Simplicity -- A Lost Art?

Every new technology represents a trade-off: something is gained, but something is also lost. -- "Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat" by Bee Wilson (www.ConsidertheFork.com)

While researching tea, foodie trends, and lifestyles for my blog, I came across this quote regarding the basic wooden spoon. ("Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat" by Bee Wilson).

"The wooden spoon does not look particularly sophisticated—traditionally, it was given as a booby prize to the loser of a competition—but it has science on its side. Wood is nonabrasive and therefore gentle on pans—you can scrape away without fear of scarring the metal surface. It is nonreactive: you need not worry that it will leave a metallic taste or that its surface will degrade on contact with acidic citrus or tomatoes. It is also a poor conductor of heat, which is why you can stir hot soup with a wooden spoon without burning your hand. Above and beyond its functionality, however, we cook with wooden spoons because we always have."

After reading the above quote I began to think about how the enjoyment and preparation of tea has changed over the years. Interestingly, we return to three basic ingredients for our tea preparation and enjoyment -- water, tea leaves, and a cup.

Oh, how we have progressed from the simplicity of a leaf falling from a tree into a pot of boiling water to the high-tech water-heating devices available in today's tea markets. Tea has certainly moved into the world of technology. Take the BREVILLE® ONE-TOUCH TEA MAKER, it heats water to the correct temperature for your tea, lowers the tea basket automatically into the water, and, at the correct time, auto-lifts the basket to prevent over steeping. It will keep your tea warm for up to 60 minutes. Tea made simply. (http://www.teavana.com/us/en/teaware/tea-makers/breville-one-touch-tea-maker) I don't know about you but that certainly does not sound like "Tea made simply" to me. I have also found, through my own experiences, that the more technology involved the more likely it is that something will go wrong. . . Just saying. 

The Beauty and Peace of a Cup of Tea

The Beauty and Peace of a Cup of Tea

Somewhere in between the simplest form of tea preparation to the most high-tech tea preparation devices , we have the beautiful Japanese Tea Ceremony. This tea preparation ceremony joins the peacefulness of spirituality with the palatability of Japanese green tea in the surroundings of a setting arranged to enhance the experience. The History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, p. 136, offers a splendid description of this particular form of tea preparation.

The Beauty and Simplicity of a Cuo of Matcha

The Beauty and Simplicity of a Cuo of Matcha

Just as the wooden spoon continues to be the most frequently used kitchen utensil let us continue to keep our tea time simple while concentrating on using the best water at the correct temperature, quality loose-leaf tea, and a peaceful, fun setting. The simplicity of a cup of tea shared with friends and family can certainly add joy and peace to one's existence in today's stressfull environment.

Remember, keep it simple. 

The Tea And Hat Lady  

Building a Tea Library

What could possibly be the best accompaniment with a cup of tea than a good book. Of course along with that cup of tea one should be wearing comfy sweats and be consumed in silence -- I am talking "home alone silence." So it only seems natural that a tea person should have a thorough tea library; in fact, every tea person I know has an extensive tea library some of the material in hardcopy, some ebooks, and some as audio books. You name the device and I bet I could find a tea publication that utilizes that media.

In many eyes this would be a very small tea library but in my eyes this demonstrates my tea passion through books, accessories, and tradition of family..  

In many eyes this would be a very small tea library but in my eyes this demonstrates my tea passion through books, accessories, and tradition of family..  

With all the Tea publications available, how does one choose which books to add to their personal library?  After all, there are books that address tea history as well as tea agriculture, processing, preparation, selection, culinary uses and let us not forget the occasional fictional character that enjoys a cuppa tea. As a student of the leaf, my approach was to first explore the authors available. My original selections were of authors I knew and respected for their knowledgeable and experience within the tea industry and authors known as the long-term (take  notice I did not say "old") sages of the industry. Therefore, my first selection of books were written by Norwood Pratt, John Harney, Michael Harney, Jane Pettigrew, and Bruce Richardson. I have had the opportunity to meet all these fantastic people through the Specialty Tea Institute and attendances at World Tea Expos. Later as I got to know more people in the industry, I added Lisa Bolt Richardson, Linda Gaylard, Earlene Grey, Kevin Gascoyne, and others to my preferred authors list.

Books, Books, and yet there are still tea books I have yet to discover.  

Books, Books, and yet there are still tea books I have yet to discover.  

