Some of you may be familiar with my tea crush…with James Norwood Pratt.  I had the immense honour of meeting my tea sage at the World Tea Expo last year and I have a confession to make…I read his words sometimes just to be inspired.  He uses words like an artist uses a paintbrush.  Each stroke evoking the perfect image and feeling.

Here’s what I just read:

Tea is …a sort of spiritual refreshment, an elixir of clarity and wakeful tranquility.  Respectfully preparing tea and partaking of it mindfully creates heart to heart conviviality, a way to go beyond this world and enter a realm apart.  No pleasure is simpler, no luxury cheaper, no consciousness-altering agents more benign.  In every culture, taking tea somehow evolves into a ritual re-enactment of communion, a spiritual practice in other words, and by gradual degrees this become a Way – a Mirror of Soul – in its own right

I stumbled on this amazing board on pinterest and decided I had to share it with you all.  Jennifer R. is a Strategic Visual Communication designer and has created a series of ‘what my ___ says to me’.  Of course I got caught by “What my tea says to me”.  Her goal is to have 365 of these up by the end of 2013.  I just have to share them – because tea evokes such emotion and such beauty and I do my best to remember that, even though the reality of my daily ‘business’ life with tea doesn’t always evoke that!

January 16th

I’m feeling great!  And the best part is that I’m getting through my day with more energy.  I have added two shakes to my daily routine.  I’ll give you the recipe below.  They keep me full and going all day long.

INSPIRATION:

Start your day with five minutes of quiet – your time – breathe – stretch and start your day. 

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” ~Max Ehrmann

Take care of yourself, your body, your heart and your soul.  It won’t be treated by others any better than you treat it.

OUTSIDE THE BOX:

Go home and watch a comedy.  A silly, mindless ridiculous comedy.  Laugh.  Laugh.  Laugh.  And then laugh some more.

MENU:

Yes, the broken record continues…drink lots of liquids.  Lots and lots and lots.

I make these two shakes every morning – 2 litres each – and bring them to work with me – I drink one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Green Drink:
1 cup kale + half an apple + 1/2 cup grapes + 2tsp Agave.  Place in blender, fill half with water and blend well.

Fruit Drink:
1 cup frozen berries + half an apple + 1/2 cup grapes + 1 banana + 1tsp Matcha.  Place in blender, fill half with real orange juice and blend well.
I prefer the Fruit drink in the afternoon because it satisfies my blood sugar low in the afternoon.

BREAKFAST:
Hot water with lemon
1 cup low fat yogurt with muesli and berries

Yunnan Imperial 

LUNCH:
1 avocado mashed, squeeze of lemon, chilli powder.  Spread onto a whole wheat tortilla.  Makes two tortillas.

Rooibos Prickly Pear 

DINNER:
Chicken Breast with Shaved Brussel Sprouts – click for recipe.  Don’t turn up your nose!  I love brussel sprouts.  Yes, I always have.  But these brussel sprouts are treated like slaw – try it!

Hibiscus Herbal iced.

January 15

Okay – so I gave you a break this weekend – I won’t be doing that again 🙂  I admit to having been guilty of a glass of wine and my ‘out of the box’ was going to a Sake store on Saturday and having a ‘flight’ of Sake.  It was such a great experience!  Never done a Sake tasting before.

INSPIRATION:

Ahh…my favourite quotes…Seussisms:

“Today you are YOU, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive, that is YOUER than YOU” – Dr Seuss

OUT OF THE BOX:

 Read a newspaper today – but not your regular news.  If you lean left…read news that leans right.  If you lean right…read news that leans left.  Open yourself to a different side of the argument.  You may still disagree with it, but true discourse comes from hearing all sides of the debate.

MENU:

You still drinking?  I sure hope you are.  Dehydration can lead to lethargy, poor skin, low blood pressure.  Just drink!  I’ve said it before, I’ll keep saying it – water isn’t the only source of hydration…tea is as well.

