In Tribute John Harney

Posted in Tribute on June 19th, 2014 by jopj

Tribute

 

Within the confines of our small, yet global tea community, there have been very few people that I have met who have left lasting marks on my journey to discovering tea, John Harney was one such person.

We met at my first tea expo 2006. It was part of my immersion into the leaf, beginning with STI Certification Program intensive. Two full days of tea drinking, tea education, and tea bonding and networking. Oh, and did I mention testing, yes exams that I stayed up most of the night cramming for and being so totally wired on tea.

After acing the exams, we proceeded to enter the world of the tea business, the expo. I must say, like many others who have experienced this grand affair, it was definitely overwhelming. The conversations about sampling, minimums, grams, pounds, and so much more, to fill my brain and it seemed like a daunting task.

Walking the floor I saw a booth of one tea brand I recognized, Harney & Sons Teas. I was familiar with the line, as this is the tea they served at The Plaza Hotel in New York and we had been coordinating an annual New Years Eve tea gathering there for a number of years.

Black Currant

My favorite from the line was Black Currant. I sauntered over and proceeded to examine the other offerings. While I was looking, a voice interrupted my examination of the fine tea selection. I looked up and a nice friendly face greeted me and asked could he be of help. He took the time to look at my badge and addressed me by name. I was so taken aback, meeting the creator of this prestigious tea line.

Mr. John Harney asked me about my current business and the plan I had going forward. Looking back on this, he must have realized I would not become a large customer, yet he still took the time to offer some suggestions. He scanned his mental Rolodex for names of people and organizations within my area that I might connect with to help my business grow.

Then there was the year of “Paris”. At another industry event, I was strolling the aisle, you know, the first round where I see what’s being offered before making the investment to wait to speak to someone. Across the floor I see someone waving, I turn round and realize, since there was no one behind me, they were waving at me.

Mr. Harney beckoned me to come to his booth, once within close proximity he excitedly told me he had a new blend he wanted me to try, Paris. While pouring the sample in the cup he asked how I was fairing and how the business was progressing.

He was always interested in the person not just the sale.

I took a sip and for a moment I was transported to a little café in Nice, leisurely wasting away the day with a good book of my choice.

We cheerily spoke about the blend and it’s creation. I always appreciated the passion he had for his product and his work.

As years progressed I have met a few of his family members and was introduced to his lovely wife. I always make a point to stop by and sample the new offerings. Upon meeting the family members you become aware of the legacy he has passed on to each one, the love and appreciation of the leaf, as well as good business practices.

Most recently as part of my efforts to help those affected by “Super Storm Sandy” through Tea For Humanity, I called Michael Harney and asked if he would help. I was so grateful to receive their generous donation. Whilst handing out hot cups of tea one most memorable moment was when a recipient said ” it’s not just that you brought tea, it’s what you brought”.

TFH Our Service Station TFH Harney

My condolences to his family, he has left you with so much and I cherish my memories of the “Master Blender”, I will miss Mr. Harney.

In celebration of Harney & Sons 30 years in tea, this event will be happening Aug 16th if you are in the area, be sure to check it out.

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For those who are there, WTE 2014, and those not

Posted in World Tea Expo on May 29th, 2014 by jopj

This year I am unable to attend the World Tea Expo 2014 in Long Beach, California.

I am saddened not being able to connect with all the special people who share my passion for the leaf.

Several of us, not in attendance, are commiserating our absence and are feeling mixed emotions viewing all the exciting photos of the event.

This yearly event has brought together persons from around the world to enjoy endless cups and stimulating conversations.

Last year, as part of the Tea Bloggers Roundtable, we were graced with the presence of two very special persons in my tea circles, Lord and Lady Devotea. They traveled great lengths to attend, Australia being their home.

Tea Bloggers Flyer adjusted

My first interaction with the dynamic duo was at the reading and book signing. Robert Godden, The Devotea had just published his book The Infusiast, diatribes from the devotea.

