As we search for the best tea, we took a walk up the trail to see the sun rise. This area is Sun Moon Lake, Nantou, Taiwan.
It is one of the Eight Wonders of Taiwan. Coming from a land of 10,000 lakes, I thought to myself "Do I need to see another lake?".
Surprisingly, What I didn't realize is it was different than our lakes where tall mountains were back drop. Sun Moon Lake got its name from the unique terrains that look like the sun on the diamond-shaped eastern side and crescent moon on the curved western end.
The lake’s scenic beauty has given rise to such names as “Pearl in the Mountains,” “Honeymoon Lake,” and “Lovers’ Lake.” It is also called the “Heart of Taiwan” for its role as a major hydropower generator.
Sun Moon Lake Black Tea #18 is a mixture between two cultivar of local Taiwan tea plant (B-607) and Burmese tea plant (B-729) back in 1999 and was kept improving its cultivar since then. The leaves were picked by hand. Its smell is like light lotus and cinnamon which is uniquely produced in Taiwan. Some people may not like drinking black tea but this tea is easy to drink with red-brown liquor when brew. We would recommend this tea because it is premium and uniquely produced tea.
We sourced them directly from the tea farm in the Sun Moon Lake area. Please enjoy the photos from the farm.
One of the black teas that I enjoy is Darjeeling. This Darjeeling tea estate is located at Mirik Town about 40 kilometers away from Darjeeling. This estate is very famous for producing good quality clonal tea. “Clonal tea” means the tea was made from hybridization. Clonal tea bushes are not grown from seeds but from hybrid clones. They are bred for specific qualities, thus some of the clonal teas became the most sought after teas in the market due to their superb taste and quality. With medium fermentation, the flavor of Darjeeling is very greenish, herbal-like, with a hint of floral fragrance. Some people tasted and commented that this tea has a delightful aroma like fresh bouquet of margaret, rose and marigold.
Use is code to get 10% discount of this delicious Darjeeling: Darj10off
Where will we be in 2017 season?
Tea Farm Visit
Taiwan is well-known on their oolong teas and we will be on our "journey" to find the BEST teas. We will setup many meetings with several tea farms. We will bring back the best teas in this region for you to enjoy and share our story when we return.
Your Journey Begins With Our Teas
Where will we be this summer?
We are confirmed:
Saturday: Hopkins Farmers Market
Sunday: Market in the Valley (Golden Valley).
The decision to move Sunday Market from Linden Hill Farmers Market to Market in the Valley wasn't easy. We are still waiting for some confirmations for weekday's markets as well.
We are also looking for a retail space. If you know something, please let us know. We hope to see you soon for this coming season.
This tea is one of our BEST sellers. As we mentioned in our last post of switching vendors around but remain the same quality, we could come up with a price reduction to pass on to you. We hand-blended them ourselves so you can have the best ingredients and share our passion for tea.
We suggest to steep this tea in milk (or regular soymilk). But whatever you do, it is truly delicious.
With a month of love, you can get 10% off this item using code: Chocolate10OFf. expire 2/24/17.
How to store tea
When I walk into a co-ops or some tea houses, I see a row of beautiful display in clear glass containers which labeled with tea’s name. This is so common mistake. While displaying the tea shows its beauty but it can be detrimental to the quality of tea. They are extremely vulnerable to moisture, light, air, odor, and heat. Proper storage can make a perfect cup of tea.
To keep tea fresh, store in an airtight non plastic container in a dry, dark, cool environment (room temperature is okay). Do not store in a refrigerator or freezer, except Matcha. Once opened, its freshness, taste and color begin to degrade, so we recommend to store opened matcha in a refrigerator. This is why we invested in our containers. We want you to have high quality tea and environment friendly.
Arboretum Winter Farmers' Market
We have been attending this event for several years now. This year, it will be on Saturday, February 25th from 10AM - 2PM. Located at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
We hope to see you there!
Happy New Year! Thank you for being a part of our tea journey. We wish you happiness and have a good health in 2017.
Here are our updates. We now carry high quality Pu'reh tea.
What is Pu'erh tea?
Pu'erh tea is one of the most unique ways to enjoy one of mankind’s hot beverages. Even the name is special: Pu-erh comes from a trading post that was often used to barter for such products as tea in the Imperial China.
