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.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Laid Back Person's Guide To Tea on The Go

Like it or not, everybody must leave their house once in a while and venture out into the great unknown. If you're a lover of premium loose leaf teas these trips can raise some serious questions, such as: "Will there be good tea where I'm going?" "How much and what kinds of tea should I pack?" "How will I brew the teas that I bring?"

Whether you're going on an awesome vacation or just a routine business trip the Laid Back Person's Guide is here for you with some great tips on how to make the most of your tea on the go!

Tip #1 - Do your homework
We live in the age of online resources. Use them. Before going to a new city, I will always check Tea Map and Tea Guide (for tea shops and tea houses), and Happy Cow (for veggie restaurants and health food stores). If I don't find any tea places near my destination I still may be able to find a good cafe or coffee shop that serves decent tea. It also helps to ask your friends for their recommendations before visiting a new place. If you're vacationing at a rental cabin or condo, ask the proprietor if the unit already has mugs, a teapot and/or a kettle. That way you'll have a better idea of what you'll need to bring.

Tip #2 - Pack light
Just as some people pack too many shoes, we tea lovers have a tendency to bring too much tea! I recommend limiting yourself to no more than three teas and not packing more than an ounce or two of each. It helps to get a few very small tins to protect the leaves. As for teaware, I suggest only bringing one small strainer because I believe it can be fun trying to use what's available at your destination to brew the leaves you brought along (see tip #5 Get Creative). That being said, you should bring a sturdy lightweight mug and pan if you're going to be off the grid.

*Rule of Thumb - If you don't have any room for clothes
then you've packed too much tea!

Tip #3 - Go with the flow
You never know when an unplanned tea opportunity will present itself. Keep your itinerary loose and keep an eye out for other tea lovers. No matter where you go you will find other tea lovers. Whenever possible, drink what the locals are drinking and always be grateful and humble.

Tea People Are Everywhere!

Tip #4 - Settle
Sometimes you're just not going to get that perfect cup you crave. Perhaps you're in a large oppressive food court surrounded by teenagers in paper hats and you're just going to have to "settle for less." I usually feel that some tea is better than no tea (those of you who disagree may prefer to order some coffee when no good tea is available). For me, a teabag of English Breakfast is usually safe and should be cheap or I might purchase a ready-to-drink bottle of brewed tea. For what it's worth, I've been known to order a "tall China green tips with five ice cubes" at Starbucks and found it to be a pleasant enough beverage.

Drinking teabag black teas from a rural Nor-Cal gas station.

Tip #5 - Get Creative
Sometimes you have to think like MacGyver when you're brewing tea outside of your comfort zone. Look all around you for anything that could be even a little bit useful. Maybe you have a stock pot, a wooden spoon and beer stein? You can make tea with that! Our Australian friends have been known to simply string a tin can over an open flame and toss in some leaves. I once poked a bunch of holes in a Dixie cup with a pen and used it as a tea strainer. It was no well-seasoned yixing clay teapot but, it still did the job.

Gold star for the most creative way to brew tea using only these items.

Thanks for reading today's edition of the Laid Back Person's guide! We really hope these 5 simple tips help some of you manage your crippling Tea Lover's Agoraphobia.

(Don't laugh, TLA is a very real psychological disorder!!!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2005 Awazon Sheng Bing Cupping Experiment

Back in 2005 I purchased a couple stacks (aka tong) (筒) of 2005 Awazon (阿佤山) factory sheng puer cakes. I kept two cakes for myself. One, I stored among other random sheng cakes on my puer shelf. Let's call him "Whole Bing."

Hi, I'm Whole Bing!

The other, I broke up into small chunks and stored in a large clay teapot. Let's call him "Pot Head."


Today I thought it might be fun to cup them up together. This will be my first experience with this tea in 5 years.

I set up my usual cupping station...

...which looks something like this...

...then I grabbed my notebook, and got down to business.

