Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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12 September 2005

Tea at 44

My birthday was this past weekend, and in spite of turning yet another year older I had a wonderful time.

Things began well on Friday, when I went to my favorite teahouse in Seattle – Floating Leaves. I had the silky smooth Alishan oolong, and then tried a new puerh they’re carrying. Of course, the best part was getting to chat with (owner) Shiuwen. I always learn quite a bit from her, and that afternoon she answered many questions about which oolongs are from “high mountains.” Exploring oolong teas has required a bit of a Taiwan geography lesson, but I’m starting to get a sense of how the different teas match up to different mountains and regions.

I also picked up my birthday present to myself, a new Yixing pot. I'd asked Shiuwen to look for one with a tiny, short snout. I always grin when I see short snouts on a pot -- there's something very cheerful about them. This one is for green puerhs, and I’m looking forward to trying it out this week.

Saturday morning, I brewed a pot of my favorite golden yunnan (only a few treasured spoonfuls left), then did one of my favorite things – went to the farmer’s market in the rain. Usually the Saturday Market in Redmond is sunny and warm, and I have to elbow through to get to my favorite things (extra-hot pepper jam, baked goods, tuna from a local boat, artisan cheeses, organic tomatoes and herbs and lettuces). However, when the rain is coming down the crowds are thinner, and I get to actually talk with the vendors. It makes for a fun morning, talking with the artisans and farmers, learning which veggies are just about to be harvested, and finding out how they started working with food and agriculture.

I came back to find birthday presents waiting to be opened over a pot of tea. I got out the apple tartlets from the farmer’s market to go with a second pot of my favorite tea, and after a few cups I was ripping paper from boxes. What a wonderful set of gifts from my husband, a perfect trio for someone who writes, travels, and sips tea.

That’s a laptop table for my laptop computer (perfect when I want to blog from a comfy chair), a bodum mini ibis (to make tea when I travel), and (the best of all) an antique gaiwan from the Desaru shipwreck.

I believe it was Tea Masters blog where I first read about the pots and cups/bowls from the Chinese shipwreck. I’ve been looking at them with longing for several months, and I’m incredibly excited to have my own piece of history. It’s also interesting to see the accompanying video of the history and archaeological techniques used in excavating the shipwreck. I love that this isn’t a piece of fancy pottery; instead, it was a regular everyday trade item.

Indeed, one of my favorite parts of writing and reading about tea has to do with discovering the everyday tea cultures from around the world. In many ways, tea introduces me to the flavors, the agricultural products, the heritage, and the “comfort foods” of cultures. That is something I’ve been thinking about quite often lately, which means I’ll ponder it a while and then probably blog some more on the subject in a month or two. :)

Not long after opening presents, my postal carrier knocked on the door and handed off three boxes of tea and samples – yay! More tea! I haven’t ordered any in a couple of months, so I needed to restock favorites and (of course) try a few new teas. I’ve sipped a couple of the oolongs, and I can’t wait to try some of the puerh samples I’d ordered. I’ll write some reviews soon.

The day ended with a trip to one of my favorite sushi places for dinner – Sushiman, in Issaquah, WA. No tea, only sake, great food, and a sweet husband who made sure my birthday was relaxed and filled special moments.


Blogger Stephane said...

Hi and still happy birthday!

Great that you eventually received the gaiwan from the Desaru shipwreck. I'm almost jealous! Please tell us in future posts how brewing tea compares with contemporary gaiwans. My advice is to start with lower temperatures at first. Boiling water could give it a shock. And if the first tastings show to much saltyness, then put it in a bigger bowl with clear water for a week and later dry it in the sun.
I know Teaparker still uses most of his antiques, and we found out that tea brewed in a 1800s Blanc de Chine gaiwan was much better than today's gaiwan!

1:40 AM  
Blogger Stephane said...

Almost forgot to ask if you tried the baozhong sample I had sent you. It must be roughly the same age as you and still in good shape!

1:43 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

Happy belated birthday! You share a birthday with my sister. It's a fine day, indeed!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

Someone wrote to ask where to find these for purchase, and after a few clicks I realized that it can be tough to find the catalog of items on sale. Here is the URL, for those who might be interested:

I'm still building up my courage, but I hope to try brewing tea in it soon. I'll definitely start with low temps. :)

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arricchire la vita con un thè di qualità ,da gustare "sorso dopo sorso", usando tutti i sensi, condividendo questi attimi con gli amici , rappresenta la sintesi del benessere del corpo e dell' anima. i the Meria tchaba sono raccolti a mano ed i giovani germogli usati per intero mantengono i loro oli essenziali , risultando squisitamente aromatici .
Eleganti e preziosi cofanetti sono il giusto contenitore per un prodotto di eccellente qualità.
Meria tchaba è la prima ad utilizzare un sacchetto in fibra di mais , completamente biodegradabile , cucito a mano senza colle e graffette di metallo,il tutto per lasciare intatto il gusto, gli aromi e i profumi del nostro the.

7:09 AM  
Blogger said...

Hi and happy new year :)

For those who might look for a nice signature Tea matched to a nice Tea Blog i would recomend to have a look at

Have a fantastic time!

5:25 AM  

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