Search the Sip Tip

Looking for something on this site? Use this search to find it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Too Much Tea

I apologize for this sacrilegious post.

Last of the Spring 2013 Lishan Cui Luan

I have been breaking a lot of ground in terms of my physical fitness lately.  Today I ran an identical race to one I ran last year, except this year I finished the 5k in nearly 8 and a half minutes less this time around.  Now I am very very confident that feat can not be duplicated as I was thrilled at my sub 25 minute time, and I can not even imagine a sub 20 minute 5k at this point in time.

As much as I want to say I owe my success to tea, every time I try and start down a road about how my new found physical fitness is linked to tea, I hit a near instant roadblock.

I now drink far less tea than I did a year ago or more.  Moreover now a lot of time I could spend drinking tea is spent working out.

I am not saying this has taken away from my enjoyment of tea, in fact it could be an instance of when you get a little less exposure to something it suddenly becomes all the more precious.  But could I actually owe part of my physical fitness to the fact that I am now drinking  a lot less tea?

Gone but not forgotten (1)

Sorry I needed a picture for us to dwell on that question for a bit, because I am going to dare to say the answer is yes. But before I give my answer let me ask a few questions of you to see if I can bring you into my line of thinking before I just go into an answer.

Do you ever have snacks with your tea, or feel the need to have food shortly after tea?

After having a good amount of tea have you ever felt the need to be lethargic, to try and recover from the large amount of caffeine, and other substances in tea?

On an otherwise beautiful day, have you ever spent over 2 hours on marathon tea sessions? 

To each of those my answer is a resounding yes.  Now to talk about each one a little more detail.  Not only do I feel the need to have food with or immediately after strong tea, especially when it is quite far from an otherwise standard meal, healthy options such as banana's, apples, or other fruits and veggies are almost never a satisfactory item to go with tea, or have after tea.  Tea being a bit harsh on the stomach, when it causes you to desire food it is almost always fatty, or oily food.

I can not count the number of 3-6 hour marathon afternoons of tea I have had, and this really is a double edge sword.  Yes it could be worse, I could be lethargic with a 6 pack of beer, or some other highly caloric beverage and watch TV all afternoon, but that almost makes it worse, if you tell yourself for those 4 hours you are being healthy, it removes the desire to actually be even more healthy by going for a walk, or meeting up with friends to throw around a Frisbee.  In fact while the tea is not bad, the best thing it is likely doing is causing repeated trips to the restroom, at least then you are moving.  To circle back to the second question, even more so after many of those sessions, there is often a need to recover.  It really is a lot of strong tea, and I have had enough bad experiences of going out in public after a large amount of strong tea, and once in public, things are scary, I feel like a tweaked out meth addict (hopefully I didn't look like one).

Again I apologize for this post, but I am not knocking anything about how great tea is, but more attacking the fact that it is not bad for you, so clearly drinking it in excess could not be bad for you either.  I also admit there was a lot more going on than just reducing my tea intake to get me to where I am today.   If at anything I hope this post sparks an interesting debate about whether this is a case of too much of a good thing can actually be detrimental.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Going back to practice...

1984 Baozhong (1)

Influenced by recent events with my personal life, namely my return to physical activity through running and mild weight training.  One thing I have been reading about runners is it is fairly easy once at given level to just maintain at that level, but to get better though you need to train in new and more taxing ways.  Thinking about where I am with tea, and I think it has somewhat shown on my blog, I have for quite a while been pretty much maintaining my tea brewing skills.

So I am making a commitment to go back to practice and train with my tea brewing.  People may be wondering what exactly I mean by that?  I have quite a few ideas, and I will work on seeking them out.  Definite things that come to mind is get back in the habit of having somewhat regular tea sessions with minimal distractions, so it can be just me and the tea.  Also really digging in and looking into the effects of water on tea, not to mention stop being complacent with good cups of tea, but rather really seek to get to know how to get the absolute best out of each steep of each tea.

1984 Baozhong(3)

Not to mention the photos are not completely unrelated eye-candy.  Even though for most teas I use I have a teapot that I am willing to use for them, the few times I have used a gaiwan lately, I have notice my technique has been incredibly sloppy, often dangerous.  I mean its always a bad day when you pour near boiling water over your thumb while pouring.   So I will also need to set out to practice brewing in a gaiwan as well.

Sometimes it seems being "with skill/practice" is the number one enemy to acquiring more skill through practice.  That is not to say it will not be hard, often when people hit these plateaus in fitness, weight loss, aptitude, pretty much anything including tea brewing it is because the easy ways to improve become few and far between, and the margin on improvement over effort becomes quite minimal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How do we explain how we drink tea?

MTR 2011 Three Stamp Shui Xian (1)

As a tea blog written in English, or some close facsimile, yet talking about tea in a way that so few English speakers understand. I have occasionally had to try and explain to others how I drink tea. In a certain sense, even with the cultural changes in East Asia I gather brewing tea in many concentrated steeps over the course of an hour or more is a disappearing art around the world.  It is no shock that so many people give me odd looks like I am crazy when I talk about using 60ml teapots, and call them "two person teapots."  

I oddly think I have realized it is not something you can explain away, you honestly need to feel the people out, and if they are interested enough actually invite them over for tea.  I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I wonder how many words an experience is worth? It takes a lot of words, and in most cases a lot of seconds or minutes of nearly blank stares back to try and convince people that what you do is actually worth while. Often if the person is somewhat receptive, once you get them to sit down to that first sip, it suddenly makes sense.

So I guess this somewhat scatterbrained post, does not offer any guide on giving words to what we do, but rather, hope that if you could convince them to let you show them, you may just happen to expand some horizons.  Tea is more than just a mildly flavored warm beverage (though I have somewhat often enjoyed that aspect of it as well), tea has a cultural and religious history behind it that surpasses any other beverage I can recall.  So as the Zen koan says (loosely paraphrased) no matter who you are "Go in and have a cup of tea."

Bottom Banner