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When we arrived at the location I felt exhilarated about the upcoming encounter and as I stood on the porch greeting others I knew. I could hear the Aussie accent coming from the house interior. After a brief moment he appeared in the doorway, the master tea blender who created a line of my most favorite teas. Our greeting was warm and heartfelt and for me, réalité complète.

I was quickly ushered through the portal and introduced to the gracious Lady. Immediately I surmised that the love Robert has for this beautiful Lady is reflected in his blends. One offering, limited edition, I purchased recently for Valentines’ Day stated it clearly.

Love Of My Life Tea

He also has written many posts that reflect his devotion.

Today for me, and yesterday in Australia was the Ladys’ birthday I sent this virtual card to recognize the day and am wishing her many years of health and happiness.

Lady Devotea Birthday Card

So we are not at World Tea Expo 2014 and I must admit I truly miss being there. I am glad for all those who are able to attend, even for a short stint, Lazy Literatus.

To the first timers Renee Rubens, Nicole, Tea For Me Please and Ricardo Caicedo, enjoy and don’t get too tea drunk.

Thank you Naomi Rosen, moderator of Tea Bloggers Roundtable and the distinguished panelists, Chris Giddings, Jason Walker, Linda Gaylard, Jen Piccotti, Nicole Martin and Gary Robson for offering to share their expertise.Tea Bloggers Roundtable 2014 update 2 copy copy

Missing you all.

By the way if you get a chance there are two new products I would be interested in hearing about Alpha Dominche Steampunk® Mod with New Mincher Android App and Aiyas’ new Matcha To Go Sticks.

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RIP Maya Angelou

Posted in In Memorandum on May 28th, 2014 by jopj

Maya quote

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The Way I See It: World Tea Expo Awards

Posted in World Tea Expo on May 5th, 2014 by jopj

The way I see it World Tea Expo Awards Finalists

 

Category: Best Tea Blog

I would like to start out congratulating firstly the World Tea Expo  for including this category as part of the awards. We in the industry, as tea bloggers have worked hard to keep the public apprised and knowledgeable about what is going on in our tea world and each of us brings a unique perspective to this endeavor.

Secondly, thank you to all who replied to the survey, even if you self-nominated. Hopefully this collection of awards will continue and become a regular yearly event to give others the opportunity to be nominated and chosen.

Tea Bloggers Roundtable 2014 update 2 copy copyI am also glad to see that two of the finalist are also a part of the Tea Bloggers Roundtable  an affiliated meeting, being held at the World Tea Expo for the second time this year. Thank you all who have supported this effort and have dedicated your time and energy to make this happen and congratulations to Jason & Jen on being chosen finalists.

So I will continue my thoughts about the category and selections.

Just like the leaf camellia sinensis, tea blogging encompasses many types. We have consummate tea reviewers, tea specialists in varieties, tea educators, tea ranters, tea fantasists, tea sellers who blog from both retail and online spectrum, tea consultants, tea videographers and a host of other descriptions can be defined. The common thread we all speak tea (and some of us in different languages).

This field of tea writing, in my estimation, could be broken into two more general sub categories, tea reviewers, and tea bloggers. I do not consider a tea reviewer the same is a blogger although a tea blogger may review tea occasionally, that is not the crux of their focus, they tell a story.

Even within the blogger segment sub categories can be constructed i.e. technical, educational, inspirational, fun, and ranting, although this may be asking too much.

We have some outstanding tea reviewers that I am aware of and can be found on their own personal sites as well as sites like Teatra.de, Association of Tea Bloggers and Steepster, which are widely known.

Then there is Teaity that provides a different new view of the subject.

As our world of tea expands with new converts, more writing will be done, more sites to see and read.

I just was made aware of one that I found delightful, ThirstyForTea  by Bonnie Eng, her tagline “A blog dedicated to tea, tea food, and modernizing a time honored tradition”

Just like there is a tea for every palate, there’s a tea blog for every focus.

