l i f e
T e a
In this age of mindfulness, your daily ritual of brewing tea has a name. Aptly and very simply called : The Tea Ritual.
This should never be a complicated affair. Your favourite cup, your favourite tea, your favourite spot in the office or home, and an almost repetitive way of brewing it. The same method, the same place, each and every time.
The Tea Rituals of today are a personal thing. There is no one specific way to do it. The key is to create a mini ceremony of sorts that will enable you to draw your mind further away from the stresses of the day, and closer, with each step, to the calmness that a set ritual or habit if you will, can give you.
Fully immerse yourself - start by focusing on the tea cups, tea pots in front of you; listening to the sound of the boiling water, devoting attention to the lifting of the kettle and the slow pouring of water into your tea cup; watching, breathing, and engaging your sense of smell with a deep breath of your initial brew in the scent cup. And all this, against a curated soundtrack of dreamy vibes - will put your body and soul directly in the path of calmness, relaxation and rejuvenation. These mere 10 minutes or so, will leave you ready to tackle the rest of the day and may even serve to soften the blow, of an already difficult day.
At the heart of every Tea Ritual is the ability to hold a single thought - The sights and sounds taken in, should only be that of the process of creating and drinking the brew.
10 FACTS ABOUT TEA AND TEA DRINKING
THAT WILL MAKE YOU EXCLAIM, “REALLY??”
1) All Tea leaves are derived from the same shrub.
Well, the same species of shrub, that is. “What? No!” Yes, incredible as it may sound, that is the truth. They all come from the species of plants called the Camellia sinensis. But then again, when you consider that all wines are derived from the same fruit (aka grapes), then this whole same shrub thing wouldn’t seem so ludicrous after all.
2) Tea is the second most drunk liquid after water.
Sorry coffee drinkers, you may own the rights to the trendiest drink thing, but tea people are still more populous than you. Wait… what about all those millions of folks always standing in line at Starbucks stores around the world? Don’t they account for at least half or more of the world's population of beverage drinkers? No. I'm sure you coffee drinkers would like to claim so, but no. Just, no.
3) Herbal Tea isn’t really tea.
Yes, folks. Some don’t even have herbs in it. They are mostly flowers. “What??” Chamomile Tea is made from its daisy like flowers, Osmanthus Tea is made from the Osmanthus flower, Chrysanthemum Tea and Hibiscus Tea are made from, you guessed it, Chrysanthemum and Hibiscus flowers. Even Rose Hip Tea while not made from the petals of roses, are made from the part of the flower that is just below the petals. I suspect that these versions of ‘tea’ are found on your menus just to make it all look trendier.
5) Tea before milk, Milk before tea - It's a class thing, or so they say. Although it's not the most politically correct statement to make (and we all know the importance of being politically correct nowadays....) it appears that this was the case in its early days. How is this milk/tea order thing a measurement of class? It’s to do with the quality of the drinking utensil. Ah…. I see.... Fine bone china cups (read very expensive teacups), though very pretty, were not the most practical of teacups for boiling hot tea as they tend to crack under extreme heat. Their poor cousins, ceramic on the other hand, were hardy enough. So expensive cups needed a little help bringing the temperature of the beverage down slightly by pouring a spot of cold milk first. So THAT'S why!
6) Earl Grey takes the award for the most underrated Tea in the universe.
Forget the Chamomile hype, Earl Grey actually has so many more health qualities that leave Chamomile biting the dust. It just hasn’t been given a fair shake and a good marketing plan. Earl Grey Tea has an alias, it's Bergamot Tea. Not a very retail friendly name. Probably why it’s done a deed poll and taken on a more aristocratic sounding name. Best stick to the name Earl Grey. But we digress. Back to Earl Grey’s great qualities - Since Earl Grey is a blend of tea and Bergamot Oil (a type of citrus fruit), it is said to contain Fluoride, you know, the stuff that’s good for your teeth? In addition, Bergamot Oil has been touted as an aid in fighting anxiety and depression. Top THAT Chamomile!
9) You had me at Oxidized. Making Tea is a Chemistry thing.
Ever had one of those moments in Chemistry class when you said to yourself “And how would this information even be vaguely useful in my life?” Well folks, THIS is the moment. Cos’ this tea thing, is ALL about chemistry. Let me take you back to the fact that all tea leaves are derived from the same plant thing. Here’s the chemistry part - Tea leaves are exposed to Oxygen to begin the oxidation process. The different flavours, aromas, character and appearance are all that, different levels of oxidation. Once the target flavour is achieved, the tea folks halt the process by subjecting the leaves to heat. The Blacker the tea, the higher levels of oxidation, and the higher the caffeine level. Which then explains why Green Tea is Green. It is largely Unoxidised, with heat blasted to halt the oxidation process very early on in its life. OK Green Tea, you win.