Next I will select a book that addresses a specific topic about tea.  Reviewing my tea book selections, I find that I have books that address countries of origin, the terroirs of tea gardens, and detailed tea historical times. My most recent tea book purchases have been books on how to incorporate tea into culinary/beverage recipes. Tea can be used to create an marinade for meats, infusion for rice and vegetables, a rub for meats and fish, or as seasoning similar to using herbs just to mention a few of the culinary uses being written about by tea culinary enthusiasts. I would be amiss if I did not mention the trending use of tea as an ingredient to cocktails and, of course, there are books available on "how to" construct these cocktails. There is no limitation to the versatility of tea . . . Just let your imagination go!

Let us not forget the occasional fictional character that enjoys a splendid cuppa tea. My fictional tea library consists mostly of mysteries where the main character owns a tea room or shop, is a detective who enjoys tea, or where the magical calmness of tea enhances the hero or heroine's effectiveness to solve the pending mystery. Yes, I have definitely been known to buy and read a book just because the cover pictured a beautiful tea setting and even better yet if the tea setting included a woman, enjoying tea, wearing a chapeaux. 

Yes, my tea book library does include the latest trend . . . Tea coloring books. There are outstanding tea coloring books available that allows and encourages creativity. Enjoy!

Yes, my tea book library does include the latest trend . . . Tea coloring books. There are outstanding tea coloring books available that allows and encourages creativity. Enjoy!

Utilizing multi-media search engines one can usually find a book on any tea topic, for any tea use, or by any author. Oh my, I almost forgot to mention the books that are available to record the teas tasted, tea rooms visited, and tea experiences shared. I must admit that I spend more time reading about the fictional character who enjoys a cuppa tea than I do about the countries of origin or terroirs but I am able to state that I do learn something from each book I read. 

Here's to your next cuppa tea and learning experience through books,  

The Tea And Hat Lady

Tea or Tisane

Do you prefer Tea or a Tisane? In many cases people say they have had a cup of tea when what they enjoyed was a Tisane--an herbal infusion. To discuss Teas and Tisanes, let us first look at a definition for each.

Tea -- An infusion steeped from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. All teas (white, green, oolong, black, yellow and pu'erh) come from the same plant. The botanical name of this versatile plant is Camellia sinensis.  "Tea" is anything derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. All true teas contain some degree of caffeine.

 

The Camellia Sinensis plant with leaves, flowers, and seed pods

The Camellia Sinensis plant with leaves, flowers, and seed pods

 Tisane -- Herbal infusions (a French word for "herbal infusion") are usually dried flowers, fruits or herbs steeped in boiling water (no true tea leaves are included). Historically consumed for medicinal reasons or as a caffeine-free alternative.

Olive leaves with flowers. 

Olive leaves with flowers. 

I enjoy both true teas and tisanes, finding both to be beneficial for my well-being.  In my little corner of the tea world I enjoy (and believe benefit from) herbs infused with teas to create a beverage that will satisfy my thirst while providing wellness benefits. For example this morning I am in desperate need of a very strong bowl of Matcha followed by a strong cup of Chamomile. Both will provide me a calmness that I so desperately need. Granted, I have not actually infused my Matcha with Chamomile but after thinking about this statement, it would be possible and I believe appealing. I will give this a try and let you know about the results.

Some of my favorite Tea/Tisane infusions are a roasted Oolong with Hawthorn berries. I will also take a strong black tea (I.e., an English or Scottish Breakfast Tea)  and add tinctures of Astragalus or Ashwagandha to build my immune system. Please note that I have consulted, and recommend that you do the same, with an Herbalist and my physician before using these herbs, as some herbs can interfere with prescribed medications. I have also added lemons for the vitamin C to any iced tea, this is especially delicious in iced Matcha.

 

Iced Matcha with Lemon. 

Iced Matcha with Lemon. 

It just occurred to me that perhaps I had better explain what I am referring to when talking about infusions. In the culinary world infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time. In simpler terms steeping tea in water creates an infusion. I will also make a tea infusion to substitute for water when making rice. Remember true tea is edible and can be added to food just like herbs and seasoning.

Whether you enjoy a Tea, Tisane or combination of these, Enjoy your wellness beverage.

The Tea And Hat Lady

Not Your Average Tea Event

The final days of World Tea Expo (WTE) were filled with social media development, sensory stimulation, and final visits to the exhibit floor to, once again, sampling the outstanding teas available.

