Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Japan Earthquake – Three Years Later

As some of you are aware, March 11, 2014 marks the third-year anniversary of the now infamous Japanese earthquake, an 8.9 magnitude quake that triggered a tsunami, a volcanic eruption, and a nuclear meltdown.   According to Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalization, “On April 12, 2011 the Japanese government officially announced that the severity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster had reached level 7, the highest on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Before Fukushima, the only level 7 case was the 1986 Chernobyl disaster…”

People know Japan for their famed tea ceremonies, matcha tea, and amazing atmosphere.   During the 2010-2011 school year, my good friend since fifth grade, Sara, decided to go study at Soka University, immersing herself fully into the Japanese culture and gaining some amazing friends in the process.   Sara’s mother and I decided to go on a visit to see Sara in March.   About ten minutes after Sara’s mother and my plane landed in Narita Airport, the earthquake hit and we went on a wild ride consisting of sleeping in airports, feeling tremors throughout the night, meeting amazing angels who took us in at a moment’s notice, and thanking God the moment we touched down on American soil five days later.

I could go into more detail regarding our experiences, but that might be a post for another day.

I will, however, say that the people we met there were so magnanimous, beyond compare to anyone I have ever met before.   Masana, who stayed with Sara’s mother and me while we struggled to get a hold of Sara via cell phone during the midst of the earthquake.   Not only that, she, along with foreign exchange student Peter, bought us food, drink, and kept us safe and calm during all the events while we were at the airport without any funds to support ourselves.   Hairoko, who housed us during the rolling black-outs that plagued the towns we were visiting.   Momoko, who welcomed us into the Soka University dorm room where Sara’s mother arranged our flight information.   Momoko and her friends also fed us and kept us calm during the disaster.

I still thank them for all of their help to this day, and still look at them as angels for all that they did for complete strangers.

Our Group Of Vagabonds, Eating Breakfast Thanks To Generous Strangers

Our Group Of Vagabonds, Eating Breakfast Thanks To Generous Strangers

Now, three years later, the Japanese government is still dealing with radiation levels.   They now also have to deal with radiation-contaminated water.   People are still missing after all of this time.   The people still need help.

To help the people of Japan, please consider donating to the Red Cross.   The funds aid in long-term recovery projects and general assistance to those in need.

Don’t forget these people.   They still need our help.

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Tea and The “L” Word

During the month of February, l’amour is found wafting in the air. The birds seem to chirp a little bit more merrily, the sun shines a little more brightly and roses and chocolates are flying off the grocery store shelves.

Now is also the month where more people search for the elusive love potion, the elixir that is destined to make men and women fall in love and bind fast to one another for the rest of eternity. People have been searching for that special mixture for ages with parties searching for items that were moist, produced flatulence (per eighteenth century Europe) and were warm. Martin Downs, author of Aphrodisiacs Through the Ages, explains, “Almost everything edible was, at one time or another” considered an aphrodisiac.

Of course, tea is no exception to this rule. In fact, it is a common belief that foods and drinks containing caffeine such as coffee and tea might stimulate the senses and cause excitement, thus setting an ideal mood. However, Paola Sandroni MD, neurologist at the MayoClinic and author of Aphrodisiacs past and present: a historical review, states, “I think the effect is much more general,” she says. Though the caffeine might stimulate the central nervous system, they do not seem to give the body the love bug.

That still does not stop stores from cashing in on this idea. Popular tea brand Adagio Tea, which has a warehouse in Garfield, NJ, sells an aphrodisiac tea that claims to be “Like a warm summer’s kiss on the beach, this tea will take your breath away. It’s love at first sip! Need to feel some love? Tangerines and strawberries are natural and tasty aphrodisiacs.” The NY Daily News wrote an article in May 2013 about how Ceylon tea can help rev the libido and improve blood circulation. Going down the aisle of the Asian supermarket, one can often find a box of Horny Goat Weed herbal tea for sale.

Whatever the case may be, what harm would there be to brew up a tasty cup of Masala chai and a box of truffles? Travaasa.com published a recipe that is designed to stir the senses and send the drinkers to Cloud Nine.

Ingredients:

– Bay leaves

– Cinnamon

– Ginger

– Green cardamom

– Fennel

– Anise

– Cloves

– Black pepper

– Darjeeling tea or black tea

— Combine all the ingredients except the tea in a pot of water and bring it to a boil

— Allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes

— Steep the mixture for 15 minutes

— Add two teaspoons of tea. Note, if you want a stronger brew, simply add more tea

— Boil the water for another five minutes

— Serve in your favorite tea cup and enjoy

A New Year, A New Tea Tradition

Hello everyone, I AM BACK!!!!!

