Sunday, April 30, 2006

A day full of tea and fun in Hangzhou

What a day, we left Shanghai and set off for Hangzhou and arrived in the city about 3 hours later. The trip over was uneventful with nothing much to see, although we were surprised by all the new construction and not many people.
Once in Hangzhou that all changed the city was packed with people, not only with Hangzhou people, as the Chinese say, but also vacationers celebrating the National Labor Day or Golden Week holiday. Like every busy city, there is traffic, crazy drivers and lots of noise.

We met our Hangzhou hosts at our hotel and set off for a traditional Chinese meal which was fabulous even if I can't pronounce it all. We began the meal with hot Chrysanthemum brewed by the Chinese as a means to lower the bodies internal heat, which was a good thing since the weather was warm and sticky.

After lunch, we went back to Paul's teashop and started our afternoon tea tasting and tasting and tasting, At one point Barb and I noticed that our hosts were no longer drinking tea but still serving it to us! Paul brewed gung fu style and besides trying some new teas, we also enjoyed a variety of familiar oolongs as well as Dragon Well green tea. Hangzhou is the home of Dragon Well Village so that would only be expected and enjoyed.

Brewing Table & Tools for Gung Fu Style Tea

After several hours of sampling teas and reviewing product samples we set out to visit the local market, which was a lot of fun. We saw and shopped for many interesting items like calligraphy signs, paintings and Chinese medicinal herbs. The market was full of energy and a lot of talented local people with their wares.

More of the pictures from today in the next blog.
Tomorrow we visit the West Lake area home of Dragon Well, Beth

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Arrived in China

We have arrived in China, Barbara and I. The flight was great, Japan Air was the longest leg of the trip and we both thought we might stay on the plane. The food, service and accomadations were all excellent, including the Sencha green tea!
We are leaving this morning taking a bus to Hangzhou, pronunced "Hung Joe", to meet up with Paul. We will be visiting Dragon Well and Yixing while in this province and actually staying in a hotel that overlooks the lake. Starting to sample teas is the first thing on the agenda and taking pictures of course.
More to come soon, Beth

Monday, April 17, 2006

Earl Grey and Muscle Cramps

I have recently had some questions about Earl Grey tea and muscle cramps so I decided to share what I know.

Earl Grey whether it is black or green tea or herbal is made by adding Bergamot Oil to the tea leaves. Bergamot oil is a citrus oil and contains a compound called Begapten.

Potassium flow to and from cells is critical for proper muscle function. Begapten can cause blocking of that critical flow possibly causing muscles to cramp and cause discomfort.

While very rare, when this does occur it is most often in individuals who drink a lot of Earl Grey over extended periods of time. My suggestion, be aware.

Drink different types of tea not just Earl Grey. If you have been drinking Earl Grey tea and experience unexplained muscle discomfort stop drinking the tea. If the discomfort subsides then you may want to avoid Earl Grey.
On the other hand I would not just stop drinking Earl Grey all together out of fear of getting muscle cramps, just drink it moderately and find some new favorites to add variety. Beth

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Green Market Ending

I cant believe the Green market is already coming to an end! What happened to the time? The final market in West Palm Beach is this coming Saturday, April 22nd. I don't think I will be there but the booth will be set up and Nathan will be there to oversee things. Who knows maybe I will change my mind.
I had the opportunity to say goodbye to some of our favorite market friends this past Saturday. I also was able to take some pics with the new digital camera I'm taking to China I need lots of practice! I have included some of those images below.
West Palm is my personal favorite market and though things were different this season then in previous years that is still a market that delivers high quality green items; cut flowers, produce, cheese, bread, fish, plants and of course tea! We cant wait till the 2006-2007 season starts,the 3rd Saturday in October.
Thanks to everyone who came by to have tea. Beth

Friday, April 07, 2006

Delicious New Teas Arriving

Darjeeling Whyte, an Indian White Tea
I wanted to share the amazing teas that we have been cupping in the past 2 weeks coming in from China, Taiwan and India. Greens, Whites and Oolongs are arriving almost daily, what fun.

