An Obsession with Teacups…

…who’s with me?

I absolutely love a beautiful teacup. The minute I see one, I begin to visualize what tea I’ll be sipping and the mood I’ll be in as I look down at that sweet work of art. I recently purchased a stunning cup from a vendor on eBay out of Canada who has just about the best collection of vintage cups I’ve seen. Have a look at my growing collection below, and if you are a collector as well… post some of your favorites to our Facebook page!

An Obsession with Teacups…

Taiwan Tea Journey: Getting There

Leaving DC on a rainy day

It’s been a long time since I blogged. I think my blogging mojo was on hiatus for a while so I thought it was time to dust off the keyboard and reconnect.

What better way to begin again, then with a spot about my newest tea adventure. I’m back in Taiwan with my fabulous tea friends, participating in the 2010 TOST (Taiwanese Oolong Study Tour).  Yesterday was my first official first full day in Taipei. I will try to post on each days events.

My journey started with my good friend Earl waking up at the crack of dawn to drive me to Dulles Airport. It was raining and in DC that means even more traffic then usual. It took us almost 2 hours to get there. Its normally 40 minutes. After I checked my 2 giant bags in (1 was 50 pounds in weight, the other? Empty in order to bring back tea treasures), I made my way to the gate. I keep forgetting what a boring airport Dulles is. It certainly isnt like Charles De Gaulle/Paris, Hong Kong or even Narita/Tokyo. And the Duty Free Shopping? Disappointing.

I boarded the plane and took my seat: 17J (bulkhead, yay!) and sat next to a very nice woman from N. Potomac named Kathy who is Taiwanese but was born in Japan. Kathy is 71 years old and out travels me. Talk about a dynamic lady! She made the 13:56 hr flight pleasant. We had a lot to talk about, including Taiwanese Oolongs. I made her a little teabag filled with Jasmine Yin Hao. I couldn’t have her sipping junk. She and I sat right behind business class so we got to watch them recline their seats into beds and sleep the whole way. I guess for $5000 USD I could have done the same? Not likely. I tired to upgrade but alas, everyone in business class showed up.

Can I just say that United needs to get it together and upgrade their planes for 14hr flights. They had only 3 or 4 movies playing on a loop and they were old. How many times can you watch The 40 Year Old Virgin anyway???

Found in Duty Free: an electic tea kettle.

When I got to Narita I spent my 3 hour layover looking through the shops at all the cool Japanese “things”.  Everything is just so cute and well designed. What I loved was trying to figure out all the different drinks and foods written in Japanese! There was a fridge that had bottled water, iced green tea and then at the top was a small bottle that said GREEN TEA. When I grabbed it – it was warm! They actually have a heated section for warm tea. Genius! It was a delicious sencha.

Giant plane from Japan to Taiwan

There were just too many cool things to take in during my 3 hour wait — I would have spent a day looking at cute books, teaware, rice bowls, HELLO Kitty… everything. But, my next stop was Taipei and my level of exhaustion was finally catching up to me.

The plane to Taipei was Giant! I think it was a 777? or is it a 747? Its the one with the upper deck. I dont even remember take-off or what food was served; if I even ate. I passed out in my seat and the next thing I knew we were landing in Taipei. The minute the captain turned off the seat belt sign, every single person on the plane jumped out of their seats to grab a bag. Chaotic? An understatement.

I picked up my bags and exited and found a nice man waiting for me with a big sign with my name on it. Traveling with the Taiwanese Tea Manufactures Association (TTMA), Thomas Shu and Josephine Pan is more than a treat. Its a luxury. They think of everything. Right down to having a driver pick you up so that you dont have to scramble to find a taxi.

Oolong Tea at the Dong Wu

I got to the Dong Wu Hotel in Old Taipei about 50 minutes later and was greeted by Ida. A cute Taiwanese girl who I remembered from last years trip, and who remembered me as well! After making my way up to my room, the site of the fluffy comfy bed made me want to leap into it from the door. But instead, I made some High Mountain Oolong and took a much deserved bubble bath. And then… leaped into bed!

