A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

Tea friends. I write to you today to praise, once again the thrill of a good Bai Hao Oolong, also known as Oriental Beauty.
Its been six months since my last confession, er, article on tea and I admit to you, dear readers that I blame none of you for worrying about me or for totally forgetting me. But here I am and guess where I am! California? You assume, or back in Portland which is where she lived and loved before. But no! I am, as of three weeks ago an official resident of KENTUCKY. Yes, Louisville Kentucky,  and I am writing to you with frozen toes on a chilly and wet December day from a BASEMENT. Me! In a basement. Tea-child of open spaces and fresh breezes! Until a month ago I had never even seen a basement and I now own a house with one. Hey, California friends! Did you know the wall sockets are four feet up on the wall inside of cleverly hidden by the baseboards? BASEMENTS! Did you know there are walls made out of cement and no matter how hard you try you CANNOT get a nail in to hang your Buddha art? BASEMENTS!
And yet somehow after three weeks I find myself in perfect contentment as I sit here in this basement. And I have Oriental Beauty specifically the good stuff from www.floatingleaves.com to thank.
I have multiple unpacked boxes of teaware, both rare and common. Eight different sized white porcelain gaiwans for example, three gooseneck kettles, hundreds of cups both mass produced and one of a kind artist created, but today I learned to reach perfection, all I need is one pot, one water receptacle for refuse, one cha hai, a digital scale and some tea.
I've been asking myself for three weeks, " Can I live here? NOT just survive but thrive? Are my tea writing days behind me?"
Today I dragged in the old tea table where the Bekin's movers dumped it in the icy garage three weeks ago, grabbed a Bonavita gooseneck kettle, ( I have THREE, as previously mentioned; one for the car, one for the kitchen, and one for the holy tea-space), the tea and a cup Andrew Goodman of Smatcha gifted me with, and I used that cup from him to toast my new life. As a Gong fu Cha devotee, right goddamn here in Louisville, Kentucky.
So! No more shall I sit here like a lump of fuckin' terducken, I am BACK!
New reviews pending!

Preparing the mind is key for being ready to experience new things!

I am trying to get fired up about something enough that I make a bee-line for the blog, but so far? Meh.
If the tea is OK, I have posted pics and links on IG under BuddhaMomTea, but until something makes me swoon? Well, I shan't be writing!

Many samples still to try!

Punk rock me, still in there somewhere comes out to meet middle-aged tea maven me.

Ok, so I'm not daintily sipping tea with the Queen listening to the Sex Pistols. I am, after all, over fifty years old and the only queen I know lives in San Francisco, (Hi, Dovey!), but for the past six months the only music I've had 'in attendance' when drinking tea have been artists such as Sheila Chandra,  Deva Premal, and random sitar music, yes, even when notdrinking chai, you moron. Oops, that would be the punk coming out. Forgive me? Kisses. (Notice I am leaving the slur in, the punk seems settled into herself for awhile)
So, its a match and as Green Day is screaming in the song blaring from my 'ghetto blaster' on top of the fridge, 'I'm not fuckin' around!' neither is this oolong.
I did a little slam-dancing a little too near the tea table, but nothing got hurt. My child has shut herself away in her room to draw the hideous characters from something called 'Five Nights At Freddy's' so she is not one to judge my weirdness (thank god) and tea and getting some thrashing out of my old bod seem to go hand in hand. This is not making me want to slam some whiskey shots or whatever I used to want to do when I listened to angry white boy music, this is good news!
In case, dear reader you doubt my provenance, I was the first punk rock girl many people had ever seen in Orange County, California, way back when. They sent newspaper people out to interview me. Twice. I spent almost every night in garages watching Black Flag, Circle Jerk, The Germs, The Plasmatics and the Cramps shows and slept in alleys. So don't go saying I'm a poser, alright? I was the real deal. Of course I never would have considered Green Day acceptable punk rock, but now that I am an old person, it is as hardcore as it gets for me, due to my not wanting to die young after all.
So moving back to this oolong for just a minute. I think for fear that the tea vendor will not appreciate being associated with this particular post, I will not specifically review this 'not fucking around' oolong and will instead dedicate a full post to it at a later date. But its a good tea, and like me, I bet it has a myriad of sides to show you, a soft meditative quality and also an intense buzzing kick if you brew it just right......And now, back to the dance.

