ category.

A very British tea store! (ETS image)

A very British tea store! (ETS image)

There are a few countries whose citizens drink more tea than the British but none of them roll right off the tip of the tongue. If you’re like me, when you think of great tea-drinking peoples throughout history you probably think of the British. Which is why the recent flap over tennis and tea there probably should come as no surprise.

It all has to do with Wimbledon – you’ve probably heard of it. Apparently it’s something of a tradition, at this oldest of the world’s tennis tournaments, to bring your own eats. Given that the attendees are mostly British their drink of choice often turns out to be tea. If you buy a cup of it on the grounds it can be kind of expensive, at about $3.60 in US dollars. The obvious solution, at least until lately, has been to bring your own tea.

Nowadays though, a ban on vacuum flask containers (of the Thermos type) that apparently went into effect last year, is starting to be enforced and tea lovers at Wimbledon are quite out of sorts to find their containers of tea being confiscated.

As one article in the British press noted, “coolboxes and camping chairs are also banned, but bottles of wine and spirits are permitted.” The problem with such containers and the reason for the ban is the possibility that they can be used in improvised explosive devices. Some of the other banned items on the list are a little more obvious, according to an article from an Australian paper that covered the issue. They include “knives, illegal substances, political slogans, ambush marketing, tents, camping chairs, flares, klaxons and long lenses.”

Not surprisingly, there are still options for taking afternoon tea at Wimbledon (they are British, after all), as you can see at this page at the tournament web site (scroll down). It claims that afternoon tea, which was supposedly invented just about 40 years before the inception of Wimbledon, was served at the very first incarnation of the tournament, in 1877.

Thirty years later, in 1907, a certain Mrs. Hillyard was playing in the event. During a rain delay she apparently overindulged a bit at afternoon tea. Then, when the tournament commenced again, she proceeded to lose and was rather distraught over it all – the implication being that the rain delay and overindulgence at tea negatively affected her tennis game.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Yes, there is such a thing as a virtual tea party! In these days where it seems that our entire lives are online, not holding virtual tea parties would be the odd thing. So, holding one seems a total no-brainer… but I beg to differ. It can be quite tricky, as you will soon see.

A typical virtual tea party posting! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A typical virtual tea party posting! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Selecting a Venue

You have choices these days, with Facebook being at the forefront (but waning due to increasing security and privacy concerns and an environment that is becoming far more commercial than social). Twitter now allows the posting of photos but still limits tweets to 140 characters (part of that will be the name of people you want to see the tweet, and the photo takes us some of it), but it’s amazing how much you can say in such a short space. LinkedIn is more business oriented but you could set up a group just for your virtual tea party. Connecting with people is a bit trickier than on other sites, though. Pinterest is a good option since it’s all about the visual but also allows text (a larger amount than Twitter but less than Facebook) and people can comment on your pins – just set up a “board” for your virtual tea party and invite others to pin to it.

What to Include

Okay, so the venue is all set. Now what? Well, it’s all about photos and a bit of information on them. So, step one is to get that camera out and start clicking. Take a picture of what you are currently steeping, or the tea in the cup, or the dry tea leaves, and so on. Feel free to virtually share also your tea time treats! Virtual treats are my favorite kind since they are calorie-free! I can indulge in all the cakes and pies and chocolate covered bacon I want and not worry a bit about added poundage. But a view of those tea leaves can really be enticing. Not all tea comes as ground up dust in a bag with or without a string and tag attached. The sight of those little silver needles or those tieguanyin nuggets or a teabloom emerging or a tuocha expanding is quite a delight.

A Bit of Etiquette

For a virtual tea party, etiquette is quite different than for those real life tea parties. For one thing, you can slurp all you like – no one will hear or see you doing it. Ditto for pinky pointing, wiping your mouth (or nose) with your sleeve, belching, or just about any other egregious behavior you would generally engage in while enjoying tea in the privacy of your home. But there are certain points of etiquette that do need to be observed: say “hi” when you jump in and “bye” when you leave (if you’re using a site other than Pinterest), be nice, don’t make fun of someone’s less than stellar picture taking, provide information about your own photos beyond it just being a black tea or a green tea, and if asked for a recipe for your special cake or pie that you posted, be ready to provide it or a good reason why not.

