September 2017: Thank you note
We met Karen at the church in November. We remembered that she purchased "Strawberry White" and "Blueberry White" sample tea. Since that day, she called us when she needs new teas.
We are very happy when someone is happy. This is a reason why we keep going with our tea journey -- to put smile on your face.
Thank you for being a part of our tea journey.
One of our friends suggested to change the current recipe of sweet mint tea. We took his suggestion to heart! Now it is called "Organic Exquisite Mint" Tea. We LOVE mint (peppermint, spearmint, wolly mint, etc). Do you know why mint is such a good plant? Here are 10 Reasons why drinking mint tea would be good for you:
Where are we these days? Moving....
Just a quick note. We have moved from Minneapolis Farmers Market to Hopkins (Sat) and Linden Hill (Sun). If you can't find us, you can always contact us via our website or a phone call. We are always here to help.
I’ll be short and sweet with this newsletter. How about “Let’s have a Spring Tea Party”.
Spring tea party ideas include:
Consider these health benefits of tea and the next time you have to choose. Tea is officially awesome for your health. But before loading up your cup, make sure that your “tea” is actually tea. Real tea is derived from a particular plant (Camellia sinensis) and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. (there are “Yellow tea” as well but it is very few produced) Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.
The real tea may lack in variety but it makes up for with serious health benefits. Most people know about tea’s health properties of antioxidant. Most studies have focused on the better-known green and black teas, white and oolong also bring benefits to the table. Read on to find out why coffee’s little cousin rocks your health.
The takeaway: Tea is safe to consume — just not in excessive amounts. So brew up a batch of the good stuff — hot or cold — and enjoy.
Source: Adapted from Time magazine 9/4/12
Disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material on this website, is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new healthcare regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
January 2016: New Year Tea Ritual
Have you ever attended Japanese Tea Ceremony New Year Style?
Hatsugama (初釜) means boiling of the first kettle tea ceremony. It is a tradition that passes down from several generations. It has always been an honor to be served by tea teacher. This meeting is seen as something very special. Hatsugama is the only time when my tea teacher himself prepares tea for all his students. This does not happen often in Asian culture because students uphold the teacher highly. However, this year, we, students, were gathering at his place and our most senior students served the tea in his place as our teacher's health was not his best. Most of us were wearing formal Kimono.
In the traditional way, kaiseiki meal would be served. Since we could not complete the ritual with Kaiseiki meal, well, none of us was capable enough to prepare such a formal and beautiful meal. Instead, we came and shared a dish. Everyone placed one’s dish on the table provided in the room.
Fifteen minutes later after everyone was chatting and laughing, we were told to be seated. There are 2 tea sessions, thick tea (or Koi Cha performed by our male student) and thin tea (or Usucha performed by a female student). Our most senior students began to work his and her magic. It was quiet and calm. People were looking at the tea hosts. I have always loved the sound of water whether is boiling or running. It sounds so pretty to me.
Talking about 2 different type of tea being served. Koicha was also prepared and shared among all students. Koicha is a thick tea that looked like a pea soup (really). Each one of us shared the same bowl. Yes, it may sound a bit strange to many people but we are bonded together this way.
Then we also got served a thin tea. This year, I got an honor to help out as the first guest. The first guest is the most important guest. He or she receives the dessert and tea first. He or she can have a conversation with the tea host. It also shows the rank among the guests as well.
Tea of The Month: Haru no Uji Matcha (Translation: Spring of Uji City). It is our new tea. The tea is grown around Uji, the birth place of tea growing region in Japan. Please check it out with this link.
September 2016: Thailand Tea Farm
One of our popular teas is Oolong tea from Northern Thailand.
Northern Thailand is a popular destination for Thai and foreigner visitors. It is also renowned as a scenic wonderland of orchards, flowers and forests. The area attracts tourists to enjoy the picture-perfect valley in the mountains 1,400 metres above sea-level. Here, the ever-present influence of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, can be sensed, from the Royal Agricultural Station to his agricultural affluence and an effort to better the quality of life to the ethnic people there.
Please enjoy the scenery of this village. It is truly beautiful place.
Credited: Great Tea Road.
