One more…this one I believe is still being edited – so we’ll re-post when we see the final version – but this version is already brilliant!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y99_8XjHuXU]

The Tea Association of the US runs a fantastic competition every year called the Calm-a-Sutra of Tea.  It’s a creativiy contest challenging College kids to put together an original video highlighting the health benefits of tea.  The results are fantastic – and we’ve posted some clips in the past.  The competition for 2009 is fully under way and the clips are rolling in – so we thought we would share one we thought was fun.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7dx7RWyS14]

We live in a world where new is good – perfection is strived for – and young is beauty.  We thought however that we would share with you today a beautiful aesthetic that the Japanese believe in – it is the principal of Wabi-Sabi.  In a nutshell, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and accepting the natural cycle of growth.  It is simple, uncluttered and it values authenticity above all else.  Wabi-Sabi is about flea markets instead of big box stores and malls; it’s about aging wood not laminate.  The principals of wabi-sabi celebrate crack and crevices and believe that it is a sign that loving has left behind.

It is so easy to disgard what isn’t new and forget what has aged – but stop and look closely next time at a pot that isn’t perfect – a flower that isn’t fully standing tall – or the aged face of the people around you – they all have a story to tell.

old-man oldwoman

Yes – we made a brief blog entry about Milk Oolong when we first introduced it to our tea collection – but I’ve decided to go back and tell you the story behind Milk Oolong. For those of you that haven’t tried it – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???? For those of you that have…well you understand what I speak of when I describe a smooth creamy aroma reminiscent of sweet milk – and a fresh light liquor that is clean on the palate.

The tea world is a romantic world – it still lives very much in the world of legends and folklore – and the story behind this amazing tea is no different. Legend has it that one evening, the moon fell in love with a comet as it passed it through the dark night sky. As comets do, it burned out and vanished. The moon was distraught and devastated that its love was gone and in her sorry, she caused a great wind to blow through the hills and valleys where the tea bushes were flourishing, causing a great drop in the temperature. The next morning, the tea farmers went to pluck their tea leaves and discovered when it was processed that the tea had a milky characterisitc.

To answer the question that many people pose when they first encounter this tea – is it flavoured – no, real Milk Oolong is not flavoured – there are cheaper versions that are – but true Milk Oolong gets its milky/sweet flavour from a severe temperature shift that happens just before the leaves are picked. It is an Oolong – which means that it is partially oxidized – this particular Oolong being very lightly oxidized. Make a cup and tell us what you think – it’s flavours are unlike anything you’ve had.

teapotwithcups

This is a commercial shot at Liverpool station for T-Mobile – but we were struck by and reminded of the power of people and what happens when they work together – powerful…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM]

By now you’ve surely heard about that fabulously good for you tea called Matcha.   But what is it – where does it come from – and why should you care.  Matcha today is uniquely Japanese – but this wasn’t always the case.  This loaded with goodness ground tea was first made in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and continued in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  Initially, the steamed tea leaves were formed in bricks to help with storage and trade – these bricks were then pulverized and dissolved in hot water with salt.  In the Song Dynasty that followed, whipping the steamed powdered tea leaves in a bowl with hot water became popular – this preparation was then made into a ritual by Zen Buddhist monks.  It was in 1191 that Zen Buddhism along with the green tea powder ritual was brought to Japan by the monk Eisai.  The powdered tea ritual was eventually forgotten in China – but the Japanese not only adopted it, they perfected it and then turned it into the Japanese Tea Ceremony (a subject that deserves its very own post).

MatchaMatcha is a stone ground tea – but its preparation is arduous and requires much care and attention.  It begins several weeks before the tea leaves are picked.  The entire crop is covered with bamboo curtains in order to increase the cholorophyll content within the leaves – making them greener and slightly sweeter.  At this point, the leaves can become the prized Gyokoru, if they are rolled out before drying – or they can be laid out flat to dry and slightly crumble – known as Tencha.  The Tencha is then destemmed and painstakingly deveined before it is ready for its final step – grinding.  Tencha is placed between two large stones that will grind clockwise and counterclockwise against eachother to break the leaves down into the fine powder.  It will take approximately one full hour for a stone mill to grind 40gr of Matcha.

So why would Popeye care?  Well, because you’re ingesting the entire leaf when drinking Matcha – your body is reaping ALL of the benefits present in the tea leaf.  Studies have shown that Matcha contains:

*  Vitamins A, B6, B-Complex, C, E, K, Nicacin, Folate, Riboflavin, Thiamin
*  Calcium, Magnesiu, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sodium
*  L-Theanine and Amino Acids which improves alertness
*  High chlorophyll content – is a blood detoxifier
*  70 x antioxidants of orange juice
*  9 x beta carotene of spinach
*  boosts metabolic rate by 35-40% matchasticks

To add this amazing tea to your daily routine in a very simple way – we’ve introduced…Matcha Sticks.  Each stick is perfectly portioned for one bottle of water – simply add Matcha, shake well and enjoy – no sugar – no additives – just the real thing.