Now for my thoughts on the nominees.

I read all the writers listed and get updates daily of their contributions through bloglovin.

What I find difficult is, how they all can be nominated for the same category.

For example:

T Ching is a collection of blogs from a variety of writers. Can they be looked at in the same way as an individual blogger?

Walker Tea Review, the majority of the information is a collection of tea reviews and industry information and the bulk of the information is available as paid subscription only.  You can only read teasers of the information. Now Jason, please don’t be peeved with me I’m only stating the fact.

World Of Tea, Tony has done an amazing job along with information gathered from other tea professionals to provide sorely needed accurate tea information to the masses. I am eagerly awaiting his book and enjoy reading his work, although technically I do not consider it a blog and I hope his publisher will not think so as well.

The Tea Cup Of Life, again I would like to thank LuAnn for the “Tea Tag” idea that prompted many of us to write about who we are and why we enjoy the leaf. I had never seen her site before that and was happy to find another tea writer I was not familiar with. Her blog is a combination of many topics from brewing, tea reviews, tea 101 and more. Her focus on all things tea is apparent and even encompasses a zazzle shop where “tea shirts” and tea buttons can be purchased.

An International Tea Moment, well what can I say… Jen takes tea blogging to another level. Combining a tea review with most importantly a focus of how tea fits into her daily life. She combines the issues of both the joy and challenges of life and pairs them to a tea (please excuse the pun). Her writing is inspirational and comforting. Her honesty is sometimes jarring yet identifiable to those who read.

So as you can see, based on the descriptions I have given, who is my clear choice. Noting again, I am soooo grateful that the category even exists and all the nominees should be proud.

In ending, I will submit for my readers consideration, my own list of sub-categories and awardees.

Tea Blog Daily Inspirations: Tea Philosophy, V.L. Hamilton

Tea Blog Ranting Award: Lord Devotea’s Tea Spouts, Robert Godden

Tea Industry Information Award: Nigel Melican Teacraft

Tea Blog Videographer Award: Snooteablog, Natasha Nesic

Tea Information & Research Blog Award: Tea Geek, Michael Coffey & World of Tea , Tony Geebly

Fashionable Tea Blog Award: The Tea Stylist, Linda Gaylard

Tea &  Teaware Blog Award: The Tea Enthusiasts Scrapbook, Darlene Meyers-Perry

Tea Blog Review Fun/Fantasy Writing Award: Steep Stories, Lazy Literatus, Geoffrey Norman

Tea Blog Review Serious Writing Award: Tea With Gary, Gary Robson

Tea Blog Review Award: Tea For Me Please, Nicole Martin  & Walker Tea Review, Jason Walker

Tea Blog Compilations Award: T Ching , & Teatra.de

Tea Blog History Award; Teaconomics, Xavier

New Tea Site Award; Teaity, Chris Giddings

Tea Blog Moderator Award; Joys Jabberings, Naomi Rosen  (for her work on her own site and for the United States League of Tea Growers

Tea Industry Writers Online Magazine Award: Tea Biz, Dan Bolton & Katrina Avila Munichiello

I could create an unending list, so I’ll stop now. I am just grateful to all of you who have chosen to write about tea keeping me informed. Thank you all

All people look for peace

 

If by chance are reading this I may not be familiar with your blog, leave a link in the comments and I will be sure to take a look.

 

 

 

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A Touch Of Spring & Matcha

Posted in Matcha on April 16th, 2014 by jopj

spring flowers 4Many of us are so desperate for a relief from winters chill, when a day is bright and sunny reminding us Spring is near, we jump at the chance to go out and bask in the sunshine.

Last Sunday was one such day. I didn’t have to bundle up and there were no hats and gloves on my person.

The blooming bulbs were beaming all around me and I enjoyed following the trail of artist created Easter Eggs that have graced our city for the season.

In the park the sounds of music filled the air and a Bollywood dance opportunity was to be had in the center court.