Tea of the Month –Angkhang Oolong and Homemade Ginger Cinnamon Black Tea (new seasonal tea)
Happy New Year 2016
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting and being a loyal tea customers–it's what made our 2015 most memorable. Wishing you and your family peace and joy in 2016. Happy New Year!
April 2016: Tea & Meditation
“How can I be more mindful?” a customer and friend was asking. For me, it comes from practicing Japanese Tea Ceremony. I was instructed even when I prepare tea utensils, I need to be focused on what I do. I think it is very simple task but for some find it is difficult.
At times, when we are drinking tea with a friend, we are not aware of the tea or even of our friend sitting there. Practicing tea meditation is to be truly present with our tea and our friends. We recognize that we can dwell happily in the present moment despite all of our sorrows and worries. We sit there relaxed without having to say anything. If we like, we may also share a song, a story or a dance.
Tea and Meditation are two practices that go hand-in-hand. They are both contemplative, slow-paced activities that help a person wind down.
Practicing Japanese Tea Ceremony is something many people do not want to do. Many think it was like a drag to pick up new “procedures” when they weren’t necessary. Some people even thought of doing tea ceremony seemed so cumbersome and old-fashioned.
You do not need to learn Japanese Tea Ceremony to be more mindful, really. Watching the tea ceremony being performed can help you be more mindful. For those of you who may be new to meditation, it is not a practice reserved for only certain religions. In its most basic form, meditation is the process of sitting still for a period of time and focusing your mind through deep breathing or a single word so that the inner chatter in your head ceases.
That is why I said you can be mindful to whatever you are currently doing. The combination of drinking tea and meditating has long been practiced by Chinese and Japanese Buddhist monks, who discovered that the calming properties of theanine in tea helped them to meditate blissfully for long periods of time. Perhaps, you can try combining them together to see if you get calmer or more focus before starting a task.
Tea of the Month - Chamomile Green Tea
June 2016: Taiwan Tea Garden
Drinking tea right from the tea farm!
Taiwan is well known about their Oolong and that is what most people know. Do you know they also produce black tea? It is amazing to learn that they have been growing Assem (Indian tea) as well. On this trip, we visited Maokong which is located near Taipei. It is said that tea farmers from southern China came here to open teahouses. Later, the teahouses declined and customers no long came. The domesticated cats ran away and thus the place was called "Maokong" (meaning Cat Sky). However, Maokong has developed its unique sightseeing and tea tasting industry.
The tea farms here are famous for Bouzhong tea and Taiguanyin (Iron Goddess Oonlong). There are many teahouses with diversified styles. They are good places to visit no matter during day or night. In the daytime, there are tea trees and hills forming green scenery. Many citizens visit the place by taking the mountain tracks. After dusk, Maokong is like an enchanting, mysterious lady. Colorful light bulbs are lit in front of every building. Visitors taste tea, chat with each other and admire the nightfall.
The tea farms (open for sightseeing) are scattered around (you will need to walk around and find them). Most tea farms provide tea tasting or meals. Visitors coming here may also want to try the delicious dishes.
Tea of the month – Milk Oolong, Seasonal tea: Peach Oolong
We work directly with several tea farms. Your Journey Begins with Our Tea.
November 2016: The Month to be Thankful
From the beautiful Fall colors to the bountiful harvests, we have a lot of good things going on around us. For us, we are always thankful to our customers who support and follow us on Facebook, Twister or simply stop by and say hi to us. We can’t be “us” today without you. THANK YOU. Talking about tea and thankful month; the same goes for tea. The tea farmers have, done their final harvests for this growing season. We recommend these teas for the season:
1 Full of Character: Milk Oolong, Angkhang Oolong, Sencha Okumidori (Green Tea), Roasted Green Tea
2 A Great Tea Gets More Variety: Almond Coconut (Green Tea), Heavenly Hawaii (Herbal)
3 True, Clean Taste: Midnight Roses (Green Tea), Chamomile Dream (Herbal)
4 Refreshing: Sweet Mint (Herbal) or Moroccan Mint (green tea)
5 Hearty and Satisfying: Ceylon Earl gray (Black Tea), Russian Caravan (Black Tea)
Japanese Black Tea has arrived. It has been awhile since we are out of this product. It has 2 contribute factors: we sold out and the tea farm was in a transiting period to fully Organic farm. This tea plant is seedling selection from the local varieties based in Nara Perfecture, an old capital of Japan in 7th century.
