Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oolong Shot

The healthy benefits of drinking tea are receiving more press every day, so I was quite interested when I came across a new product by this Japanese company.  Dr. Andrew Weil says on the Ito En website “I have long been an outspoken advocate of tea for its restorative properties and health benefits.  This unsweetened tea line maintains the integrity and essence of the whole leaf, its health-promoting constituents and its authentic tastes.”

Oolong Shot tea has 17l mg of polyphenols in one can – this will help maintain a healthy heart and neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.  I really like that this product is made with loose tea and is unsweetened.  I’m looking forward to discovering if it also tastes  good.  There is also a Sencha Shot.

Ito En (founded in 1966) developed the first ready-to-drink green teas.  The Natural Fruit Tea line sounds delicious and includes green tea blueberry, apple, mango, peach and more.  These do contain natural cane sugar, but no added colors.  The company also sells loose tea, gifts, teapots, tea timers, etc.  I loved the sterling silver Gingko Leaf sugar tongs.  Their website has a lot of great tea information.  You can check it out at www.itoen.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Calm-A-Sutra of Tea

The Tea Council of the USA, Inc. has announced the 2009 National Scholarship Competition.  It is called the Calm-A-Sutra Of Tea and has an award of a $l5,000 scholarship to the winning entry.  Entries are uploaded to You Tube and I found last years entries to be very entertaining.  There was a lot of talent, humor and creativiTEA in these videos.

The Tea Council is looking for videos with the most unique and creative way to drink tea, while also outlining the many health benefits.  This would include tea flavonoids and how they impact your health, etc.  Entries must be received by midnight on Sunday, May 31, 2009. 

What a great way to educate young people on the numerous health benefits of tea.  Check out the website and also some of last years entries at www.teausa.com/calmasutra/

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tetsubin teapots (tet-SUE-bin)

Tetsubin (cast iron teapots) were once used for boiling water over a hearth to provide heat and humidity in cold weather.


In the mid 19th century, when infused tea (Sencha) became popular in Japan, Tetsubin gained status and became much more than simple everyday kitchen items.  Many were elaborately decorated with high relief designs or metal inlay.  Mine are quite simple, but I do like the bamboo design and blue color of this one.


One advantage of a cast iron teapot is its ability to hold heat much longer than china, glass and other materials.  Most Tetsubin are quite small because of their weight.  Many are enameled on the inside and come with a stainless steel mesh infusing basket.  Mine have a very fine mesh which is great for finer green tea leaves, such as Gyokuro.

There are many online sources to buy Tetsubin teapots.  The Stash Tea Catalog for instance.  www.stashtea.com   The Tetsubin Tea Company has a wonderful selection including an Artist Series of Tetsubin teapots.  www.tetsubinteaco.com  


A Tetsubin teapot is easy to care for.  Simply rinse it with hot water and wipe it dry after each use.  Be careful not to expose it to salt or oils and don’t use abrasive pads or harsh detergents.

Here is the last teapot in my collection.  I hope to add at least one more ornate and colorful pot with a high relief design.



Tetsubin teapots are highly collectible and are a beautiful reflection of the Japanese culture and history.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There’s Always Time For Tea

This is a busy time for most of us and I’m no exception.  My youngest brother, whom I haven’t seen for a couple of years, called to tell me that he, his wife, new baby Tess and their dog are taking a road trip from Toronto area and plan on dropping in on their way to Savannah.  Now how do I clean and organize 35 years of accumulated household goods in less than a week?  I’m a tad behind with clutter organization, spring cleaning, etc.

Well, as a friend pointed out – they just want to see us and don’t care if our home isn’t House Beautiful worthy.  Sadly, my computer time will be limited over the next week or so.  I’ll leave you with a little poem that spoke to me, as I rushed around cleaning up after my grandsons, chauffeuring them to school and back, helping with homework, etc.

       The Long View!

Some day of days! Some dawning yet to be

I shall be clothed with immortality!

And in that day, I shall not greatly care

That Jane spilt candle grease upon the stair,

It will not grieve me then as once it did,

That careless hands have chipped my teapot lid.

I groan, being burdened.  But in that glad day,

I shall forget vexations of the way.

That needs were often great, when means were small,

Will not perplex me any more at all.

A few short years at most (it may be less),

I shall have done with earthly storm and stress.

So, for this day, I lay me at Thy feet,

O, keep me sweet, my Master, keep me sweet!

- Fay Inchfawm

So now I’m going to tell myself – Don’t Panic! – and sit down to a nice cup of tea while I plan my cooking and cleaning strategy.

Hope you have a beautiful, busy day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flowering Teas

Recently I tried one of my flowering teas.  The gift box came with a glass teapot, infuser and a canister with twelve different tea flowers.  It is green tea with fresh jasmine.


I decided to try a tea flower called Fairy Lily.  It was well packaged in airtight cellophane.

P4020433      P4020439

The tea flower is a little strange looking when dry, but the end result is quite lovely.


It was difficult to see the flower unfurling at first, but then it was very interesting to watch.

P4020443   P4020445

I’m not a big fan of jasmine tea, but I found this to be pleasant and not excessively flowery.


It should be interesting to see how the other flowers compare to the Fairy Lily.  Each one is tied in such a way as to become a unique  looking flower.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Delightful Tea Calendar

It’s funny how you look forward to seeing how everyday little pleasures will unfold on your birthday.  I wondered what little bit of tea information would come to light today on my tea calendar and I wasn’t disappointed.  Today I learned something new about tea.


Here’s the entry for April 9:

In 1700s London, tea was the major beverage served in coffee houses.  Exclusively for men, these coffee houses were termed “penny universities”.  For a penny, a man could buy a pot of tea and a newspaper while engaging in lively conversations with other men who shared his interests.

This is a lovely little calendar with watercolor paintings of teapots and cups on each page.  Makes me want to find my old watercolor paints and brushes and dabble in painting again.  I love how there is a strong magnetic back and it can be attached to my fridge – very convenient.  I’ll certainly be looking for the 2010 version as soon as next years calendars hit the stores.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tea and Cross-stitch

Many people like to cross-stitch, but I’m not one of them.  I’d rather create with a sewing machine, pretty papers and stamps or even a paint brush.  Fortunately, I can still enjoy many wonderful tea theme cross-stitch pieces made by my hubby.  His work is beautiful.  One of my favorites is a teacup wreath design by the talented painter, Sandy Lynam Clough, that I asked him to stitch for me.


I love blue and white china and have these pieces in my dining room.  Don even made the cord trim for the little blue willow teapot ornament.

          P4030463       P4030459

He made an oriental teapot piece for a gift to give a co-worker, and of course I asked for one too. 


This one needs a nice bamboo wood frame.  It will be nice displayed with my tetsubin teapots.  Don has completed many wonderful pieces of cross-stitch over the years.  Sadly, many of them are in storage, since the cost of quality framing is prohibitive.  Every once in a while I get them out and admire each one myself, or sometimes I let my crafTea friends look at them. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tea Poetry

When the world is all at odds

And the mind is all at sea,

Then cease the useless tedium

And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its fragrance,

There is solace in its taste;

And the laden moments vanish

Somehow into space.

And the world becomes a lovely thing!

There’s beauty as you’ll see;

All because you briefly stopped

To brew a cup of tea.

- William Gladstone

Tea can be a great consoler when the worst has just happened; or something we enjoy when things are going just swimmingly.   I like this poem by Gladstone and would like to find more tea poetry.  Pearl Dexter (of Tea A Magazine) has written a book of tea poetry and I know that it is available at Amazon – it will be going on my wish list.  

Friday, April 3, 2009

ONE Fabulous Teakettle

I’m not sure that I’m ready to give up my old faithful Russell Hobbs electric kettle, but the ONE kettle sure makes me give it some thought.  This electric kettle is the best one I’ve ever had (and there have been so many) and has lasted through at least five or six uses every day for the past several years.


One day I was doing some research online and came across this design competition.


I think that this winning entry is fantastic.  This teakettle is designed to both boil and serve.  It looks so pretty when the heat brings out the blue pattern, signaling that the water is boiled (thermo chromic inks).  It has a heat activated magnetic trivet that attaches to the base only when the kettle is hot, so it can be placed directly on the table.


The neck of the kettle (doesn’t it look like a vase) is designed so that it doesn’t get hot and you can carry it.  The four designers (Dan Chung, Tony Ruth, Steve Abueva and Mike Serafin) did an awesome job.  I wonder how long it will be before I can get my hands on one of these kettles?  Check out www.tea-off.com and a blog post at www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/tea-off-the-kettle  The blog post has excellent photos of the inner workings of this innovative kettle. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pouchong Oolong Tea

Well, it’s a dull, rainy April Fools Day and so, I’m grateful for the humorous posts on my friends blogs that gave me a good laugh to start my day.  I opened my tea cupboard this morning and while making my choice, this little bag of Pouchong tea that I picked up on a visit to The Tea Room in Savannah, GA, seemed to beckon.  Pouchong is the least processed of Oolong teas and originates in Taiwan and also Fujian Province in China.

               blog photos  

This tea is often used as a base for scented teas such as Jasmine, which most of us have tried at some point in our favorite Chinese restaurant.  I also like that this tea is enjoyed without the addition of milk.  Lately, I’ve read that the addition of milk to my black tea may destroy some of the health benefits.  Pouchong already has a sweet taste, but a little honey never hurts, does it? 


This is a pretty Royal Albert bone china cup and saucer from England.  The pattern is called Moss Rose.  I don’t use it often since it has a rather uncomfortable to hold handle.  To be honest, I usually drink my morning cup of black tea from a large mug (less trips to the kitchen for a refill), but somehow that didn’t seem appropriate for this tea.

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