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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tea and Holiday Travel

This post is an experiment, I am trying to post from a mobile source as lately I've tried to "unplug" around the holidays.  To get to the topic of tea, I think the more teaware one has the harder it is to consider packing tea items for travel. While now I know moving all of it is impractical, but through use you start to like certain items for certain teas.  So the thought of having tea while traveling suddenly raises the questions of what teas?

I think I had an ingenious idea when paralyzed by analysis with my tea packing. I realized with a single piece of teaware I can with a select selection of teas enjoy all sorts of delicious options. So this Christmas is the holiday of grandpa style brewing. Only piece of teaware needed is a chawan, or other large bowl.

First day was a great success, a morning full of balhyocha and an evening of Sejak.  I often find Korean teas great choices for grandpa style, In addition to larger leaf hong cha, and non balled Oolong's.

The only more versatile teaware I own, but more problematic to pack would be a  gaiwan, which as most tea drinkers know can brew pretty much anything. In a related note gaiwans sadly are just about as useful with brewing any type of tea as they are breakable.  Wishing everyone a happy holiday season, and good tea into and throughout the new year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Korean Sejak Jungno [Video]

Guess what, I've finally had a weekend to be knocked down and productive at home.  That means I found time to do another video.  Love snow days, especially on weekends.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Behind the tea scenes

You maybe a tea drinker if

Lately I've felt my pictures have been almost a bit too scripted, so when I was looking through shots I have taken I stumbled upon this one and realized -- this is my normal tea "set up," or rather lack there of.  The photos are almost too scripted, and I honestly feel a lot of tea bloggers are the same way though I am only admitting to my own faults here.  I mean table littered with pitcher of filtered water, random tea canisters, and quite a bit of teaware waiting to be put away, and maybe given a final cleaning before being put away.

So I am showing a bit of a behind the scenes shot here, hopefully to make everyone appreciate to drink good tea, you do not need to have an immaculate brewing area, with everything neat, orderly, and organized as though you have a photo shoot any second.  For the most part my table is full of a hodgepodge of my random teaware that has been used lately, and mostly only fully put away when the weekend comes and I finally feel like I have a little bit more time to engage in tidying up my place.

I actually dare a few other bloggers to take more candid shots of their tea areas when they normally would not even consider taking a photo. So what other bloggers/ or tea drinkers have the guts to show their normal tea area, and not the one that they show in photos.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Confessions of a Tea Blogger -- TAG!

So on a few tea blogs lately you may have noticed a game of tag going around.  Well  it was started by The Cup of Life, and I have been tagged by The Art of Japanese Green Tea.  Possibly others I have to admit (maybe as a first confession), I have been incredibly busy lately and am very very behind on my reading.

1) First, let's start with how you were introduced & fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea.

Is "I am not sure" a valid answer here?  Honestly it was a little bit at a time, when I was younger tea would always help relax me, and give me energy to keep going.  So I started drinking it near daily, and then things slowly blossomed from there.  It all sort of exploded when I realized there were online groups that could help people more easily learn about tea, and different ways to brew tea.  That is when things really took off, and since then tea has pretty much found its way into an essential part of my life.

2) What was the very first tea blend that you ever tried?

First I have no clue.  When I was in middle school or high school  ( I forget exactly which) I would drink a lot of honeysuckle white tea from Republic of tea. First loose leaf that I can recall was Assam Golden Rain from a mall Teaglomerate now owned by a coffee shop that started in Seattle.

3) When did you start your tea blog & what was your hope for creating it?

My first post was a little over five years ago.  Honestly my initial intentions for the blog was for it to be a tea review blog.  Along the way certain things I have learned about how tastes work, and how people in general are  *calibrated* (for lack of a better word), combined with the fact that so much of the final product for tea is handled at the time of preparation, made me feel like reviewing teas could be more of less a futile ordeal.  By that I mean we may have our tastes and noses tuned differently so even drinking the exact same cup we get different things.  Or even worse our tastes and noses could be very similar, but the fact that you are using different water, kettle, method of heating, brewing in different weather, and the list goes on... even with identical parameters with amount, temperature, and time, could lead to vastly different cups of tea.   That is when I started to shift my blog from reviewing teas, to focusing on tea as a part of life, and how we can expand our tea horizons.  