The tea farm is located and nested in the mountain. I love their location and scenery very much. From here, you can see the river and mountain.
Tea of the month –ri Misho (Japanese Black Tea).
We work directly with several tea farms. Your Journey Begins with Our Tea.
For those who are interested to experience a real Japanese Tea House, it is time to register. The spots fill up so quickly. Send us a message if you decide to come.
A little back ground of the event. Built in the style of a traditional Japanese tea house, the Como Ordway Memorial Tea House is made primarily of materials indigenous to Minnesota, and expresses pure Japanese taste. Its aesthetic intent addresses not a spirit of deficiency but of poverty freedom from external concern and awareness of essential inward values. Equally important is the spirit of tranquility. Together they reveal beauty in imperfection and insufficiency.
For the Japanese people, a tea house and garden represent a mountain sanctuary within the city. The tea house and gardens are our mountain sanctuary. Through participation, guests set themselves apart from the cares of the world.
One approaches the tea house and its gardens by way of a gate, leaving the outside world behind. Only participants of the tea ceremony enter the inner secluded garden. This is not a large landscape scene. Dramatic views or unusually fragrant plants are not included. Simple, natural arrangements of trees and green leafy plants are desirable, as is foliage that makes a sound in the breeze.
All the hosts of the tea ceremony volunteer their special skills. At least one certified tea instructor is present with a staff of other volunteers, who have studied tea for many years. The tea ceremony they perform has been taught in Japan from generation to generation by the Urasenke branch of the Sen family. We are most fortunate to have the support of these devoted individuals. (As of now, I am a Vice President of Urasenke branch in Minnesota).
The tea ceremony at the Como Ordway Japanese Garden lasts 45 minutes, and includes an explanation of the ceremony itself. As many guests are not able to seat on the floor, we make a modification and now guests are seated on the chair.
Tea of the month – Sweet Mint Tea, Jin Chain Oolong
Partial Except from Como Park website with modification.
Tea Rituals from Around the World
Just one drink, so many cultures have its own way to drink. Let's look together how tea service in different cultures are like.
Chinese Tea Ceremony
Gongfu cha or Making Tea with an effort is what Chinese Tea Ceremony is about. The Chinese Tea Ceremony emphasizes the tea, rather than the ceremony -- that the test testes like, smells like, and how one tea tastes compared to the previous tea, or in successive rounds of drinking. Ceremony doesn't mean that each server will perform the ritual the same way; it is not related to religion. Each step is meant to be sensory exploration and appreciation.
Japanese Tea Ceremony
Chado, also known as Chanoyy and commonly referred to as the Japanese Tea Ceremony in English, is a spiritual and aesthetic discipline for refinement of the self - known in Japanese as a "do", a "way". The word "Chado" means "the way of tea". It is centered on the activity of host and guest spending a mutually heartwarming time together over a bowl of matcha tea. The purpose is to serve the guest an unforgettably satisfying bowl of tea and the guest responds with thankfulness, both of them realizing that the time shared can never be repeated and that is a "once in a lifetime" occasion. Some may see Chado as moving meditation which is not wrong. It gives a sense of mindfulness and help refocusing the current moment. (I confirm it helps distress!!).
Indian Masala Chai
In America, we generally say something like "I like a cup of chai tea". Chai means Tea. Masala Chai (simply referred to as “Chai”) has been a tradition throughout India for centuries. This spicy hot beverage is a brew of Indian black tea with a unique blend of spices, typically including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and pepper, although the recipe varies region to region. Chai is consumed morning and afternoon by many Indian families, and is customarily the first thing offered to houseguests. So prevalent is the service of Chai throughout India that baristas, known as Chaiwallahs, can be found at just about every cornerm in India.
British Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. She would become hungry around 4 o'clock. The evening meal in her household was served around 8 o'clock thus leaving a long period between lunch and dinner. She began to ask that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room. Then she began to invite her friends. After that, it became a fashion for high class society in England. Afternoon tea was born.