10) Tea wasn’t introduced into England until the 1600s.
While you may feel that Tea is synonymous with all things English, Tea wasn’t even widely drunk there until the 1600s and wasn’t made popular until the 18th century or so. Compare that to the fact that Tea was consumed widely in China from as early as the third millennium BC. Wow. That's an almost 2000 year lag time! Which begs the question - What WERE the English drinking then, in those 2000 tea-less years? Oh wait… I just found out. It's coffee. Oh duh.
4) It's not all about the colour of the brew.
The flavours are different, so say the tea experts. A heavily steeped tea with added water, does not taste the same as a first brew tea, although their appearance may be similar. Oops, wrong yet again. This Tea research thing is very detrimental to my confidence. Best we leave this list as just 10 reasons.
7) White Peony Tea doesn’t have any peony in it.
This elegant chinese tea with a poetic name is a bit of a sly one isn’t it? But what it is in name deception, it makes up for in quality. This fine white tea is selective in its plucking. One bud and two young tea leaves. Every tea leaf plucked has exactly that - one bud and 2 leaves. The taste is clear, almost spring like in aroma, light and and ever so delicate.
8) You've probably been stirring it all wrong.
The proper way of stirring the sugar and milk into your tea is NOT to create a hydro whirlwind in your cup by stirring in a circular motion. Simply wave your spoon back and forth in a 6-12 motion, remove from the cup, flick a little to remove excess tea, then place on the saucer in front of the cup. Oh dear, guilty as charged. Here's a little video to help:
One day a few weeks ago, I found myself walking towards my very first Tea Appreciation Workshop, led by The Teh Company's Jacob Tan. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, given that this Co-Founder of this very quality-centric tea company is a Chemistry grad (and with Distinction too, I may add). Turns out, this was the perfect training for his career, in an industry that is seeing a sharp growth in sales - made even greater against the backdrop of this age of Mindfulness and Healthy Living.
Chinese Tea for me, is something I drink only whenever I have a Dim Sum lunch or any meal at a Chinese restaurant. Given my dismal mandarin, I always find myself panicking when approached by the wait staff who ask in fluent mandarin, " 你要喝什么茶?" "Oolong!" My go to reply is always, "Oolong!" It tastes great and has an easy enough name to remember! But you know, sometimes, it'd be great to order something new, try something different. And since my mantra for this website is to embrace change and never fear anything, I picked up the phone and called. And so, here I was, on the way to Tea 101.
Everything starts with a Scent Cup. Never knew those things existed. Before you can even take your first sip, you must first take it in via your sense of smell. Makes sense.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
Turns out, I was sadly lacking in the tea knowledge department. Here's what I learned (without giving too much away) :
Yes, there's such a thing as pairing when it comes to teas. Very much like wine, different types of tea complement different types of food. At the basic level, the lighter the tea, the lighter the colour of food. For example, white teas pair well with light desserts, delicate fruit jams.
The temperature of the water does play a part in the steeping process and thus determines the flavour of the tea. Nothing to get hung up about, just something to be aware of.
Some teas, like Silver Tips Tea are more expensive than others. Also called Silver Needles, this tea is derived from the only the buds of the tea shrub.
OK, that's it. That's all you can pry from me, because, really, nothing takes the place of actually tasting the tea, as the folks at The Teh Company are sharing their knowledge with you.
And oh, did I mention that they are Tea Masters and Tea Sommerliers? Yes, that's a thing too.
I'm so very glad I went. There's so much more to tea than Oolong, Pu'er and Jasmine. The tea universe is massive and it's such a joy discovering new teas.
THE TEH COMPANY
tel: 8117 6463
Please check their website for details on their Tea Appreciation Workshops as well as their wide range of teas available for purchase.
Everyone's a Blogger these days ...
I've heard myself utter those very words more than once, coupled with a few instances of *eyes rolling* and yet, here I am, jumping on the bandwagon of this trend that won't go away any time soon.
So here's my excuse, or rather, my 'vision statement' as they call it in blogger world. I'm doing this blog -just to say that "I can" and "I did". Because one of my resolutions is to always keep up with technology and to keep learning. Absolutely no excuses whatsoever. No more
"Do for me lah, I don't know how". Afterall, we did grow up in the
pre-internet age. We've kept up to date so far. Why did we stop keeping up to date the minute we turned 50? No reason at all I say. So here it is, my blog, imperfections and all. So forgive the blank pages and lack of content right now. I'm here, determined to enjoy the process, and to be happy in the fact that - I'm Participating!