"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~ C.S. Lewis

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tea Here Now with Steal Time Back

The Cup of Life has partnered with Steal Time Back to bring to you a two part Tea Mediation series. I have briefly discussed tea meditation on my blog previously and have always wanted to dive a little deeper into it. When I found out about the company Steal Time Back (formerly known as Tiny Time Machines) I knew it was time to continue what I wanted to do. Their vision is to bring more oneness into the world by reminding it of the present. Check out their website and products (like the 'now' watch below) - they donate 50% of profits to help children.

To begin this series, Steal Time Back and The Cup of Life have included their own thoughts on tea mediation below. Feel free to share yours in the comments below or via social media.

Steal Time Back 

In a world full of distractions it is easy to forget that we are all connected. An obsession with knowledge has lead us to forget the wisdom of simplicity. An epidemic of noise and movement has made us forget the beautiful stillness underneath it all. Now is the time for a new kind of movement, a "stillness movement". When we immerse into the moment we become our best selves and feel the oneness of all things. When we feel one with everything we naturally try to better ourselves and the world, as we do not want to hurt a part of ourselves. Our vision is to bring more oneness into the world by reminding it of the present of the present.

"It's always tea time", the Mad Hatter famously said in Alice in Wonderland. If you don't have time for tea, that's a sign that you may need to have tea. In this fast paced world it is even more important to slow down and enjoy the moment. The process of drinking tea is not one that can be rushed. The tea is too hot to drink fast, it takes time to make it. It is impossible to not savor it while having tea, which makes having tea a rather meditative act. So perhaps the Mad Hatter was not so mad after all. "It's always tea time".

The Cup of Life 

From starting out young, tea has always been a beverage to me. However, I never realized until recently that its always been more. Its been my relaxation, my love, my inspiration and my escape. I can't think of another beverage that can relax me as much as tea does. It's far beyond the sips as well. Tea helps you focus on the now. You need to be present when making tea, unlike coffee where you can just set the coffee pot and finish getting ready before you rush out for work. 

True tea allows you to stop, think, focus and do. You set the kettle, you wait. You make sure the temperature is right for your tea, you wait. You steep the leaves, you wait. And you watch. I find that watching the tea leaves is the most serene part of the "now" experience. That's when you get to get enjoy what's right in front of you. That's when you can watch leaves unfurl and release their aroma and flavours. For that moment, tea is everything. This process continues sip by sip, rather than gulp by gulp.  

Tea Here Now,

Steal Time Back & The Cup of Life

*Come back next week for Part Two of the Tea Meditation series where we give you a simple, yet effective way to find inner peace inside your teacup.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Growing Tea In Canada?

Until recently, I have always shrugged at the thought of attempting to grow tea in Canada. Sometimes our Summers can get quite humid, but we are known for our brutal Winters which I do not think a Camellia Sinensis plant could handle quite well.

If you follow me on Instagram (@teaaholic) you may have noticed the photo I posted this past weekend. My boyfriend surprised me with a green tea plant that he stumbled upon at a local greenhouse by my house. I was pretty speechless because I didn't think there would be such thing in Canada let alone just down my street! Of course, I am quite nervous to be in possession of this plant as I already do not have a great track record with real plants that require a lot of care. 

After extensive research, I came to realize that growing tea in Canada may be difficult, but certainly not impossible. I consider myself lucky to live in Southern Ontario for this plant as well. I noticed Teafarm, in Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, website where they have been sharing their experiences with growing tea with the Canadian weather. It inspired me and makes me think if you can grow tea in Canada - you can do anything! I currently have my tea plant set in our small greenhouse, in the Winter time I will have no choice but to bring it inside my home so I have left the plant in a pot so it's easy to bring back inside. Before the warm weather is up I will be transferring the plant into a larger pot to allow more room for the roots to grow. It's also important to note that tea needs acidic soil to grow, so that will be on my list of things to get when I am ready to replant. I'm really hoping for a decent Winter this year, preferably quite a bit of sunlight that my plant can easily get from a window sill to keep going strong.

So when will I be able to actually get tea from my Camellia Sinensis plant? When the saying "good things take time" first was said, I'm convinced they were talking about tea. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to harvest for a least 3 years. However, just having a tea plant and experiencing it is exciting enough for me!

