Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saying goodbye to the year

The year is almost up! 

This was an intense year for the country and the world. 
Much to the consolation of many that the year is almost over and hopes for a brighter and fresh new year are hours away.
We look back before ushering the new year in thankfulness and gratefulness for having survived it.
We are thankful for our health, a place to live, food, tea, new friends, old friends, family and relationships.

Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to be thankful while in the midst of getting to the feasting table that as soon as the linens are washed and the turkey carcass is in the soup pot we forget, as we drift into the Christmas season.
But new year's eve gives us another opportunity to put right our thoughts, deeds and attitudes that may have slipped away in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the joyous Christmas season.
We are looking forward to putting the old for the new.

On this eve, we have much to be thankful for. 
We are thankful for having had the time to write on the blog and to continue to correspond to many regarding tea.
Thankful that having the interest in tea has gotten us through some tough situations and moments when the only cure for the ills are the things that can refocus your mind.

We are also thankful to the new readers and look forward to newer encounters.
We thank all those who have taken the time to read the blog and follow it.

We are currently, re-doing the online store and hope to have it up and running again with fresh and new inventory the latest by Spring 2014.
We hope that our readers and visitors will continue to follow the blog.

We render our best wishes to all and that you will take time, perhaps over a cup of tea to look back, to be thankful for and make peace with the past before ushering the New Year 2014.

Wishing all warm cups of tea throughout the New Year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Osmanthus Tisanes

Health Benefits:
•    Moisturize Skin
•    Reduce Bad Breath
•    Remove Phlegm from Throats
•    Improve Digestion
•    Improve Lung Health
•    Treat Intestinal Diseases
•    Enhance Eyesight
•    Quench Thirst
•    Relieve Stomach Pain
•    Remove Body Toxins
•    Quench Thirst
•    Reduce Stomach & Intestinal Gas
•    Bring water to a boil.
•    Use 1/2 tsp per 8oz. of water
•    Pour boiling water over the flowers
•    Steep 3 minutes

•    1oz tea makes approx 75 cups (Chinese style teacups)
May be used to blend with teas and other tisanes
•    Or use in cooking

Non - Caffeinated

Ingredient: Osmanthus Flower

Taste: A full-body tea, mildly sweet, delicate in flavor. 
This rare flower from Asia gives a mildly rich taste while finishing with a lightly sweetened floral flavor.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tea - Yunnan Province

Yunnan province is located in the Southwestern corner of China. 
It shares borders with Tibet, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. 
The province is crossed by the Tropic of Cancer. 
Its elevation ranges from the Honghe River valley at 76 meters to Kawagebo Peak which has an elevation of 6,700 meters.

Tea gardens are at elevations between 1,200 to 2,000 meters.
 The average temperature in this region is between 12 and 23 degrees Celsius.
 Annual rainfall in the area is between 1,000 and 2,000 mm.

Such conditions are ideal for tea trees for which the province is famous. 
There are 200 species of such trees found in Yunnan province. 
They are known as Yunnan large leaf tea. 
They are Pu-erh tea and black tea producers.

The Yunnan Province China's oldest tea growing culture.
The possible dates may go back at least as far as the Three Kingdoms Period in the 3rd century.
Tea in this province is grown at altitudes as low as around 400 meters in Xigui and as high as 3200 meters in Lincang.
 Xishuangbanna is in the south of Yunnan, this is the lower growing areas for Puer production and are mostly above 1000 meters.

This natural beverage has been grown in Yunnan for at least 2,100 years when the first wild tea trees were domesticated. 
There are still three ancient trees alive: 
  • the Bada wild tree(1,700 years old)
  • the Nannou Mountain cultivated tree(800 years old) 
  •  the transitional Bangwei ancient tree(1,000 years old)
 These three trees are known as the Three Ancient Tea Tree Kings.

