Monday, December 27, 2010

Ba Bao Cha Year #3

I have started an odd little holiday tradition. I drink a small cup of Ba Bao Cha (八寶茶) (eight treasure tea) and then I blog about it.

As I mentioned in my post Ba Bao Cha Revisited from 364 days ago, my friend Tiffany gifted me 19 single serving packs of Ba Bao Cha. I only drink one pack per year so... I have these 18 packs left.

Besides rock sugar and a scant amount of green tea, every pack is a little different. I chose that pack on the top which appeared to be the only one with an orange slice in it.

The dry contents looked like this.

I steeped it for five minutes with boiling hot water. The resulting soup had an orange color and a fruity aroma.

I asked my wife to try a little sip. She did, and then instantly made a "yuck face." She did not want anything to do with it.

I then asked my almost three year old daughter, who was busy playing by herself in the living room and had not witnessed her mother's negative reaction, to taste it. She did... and had the exact same reaction as her mother.

I, on the other hand, didn't mind the flavor too much (although I'm quite sure that I could never drink more than 2 ounces in a single year). I liked this pack a little more than last year's sample because it was fruitier and less like drinking perfume.

Here is a shot of this year's eight holiday treasures!

Now lets see... I have: two cherries chopped in half / four goji berries / two chrysanthemum blossoms / rock sugar (which I'm not sure I would actually count as a treasure but hey whatever) / some sliced strawberry / one orange slice / and about 1 gram of broken green tea leaves.

1...2...3...4...5...6...7... uh... wait a second now... that's only SEVEN treasures! I've been robbed!

Oh well. I guess it's now time to go and brew some good tea anyway. Maybe next year I'll get eight treasures. Whether or not you even care, you can still count on me to tell you all about it in December of 2011.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On Warmth

With credit entirely due to my brilliant wife, 2010 is the year I discovered Waldorf education. The ideas, rhythms and rituals that I have recently learned from my daughter's "Waldorf Tots" preschool and from certain books on the subject have really helped me on my journey towards becoming the parent I want to be.

One of these new ideas for me has been the concept of Warmth. Waldorf teachers have stated, "warmth is an essential ingredient in transformative work." This simple quote is often included in passages about young children and their complete dependence on their caregivers to keep themselves warm. The idea is that growing up is a transformation. As a new parent I can wholly relate to that idea, but as I delve deeper, the quote reveals for me other layers of meaning. I now believe that feeling warm, safe and comfortable benefits everyone spiritually just as much as it does physically. Maybe that is why we humans have developed so many wonderful ways to keep ourselves warm and cozy. I'll bet some of these methods, such as relaxing near a crackling fire, snuggling with our loved ones, and sipping delicious hot beverages are even coded into our DNA.

Many people can relate to the euphoric feeling associated with smelling and sipping a fragrant cup of tea. Sometimes the feeling is so powerful you have to stop and sit down for a minute. When drunk with an open heart, any type of tea (or sometimes even plain hot water) can be helpful for spreading warmth throughout your body.

Happy Solstice!

(Art by Alanna)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Uncle's Aiyu Shop

Aiyu jelly (愛玉冰) is a vegetarian jello-like treat made from the seeds of a certain Asian fig. It is common in central Taiwan where I'm pretty sure it originated. I first tried Aiyu at an adorable cafe in Fenchihu (奋起湖) called 愛玉伯ㄟ厝 which I believe translates closest to "Uncle's Aiyu Shop."

Uncle's provides a very inviting and relaxing open-air cafe that serves homemade Aiyu jelly in many different flavors. I've tried lemon, berry and passionfruit. They also serve cakes, pies and fresh juice. I really appreciate their use of natural elements in the decor and their great views of the lush green mountains surrounding Fenchihu.

This is where you order...

...and here is their seating area.

The view.

Uncle's Aiyu shop displays a cute little cloth hanging on clothespins with a few photos to help illustrate the complex process of making Aiyu jelly.

The cloth.

It starts like this...

... and ends like this!

So, if you ever find yourself in Fenchihu and you're in need of a short rest after hiking through the beautiful bamboo forests, stop by Uncle's Aiyu Shop to try this refreshing regional specialty.

Monday, December 6, 2010

BDTB's Holiday Sale!

Hello Tea Friends. I am currently in the possession of a few high quality vendibles and I would really love to place them all in good homes. So, if you're doing some holiday shopping, and feel like giving some of your money to a good-natured, 29 year old, tea-crazed, Seattle dad (aka yours truly)... please take a look!

#1 The Meaning of Tea Documentary film on DVD
Status: 2 available at $22 each (the best price I could find online)

#2 The Music of The Meaning of Tea on CD
Status: 6 available at $12 each (the best price I could find online)

#3 The Meaning of Tea Book "A Tea Inspired Journey"
Status: Sold Out

#1, 2 & 3

#4 Organic "Golden Monkey" Chinese Black Tea (Meaning of Tea brand)
(I really love this tea and think you will too.)
Status: Sold Out


#5 Organic "Rejuvenation Tea" Herbal Blend (Meaning of Tea brand)
Product of Vermont. Contains Nettles, Peppermint, Raspberry Leaf, Milky Oats, Lemon Balm, and Calendula blossoms.
Status: Sold Out


#6 Blue Glaze Cup and Aroma set from Taiwan
Status: Sold Out


#7 Floral Glaze Cup and Aroma Set from Taiwan
Status: 6 available at $5 per set


#8 Small Glass Cha Hai (aka fairness cup, aka decanter)
Status: 1 available for $5