There were stands offering Middle Eastern Food and I so wanted to stay and explore my new discovery, though I was on a matcha mission and was short of time.

I finally located the designated place hosting what I must call a unique Matcha experience.

N Presentation 2I notated the contrast of the outdoors to the extreme silence as I walked in. The audience stared intently as Zachary; of TeaWing fame, swished the matcha in the bowl. I too was captivated by his focus.

At first I thought this would be a more traditional tasting and pleasantly surprised it was not.

Zachary and Tracey provided much information of the matcha we tasted and I had the opportunity to sample two I had not tried before White Matcha and Koicha.

Koicha

Both differed in flavor and texture. Koicha, of course, being the thicker of the two, was described as having the consistency of liquid chocolate, (I agree).

The White Matcha, grown unshaded unlike traditional matcha. This combination of unshaded process and the use of hybrid plants have been in trial samplings for 10 years. The matcha had a grassy taste and was somewhat bitter with lots of umami.

We ended the tasting with a brief moment of meditation and warm goodbyes.

Neuehouse

If you are interested in TeaWing Teas you can find them here.

Thank you, Zachary, Tracey for a wonderful afternoon.

Brandon thanks for telling me about this lovely event.

 

 

 

Taking time to ponder

Posted in Black History Month on February 23rd, 2014 by jopj

SassafrasI have been behind in my blogging and postings.  Many commitments have gotten in the way and it seems this month had more than most.

Another factor, I promised myself I would not blog about other topics until I completed my annual Black History Month post.

So I began a search for topics to write about and found a few, most that would require much more research than I have time, at this moment.

I also took the opportunity to read 12 Years A Slave” an accounting of Solomon Northups’ experiences. I wanted to read the book prior to seeing the movie, and have since done both.

 photoAs many of you are aware I recently hosted An Afternoon Tea Inspired by Downton Abbey at Morris Jumel Mansion.

 

Life is always filled with surprising coincidences.

The historical fact that connects these two, Anne Northup, wife of Solomon, and her children worked and lived at the Mansion for a number of years while Solomon was enslaved.

 

                   The book and movie have impacted me on many levels.

There is an unexpected afternoon tea scene in the movie quite unlike those depicted before.

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Lupita Nyong’o (l.) as Patsey and Alfre Woodard as Mistress Shaw in “12 Years a Slave.” as seen in a review from the NY Daily News

Taking this opportunity to bring the past into the current I also attended a collection of 10 minute plays “on Trayvon, Race and Privilege” and view gallery installation entitled “HoodiesUP” at The National Black Theatre.

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As part of the installation my daughters choreographic work “Taste The Rainbow” was shown on screen.

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These jarring events of the past and the current devastating events in the news (Jordan Davis being one of many) gives one much to ponder over many cups of tea.

It has been said; If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future “ Bob Marley “Tomorrows People” 

Raising a cup to those who lived, died and continue the struggle for Human Rights all over the world.

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Tandem Tea Tasting Vive la France

Posted in Tandem Tea Tasting on February 10th, 2014 by jopj

photoAt an odd hour this Sunday past, we had our monthly Google Plus Tandem Tea Tasting. The time change was to accommodate our special guest Xavier, Teaconomics.

Xavier and Jackie, Teatrade collaborated to send us a sampling of two teas from Maison de thè THEODOR.

My packages arrived around Christmastime, and believe me, I had to exert restraint not to brew these immediately, as the aroma was enveloping.

photoI was not sure I would be able to make the scheduled meeting as I was on the road in No. Hampton, MA (more to come about this trip) and had a brunch with friends scheduled around the same time.

So, as we tea enthusiasts do, I improvised. I got up and brewed the two teas, appropriately named The Du Loop and Je t’ Aime and filled my thermos for the in car event.