I used 5 grams of dry leaf to about 8 ounces of boiling water and took my time going back and forth smelling each spoon and slurping the tea soup.

Turns out they taste pretty different!

Whole Bing is on the right and Pot Head is on the left.

Whole Bing was a little bit woodsier, smokier and more earthy. I believe he picked up some of these flavors from the other cakes with which he had cohabited. He was also a shade darker.

Pot Head's isolation in the large lidded teapot seems to have shielded him from most outside influences and perhaps caused him to taste "less aged" to me. He had a lighter body with more grass and herb notes. His flavor was closer to how these cakes tasted five years ago.

I did not prefer one storage method over the other and I do not take the results of this experiment too seriously. There are quite simply too many variables to consider when dealing with puer tea storage. In fact, I believe, this exact same experiment could easily have yielded different results in different places, on different days or for different people. That being said, I still found this to be a very rewarding and educational cupping.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cacao Husks

I love tea and I love chocolate.... but I do not like chocolate tea (or any scented teas for that matter). I do, however, occasionally enjoy a single-ingredient herbal infusion such as rooibos, ginger or mint. To that end I offer a post about drinking cacao husk tea!

On Tuesday, while at work, I met a representative of "Tisano Cacao Tea." He and his partners import organic chocolate from South America and one day one of them had this wild idea: "Why don't we import the fibrous husks too and try to sell them as an herbal tea?"

According to Tisano's website, 12% of the cacao bean is lost along with these fragrant husks. I guess that means a lot of cheap chocolaty goodness is also being lost when these husks become mulch, compost, feed or whatever.

The husks look like this...

... and I have seen them before. In fact my wife and I once purchased several large bags of these sweet-smelling husks from a nearby garden store to mulch our front yard flower bed. It never would have occurred to us to steep them like tea.

But that's just what I'm doing now. I follow the steeping directions on the bag and sniff the brown steeping husks. My nose immediately tells my brain to release a flood of happy chemicals.

The resulting beverage is tawny brown and smells similar to a cup of hot cocoa. The taste, on the other hand, is pleasantly nutty and not super powerful. Instead it yields a more relaxed, subtle cocoa flavor. I am a fan.

Drinking a hot infusion of cacao husks in my opinion certainly qualifies as a "strange brew." Has anybody else ever heard about this?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Teacup Tea Classes - November 2010

I am excited to offer one tea class this month at Teacup (2128 Queen Anne Ave. N. Seattle, WA, 98109).

Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Herbal Tea Tasting Party - In this class we will taste and discuss ten exciting, healthy and unique herbs and herbal blends. These tasty brews are naturally caffeine free and very aromatic. This class would be great for kids and people who avoid caffeine, but even drinkers of pure traditional tea may learn something at this tasting party.

My tea classes are fun for tea lovers of all levels, so feel free to bring a friend or family member that you'd like to "get hooked" on tea (or in this case herbal tea). The cost is $3 per guest and a RSVP is required. You may RSVP anytime by visiting or calling the Teacup (206-283-5931) or by emailing me at

I will let you know as new classes are scheduled, and please feel free to suggest a class idea on a subject you'd like to learn more about. I hope to see you soon at a class!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why I Blog About Tea

I began my tea career back in 2001 and ever since 2005 I have aspired to be a well respected tea educator and tea seller. Over the last nine years I have watched as North America's tea culture rapidly evolved alongside the Internet and I wanted to stay connected and relevant. Because of this I proudly admit that my original motivation behind tea blogging was self promotion.

I don't think I have a print tea book in me (although never say never, right?) but I do have a strong urge to share my thoughts and opinions about tea. So, back in 2007 I dipped my toes in the water by blogging on MySpace. I soon realized that MySpace was an extremely limiting format and began to consider other free blogging platforms.

