- *not free*
– post by telecommatt
No more forgotten invoices, no software to install and no help manuals to read. Use this from home, from the library, or from any other computer on the internet.
Posted by telecommatt on April 9, 2007
Posted by telecommatt on April 8, 2007
KENYA: March 26, 2007
NAIROBI – As the world tries to climate-proof everything from cars to factories, your cup of tea may be about to become a bit more environmentally friendly.
A UN project being launched in Kenya will help about a dozen tea plantations build mini-hydropower dams to cut their energy costs, and maybe even export clean electricity to the national grid or rural electrification schemes.
Not a lot of commentary about this article. It’s pretty self-evident that there are multiple positive impacts here. You all know my passion for tea as well as for the environment. To read an article about something environmentally friendly happening in the tea industry is the best of all worlds to me, and I’m really excited to share this article!
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Posted by telecommatt on March 21, 2007
No-Plastic Rally in Darjeeling
Good news for Darjeeling and its environment. In fact, I was very happy to hear about the rally which was a part of the plastic ban campaign. For years, people have been using plastic bags while shopping and was literally littering the place and polluting the environment. I am glad that people along with politicians have opened their eyes and stressed on the hazard that would tumble down. It’s always best to avoid than let it happen. The ban would come into effect from March 8 and according to the Darjeeling Municipality and the police, a Rs. 100 will be fined if anyone is found using plastic bags or littering using the same.
Benoy, of Darjeeling Cuppa, has posted some insightful comments here, of which I am grateful. I happened on this post on his blog and thought that it was news worth sharing. This is a brilliant success both for the people of Darjeeling and for all of us. Plastics are a real big problem! Everywhere I’ve traveled, I’ve seen the same. Europe, Central America, here in the US, it doesn’t matter where you go. My own pantry is full of large plastic bags filled with smaller plastic bags that I need to take in to be recycled. Full bags! And I always ask for paper instead of plastic! So I say hats off to Darjeeling for this!
Posted by telecommatt on March 13, 2007
Posted by telecommatt on March 7, 2007
I’ve just finished a cup of Darjeeling tea from a small chain tea store. I’ve been in now and then and a particular gentleman knows my face. I requested a cup their finest Darjeeling and asked why he preferred this one. Telling me that he felt this first flush was better than the seconds they carried, he set the timer and I let him run off to help other customers.
At first I thought the taste was pleasant. It had a slight fruity body with a very delicate top note that sort of lifted the whole flavor profile up. All this was ringed by the distinctive Darjeeling taste that is slightly reminiscent of pine tar. The tea had a bit of a weak taste to it. I don’t think this was because it wasn’t steeped long enough or because the leaf was not measured correctly for this amount of water. Probably the water temperature was not correct for the leaf. Either that, or my own flavor bias was kicking in since I am used to drinking teas of a much higher quality.
I should mention something about this shop and about their teas. I would not serve any of them to guests. That does not mean they sell bad tea. They sell good tea. But not excellent tea. They sell tea that I would buy a cup of to sit around a table in the mall and laugh over the news. My feeling is that it the best tea I can buy locally that comes served in a paper cup.
You know, Darjeelings are such interesting teas because of the complexity of their flavor profiles. When I drink tea, in my mind’s eye I see a shape to the tea. Different teas have different shapes and close teas will be a variation of the same shape. To me, Darjeelings are like a sphere that has been cut in half. Imagine a soap bubble on the water. The base note of the flavor is the lowest and widest. The middle note above that is the thickest part of the profile. And the top slice of the bubble is the upper note. The upper note can be light to the point where you have to strain to identify it or can be crisp and clear like a bell, but in a good tea it is never muddled with the middle note. A distinctive feature of a Darjeeling is a sort of ring around the lower note where you find what I call their pine tar tint.
Back to the tea I was drinking, at first I was pleased. It had a good flavor, though a bit weak. The flavor profile changed dramatically as I let it cool. The bubble shape seemed to sink and the outer ring rose and became more prominent. It was almost as if the bubble were turning inside out.
By this time the tarry flavor had become disagreeable. The rest of the tea’s flavor had become rather flat. The tea had also picked up a soapy aftertaste. The cup did seem to have a waxy coating on the inside which may account for this. My overall feeling was one of dissatisfaction.
The taste was pleasant at the first few sips. Noting this, I would say that this tea could be much better under ideal brewing conditions. I don’t feel that my time finding these conditions would be time well spent. At over $4 for a 12 oz. cup, I feel it is rather overpriced. I should note that the cupped price is not strickly tied to the bulk price. However, at this price per cup, you could easily buy a $100/quarter pound Darjeeling. (1/4 pound is about 4 ounces, which will yeild 50 or more cups of brewed tea.)
While I may have appeared rather scathing in my review of this tea, my intention is not to slander this very successful shop. Rather, this was an excercise and an example of how I, personally, evaluate a tea. While many of the same terms, bitter or astringent for example, can be applied across the tea trade, one’s brain must be trained to recognize certain sensory perceptions as, say, astringent. People ask me, how do I taste tea, or how do I know if a tea is good? The answer is practice. Excercises such as the one here are one way I practice.