BREAKFAST:
Hot water with lemon
Oatmeal made with water or skim milk – a squeeze of Agave and a sliced banana

Cream of Avalon 

LUNCH:
 Chili Spiced Salmon Salad – click for recipe.  I love these kinds of recipes because spice is my answer to removing fat from my diet.  Fat is flavour unfortunately, but so is spice…without the…well…fat!

Imperial Jasmine 

DINNER
Moroccan Turkey Skillet – click for recipe.  Yup…spice!

Moroccan Mint iced, sweetened with agave – add a splash of club soda

Snacks:
Low fat yogurt with cinnamon – slice an apple to dip into the yogurt
Sliced vegetables – carrots, celery, etc with a fat free Greek yogurt and horseradish dip.  This is one of my favourite dips! The greek yogurt is thick enough that it doesn’t make you miss any of the fatty thick dips and horseradish has ZERO calories!

January 11th

Day four and going strong.  Email me or tweet me with your thoughts and suggestions – some of your favourite recipes!  We have a lot of days ahead of us, recipes shared that get posted…will get a detox package of teas from us! 🙂

 

INSPIRATION:

“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – ALBERT EINSTEIN

Look at your day and everything around you as though it were a miracle.  Set that as your intention of the day as you start your morning with five minutes of quiet time and reflection.  Stretch your limbs.

OUT OF THE BOX:

Walk or drive home a different route today.  If you’re like most people, you walk or drive home the same way every singe day and become quite oblivious to the things around you.  Take a different route today and be aware of your surroundings.  The houses, the people, the trees.


MENU:


You guessed it.  Drink and drink and drink.  We truly don’t understand how much our bodies need hydration.  I have the coolest new tea toy to share with you next week – it will change your water forever!!

BREAKFAST
Hot water with lemon
Cottage cheese with fresh fruit

Formosa Silver Moon with a splash of skim milk – this tea is a rather full bodied black tea and my stomach is happier if I put a splash of milk into it

LUNCH
Whole wheat wrap with avocado and sliced vegetables.
Cut your vegetables into strips – peppers, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes – pick your favourites.  Slice in some avocado.  Squeeze in a touch of lemon juice and hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.  Roll into a whole wheat tortilla wrap.

Rooibos Tropicana 

SNACK
Fruit smoothie – in  a blender combine your favourite fruits – add unsweetened apple or orange juice, 1tsp Matcha – blend well. 

DINNER
Soy cured Tuna – click for recipe.  Now this recipe is served with egg noodles, so replace the egg noodles with whole wheat noodles.  Remember, we are eating nothing WHITE!

Dung Ti Oolong – everyone who knows me, knows this is my absolute favourite tea in the world 🙂

 

One doesn’t generally stand in silence enveloped by tranquility when walking a trade show floor; and yet that is exactly how I found myself in Las Vegas when I stopped to see Michele Brody’s ‘Reflections in Tea’ art installation.  She was inspired by the tradition of drinking and sharing tea throughout the world.  When she started her project, she invited participants to share a cup of tea with her served in paper tea filters and then transcribe their conversation onto  stained bags that had been dried and flattened.  This resulted in her paper quilt.

Image

Brody’s art inspired World Tea to use her art as a way of reaching out to the people of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.  Delegates were invited to write a message of hope or prayer onto the stained filters to be hung and make a donation to the relief fund.  The display was truly breathtaking and beautiful and serene in every way possible.

Brody is now taking her exhibit to New York where she will cover the walls of the Hudson Guild Gallery with 500 of these messages on stained paper that from a distance will form a rolling landscape – and up close will show messages inspired by tea drinking.

As much as tea touches my life every single day, I am still in awe of how it inspires beauty and serenity and community above all else.