I love Taiwan. The Taiwanese people and traveling for tea. Its one the best parts of my job as Chief Leaf at Pearl Fine Teas. Im looking forward to drinking gallons of tea over the next 18 days, making tea and learning even more.

Taiwan Tea Journey: Getting There

Tea Kettle Recall

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Copco Harmony Kettle

I was reading my Consumer Report Magazine this morning and came across some info regarding the Copco Harmony Tea Kettle. I thought I’d share the news with you all in case anyone has this brand. Here is what CR said:

Problem: Lid on kettle can come loose during handling, posing risk of burns.

Products: 142,000 kettles sold nationwide from March 2006 through June 2009 for $30. Copco has been informed of 25 instances of the lid coming loose, with reports of second-degree burns to the hands and fingers.

What to do: Stop using the kettle. If you have a stainless kettle, contact Wilton, the distributor, for free replacement lid; if you have an enamel kettle, you will get a replacement kettle or a refund.

Contact: Call 800-794-5866 or go to http://www.copco.com

Click here for the press release.

Hopefully none of you have been injured by one of these. We switched over to the electric kettle which we just love love love! If you get a refund, perhaps consider investing in the electric kettle!

Happy Sipping!

Tea Kettle Recall

Introducing SIP. A New Tea Magazine!

pearl_SIPCOVER2I’ve been busy, peeps. Between design, tea, tastings, travel, orders, writing, teaching, expos, learning… and starting a tea magazine, you can see why my blog posts have been lacking!

Yes indeed I’m starting a new magazine called: SIP. A publication about liquid pleasure. That means tons of articles on tea (we might even sneak in some info now and then on wine!)

The launch date is scheduled for Fall 2009. An exact date has yet to be determined. We are still in the design and writing phase but are making headway. We will announce the date via Facebook, Twitter and of course the TeaLove® blog! It will be available for download on the Pearl Fine Teas website. It’s very exciting!

It’s a mag about things we sip that make us happy: like tea! Our first Issue will have information on Taiwanese Oolongs (my fav) along with new info on tea and health. There are a lot of exciting features and departments along with some very cool, hip info in the IN EVERY ISSUE section.

I think you will love this new source of info! We are also looking for contributors. Want to write for or advertise in SIP? Send us a note at: info@ pearlfineteas.com.

Introducing SIP. A New Tea Magazine!

Tea and Caffeine

Morning Peeps...

Its been a month since I blogged. Bad me. I’ve been focusing on new ventures that are coming up this fall. Like teaching a tea class at Open Kitchen and attending expos and events (more on that later). I have been loyal to my morning cup of Jade Oolong and Im about to cup a few more this afternoon. Yeah me!

I was sifting through some old emails and came across this interesting bit from my Peep over in England, Nigel Melican. He is an expert on many many tea related issues especially caffeine. So Id like to share with you what he said recently. A question was asked:

Q. “First, I was wondering which tea had the greatest caffeine content White,Green,or Black?…

A. “A 2007 study in Germany (Hilal & Engelhardt) looked at 30 Black teas, 2 sets of 30 Green teas & 30 White teas. This is the most comprehensive study I know. They found a range of caffeine:


Black tea 2.0 to 5.4% – average 3.5%

Green tea (1) 1.5 to 5.2% – average 3.4%

Green tea (2) 1.7 to 3.9% – average 2.9%

White tea 3.4 to 5.7% – average 4.9%


My conclusion from this is that to drink any particular color of tea for its low or high level is to fool yourself. Despite what many misguided (or unscrupulous) vendors may tell you, your black could be as low as 2.0% and your green as high as 5.2% – and even on average (if you could ever find an average tea) a black will be the same caffeine level as a green – from sample set 1 at least.


White tea scores higher on average than black or green, though a ‘high’ black or green could still beat a ‘low’ white.


Steeping practice will modify caffeine intake more than your choice of tea type. Halve the tea you use = 50% less caffeine in your cup. Treble steep your green or white teas and you will have significantly less caffeine per oz of water consumed than in a single steep of black.


