Sunday, July 26, 2009

Join the "T-Club" Now

A couple of years ago a great friend of mine who is an avid book reader gave me an excellent idea- she suggested that I should keep track of all the books that I read by writing them down. What a novel idea! Especially, since I am known to exclaim at dinner parties that I have just read the most amazing book- the guests stop talking, and all turn to look at me- but, then, of course, I can not remember the title or the author of this amazing book. Oh,well.

Today, I pulled out my T-Club book list, and took a trip down memory lane of my favorites. Year to date, I have read some interesting and inspiring books. Almost all of them have had the “content factor”. I tend to look for substance, as opposed to the popcorn read. Funny, because I could use an escape from daily life at times, but instead of the fast read, I crave books that have characters who possess moxie, as my Mom would say.

Here are a few of my recommendations for a great summer read- Don’t forget the tea pairing!

Power of One, Byrce Courtenay
Wholly Cow, pour yourself a strong brew- because you will not be able to put this book down. Prop your eyes open with toothpicks and prepare to read late into the night. This page turner tells the story of a young British boy and his childhood experiences in South Africa during World War II. A smattering of interesting characters weave in and out of this young child’s life, and time and time again young Peekay shows you just how far “positive thinking” can take you in life. The history of Apartheid is obviously in this book and shadows most of his encounters. Throughout Peekay's many adverse challenges and run-ins, you continue to root for him, and find yourself becoming one of his many cheerleaders. A very compelling read- that inspires you to treat everyone equally and give your best at everything you do in life.
Tea Pairing: Citrus Rooibos
Fittingly, this tea is made from the South African red bush. Its caffeine free and it's great served over ice. Don't worry, you will not need the caffeine push- the energy of this book will carry you through to the end.

Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
My sister-in-law who lives in Canada gave me this book for my birthday. It’s in the running for my favorite book of 2009. On the cover, it’s noted that this book was written by a highly regarded Canadian author, Lawrence Hill. Trust me; I plan to seek out his other books soon. I absolutely love books that are fictional but based on historical facts, and even better if they are written from a child’s perspective! Children tend to be extremely honest, and bring a certain realism to the story. This book follows a young African girl who was stolen from her village, and sold into slavery. Aminata Diallo is sent to South Carolina. Having been to Charleston many times, I can not help but think of the many who had faced similar experiences as this young girl did. She is a strong willed and determined young woman who learns to read and write, and through various experiences wins back her freedom. This book follows chapters of history that I was not that familiar with –The Book of Negroes, an actual document that recorded freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US to resettle in Nova Scotia & the 1,200 former slaves that returned to Sierra Leone to recapture their culture and truly claim freedom. The account of Aminata’s life is a must read for anyone who is interested in history and loves stories that involve characters with TRUE grit.
Tea Pairing: Keemun Hao Ya A- my favorite morning cup- strong, bold and flavorful. You will be ready for anything that comes your way that day!

The Daily Coyote, Shreve Stockton
My Mom recently loaned this book to me. Uplifting, inspiring, fun, and an adventurous read. This book makes you want to quit your current life, jump in the car and drive to Wyoming. Don’t worry Tea Drinker- I will take you with me. Hey, I brought you to Napa! I love animals, and I love stories revolving around people and their pets. They are typically humorous, rewarding, and endearing. Read: Marley & Me. This book is a memoir about a young woman, Shreve Stockton, who leaves her NYC life behind, moves to a small, small town in Wyoming, lives in a cabin, stumbles upon a new boyfriend, and is given a 10 day old Coyote as a gift. Originally, Shreve is on a mission to write a memoir about driving across country on a Vespa, instead she begins chronicling her life with a Coyote. Check out The Daily Coyote Blog. Truly an uplifting memoir- and you find yourself living vicariously through her adventures!
Tea Pairing: Jade Oolong - a tasty brew that can stand up to multiple infusions, perfect for a page turner.

Other great reads: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Three Cups of Tea. Pour yourself your favorite Drink the Leaf loose leaf tea.