Jeff Fuchs has spent a large part of the last ten years travelling and living in Asia – his fascination with indigenous people has led into a passion and love for tea.  Jeff has documented his travels along the ancient tea trade route – 6,000km over 7 months – in his beautiful book – The Ancient Tea Horse Road.  We are very fortunate to have Jeff contribute to our blog as well as appear as a guest on Saturday October 17th to speak of his travels.  This is the second part of a two part piece Jeff has written for us.

Padding down from our 1500 metre perches in the tea mountains, I am re-entering the town that we had set off from hours earlier that day with my understated host and guide, Ren. He glides through the lush wet forests seems as he leads me to his simple thatched home (and the inevitable tea within) that we are making our way towards.

DSC_1160 copyUp some stairs and past an elevated ‘floor’ of withering tea leaves covered by a clear plastic roof, we pass into a sitting room that appears to be a depository for tea in every possible form. Tea’s carefully manicured aesthetics are nowhere to be found. Here tea is both product and food with little need for pretense of anything else.

Bags billowing with tea fill out a quarter of the room, with tea cakes and bricks lining the wall space while a tea table and a half destroyed couch make up the ensemble. A grey kettle sits on the table awaiting orders

Ren’s father appears, a slight handsome man with delicate features, and we sit while tea is prepared. A simple bamboo draining table sits with cups and a flared serving cup, the chung, and that is all. No precious pots, no cylindrical smelling cups, no trinkets of bamboo….nothing to distract from that which is central to this little event: the preparation and consumption of tea. Ceremonies, famed for their detailed movements or chronology in other tea cultures have no reign here. It is in many senses an entirely practical preparation in a land of practicals.

My young host’s eyes gleam slightly as grabs a handful of leaves out of a huge bag for my inspection; leaves from the ancient trees that we had just returned from. Children here from a young age drink tea almost exclusively and I can see that he, like me, is in need of a cup (or six) of tea. Slightly twisted and completely understated, there is no hint in the dried leaves that he presents to me of what lies in wait for the palate. Tea’s from this region are designated Pu’erh by its proximity to the ancient market town of the same name. The tea we are about to consume is typical of what is consumed here,’ raw’. Pu’erh here is served green or raw and in loose leaf form. No textured forms, no stunning moulded teas here – the emphasis is on the taste.

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Ren’s hands are a magnificent blur of activity as he pours off the first serving, removing the bitter froth and awakening the leaves. The second serving thankfully makes it into cups and in quick succession into my greedy mouth. Up until now there has been nothing even remotely pretentious in anything I have seen or done and the tea, which blasts onto and into my palate, is no different. Pungent, vegetal and bitter it departs into the throat with an almost sweet tang. The session of drinking is interrupted finally by a lunch – prepared by the father on a simple fire that hums in another room on the bare floor.

Buzzing with the stimulants and phytochemicals that rush through my bloodstream the meal settles the tea ‘high’ slightly…but not for long, for as we finish up the meal the father is already ushering me into the tea room for another tea session. Slumped forward with minute cup after minute cup brought up to my mouth one of tea’s other great Asian uses comes into play: its digestive abilities. Another hour passes as the ‘tea high’ seems to reach a climax…and continues still.

Sweats run along my ribs and I feel that welcome ‘high’ return as the cups surge into me. Cup after cup course in with no discernable drop in potency reveal another of tea’s ‘great abilities’ – to repeatedly endure onslaughts of boiling water while still able to provide potent flavours and stimulants.

For all of tea’s rampant abilities as a healer, aid, food and provider; for all of its appeal as something that transcends time and space in painstaking ceremonial rituals, tea for these tribes that have grown and cared for tea still represents a unifying fluid. A simple need served up without fanfare bringing people together regenerating not only the body but the community as well.

While the Asian world is full of poetic adulation for tea, here in the south of Yunnan they refer to a simple long standing belief regarding tea and people, “the truth is in the sip”….in my case that would be ‘sips’.

I leave some hours later in a pleasant state of ‘tea high’ with a renewed appreciation of both my hosts and the fluid that brought us together.