If you are growing tea in Canada, or just have any tips/suggestions to help me with my experience please let me know in the comments below or send me an email. I am no expert and am extremely new at this so any help would be much appreciated.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tea Review: Nelson's Tea's Feelin' Good Brew

Feelin' Good Brew - Nelson's Tea

Ingredients: Chamomile, rose petals, orange peel, outstraw, lemon balm, lavender, stavia

Steep Time: 5 minutes

First Sip Thought: "It's yoga time!"

Smell: The scent is very subtle. You can definitely get a good feel from the chamomile and a mix of the other ingredients but it's a nice, soothing smell. I think this is the exact smell you would want from a calming tea. Nothing is overpowering which makes sense for a blend that is named what it is named.

Taste: With my first few sips I could gather the chamomile and lemon balm quite well. It took a few more sips until I could really notice the pick me up flavours from the citrus ingredients. After steep, the liquid is a pretty gold colour that smells similar to the dried leaves. To explain my first sip thought, I felt the flavours in this soothing blend were enough to get me started for a day filled with motivation and to-do list knock outs! I find this Feelin' Good Brew blend to be a great yoga partner as its characteristics resemble a perfect, peaceful time on your yoga mat. Before or after, I would recommend this blend if you want some down time to re-energize your body and mind.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 tea leaves
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Tea: Tisanes AKA "Herbal Teas"

What you typically might refer to as "herbal tea" is more correctly called an "herbal infusion" and  specifically called a "tisane" (pronounced tea-zahn). This is because the term "tea" should not be mentioned at all as it is not actually a true tea. True tea consists of processed leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant. While tisanes are prepared in the process like teas, they actually do not contain any tea leaves. A tisane is usually anything from dried fruits, flowers, herbs, mint, spices, roots, berries and seeds. However, don't let this steer you away from tisanes. Similar to teas, many are high in antioxidants and nutrients, while others are typically consumed for simple enjoyment.

Come back soon for another "How to Tea" tip. If you have any tea related questions that you would like covered, please leave it in the comment below so I can get to it on a future post!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great Taste Awards 2014

I have tried several wonderful teas from Tea People before and that's why it didn't surprise me when I heard about their win at the 2014 Great Taste Awards. Tea People's Choco Mint Rooibos is now able to proudly carry the little gold and black Great Taste logo.

Judged by over 400 of the most demanding palates including Masterchef judge and restaurant critic Charles Champion, BBC Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon, Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn, MasterChef 2013 Natalie Coleman, food buyers from Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Whole Food Markets, and chefs including Michelin Star chef Russell Brown, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers.

Neeraj Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO of Tea People, was thrilled to hear what the judges had to say about their Choco Mint Rooibos. “Quite a clever combination. A beautiful bright colour, the aroma of an 'After Eight ' mint, and the pleasant flavour stays on the palate. Gentle floral overtone in the mouth, generally a well-balanced drink, very refreshing.”
 Choco Mint Rooibos loose tea
“Tea People is a new company and this was the first time we had entered the Great Taste Awards. Our small start-up team has worked tirelessly to make sure we are bringing great tasting teas from all over the world to ignite the palate of our consumers. Our in-house tea expert Vishaka has created many wonderful blends and we are absolutely delighted to have received the Great Taste Award. This award now places our teas at the top 6.95% of all 10,000 products judged and at par with the finest food and drinks companies in the UK. We are now looking forward to creating more such teas for our bespoke clients, who can use our expertise to have their own unique blends from an award winning company. We will be showcasing this new feather in our cap at the various trade shows including the Speciality and Fine Food Fair and the BBC Good Food Shows in London” explains Neeraj.

Congrats to you Tea People! This is the start of many awards to come... :)
*You can purchase Choco Mint Rooibos at Tea People's website here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tea Review: The Persimmon Tree's Masala Chai

Masala Chai - The Persimmon Tree

*Side Note: I was sitting at home with my new kitten, Chai, and I decided it was the perfect time to have a cup Chai, too! (The tea, not my cat haha) So here's my review for the Chai beverage I indulged in!