Cups up

Once in the car, I set up my tastings in the cars cup holders and asked hubby not to hit any bumps in the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 10:00am I got the invite from Rachel, I Heart Teas and shortly afterwards our guest arrived along with our avid members Nicole, Tea For Me Please, Darlene Meyers-Perry, The Tea Lovers Archives, Julia Matson, Bingley Teas, Jackie, Teatrade.

Santa Snowed UnderIn noticeable absence was Geoff Norman, Lazy Literatus, he had to work and when last posted he was snowed in at his job. This, an unusual occurrence as the Portland area normally does not get snow.

Geoff has been for quite a while our only male member in this group I am beginning to think it can only be a one-man show J

Xavier had some trouble with the audio and had to go out and come back in and we were all anxious to experience the full effect of his wonderful French accent.

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When we all settled introductions were made then it was on to tasting.

In doing research on these teas I also found their website fun as they assign personality characteristics to each tea “Points Of Views Notebook Of The Impertinent”.

photophotoThe Du Loop-notes of chocolate and hints of floral. They assigned a personality characteristic to this tea as Pretentious

Je t’ Aime- macaroon overtones, it was mentioned in description, like pistachio, although we detected almond notes along with floral undertones. The characteristic of this one Gallantry

I understand why these teas appeal to Jackie so delicate and delicious.

In the short space of time, riding from No. Hampton to Greenfield, I must say I so enjoyed seeing my tea friends and sipping along and comparing notes.

Thanks Xavier, Jackie and Rachel for making this one happen.

Until next Tandem Tea Tasting

Xavier, Teaconomics

Jackie, Cups Of Tea With Jackie

Rachel, I Heart Teas

Nicole, Tea For Me Please

Darlene, The Tea Enthusiasts Scrapbook

Julia, Bingley’s Tea

Geoff, Lazy Literatus

 

 

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A Recipe For Cabin Fever

Posted in Cabin Fever on February 6th, 2014 by jopj

Winter2014 Feb2Most of us on the East Coast have found ourselves snowed in this winter. It seems as if we are experiencing the one on one off effect. One day debilitating snow, then the next the rays of sun appear as if spring is on the way.Winter 2014 feb 2

It’s hard to prepare in this a situation, as one never knows how to arrange the daily plan.

I decided, after several days of this that I needed to do something different to address the cabin fever I was feeling.

photoI chose a tea, Jalam Teas, Jing Mai and brought out a yixing tea set I had never used for this treat.

pu-erh 4As part of my plan, stay indoors and catch-up on reading, I pulled out a book that was recommended by Tony Geebly, titled Puer Tea Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic written by Jinghong Zhang, a fitting match for my tea experience.

Pu-erh 6

The tea brewed up perfectly, and because I am not very good at the 30second steep as yet, this tea set made it very doable.

The earthy sweetness of the pu-erh satisfied my cabin fever and served as a reminder that the smell of Spring’s sweet earth and budding blossoms are never too far away.

I curl up and read for a few hours then drift off to sleep, I am awakened by the sounds of the television, CNN, Anthony Bourdain,  Parts Unknown, is featuring Anthony in Myanmar.

CNN Tea in Myanmar

The segment is filled with tea, and highlights many tea shops in this changing city. There is also a mention of Laphet Thote “Tea You Can Eat” and a short overview of the ingredients.

As those of you who know me probably figure that I will be attempting to try this very soon.

Sending well wishes to all my tea friends who are experiencing this winters effects, let me know what tea you have chosen to drink during these cold, dismay, beautiful days.

To those of you who are enjoying Summer, so be it.

 

 

 

 

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A Little Tea Drunk

Posted in Tea Drunk on January 19th, 2014 by jopj

Tea DrunkThere has been a lot of conversation in the tea circles regarding training and educating staff on proper tea service, whether in a teashop, café or restaurant.

The training, of course, varies dependant on the environment and type of tea service required.

As you all are aware I’ve frequented many a tea establishment and have reported the good, bad and the ugly, from tea bags to loose leaf and both types of tea offerings have encompassed these qualities.