In order to taste tea, one must have a baseline. Start with a tea that is known to be excellent and become familiar with its flavor profile. Then compare different years, plucks, etc. against that tea. Slowly work yourself outward from your baseline tea. This way your brain learns to recognize the shape the tea could be at its best and the differences become more obvious.
In Chinese, the word kung means work or practice. I like to think of this as cha kung or tea kung because it is my tea practice. Tea kung can be very hard work, and to become a tea kung master takes a lifetime of practice. Tea kung, however, has a secret. The goal of tea kung is not to become a tea master, rather it is simply to enjoy your tea.
Posted by telecommatt on February 17, 2007
What better way to relax and wash away the stresses of the day, then by enjoying a simmering cup of tea? You most likely have a few tea pots around the house, maybe one on the top shelf of the kitchen closet. Well, it’s just so easy to forget how enjoyable a cup of good quality tea can really be during the day.
I found this to be a very nice article on the simple pleasures of tea drinking. It’s nice to have a reminder every now and then that we can take time out for such simple things. If you’re looking for fine teas to put in your pot, be sure to check out theteashop.com for our Ceylon sale this month.
Posted by telecommatt on December 5, 2006
New studies have found that green tea is good for the skin and may even contribute to a longer life. The Early Show medical contributor Dr. Emily Senay the latest research adds to the growing body of evidence that green tea is good for you.
Not that this is a surprise to my fellow tea drinkers, but more and more studies are showing that tea, especially green tea, is really healthy stuff! I tagged this article really for a different reason though. The article was on the site today for the CBS News Early Show. I find it very exciting that tea is showing up so often in our mainstream western culture now. Call it healthy, sexy, chic, whatever you’re reason for your cuppa, you no longer have to be a closet tea drinker. And people are moving up in their expectations of what tea should be. Someone who calls themselves a tea drinker seldom settles for grocery store teas. Specialty teas sell very well now, and coffee shops often serve loose teas as well. Ultimately, however, very few of those coffee shop tea drinkers will rise to the level of the fine and rare teas that we sell at The Tea Shop, but occasionally one or two of those will feel drawn to finer teas in the same way that one might be drawn to select wines. I’ve thought about this for some time, and I believe that there is a point when one suddenly realizes that tea is an experience rather than a drink. It is a point when tea becomes sacred and your tea time is something that you protect from the rest of your day. Suddenly, “a cup of tea” includes the sound of the water boiling, the aroma of the steam when it first hits the leaves, the feel of the warm cup in your hands, and, of course, the taste of the tea itself. Now, you don’t get that from every cup, and you wouldn’t want to. You’d be numb from the over-experience. But once you get that little itch that tells you there might be more to your tea than what you’ve got in your hand, you’ve started on the path towards the experience of the cuppa. It’s a peak. It’s truly like nothing else. The mainstream popularity of tea is exciting and the health benefits are undeniable, but we are here at The Tea Shop to share an experience, rather than simply a cup of tea — It’s the unmistakable experience of the cuppa.
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Posted by telecommatt on November 25, 2006
My cuppa this afternoon is a Darjeeling, and I’m being slightly unfair because it is not one that is available online yet. In a sense that doesn’t matter though, because when you taste a good Darjeeling, you always know it’s a Darjeeling. There is a subtle royalty to a Darjeeling, a muted and unassuming royalty. It’s not a flashy tea. I guess when I think of a flashy tea, I think of some Assams I’ve tasted that are real reach-out-and-grab-you teas with very intense up front taste. A good Darjeeling doesn’t grab hold of your tongue quite like that, but there is an amazing complexity to the taste of a good Darjeeling. You’ll notice the different flavor components actually roll across your tongue as you sip, and you’ll certainly notice how the flavor changes from the beginning to the middle and end of your sip. I could sit here writing about the euphoria of drinking Darjeeling all afternoon without seeming to come to a point, so I’ll cut myself short. My point is this: Excellent Darjeeling teas are in a class all by themselves. Serving an excellent Darjeeling tea will set you apart. But don’t attempt to get any work done with a cup of excellent Darjeeling on hand – you’ll soon find yourself lost in the complexities of the taste and you’ll accomplish little else! (In fact, I had to finish my cuppa before I could finish this post!!)
tea geek & webmaster
Posted by telecommatt on November 19, 2006
I might have blogged this before, but I’m drinking it again, so I’ll blog it again. I really like this tea. I know, I know… a young hyson from Darjeeling?! But it works and it works well. My preference is to drink it cold. Not with ice or anything, closer to room temperature. Once it cools, it develops a very sweet taste almost as if I’ve dropped a teaspoon of sugar in my cup. Refreshingly good for writing or studying because it "clears the cache" in my brain.
the official geek of tea
Posted by telecommatt on November 19, 2006
Wikipedia, the community-edited free online encyclopedia, has a stellar article about tea. The contributors did a fantastic job of taking a HUGE topic (tea) and melding it together in one cohesive encyclopedia entry. And, I’m ashamed to admit, it links to our sister site, The Tea Man’s Tea Talk! It’s so exciting to see that the Tea Talk project, which has been around since 1996, is benefiting so many people, and will continue to do so as we integrate more of The Tea Man’s vast knowledge of tea into The Tea Shop site itself.
tea geek & webmaster
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