I greatly apologize for all the hustle and bustle that is going on in my life!   October is the month where my friends and I run around like crazy for Halloween, then November was just insane, then December was Christmas (which we hold at my house), then things busy at work, and ACK!   But no more fear!   I am back 🙂

First and foremost, guess what!   We have another Tea Love talk coming up!   This one is on Sunday, January 19th, 1:30 PM at the West Milford Township Library, 1490 Union Valley Road, West Milford, New Jersey 07480.   As always, we will have a sampling of teas after the talk, so make sure you bring your favorite mug!   Registration is required. To register, make sure you email wmtl@wmtl.org, call 973-728-2822, or visit the Adult/Teen Services desk of the library.   Hope to see you there!

Second, 2014 is on the road and is coming up fast (ACK!   Everything seems to be coming up fast lately!).   So, people are breaking out the party poppers, champagne, and noise makers as they anxiously await 2013’s exit and 2014 grand entrance.

But, where can tea play a part in all of this?

Well, why not borrow from the Chinese New Year for ours?

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China.   Image from TeaGuardian.com

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China. Image from TeaGuardian.com

According to the Tea Guardian, a website whose mission is to promote fine tea as a gourmet habit, an offering of tea is a gesture of respect and gratitude.   Therefore, on New Years in China, children would offer to the elders of the family a cup of sweetened tea, made sweeter by candied fruits and vegetables placed at the bottom of the cup (keep in mind, different fruits and vegetables symbolize different things!).   This was done with great care, with the handle facing the right of the person receiving the offering and the left of the person offering.   The child holds the saucer with both hands as the elder takes the cup by the handle with one hand and the saucer with the other, and sips the tea while listening to child offer well wishes for the upcoming year.

The person offering does not leave empty-handed, though.   The elder, after hearing the well wishes, gives the child a red packet and offers wishes in return.   At one point, the red packets use to hold the wishes, but now they tend to hold trinkets and monetary gifts.

So, this New Years, after making all the noise, the chatter, the clinks, and the mess, offer your elder a cup of sweetened tea and wish them the best for this sure-to-be-wonderful new year.   Start a new tradition that not only celebrates tea, but also celebrates gratitude and the wisdom of years.

Man Cannot Live By Bread Alone. Tea, On The Other Hand…

Now, I love my tea.   Let no man nor woman ever question that fact.   When time allows, I’ve been known to sip 5-6 cups in a single sitting.

I also love my food.   As I write this, I munch on a slice of pizza, sullen that I could not find my chocolate fudge that some children in my Youth Group made me.

If you ever asked me if I would be willing to give up food and drink tea for the rest of my life?   I would have to turn you down.   However, a gentleman from Calcutta decided that, after what was apparently a terrible offense to his stomach when his wife arrived late with lunch, he would never drink food again.

According to The Telegraph, Bhismadeb Sarkar was waiting for his lunch one afternoon, 1PM sharp.   Well, his wife came in at 1:30PM with a plate of rice, fish, and vegetables.   Mr. Sarkar was so offended with his wife’s tardiness that he immediately threw the plate and exclaimed that he would “stop eating totally.”

… Um, wait, what?   Isn’t that kinda against the laws of science and all things holy?

Well, per 2007 The Telegraph article, since 1985, Sarkar has gone on living without eating a single thing.   Instead, he prefers about 18-20 cups of tea a day.   He insists that he feels fine with only the tea, stating, “Call me crazy if you like but since then I have not had anything except tea. I drink 18 to 20 cups daily without milk.”

Bhismadeb Sarkar Enjoying a Cuppa

Bhismadeb Sarkar Enjoying a Cuppa

Even stranger, this same article references another person who decided that surviving on only tea for the rest of his life would be a good idea.   Debabrata Dutta, however, decided that he would rather live on tea than on what he deemed to be sub-par food.

Dutta was once a wealthy man, being born to a well-off farmer family, became a pauper after his family died.   His inheritance ran out after only ten years.   He never thought he would have to work a day in his life and now, he was stuck washing dishes at a local hotel.

Dutta states, “I don’t like eating ordinary food like rice and vegetables.   The hotel owner, Subrata Sit, offered me Rs 100 ($1.88) a month and a lunch of rice, lentils and vegetables every day.   I refused it.”   Instead, Dutta decided to drink 22 cups of tea a day.

“I have never tasted such food in my life. I used to eat quality rice, meat and various kinds of fish delicacies,” he states.

Doctors at Burdwan Medical College and Hospital said a person can survive on tea but would lose physical strength.

“Normally, a cup of tea contains around 100 calories, which means they are both getting around 2,000 calories daily,” states Dr Madhusudhan Chatterjee.

Hospital superintendent Debashish Bhattacharjee advises that, “They would fall ill sooner or later. Everyone needs a balanced diet.”

Now, admittedly, I have had days where, rather than eat, I will just continually drink tea, not paying attention and eventually realizing that I hadn’t eaten anything all day.   However, I would NOT advise this kind of diet for anyone.

Now, 22 years of this?   What are your thoughts?   Is this a hoax?   Or are Dutta and Sarkar really going this long without any food?