Like many online tea fanatics at that time, I was already a huge fan of Chadao, Half-Dipper, Gongfugirl and Tea Masters blogs. I think those blogs (and probably several others) inspired me to take my blogging to the next level and so in 2008 I graduated from MySpace to Blogger.

As I wrote last year in my post entitled "Regarding This Blog" - "my blog has grown to include tea education, tea reviews, occasional silliness and many personal stories. I have learned a lot about myself and tea by blogging and find it to be a very rewarding hobby." To this I must include a heartfelt digital hug to all the wonderful people I have met, both in person and online, over these last few years writing about tea.

This post is my contribution to the November 2010 Tea Blog Carnival as presented by the Association of Tea Bloggers. Our theme for this carnival was "Why do I write about tea?" This month's carnival was hosted by Walker Tea Review and links to all other participating posts can be found here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anji Baicha

Anji Baicha (安吉白茶) is a green tea from Zhejiang province that is made with a popular white tea cultivar. It was only recently (while researching my post about Emperor Huizong) that this type of tea first made a blip on my "tea radar."

The more I researched Anji Baicha the more my curiosity was piqued. I even read many websites that claimed it has much higher amounts of L-theanine than most other types of green tea. I have yet to find any evidence for this claim, though I think it may exist in Chinese.

I finally got my first chance to try Anji Baicha at this year's Northwest Tea Festival. My friends at Silk Road Teas gave me an ounce after I helped them out in the tea tasting booths.

Silk Road's specimen is made up of beautiful jade-green leaf and bud sets. They have a clean nutty aroma.

I brewed the tea in a medium gaiwan about 1/3 full of dry leaf. My water temperature was quite low at 155° F. I was surprised by how quickly the tea infused. Less than a minute of gentle "lid-kneading" produced a very fragrant cup of yellow tea soup.

The brothy, buttery flavor of this tea is soothing and well balanced by a refreshing grassy peak. I can (and do) drink many luscious infusions.

While I sip, I wonder what (if anything) this tea has in common with the Anji Baicha that Emperor Huizong had wrote about in his tea book some 900 years ago. My new mission is to learn more about Tang and Song dynasty tea preparation. Anybody have any resources or recipes?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

League of Pots #025

Code Name: "Carrot Top"

Material: Ceramic
Height: 15.5 cm
Length (handle to spout): 17 cm
Volume: 400 ml
Weight: 325 g

Brews: Any type of tea.
Specialty: Chinese Greens
Story: Carrot Top was a gift from my mother-in-law. He belonged to her mother.
Super Powers: Carrot Top can talk to all plants and manipulate them with his mind. He can also make them grow super large instantly and have them do his bidding.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Seward Park Tea Party

Last Sunday my wife and I hosted a Chinese Tea Party at Seward Park in South Seattle. The theme of the party was "tea and nature" and it would have taken place rain or shine... but as it turned out, we got shine. Lots of glorious shine! In fact our 25 guests were treated to one of the most beautiful fall days that has ever occurred in our green city.

Here is a view of Mount Rainier from our outdoor tea house
(aka Picnic Shelter #2).

The party featured these four teas: Da Hong Pao Oolong, Cang Yuan Wa Mountain Puer Brick, Phoenix Dragon Pearls and a lightly oxidized Tie Guanyin from New Century Tea Gallery. All were well received.

My wife Alanna is truly skilled at preparing delicious vegan nibbles! For this event she presented a boiled spice cake, sweet potato blondies, cashew-date balls, chocolate-pecan balls, tea sandwiches, blueberry-corn bites, crackers, grapes, almonds, carrots and dips. As with my previous two tea parties, the food was a major hit.

Big thanks to my good friend and "Hot Water Man" Jon. Without his camp stove and diligent kettle filling we'd all have been drinking cold-brew tea. Also, thank you and 謝謝 to my tea friend Nicole. She was an incredible helper and her flowers and Indonesian cloths really helped make our outdoor "tea house" extra beautiful!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Latest Batch of Homemade Tea

Last Saturday morning, four tea friends joined me for a cupping workshop class at Teacup. The final tea of that session was my latest batch of entirely homemade and home-grown tea. Please read my prior post if you'd like details regarding its production.