Tea and living a good life

Drinking tea helps you meditate on life to better understand it. Drinking tea is not only about the health benefits on the tea’s surface, but it also elevates the spirit to enrich our lives. For young generations, if they can understand the benefits tea brings, they will benefit from it for life.
We all used to be young and ambitious; telling everything in black and white, fighting and arguing for our own existence. It sometimes seems that we want to plan and control life, but as we age, we realize that we are so small in this universe and we have been places that we thought we would never go.

Drink this cup of tea and keep the attitude of having an empty cup towards life. Learn to accept and absorb new things. Don’t judge things on their surface but instead by their inner logic. Find out the positive meanings in your life.
Tea can be the medium to shorten distances between human beings. With this cup of tea, it can lead conversations to anywhere. Life's journey is truly manifest in this cup of tea.

Looking for a tea present for a non tea expert friend? Try this lovely cannister of BOH.

Find this lovely tea at Amazon.com and use promo code MOMTEA10 for a discount of 10%

It is hard for me to give the gift of tea. I don't usually promote tea bags, and the really good stuff? The gorgeous fresh new shengs, the old fermented shou puerhs? Well, one can't exactly send that to just anyone. So while the best gift I can give a tea-head is a session of tea tasting in my private tea studio, on occasions like X-mas I need a decent tea, in a lovely package to send off to friends and relatives not as snooty as us teaophiles are!
My choice this year is easy. Glad the tea is good because it's really the tin that did it. I think I squealed a bit in delight at the packaging meaning your gift recipients will too, since I AM indeed, every-man and an appreciator of lovely packaging.
Now onto the tea. A clearly decent quality leaf black tea, this is a gentle and warming cup that if steeped long enough, (five minutes or more) will bring a flourishing sensibility to your mouth. A very open and welcoming tea and a GREAT GIFT at an amazing price offered by Boh. Boh Tea Plantation in the Malaysian Highlands is a place I would love to visit and intend to do so one of these days.
When I need a break from Gong Fu Cha tea and want a mug of something high quality that tastes great with a little coconut milk, I find I cannot go wrong with Boh's Palas Afternoon Tea.

Malaysia's Cameronian Gold Blend from BOH Tea( With new surprise ending!)

Ok, tea friends and readers, I admit here I do not understand what is going on right now with this tea aside from the fact that it is 10 ounces of total deliciousness from a BAG and weirdly, barely steeped! It got SO dark, so quick that I pulled the bag out after only one minute. Looks like coffee, has a pleasant almost tobacco scent dry in the sachet. As you all know I prefer my tea loose, hand-rolled, in 3 ounces of water with 3 grams of tea and never bagged. (I am however not so much of a purist or a liar to not admit to you, as I have done in a prior article that I do use a Keurig and drink 20 ounces of Earl Grey, yes, those evil PODS, every morning. My excuse? It's 6 am and I have to drive my kid to school without killing us both.)
SO! Let me now state. To hell with Keurig pods, I am........wait for it, here it comes, in love with this Cameronian black tea and am buying it post haste. Yes, BAGS!
(IF my reader subscription base falls I will be crushed so relax , take a chill pill and try this tea for yourself.)
 I don't even know what the heck it IS, aside from black tea from Malaysia. Let us proceed to learn a thing or two, shall we?
I read this from BOH regarding this tea... "Only the tender shoots of the Manipuri and Rajghur jats are picked to ensure excellence of quality."
Manipuri? Rajghar? JATS?? I have never heard these words before and frankly, I am getting chills because of that! New words! NEW experiences! Ok, moving on I next read, "This is an exquisitely balanced blend bursting with a rich aroma for a delightfully smooth and heart-warming cup, anytime."
This last bit is totally true. It is indeed balanced and rich and smooth and very heart-warming.

And now ten minutes later, I decide to either erase everything I just wrote above, or 'come clean' with the story that literally just unfolded two minutes ago thanks to my husband.
I was drinking this amazing brew, marveling at it, and husband passed by and I said "Smell this! Doesn't this have a deep coffee color and almost a coffee taste? Isn't this amazing?" to which he replied, "Um, I just had a Keurig pod of Trader Joe's Columbian and I might have forgotten to take the pod out of the machine after I made my coffee?"
DAMMIT! Laughing and cursing and feeling like an idiot! That aside, it was a really good 10 ounces of a blend of second hand coffee from Trader Joe's and a little of the Boh tea.

