Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tea brings friends – and fiends – together

How fitting that as October is upon us, our favorite Goth, Silvia, and her sweetie Zoe (I hope I spelled his name correctly!) should visit Shanna, and that they should all come over for tea practice.

Shanna, Harvey (Holly in white shirt), Silvia and Zoe

Shanna prepared Usucha with PacLeaf's "Moonlight" for Silvia, Harvey and Zoe. Nikko probably tried to rearrange Harvey's flowers (red yarrow in a tall, green vase). I arrived home too late to enjoy tea with them, but was able to visit a little with them before they had to leave.

Good to see you, tea friends!

Chinese Tea Ceremony and Happy Hour

The subject of Kumi's email said, "Chinese Tea Ceremony and Finger Food Potluck." Our response was, "Where?! When?!" We leapt at the opportunity to enjoy Shuai Chen's tea ceremony.

After a summer home in China with family and friends, Shuai has returned to Humboldt County and her studies at HSU. At this tea gathering Sunday afternoon, she made tea for a dozen or so friends and acquaintances, including Kristin, Harvey and I. Our gracious hosts, Ange and Chantal Lobue, opened their home for tea, snacks, libation and lively discussion. We enjoyed seeing Shuai again, and of course, Kumi and Jay. We also made some new friends with whom we hope to share tea again soon.

The tea Shuai served was called "Red Robe" which she brought back from her recent trip to China. She explained that it had a special fragrance and flavor of a particular "rock" but I was not close enough to the center of discussion to hear clearly what that particular rock was. I did, however, appreciate Red Robe's unique flavor and aroma.

The photos above show Shuai steeping and straining the first infusion, then warming the aroma cups (tall cups) and drinking cups.

The aroma cup (the tall cup) is rolled between the hands
while appreciating the tea's fragrance.

One detail I noticed which I did not remember from Shuai's demonstration at HSU in April: When steeping the tea in a small covered cup, she twirled the lid around in a circle, as if to allow a little steam out or a little air in. Was it unique to this ceremony or variety of tea? Or did I forget this detail from April?

Shuai twirls the lid while steeping tea.

After we appreciated several infusions of Shuai's tea, we enjoyed snacks and drinks, and made new friends. We hope to gather with them again for Japanese tea appreciation later this fall.

If you can't enjoy Shuai's tea in person, read her latest offering of Tea Tales for North Coast readers:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wonderful Water Sculpture

Couldn't resist posting this, it's fantastic:


And suddenly, it was Shubun no hi

It's hard to believe that it's Autumn already, but the signs are here: Geese are migrating, leaves are turning red and gold, mornings are chilly, hordes of students have swarmed back to Arcata.

Here's a quick update on what we have been doing.

Tea practice during our ersatz summer has been a little irregular (like the weather), but we managed some good practices in Haiken, folding fukusa and working with the ladle. Annie resurfaced after being swamped for weeks with work and a hectic schedule.

For the next few weeks, Laura and Pia are traveling with their respective spouses to different destinations. Perhaps they'll have a tea story from their travels.

In a couple weeks Shana will bring her friend Sylvia to practice. We haven't had tea with them in quite a while.

Harvey and I will also be attending another Chinese tea demonstration with Shuai Chen in a week or so. (More about Shuai's tea here...)

Read more about Shubun no hi

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thé sur la table

Harvey's been surfing, found this:


We've been giving to teaching a tea appreciation class through OLLI. This might be a good setup, don't you think?

Oh, not familiar with OLLI? Check it out: http://www.humboldt.edu/olli/osher.html