#9 Medium Sized Glass Cha Hai (aka fairness cup, aka decanter)
Status: 1 available for $5


#10 Small Pretty Gaiwan (Perfect condition except for a little rough glaze on lid's handle)
Status: Sold


#11 Small Clay Teapot
Very well crafted by a friend of my mentor Jason Chen.
Status: Sold


#12 Medium Size Clay Teapot
Very well crafted by a friend of my mentor Jason Chen.
Status: 1 available for $40


Please email me at if you're interested in buying anything. Payments can be made via cash, Paypal or check. Orders can be shipped (add $5 for the lower 48 states and more for other places), delivered, or picked up depending on your individual needs. All items are in perfect condition and I guarantee their quality 100%. I'm not expecting you'll have any problems but if you do just email me and I'll find a way to make you happy. Thanks! 謝謝您!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dai Fragrance Puer Cake

A few years back my friends Robert, Jessie and Tiffany gifted me this fine cake of shu (aka 熟, aka black, aka cooked, aka ripe) puer tea. It is called Dai Fragrance (傣香) and was purchased from Seattle's own New Century Tea Gallery. I'm not sure of the vintage but I estimate it to be early to mid 2000's.

Along the bottom it reads: 中國 (China) 雲南省 (Yunnan Province) 勐海 (Menghai) 雲妹工藝茶廠出品 (Yun Mei Gong Yi factory produce) and the internal ticket includes the famous Menghai "Dayi" logo. I've never taken the time to translate the text in the middle of the cake.

Here she is.

This cake has been one of my "go to" cakes lately and I've been looking forward to sharing a blog review of it for a little while now.

The dry leaves are mostly small and dark but they do have quite a bit of gold and rust colored flecks. The compression is loose and the aroma is malty and mellow.

Sans paper.

A few of the early infusions can have a coffee-like-acidity if over steeped but mainly it is silky smooth. I'll usually do a nice long ten second rinse before I steep the first infusion. Then I'll do many super-hot short infusions. This way it tastes clean and pours thick as oil. To me, it yields a very nutty flavor that reminds me of walnuts, amaretto, and cocoa. I'm sure some folks would disagree (because every one's palate is so different) but in my opinion this cake is neither earthy nor smoky.

The soup.

This "Dai Fragrance" cake is a winner in my book but I'm not sure why it was given its name. Do the Dai minority people have a particular marketable aroma? I bet a few of my readers have the experience and/or connections to wager a guess. If so, please leave me a comment.

Friday, December 3, 2010

League of Pots #027

Code Name: "Old Brown"

Material: Thick Brown Ceramic
Height: 15.5 cm
Length (handle to spout): 25 cm
Volume: 1110 ml
Weight: 937 g

Brews: Any type of tea.
Specialty: Strong black tea and spiced chai.
Story: I found Old Brown last year at the Burien Value Village (a thrift store) for only a couple dollars. I had always wanted a fat brown English teapot so I snatched him up!
Super Powers: Old Brown enjoys a quiet kingly existence on a small island... but if he is ever angered or annoyed he will transform into an enormous super-strong owl and bite the legs, head or tail off of anyone who wrongs him.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

League of Pots #026

Code Name: "Nutkin"

Material: Dark Brown Clay
Height: 5.5 cm
Length (handle to spout): 9.5 cm
Volume: 70 ml
Weight: 79 g

Brews: Nutkin has yet to brew any real tea.
Specialty: He's very good at brewing imaginary tea!
Story: Nutkin was a gift to my daughter from my friend Shiuwen about a year ago.
Super Powers: Although Nutkin is very impertinent, he is extremely clever, great at riddles, and can transform himself into a stealthy squirrel.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Teacup Tea Classes - December 2010

I plan to take December off from presenting my regular tea classes. Instead I am offering a special tea movie and tea tasting event! The movie is called "The Meaning of Tea" and it is one of my favorite films. Space is limited so please email me to RSVP.

The Meaning of Tea documentary film screening & tea tasting
The Venue: Teacup @ 2128 Queen Anne Ave. N. Seattle, WA, 98109
Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 7:00 PM
$3 per guest

The following promotional blurb was written by Alexis Siemons, a talented free-lance writer and tea blogger:

Brett Boynton, the manager of Teacup in Seattle, WA, invites you to a tea tasting and special screening of the lyrical documentary film, The Meaning Of Tea. Guests will enjoy fresh organic tea, such as an exquisite black golden tipped organic tea, and a recently harvested Vermont certified organic herbal tisane called, Rejuvenation tea, each from the TheMeaningOfTea® brand tea.

The Meaning of Tea is a 74-minute documentary film that explores the calm and purposeful life of tea. The film is a tea-inspired journey that celebrates the history, rituals, spirituality and simple, pure enjoyment of tea through the eyes of tea lovers in places where tea is revered-from India to Ireland, from Taiwan to Japan, from Tea, South Dakota in the USA to Morocco, England and France.

Through interviews with people from all over the world of tea - tea pickers and plantation owners, street sellers, traders, teapot makers, tea tasters and eloquent tea scholars - The Meaning of Tea film explores the profoundly positive role that tea can play in the renewal of our modern world. The Meaning of Tea film is also accompanied by its companion book and a soundtrack of original tea-inspired music.

Join Brett and fellow tea lovers for an organic tea-inspired evening that explores the deeper meanings of tea.