Thursday, December 31, 2015

The last cup!

Here we are again! Another year coming to a close. A little too quickly methinks! My 2015 didn’t start off on a good note. However, like tea leaves slowly unfolding themselves in water and creating something better and different with each infusion, so too did my year.

I did some cool things over the year. I read 28 books, most of which we great, a few not so much. I got re-acquainted with some old hobbies and began working on building new skills. I’ve gone to some amazing tea events, from which I enjoyed consuming a variety of teas, learned some new things about each tea, and met some great people. Along the way, I acquired so much tea I could easily setup my very own mini-mart!

My plan for 2016 is to progress on the new path my life is currently on. Doubt and second-guessing everything still runs through my mind at times, but, I’m trying my best to be my true, authentic self. So, hopefully I’ll unlock the right doors and make a good entrance each time. I’ve got a few goals I want to focus on and accomplish this time around too. I’m glad about this especially as I didn’t really have any goals from the previous two years and just allowed things to go in any direction.

Just a few more hours remaining now for 2015. Hope everyone has a great 2016! I’m off to make another pot of tea! Cheers!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tea Readings: All for the love of tea!

This is a lovely poem I came across a while back. Strange that something as normal as the simple act of making tea for a loved one can be expressed so beautifully. Enjoy!


I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.

~ Carol Ann Duffy, Rapture

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Chai Wares: Obi Gaiwan Kenobi!

The Toronto tea tasting troopers were out in full force to yet another event held at Infuse CafĂ©. The purpose of this session was to sip some oolongs with the aid of a gaiwan. A gaiwan is a set of Chinese dishes specifically made to prepare teas in small quantities. It is especially good for oolongs which may be infused many times over. 

A gaiwan set.

The basic gaiwan set comes in 3 pieces:

Gai = Lid
Wan = Bowl
Die = Saucer

We sampled a selection of 4 different oolongs:
  1. Tieguanyin or Iron Goddess of Mercy
  2. Alishan
  3. Ruby River, a tea by Rishi Tea
  4. Dong Ding

Add some tea leaves.

Allow to infuse.

These oolongs were all made in two very different ways. The first, using a gaiwan. The second, using the BKON method. The BKON brews were really good! Much like the white teas we enjoyed last month, I do believe that the more delicate teas really work well with the BKON. The gaiwan infusions were wonderful, of course! Cannot mess with tradition.

A perfect cup!

So how do you use a gaiwan? There are no tricks. All you need is a steady hand and some confidenc
e. “Your focus determines your reality”. Here are some simple steps to use as a guideline:

1.   Have some boiled water ready and available in a teapot or pitcher.

2.   Rinse the gaiwan with the hot water to make it warm. Discard this water.

3.   Place your tea leaves in the gaiwan. About 2 teaspoons should be enough.

4.   Pour some water over the leaves and cover the bowl with the lid.

5.   Depending on the tea used, allow the appropriate time for the infusion process.

6.   When the tea is ready, position the lid askew to the bowl, hold your thumb on the lid, and a couple of fingers on the underside of the bowl, hold the vessel upside down, and pour the liquor into a pitcher.

7.   Pour infused tea from the pitcher into your cup for consumption.

8.   Repeat the process for multiple infusions. Step 2 may be skipped at this point.

I know what some of you may be thinking: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”. Don’t worry! “Do. Or do not. There is no try”. SO DO! You will have an awesome tea drinking experience. Not only will you be enjoying your teas that taste different with each infusion, but you’ll witness the slow unfurling of the tea leaves as they expand within the tiny gaiwan. Trust me. These oolongs were coiled tighter than Princess Leia’s double-bun hairdo! With each infusion, the tea leaves began to reveal their true identity. 

Looks like a tiny toilet! Ha!

The revelation!

Once you’ve mastered the basics of using a gaiwan, you can use your Jedi-like skills and play around with temperatures, timings, quantities, proper warming and cleaning of the vessel, and a variety of other rituals associated with the gaiwan.

As the year quickly winds down, so too does our tea tasting sessions. The Empire Strikes Back in the New Year, so until then, “May the force be with you”!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A brew with a good pour!

Last night I headed out to meet some friends at a local pub for some feasting and to try their alcoholic beverages flavoured with tea. Stout Irish Pub, has a few tea enhanced beers, but not all were available on this evening. I choose the Lemon Tea Beer by Mill Street Brewery which contained a combo of orange pekoe – a black tea of some sort – and Earl Grey

Lemon Tea Beer

I’m more of a wine drinker, but will occasionally enjoy a cold beer once in a while. It wasn’t bad. I wasn’t sure of what to expect. I couldn’t really smell any aroma of the teas, but I could detect the taste of tea at the end of each sip. It wasn’t overpowering. It was a typical beer taste with an iced-tea flavour. Even the lemon flavour was faint. The beer went very well with my falafel pita pub grub. 

The perfect pour!

The next time I find myself at Stout, I would definitely go for this beer, but would really like to try their other tea spiked booze as well. Best part of going to Stout was the fact that it’s located right in my neighbourhood. Perfect for those evenings of heavy drinking where I can easily stagger home!