mental indigestion

Caption This Picture April 8, 2010

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 7:59 am
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Men with Tea

Ringo: “Eh, that the comics page?”
George: “Stop copying the way I sit, Paul.”
Paul:”Why are there 6 cups of tea when there are only 4 of us?”
John: “Woooooh…I see pretty rainbows.”


Bloom March 5, 2010

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 9:07 pm
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Muji Tea

Jasmine Blooming Tea (Red)

Today’s tea is brought to you by Muji, the purveyor of all things lovely. Fragrant, light and perfect on a hot, sunny afternoon where I am blasting the air-conditioning in the study room. I love drinking tea from the huge “sugarcane juice mug” because its capacity is the perfect encapsulation of substantial.


Tai O Tea March 3, 2010

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 7:12 pm
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Dai O Tea

The One in the Middle

I was in Hong Kong recently and had the chance to see the more scenic side of this city thanks to dimsumdolly. I especially liked Tai O Village – it reminds me a little of what Ubin could have been like if it had been allowed to naturally thrive into the 21st century,  except it’s surrounded by some pretty awesome mountains.

We hiked there from Tung Chung on a pretty hot day so this chilled red infusion tea seemingly only found in Tai O was such a lovely refresher. I’m not sure exactly what flower it’s made of, but it tastes like a mix of hibiscus and arbutus – yummy!

I wasn’t able to bring some back as this tea was sold in wet, red mounds which didn’t look very airport-friendly:

How Dai O Tea is sold

Suspicious glance


The Way of Tea (3) December 21, 2009

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 5:37 pm
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Hidden austerity

Learning points:
– The complexity of this ritual creates systems which actually makes life simpler. E.g. Don’t like tea = no slurp instead of being diplomatic in a roundabout way.
– I love their beautiful round, cast iron kettles. They feel so reassuring.
– Don’t memorize, it will come naturally.
– My knees are creaky.
– Simplicity is beauty.


T-Notes December 15, 2009

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 7:55 am
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To my delight, I discovered a  trove of big, glossy, gorgeous tea-related books at the public library. I’m reading Tea: Aromas and Flavours around the World right now and  they have information about the particular tea ceremony I’m learning about (the rote memory student in me rejoices!). For reference:

Fukusa: A small square of silk used for symbolic purification.Lots of folding and clockwise wiping.

Chasen: Small bamboo whisk that gives the macha a frothy texture.

Chawan: Tea bowl. Gorgeous things.

Chashaku: Bamboo scoop that I must handle as a very heavy object even though it is very light because it is “precious”.

Natsume: Red box containing the macha powder.

Higashi: Dry and sugary cake, of which I scattered all over the tatami mat the last lesson.

Did You Know?

– Every samurai soldier appointed a tea master to perform a purification tea ceremony for strength before a battle. (Tea ain’t for sissies yah?)

– The four principles underlying Chado: Harmony, Respect, Purity and Serenity (the synthesis of the previous three qualities).

– The design of early tea pavilions laid the foundation for contemporary Japanese architecture, which previously only took its cue from China.


The Way of Tea (2) December 11, 2009

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 9:57 pm
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Many, many steps

Learning points from today:
a) You have to make tea with your heart (take a deep breath before starting).
b) I feel so manly and klutzy compared to Japanese women.
c) You don’t show people the waste.
d) I think I learn best with nurturing educators. Today’s sub teachers was rather fierce, and kept sucking in her breath sharply every time I made a klutzy mistake e.g. getting sweet crumbs all over the floor (long story).
e) Rituals actually have a calming effect even if some of the steps don’t have seem to have a rationale…it just is and somehow, this order brings peace.
f) Dragging yourself halfway across the room while kneeling (and attempting to look dainty while at it) to “collect” the tea is damn painful on the knees.
g) Anal alert: You can only scoop the green tea powder from the top right corner of the container.


The Way of Tea (1) December 4, 2009

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 5:45 pm
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Respectfully anal

I finally got down to signing myself up for a tea appreciation course – this one at the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Singapore Association at Liang Court. It was such a fascinating lesson! However, I was not allowed to geekily take notes as I usually do at courses, but my sensei, Harumi, did encourage me to “reflect” on what I’ve “absorbed” for each lesson. So here it goes:

1) The sweets are yummy! The tea cups are so pretty (some are apparently more than 200 years old)! Now that green tea really packs in a punch!
2) Folding that hanky thing is like folding origami.
3) One person = half tatami mat. Must sit 16cm from the edge of the mat, must go over mat edges with right foot (left foot if exiting). Must “slide” feet to make dainty shuffling sound. Must slurp daintily only once at last sip to show appreciation. Bow 60 degrees for senior people, bow 45 degrees for “mid-range” people, bow 30 degrees for random acquaintances who don’t look very tidy. This is really a dream-tea-ceremony-come-true for people with OCD.
4) Don’t wear jeans, it will cut off blood circulation from your legs with all that squatting.
5) Breathe from the core – this will calm you down and in turn, make your guest feel comfortable.
6) The conversation is as important as the food and drink.
7) Serve the guests one by one. No such thing as “mass production, help yourself to whatever”.
8 ) Wow those Japanese chicks age so beautifully – they can be models for SKII ads!


Brewing April 16, 2009

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 2:00 pm
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Orange Pekoe

Pot of comfort

Finally opened the three-year-old box of Orange Pekoe that I bought from Blue Field in Sri Lanka. Still as fragrant and robust as how it tasted back there – definitely not your Lipton or Dilmah.

Besides pretty cups, it’s also nice to have sturdy pots like this fine Bodum one (given by a fellow tea lover) which is great for loose leaves.


Spa Tea April 12, 2009

Filed under: Tea for Thoughts — mel @ 2:22 pm
Spa tea

Liquid bliss

Tea drinking is still my de facto chill pill and the current tea I am most  enamoured with right now is this Chamomile Rose Antioxidant Grape Seed Spa Tea by Napa Valley Spa Tea. It was given by my mother-in-law, who found it in some dodgy place in Kranji.

I also think it is very important to drink tea in pretty cups (see pic above). This Jap-inspired teacup set was my favourite wedding present and I love how even while I am drinking,  a little window scenery of cherry blossoms still greets me.

This is my last bag.