And now for something completely different but equally true!
This is a lovely black tea, and it is indeed more smooth and balanced tahn a LOT of black teas I have made for myself, albeit always loose and gone fu cha style aside from my Earl Grey pod habit.
I won't even say "for a bagged tea made of fannings this is surprisingly good." I will simply state that it is REALLY delicious and far beyond anything I had expected. And yes, even though I now understand it is not the drink I initially thought it was, I am STILL considering buying tea-bags of the Cameronian Gold to carry with me in my purse, for it is far more worthy than any tea bag tea I could have hoped for, and I AM getting out of the house more these days now that the weather has become gorgeous fall.
Check out Boh's other offerings! I have tried the Peppermint and found it superior to others, and helped my tummy-ache a few night ago, I felt blessed to have it in my purse after a heavy meal out.

OK, happy and embarrassed at my idiocy ends right.......NOW!

A tricky proposition with varied and sometimes shocking results? Of what do I speak? Doing Darjeeling Gong Fu Cha style!

Ok, easy now. I can feel you all getting edgy thinking I am on on a fools errand and to forget it. Darjeeling done badly, can be bad. However, my peeps, done well, after three days of trying various grams of tea, amounts of water, types of water, temperatures and steeping time can indeed yield something fabulous.
SO! Do I tell you about all the unfortunate wastes of tea while I tried to figure it out or tell you the secrets of my success?
Well, firstly the tea has to be superior. Get a pen and write this down, tea-heads. Yatra Tea Company,
First flush Darjeeling, Thurbo Estate, 2017 harvested April. Start simple, kids. How about three grams, measured properly and perfectly in a gaiwan holding 12ml with water temperature at 205f?
Try it and write me and tell me if YOU had the success I did! Need some tea? I've enough to share to share a 3 gram sample of this delicious tea to my top 10 readers.

"Thurbo has flourished in the idyllic Mirik Valley in Darjeeling since 1872. The combination of premium China and Assam hybrids, strewn across the almost 450 hectares of growing area, with the indigenous varietal, results in a remarkable tea with unique character. Coupled with the typical climate of a hilly area - cooler temperature and diffused sunlight - the result is truly unparalleled."

A most amazing 'little' green tea from India! Say hello to Yatra Tea Company

Have I had a green tea from India? With all the Indian teas I've had, one would think so but in my memory I have not. Certainly not like this one from my new favorite tea company Yatra Tea.
So, to begin. Yes, this is an Indian tea so why am I brewing it Gong Fu style, you ask? Because that is how I roll, my dudes. I am sure the tea would have been a delight even had I followed the instructions Yatra was so good to put on the bag which was 2.5 grams for 6 ounces of water at a steep time of 3 minutes at 185f.
But yeah. Not happening. The best way to delve deeply and quickly into what a tea's basic qualities are is Gong Fu. So I measured out a 'whopping' 3.5 grams, and used a 100ml/3 ounce gaiwan.
I did follow the temperature advice for the first two steeps. I did not flash-brew but I most certainly didn't wait three minutes either. I would say all three steeps were approximately 40 seconds with perhaps the third closer to 60.

The smell in the bag is not surprising, fresh and grassy and sweet. Here I am heating the gaiwan as the tea awaits a dry steam-bath to get it ready for brewing. Put the dry tea in the empty heated gaiwan, let it sit covered a moment and then slipped my nose in there under the gaiwan's lid. Scent was delicious.
 First steep at 185f was light but hinted at something very subtle and reminiscent of something else, some other kind of tea, something I adored but couldn't quite place.  But I pushed that thought aside for an immediate second brew, same parameters. Color really came out and this time I began to feel more like I was tasting a green oolong, perhaps even something like an Oriental Beauty?! Third steep I kicked up the temp to 195f and let it steep almost 1 minute. Not a hint of bitterness, just pure joyful flavor. And yes, very reminiscent of my favorite tea, an unroasted Oriental Beauty oolong! Very cool!
This is highly worthy of your time, fellow tea-heads and constant readers, check it out and let me know what you think!
The facts:
Origin, Kangra, india
Season, First Flush 2017
Harvest month, April 2017
Hand rolled.

