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

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Career in Tea: Inspiration on Prettygreentea

It's not too often I get to sit down with a cup of tea and write about myself in a way that would hopefully inspire others. I jumped at the chance when I heard that Daisy from Prettygreentea was looking for people to talk about their career and life path. The series "Career Inspiration" was designed to help people looking for career ideas, a career change or simply an insight into what others do. Daisy started this series on her blog because it is often difficult to know what you want to do with your life and that is something I found to be true even when I was still in college. Good things take time and when you find that one thing that you're really great at and passionate about, never let go of it. Take it and make something out of it for yourself! 

Here's a snippet from my interview:

How do you plan to develop your career during 2015?

I hope to eventually focus more on tea. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I am happy I’m able to marry my other passion (tea) with it. I hope to one day be able to do that for marketing and assist a tea company with their strategies. Until then, I’m going to keep writing and focusing on The Cup of Life. I have a lot of ideas steeping in my head such as tea workshops and tea infused recipes. I really need to put them on paper and take action.

I am happy to have found tea and create something more from my love for the beverage. Skip over to the interview on Prettygreentea.com to read the rest about my tea writing journey and other fun things I do as a career. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tea Pillows: Healing Benefits for the Mind, Body & Soul

"A steaming cup of artisanal tea has the power to soothe our minds or wake us up, satisfy our souls and blanket that inner chill. Heralded for healing properties, tea should be a regular part of a healthy lifestyle. But when work and travel stand between you and a hot cup of osmanthus oolong, take comfort in our plush silk pillows, stuffed with genuine, aromatic whole-leaf tea."
Tea GW has a great selection of tea pillows that need to be noticed more. I have their Jasmine Tea travel size pillow which is a white silk pillow that is printed with bold Chinese characters. It is filled with jasmine tea, the flowers of which are well known for healing powers and an intoxicating scent. The moment I opened the package I could instantly smell the aroma of the beautiful jasmine tea leaves. The packaging that is accompanied by the pillow is also stunning. 

You may be asking yourself what exactly is a tea pillow and what is it used for? Tea pillows are an ancient Chinese tradition. It is believed that through the tea's natural aroma and its beneficent qualities, the tea pillow gifts the sleeper with a grounding of one's spirit for a restful sleep, an aid to boosting the immune system, opening of the sinuses, relieving overall tension and prevents cold and/or flu. 
Source: My Instagram @teaaholic
I most recently had my tea pillow accompany me during a matcha session. I found it to be another relaxing moment sipping my freshly whisked Midori Matcha while being against my pillow. It kind of felt like a whole new floral matcha with the jasmine aroma surrounding the area. It's probably best described as a mini meditation session where I felt more grounded and just enjoyed the tea I was indulging in physically and emotionally.

"The better the quality of the tea used in the pillow the better the results!"
 
When choosing a tea pillow for yourself it is important to keep in mind the quality of the tea and materials the company uses. Healthy quality of fabric is the safes route and organic tea is the best route to go as you will not want the tea's aroma to be artificially enhanced as this could deter the health benefits.  

Tea GW's pillows are ones that I recommend as I have been very satisfied with mine and noticed an increase of restful sleep. Tea GW offers their pillows in various sizes. The travel size is the smallest but the most perfect for taking on your plane or car ride journey has it fits on the headrests. Other available sizes are the bolster style and lounge style.

*More information about the tea pillows are available online and also sold directly from their website here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tea Review: Vicony Teas' Keemun Hao Ya A

Keemun Hao Ya A - Vicony Teas
  "Vicony Teas Company, the organic tea manufacturer, specializes in tea planting, production, selling and research. As a Chinese tea wholesaler & supplier, it is able to supply various kinds of Black tea, Green tea, White tea, Yellow tea, Oolong tea, Dark tea, Pu Erh Tea, Scented tea, Flowering tea, Herbal tea and Tea Powder at keen prices on a regular basis. To meet the needs of oversea tea shops, tea houses and retailers, Vicony Teas started to provide the oversea door to door tea wholesale service in 2009."
Ingredients: Chinese Keemun Black Tea

Steep Time:
3 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Full."

Smell: A light smoky aroma for both the dry leaf and after steep. This tea produced a bright reddish brown color. Vicony Teas say that "in a cup, the premium tea gives bright golden ring appeared near the edge of liquor to the cup. The golden ring is the sign that tea leaves are rich in theaflavins that is vital for good quality."

