Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Teaology 101: The Official Tea Dictionary From A - Z!

Well, here it is!  The entire alphabet completed for our tea dictionary.  Of course, it will get revised as I come across new words and better definitions.  It was a good project and I learned some new meanings along the way.  Please enjoy!



























Monday, October 30, 2017

Tea Readings: A lesson by Kenny!


When I first learnt to
pour tea in Honicknowle

in those dark old days
before central heating

closed down open fireplaces
and lights went out in coal mines

and chimpanzees hadn’t yet
made their debuts on television

and two sugars
was the national average

and the teapot was the centre
of the known universe

and the sun was this yellow
thing that just warmed the air

and anthropology’s study
of domestic history hadn’t

quite reached the evolutionary
breakthrough of the tea-bag

and the kettle was on
in the kitchen of number

thirty two Chatsworth Gardens
where my father after slurping

another saucer dry would ask
in a smoke-frog voice for

another cup of microcosm
while outside the universe blazed

like a hundred towns
on a sky of smooth black lino

and my father with tobacco
stained fingers would dunk biscuits

and in the process spill tiny drops
of Ceylon and India

which I would wipe with a tea towel
from the corner shop

I read the tea leaves
as if they were words

left over from a conversation
between two cups.

~ Kenny Knight

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Latte Art Gallery!

I’ve always been impressed with the latte art created by baristas. They are lovely to look at, but very hard to drink because you’ll lose their creation with each sip! Lately, I’ve seen latte art that’s just over the top. Pictures of people, characters, flowers, landscapes etc... Now there are even 3D designs! There are some super talented baristas out there. Hopefully they are well paid for their amazing skills. Here are some designs I found that I think are pretty cool!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letters ‘U’, ‘V’, ‘W’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’!

Well, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the alphabets! Like in most cases, there aren’t a whole lot of words beginning with ‘X’ or ‘Z’, so, it’s best to just post one article with the final few letters. Don’t forget all the previous letters:

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T

Vintage:  These are teas from the same harvest at market.

Weak:  Liquor that is thin.

Weathery:   A soft, unpleasant characteristic, sometimes found in the liquors of teas that were made during rainy weather.

Weedy:  A grassy taste as a result of under-drying.

Well Made:  Refers to the make of the tea usually according to its grade, in that it is uniform in colour, size, and texture.

Well Twisted:  Well rolled whole leaf orthodox tea, usually thin and long leaves.

White Tea:  This is the least processed of all the teas and is referred to as "white tea" due to the presences of silver-grey coloured hairs on the buds.

White Tip:  These are tightly curled leaf buds plucked in in the spring.

Winey:  Teas described as aged and mellow. This is a characteristic found in some Keemun and Assam teas.

Wiry:  Tea leaves that are tightly twisted or rolled. Also referred to as well twisted.

Withering:  This is step manufacturing where the plucked leaves are spread evenly allowing them to naturally dry in the air in order reduce the moisture content, making the leaves more pliable.

Woody: A poor taste, described as grassy or that of hay, as a result of under drying.

Yin Zhen:  This is also known as White Hair Silver Needle, which is a highly prized and costly variety of white tea.

Yixing:  This is pronounced "yee shing", and it is a region in China known for the unglazed teapots made from a purple clay.

Young Hyson:  This is a type of green tea where the leaves are picked before the rainy season. They are made by hand-rolling or tightly twisted.

Yunnan:  A tea producing province in southwestern China.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The elixir of life!

Has anyone ever tried Kombucha? It's becoming quite popular as I am seeing it everywhere. As mentioned in my tea dictionary, Kombucha is a fermented, effervescent, and sweetened black tea or green tea beverage with the capability to detox your body. Its touted for its health benefits, though, studies continue to verify some of its claims.  I am going to post another article about this wonder drink in the future, but for now, I am just going to share my experience with this beverage, for I have just had it for the very first time.

Since it was my first time consuming this drink, I really didn't know what to look for in terms of flavours or brands.  I happened to come across a brand called Kombucha Wonder Drink and decided to give them a shot as all the ingredients were organic.  Plus, the product I found was a Traditional Kombucha.

The wonder potion!

Upon opening the bottle, a wave of fruity aroma was released. It smelled like apple juice with hints of strawberry.  Though, from what's written on the label, there are no fruits or berries in this drink.  Even the taste was similar to apple juice, only carbonated.  It had a slight tang which I liked.  I also found it quenched my thirst, but I tend to find most carbonated drinks have this capability.  I didn't really detect any tea, but again, that could be due to the carbonated nature of the drink.

