Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Month of Tea

January is almost over and my adventure of drinking a different tea every day for the whole month is also ending. It has been quite the journey! Here are a few discoveries from along the way...

* Tea has so many amazing aromas and flavor profiles to offer... it dizzies the mind. I knew this already, of course, but there's nothing like a month-long reminder of the fact. :)

* Changing caffeine levels in my diet was harder than I thought it would be! I went from drinking four cups of white tea, to one to two cups of green tea and oolong (depending on the type), to one to two cups black tea (depending on how overloaded my work schedule was at the time -- one was more my tolerance level by the end), to two to three cups of pu-erh (depending on how aged it was). Despite the changes in quantity, it was still a challenge finding that caffeine sweet spot between not enough and too much.

* Sometimes, you're simply in the mood for a certain type of tea. I thought I could overcome my tendency to be inordinately particular about my tea selections by the end of the month, but no... I still found myself craving teas that were not in my tasting routine.

* For me, different tea types are conducive to different activities. White tea is great for chilling out. Chinese green teas are good for before or after yoga and stretching. Japanese green teas are better for mental and physical tasks that need to be completed quickly. Oolongs are perfect for writing (which is part of why I drink them so often). Black teas are better for physical activity and gut decisions. Puers are more introspective and reflective. This exercise was a firm reminder of which teas help me the most in my daily life.

* This kind of exercise really does improve your palate. I was a doubter in the beginning. I thought, "I could just taste everything in a day..." but tasting one each day is like that "eat a single Oreo and truly enjoy it" thing they do for food addicts. It forces you to concentrate, to savor, to exist in the moment. Tea becomes far more profound when viewed in these discrete moments over time. It's a singular and a cumulative effect that's completely different from the many cuppings (and casual cuppas) I've enjoyed over the years.

* Planning a trip during my oolong tasting week was not the best decision I've ever made. (Still, the Fancy Food Show and time with friends and tea people in SF was worth it!)

* Sometimes, one tea a day is just not enough! I'm not talking about caffeine, here -- I'm talking about the need for different teas for specific reasons. I didn't make any rules about sticking to the one each day, but if I had, I would have broken them for three reasons: 1. Oolong really does help me write (and I swear it's not just a mental thing). 2. Sometimes, the cravings for specific teas can get out of hand. There is nothing quite like pu-erh by a roaring fire or watching the sun rise over a cup of Genmaicha. 3. I write about tea for a living. I can't exactly tell clients, "I'll get to cupping all these teas next month." (Well, I suppose I could, but it would be a really bad business decision.)

Writing this over my second cup of Imperial Tea Court's Imperial Pu-erh for the day, I am thoroughly satisfied with this "month of tea" experiment. Of course, for me, every month is a month of tea (this is just a different KIND of month of tea)... and I'm looking forward to drinking a wild-crafted white sage and mint tisane for focus after I finish the pu-erh (After all, I have serious deadlines and can't exist in a pu-erh-induced introspective state all day!)... but I'm really glad I did this and would definitely consider repeating it next year. Maybe by then, I'll have a few more people to actively share the adventure with! (Marilyn? Steph? Jan? Am I sensing potential for a Portland group here?)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off to SF Tomorrow

I'm headed out to San Francisco for a week starting tomorrow. Planning to meet with a number of tea people, which is always a treat. I'll also be checking out a few more coffee places for my work with's Coffee/Tea site. If you have any suggestions for places to visit, I'd love to hear them!

Happy sipping!

PS -- If you want to follow my SF coffee/tea adventures, you can check them out on the VeeTea Twitter page.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Celebrating Tea in 2010

Happy New Year! I hope that your new year, like mine, has gotten off to a great start!

One of the things I look forward to each year is the idea of getting back to basics in January. I like to take the opportunity to simplify and clarify things in my life at the beginning of each year. I step back and look at my life and my business. I make goals and strategize on how to reach them. While looking at the big picture, I try to appreciate the little things.

This year, part of my simplification for January involves celebrating Hot Tea Month. Each day in January, I'm focusing on a different tea. For example, on New Year's Day, I drank a silver needle from Teance. The next day, I drank a silver needle from American Tea Room. Today, I drank a Bai Mu Dan. During the next week, I'll drink a different green tea each day... and so on it goes. Each day, I'll take on the simple act appreciating a different tea, but there's an overall goal to the exercise -- to re-educate my tea palate in a very straightforward way by reacquainting myself with a range of teas.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate hot tea month. (In fact, I came up with a list of 31 ways to celebrate hot tea month for How are you celebrating Hot Tea Month or using January as a time to rekindle your love of tea?