Finally, don’t worry so much about caffeine in tea. Nature provided tea polyphenols to complex it – so you do not get the coffee jitters from tea – and the unique relaxing L-theanine to balance caffeine’s energizing effects. New research (in mice only, so far) points to caffeine having a protecting and reversing affect on Alzheimer dementia at a dose of 500mg per day – around 14 cups! That has to be an argument for increased tea drinking.


Analysis shows that the African cultivars are consistently high for caffeine content. Some can be up to 6% in parts of the year and the CTC manufactured types are the highest. Teas from Kenya and Rwanda are particularly good for combination of taste, high caffeine and high L-theanine (the stress busting amino acid unique to tea). In USA though it’s difficult to find these teas as straight origins. I suggest you seek out a supplier of Taylors Yorkshire Gold – their blend incorporates a lot of the best African teas – good and strong and my favorite for the morning wake up cuppa.

Q. “I know this has been addressed in the past, but once again….Which if any tea has the most caffine? I am a loose tea drinker, but also love my coffee. Coffee isnt agreeing with me anymore, but Ive gotta have that “buzz” in the morning to get me going. I have a job where I sit all day and look at a computer, and need to stay awake!…[I’d] appreciate anything you can advise me on.”


A.  “Analysis shows that the African cultivars are consistently high for caffeine content. Some can be up to 6% in parts of the year and the CTC manufactured types are the highest. Teas from Kenya and Rwanda are particularly good for combination of taste, high caffeine and high L-theanine (the stress busting amino acid unique to tea). In USA though it’s difficult to find these teas as straight origins. I suggest you seek out a supplier of Taylors Yorkshire Gold – their blend incorporates a lot of the best African teas – good and strong and my favorite for the morning wake up cuppa.”


There you have it. Thanks Nigel!

Happy Sipping!

__,_._,___

Tea and Caffeine

NEWS: Making Tea History in Taiwan

D.C.’s Chief Leaf  was 1 of 10 Tea Professionals from the United States and Canada to have completed a week-long intensive study of oolong teas from withering to final product in Taiwan from June 20-28, 2009. Ms. Scott was part of this exclusive first group of foreigners to produce tea at the prestigious East Coast Taitung Branch, Tea Research and Extension Station – an unusual and rare opportunity for anyone other than Taiwanese tea growers.

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Indoor withering process of Wen Shan Baozhong

The group was lead and organized by Thomas Shu, ABC Teas & 3rd generation Tea Master, Josephine Pan, Organic Teas Only, and the Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association (TTMA).

Notable Tea Masters Norman Shu, current Chairman of TTMA; Jackson Huang, Senior Advisor to TTMA; Ted Fan, Secretary General of TTMA and on-sight instructor David Liao worked side-by-side guiding the group during processing, cupping sessions and tea tastings. On average, their days were 12-15 hours of intensive study of 6 cultivars:

1. Tai Cha #12/Chin Sin Oolong
2. Da-Yeh Oolong
3. Wuyi
4. Tai Cha #18
5. Tai Cha #8
6. Taiwan’s Wild Tea Tree

The week kicked-off the with hands-on processing of Baozhong Tea (Wen Shan Tea District) which took approximately 13 hours to complete.

Their second day was highlighted by a visit to the Shan-Ben Tea Garden, producer of the 1st Place Winner for Green Oolong Tea at the World Tea Championship in Las Vegas earlier this year. Winner Ken Rudee, incoming Chairman of STI and Board Member of the Tea Association of the US, returned to Taiwan to present 82-year-old Mr. Wu with the prestigious award.

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Making pressed oolong tea (with some help from a Master)

By day three, they had processed Pressed Oolong (Hua-Tung Tea District) and completed the “bootcamp” with the hand processing of Formosa White Tip Oolong Tea/Oriental Beauty (Ta-Chiang-Wu/Long Tan, Touyan)-Taiwan’s most precious tea.

“This was the most intense and rewarding tea experience I’ve had to date. To be able to actually hand-make tea was a rare opportunity, said Ms. Scott. “I have an even greater appreciation of the work and craftsmanship that goes into a single cup of tea. It’s not easy and is truly an art.”

By weeks end, the group had cupped and tasted over 60+ teas from Bai Mu Dan to Aged Oolong along with some that have not been sampled outside of Taiwan. A Master Cupping session was held at the ABC Teas Factory and was led by Norman Shu.