Overall, I enjoyed the drink.  I don't know if it made me any healthier as I feel the same.  This beverage was not cheap, so I likely won't have it on a regular basis.  I found most of the Kombucha drinks on the market to be rather dear.  However, it's not bad to have once in a while especially for its purported health benefits.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Tea Story: The magical, mystery tour of duty!

Xinyang Maojian is a type of green tea produced in the province of Henan in China. “Xinyang” is named after the city where the tea is grown. “Maojian” is made up of two words, and describes the appearance of the tea leaves: “mao” means fur or fuzz, and “jian” means sharp or tip. There is an interesting tale that tells the story of how this tea came into fruition in Xinyang.

A long, long time ago, the locals in the tiny village of Xinyang were plagued with a mysterious disease. No one knew what it was, and no known medicine could cure them of their illness. A brave young gal, frightened and concerned by what was happening to the folks in her village, searched high and low for all possible solutions to rid the disease that fell upon her people. 

One day, whilst out searching, the girl came across an old man who provided her with some very useful info. He instructed her to cross 99 mountains in order to find a special, magical tree, from which she would gather some leaves off of. She was required to bring these leaves back home with her within 10 days, which would then cure all the people in the village. Up for a challenge, and some cardio, the girl ventured off and crossed the 99 mountains where she did indeed find the magical tree. Her joy soon turned to sorrow, for when she found the tree, she had no energy for the trek back to her village. Clearly, there was no way the girl was going to make it back home lacking in water, energy bars, and proper footwear. 

Angry Birdgirl to the rescue!

 The guardian of the tree took pity on the hapless girl and decided to help her out by transforming her into a bird. The girl could now carry the leaves and seeds and just fly back home. How easy was that? The villagers were in a state of euphoria now that they were cured of their disease. Soon, they began planting the seeds of the magical tree which ultimately grew into a tea garden

Oh the wonders of tea! What happened to the girl anyway? Did she remain a bird? Hmmm....

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter ‘T’!

Time for the letter ‘T’ as in tea! What this whole dictionary is all about. Check out the previous letters too:

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S

Tainted:  A strange flavour or aroma, usually something foreign in the tea which may have occurred during processing or improper storage.

Tannin:  One of the chemical components in tea. It is a polyphenol which is responsible for the astringency or bitterness of the tea.

Tarry:  Tea that has a smoky aroma resulting from being smoke-dried during processing.

Tat:  A mat made of meshed wire or burlap that is used to lay out the plucked tea leaves for withering.

Tea:  An aromatic beverage prepared by using the processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and infusing them in heated water in order to extract its nutrients.

Tea Cozy:  A "sweater", usually made of wool, used to cover a teapot to keep heat from escaping.

Teacup:  A vessel used for holding and drinking brewed tea from.

Teapot:  A vessel used for holding brewed tea until ready to pour into a teacup.

Tea Taster:  Someone with expertise in judging the various stages of tea processing and production and the quality of the brew by using their organoleptic capabilities.

Tea Towel:  A piece of fabric used for drying dishware cutlery.

Theaceae:  A family of flowering plants to which the Camellia sinensis plant belongs to.

Theaflavins:  Antioxidant polyphenols found in fermented black teas.

Theanine:  An amino acid found in tea and is known to reduce anxiety and stress.

Theine:  Also know as caffeine, specifically occurring in tea.

Thick:   Liquor with flavour and substance.

Thin:  Weak liquor that lacks flavour.

Ti Kuan Yin:  Also known as Iron Goddess of Mercy, it is a popular, fragrant, Oolong tea.

Tip: This is the bud of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Tippy:  Tea with an abundance of leaf tips. May also refer to tea that contains a high concentration of white or golden tips.

Tips:  This is the bud and the top two leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Two leaves and a bud is the ideal pluck for production, providing the best flavour.

Tisane:  Also known as herbal teas or herbal infusions, these are beverages that are brewed like teas where the ingredients are infused in hot water. However, they do not contain the Camellia sinensis plant, and therefore, cannot be referred to as tea.

Toasty: A taste in liquor resulting from over-firing during the manufacturing process. Not necessarily a bad quality, it is a desirable characteristic in certain teas such as ones from Darjeeling.

Tung Ting:   An Oolong tea from Taiwan.

Tuocha:  Also known as "dome-shaped bowl tea", this is a compressed tea, usually made of Pu'erh.

Twankey: Inferior, old, unrolled, green tea leaves.