4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog & one thing most discouraging.

I will start with discouraging, and honestly it is that way for so many bloggers.  But when ever you start any blog there is going to be an extended length of time, where you might as well just be taping your post to a tree in the middle of some isolated forest.  By that I mean, at first almost no visitors will stop by, and likely most of them think your posts are littering the forest. But eventually you get a few people that like the content, and start coming back occasionally, and they tell friends, who decide to visit this isolated forest with posts taped to trees.  Suddenly you just start getting more and more people, to the point that some people actually find ways to get notified when you put up another post.

Wow that felt like a labored metaphor, but in all honesty  being able to fight through that extended length of time with very little traffic can be challenging.  Quite a few times I have felt like scrapping my blog, mostly during the very early years.  In some ways while I do not think it has changed greatly, I was starting this blog before many of these social media sites had ways specifically designed to interact with and *promote* blogs.

Rewarding is varied, but having written about the most discouraging part, I honestly think one of the most rewarding parts is when you suddenly feel like those years of posting to no one were worth it. Now everyone has different metrics they value, for awhile I really tried to garner up user comments on my posts, but for the most part that lacked.  But with technology always making it easy to gather data, just being able to see the numbers of people stopping buy on a regular basis, and even being able to judge how many of those are people actually interested in your site can make it worth it. 

5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?

What time of year is it?  Honestly this is a hard one for me to answer.  I feel like I drink a lot of Japanese green teas, which I do, but when I really sit back and look at what teas I drink it varies incredibly.  Lately I have been drinking a lot of Korean Balhyocha, Taiwanese teas in general, and trying to work through the remainder of Japanese Shincha (I know I am bad!).

6) Favourite tea latte to indulge in?

I don't really drink tea latte's often/ at all, at the places they are sold, I typically go with a black coffee or americano, simply because it is lower in calories, and I don't mind the taste.  (In fact most tea latte's are way too sweet for me). 

7) Favourite treat to pair with your tea?

Dark chocolate when I have it, or a nice piece of Latvian Rye bread.  

8) If there was one place in the World that you could explore the tea culture at, where would it be & why?

Korea, while I may have bought into a lot of marketing gimmick from Korean tea vendors, but rumor has it there are quite a few places in Korea in which tea is a part of their life in much the same way it was a hundred or more years ago.  By that it is craftsmen/ farmers producing good tea simply because they love the tea itself.  (Same holds true for its ceramicists.)  I feel in both China and Japan modern technology and the insistence to maximize revenue as much as possible has stomped out a lot of the more traditional growing regions and production methods in those countries. 

9) Any tea time rituals you have that you'd like to share?

I often turn on the kettle (which takes a decent length of time to warm up), then sit there looking at the table, and then at my teaware, and to a lesser extent my boxes of tea, and just think.  Think might actually not be the right term for it, but I honestly just sit there for a bit, and wait for a tea idea to jump out to me, saying "you should brew this, in this, with this!"  Once I have an idea pop up, I then gather the items and start preparing to brew the tea. 

10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?

Anytime is good, but I almost miss it because I have finally gotten back to sleeping well at night.  I did though really enjoy the (few too many) mornings I found myself wide awake so early in the morning that the only natural thing to do seemed to be make tea and listen to music, until it was time to go to work. (I often got to work half an hour to an hour early on those days as well).

There is just something peaceful (if you can not do the more peaceful item of sleeping), with being up at 4 in the morning and brewing tea. 

11) What's one thing you wish for tea in the future?

For tea in general I am not sure.  But I am working with a local running group I am a part of that always looks for new ideas for runs.  I am planning on hosting a group run once a month or so while the weather is cooler, in which we meet, run the trail by my apartment, then return to my place, where I brew tea, and we enjoy some breakfast like snacks.

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