Many of us continued our WTE experience by participating in a Meet and Greet gathering of the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association (MATBA) for the purpose of introducing those new to the tea industry to MATBA's mission and activities. Those of us in MATBA leadership roles are thrilled to welcome three new members and look forward to the opportunity to share our experiences in building success in tea.

 

A sampling of Pu'ers and teas available on the floor at WTE, 2016.  

A sampling of Pu'ers and teas available on the floor at WTE, 2016.  

 "A great meal is an experience that nourishes more than your body." In the March 28, 1948 letter Lulu writes to Mr. Beard. Delicious, A Novel by Ruth Reichl.

The above quote describes exactly how I felt after leaving The Tea Pairing in the Sky hosted by Alize and Seven Cups two weeks ago. The food, tea, and ambiance proved to be an experience worthy of the expenditure. Since I have posted and tweeted several times about the tea and food, I am going to concentrate on the overall event and  this phenomenal experience. I have attended many tea pairings, some interesting and enlightening while others were disappointing but, never have I left a tea pairing feeling as luxuriously pampered as I did when leaving this "tea experience."

After giving the event much thought I came to the conclusion that what was successfully offered that evening was a one of a kind "tea experience." Granted many of us have shared tea with famous tea professionals in many different types of surroundings and left feeling satisfied. But when you are provided properly prepared exceptional teas along with deliciously presented dishes while surrounded in an environment of soft music, soothing lightening, soft table linens, exquisite table and glassware all orchestrated to provide the attendee superior fooding stimulation -- that, my dear, is a "tea experience."

 

The ingredients of a "One-of-a-Kind" Tea Experience. 

The ingredients of a "One-of-a-Kind" Tea Experience. 

In my book, the standards have been set for providing others a "tea experience." It is no longer acceptable to just provide properly steeped good tea, you must consider the vessel in which the tea is served, the presentation of the tea, and the comfort of your participant. The key to success is in the preparation -- know your tea, present the tea in the most appealing form possible, and most of all provide an environment that will enhance the experience. Successful events are planned in advance -- tea and food are sampled, the atmosphere is created, and participant comfort is highlighted.

Lifting my cuppa that your next tea sampling will be a genuine Tea Experience, 

The Tea And Hat Lady  

 

 

State of the Tea Industry -- Day 2 WTE

A sampling of the many speciality teas available for cupping at the WTE 2016  

A sampling of the many speciality teas available for cupping at the WTE 2016  

As much as my first day of World Tea Expo (WTE) was sensory development; day two was motivation to play an active role in the future of the tea industry. I had the honor of emceeing three tea education workshops addressing the evolution of tea in the foodservice industry, the current state of the tea industry, and ways to provide customers an innovative afternoon tea. (Although in the Central Pennsylvania area Sweet Remembrances has it covered by offering themed teas along with delicious food and properly steeped tea.)

Industry research is encouraging in that tea continues to increase in consumer consumption and culinary exploration to provide tea enthusiasts a life-pleasing experience. Probably the most thought provoking information I received during this second day of tea was to begin to look at tea as an ingredient. Tea can be a marinating ingredient, used for infusions, as a rub, and always remember that quality loose leaf tea can be eaten. (Please note that I said "Quality Loose Leaf Tea.")

Following my morning of being motivated by the happenings within the tea industry, I attended the Tea Bloggers Roundtable. An extremely interesting group of tea bloggers, with each approaching/sharing their tea knowledge and experiences in a different format that remains to be entertaining while informative. Watch for a Tea Bloggers Roundtable link from my blog soon. (A discovery I made while traveling is that one cannot revamp one's blog from a Mobil device. So you see there is still a need to own a computer. The world cannot be totally at your finger tips with an iPhone and iPad.)

Then it was off to the World Tea Awards (the Red Carpet of the Tea Industry) Reception. Congratulations are extended to all those nominated and awarded this year's awards. The award recipients certainly represented the movers and shakers of the industry.

The day of tea industry education ended with attendance at a Tea/Chinese Food pairing at Niu Gu restaurant in Chinatown Las Vegas. The event hosted by Tealet paired traditional Chinese teas with American Chinese cuisine. It was a pleasure to once again meet up with established tea friends while discovering new friends with a shared interest and appreciation for tea.