Twisted:  Withered and rolled tea leaves that have become curled.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tea Readings: It's My Party!

Tea is a very social event. However, there are times when some solitude is called for. This "me time" allows for moments of deep thinking and contemplation. I've just celebrated another birthday. The additional digit brought on a wave of reflection and thoughts of what my next move will be. Where am I heading and am I making the right choices?

Please enjoy this little poem for a party of three.

The Tea Party

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small -
Three guest in all -
Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me. 

~ Jessica Nelson North

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Cuppa: It’s Maya Chai, Darjeeling!

Yup. That’s a corny title. I try and add humour in my writing whenever I can. Didn’t say it was always good! Anyway. A few weeks ago I had attended a tea and baking workshop hosted by Teaventures. I really enjoyed my evening meeting like-minded people, talking tea, and making some tea infused treats. As mentioned, I was given a gift of a packet of tea by the event co-ordinator. The tea is called Maya. It’s a Darjeeling tea, and I am now trying it out!

Oh Darjeeling!

Darjeeling, as a masala chai, isn’t really the norm. Assam has traditionally been the chosen chai to make a masala chai. Assam is strong and bold enough to handle a variety of spices. Darjeeling, the "champagne of teas", is quite delicate, and best consumed on its own. Teaventures has done a great job of combining a simple and very subtle blend of spices to Darjeeling without destroying the tea. The spices used are star anise, green cardamom, and cracked peppercorns. They did not go overboard with gazillion different items to create this lovely tea!

From the aroma of the dark green tea leaves when the packet was opened, to the taste of the golden amber coloured liquor, everything about Maya was gentle. I found the smell of the dry leaves fresh and grassy. The spices in combination with the tea leaves smelled familiar to me. It reminded me of an herbal blend I use in some Italian dishes. 

Ohhhh Darjeeling!

The infusion was superb! Darjeeling is perfect without the need for milk or sugar, and that same sentiment holds true for it as a masala chai. It was flavourful without spice overkill. It’s slightly astringent at the end of each sip, but it did not linger. I really enjoyed this tea!

Teaventures has a Chai Collection of various black teas and a selection of spices to go along with that particular tea. They all sound amazing and I’m very curious to try each one of them. I’m sure they will become regulars in my ever-expanding tea cupboard!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Tea Spot: A new chai to try!

A little shop I've been meaning to check out since it opened not too long ago, is Elchi Chai Shop. It's received some great reviews, and I now know why.

Elchi Chai Shop is a cute little place with simple decor. The columns are plastered with fun facts about a variety of spices that are used in the shop. The menu looked great and I did have some trouble deciding what to get. I'll definitely have to swing by a few times in order to try the various dishes and drinks.

When I finally settled on my order and waited patiently for it, I was salivating at the food the neighbouring tables were getting. Everything looked delicious! It was a grey day but quite muggy, so I decided to go for an Iced Masala Chai instead of a hot beverage. For my meal, I went for the Butter Chicken Roti and Vegetable Samosas.

The samosas were a nice mix of spices. They were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. They were served with a tamarind chutney that had just a touch of sweetness. I was expecting just one, but received two. Not complaining at all!


The butter chicken was creamy with tender pieces of chicken. Not overly spicy, it came with some chopped peanuts to sprinkle on top. They added another level of texture providing a good crunch. The roti came in rough pieces. It was soft and slightly crunchy and went well with the butter chicken.

Butter Chicken!

On to my iced tea. I loved it! It came presented in a mason jar which I thought was just too cute! It was sweet, but not so sugary. It was a perfect balance of spicy and sweet. I could detect cardamom and anise. It really tasted like a traditional, authentic, masala chai you'd get in India. It was refreshing and went well with my meal.


The Elchi Chai Shop has become one of my new favourite places to attend. It's simple, casual, and affordable, with a great menu and very friendly staff. I've already been thinking of my next visit and hope to bring along a few friends to enjoy it as well.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter ‘S’!

Time for the letter ‘S’ in our tea focused dictionary. Don’t forget all the previous letters:

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R

Samovar:  A heated metal container used to heat water in for making tea. Quite popular in Russia.

Scented tea:   Teas leaves that have been flavoured with oils, flower petals, or spices. Jasmine and Earl Grey are such examples.

Self-drinking:  Teas that don't need to be blended as they are perfect on their own.

Semi-fermented:  Tea that has only been partially oxidized prior to being fired and dried. These types of teas usually refer to Oolongs.