Suggest your favorite Tea and Book pairing here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Tea Experience

I read somewhere recently that Ancient monks drank tea to help them stay awake through many hours of mediating. The goal was to achieve a calm awareness, referred to as the “tea experience”. Scientists have since revealed that tea contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and mental focus. I love this concept!

I am a fan of caffeine. My mind and body yearns for it first thing in the morning. There is no coffee in our house(dreadful, I know). I used to scramble to get to work to pour myself a cup of joe. However, if you have read my posts, most of you know that my husband has turned our house into a tea emporium. Things have changed. I now willingly begin my day with tea. It has to be black- of course, dare I risk missing out on getting a jump start to my day. My favorite morning teas are Keemun Hao Ya A, House Ceylon, and Red Peony. On a side note, as a frequent traveler, Red Peony is perfect for any journey. The tea leaves are tightly wound into a rosette, and all you have to do is plop it into your cup, and enjoy. Presto- you are calm and alert.

This concept of a calm awareness is intriguing. Who wouldn’t want to achieve that on a daily basis? Have all your ducks in a row, with a smile on your face. Just think- your day is jam packed- work, errands, house duties, children, husbands, wives, friends, pets, exercise, and what to make for dinner. All you have to do is drink tea all day and a calm aurora will magically appear and surround and protect you. Imagine people commenting about how calm, cool, and collected you are!

In all seriousness, I believe that the process of brewing and enjoying tea will create an experience that will calm you, regardless of caffeine. Many of the Tea Drinker’s customers are concerned about the harshness of coffee, and the negative effects of caffeine. They are looking for something cleaner, pure, and healthy. Loose leaf tea is the answer. We truly enjoy converting die hard coffee drinkers to tea. Give us your challenge, and we will help select the perfect cup for you. Just let us know whether you want to be calm and alert, or just calm! Your call.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Care to travel to Yunnan? Gold Tip!

The Tea Drinker never ceases to amaze me. His knowledge and passion for tea continues to grow each day. All things Tea. We drink a lot of tea, read a ton about tea, and dream of visiting tea- growing regions. You guessed it, I am itching to travel. It’s been one year exactly since our visit to China. A trip that was packed with history, loads of tea, new sights and sounds, tasty morsels, and lots of laughter. I crave that adventure. Even though my work takes me on the road most weeks, I never tire of traveling to new places on my down time. I love to plan trips. True, most of our trips tend to revolve around food and wine. However, now we enjoy putting tea into the mix, too. Where to next. Back to China? Taiwan? Maybe hop over to Japan. What about South Africa to discover the fascination behind Rooibos? Stay tuned.

Back to the Tea Drinker, this week he is excited about a new tea that he recently added to the Drink the Leaf’s portfolio- Yunnan Gold Tip. Sounds like an expensive pen, or cigar. Nope, this tea is from Yunnan, a province in Southeast China. Yunnan is rumored to be the founding home of “Camellia Sinensis”. Now, that is exciting. To visit the birthplace of tea. This region borders Assam, Burma, Laos, and South China. Teas from this region are known to be full-bodied, bold, and robust in flavor. Black and Pu-erh teas proudly lead the pack. Right up my alley.

Yunnan Gold Tip- Our star tea this week. A high quality tea that goes through an arduous process. The young buds and tea leaves are hand-picked, then placed in the sun to wither and dry. The dried leaves then undergo pile fermentation; water is sprayed onto the leaves, covered with hemp fabric to prevent any of the heat from escaping. This environment jump starts the fermentation process, where the tips of the buds will turn gold, instead of black. The leaves are turned very carefully by hand, taking great measure to not break any of the golden tips. This process results in a tea that is rich, yet smooth in flavor.

Here are our notes from a recent tasting of this wonderful tea. Attractive to look at- wiry tea leaves with golden tips. Clear, bright golden orange and brown hue. Medium-full bodied and smooth. Malty and dried apple notes lead to a great finish.

Pour yourself a cup of Yunnan Gold Tip, and let your mind wander to a faraway place. Truly peaceful.