Darjeeling first flush 2016 production is currently on in full swing. After a slow start due to less than normal rain for most of March, gardens are reporting a much better harvest since the rains came down at the end of the month.
Enjoy this slideshow of our visit to the famous Margaret's Hope Tea Estate in Darjeeling in November 2015. Although, we do not offer tea from this garden, since it is not Organic, it was nice to look around and meet up with our old friend, Arun Gurung, who is the assistant manager there.
We began with a review of the four principles of Chado, or Chanoyu for our second class on Japanese tea ceremony. I had been unable to recall all of those principles in the last blog post since taking notes and photos during the lessons are not encouraged. Total focus is demanded.
They call it the “winter petal.” Dong Pian, in Chinese. The unexpected juxtaposition of the name lured me with its poetic charm. Behind the poetry lay a compelling story. A tea such as this could not be passed.
“Ichi-go Ichi-e, ONE time ONE chance,” said sensei* Atsuko Nishida-Mitchell. She was quoting the great 16th Century tea master, Sen No Rikyu who laid down the principles of what we know today as the Japanese tea ceremony. According to Rikyu, every tea ceremony had to be approached as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. And so it seemed to me, this opportunity to learn about the tea ceremony in a series of classes, the first of which took place this past weekend at the Enkyoji Buddhist Temple of Rochester.
Jin Xuan oolong, also popularly called “Milk Oolong,” is made from a relatively new cultivar of tea developed by the Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES) in 1981. The tea is fragrant and coats the palate with a creamy sweetness that is highly satisfying. It is easy to steep and relatively inexpensive for a high-mountain oolong. No wonder it is one of the most popular oolongs in Taiwan.
Every time I heard the mention of Shimmering Light Farm, a place located south of Rochester, NY by Canandaigua lake, it had conjured up images of wholesome, healing activities. I was, therefore, excited when I got invited to give a presentation on tea at the farm.
Today I decided to do a side by side taste comparison of our Muscatel Valley, Darjeeling 2015 summer and autumn flushes. Comparison of teas, similar is some aspects (tea garden), but different in other (in this case, seasons), opens up our palate to the nuances of fine teas that we so enjoy.
2015 had some harsh notes in its finish. The shadow of terrorism and related conflicts, and climate change cast its long shadow across the world. Right here in Rochester, NY, a local was arrested hours before he could launch an alleged ISIS-inspired attack in a downtown pub on new year's eve. The city's fireworks were cancelled - like in many parts of the world - in the wake of the incident.
The historic Paris climate change conference will end this week. As experts argue and hussle, the big questions for us are: can we rise above our politics and economics to honor this gift of Mother Earth, and leave it better than we found it for those coming after us? Or are we doomed for self-extinction due to our greed and selfishness?
It was pandemonium at the Indo-Nepal border: long lines of trucks stalled on the Indian side, crowd milling through haywire traffic, groups of angry men yelling, motorists pounding on their horns, determined families dragging their children and luggage, garbage and dust flying all over.
Making matcha may appear daunting to beginners, but actually it is not that difficult. Once you have made it a few times, you might wonder why you brought yourself so late to this tea party!
When "Ochatsubo Dochu", a procession carrying the year's first harvest of tea in 18th Century Japan, would pass through a village, residents knelt on the ground as a mark of reverence. Although the respect might have been inspired by the Shogun, the beneficiary of the procession and the recipient of the tea, it would be fair to assume that some it was also evoked by the tea.
Starting from 9/14/15 we will be keeping new hours at our Tea Studio located at the Hungerford Building.
Tuesday-Friday 9:30 am - 2:00 pm
Additionally on Friday 6:00 pm - 9 pm
Tea Classes & Special Events, Tuesdays 6:00 pm - 7:30pm
While the Wernickes ran a much larger tea enterprise, it was the Stoelkes who were the first to venture into the fledgling industry. Joachim Stoelke, a first generation settler, set up Steinthal Tea Estate in his homestead of 45 acres, located just below Darjeeling town in the early 1850s. It was one of the first tea estates to be set up in the hills.
Joachim Stoelke was around 41 when he started Steinthal, and although had fallen out of the Baptist mission that originally brought them to the place he must have continued to preach independently. The tea estate even today is often called "Padri Kaman", or the priest's tea garden, by the locals.
Around the middle of the 19th Century, the British colonialists launched a massive effort to grow tea in India. They wanted to break the monopoly of China in the tea trade once and for all; trafficking opium into China had been only an interim measure. (Britain had been pumping opium into China to get back the silver bullions that it had paid for the tea.)
It has been a one complete cycle of tea seasons with Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate this summer. The tea we continue to receive from them, like the one we are reviewing here, tell us introducing Jun Chiyabari to our customers has been one of the best decisions.
One day in 1888, accompanied by his two little boys, Andrew Wernicke went down to Pandam tea estate, located below Darjeeling town on the northern slope. He had just bought the “rifle range” part of the estate. Upon arrival at the factory some old workers asked Andrew Wernick for a sign by which they might recognize him as the new owner. Wernicke reached for a branch of a nearby tree and broke it. “This simple procedure was enough to satisfy them,” recalled one of the sons later.
We love these old ads for "tea." This one appeared in Ann Arbor Argus, 13 March 1891.
In a classified ad in another newspaper this same article claimed also to "loosen the bowels, thus breaking a cold at once," adding, "It is inexpensive and entirely vegetable, therefore harmless." Pre-FDA claims are so wonderfully imaginative. ;)
On a cold winter day in January of 1842 two young German missionary families, the Wernickes and Stolkes arrived to Darjeeling, a densely forested and sparsely populated remote region of the Himalayas. Only seven years previous, the area had been taken on lease by the British colonialists from the Kingdom of Sikkim.
Thanks to the generous support of some Rochester residents, we managed to raise just over $3000 at the fundraiser for Nepal earthquake relief. The fundraiser was held last Saturday and was jointly hosted by us and the Rochester Brainery.