Sencha:  A popular, Japanese green tea that enjoyed as an everyday beverage.

Silver Dragon:  A Chinese green tea that's slightly sweet and nutty.

Silvery Oolong:  A costly tea made from the delicate whitish first flush leaves.

Silvery Tipped Pekoe:  Rare and costly, this is White Tea made of the unopened tea leaves or buds.

Sinensis:  This is a variety of the Camellia plant. See Camellia sinensis.

Sappy:  Full and juicy flavour liquor.

Single Estate Tea:  Any tea that originated from one single tea garden or plantation.

Smoky:  Tea leaves that give a taste and aroma of smoke as a result being fired over open flames on wood. Lapsang Souchong is such an example. However, the smokiness may also be unintentional and caused by faulty driers during the drying process.

Soft:  Lacking in flavour, this is weak tea that is under oxidized.

Souchong:  Referring to leaf size, this is inferior tea made from larger, older leaves of the shoot, usually the third or fourth leaf.

Sour:  Tea that has an acidic smell and taste. Not a good trait.

Spicy:  This does not refer to a Masala Chai. This is liquor with the characteristics of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, or ginger possibly caused by cross-contamination.

Sri Lanka:  Formerly referred to as Ceylon, this island produces some of the finest black teas.

Stale:  Tea that is passed its prime and no longer fresh.

Stalk:  Tea leaves that contain pieces of stems due to improper plucking.

Steaming:  Light heat application, usually on green tea, during the manufacturing process.

Stewed/Stewy:  Soft liquor due to a lengthy fermentation, low drying temperature, or incorrect firing. Also refers to brew that has been infused far too long giving an unpleasant taste.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Adventures in tea and baking!

A couple of nights ago, I attended a Baking with Tea workshop hosted by Zen of Teaventures in partnership with Feena of Fefe Bonbon. It was a very casual evening and I had no expectations of any kind. To me, it was a night out meeting people who have a common interest.

Pretty teapot!

Zen opened the event by having the small group introduce themselves. I got the feeling everyone already knew each other through friendship or past events. I was the newbie! Zen introduced herself as a Tea Sommelier graduate from George Brown College. It's always nice to meet a fellow graduate and seeing where their studies took them. She continued her tea talk by sharing family stories, types of tea and how to brew them, and the many uses of tea besides consumption. It was an open dialogue where the group offered up their own experiences with tea. Unlike coffee, tea is a very social experience. As we chattered on, we enjoyed a pot of Darjeeling Chai produced by Teaventures. 

What to drink?
Later on, Feena, our Baker, took over and guided the group in the making of masala chai infused shortbread cookies and icing for cupcakes. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the participants did not get to make icing, and instead just used the icing made by our baking instructor. The baking and decorating portion of the workshop was not very difficult. In fact, Feena, who instructs baking courses to children, brought along all her colourful cooking instruments she normally uses in her children's classes. Hmmmm... I wonder if she finds children easier to school than adults! LOL! Anyway, I wasn't expecting anything too deep in the workshop. The cookies and cupcakes looked decent and tasted pretty good. I have used tea in some of my past baking, and will definitely fine tune what I learned this evening and take them into consideration. 

Colourful tools!

Masala chai cupcakes!

When the evening came to an end, Zen approached me and offered up a package of her Darjeeling Chai, thanking me for attending her event. I will surely be enjoying this lovely tea. It really is good! She also seemed a bit apologetic about the workshop possibly being a little too easy for me because of my tea and pastry background.  I assured her many times over that I had a great time, enjoyed meeting her and everyone else, and had no expectations at all for what I signed-up for. She is super kind as is Feena, and I look forward to attending future events hosted by this talented pair.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Tea Spot: A piece of crepe!

The last time I was at Tsujiri, I had their amazing Houjicha Soft Ice-cream. It was a delight! I wanted to try some of their other offerings, and so headed back to the shop.

This time around, I went for the Matcha Crepe Cake. It is layers of crepes in-between layers of what appeared to be a Matcha mousse, similar to the Matcha Angel Hat Cheesecake I had at 
Uncle Tetsu’s Angel CafĂ©

Crepe cake.

The cake looked good enough. It was a sweet Matcha with a slight bitter aftertaste. It was smooth and much creamier than I thought it would be. Initially, I found the texture a bit strange, almost jelly-like. I soon got over it, though, with each bite.

It wasn’t a bad cake, and I’m glad I tried it. However, I wasn’t particularly wowed by it. I’ve had far better cakes, and so will skip this one.  I guess you really can't always have your cake!