Monday, April 30, 2012

Blooming Tea-Flowering Tea

Blooming tea or flowering tea is one of the most beautiful ways to have tea. Blooming tea is made to emulate a flower blooming  and consists of a tea ball made of dried green tea that "blooms" as it absorbs water. Normally they are hand tied bundles and quite time consuming to make. I have included here a link to a video by teaposy who sell blooming tea to give you some idea of the different effects achieved by different flowers. 

According to the Wiki flowers commonly used in flowering teas include globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, jasmine, lily, hibiscus, and osmanthus. My favorite are the  jasmine ones as there is a delicate floral flavor and scent to the tea. Jasmine tea is also particularly renowned for it's relaxing qualities. I received a gift-set of blooming tea a couple of years ago from Teavana which is one of the nicest teashops around for gorgeous tea related gifts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barrys Tea Recipes

Barrys tea have put some tea recipes on their website which look enticing.  Here is an example that looks tasty, haven't tried it myself yet though:) If you have any good tea recipes you would like to share I would really like to hear them  

Barry's Lemon and Ginger Noodle Soup


8 Lemon and Ginger Tea Bags
800ml of Chicken stock
4 Chicken Breasts or 500g of pork steak
A 2inch sized piece of ginger finely grated
Juice of a lemon
200g of fine egg noodles
4 Scallions finely sliced


Cut the chicken or pork into thin strips and marinade in the ginger and lemon juice for a few hours.
Place the tea bags in a large saucepan and add 120ml of boiling water and leave to infuse for half an hour.
In a separate frying pan, fry your meat until crispy.
When the tea has infused add the stock and season with salt and papper. Put on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove the tea bags and add the noodles. Cook for two minute or until the noodles are soft.
To serve, divide the soup between four bowls, sprinkle with the meat and finely sliced scallions and enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Laying the groundwork for the decade ahead

I mentioned in the introduction that I also wanted this site to include stories, words of wisdom and generally the stuff you might chat about over a cup of tea so I have decided to do a short post on my motivation for starting this blog. 

I  remember being told in my early 20's that what you are doing now is laying the groundwork for your health in the next decade. While I didn't have a crazy lifestyle, I had the unfortunate belief that quiting smoking and thinking seriously about my health could wait a little longer. I was of course aware that I might someday become ill or that smoking would eventually catch up with me but it was so far off I didn't really truly consider it.  It was only when  I was unlucky enough be hit with a pulmonary embolism on a return flight from Japan in 2006 that the implications of some of my choices really hit home. 
At the time the sense of shock was like running into a brick wall. I was confronted with the very real fact that I was not invincible after all and that willpower alone is not the only thing that holds a person together. Some major changes had to be made and looking back in some ways I am glad that this happened to me earlier in life because it made me stand up and pay attention to myself physically. As a person who overvalues the mind I was forced out of my head and back into my body.

They say a journey of 1000 miles  begins with a single step. This is daunting enough when you were expecting to take a trip, when you suddenly find yourself dumped in the middle of a vast unknown land and the journey to bring you home is much longer then you ever dreamed possible, then you begin to realize just how hard it is to change even the smallest thing about your behavior. The best thing that can be done for a while is to focus on your feet and to start walking. So that is what I did. It's been almost 6 years down and the journey still continues. I am out of the woods for what initially triggered my journey   but I am forever changed. I will always carry the risk even after quitting smoking but I hope I have learned to turn it for the most part into something that fuels me to appreciate life and not as something that holds me back. 

My love of tea has always been there but throughout the last 6 years it has taken on a deeper meaning, It has come to be a part of my journey to better health and helped me appreciate the little things that make a big difference. It has served as a way to create space for myself in a very busy world and helped distract me whenever an urge to smoke was threatening my desire to quit. This blog is part of my journey and I welcome you to it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tea song by the McGetigans

My good friend Jenni passed this on to me to-day and it really brightened up my day. So good I had to share it here!!! Check it out 

A song about Tea. By Irish band The McGetigans. "We like tea!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Genmaicha aka Popcorn Tea

I was offered a cup of Genmaicha by a teacher at a school were I was teaching in Shizuoka and I absolutely loved it. Genmaicha is one of my all time favourite teas. 

 Most Genmaicha is made of Bancha(coarse tea) that is stronger tasting and sometimes bitter.  Toasted brown rice (genmai) is added which gives it a nutty  flavour. I  now affectionately called it by it's nickname "the popcorn tea". The reason it is nicknamed the popcorn tea is because during roasting the rice sometimes pops resembling popcorn. 

According to the wiki a steeping time of 3–5 minutes is recommended, depending on desired strength and the source of the tea - some sources recommend as little as one minute of brewing time. On a more social note this tea is sometimes know as the "peoples tea" as it was often cheaper as a result of the rice. 

Genmaicha really makes me smile because I feel like I am being naughty when I am actually being really good to my body. For those who are trying to cut down on carbohydrates I find that the roasted rice feels really satisfying as it tastes to me a little bit like a nutty bread. 

 The health benefits include all the benefits of green tea with claims that it also helps metabolism(I will look into this a bit better to see if there is substance to it) and judging by the amount of information out there first impressions are that it is also a very popular tea.  

Genmaicha is a great introductory green tea, it eases you into the sometimes bitter flavor of green tea as the rice warms it all up. I recommend it if you are just starting to explore the world of tea or if you are just looking to aid your health but have until now found green tea a bit of a leap.  For those of you who are avid green tea fans this one is a delightfully relaxed and tasty bit of fun.

Genmaicha should be available at most good tea shops but it is also available blended with matcha as a teabag from yamamotoyama of America or from amazon for $3.99. Also you can find it at for $30.00 which seems expensive however a little higher quality.  Delicious stuff and just for fun here is the song that pops into my head whenever I think of this tea. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shizuoka Tea

Several years ago I have the great fortune of working as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Japan. I lived in a city called Shizuoka which is located about 172km from Tokyo.  

Shizuoka prefecture is famous for several things, not least for having Mt. Fuji sit on its border with Yamanashi.  Shizuoka is  also famous for onsens (hot springs) and of course for its green tea. (It was also the home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the  first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.)

The quality of the green tea grown in Shizuoka is very high and almost half of all the green tea consumed in Japan is produced in the Shizuoka region. 

According to Wiki varieties of green tea such as Motoyama and Yabukita are grown in all corners of Shizuoka city, and the varieties grown  in the Warashina area in Aoi Ward and the Ryōgōchi area of Shimizu Ward are especially well regarded. 

I may be  a bit bias here but if you are looking for a high quality green tea, Shizuoka tea is the way to go. There are many websites dedicated exclusively to green tea from the area such as Shizuoka To learn more about Shizuoka itself & Japan in general you can also check out this travel site.