A Unique Tea Gift

Those who read my Facebook have read my latest post regarding my friend Jon, who received a sea horse figurine when buying Red Rose Tea.   Though he was admittedly confused by the gift, he took it with gratitude and made sure to forward me a picture of this cute little surprise:

Jon's Sea Horse, Regally Sitting On His Desk

Jon’s Sea Horse, Regally Sitting On His Desk

While, of course, most people don’t like looking a gifted horse in the mouth, I don’t mind looking a gifted sea horse in the mouth.   Why did my good friend receive such an unusual, yet delightful gift?

Well, in order to do that, we have to look at the history of the Red Rose Tea brand.   Red Rose started in Canada in 1890, when founder Theodore Harding Estabrooks decided that the public deserved a cup of tea that was consistent cup-to-cup.   According to the Red Rose Web site, “Before that, tea was sold loose from tea chests by local merchants and quality varied a great deal.   Mr. Estabrooks’ innovation meant that tea lovers could count on the quality of tea in every Red Rose package — a tradition that continues to this day.”

Initially, his tea was sold in Canada but in the 1920s, his business expanded into the US and, in 1929, he made the monumental contribution to the tea world – tea bags.

Estabrooks sold his tea company in 1932 to Brooke Bond & Company of England.   Red Rose continued to grow at an astounding rate under the company’s guidance.   According to Red Rose, “In 1985, Unilever NV acquired Brooke Bond Foods, Inc. Shortly thereafter, Unilever sold the rights to the Red Rose brand in the United States to Redco Foods, Inc. retaining the rights in Canada and other parts of the world.”   In 1967, as part of a promotion, Red Rose started giving away Wade figurines, figurines that fit into the palm of your hand.   At first, they were only distributed in Quebec, Canada and were only meant to be a short-term promotion.

Little did Red Rose know that the promotion would be a huge success, eventually spreading across all of Canada.   In 1983, the figurines were offered in the United States as well.   Now, it is estimated that over 300 million figurines have been given out to date!

These figurines are given out in series and, at the end of each one, consumers can purchase the entire set via the Red Rose Web site.   Currently, they are in their nautical promotion series.

Per the Red Rose Web site, “Today, Red Rose is blended with the same care that Theodore Harding Estabrooks established more than a century ago. Red Rose contains high-grown black teas from Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Kenya, India and Indonesia. The result is a blend that produces a full-flavored cup of tea for the tea lover. We think Mr. Estabrooks would be proud.”

Personally, I know I would love to open up my tea box full of fresh, delicious tea and find a tiny sea horse looking back up at me 🙂   Start a collection – buy tea!

A Virtual Trip to The Charleston Tea Plantation

Correct me if I’m wrong, but my personal impression of tea in America is that people tend to reach for the coffee pot before they reach for the tea kettle.   While tea is boasted to have numerous health benefits, something about the addictive coffee still has people hooked on the beverage here in the USA.

However, even with all its coffee obsessions, specialty stores boasting coffee and elaborate contraptions to brew a cup o’ joe, America still has only one place where there are coffee plantations – Hawaii.

While tea cannot boat more than one tea plantation either, it does get you to think, no?

So we’re going to take a virtual tour of this tea plantation and what it is that makes this particular one special – The Charleston Tea Plantation in Wadmalaws Island, South Carolina.

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The Wadmalaws Island, approximately 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, was established in mid-June 1666 when Captain Robert Sanford and the crew of the Berkeley Bay landed on Rockville, South Carolina.   The land is generally viewed as being the most untainted, its only connection to the mainland a bridge that crosses over Church Creek.

The plantation was formally established in 1987.   The soil is sandy, the climate sub-tropical, and an average rainfall at a whopping 52 inches per year, the island is perfect for growing tea with over 320 varieties on the full 127 acres.   Their tea plants are used to grow American green and black teas in particular.   Though technically, the tea leaf can manufacture Oolong, white tea, etc, the company has been so busy with their green and black teas that the company decided to focus on those two.   Since the land cannot be commercially developed, it is a picturesque island that has still remained untouched.

Climbing Onto The Tour Trolley

Climbing Onto The Tour Trolley

The only tea to be produced by these tender tea leaves?   American Classic Tea.   The tea is harvested in May and is celebrated at the plantation’s annual First Flush FesTEAval, complete with music, entertainment and, of course, tea.   Harvesting continues until the end of September, beginning of October, when the plants are allowed to rest for the season (hey, tea needs sleep, too!).

The Charleston Tea Plantation prides itself on the fact that they are an all-natural tea.   Their tea are flavored with natural essential oils.   They do not decaffeinate any of their teas since that would require the use of chemicals.   The plantation does not even use pesticides to protect the plants from all the bugs.

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This proud Green plantation hosts special events, tours and totes a history for America to be proud of.   Their tea is widely enjoyed but both new sippers and purists and their plantation is a beauty to behold.   See about getting a visit in when you are in the area!   You will not be disappointed.

Happy Anniversary, Boston Tea Party!

Today is the Boston Tea Party anniversary! 238 years ago, 45 tons of tea was tossed at the Griffin’s Wharf in Boston. Read more about the Boston Tea Party here!:

http://www.boston-tea-party.org/

Happy sipping!

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