Recently, I treated myself to a tea experience, part of my pre-birthday celebration that is worthy of positive commentary.

This small tea bar besides serving good quality loose leaf tea provides exemplary tea service and does it with such finesse that I felt I must recognize.

When I entered the seating was almost full.  I spotted an empty seat at the end of the bar and excused my way down, large pocketbook and all.

Nicole 2Once seated I was approached by a familiar face and welcomed, at first I think my hostess thought I was there solely for a tea pick up and I mentioned I would like to sit for a centering cup of tea. She immediately gave me their lengthy tea menu to review.

Since this was not going to be the usual two dollar and seventy-five cents cup, I perused it carefully and began asking questions. I made mention of my extreme fondness of woodsy notes in tea and today, after just coming from an event I hosted where I served an herbal I needed some Camellia sinensis.

The lovely tea specialist suggested a Rou Gui True Cliff and verified her suggestion with the owner. She then went for the canister clearly labeled and pulled out the vacuum-sealed individual gaiwan serving bag.

photoShe filled the bowl with the dark leaves and applied the initial rinse; I felt the joy of space and time alteration as the aroma wafted through the air. My immediate response was to wave it more in my direction so eager was I to immerse myself in the beauty of the brew.

With the first sip I was centered, the second warmed, the third completed the task of total tea revival.

As I sat and enjoyed, I began to consider my environment and what was going on around me. I mentioned before the bar was filled, I began to observe the patrons and how they were experiencing this oasis.

At the front of the bar was a young man whom I had seen before at my last visits to the shop, clearly a regular, his tea set-up different from other patrons with yixing at center stage denoted serious tea drinking. The young ladies beside me laughed and giggled as they compared information retrieved on their cell phones.

Others seated talked about the tea experience and asked questions about teas listed on the menu.

There were groups speaking about business, artistry and execution of such, whilst forever noticing the tea.

All the while, our hosts kept our serving cups filled with additional infusions making sure to notice if they were nearing completion.

At one point I viewed the tea specialist in the process of educating her customer about the tea she was preparing, while completing the task of brewing and pouring the infusion. It was just beautiful to see, I got such a warm almost spiritual feeling watching her go through the task of serving tea so effortlessly.

This is a testimony for hiring/training experienced tea personnel where tea is being served, the enhanced experience is what will influence customer retention.

photoI could have spent the balance of my day in this lovely environment, had I not been mindful of my other duties, I would have stayed for more infusions. My hosts were wonderful and I will be returning again for a quality tea experience.

Thank you Shunan and Nicole for adding a smile to my day.

Tea Drunk

123 East 7th Street, East Village

 

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Tandem Tea Tasting

Posted in Tandem Tea Tasting on January 11th, 2014 by jopj

Generally at our sessions we focus on one sample tea.

We discuss the subsequent infusions and end up conversing about most things tea.

This week we had an opportunity to try 4 types of tea from one small farm in India.

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The process I chose to use was not one that I use often.

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My at home tastings are much more informal and based on brewing instructions from our host along with those from the provider of the tea, we may utilize a variety of utensils ranging from gaiwans to grandfather style for our preparations.

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With the number of teas in question I used the more formal cupping set-up. I set up the four teas and brewed them at standard temperatures based on the variety.

Greens (2) 175 degrees 3 minutes

White 185 degrees 3 minutes

Yellow 185 degrees 3 minutes

I must say it was a much more involved, enjoyable process and one that I may choose to use in the future.

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Our next tasting is being brought to us courtesy of Xavier, Teaconomics.  Yes, we have tea to try from France. The aromas of these samples place me in a garden of floral frenzy.

I am looking forward to sharing the experience with our fabulous group and hope both Jackie, Teatra.de and Xavier can attend.

To read more about our last tasting see:

Nicole; Tea For Me Please

Rachel; I Heart Teas

Darlene; The Tea Enthusiasts Scrapbook 

Geoff; Lazy Literatus 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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