The two largest producing areas are Fengqing and Menghai counties. 
Green, black and pressed tea is planted.
 Yunnan black tea is one of China's most important exports. 
The famous aged Pu-erh tea is produced in Pu-erh county. 
Xiaguan Tuo tea is mainly produced in Dali. 
Xiaguan Tuo is pressed into ball shape and has a pleasant flavor and color.

Other brands produced in Yunnan include jade green, Xuanchun, Hongbao, Yinzhen as well as scented varieties such as smoked products, white orchid and the popular jasmine tea.

 Yunnan's trade routes includes the the ancient tea horse road being the most famous.
 The fact is there were many trade caravans that ran throughout the province and beyond.
 Ther ran in Guizhou and Guangxi to the east, south into Burma, Laos and Thailand, north into Sichuan, west into Tibet and from there on into Sikkim.
Tea, salt, opium, wax, iron-ware, felt and silk were Chinese exports.
 Muleteers returned with stick lac, woods for dyeing, tobacco and most raw cotton.

Hui people, thought to be decendents of traders from the Middle East and Central Europe, often dominated these trade routes. From as early as the 8th Century, they ran mule caravans throughout the province and beyond. Porters also carried tea on the route into Tibet as late as the mid 20th Century.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A teapot repair job

The teapot handle broke during a move.
Completely snapped on both ends.

It was glued back together and seemed to seal real well and quite strong.

Now to re-weave the thread.

The re-weave was successful.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Longquan Celadon - 龍泉青磁

Longquan is a famous historical and cultural city.   
This city is noted for its celadon and is located in the southwest of Zhejiang province in China. 

Archaeological surveys have revealed that there are more than 500 ancient kiln sites of Longquan celadon that have been found, with more than 360 that are situated within the city that forms a huge ceramic kiln system. 
Some of these kilns dates back to the Western Jin dynasty and became more sophisticated during the northern Song dynasty. 
The celadon technique reached its peak of perfection during the middle and late southern Song dynasty. 
Fen ching - lavender grey and meizi ching - plum green became the trademark celadon glazing colors of this region. 
Ge kiln was one of the Five Famed Kilns of Song Dynasty along with the Guan, Ru, Ding and Jun kilns. 
The celadon technique of Longquan Kiln promoted the development of kilns in other parts of China. Longquan celadon reached its peak during the Song and Yuan dynasty.

Leaf-shaped cup
China, Zhejiang Province; Southern Song (1127–1279)
to Yuan (1279–1368) period (1127–1368), 13th century
Stoneware with glaze (Longquan ware).
The organic shape, elegant grayish green glaze, and crazing of this unusual leaf-shaped cup illustrate the existence of close ties between some of the Longquan kilns, located not far from the Southern Song capital at Lin’an (now called Hangzhou), and the bluish-green glazed Guan ware produced for the Southern Song court.

Longquan celadon ware was exported from China to the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the East Coast of Africa during the Song and Yuan dynasty.   
During the Ming dynasty the production of Longquan celadon ware continued however the quality declined and began to disappear  during the Qing dynasty.

There are 2 traditional classifications to Longquan celadon ware – Geyao and Diyao.  
The tale of Geyao and Diyao emerged from the record of the Ming dynasty period.  
 The Zhang brothers  were living in Longquan County  and were masters at ceramics. 
The ceramics made by the younger brother is called Diyao while that by the elder brother is called Geyao. 
There is no evidence for to prove the existence of the two brothers. 
However, it did create two ways of making ceramics at the Longquan kilns. 

China, Zhejiang Province
Southern Song period (1127–1279), late 12th–early 13 th century
Stoneware with glaze (Ge ware)
The delicate gray-green color of the glaze on this piece shows the influence of the earlier Northern Song imperial taste that carried into the preferences of the Southern Song court. This censer takes its form from the shape of a Western Zhou-dynasty (ca. 1050–771 B.C.E.) ritual food vessel called a gui, reflecting the impact of Southern Song period interest in antiquarianism among literati. Song period emperors, most notably Huizong, adopted cultured tastes of these educated elite and popularized them at court.

