There is an incredible amount of Chinese lore surrounding dragonwell tea, with each tale more mystifying than the last. Recently I came across one of these stories that I thought might be particularly worth sharing, because it seems to relate to our culture’s custom of giving around the winter holiday season. This story is translated from the work of a Chinese blog writer named 刘胜权, and it goes something like this:
A long long time ago there was an old lady who lived by a dragon well (a type of large mortar). Near her house and the mortar grew eighteen wild tea trees of the type that usually grew in mountainous regions. Right outside her front door ran the busiest part of a street that the NanShan farmers used to travel to Xi’Hu. When travelers passed by, they always wanted to take a break at this spot, so the old lady set up a single table and a wooden bench for passerbys. At the same time, she thought she could use some of the wild tea leaves and water from the old mortar to brew up some tea. It would be a great place for members of her community to rest before making the journey to Xi’Hu. Little did she know, some day this spot would become known throughout the world.
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January 08 2011 | Tea Culture | 1 Comment »
In this edition of our guide to the proper pronunciation of Chinese tea terms, we’re branching out into more “flowery” tea terminology: “jasmine tea“!
Meaning: Jasmine tea. One interesting thing to note about this Chinese tea term is that the two characters share a common symbol. The top part of both of these characters has the meaning “grass” or refers to plant material.
Pronunciation: The pronunciation of the first word is a little trickier than some that we’ve covered so far. The sound is like the “mua-” part of the kissing sound “muah,” but with a more rounded mouth shape. The second syllable is pronounced like “lee.” The intonation of these syllables is also a little tricky. Both are pitched like the famous line from Monty Python’s “knights who say ‘nee’” bit, starting high and ending low. For a little refresher, here’s the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIV4poUZAQo.
December 16 2010 | Tea Pronunciation | No Comments »
In this edition of our guide to the proper pronunciation of Chinese tea terms, we address another major tea term for you: “oolong tea“!
Meaning: The first character on it’s own means “raven” or “crow”,and the second means “dragon”. Together they represent the term for a most-beloved category of teas: oolongs!
Pronunciation: The pronunciation of “乌” is similar to the first part of the Chinese term for pu-erh (“普” ), except without the “p” sound at the beginning. The intonation is high and flat. The second word is pronounced like the English word “lone”, with an “-ng” sound at the end. And, like many of the terms we’ve reviewed thus far, the second word rises in pitch like the end of a question in English.
By now, we’ve covered the pronunciation of nearly all of the most fundamental Chinese tea terms! Next up: jasmine tea!
December 09 2010 | Tea Pronunciation | No Comments »
According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea is the most widely consumed beverage around the world, next to water. Naturally, different tea drinking cultures have developed in different parts of the world based on varying needs, tastes and types of tea available in those regions. Today, we start our journey around the world of tea with a look at “butter tea” from Tibet.
Butter tea, known as Po cha in Tibet, is made from churning tea, salt and yak butter. The tea used is a particularly potent, smoky type of brick tea from Pemagul, Tibet. A portion of this brick tea is crumbled into water and boiled for hours to produce a smoky, bitter brew called chaku. This is then stored until used to make butter tea. To make a serving of Po cha, some of the chaku is poured in a wooden cylindrical churn called a chandong, along with a hunk of yak butter and salt and churned for a couple of minutes before serving.
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December 05 2010 | Cooking with Tea and Tea Culture | 1 Comment »
With the holidays upon us, the urge to consume staggering quantities of rich, often unhealthy, food grabs hold of us all! But don’t worry, there is a healthy way to indulge: tea and chocolate together! Some may think that pairing tea with chocolate is a little strange, but actually, they have a lot of components in common, including caffeine and polyphenols such as tannins and flavinoids.
Here’s a rundown on why it makes sense to pair tea and chocolate – both for your palette, and your health!
As you probably know, tea and chocolate offer significant doses of caffeine. In addition to giving your a little “lift” after consuming them, a variety of new studies suggest that caffeine (in moderation), can help stave off many neurological disorders, such as Alzeheimers or dementia.
Flavonoids are a class of polyphehols that are somewhat bitter in flavor. There are many studies indicating that flavonoids are anti-allergic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-microbial. Happily, tea and chocolate are both fantastic sources of flavonoids!
Tannins (a type of flavinoid) are an astringent, mildly-bitter molecule that lends both tea and chocolate that rich, somewhat puckery flavor we so enjoy! It could be these molecules that facilitate the pairing of chocolate with tea.