Above all, have fun!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Tea Room,” “Tea House,” or “Tea Shop” – what’s the difference? In the world of tea, words swirl and float and often have no firm shape. They are like clouds and mist instead of something solid and definable like a mountain or a car. As a result we have herbals being called “herbal tea,” Rooibos being called “red tea,” terms like “brew,” “steep,” and “infuse” being used interchangeably, and the name “Tea Room” being attached to establishments that get no closer to tea than that dust-in-a-bag stuff (sort of like they said, “Oh, yeah, we need some of that ‘tea’ stuff on hand” and rushed out to the nearest grocery store to stock up). And so, we see tea rooms, tea houses, and tea shops popping up all over, often having little discernible difference between them. Thus, I posit a few thoughts and observations here for your perusal.

Dublin Tea Shop (Screen capture from site)

Dublin Tea Shop (Screen capture from site)

“Tea Room”

It’s a room where tea is served. Sounds pretty obvious. But these days a tea room can be a house where several rooms are set up to serve tea and various foods laid out in delicate fashion. Sometimes, a tea room is a corner of a hotel’s regular restaurant and is only used when they are serving that event called “Afternoon Tea” or the misnomer “High Tea.” Sadly, “tea room” is also often applied to places that are merely cafés.

“Tea House”

It’s a house dedicated to serving and enjoying tea. These are more common in some Asian countries, especially Japan where tea is so vital to their lives that it’s part of their emergency supplies (a practice which I personally find quite sensible). The chashitsu is all about tea – no distractions. If you want food, go to a restaurant. But these days “tea house” and “tea room” have become synonymous.

“Tea Shop”

It’s a place where you shop for tea. And teawares. And books about tea. These days, they also serve tea and are often called by what “the young crowd” relates to more: a tea “bar.” (Side note: anything hinting at the consumption of alcohol seems to appeal here, so we get terms like being “tea drunk” and drinking the “tea liquor.”)

Bottom Line

Don’t go by the name. If you want to know which style the establishment is, you’ll need to do a bit of checking. It seems that these days anything goes!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

People get excited about things, passionate. Thanks goodness. Otherwise we might as well be comatose. It’s just good to hold that excitement, that passion, a bit in check and not go overboard. I think of this as several major and passion-inspiring sports events have come and gone recently: the World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Tour de France, to name a few. Great events. Ones that inspire a lot of passion, a lot of excitement, a lot of team spirit. And, sadly, a lot of tea spillage. Let me explain…

Soccer, tennis, and cycling… a passionate sports season calls for lots of tea! (From Yahoo! Images)

Soccer, tennis, and cycling… a passionate sports season calls for lots of tea! (From Yahoo! Images)

The scene here is your living room, family room, or wherever you have that bigscreen TV. No wimpy TVs here. No tablets that can stream TV broadcasts. We’re talking 40” diagonal or larger. In front of this is the seating designed to certain specifications: well-padded with no springs poking up in very inconvenient places, a back that is at just the right angle for lounging (that means none of that Victorian horsehair-stuffed vertical-backed furniture where you have to sit up ramrod straight), an ottoman (unless you’re sitting in a recliner), and a table to hold your snackables, the remote control, and, most importantly, your tea!

Your timing is impeccable. You have everything ready well before the start of that sports event. You’re comfortable ensconced in that comfortable seating. The snacks are within easy reach. And the tea is at hand. Perfection!

Ah, but nothing is totally perfect.

As I said before, people get excited about things and even quite passionate. That team spirit is no exception. It’s great to cheer on your team, even when watching them on TV (those good vibes get through to them – honest!), and to get rather excited when they score. Even a non-team sport such as the Wimbledon tennis matches can have you crying out “Great shot!” or “It was in by a mile…are you blind?” (a bit of John McEnroe coming through there). The problem with such passion is that it can stir you into action… which can cause a rather messy situation regarding your snacks and tea. When the soccer ball makes it past the goalie, when that serve is smashed perfectly and your favorite player wins the match, or when those Tour de France cyclists pile up on top of each other on a sharp curve, you can jump up unexpectedly and passionately, sending everything flying. Cheese puffs, popcorn, cookies, etc., look like a snowstorm of food. But the tea is the real issue.

