bah humbug…give me a white monkey

It’s almost Christmas, which means I should probably be writing a holiday-themed blogpost, but that’ll simply have to wait. This is NOT a holiday-themed blogpost.

I’m irritable and frustrated and don’t want much to do with either the holidays or humanity in general. So, how am I going to spend the next little while?
< With a bit of White Monkey tea that I got from Claus Kröger in Hamburg. Why?

Because I’m assuming that monkeys enjoy themselves even when the going gets rough. And I’m curious why there are so many monkey-related things when it comes to tea.

Oolong-picking monkeys have already played a very central role on this blog when Lisa Galaviz went to the Galleria in hopes of setting the monkeys at the tea shop free. Here’s Don’t tell her it’s not tea for your reading pleasure.

And here’s Lisa’s update on the topic in How can they still be out of monkeys?

Just rereading her gem of a blogpost and even a few moments of mine have put me in a bit better mood. Maybe this tea lark isn’t so bad, after all.

drinking tea that I can reach

Maybe I’ll live here for a while

Am living out of suitcases right now while I search for a new flat, which means the contents of my tea cupboard is in my rucksack and in various boxes that’re either strewn about the hotel room I’m in or in my friend Wolfgang’s extra room.

Under normal circumstances, I think a lot about what the ideal tea is for this or that situation. Lately, I’ve simply grabbed the nearest sack of tea and brewed up. Sometimes, it’s been the dregs of a shipment of Assam Mangalam, which is one of my favourite teas to drink in the morning or other times it’s been the Ambagastowa Ceylon, which I got from a new supplier in Reutlingen (Spezialitäten-Compagnie).

However, what I’ve been a bit surprised at is that I keep reaching for really excellent Darjeeling. I should blog about each of these teas in detail, but I don’t have the time for that at the moment. As it is, I found in the past that when the weather was cold and snowy, I didn’t avoid tea from Darjeeling, but I didn’t gravitate toward it, either.

While I was in Hamburg a few months ago, I got a few really nice Darjeelings from both Teehaus Shila and the first tea shop I used when I got into drinking this stuff in earnest – Claus Kröger.

It’s very unlikely that I’ll do a traditional tea review of any of these teas (I’ve simply decided not to waste my time with that ridiculousness anymore), but I do hope one of my upcoming posts can go into more detail about these particular teas. If I’d like to get back into the habit of posting here on my teablog, I could do with a topic or two that I’m passionate about.

Darjeeling tea has never done me wrong on that front.

tea in my hiking rucksack

Oy!

This has not been the easiest of months. I’ve been very busy, and there’s not much time for anything except for the most essential daily functions.

I go to work and I read the paper and I try to be relatively nice to the people around me, but it’s not always easy. The last few weeks has included a lot of apologising for being a jerk. By me.

It’s been me. I’ve been a jerk.

Although I could blame the stress in my life, I’m not going to. I’m going to take responsibility and simply say that I’m frazzled.

What helps in the middle of a particularly overwhelming moment?

Tea, of course.

Normally, when I’m living in a stable environment, I’ve got a tea cabinet. However these days I’m living out of suitcases, so presently I’ve got a tea rucksack. It’s my hiking pack and the best use I had for it when I was packing was to cram in all the books and all the tea paraphernalia, as well as much of the tea that I’ve got, into the said hiking pack.

So, until further notice I’ve decided to make myself very mobile. On the run, if you will. Have no idea where I’ll be living next year…much less next month.

I’ll be ok. Don’t want to cause you and concern. Really.

No need for a photo of said rucksack. You know what one looks like. Imagine mine brimming to the surface with tea and tea-related stuff. It’s a rather practical way to transport one’s tea.

Pot of Fresh Mint Tea at Le Pain Quotidien

Late in the evening in Notting Hill, some friends took me to Le Pain Quotidien for tea.
The waitress listed Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Rooibus as black tea, and I quickly decided on the Pot of Fresh Mint Tea.

It was delicious. And so late in the evening, it was nice to know that the natural lack of caffeine wouldn’t interfere with my drifting off to sleep.

