Tea: Harmony or dissonance?

Joshua Kaiser Rishi Tea“Tea brings people together. Tea makes harmony and brings resolution. Tea brings peace.” – Joshua Kaiser @rishitea

Mr Kaiser’s upbeat statement during the September airing of Samovar’s Tea Mavericks of America was an inspiring comment, an affirmation of tea’s blessed, and inherently good nature. It was also simple psychobabble. Flower power ramble. The assertion that tea makes harmony is both idealistic, and unfounded.  Resolutions may, or may not be achieved, but they are not due to the tea.  Tea can bring people together, but any drink can make that claim. Remember the Diet Coke commercial, with all the women gathered at the office window to oggle the hunk? Not a tea cup in sight.

Anything can bring people together, anything can tear them apart. To state that by definition tea creates harmony, implies that you do not understand your tea. This drink does not need a pretty label attached to make it palatable. Tea is neither to laude, nor to blame for socialization. Gathering is simply the by-product of the social act of drinking, not the tea itself. Peace and harmony? Read more…

On Tea and Chocolate

Chocolate and tea, a great combinationChocolate goes well with many things – like red wine, and yes, even coffee. But tea is sometimes a forgotten complement when it comes to chocolate. Tea with chocolate is something truly exceptional and not often talked about. Taking a moment to sit down with a cup of tea only gets better with a small piece of good chocolate nearby. When it comes to simple things that we can do everyday that are full of pleasure – chocolate and tea is one of the greatest imaginable. A bite of chocolate and a sip of hot tea is all it takes to create a warm, rich and flavorful sensation in your mouth. It’s a flavor combination that cannot be matched by any other food pairing. And yet, it is so often overlooked despite it’s accessibility.

Tea and ChocolateCombining tea and something sweet is a fairly common thing to do. Cakes, cookies, or baked goods in general easily fit the bill. But chocolate is category by itself. Rich, creamy milk chocolate fortifies that cup of tea into being more than it is alone. It could even be argued that drinking tea while eating chocolate gives you all the nourishment you need to start your day. Add a little milk to your tea and the combination gives you the makings of a morning meal. Click through to read more about tea and chocolate

Understanding Anna

Recently, in late August, Michael Coffey, the Tea Geek, published a criticism to the legacy of Anna Russell (1783-1857), Duchess of Bedford and Marchioness of Tavistock. According to legend, Anna is given credit for “inventing afternoon tea”. More specifically, the ritual, dress, manner and occasion of the event is often credited to Anna. Mr. Coffey coins the excellent term, Bedford Orthodoxy, as a phrase used to describe the ritual and decoration of a traditional afternoon tea.

In his well argued post, Mr. Coffey states: “…it certainly seems a stretch to say that the ritual was invented by Anna Russell.”

Of course, we think he’s lost the plot and that his assault on Anna is rather scandalous.

Keep reading to learn more about Anna Russell and afternoon tea

Reasons to love and hate luxury tea

Luxury tea. No, we aren’t talking about most of the loose teas you buy…and we definitely aren’t talking about tea bags.  Don’t be fooled by the little pyramid bags either that claim to be the best tea around.  For those, you are paying far more for the packaging than you are for the tea.

Luxury, high-quality tea is a market that is more accessible than luxury wine, clothes, TVs, cars and homes. You can get really great tea for far less than it costs to get a really great watch. Even at the high-end level, tea is still expensive. However, it can be sold in small amounts, making it accessible if you can find it. An ounce of really good tea can often be purchased for a reasonable sum.

How often do you branch out and buy tea that is reputed to be of very high-quality?

There are a lot teas and terms out there that get hyped as fine tea, often with names you might barely understand. Oolongs, ti kwan yins, prized Yunnans, roasted dong dings from Taiwan, white tea from Darjeeling, senchas and genmaichas from Japan (the latter started as a poor man’s tea). Of each type, there can be found great ones and ordinary ones. Click through to read more about appreciating great tea

Four ounces of tea, is that enough for you?

We went down to our Local Tea Shop (LTS), the other week. The gracious owner of the shop chatted with us while she portioned out 4 ounces of Lover’s Leap, imported (fairly directly) from Sri Lanka. We took our purchase and returned home, brewed up a pot and decided that it made for a good cup of tea. So, we brewed up another pot when the first one was finished. A few days later, Jackie looked into the the little paper sack from the LTS and found that it was down to dregs and crumbs. Little flecks of tea, shaking about at the bottom of the bag practically shouting out to us, “I’m sorry, but you’ll need to buy some more.”

Four ounces of loose tea. It has become the standard in America. It is the most advertised quantity of tea found on the internet. The Europeans do it too, with their 100 grams. 100 grams actually works out to just over 3.5 ounces. Of course, it makes sense to even out that number, so the American tea industry rounded it up to four ounces.  Four ounces is actually equal to 113.4 grams.

Is that four ounces of tea enough for you? Is the industry standard of four ounces of loose tea a fair and useful quantity? Click through to keep reading

Gary Vaynerchuck, Kevin Rose and Jesse Jacobs discuss tea and wine

When Gary, Kevin and Jesse get together to taste tea and wine the result is an interesting mix of humor, intelligent discourse, and fascinating instruction. The trio met up at Jesse’s, Samovar Tea, to taste tea, wine and share their passions about each. The below video is nearly 80 minutes long, but is filled with excellent information. There are lengthy discussions about tasting wine and the similarities when it comes to tasting tea. Gary, in his usual laid-back style, makes it accessible and understandable. Jesse and Kevin bring a great combination of personal and professional knowledge about tea, tea brewing and tea cultures.

Grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy as these three men take us through the internet’s first combined tea and wine tasting!

Tips for traveling with tea

Mariage Frères Tea Salon - Photo by madhtrk @ FlickrImagine this: You are in the middle of an amazing European tour. The first several days were spent in Paris, visiting some of the famous tea salons you’ve heard so much about. The tea museum at  Mariage Frères was breathtaking.

But now, with a dozen cups of fantastic tea behind you, you’ve entered Italy where there’s plenty of  coffee to be found but not a decent cup of tea anywhere.

While most of your trips might not involve traveling on such an epic scale, chances are, if you’re a tea drinker, you often feel a little bit left out in the cold, wanting something hot to drink. Supporting your tea habit, even on a short trip, can often be a little frustrating. Whether it’s a grand European adventure, a long drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, or just another business trip on a busy convention weekend, getting a good cup of tea while on the road is often a do-it-yourself operation.

View from Pacific Coast Highway - South of Monterey, California - Photo by DarkFokus @ FliickrAfter spending hours jammed into an airplane, car, bus or train (or for some, perched on the back of a motorcycle), settling in at the hotel after a day of traveling often leaves you wanting for an afternoon cup. There are ways to make it happen, but usually, especially in America, you have to bring it with you.

American tea guru, James Norwood Pratt has said that, for travelers, tea bags are “the first line of self-defense,” used in emergencies and when in dire need. However, while you can certainly get a decent cup of tea from a tea bag, there is a better way.

Even when on the road, you can have your great cup of Ceylon, Darjeeling, or whatever you fancy, brewed up from your own personal stash of tea. Keep reading about traveling and tea

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