Taste: Brought to me by Qimen County, Anhui Province, China this Keemun is the highest grade. Some teas have specific names but are generally only grown and processed in a particular region. Keemun from China is one of those teas. This Keemun Hao Ya A is deep and rich in flavour with, like the aroma, a hint of smoke. With its sharp flavour profile and full body this Keemun is wonderfully energizing yet comforting. It's a great morning brew! Although some black teas are still great with the addition of milk, I prefer Keemun without and that is how this cup was prepared. I experimented and steeped this tea for 2 minutes at first but found that it wasn't strong enough to my liking. I recommend 3 minutes as I feel it brings out all the unique flavours from this tea that shouldn't be missed in one cup.
 
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 tea leaves
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tea Review: The Persimmon Tree's Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang Souchong - The Persimmon Tree 
Ingredients: Organic Black Loose Leaf Tea

Steep Time:
3 minutes

First Sip Thought: "Camping night."

Smell: Picture yourself outside on a chilly night surrounding a campfire with friends. Breathe in the air and you'll get something similar to this tea's scent. Much like a campfire, the smokiness aroma really hits you. It's quite intense. I would recommend steeping this tea for the first time in an open area since the aroma may be overpowering compared to other teas you're used to.

Taste: What makes this tea so unique is that the tea leaves have actually been smoked over pine needles. This is what gives it the very bold, but soothing, earthy flavour. The scent alone kept me away from trying this tea for a while probably because it was too heavy for my liking. I'm happy to say the tea itself is actually not bad. After steeping, you are left with a caramel brown type liquid. I have noticed that if you steep it a bit less, the woodsy flavour is more enjoyable as it is not has strong. A pine smoke flavour is quite predominant and I even get a hint of a bacon taste. I do not hate Lapsang Souchong but I think it would take some time before I can actually enjoy it as a beverage alone. What I do love is using Lapsang Souchong for baking or cooking! I think it has become one of my most favourite teas to use in the kitchen as I believe it is something easy to work with. I also imagine that is tea would be ideal for cheese pairing. Hello smoked cheddar...mmmmm. I had heard so much about this tea for a while that I just had to give it a try. I do not regret that I did. While this tea might not be for everyone I think it's one that needs to be tried (at least once) by all.
 
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 tea leaves
**If you or someone you know would like a tea reviewed, contact me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Spicy Chai and Red Wine Poached Pears Recipe

I've been following Tealish Fine Teas on Instagram for a while now and have been visiting their blog often for some of their tasty recipes. I just came across this one that they posted back in February 2014. It uses their Spicy Chai blend, but if you do not have their brand on hand I think another Chai would suffice. This would be a great treat to make this Valentines Day, however, I believe "love day" is every day. Tealish was happy enough to share this recipe with The Cup of Life readers. So here is the recipe for you all to enjoy 365 days of the year :)  

To view the original post by Tealish Fine Teas visit their blog here.

 Image

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Spicy Chai tea
1 tea filter
2 cups fruity red wine
1 cup orange juice
½ cup plus ¼ cup white sugar
2 pears – Anjou or Bosc, preferably
Orange slices, to garnish

Directions

  1. Place tea into filter and secure at the top with a knot. Put filter into a medium-sized saucepan along with wine, orange juice, and ½ cup sugar.
  2. Turn heat to medium high. While mixture comes to a boil, peel the pears, leaving the core and stem intact.
  3. When tea and red wine mixture is boiling, add the pears and lower heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes, gently turning pears every five minutes or so to ensure even colour (the pears will turn a beautiful bright red!)
  4. Remove pears from saucepan and let cool. Meanwhile, add the additional ¼ cup of sugar and let sauce simmer 10 more minutes, until it becomes thick and syrupy. Remove tea and transfer remaining liquid to a sealed container.
  5. Store pears and sauce separately in fridge until ready to serve. Spoon sauce over the pears and garnish with orange slices.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to Make Herbal Tea Bath Sachets

Tea itself has a calming effect when indulging. It's something that is easy to go down and you may have also heard it be described as "a bath for your insides." Playing on this saying, I wanted to do something different for a relaxing evening one night. Instead of a typical bubble bath with a cup of tea by my side, why not incorporate the tea directly to the bath? Tea does wonders for the inside of the body and also the outside.
In this TEA.I.Y (witty, isn't it? haha) I'll be sharing with you how to make your own tea bath sachets. Technically, there is no actual "tea" in these though. Most of the ingredients are things you would find blended with actual tea leaves, or on its own as an herbal tea or tisane. These sachets are made to soak directly in the bath tub and are completely safe for you to relax in the tub with them still "steeping" so to speak. I hope you enjoy following this tutorial and, more importantly, enjoy using them! Add all of the tea bath sachets you create into a mason jar, place a ribbon around it and you have an inexpensive, cute gift--Valentine's Day is right around the corner!

