This is amongst our favourite times of the year – the first picks of the new season are picked, processed and shipped off to anticipating tea purveyors as well as customers.  This year we’ve flown in three teas to share with everyone.  Makaibari Imperial Delight is a gorgeous first flush Darjeeling – it is the first seasons pick and has all the delicate floral characterisitcs that are unique to the teas at this time of year.  The second is Meghma Honey Oolong – this is not a first flush – but we couldn’t resist bringing you this beautiful Oolong from Nepal.  The subtle honey notes of this tea are truly a treat.  Last, and certainly not least – Thurbo Bai Mu Dan – a white Darjeeling.  These are always interesting as some white Darjeelings impart the muscatal flavours unique to this region and others are softer and more floral.  This particular white Darjeeling steers to the latter making it one of the lightest teas we have tasted in a very long time.  The leaves on this tea are so spectacular, we can’t stop staring at them – they are virtually undisturbed showcasing the true craftsmanship in the production of this tea.

Thurbo Bai Mu Dan - White Darjeeling - First Flush Organic
Thurbo Bai Mu Dan - White Darjeeling - First Flush Organic

Here is a great interview with James Norwood Pratt – who we consider one of the most respected experts on tea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9zT5VZKHI0]

The Japanese celebrate the beginning of spring with Hanami – the cherry blossom festival.  The custom began in Japan in the 7th Century – the Japanese artistocracy would admire the cherry blossoms – sakura – and write poetry.  The cherry blossom is a symbol of Japan and the country boasts of 300 varieites of this beautiful tree.  Sakura is ful of meaning for the Japanese – the fragile flower has been compared to a woman’s beauty – “blossoming for a short period before withering into old age”.  It is also said that the warriors of Japan would use sakura as a symbol of “a life that was short but magnificent”.

Today, the tradition of Hanami continues in Japan with celebrations wherever the cherry blossoms are found.  People fill parks for dancing, picnics and rather large bottles of sake.

If you’re going to visit Japan for the festival – Mt Yoshino – Yoshinoyama – is said to be the most breathtaking.  Over 100,000 trees have been planted in groves along the mountain.  The famous poet Matsuo Basho was so struck by the beauty on his visit that he refused to compose a haiku saying that no words could capture the beauty he saw.

Yoshinoyama
Yoshinoyama

Well – I made it.  Yes – I know I said this would be a fourteen day detox – but unfortunately, I have a pastry tasting scheduled for today – and that will blow my detox.  So…I decided to end on a round number – Day 10.

I’ve been asked whether it was difficult – and with the exception of the first three days of liquid, I would say, no – not at all.  And perhaps it wasn’t a burden for exactly that reason – after three days of liquid, everything was a walk in the park.  I didn’t truly feel like I was really sacrificing anything throughout the detox – things I had to spend time thinking about – what’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner in the beginning became easier towards the end.  I was shocked that I didn’t miss red meat – I’m a red meat lover.

What I did realize is what an important social element of our life eating is.  I think this is why I found this process more difficult on days I wasn’t working. 

So here is the final days menu:

Breakfast:
Oatmeal cooked in 1% milk, banana
Rooibos Ginger Melon

Lunch:
Whole wheat bread with egg frittata (leftover from a previous night), sprouts, mustard
Imperial Jasmine

Dinner:
Skinless chicken, avocado quesadilla on whole wheat flax tortilla
Sunburst Raspberry – iced

NOW BRING ON A GLASS OF WINE!

We have now posted the dates for our Tea Specialist Certificate:  August 24-25, 2009; January11-12, 2010.

For information on this certification – please click here.  For anyone interested in registering, please do email us at info@theteaemporium.com for a registration form – remember that space is very limited.

We asked the question – What is your favourite part of spring.  It looks like the majority of you – resounding 70% – love getting outside.  We can’t say that we’re surprised.  With our long winters – the first signs of spring and the possibility to get outside without the threat of frost bite is a welcome relief.

We’ve swept winter out as well – and now have our Spring Blend on the shelves.  For those of you that haven’t tried it – this is a blend of black tea with all the refreshing flavours of spring – strawberrries, lemon and mixed berries.  It has a nice balance of flavours – and we love making an iced tea out of it as well.

Sundays seem to be the hardest day to stay on track.  I’m at home – and I would like nothing more than to slip into old habits – start the day with the newspaper and big lazy breakfast – maybe go out for lunch – pour a glass of wine late afternoon and waste the rest of the day away.  But…I didn’t – I remained on track – and with a little thought – it wasn’t even that much of a chore.

Here’s the menu for the day:

Breakfast:
Fried egg and tomato on whole weat toast
Blend 103
Orange Juice

Lunch:
Black bean quesadilla on whole weat tortilla
Water

Dinner:
Asian style shrimps on brown rice
Dung-Ti Oolong

I’m thinking less about what I’m eating – that would mean I’m forming habits – that’s a good thing.

Here was the menu for the day:

Breakfast:
Oatmeal in 1% milk – banana
Pu-Ehr

Lunch:
Sandwich – whole weat bread, roasted chicken breast, dijon, sprouts
Water

Dinner:
Frittata with smoked salmon and horseradish, caper  yoghurt
Yellow Dragon Pu-Ehr

I was very good today – and didn’t feel like I was sacrificing – good place to be.  I don’t like that I have to think about everything I’m eating – as a whole – I wasn’t eating that badly before this detox – but now I’m conscious of everything.  Perhaps when it becomes a habit, there will be less thinking involved.  This conscious eating has made me realize a couple of things.  I don’t eat sweets throughout the day – I’m the person who doesn’t save room for dessert because I just don’t care about dessert – but I do need something sweet in the morning – have missed that during the detox.  I’ve also become aware of the fact that I don’t drink enough – okay I knew this before – but I’m trying to do something about it now – always being dehyrdrated – NOT SO GOOD.

Tomorrow I will have reached my half way point –

Here was the program today:

Breakfast:
Oatemal cooked in 1/4 cup 1% milk – sliced banana (I love banana on my cereal because it gives me the sweetness I can’t add at the moment)
Formosa Silver Moon

Lunch:
Vegetable/tofu stir fry (leftover from last night)
Ginkgo Temple of Heaven

Snack:
Crudité with a yoghurt/garam masala dip

Dinner:
Quinoa salad with loads of vegetables

Dessert:
Quangzhou Milk Oolong

Here is an inspiring message in some hard times for a lot of people.  I know the message is from a major conglomerate selling  a product, but it doesn’t make the message any less meaningful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g8_lBvPw0M]