Samovar and Russian Life
With an influence from Asian Culture during the trade on Great Tea Road , Russian tea is a combination of two or three types of flavors. These different teas are brewed dark and in separate pots. When mixed together in the cup, additional hot water is added to dilute the mixture. The tea pots are designed to sit one atop of the other with the bottom pot holding the hot water. The next pot, typically, will be a very dark tea followed by a pot of herbal or mint flavored tea. Stacking the pots, not only saves space, but enables each to stay hot longer. The samovar has served as Russia's teapot since the mid-1700s. By 1800, the samovar had become a cherished focal point of the Russian household and was the centerpiece of any social gathering.
Made from a combination of Chinese green gunpowder tea, handfuls of fresh mint and a liberal amount of sugar, the tea, or atai, as it's known, is a refreshing break, and the mint has both appetite-calming and digestive qualities. Tea is drunk at all times of the day, from early in the morning to an after-supper digestif, and is often served with Moroccan Cake. It is made in a metal teapot that is heated on the stove top, until it reaches a near boil. Then, it is left to stand for a short time, and may (or may not) be transferred into a serving pot, depending on where you are drinking it, and the preferences of your host. It is then brought out with an appropriate number of small glasses - these too may contain a sprig of fresh mint.
Thai Ice Tea
Lastly, street vendors who sell Thai ice tea can be found anywhere. Thailand is hot; Thai ice tea is an excellent choice beverage. You can simply mix condensed milk to black tea and serve over ice. Or another version is sugar with black tea and serve over ice (aka. Cha dum yen).
Great Tea Road Co. Newsletter
Welcome to a beautiful Autumn.
I generally love hot tea and fall is just a season for it. With a good book (or Kindle for me) and a cup of tea, it sounds really cozy right now.
First thing first. Update on the products...
Most of the products are updated in on the website. Price has been updated recently for 2015. Due to the value of the dollar and some price increases at the farms (and some bad harvest, low crop yield, etc). prices have increased on our website. We will always do our best to make sure we get you the best quality tea for the best pricing!.
However, we hope we can decrease the price as the crop yield better result and so on. Even we increase prices on some of the items, as a thank you for your loyalty and patience with us, we offer 10% off on the entire purchase from 10/7/2015 through 12/15/2015. Please use the code below on our website when you are checking out.
Planning for 2016 Markets
As we mentioned on the 2016 plan in our last newsletter, we are confirmed to be at Hopkins Farmers Market on Saturday. We are still going to be at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on some Sundays. Please follow us on Twitter or Facebook for location and time.
Ways to keep in touch with us
Before heading off to Japan, I sent one of a requests directly to visit a tea farm in Nara-shi area. If you do not know about Nara, it was an old capital city of Japan back in the year 710 - 1185. By the time I arrived in Japan, I still hadn't heard anything back from this farm. I asked a Japanese landlady who I stayed with to call and to convince them to take me in. Initially, I didn't know much about them. I chose to visit this farm because of its location. This farm was nested in mountains area. Most tea in Japan grow in low elevated land due to high cost of labor and their conveniences. Not the case for this farm. Finally, they were okay to take me in and would pick me up at the train station as well. Their last comment before hanging up the phone was "we don’t speak English ". Alright, I thought to myself; I'll survive. I took 3 trains down from Kyoto (current capital city). There, an older lady was waving and waiting for me. I guess there are not a lot of people coming this way. It was only me got off the train (it was about 6-7 people total passengers). We drove about 20 minutes to the farm while I exchanged my broken Japanese and the lady was trying hard to speak English with me. Somehow, we were able to understand each other. We even laughed all the way to the farm.
Going out to the tea field
What I gathered when I arrived at the tea farm was that my request was unusal for them. They decided to drive me up and down to many tea fields from one mountain to another. As we talked, I learned they have been growing tea for 17th generation or roughly 400 years! (And the way they said it was no big deal). Initially, the tea they were growing was for their own consumption while growing shitaki mushroom commercially. About 100 years ago, they started selling tea commercially. In winter time, they are still growing shitaki mushroom. They would use the wood that shitaki mushrooms grew on and turn them into tea tree furtilizer. Doing this also prevent weeds because they do not use any pesticides. It is real organic tea farm.