Geyao, the elder brother kiln,  had a black clay body with a purple rim and iron brown bottom. 
The sparkling and crystal-clear glaze of Geyao celadon made it look like jade or ice. 
Ge kiln was one of the Five Famed Kilns of the Song Dynasty along with the Guan, Ru, Ding and Jun kilns.  
The celadon from Ge Kiln has a black body with crackles in the glaze layer under the glazed surface. The crackles in Ge Kiln celadon are magnificent and ancient-looking. 
There are different crackle patterns including ice crackle, crab claw crackle, ox hair crackle, water flow crackle, fish roe crackle, eel blood, a hundredfold crackle, etc. 
Ge Kiln celadon also has a characteristic called "purple rim and iron foot", and its glaze layer is thick opaque or translucent. 
Together with crackles, Ge Kiln celadon appears more ancient-looking, elegant, and precious among all celadon wares.

Their ceramics became the most outstanding for the shape, glazing color and crackling.
 The crackling is difficult to control by human and it forms by nature, applying for the aesthetic interest of natural and simple antique varieties. 

Diyao, the younger brother kiln, features thick, white clay pieces covered in a bluish glaze that gives them a glittering and translucent appearance and moist texture. 
Fen ching (lavender grey) and meizi ching (plum green) are the best celadon glazing colors and below them is dou ching (bean green). 
The celadon produced in the Di Kiln has the following characteristics: white or cinnabar porcelain body, thick and rich glaze layer, fresh green glaze color, and glossy soft, glistening moisture, jade-like appearance. 

There are many different colors such as: plum green, powder green, pale green, pea green, light blue, gray and yellow, and etc. 
Among them, powder green and plum green are the most sought after.

The green glazing color is enhanced with orange footing or Lutai patterns. 
Ceramics with Lutai patterns appear abundantly in the middle and late Southern Song period, especially in the Yuan period. 
Design elements such as faces, hands, foots of portraits, clouds, dragons, flowers in the bottom of artifacts are quite unique.


Southern Song dynasty Longquan Kiln


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Celadon and Celadonware

Celadon is a term for a glaze  and a type of ceramic ware.
 It is also used as a name for a color - a pale, greyish shade of green.
The glaze of this color is commonly used in Korean and Chinese pottery.
The pigment is normally a pale sea-green however the original style was to make the pigments darker.
Celadon is a pale green pigment produced by artisans that uses a specific clay and pottery technique creating a style that is now associated with the name.

Celadon or Gingci as it is known, is an ancient type of glaze used by the ancient Chinese and was the most favored type of ceramic ware during the Song dynasty.
These ceramics have a blue-green glaze.
The term "celadon" for the pottery's pale jade-green glaze was coined by European connoisseurs of these wares.

Celadon glazes are high-fire reduction glazes.
'True celadon'  requires a minimum of 1260°C (2300°F) furnace temperature.
The preferred range is of 1285° to 1305°C (2345° to 2381°F).
The 'true celadon' was  created in China during the beginning 
of the Northern Song Dynasty 960–1127.
The unique grey or green celadon glaze is a result of iron oxide's transformation from ferric to ferrous iron (Fe2O3 → FeO) during the firing process.

Celadon glazes are usually glossy, transparent and they often have a crackle effect, with a wide range of colors.
A varienty of shades of green, blue,gray, white and yelllow - reminiscent of jade.
These glazes can change colors depending on the thickness and the clay body.

See also the following:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Recipe: Summer Tisanes Compote

This is a wonderful breakfast tisanes with aloevera, apples, crushed pineapple, fresh raspberries in a tisanes that is made of lotus tea, orange rinds, chrysanthemum flowers, honeysuckle flowers and honeyed licorice.
This is a great way to start a hot summer day.
Cools the body's systems and enables the the body to be nourished without stressing the digestion.