Very refreshing and by refreshing I mean my spirits, my soul, my gut, 'everyone' is happy right now as I write this!

Saffron Tea!

Exciting things are happening in the tea room.
To begin with, a wild and wonderful week of experimentation with green tea mixed with a very high quality Saffron! And I don't mean mixed in with the tea, no no! No pre-made blends for this lady! This is a nice grade pure green tea and no adulteration to it and a small jar that came with it of pure Saffron threads.

Pure gorgeous saffron from Afghanistan, no less. After seeing the people behind Rumi Spice on Shark Tank, and seeing the passion and vision of the women behind it, I knew I had to try some for myself. Delighted they're pursuing the tea lovers among us as they bring tea and Saffron together .

The raw and vibrant flavors of a high quality Saffron makes for an astoundingly good tea concoction, even without any Camellia-Sinensis, but I dove in with the green as well and followed instructions.
I made 3 grams of green tea at 185f in a 100ml gaiwan. In a separate gaiwan, sized 60ml, I put 3-5 tiny threads of Saffron which I also steeped it at 185f. The quality of the Saffron, to my mind was clear. After watching various youtube videos on learning to differentiate the good from the bad to the downright fake, I know this is the real deal!
Of course after seeing these amazing veteran entrepreneurs on Shark Tank I knew I was in good hands.
I then poured the 60 ml of 4 minute steeped Saffron directly into the green tea and that began my journey of experimentation.
I found the green tea from Rumi Spice Company to be decent and well formed, and the combination was nice but I wanted to play with different teas so have since moved on to a few white teas in which to add Saffron, more on that soon! Still coming to conclusions.
My immediate feeling upon that initial session was, "Hey. This feels helpful. This feels healing. Does Saffron has properties which might be helpful to me in my present state of ______?" ( I'd rather not go into it, but women's issues, you know...) and sure enough a bit of googling verified that Saffron in tea form had come into my life at just the right time!
This company is amazing and if you didn't see them on Shark Tank and fall immediately in love with both women, (I know I did) then go visit their site and do so now! Making a difference in so many ways! Thanks, Rumi Spice for the tea, the Saffron and the new path to enjoying ethically sourced Saffron from now on. The experiments continue!

Mellow high from He Kai sheng puerh, Autumn 2014 harvest

It's hard to write a blog post when nothing is going through my mind aside from 'Nom, nom, nom.'
Ok! I will take a quick break, I will stop steeping for a moment, after the fifth short infusion long enough to tell you the following. (Pardon if I rush, but I have to get back to the next dozen(?) steeps!)

This lightly-packed, easy to gently break up sheng has a lovely dry scent, looks awesome, and has no astringency. It wakes up after the third steep into a lovely brew that makes me wonder more about it. I can tell, even in my newb head-space there is potential for this tea beyond my understanding. Research must commence and luckily for me, this particular tea came from a research heavy source, Jeff Fuchs of Jalam Teas.
I knew instinctively I should not rush through this sample, but that I might want to hang on to some of it for aging. After reading about it, I am delighted to report I was correct. I think my nose and instincts are improving, as I go into the end of my first year as a tea nut.
Here is what I learned from Jalam Tea's information page on the He Kai:

  • He Kai Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Region: Menghai County southwestern Yunnan
  • Type: Mid-Altitude Puerh (1300-1400 meters)
  • Harvest: Summer and Autumn harvests have a little more bit because of unusually high heat and loads of sun in 2014 which is good for the tongue and palate. It also means that for some less time is required for steeping.
  • Harvesters: Lahu people

The Bulang Mountains are bastions of rich soil and heavy red-orange clay content, which is perfect for our good friend, the Yunnan Big Leaf species/Puerh. This batch is a little more on the heavy flavor side simply because the family that produced it left it out in the sun drying period longer than usual while the shade drying portion slightly less. More sun drying increases the drying times and brings up the ‘bite’ a little bit speedier.

 He Kai is a great tea to age over time as it will mellow slightly but has the strength to remain a wonderful tea for the next 1,2, or 10 years. The wonderful aspect of teas is that even when it isn’t necessarily a an ‘old tree tea’ it can and will age beautifully if produced properly and remains unsprayed.