Raising my cuppa to having experienced a fan-tea-tic day at WTE, 

The Tea And Hat Lady

 

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Immersed In Tea

This and the next two blogs will detail my personal experiences while attending the 2016 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. 

Day One involved an opportunity to experience the basics of tea blending through the professional guidance of STI.  

Then it was off to a wonderful networking experience at the Tealet offices hosted by the USA Tea Festival Group. A very tea-filled day of many opportunities and experiences.  

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For a Healthy Life -- Go Back In Time

The Olive Leaf -- While watching the leaves steep in my cup, the lighter undersides are definitely visible.  

The Olive Leaf -- While watching the leaves steep in my cup, the lighter undersides are definitely visible.  

This morning I am enjoying my daily Matcha smoothie and as a bonus a cuppa of Olive Leaf Tea. The Olive Leaf Tea is something new for me, I have read a lot about this leaf and it's possible healthy benefits throughout my studies of herbs. According to many articles continuous use of Olive Leaf Extract or Tea  can increase energy, be benefical for blood pressure, painful joints, cardio vascular issues, and diminish cravings.

Here again, the more I read about Herbs, leaves, and natural foods (no preservatives added), the more I realize the American lifestyle in the early 40's and 50's was a healthy lifestyle. Most American homes had a garden for their own home-grown vegetables, especially tomatoes. After school snacks were homemade by Mothers and probably the most important norm was all family members sat down to dinner together -- they talked about their days, dreams, and plans. Ahhhhh, peace. 

Okay now that I have had my lovely trip down memory lane let's get back to "what is in my cup this morning." Oh yes, the Olive Leaf -- the taste is light and floral with a mild vegetable background with a slight astringent after taste. Very enjoyable beverage which presents an amazing "agony of leaf" dance  for your enjoyment during the steeping process. 

  • As an antioxidant, Olive leaf extract protects those blood vessels from damage, and has been shown to be effective in protecting the heart from coronary occlusion. When taken over an extended period of time, it is believed to reverse arteriosclerosis. Olive leaves are astringent and antiseptic. Both the leaves and the bark have valuable febrifuge qualities. (Www.herbwisdom.com)

Here's raising my cuppa "Olive Leaf Tisane" to you today. The sun is shinning beautifully here in Central Pennsylvania, the earth is warming, and I am enjoying life . . . Wishing you the same. 

The Tea And Hat Lady  

In My Corner of the Tea World

During the last couple of weeks my tea corner of the world has included new tea books, new teas, tea cuppings with friends (old and new), and preparation for the 2016 World Tea Expo http://www.worldteaexpo.com/, But long before the World Tea Expo is my participation at the Southwest Tea Festival on February 27, 2016, in Las Vegas. (Good thing, we decided to Winter in the Southwest.) https://tealet.com/ The Southwest Tea Festival is planned by an energetic group of young Tea Professionals that will soon be taking the industry by storm . . . If they have not already done so. I am so looking forward to spending the day with Naomi, Elyse, and Ree. 

Preparation to attend a trade show can be time consuming to say the least. First there is the on-line registration process to conquer as well as deciding which events are worth the additional fee(s). This decision involves does one base an attendance decision on the topic being presented or on the person/people doing the presentation. Granted there are tea professionals I enjoy hearing from year after year but if one does that then you never have an opportunity to meet the new up and coming tea professionals. In either situation I find that I always learn something new about tea and its contribution to a healthy lifestyle.  

Experiencing teas from independent tea farms  https://tealet.com/ and Elyse Petersen.

Experiencing teas from independent tea farms  https://tealet.com/ and Elyse Petersen.

The 2016 activi-teas are beginning with a renewed energy and enthusiasm.  

Raising my cuppa to sharing tea with all involved, 

The Tea And Hat Lady  

New Year -- New Look

Wow, what an ordeal . . . All I wanted to do was to be able to quickly blog from my iPad through an App. In order to use the Squarespace app that is recommended I had to be using Squarespace 7 which meant a full day of changing versions of the Host's service, changing the Domain Name connection, and finally cancelling the Squarespace 5 page. Okay, that's done now I have to learn how to function in the newer version, fine tune the appearance of my page, and make sure the iPad App updates work. 

So . . . . Here it goes. 

Certainly a cuppa tea is needed when dealing with Tech Assistance.    

Certainly a cuppa tea is needed when dealing with Tech Assistance.