As it turns out, treating yourself to tea and chocolate is a great way to cater to that holiday snack hankering, but still maintain your healthy lifestyle. This winter, try pampering yourself with some of Arbor Teas’ Tea Infused Chocolate Truffles! Of course, they make fabulous gifts for those foodies friends of yours, too!
December 05 2010 | Tea and Health and Tea Facts | No Comments »
As an environmentally conscious consumer, it can be tough to reconcile the material excess of the holiday season with one’s concern for the planet. But how do you cut down on your environmental impact without sacrificing the joys of the season? It’s easier than you think, actually. Aside from sticking with gifts that are inherently more Earth-friendly (such as organic, recycled/recyclable, carbon-offset, etc.), here are some ideas to get you started:
Carpool and Minimize/Consolidate Trips
So you’ve decided to go to the mall – a popular activity this time of year! More than likely, your friends and neighbors need to do a little shopping too, so why not team up and carpool? They may even have gift ideas that you hadn’t considered. But if you already know what you’re going to buy, be sure to plan your route to minimize unnecessary, gas-wasting travel.
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December 03 2010 | Green Business and Sustainability | No Comments »
We’re taking things to the next level with this edition of our pronunciation guide to Chinese tea terms, moving on to the term for pu-erh!
Meaning: These two characters together mean pu-erh tea. The “普” character means “general” or “universal”, while the “洱” character represents the name of a lake in the Yunnan province in Southern China. Together, these two characters stand for the region in which pu-erh tea is produced. At Arbor Teas, we’ve assembled an nice little selection of organic pu-erh teas from the Yunnan province for the adventurous to try.
Pronunciation: The first character is pronounced “pu”, just as it’s written in English, with the pitch rising at the end of the word similar to a question in English. Then, the second character is pronouced like the first two letters of the word “army”, its intonation being lower than the final pitch of the first syllable.
By now, you’ve certainly impressed the pants off of your afternoon tea guests with your growing knowledge of Chinese tea pronunciation! Stay tuned for our next installment, “oolong tea“.
December 02 2010 | Tea Pronunciation | 2 Comments »
There’s something alluring about the way gunpowder green tea pellets unfurl in hot water. The leaves lift and twirl in a delicate dance, bending and turning with invisible currents and convection in the water. Half of the fun of drinking this tea is in the experience of watching the leaves unfold; the other half is in the nutty, vegetal flavor – often with a hint of smoke. But if you think that’s all there is to gunpowder tea, you might be surprised to know that this tea has a rich history and is much older than you’d expect.
In the Beginning
Gunpowder teas are green teas native to the Zhejiang Province of China, and have been around since the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). Though Zhejiang has historically been the primary source of gunpowder teas, a number of other provinces now contribute to the production of this style, in addition to locales beyond China’s borders.
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November 22 2010 | Tea Facts | No Comments »
What could be better than a warm cup of your favorite organic green tea? How about knowing that cuppa you just enjoyed is likely to bring you major health benefits today and into the future?! While there have been many studies linking green tea and healthy living, it can be hard to stay on top of all this information. That’s why we’ve pulled together the following five studies from the past year that we found to be most interesting.
1. Green Tea vs. Breast Cancer
A recent study out of the biology department of East Carolina University published in Cancer Genomics Proteomics supports prior findings that the antioxidants in green tea may help protect against breast cancer. In the study, researchers found that treatment involving green tea extract decreased the development of the MCF-7 human breast cancer cells, which lead to a further decrease in cancerous tumor cells in the breast. The researchers concluded that green tea may be a strong tumor constrictor, hence, people with a family history of breast cancer may benefit from drinking green tea.
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November 21 2010 | Tea and Health | 1 Comment »
In this edition of our guide to the proper pronunciation of Chinese tea terms, we give you another fundamental tea term: “black tea“!
Meaning: Just like the Chinese term for “green tea“, by adding another character before “chá” we arrive at the Chinese term for “black tea”! Although the literal meaning of this term is actually “red tea”, it refers to what English speakers call “black tea”, and should not be confused with rooibos, which is often mistakenly referred to as “red tea”.
Pronunciation: This term is pronounced “hongchá.” Since many of us have the affliction of a Mid-Western accent, we should take extra care on this first part “hong.” The vowel should be pronounced as though we were saying the word “hoe”, then closing it off with the -ng. The tonality for this term is actually just a repetition of the rising tone twice. The “hong” part should sound like a question, as should the “cha” part.
Now you’ve got the Chinese pronunciation of three essential tea terms under your belt! Stay tuned for our next installment, “pu-erh tea“.
November 12 2010 | Tea Pronunciation | No Comments »
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