Ingredients: Organic Black Loose-Leaf Tea, Organic Cardamom, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cloves, Organic Ginger

Steep Time: 4 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Wow! Intense!"

Smell: With the first sniff, you know very well that what you are about to drink is chai. Intense and bold spices are flowing through making it one very delightful smelling atmosphere in your home.

Taste: I realize that some people like to enjoy Chai during the colder seasons but I consider it an all year around beverage as it is absolutely delicious. I find this Masala Chai to be quite authentic. It has just the right amount and ratio of spices that create a strong flavour. Add a little bit of sugar and milk and it helps mellow down the spice base but still keeping it tasty and warming. The only thing I wish was different about this particular Masala Chai would be larger black loose leaves. However, this would be an ideal Masala Chai to grind up into tea infused recipes. I shall experiment! I would also recommend steeping this tea for about 3 minutes instead of the 4 or 5 minutes I did as I felt it was a tad bitter.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 tea leaves
*Like The Persimmon Tree® on Facebook
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Here's What Tea Reminds Us...

I promise this just might be the most fascinating conversation you will hear all week.
Wu De 
With these words, podcast host Rich Roll introduces us to a Buddhist monk named Wu De who travels the world, teaching people the importance of…tea.  To be specific, teaching about tea as a metaphor for ancient wisdom about the interconnectedness of everything.
Tea, it turns out is the second most consumed substance on Earth, after water.  Wu De believes that the sharing of tea is responsible for the socialization of the entire world.  In fact, one of tea’s ancient names means The Great Connector when translated into English, and Wu De elaborates on the three great connections that tea is responsible for.

Connection To Nature

“This is tricky,” says Wu De “we are not disconnected from nature and therefore we can’t be disconnected.  What has been lost is not the connection to nature; it is the feeling of connection to nature.   Our ancestors’ connection to earth was tacit – they had no choice.  What’s in tea is the earth – its minerals and weather and mountains.   Because tea trees have such deep roots, it is said that they have access to trace elements that you can’t access elsewhere.”

Woman Sitting with Tea Cup 

Connection to Self

Perhaps most importantly, tea reminds us to take time for ourselves, but not necessarily for the sake of simple idleness.  The feeling that we never have a moment to ourselves, or “time famine” as it is often called, has become ubiquitous in North American society.  But we all have the same number of hours in a day and so it is important that we challenge ourselves and ask what is really taking up our time.
Buddhist meditation emphasizes the practice of quieting our own minds – a focus on controlling the noise that we create in our own heads.   The simple act of boiling water, preparing tea leaves and enjoying a cup of tea is a meditative one.   Wu De says “you pick up the tea bowl with two hands, you feel the flavor in your mouth and the warmth passing down your throat and into your body.   Suddenly without realizing it, you are focusing inward.”

Connection To Each Other

While he does state that he is not anti-technology, Wu De suggests that in some ways technology is driving a diminishing of high quality, real time human interactivity.
Many ancient tea ceremonies involve the participants arriving and sitting in complete silence while the tea is prepared and served with rigid adherence to the traditional forms, very much akin to the practice of Kung Fu.   Interestingly, the participants may arrive to the tea ceremony as nearly strangers but leave as friends, having bonded through the shared experience while sitting in silence.   In our own lives, sharing tea with someone, especially in our homes is very much an ancient and very civilized way of connecting.
Wu De would like to see us all “log off” more often – to power down the devices and enjoy tea as a way of reconnecting with ourselves and with the people who matter to us.   “Every single one of these devices, every single one, has one feature in common – all of them come with an on/off button installed for your convenience.”

Tea reminds us that we too, have an on/off button.

* The podcast is quite long, clocking in at nearly two hours, but the two hours flies by as this thought-provoking figure shares his thoughts on what really matter in life.   Perhaps you have a nice long drive ahead of you, or perhaps you have the luxury of just relaxing and listening in? We recommend pouring a nice Yellow Dragon Pu Erh, and taking the time to enjoy Wu De’s teaching.
This post was written by Jason King - a writer, gardener, musician, enthusiastic home cook, traveler & recovering entrepreneur. It was originally featured on Seven Sisters Tea's blog.
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