The first time I tried pu-erh, I thought I was drinking some kind of dirt. It was so earthy! As you might suspect, it was a low quality pu'erh. Do not drink low quality pu'erh tea, it is harmful to your health. After learning more about pu'erh and found the “real” stuff, my experience with pu'erh has changed.
The tea itself can come in two varieties: the regular leaves, which are referred to as being “raw,” and the “ripe” cakes, which means that they have already gone through the fermentation process and pressed into cakes. Raw leaves are dried, fried in a pan, shaped into leaves, then dried some more. When it is ready, it can officially be sold as “raw” tea. If ripe pu'erh is desired, the fermentation process adds another long series of steps in which the tea is essentially composted. During this process it is exposed to specific bacteria and fungi in order to ferment it, a technique that must be carefully controlled (If not carefully controlled, it gets moldy and super earthy like dirt as I mentioned above). Teas that ripen more evenly are more highly prized because of their consistency and taste.
Our pu'erh is flower raw pu'erh tea. It opens up in the water. With added Chrysanthemum, it has vitamin C. It helps ease digestion and helps in alerting the senses and rejuvenating the brain.
Changing within Great Tea Road Co.
We believe tea should calm your mind, soothe your body and lift your spirit. GREAT TEA ROAD has the best quality tea. We strive for organic teas and even locally blend them in order to bring these sensations. We are slowly adding more teas from each of our journey. Our process is to get to know the tea farmers and understand their farming process before we source from them. We are particular about what we source because we want our communities to get what best available from each of our journey.
We have always been improving our process for better and more efficient; so we can pass on the cost saving for you to enjoy your favorite teas. Many of our teas' prices will be lower due to the new vendors that we added to our list. It is on its way!!
We try to change prices only once per year. We are planning a change to pricing reviews. For items which have increased are at the top of our list, we are going to try and lower those prices.
I had an opportunity to work with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis as part of their show, Hold These Truth.
It was written by Jeanne Sakata. The story went as during World War II in Seattle, as the U.S. government forcibly relocated all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast into internment camps, 24-year-old college student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the exclusion order and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to prison. As he struggled to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, Gordon began a 50-year journey toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs – and a confrontation with its failures. See this national hero’s powerful story on stage in a tour-de-force performance by stage and screen actor Joel de la Fuente.
The show was superb. Joel was a really good actor. I almost cried during the show.
Part of Level 9 series at Gutherie, I performed a Japanese Tea Ceremony for the Guthrie's director and Jeanne on the first night and second night for Joel and an audience (pictures below). As if, we were forced to relocate, we would not be able to carry much. So, Chabako Tamae (procedure) would be appropriate for this particular event. Chabako means a box. My chabako is about a size of a shoe box. It contains all tea equipment necessary to make a cup of tea. All I needed would be just hot water.
*Unfortunately, I could not take any picture from the stage on the first night due to union agreement.
“Canton (or Guangzhou in today’s name), from its position in the extreme south of the empire, can only be slightly influenced by a trade which is conducted on the Siberian frontier. None of the exports are drown from this neighborhood; and the few Russian goods that find their way here are seldom recognized as such by the consumers, but are vaguely spoken of by them as he productions of “the North”.” Written by Harry Parkers, Esq., F.R.G.S. March 13, 1854. As I spoke to many Russian customers, they love strong tea. Originally, this tea is a mix between Chinese Oolong and Lapsang Souchong (you can’t be mistaken of its smokiness). Its name originates from the 18th century camel caravans that facilitated the transcontinental tea trade from tea-producing areas from India, Ceylon and China to Europe via Russia. It took at least half a year to make the 6000 mile journey from the Chinese border to Russia and also known today as “Great Tea Road”. That is how we decided to use “Great Tea Road” as our company’s name. It has a deep history and meaning as we always look for quality tea and way to connect with tea farmers directly.
Our tea of the month - Russian Caravan Black Tea is mixed between Lapsan Souchong and Ceylon Black Tea because it gives a mellow and smooth taste.
We work directly with several tea farms. Your Journey Begins with Our Tea.
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
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.
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)
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!
“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
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.
We work directly with several tea farms. Your Journey Begins with Our Tea.
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.
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
Disclaimer: We are not associated with any local or oversea tea organization.
Staff at Great Tea Road Co