If I were a brick……

Tea cockerelIf I were a Pu’er tea I would be revered.  I have reached a “certain age”

Pu’er tea is fermented over a long period – from 10-50 years in some cases, by which stage it is understandably highly sought after not only for the respect that is due to those who care for it during this period of time but also  for its flavour and numerous health benefits.

Sheng Pu’er teas are not considered mature until they are about 30 years old by which time they are referred to as vintage.   Personally, I think humans should be mature by then as well (though I can think of some who haven’t a hope in Hell of ever hitting that level of existence). These amazing blocks of tea are made by steaming the processed leaves then compressing them into various shapes.  Air contact slowly oxidises the tea and improves its flavour.  By the time a Pu’er tea reaches the ripe old age of 50 then everyone must be dropping to their knees to beg for a taste.   .

At least as humans we have a few more years than 30 before we’re referred to (usually by our own offspring) as vintage.   I now consider myself to be maturing nicely in terms of wisdom, experience, health, career, family etc.  However, society doesn’t seem to show the same reverence to the passing of years in humans as it does towards pu’er tea.

Pu’er teas come in all shapes and sizes.  There is the traditional cake and also a brick, a cube, a mushroom, a nest and a pumpkin.  There are even custom shapes created.  Same with humans…..but  whilst we may all start off as ectomorphs, endomorphs or mesomorphs, time and temptation gnaws away at the basic shapes and bits start to droop, wrinkle, drag, ache, and generally give in to the pull of gravity.  Not so the pu’er cake which manages to retain its taut little shape AND boast bucket loads of  inner unseen qualities  such as helping to lower cholestrol, promote a healthy immune system and aid digestion.  Now you wouldn’t know that just by staring at a brown lump of compressed tea, would you.

I ponder these inequalities as I drink my third, early morning cup of tea, and before I crank the ‘vintage’ plus bones into life again, Now where did I leave my inner qualities?

Diary of a Tea Lady

Tea Diary

There’s no right or wrong about keeping a diary. It’s not a fashion, a trend or a fad. It just happens – to some of us. We keep diaries. It’s a fairly personal pursuit too – unless, of course, one is so damned famous or notorious that the public drools over every pen scratch.

Michael Palin said recently that “It’s a very good discipline to try and unscramble your mind.” Now if one is as famous as Michael Palin, what do you get in his diaries? An inside look at The Dead Parrot sketch? The low down on John Cleese? A detailed account of his Monty Python days? Actually, you’re much more likely to get details about hotel carpets that he has encountered and other day to day normalities. But this, surely, is as valuable as any historical document. What an individual notices at any moment in time is crucial for our social history. Understanding why something is noticed and recorded leads us towards a deeper understanding of not only other people but the time in which they live(d) and how we relate to it and ourselves. It is a moment of stopping and reflecting, a moment which is not glossed over or ignored in the general rush of life; it is a moment which is respected and valued.

As a lady of letters AND tea, I am pleased to read that someone as busy as Michael Palin has been keeping a diary since 1969. Mine have only been going since 1994 and as they are never likely to have the kudos of an ex-Python’s, I bury my old ones in the garden. They are currently providing nourishment to my Jerusalem artichokes. It was the only place for them. My shredder is dead and I would loathe to imagine them being found on a rubbish dump. I can just see all those bin men sitting round with a cuppa and a diary each, roaring through my painfully penned pages of angst.

But I waffle and the relevance to glorious tea is seeping away. Well Michael Palin referred to his diary writing as a ritual and I have been lucky enough to encounter two books recently:

Tea Book 2

Tea  by The Camellia Sinensis Tea House  

and

Tea Book copyThe Tea Book by Linda Gaylard

both of which are on the subject of glorious TEA and both cover the various tea rituals that occur around the world. I can thoroughly recommend these books.

Now there will always be tea bag dunkers; there will always be tea gulpers; there will always be ‘tea to go’ merchants; there will always be those who with a mindset more suitable for a neolithic period drag their knuckles along the ground and have absolutely no idea or appreciation of the wonders of real tea. So be it. But on reading these books I pondered on the tea rituals of Japan and Korea and China – so seemingly far removed from our lives today. It occurred to me, however, that we do still have tea rituals of a sort in our everyday, mundane, rush around the clock existence. No, they are not formalised yet we all recognise them. “I’ll put the kettle on.” is one. It signals a pause, a de-stress opportunity. It heralds a change of pace; a time to stop what’s going on and take a break from it. There are some notable Big Thinkers present and past who have put this wisdom into their own words and ways of being and have probably enriched our lives because of this. For me, the chink of cups and spoons on saucers immediately lifts my spirits and a surge of comfort courses through my veins. And talking of veins, our local teashop upholds the tradition of serving Prosecco with afternoon tea…..now I could really enjoy a glass of that with my Oolong……

Oh dear, it’s all going downhill again. I’ll put the kettle on, shall I?