Hot or iced, tea is still a liquid. Therefore, it has a tendency not to stay put while you’re flinging your arm around with that cup or glass. Physics rearing its ugly head. So, make a point of setting that cup or glass down after taking a quick sip. The less time it’s in your hand, the less chance of spraying the room with tea. Of course, you could put your tea in a travel mug, so it has a lid. And then you can cheer on the victories all you want!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

During my stay in Brussels I found time to stop by the A.M. Sweet Tea Room, which is conveniently located near the old city centre. A.M. Sweet Teahouse serves a wide range of loose tea, all sourced from the Mariage Frères tea company. Their tea menu includes several Japanese green teas, an extensive range of flavoured green teas, a number of pure black teas, flavoured black teas, several rooibos, a few oolongs, and a white tea.

Shop sign photo from their blog

Shop sign photo from their blog

Among their green teas, I spotted one with which I was not familiar: Fuji-yama. This Japanese green tea is grown near Mount Fuji, and, according to the menu’s description, is defined by its “fine leaves, grand aroma, and subtle taste.” As a green tea fan who is always curious to try new varieties, I opted for Fuji-yama. My tea came served in a teapot with a loose leaf infuser, along with a complimentary, typically Belgian, biscuit. As you might expect, Fuji-yama had the distinctive grassy, slightly sweet taste that is characteristic of Japanese green teas. However, although it was not quite as grassy and sweet as a Gyokuro, it was slightly richer and more full-flavoured than a sencha.

A bit of gyokuro (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

A bit of gyokuro (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

On top of a tasty tea, the cosy interior and the very lovely, welcoming owner made my experience at the A.M. Sweet Tea Room an extremely pleasant one. And in case you need anything to accompany your tea, they also offers a delicious range of baked goods and sweet treats (both to eat whilst you are there, or packaged up to enjoy later or give to someone as a gift)—including, of course, some bona fide Belgian chocolates!

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

Green Tea Sampler (ETS image)

Those of us who have been drinking tea for a while might tend to forget that there are a lot of people for whom tea is a mystery. Which is probably more likely to be the case in a country like our own United States than someplace that’s more tea-centric, like the United Kingdom. I can vouch for this since a mere nine years ago I was one of these people who found tea quite mysterious.

This came to mind recently when I ran across a comment on Twitter recounting a tea novice’s first experience with green tea. This individual seemed surprised and perhaps a bit relieved (and perhaps a bit of both) to discover, as they put it, “it’s actually not horrible!” Well, what a relief.

Which brought to mind a few beginner’s type tea-related incidents from my own past. One concerned yours truly, in the early days of my acquaintance with tea. As it so happens someone at the office where I worked had a box of something alleged to be green tea. It was in tea bag form and so I proceeded to steep a cup of it. And proceeded to taste it. And while I didn’t spew it across the room like a character in a sitcom, I might as well have. Because it actually was quite horrible. I was familiar enough with green tea to realize that this just a bad specimen or it might have put me off green tea for a while.

The other incident took place when I had become better acquainted with tea and had gotten my hands on green tea that I considered to be not in the least bit horrible. In fact, it was nearly spectacular. I thought I would share some of this fine elixir with someone I knew who had a passing interest in green tea but not much experience with it. Who took a few sips of a it and asked for sweetener.

Needless to say I was quite floored, baffled, and put out, though I tried not to let on. But looking back on it from the perspective of someone who’s been drinking “good” tea for a while, I can see that it sort of kind of made sense. It had taken me years to get to the point where I could appreciate the subtle flavors of a delicate green tea, and so it was asking a bit much to expect a tea novice to love it at first taste.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There are any number of things you can do while drinking tea. The possibilities are probably limited only by the imagination. But there might be a few things you don’t want to try. I don’t drink tea while sleeping (I’m still working on that one), and I’m betting that trying to drink it while you’re surfing is a bad idea. Here’s another activity that’s not recommended unless you have a very specific skill set. We all surely have our own preferences when it comes to multitasking with tea, but here are a few suggestions for activities that might pair up well.