Benefits: soothing, relaxing, stress relieving, euphoric, excellent for skin and sore muscles

Herbal Tea Bath Sachets

What You'll Need...

  • Chamomile flowers
  • Rose Buds
  • Epsom Salt
  • Baking Soda
  • Essential Oil of your choice
  • Bowl
  • Spoon/Scoop
  • Tea filter bag or Sachets (You can find these at a Dollar store)
  • Ribbon or string 
1. In a small container, take a scoop of baking soda and add 1-2 drops of your essential oil. 
2. In your bowl, gently combine all the ingredients (including the baking soda and essential oil mixture) together making sure not to crush any. There isn't really any set measurements for this DIY. I just take about a handful of each ingredient. Add your essential oil last to the mix and use only 1-2 drops. 

3. Spoon about half a cup into a tea filter bag or sachet.
4. Seal the bag so no ingredients get out by taking your ribbon or string and tying it around the top tightly. I make sure it is secured by tying it twice around. 
5. Start a bath and add the sachet to the tub.
6. Take in the aroma and relax!
    Give these a try and let me know what you think! You may be surprised at just how simple they are to create. If you make them be sure to send me a photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

    Thursday, February 5, 2015

    Discover the World of Tea at the Toronto Tea Festival

    "The Toronto Tea Festival will enable you to discover the world of tea from the traditional to the trendy. You will be able to sample hundreds of teas and learn from experts in the industry at one of the complimentary presentations. Taste a variety of teas uniquely and exquisitely prepared by exhibitors; noting how the flavours may differ depending upon place of origin, processing techniques, and preparation styles. Experience the event to the fullest by engaging with the exhibitors and learning about all things tea." (Source: Toronto Tea Festival Website)
     
    Attending the Toronto Tea Festival for the first time this past weekend was a wonderful experience and exactly how I expected it to be. In addition to learning more about tea, meeting others in the industries and getting "tea drunk" off many samples, my appreciation for the beverage grew. When arriving, you are greeted with a tote bag to fill with your purchases and inside you are given a program schedule and a map of over 40 vendors. Another nice item in the generous tote bag was a tasting cup. I was surprised to find that the tasting cup was actually glass. It's environmentally friendly and such a lovely keepsake afterwards! 
    With several presentations ranging from Tea 101 to Kombucha to Cooking with tea, there was something new to learn for everyone. The entire atmosphere was a great feeling. Who wouldn't want to be in a room full of tea lovers? You know the tea festival committee did everything right when you don't feel like leaving! Beautiful music accompanied you throughout the room from the Toronto Hanfu Society. Everywhere you turn there is another vendor kindly presenting you with one of their many teas to try. Once you pull out your tasting cup from your tea festival tote bag they begin to pour their tea for you to smell, sip, savour and enjoy.
    The Toronto Tea Festival presented three different tea ceremonies - Chinese, Korean and Japanese. With a brief explanation of all the tea tools and items used, a ceremony begins and continues to have the attendees' full attention for the half an hour. The one thing I love most about tea is getting to learn and experience how tea is enjoyed in different cultures. What tea is the most common to drink there? What details go into the preparation? Most importantly, seeing people indulge in their tea of choice is one that brings a closer connection. The Toronto Tea Festival did a great job bringing all of these key areas to their event during the tea ceremonies.

    A few of my highlights:

    - Attending the Wellness Teas Presentation by Shabnam Weber from The Tea Emporium (I'll blog more about that another time!) 
    - Having an informative chat with Adi Baker from Tea Association Canada about their online tea program to become a Certified Tea Sommelier.
    - Tasting and picking up some wildflower honey from Rosewood Estates Winery
    - Watching The Tea Kings create fresh matcha with their stone grinder
    - Enjoying matcha prepared by Austin Wong, currently the only person certified to teach Ueda Ryu style of Japanese tea ceremony in Canada.
    - Falling in love with kombucha, specifically from Pekoe
    - Bringing home my first ever tea pet. I was searching for one for a while and I fell in love with a "Meditating Buddha" from Zhen Tea (Don't worry, this little guy will be shared on the blog some more soon…)
    Whether you are new to the world of tea or an aficionado, the Toronto Tea Festival is an excellent place to be to grow in the industry, meet new people and learn about other tea companies. As a tea blogger, I deal with tea companies daily but I have noticed I have a larger network of U.S. companies than I do of Canada. I really liked that the festival gave me the opportunity to gain more insight from my country's tea lovers as well.

    I'm happy to say my first ever tea festival was a success and just makes me want more. Why can't there be a tea festival every weekend? Next year I will plan to go all weekend--one day for presentations and the next day for visiting vendors and enjoying the tea ceremonies. It's a tea filled weekend with lots of information that just can not be missed!
     
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