The Lady & The Scandalous Affair

Hibiscus tea looseShe stands in the doorway. Shadows obscure her dark, slender body; she is naked save for a single, red bloom in her hair. She observes the man asleep in her bed. She fingers the delicate flower in her hair and remembers the last time she had lain with this man, the perfection of his body, the smooth malty taste of his skin. Her gaze travels up the muscular curves of his legs, his buttocks, across the smooth, clear skin of his back and lingers amongst the brown and gold flecks in his hair.

Last night he had lain in the bed of another – a tart!

She moves to the bed as the sun rises and spreads a rich, red hue across the sky. She knows that only a true lady knows how to add real spice to life. She lays down beside the man and, with one delicate finger, draws a line down his back. He stirs as she whispers in his ear……….

Ah now…..dare you to find out more!  Visit our our Tea Shop for tea and tales.

The Notorious Lady in Amber

Blossom tea loose small

Blossom hitches up the folds of her gown and crosses her dainty legs. “You come from far?” she asks.

The stranger’s gaze travels up Blossom’s legs and through the froth and frills of her dress.

“Far enough,” he drawls. “Now get me a drink!”

“Well that ain’t no way to talk to a girl,” Blossom retorts.

“Girl!” the stranger growls. “Thought I was talking to a woman!”

“Woman!” cries Blossom, recrossing her legs. “I ain’t no woman!”

Alarm and a puzzled frown crosses the stranger’s face. His right hand flicks back and hovers over his gun.

“Relax, stranger,” says Blossom, reaching for a bottle and a glass. “You sure been away too long if you can’t tell the difference between a girl, a woman and……..a lady”

The stranger’s smoky grey eyes roam over Blossom’s bosoms, her pert chin, her rosy lips, her fiery red curls and meet her clear amber gaze.

“I reckon I can,” he drawls, reaching for the glass.

Blossom fills it from the bottle.

“Well, maybe I’ll be the judge of that……later,” she replies.

Our tea is a wonderful concoction of tea, beautiful packaging and stories.  Let the wonderful lives of our slightly decadent ladies add a bit of spice to your daily cup of tea.

Visit our THE ENGLISH TEA SHOP to find out more about Blossom, Lady Rose and friends.

Lady Lavender’s Golden Lover

Lavbender tea looseLady Lavender sat astride her mule. It was a treacherous animal but Lady Lavender had long ago divested herself of fear of any living creature. She stared at the man standing solidly in her path. The sun rose above the peaks and valleys of the distant mountains and shimmered across his golden torso.

Lady Lavender gathered her skirts, dismounted and approached him. Her gaze took in his dark, hooded eyes, the fullness of his lips, the strength of his jaw. She reached out and took his hand. A momentary tension passed between them.

“Come, sir,” she whispered. “I have much to share with you.”

Take a bold step and experience this seductive yet totally relaxing tea.  An alluring confection of Assam tea with the confident flavour of lavender and a delicate touch of cornflowers.

 Visit our SHOP to find our more.

Lady Rose & The Taming of the Beast

Rose tea boxOh My Lord Oolong!”

Lady Rose’s delicate sensibilities crumbled as Lord Oolong’s strong, lissome body pressed against her own. Her fingers traced a line down the creamy skin of his neck; she caressed the dark, velvety smooth hairs of his chest. Their lips met and a sweet, floral exchange flowed between them.

Lord Oolong’s high breeding rendered him a complex character and Rose thought their liaison enticingly dangerous. He pressed on with his suit and Rose gasped again.

“Oh…..My Lord……!”

 Visit our shop and find out more about Lady Rose and her beau.  All our teas come in exquisite packaging and we’ve reintroduced the tea cards.  Yes, there are cards in every pack.  Welcome to the world of The Tea Ladies and follow their adventures.  You won’t be bored.

 

The perfect Milk Oolong

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life”    Chinese proverb

 

Tea time

Patience brews good tea.

Patience is a habit the takes  patience to master.  One way to get a little practise in is to do less and be present.    Doing less is where you don’t fret about the million tasks on the never-ending lists or as Lao Tzu suggests,

“Practice not-doing and everything will fall into place.” 

This could mean doing only one thing but doing it so well and with so much consideration , that a multitude of other things done rapidly without much care will pale in comparison.

And what of being present?   Mindful is the current  buzzword. Ah – a misleading word because a full mind is what you don’t want.  Being aware of the present is grabbing the mind back from its little waltzes and jigs into  myriad  areas  and sitting it firmly down in the present.  Focus on just being here, just being present and life will seem so much sweeter.

Simple really.  All it needs is a bit of practise.