There is some evidence that the caffeine and theanine in tea combine to give your brain and your thought processes a boost. Science and research aside, most of us have probably noticed this in our day to day tea drinking. Which could be useful for a task that requires brainpower, such as crossword puzzles. Will Shortz, puzzle guy at the New York Times, apparently agreed and a while back came up with a volume called The New York Times A Cup of Tea Crosswords.

If your brain is pumped up by tea but you’d like a slightly more passive pursuit than crosswords, you could simply read. You could read about anything but, if tea’s the topic you seek, you can keep up with the topic at this very web site, in my columns about recent and upcoming tea books and other related articles. There are even quite a few works of fiction that take tea as their topic in one way or another. Read our articles about tea books here.

But you’re not limited to quiet pursuits when you’re having a cup of tea. As I noted in an article here a few years back, there is some evidence that tea might help boost your performance no matter what type of exercise you prefer. Though you might need to forego the dainty china cup and saucer and go with iced tea in a portable container. As for that notion that the caffeine in tea (and anything else) might tend to dehydrate you, take a look here for some thoughts on why that might not be the case. You could even take tea on a hike. If you’ve never considered it before then maybe you should.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Shiny surfaces, bright lighting, and basic materials seem to be hallmarks of the tea bar – the latest frenzy (it’s too fast-paced and seemingly long-lasting to be called a “fad”) in the world of tea. The high-tech yet minimalist design at one end and a warm and welcoming Asian motif at the other. They have one thing in common: great tea!

Tea Bar in the Mission district of San Francisco (Screen capture from site)

Tea Bar in the Mission district of San Francisco (Screen capture from site)

San Fran Tea Bar

The décor features lots of straight lines, stone surfaces, underlighting, large windows, and a service area that prepares teas one of two ways (as far as I can tell from the photos): in large copper pots on some type of heating element, and in glass steepers with a sleek high-tech appearance (no idea how properly they steep but I haven’t heard of any complaints so far). The color scheme is overall light and mostly muted with the focus being on the tea.

Their minimalism extends to the menu. The teas are limited to some very basic ones: English Breakfast, a green tea called “Green Ecstacy” [sic], an herbal called “Spearmint Sage,” a traditional Masala Chai and a vegan (unexplained – probably uses that “soy milk” stuff) Masala Chai, Matcha served as either a shot or a shake, an iced Plum Pu-erh (they don’t say if it’s sheng or shu), and something called “Rosie Palmer.” They also have an extremely limited selection of scones: sweet (lemon and tart cherry) or savory (scallion and dry jack).

Zhongshan Port, China

The tea bar in China is more of a store, but over there taking time to infuse a bit of the tea and discuss it with the tea shop experts is fairly common. This one specializes in a particular brand of pu-erh tea. There are lots of shiny surfaces (mainly that gorgeous flooring), plenty of direct and indirect lighting, plenty of touches of red (the color of good fortune in Chinese culture), and wonderful carved and very sturdy-looking tables and chairs. The emphasis is on trying and learning about the teas.

New Dayi flasgship store in Zhongshan Port, China (From Yahoo! Images)

New Dayi flasgship store in Zhongshan Port, China (From Yahoo! Images)

A Far Cry from Chintz and Lace

We often think of tea as being served in those tea rooms decorated with floral patterns, pastel shades of blue, yellow, green, and pink, and lacy curtains on the windows. Plenty of these cozy and inviting establishments are around, but the above two shops indicate that a change is in the works. Something for everybody and every taste – that’s the standard in the world of tea.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea (ETS image)

Gyokuro Japanese Green Tea (ETS image)

Once upon a time the best teas were reserved for the aristocrats, monarchs, emperors, etc., and were presented as “tribute teas.” It was at first voluntary and then mandated. That meant that the rest of the tea drinkers around got the leftovers, which were often quite passable, just not of premium quality. The tribute tea system has long since gone by the wayside, in part due to demand from other parts of the world for that level of quality and in part due to a rise in demand for cheaper teas to satiate a seemingly insatiable public. Tea cultivation spread to more and more countries with the focus on quantity and speedier production (meaning big shiny machines). After a couple of centuries of this, the pendulum in tea production and enjoyment seems to be swinging back toward those premium teas. Does that mean they are becoming more mainstream? I sure hope so!