Plum Blossom Oolong, a Taiwanese Oolong TeaThe new spring Darjeeling Whyte is awesome and should be at our door in about 2 weeks. Also impressive was an Oriental Beauty Oolong or Bai Hao Oolong that we purchased from Taiwan. It reminds me of the Plum Blossom Oolong of several years ago that people still call hoping to get!

Dragon Well 'Lung Ching', Chinese Green Tea
The new harvest of Dragon Well, a Chinese green tea, is also in route and is spectacular. We selected 2 dragon well green teas this year, a first grade and a small reserve of a special grade. That's just to name a few. I cant wait to go to China and start tasting.

This is the kind of stuff that makes my job exciting and delicious!!
Have a great weekend, Beth

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Vegetarian Rice Salad w/ Green Tea Dressing

This is the salad that we served at the last workshop that everyone loved and asked for the recipe - Vegetarian Wild Rice Salad w/ Green Tea
Keep in mind that when I cook I reference a recipe but don't follow it exactly, hence the green tea in this dressing instead of water...Boring.

Green Tea Dressing;
Combine 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
10 - 12 pieces of thinly sliced ginger, about the size of a quarter
2 tbspn of lime zest
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 cups of freshly brewed green tea - Tea suggestion Yunwu or Mao Feng.
1/2 cup honey
Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Cool and strain.

Wild Rice Salad;
6 cups cooked Wild Rice cooled-I use a rice my friend Peg gave me from WI it's hearty and delicious
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tbspn of lime zest
1 cup + each julianne;
Blanched carrots
Bean Sprouts
Cooked Green Beans-I didn't have green beans so I didn't use them
1 cup + each diced;
Tart Green Apples
Diced Orange,if out of season try canned mandarin oranges
Mix well. Add dressing just before serving and mix again. Don't pour all the dressing on the salad it might be to much. Serve dressing on the side for anyone who wants more.
Sprinkle with toasted coconut and enjoy!

Additional things could go in this salad like Tofu, I think that would be great just brown up extra firm tofu and then cook with the dressing, mmmmm fabulous.

Do you have a favorite tea recipe? We are always looking for tasty tea recipes to share with others. Submit your tea recipe and if your recipe is selected we will send you a free bag of the tea!

Thanks, Beth

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tea Decaffeination Article Published in The India Daily

I was shocked to see the article I wrote on the tea decaffeinating process appear in the India Daily! Yes India, the internet makes our planet a lot smaller that's for sure.

To check out the article click this link

Look for a follow up article on some information from the Mayo Clinic on the depletion of benefits once teas, specifically green teas, are decaffeinated. Coming soon to the Tea Spot, the Teas Etc e newsletter.

To sign up for the newsletter click here

Have a great day, Beth

Monday, April 03, 2006

Another Fun Tea Workshop

Last Tuesday was another great tea workshop! The attendees were enthusiastic about learning more on the topic of tea and many have been long time tea drinkers. It is always fun for me to exchange information with a good group of tea people, especially those new to a quality, fresh loose tea. They are always amazed at the taste difference when compared to what they have been drinking. The tea was a hit and so was the Vegetarian Wild Rice Salad.

I put my spin on the salad by incorporating green tea in the dressing and it was delicious. Everyone asked for the recipe so I will post it in the next couple of days. I will also post the recipe for the coconut pork dish that everyone asked for at our open house, I know I am a little behind but I promise I will share it!

One of our participants was a Doctor and she had a lot of good insight to share with the group. Tea certainly has a great deal of health benefits and the doctor was kind enough to share her experience with all of us. Thanks, Sheila!

We are looking forward to the third class of our first tea workshop series, the topic this class will be oolong teas. For those students attending the tea series, don't forget have your yixing pot prepped we are going to use them to brew.

Tea workshops have become a great way to share what we have learned, and continue to learn, about tea. We always have a good time and enjoy meeting new people and seeing long time friends. We will be running workshops throughout the summer so if you have been to busy all season to attend look for our summer series and summer workshop schedule available online in the next week.

Let me take this opportunity to again thank all of those individuals who participated in the last tea workshop we really had a good time! Beth