Milk Oolong tea needs patience if it is going to be a good experience.  There is a trick to getting the water temperature just right too – and it does not require special equipment either.  Simply place the leaves in the pot with about 1cm of  cold water.  Leave for   1 minute.  Then pour on boiling water.  That will give you the perfect temperature for your Oolong tea .  Then leave for 5 minutes before pouring yourself the perfect cup Tea blog 2

Simple really.  All it needs is a bit of patience.

Have you ever tried Oolong with Rose and Vanilla?

Tea Break

 

 

Multiteapot

Tea break.  More on Buzzfeed

‘There’s more to life than increasing its speed’  Gandhi

Tea is very important to life and work  Taking time out to have a break, as any workman will tell you, is time well spent.  So the work isn’t going very well;  taking time away from it will somehow, magically, alter the situation.  Bashing one’s head against the proverbial brick wall will only create a headache, not solve the problem.

Tea can have a profound effect on the thoughts that crash around our cerebral regions.  Alcohol can too – but that usually ends in tears so we won’t go too far in that direction.  There is coffee to consider too – quite a buzz that can provide but it really is not in the same league as tea.  There is a quality to tea that defies all understanding;  it enhances our lives. Our predecessors didn’t rush around multi tasking, never taking a break,  No, they found time to enjoy the moment and did great things afterwards.

Tea picture The Beatles

The Beatles on a tea break

That’s the je ne sais quoi behind a tea break.  Great things can happen whilst sipping at the cup of golden liquor.  It allows contemplation, and contemplation can lead to great things.

According to Thomas Troward

‘the law of flotation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things but by contemplating the floating of things.’

Stepping out of the way when things are not going quite according to plan allows us to climb out of the groove that the problem is creating in our heads.  We are given the opportunity to think of something else.  Making real tea with real tea leaves (as opposed to the appaling 10-second dunk of a tea bag) gives us at least 5 minutes of making and brewing and then another 10 minutes to drink and think of other things.  So that adds up to the old-fashioned 15 minute tea break.  And what could we achieve in that time that we couldn’t if we still had heads down to the keyboard.  Well, who knows.  It could be anything, great or small.  What is for certain is that floating is far better than sinking.

 

Time to take tea

Tea HeavenThis is a hectic world we live in – if we wish it to be so.  It can also be a calm and wonderful place, again if we wish it to be.  It’s all about perspective.  It is very tempting to fall into that sinkhole of feeling helpless in the face of speed and progress.

 ‘Ah’, we sigh, ‘all we want is a moment of peace.  Please’

What we all want is to be happy.  Happiness is about being calm, peaceful, at ease;  it’s about feeling in charge of our place in the world.  It’s a time when all around us looks good and manageable (even if there’s mess and muddle and the washing machine’s broken and the boiler’s on the blink)

There’s a very happy monk who says that we could all be much happier if we took 15 minutes a day to get calm and still all the bits that are wriggling and jumping around, usually in our heads.  And this lovely monk has explained how to go about this.  You can link to it here.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Our own recommendation is to take tea on a regular basis.  It too gives us a moment of calm, a time of peace, a place to contemplate on what is.  It’s a magical process.  Put that kettle on, place tea in a teapot, choose your favourite cup, find a comfortable seat, sit back and take that first sip, savour the full flavour.  By the time that cup is empty, there is no guarantee that the machinery has had a change of heart and will work again but the body and soul is definitely in a better place.  Happy brewing.

The Lady loves Green Tea

Henry James Portrait of a Lady“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea” says Henry James.

We applaud the sentiment and have already put the kettle on.  Because we can tip down the golden liquor and charge through the pages of a book at a pace many a would-be Olympian would yearn for.

This book,   The Portrait of a Lady is, like many teas,  for the discerning palate.  Not everyone  will become enamoured of its protagonist, Isabel Archer, and some of her decisions as she pursues her own path.  Not everyone will stay the course.  It is, however, considered a classic in the world of literature and I am sure many would clap Henry on the back and congratulate him on his masterpiece. We are not here to criticise, we just aim to open up possibilities.

So what does one drink when confronted with such a book.  No, we are NOT resorting to alcohol, well, not just yet, anyway.  But either there is a tea that will help the book along or maybe there is a tea that suggests the book.  It’s a long read.

After some consideration we decided that a green tea was necessary.  But it has to be one that is quite unique and not easily forgotten.  There needs to be an after taste that takes the palate on a journey where the end is never quite clear……. Isabel Archer knows all about that.

We chose this Nepalese Green Tea not only for its looks – a distinctive smooth, dark green needle – but also its full flavour.  It is grown on the Shree Antu Gurkha Tea estate and it is an area that produces superb teas much admired around the world.

So good luck with the book.  The tea – ah, now that’s a much better story.