Some Key Factors in Premium Teas

Premium teas aren’t just a tea that someone slaps a label on bearing the word “premium.” Such teas need to meet certain key standards. I’ve listed a few I look for:

  • Hand-harvested – this goes for teas like Silver Needle, Bi Luo Chun, or a nice tippy Assam.
  • Hand-processed – the teas named above are usually hand-processed, and this is preferred for a tea to be considered premium, but other teas such as matcha can be machine-harvested and –processed or hand-processed and still claim that honor.
  • Overall exceptionalism – that is where the matcha figures in here, along with top-grade gyokuro, and many private label pu-erhs put together by true tea masters.
  • General form – with the exception of matcha (and possibly some others), premium teas will generally not be in that “ground to dust” form filling those millions of teabags out there; in fact, they will usually not be in teabags but will be packed loose in a sealed pouch or tea tin.

Some Signs that Availability Is Increasing

You know how you can tell when your pristine, golfcourse-looking lawn has a dandelion problem? Yep, those bright yellow flowers dotting the landscape. Well, tea is a bit like that. Smaller vendors have been popping up like those sunny weedy flowers. I’m talking about the ones that focus on those premium teas, not the ones that focus on flavored teas (with lots of stuff added in among the tea leaves), and have them as 90% or more of their total tea line-up. Another sign of those premium teas becoming more mainstream is when you see big vendors start to carry them. I received several samples like that recently. The vendor generally carries only bagged teas in those tall, round tins. But they have brought out several more premium teas such as a first flush Darjeeling and a Milk Oolong. Still another sign for me was a photo of a guy in London… yes, that’s London, England! …who was demonstrating the gongfu style of preparing tea. Boy, things have sure changed in Merry Olde England! Yippee!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Braving the outdoors for tea time! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Braving the outdoors for tea time! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

It’s Summer. You are probably spending a lot more time outdoors than you do in Winter. Hiking, boating, riding bikes, swimming… and enjoying tea! I have here a few do’s and don’ts that will help you enjoy that tea outdoors a bit better. At least, I hope they will.

1 Do Beware of Insects

Summer is sweet tea time for many folks. And for others, sweet tea is a year-round event but in Summer they get to enjoy it outdoors. The “sweet” in sweet tea usually comes from sugar. And that makes it attractive to certain critters, including bees and wasps. So a covered cup is a good thing.

2 Don’t Worry About Spills

A great thing about eating and drinking outdoors never seems to get mentioned: you don’t have to worry about spills! Well, not most of the time. And this is especially true of tea. You can certainly shed a tear over spilt tea, but you won’t need to worry about carpet stains, tablecloths ruined, etc. Your deck or patio are another matter.

3 Do Bring Enough to Share

Tea tends to draw a crowd. The sight of you swigging (and hopefully not spilling) your iced tea, sweet or not, will naturally attract attention. Be ready with a bit extra. Having some to share is always a friendly gesture.

4 Don’t Overstay the Tea

When the tea is gone, your time outdoors should be done. You need to go back inside the house or a store or a tea shop and get some more tea. It makes the great outdoors, with it myriad trials and tribulations (biting critters, rocks that trip you, sun that burns you, etc.) much more bearable.

5 Do Come Back Outside

When you have more tea, head back out and be ready for more outdoor enjoyment!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Categories

Explore our content:

Find us on these sites:


Follow Us!     Like Us!     Follow Us!     Follow Us!     Plus 1 Us!
Follow Tea Blog on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Tweet This!    add to del.icio.us    add to furl    digg this    stumble it!    add to simpy    seed the vine    add to reddit     post to facebook    technorati faves

Copyright Notice:

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blog Affiliates

blogged
Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory

Networked Blogs

%d bloggers like this: