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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tea in the Morning

So I could go on for quite some time about how my sleep schedule has been messed up for about 3 weeks now.  Quite often resulting in multiple nights in a row of 6 hours or less of sleep even if that means being awake hours before I would even consider leaving for the office.  So quite a bit of the tea I have been having lately has been in the morning.  This is a bit of a mix up from my normal tea routine.  Why?

Strong tea is brutal on a mostly empty stomach!

Think a good deep steamed sencha is good first thing in the morning, with a little bit of cereal to nibble on?  Think again, it will have you suddenly raiding your pantry and fridge for anything more substantial to help bring your stomach back into a happy place.  Sencha is not alone, pretty much all teas brewed strong have this effect, whether they are the classic black tea, or an Oolong.  ( I am not even sure I would dare try matcha!)

The solution is one of two things, either stick to teas you know that can be pleasant when brewed lighter, Black teas are a classic example of this, while Gaoshan oolongs tend to be light and soothing enough that you can brew them just a hair lighter than normal.

Or simply prepare yourself a nice hearty meal to go with the tea:

Bunch 10272013 (1)

It is Sunday Funday after all!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Mini-Video series on Styles of teaware.

On  Teachat I was given a great suggestion to do videos on styles of teaware.  While I think the intial intention was a single video, the more I tried to wrap my mind around how to set the up the more daunting of a task it seemed to be.  So I decided to break it up into sections, the first part of which is is Korean Teaware has been filmed and released for your viewing pleasure.

In the future look forward to ones on Japanese teaware, likely multiple videos covering teapots and teacups separately.  I also think a general one covering the Chawan/ Teabowl in general is needed as it covers a wide variety of countries and style.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What can tea do for you?

99 Kunming Factory Red in Red (3)

Honestly tea can do lots of things for various people, and it can be all sorts of things to various people, but I am here to talk about one particular effect that is helping me so much right now.  I currently find myself sipping on the first cup of tea from a session of a tea that I had recently gotten in.  This one being a Korean Sejak green tea.  But for the point of this story, the tea is nearly irrelevant, but while still quite tense, I am slowly finding myself sinking into a relaxation state as I really work on enjoying every aspect of this tea.   This relaxation effect is the heart of this post.  But first lets back track about 6 hours.

After an otherwise typical Friday morning in the office, productive but quiet and everything toned down while people are just trying to get their work done before they start the weekend.  Friday afternoon starts, and slowly, but almost surely it was seeming as if the flood gates were breaking.  One thing, then another, then another, then I think things are about to settle down, I return to my desk check my email... and I saw the subject and just from that I said to myself "I should just go home" knowing it was only going to make me upset/ frustrated/ furious/ angry pick one or hell pick all.  But being a good worker, I opened the email, got all of the aforementioned emotions, and looked into the issue some more, only getting more so and more so of all of those emotions.

A quick jaunt over to my boss to explain what I found out about the issue which I am not sure I could adequately put into words how convoluted the set of events happened to be that lead to this horrible series of unfortunate events, I think I may need to write the Project Control Office and give them a thank you card for making parts of my last month a living hell by simply assigning me a simple task, that ended up being broken three... wait -- now four ways to Sunday due to software upgrades getting pushed to employees computers.  So explaining the detailed set of problems to my boss, clearly worked up because in the few minutes after this he said in three different ways "It is late enough, you should just go home." Followed by a few other people I *tried* to have normal conversations with about other work items in the next 10 minutes.

Sticking around long enough to tie up a few lose ends, I realized if I was told by 5 people, including myself the same thing, there must clearly be a reason.  I swear I was on the edge of twitching on the way home, and even getting settled when I got home.  Thankfully my new hotplate arrived today, so broke that in and got started on tea.

Hashiri Shincha

Tea being the wonderful beverage that it is, now has me maybe calm is not the right word, but settled enough to start feeling refreshed and realize it is the weekend, and the boss I really had to talk to about the issue had already left so there was not much that can be resolved until Monday.   I am not sure how tea does it, but  it is incredible how tea gives you energy when you are tired, and calms you when you are charged.  As such it is something I drink with passion and vigor.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A speck of optimism

99 Kunming Factory Red in Red (2)

It is a rainy fall day here in Mid-Michigan, and today I finally got around to doing something that will help get my tea sessions back on track.  Somewhat shortly after moving for my new job, my electric hot plate boiled its last kettle full of water.  Throw in the mess of new job, new place, new expenses, new area, new almost everything.  My budget has been horrid nearly all summer, and I kept telling myself, I will replace the hot plate when it is the end of the month and I have the spare room in my budget.

Maybe it is a good thing, but I try and keep my budgets so tight that there was never room in my budget, so come October I decided it is a priority and needed when it gets so cool I just want to keep a warm kettle on all after noon while drinking tea.  So I can look forward to once more being able to use other kettles, especially my Lins Ceramic kettle which I dearly miss using.

Currently in my cup (pictured above) a 1999 Kunming Factory Red and Red sample.  Nice and soothing, but I can't seem to dial it in between too light and too heavy, though bitterness is not really the issue in the too heavy, so maybe this does have some hints of age.

99 Kunming Factory Red in Red

Aged teas seem to do wonderfully in the cooler weather, and I have stockpiled a small selection including some delicious Aged Baozhong that I can not wait to dig into later this fall. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Confessions of an avid Tea Drinker

I am sorry, I realize it has been quite a while since I posted.  So while I try and put it on my list to take new and interesting photos, I decided to put out a somewhat fun and hopefully quick post.  Here are my confessions as an avid tea drinker.
  • I reboil water... often.  
  • This is one hard fast rule I am not completely sure I buy, at least not as far as it is normally sold.  Based on the properties that water has, especially its ability to somewhat quickly take on air when undergoing a turbulent action such as being poured through the air, or splashing slightly while hitting a cup, basically all sorts of actions undertaken while drinking tea, not to mention the subtle slurping from the cup when drinking.  The whole the water has lost all its oxygen and that it will taste worse for that point is dubious to me.  Not to mention in natural processes warmer water has  a harder time holding oxygen than cold water, so in theory any hot water is already losing massive amounts of the dissolved oxygen in the water, so whether you are keeping warm, or reboiling that issue is still there.
  • I give up on bad tea fairly quickly.
  • File this under: life is too short to spend a lot of time drinking bad tea.  
  • I have a hard time talking to most people about tea.
  • To be fair I had this problem with mathematics too. This really comes down to the huge disconnect between how they see tea, and how I see tea.  On a related note, I just smile and nod, and try not to make any comments when ever someone tells me "Oh you must love the great tea selection in _____ grocery store."  Call me a snob if you must, but if it is on a US grocery store shelf, I have a hard time considering it as tea, especially if it is not even loose leaf.  I don't get how people hear tea drinker, and think I would love the revolting display of what flavors could we mix with generic black tea dust. 
  • I drink coffee surprisingly often. This might seem in a bit of a stark contrast to the previous confession, but while I also avoid flavored coffees if at all possible, when I drink coffee it is the caffeinated drink I turn to when I need to get other stuff done, I have a hard time drinking tea, and focusing on something else.  So my coffee selections/ preferences are somewhat scary to those that are as passionate about coffee as I am about tea. 

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