The farm produces many types of tea which is unusual for Japanese farms. Most farms process only green tea and its varieties of green tea. This farm produces Green, Oolong (in a testing period), and Black tea. Japanese Green tea is popular but it is rare to find Oolong and black tea jn Japan. I had a chance to only try their 4 different green tea. Their roasted green tea is superb. The aroma is very nice like roasted fresh cut grass with a hint of nutty aroma and the taste is very smooth. It is also very forgiving if you brew it too long or use too hot water (yes, I tried to make mistake that most people would do). I was able to get to my 6th brew for a 10 - grams of tea. Their Okumidori green tea (sencha) is different than other sencha I have tasted. Most farms would make with astringent taste which you need to get used to it. Not the case of this tea. It was very smooth and less astringent taste. By the way, Okumidori means dark green color. As you can see from the picture above, the leaves color is darker green.
We are very pround of this new vendor and their teas. I hope you will try them and fall in love with their tea like we do.
Our swipe-stake winner to win a gift set tea box was Katja Becker.
Please contact us to receive your tea.
Visited a Japan Tea Farm
I had a chance to visit our vendor outside of Kyoto area. It took me 2 train rides and a bus, plus a little walk but with rain, I felt it was quite a way. It was interesting to be in the country side. As you see, the farm was really green from the rain. Very beautiful. We did many tea tastings and looked at the tea trees. I really wish you could go with me to Japan. You will love the hospitality of people and truly fall in love with the country side. While I was waiting for a bus in the country side, there was an old woman start talking to me. Finally, she shared her snack with me. I wouldn't forget this kind of experience. Not a lot of people would share a snack with a stranger. Later, she showed me where my bus stop to the tea farm. Truly amazing time. From the picture, I learned that this tea farm is applying for a UNESCO site. This is because the first tea tree, 800 years ago, was planted in Japan in this area. Would you agree to its beauty?
Tea Ceremony At Como Park 2015
Como Park Japanese Tea Service was once again here. It was a beautiful day for the guests to visit Como Park and to try drinking Matcha, powdered green tea, in a Japanese Tea Service style. During the performance, initially, I was too nervous. I was afraid to do something wrong. When we study tea, our tea teachers always say "it is your tea and just do your best". After my 2 seconds of hesitation, I realized I only needed to do my best. One thing you learn to do when you learn tea is meditation. My mind was very focus on the task at hand. I forgot all my surrounding for a moment and tried to do my best. It turned out just fine despite all my worries (for nothing). Our guests were very engaged and asked a lot of questions - starting from the tea house itself, tatami mat (straw mat), other events and procedures of tea, etc. It was a great event. Please contact me if you would like to learn more. I will be doing more tea service in near future as we are trying to stir tea enthusiasts in Twin Cities.
New teas for this season
I am so sorry for not writing. It has been really busy with me - working and taking care of kids. It has been fun for me to meet customers (or anyone who wants to chat). There were many crazy weather days (rain, cold and thunderstorm). But I am still determined to be there. Thanks to my mom who took the video. I have posted our first day at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on YouTube. Please use this link: https://youtu.be/th5eIf209Ek.
Stop by to chat or for a tea tasting at our store - Pavillion 1, store S29 (every even weeks).
I would like to introduce tea that can be brewed both hot and cold. New product this year is Peach Oolong & Kiwi-Mango-Passion Fruit Black tea. They are both good both hot or cold.
Many customers asked me how to brew cold and made it so delicious. I never put any sweetener in my tea so you can actually taste the tea.
What I do with the tea is put your tea in the infuser. Drop in the pitcher and pour water over it. Put in the freeze over night. You get a delicious cold tea next day. Easy and simple. The measurement is 1 teaspoon per 7-8 oz of water. Depending on how big of your pitcher, you will need to measure it accordingly.
Another new tea is Cafe Et The (Coffee and Tea).
In Old Siam (or a.k.a. Thailand), there was a custom to mix coffee with tea. The aroma is quite unique similar to caramel but with a linger of coffee. I heard from many customers who wanted to quit coffee (or drink less of them). I hope I can help easing the transitioning process.
Disclaimer: We are not associated with any local or oversea tea organization.
Staff at Great Tea Road Co
Address: 16228 Main Ave SE #113
Prior Lake, MN 55372
In Store Hours
Sunday - Wednesday: By Appointment
Thursday - Saturday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
** Please check Google before visiting in case the operating hour has changed.