Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Japanese Way of Tea

And this series of tea customs simply would not be complete without a piece on Japanese tea customs. It may have taken awhile for tea to make it from China to Japan, but many believe it was the Japanese that took the art of tea to a new level of perfection.

In the Japanese tea ceremony, Cha-no-yu, humility is key. The door to the sukiya, or tea house, is low. It forces those entering to bow low, humbling themselves, as they enter. Every ceremony is unique, and meant to be savored. The ceremony can take hours to complete.

An important part of the ceremony is the tea bowl, or chawan.

I don't have any matcha, which is what is traditionally used in Japan. So today I am drinking a green tea with strawberry and orange. In a very special mug:

This mug was a gift from a dear friend of mine. Because we both love tea so much, she bought us matching mugs. Sharing this mug today is especially appropriate, because she lived for awhile in Japan, and has very fond memories.

And just for her, I'm going to plug a tea she created. It is Myst Berry, and you can find it here. It's delicious, and I highly recommend you buy some!

The Chinese Way of Tea

Tea is integral to Chinese society. In wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom kneel in front of and serve tea to their parents. Young people greet their elders with a cup of tea. Serving tea can act as a means of an apology. And if you ever witness someone knocking their index and middle fingers on the table after you have served them tea, it is their way of saying thank you.

Tea is discussed in poems, is in paintings, is written about in novels. It is used to describe one's character. It is a symbol of elegance.

Tea drinking habits differ region to region. For example, scented tea is popular in northern China, but eastern China prefers green tea.

In the tea ceremony known as Gong Fu, the tea master is considered an artist. The teapot is typically a Yixing pot, and several small cups to drink the tea from. Yixing pots are made from clay, and can be simple, as shown, or much more elaborate.

The tea is infused for about 30 seconds during the Gong Fu ceremony.

I have a couple of Yixing pots, which I will share at a later date. Today, however, I am drinking a black tea with coconut and caramel. Not at all Chinese, but delicious, nonetheless.

And you have to see the inside of this mug:

Tea Sandwich Tuesday: Pineapple and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

This is another super simple tea sandwich recipe. And pretty darned good, too.

Pineapple and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Spread some softened or whipped vegan cream cheese on a slice of bread. Top with drained, crushed pineapple. Add another slice of bread, slice into desired shapes. Serve. Enjoy!

Today I am enjoying a black tea with black cherries. Divine!

The Ghanaian Way of Tea

In Nima, in Ghana, tea preparation and ceremony is very elaborate. As head of the household, it is conducted by men, and due to its involved procedure, it enables ample opportunity for conversation. It creates a welcoming environment for guests. The ceremony is known as Ataya.

Since some of the tea customs came from Senegal, Ataya is one of them. It is made in a stainless steel kettle, and is served in three rounds. The first round of tea is always strong and bitter, the second more sweet with a little mint, and the third, very sweet.

Why three rounds? There are various reasons, all folk legend, but one such is this: “The first cup is the love of your mother. The second is the love of your friends. The third is the love of your love.”

There is a caution, however. One psychiatrist warned of too much caffeine, stating he was seeing patients diagnosed with Ataya induced psychotic disorders.

Maybe there is too much of a good thing?

Today I am drinking a black tea with wild cherry.

The Welsh Way of Tea

Tetley named Wrexham as the tea drinking capital of the UK, finding that most residents there drink tea every day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. The Marketing Director of Tetley described tea as "the lifeblood of Britain".

Well. I've been saying tea is life for years. So, now I'm going to try to say that in Welsh:

Te yw bywyd!

Today I am drinking an herbal blackberry and blueberry tea.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Mexican Way of Tea

Mexico is another country known for its herbal teas. Herbal teas are more widely consumed than more traditional black or green tea, but that is slowly changing. However, because of this, one can expect to pay more for a cup of regular tea than other beverages. Mint and lemongrass herbal teas are often suggested for their health benefits.

I raise my cup of black tea with cocoa and chili, and if I'm lucky, will lunch on some local Mexican food.

The Greek Way of Tea

Greeks have their own unique tea. It's called mountain tea, Tsai Tou VouNou (pronounced Tsy Too Voo Noo). It is an herbal tea made from a native plant known as sideritis. The plant grows, you guessed it, on a mountain. It is a health tea, known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its prevention of osteoporosis. Hippocrates praised this tea for its healing qualities.

I don't have any of this delicious sounding tea, so I will content myself with a cranberry and blood orange black tea, and refresh my memory reading about Greek myths. Or better yet, go and watch one of my favorite movies: My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The Canadian Way of Tea

The Tea Association of Canada has just this year launched a new campaign, entitled the Drink Tea Campaign. The goals are well, to get more people to drink tea! How cool is that?

They have several links, but this one is my favorite; it has links to recipes using tea! According to the website, Canadians drink over 10 billion cups of tea a year! Another tidbit is that the preferred type is teabags, stating that the average Canadian tea drinker has over 11 types of tea in their cupboard.

They are truly after my own heart!

So, I raise my cup to Canada today!

A white tea with mango and mangosteen.