Mid-way through the week they were able to take a short break at the Luminous Mountain Spring Resort & Spa and enjoy the natural hot springs. Their week culminated with a Grand Tea Tasting at TTMA, a 10-course farewell dinner and closing ceremony on Saturday, June 27th. Certificates of completion were given.

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The totally wonderful Thomas Shu and Elise on the slopes of a tea garden in Yilan, Taiwan

Taiwan Public Television (the equivalent of PBS) was there to interview and film events earlier in the week and was scheduled to cover the closing ceremony to gather more footage for a 15 minute television special on their oolong study tour. Ms. Scott granted an interview to the TV Station.

“I was thrilled to offer my thoughts and opinions on the value of Taiwanese oolongs in the US Tea Market. We are big fans and huge supporters. Their teas are outstanding,” she said. “I used this week to not only learn from revered tea masters, but to also connect with the growers, develop relationships and purchase teas directly from the gardens, said Ms. Scott. “Our fall collection of Taiwanese oolong tea is really quite special.

Many of the teas purchased will be available this fall in time for the Holidays.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider sharing with a friend. We look forward to your comments! Happy Sipping!

NEWS: Making Tea History in Taiwan

The Chief Leaf Gets Another Title (or vice versa)

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Our Ad in the July Issue of Yoga Magazine

First of all, I have to find more time to blog. This is crazy.

Between writing articles, (Fresh Cup), writing press releases, writing ads (see above), writing the blurbs on our website, updating Facebook, Tweeting… I can barely write my own name anymore. Which by the way, seems to compel people to ask the question,“Is that really your title? Chief Leaf?”

Yep. It is. And I had no idea so many people would respond to it the way they have:  a great big smile and, “I LOVE THAT!” BTW… guess who asked me that question? Go on.. Guess?!!! Carla Hall Lyons! The fabulous TOP CHEF, who we ALL know should have won! (I’m getting ahead of myself.)

So… when I was making up my business cards I went through the typical list of titles: President, Owner, CEO, Tea Specialist etc etc etc. Nothing seemed to fit. I kinda liked the “Chief” in Chief Executive Officer but it just sounded way too serious, and ominous. Not me. So I kept Chief (which I am since I own the company) and Leaf just made sense. I’m the Chief of all Leafs for Pearl Fine Teas.

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Ariane Duarte, Carla Hall Lyons, David and me

2 weekends ago at the Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor (which I hope many of you visited – the food was out of control delish, and the Beer Garden was even better. AND, Carla and Adriane were there). Tangent. Sorry. Anyway, I’m at the FWFest and Jon Arundel, editor from Local Kicks stops by my booth along with  Kirsten Marie Obadal, a wine writer. (Who wouldn’t want that job?)

They seemed to like what they saw and hopefully tasted (free tea to the press) and decided we were worthy of a write up, especially since I’ve been awarded the title of Certified Tea Specialist — The 1st in DC and 1 of 23 Nationally.

Local Kicks ran a story, and then NBC Washington and Washington Home and Garden picked it up. Yippee!

So now I hold 2 interesting titles: Chief Leaf and Certified Tea Specialist (isn’t that more fun than CEO?) and hope to one day call myself a “Tea Master” – maybe even “Tea Sommelier” as  they referenced in the article, but honestly, there are others who deserve that title more than I do.  I’m fine with the 2 I have now. For now. I hope in this lifetime I will have the honor of being called “Master.”  And I don’t mean by my staff or loved ones. 🙂

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Jade Oolong

My quest for the “Tea Master” title begins on Friday, June 19th as I take an extraordinary long flight to Taiwan to spend a week processing, cupping, discussing and learning about Oolong Teas. from a 3rd Generation Tea Master! You know I’m crazy for Oolongs so this is like… a dream come true!

I’ll be bringing back some limited-edition oolongs processed by yours truly. I may even be persuaded to sell some.

I wonder how much weight I’ll from sheer dehydration? It is Taiwan in June. They better make me an iced tea.

Happy Sipping!

The Chief Leaf Gets Another Title (or vice versa)