Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ba Bao Cha Year #5

Every year, around Christmas time, I "treat" myself to a gaiwan of Ba Bao Cha (八寶茶) (eight treasure tea) then I blog about it. This year's blend tasted like watered down ketchup mixed with Hawaiian punch and corn syrup. I could only take two small sips. See you next year Ba Bao!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reno NV

Reno, Nevada was my home from age 9 to 19. During those years I neither loved nor hated the place. It was simply "where I live." From an early age I knew I'd end up living happily-ever-after in Seattle. Still, I'll always have thousands of good memories from my decade living in Reno and I'm glad my family still lives there.

During the last twelve years, I have returned to Reno once or twice every year. I feel like it is evolving into a cooler and more livable city with each year that passes. The nearby mountains, lakes and deserts have always been beautiful but the city itself has been catching up with more art, family activities, parks, and independent businesses.

I'm not sure what the tea scene in Reno is like. My sister and brother-in-law (who came to Taiwan with me in 2008) certainly know and enjoy good tea but I haven't met many other folks. Last week, while in Reno, my mother-in-law's husband told me about a Chinese import store called Dragon Spring that sells tea and teaware as well as Chinese gifts and martial arts supplies. I didn't have time to visit, but it sounded pretty cool so I'll try to stop in next time I'm in town.

I have good reason to be hopeful about the future of tea in Reno. Recently, Magpie Coffee Roasters, started a coffee and tea bar serving high quality drinks in the lobby of Reno's (SUPER FUN!) new Discovery Museum. I can vouch for the quality of their tea because they currently buy it from Cinnabar's and my own store, Phoenix Tea

Also, a new tea shop just opened up near downtown called Too Souls Tea Co. My daughter, sister, brother-in-law and I went for afternoon tea last Sunday and had a great experience. The tea list was heavy on scented teas and herbals but the glass mug of Dragon Well (龍井) green tea that I was served was brewed well. This small tea house was comfortable, unique and beautifully decorated. They also had a few delicious vegan muffins and other fresh healthy foods available.

If you live in Reno, or visit it often, please leave me a comment about the tea scene as you know it. I'd love to get some new recommendations for my next visit.

I'm happy to be home but I'm also proud to have some roots in "The Biggest Little City in the World."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Long Spout Teapot Art

Have you ever seen Long Spout Teapot Art (長嘴壺茶藝)? I've never seen it in person but I have found quite a few cool videos floating around on the internet. It is truly amazing the way these kettles get spun, swung and poured. When the spout is pointed at the cup or gaiwan there is a second or two delay before the water actually comes out of the spout. That's my favorite part.

Here is a collection of YouTube videos showcasing this interesting skill: 

A tea-pouring shifu performs for the crowd at a teahouse in Chengdu, China
L'art de servir le thé en Chine 
Kung fu tea
Fantastic Tea Pouring Skills
長嘴壺功夫茶藝師劉緒敏 鄒濤台灣宜蘭國際蘭雨節茶棧秀茶道絕活
Can you do that?

Here is a blog post by Teavivire that goes much much deeper into the history and myths behind this fascinating art form:

The History of the Chinese Traditional Ceremony Gongfu Tea- Long Pot