Recipe - Serves 2

1/2 cup Aloe Vera compote
1 apple - cored, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup fresh Raspberries


3 tbsp dried  orange rinds
3 tbsp Chrysanthemum flowers
2 tbsp Honeysuckle flowers
1 stick Honeyed Licorice
2 tbsp Vietnamese Lotus Tea
8 cups purified water

Place the tisanes ingredients in a pot with the 8 cups of water.
Bring to a simmer for 45 mins.
Let cool.

Place the fruits into 2 bowls and scoop the tisanes into the bowls.
Serve at room temperature or slightly tepid.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Recipe: Aloe Vera Tisane

Aloe Vera is an excellent coolant for hot summer  days.

Aloe Vera Compote
5 Aloe Vera spears - peeled and cubed
2 oz palm sugar
2 cups water
1 lemon - juiced
2 tbsp any type of tea preferred
2 tbsp dried orange rinds
2 tbsp Chrysanthemum flowers


Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a simmer.
Simmer until all the mucilage from the Aloe Vera is dissolved.
This will take about 45 mins.
Let cool.

Mix all the tisanes ingredients ina pot and cover with 4 cups of water.
Simmer for 30 mins.
Let cool.

Scoop 2-3 tbsp of Aloe Vera compote into a bowl and and pour the tisanes onto the compote. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bamboo Tisanes

Bamboo, plants are a type of grass. It is the fastest growing plant in the world. Some varieties grow at a peak rate of 5 cm (2 inches) per hour; more typical rates are 10 cm per day. 
Due to their strong stems, bamboo can tower several meters. 
The tallest reaching bamboo plants are about 20 meters (over 60 feet). 
According to recent estimates, there are 36 bamboo forests still present in China despite intensive harvesting for centuries.   
These Bamboo forests cover 4-7 million hectares (11-19 million acres) making up 3-5% of China's forests. 
China has an estimated 300 species of bamboos in 39 genera. India is second to China in bamboo harvest. 
Although, India has larger bamboo forests, making up nearly 13% of the country's forest area. The annual global bamboo harvest is 10 million tons, and growing.

Bamboo is best known for its hard stems /culms that are used in place of wood for a variety of applications, including furniture, scaffolding, flutes, fence posts, flooring, and even bicycle frames.
 Bamboos also serve as decorative plants; the tender shoots are used in Chinese and South East Asian cuisine. 
Bamboo has been a primary subject of many Chinese as well as books was written on bamboo slats and bamboo has been used as a source of medicine since ancient times. 

Bamboo Leaf Tisanes is an introduction from South Korean. 
The tisanes are made from the leaves of young bamboo plants.  
The process to make these tisanes drinkable involves roasting, steam boiling and scenting. 
The introduction of bamboo tisanes is relatively new. 
 The first research done into Bamboo tisanes first began in 1994 at the Chonnam National University in South Korea. 
 Patents were granted in 2002 and production of Bamboo Leaf Tisanes started on a large scale.  
These tisanes are still rather new in the US and available for purchase online.

Bamboo tisanes are rich in fiber, protein and are caffeine-free. 
 The Bamboo tisanes brew yields a light golden color with a faint bamboo aroma and flavor. 
This beverage is very smooth.  
These tisanes have the ability to re-steep at least twice without getting bitter.

Zhu Ye Qing - Chinese bamboo Green Tea

Bamboo Leaf Tisanes is not to be confused with the Chinese Green Bamboo Tea – the Camellia Sinensis variety. 
 A monk near the top of the famous Buddhist Mountain Emei Shan first made Chinese Green Bamboo Tea. 
This tea contains no bamboo. 
 The name was derived from the unique shaping method created by the monk.  
Local government officials noticed its flat, glossy bamboo leaf shape and rich emerald color and so deemed it Green Bamboo Tea - 竹叶青绿茶 - Zhu Ye Qing. 
 It has a mellow taste and sweet aroma.

Zhu Ye Qing - Bamboo Green Tea Brew

Winter is Coming - Ginger Tisane

 The warmth of summer is slowly fleeing as the September nights and mornings hint at the coming of winter. Ginger tisanes are perfect to pr...