As with my previous batches of homemade tea I was not too sure just what I had created... so I was kind of "flying blind" when I chose my brewing parameters. I decided to use a rounded teaspoon of leaf in a medium sized gaiwan with 190° F water steeped 3 minutes. This yielded 3 decent infusions.

The resulting liquor had a lovely amber color and an unusual aroma.

My fellow tasters and I came up with the following thoughts and opinions about this interesting infusion:

Michael - Squash!
Everybody - Yeah. Big time squash-like taste and smell. Tastes like a garden too.
Me - Sweet, roasty smell like baked winter squash. Slight fishiness and skunky aftertaste? Reminds me a lot of bancha.
Xenia - Not fishy. Doesn't really taste like tea. Not too bad. I've had much worse local tea.
Nicole - It has a little white tea flavor in the finish.

So there you have it. I certainly succeeded in my mission to create a totally unique tea. I think I'll call this strange stuff... "South Seattle Tea Estate's Autumn 2010 Squash Garden Bancha."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Autumn 2010 Harvest Report

The South Seattle Tea Estate's second harvest of 2010 took place on September 30 at 2:00 PM. The afternoon was 69° F and sunny after a cool morning. No tender leaf-and-bud-sets were available so the harvest consisted mainly of very large mature leaves. That was just fine with me because I was determined to make a very different tea than my previous attempts.

In total, I plucked 35 grams of raw leaf from my two tea trees. These leaves were withered outdoors on a pizza pan in mostly full sun until sunset (Exhibit A). They spent the next 2 days inside withering on my kitchen table.

Exhibit A

On October 3rd, I put the slightly limper leaves into a brown paper bag and put them into my backpack to accompany me to the NW Tea Festival. When I got home the leaves had a tiny bit of oxidation appearing around the edges. At 6:00 PM on October 3rd I shook the leaves fiercely inside a glass bowl for 15 minutes (Exhibit B).

Exhibit B

The following morning (today!), the leaves definitely appear darker, redder and limper. They now have a subtle floral scent along with a unique "corn and rosemary aroma" that I always seem to detect in my homegrown tea.

At 8:15, 9:50 and 10:15 AM I rolled the leaves tightly in a cloth napkin (Exhibit C). After each roll I opened the napkin and allowed the limp leaves to rest (Exhibit D).

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

At noon, the leaves were baked (on the same pizza pan from Exhibit A) for 5 minutes at 350° F.

I was hoping to still have slightly limp leaves with some moisture remaining so that I could do another round of twisting and baking, but because the oven was so hot and the leaves were spread thinly and evenly, they emerged from my electric oven bone-dry and crispy!

The huge crispy, twisted leaves were gorgeous, but I doubted they would be able to infuse very well (assuming I could even stuff these giants into a teapot), So at this point I decided that this tea was not meant to look pretty.

I rolled them back up in the cloth napkin and proceeded to give them an "industrial strength twist" (Exhibit E). There was no turning back as the tea leaves snapped, crackled and popped inside the twisting cloth.

Exhibit E

I immediately dumped the now broken leaves into a dry, heavy-bottomed, steel pan over medium heat and toasted them for three minutes while constantly shaking and stirring them. After which I dumped the hot leaves on to a plate to cool down quickly.

Today's 13 grams of finished tea (Exhibit F) is a kaleidoscopic mix of broken leaf bits and stems. It is definitely not as pretty as my previous homemade teas but I believe that I made the right choice by crushing the leaves.

Exhibit F

Any Seattle tea friends want to try this tea with me? I will serve it for the very first time ever to participants in my October 9th tea class (see yesterday's post for details). Only then will I know for sure what I have created and be able to give it a proper name.