Actually, I’m doing that right now.

Ostfriesischer Sonntagstee

What’s that?

Ostfriesischer Sonntagstee?

Well, although Germany‘s primarily a coffee-drinking culture, there are pockets of the country that’re are hotbeds of tea drinking. One of those places is the region in Germany on the northernmost part of the Dutch border called Ostfriesland.

I’ve talked about them before on this blog and I continue to find the tea that the people in Ostfriesland drink, as well as the way they drink it, to be fascinating. For example, there’s an Ostfriesland Teezeremonie (tea ceremony) that really needs to be written about.

What a perfect opportunity for a teablogger such as yours truly. I’ll write about that at some point in the future. Anyone interested in a German tea ceremony?

Ok, I’ll get to that as soon as I’m able.

mixing green and black tea

I’m not a tea blender, so for me that entire art is a kind of alchemy. The people who do it well have my respect and I often wonder if it’s something I’ll eventually get into.

For the longest time, I’ve been particularly fascinated with the blending of green and black tea. Perhaps because I brew the two sorts of tea at different temperatures and perhaps just because they have such distinct tastes, but the vegetal sometimes grassy taste of a green seems to be in conflict with the malty character of a good Assam. Or the smoky taste of a Yunnan.

That being said, when I’m in a tea shop and I see a blend of green and black tea, I almost always get it. With varying results to be fair. Often the green tea might as well not even be in the blend. The black tea overpowers whatever character the green had. Watered down black tea isn’t my idea of a good time, so I’m often less than pleased at my recent purchase.

Why is it so difficult to blend green and black tea?

If it is so daunting, why do people continue to do it?

My favourite green/black tea blends?

Buen Dia from La Tetería and Michel Strogoff from Le Palais des Thés. How about you?

Tea on the run

Any of you who’ve been reading this teablog for a while will remember my trusted orange flask. Displayed in many of my posts, it was a sad day when I had to retire that piece of tea gear.

The truth is that I’ve actually gone a bit off on carrying already-brewed tea around with me. If you know me, that’ll surprise you. See, I’ve nearly always got a flask in my hand or buried deep within my rucksack.

Not anymore, though.

Many tea friends have asked me over the years, ‘Why do you do that? You know the tea just tastes like the flask, right?’

Well, it’s true. Not always, but often enough it’s really easier to carry leaves with you and to arrange for hot water.

To be perfectly honest, that’s much easier to lug around, anyway. Don’t you think?

The people between the grass and the tea tree

Learned how to write ‘tea‘ in Chinese today. It’s actually rather easy. Maybe if I were better at technology, I’d show you my half-arsed attempts. Stay tuned. Maybe by the end of this post, I can make a screen shot of my scribbling.

Went back to Laifufu Teesalon today, when I was really quite fed up with everything. I knew I could go home and drink tea. I certainly have plenty in my cupboard. However, I wanted someone else to be tea mother, so I went to my favourite local.

You know about Laifufu, right? Here, I talked about them earlier this year when Ya Ya came to visit:

tea drunk at Laifufu

She had some interesting things to say, as she often does, and I met another tea drinker called Felix, who was quite nice and friendly. As tea drinkers often are, ya know?

Then she showed me how ‘tea‘ in Chinese is a little story. That’s the way to learn this language. As if every character is a narrative.

The story is, as she told it, ‘First you have “grass” up above.

‘Then the symbol for “men” and underneath that is the “tea plant” or “tea tree“.

So in Chinese, tea is ‘The people between the grass and the tea tree‘.

This made me smile. I’m smiling more and more often these days. Must be doing something right.

Bloom Tea

Any of you heard of this brand of tea?

Step 1 – ideal at breakfast

good for Metabolism

Step 2 – ideal for morning

good for De-Stressing

Step 3 – ideal at noon

good for Digestion

Step 4 – ideal for afternoon

good for Concentration

Step 5 – ideal for evening

good for Relaxation

I’m trying these teas now, and I’ll soon let you know what I thought.