Spill the Tea

Gongfu tea table

I have been a little obsessed with learning new styles of tea making. I am practicing a style from China called Gongfu, which means right effort.

The brewing vessel is called a gaiwan. It is designed to brew leaves in many small infusions. To start, give the tea a 10 second wash and discard by pouring over your tea creature (and into the tea tray.) Then infuse using progressively longer times and hotter water.

I really enjoy the complexity of oolong (a hybrid of green and black tea) and Pu’reh (fermented.) I’ve been trying different varieties from The Tea Spot and Yunnan Sourcing. Check out this four year old fermented Pu’reh tea in a tangerine peel (below!)

Tea shelf
4 year Pu’reh

Lemon Leaf Tea

Since I learned to feed my lemon tree three times a year, it gives me fruit! Right now the fruit is still green and camouflaged in the leafy canopy. I checked in with my tree yesterday and noticed that some of the “branches” were not woody or thorny; they were suckers that need to be pruned. Without the suckers, more energy can flow to the fruit-bearing branches.

I cut and bundled the suckers in my hands and as I did, a soft hint neroli tickled my nose! The tree is not flowering yet, but looks AND smells like it’s getting ready.

As I enjoyed the sensory experience of these prickly branches, I remembered being in the kitchen of a client and his wife. We were sitting at the island and she was heating up dinner for him and the contractors who were working out back. She had beautiful citrus trees and grape vines covering her yard. As I admired them, she told me that both lemon and grape leaves make a nutritive tea. She served me a cup with honey.

I’m going to make lemon leaf tea!

It was quite the epiphany. I removed leaves from the stems, then washed and dried them. I weighed 2 ounces of leaf into a 1/4 gallon mason jar, poured boiling water to the brim and sealed with a lid for 4-12 hours. When I popped the seal and strained the tea it was an amazing almost neon yellow color! And the flavor was just as inspiring- a harmony of light, lemon and leafiness. Next time I’m going to crush the leaves a bit before brewing.

It’s hard to find any information about lemon leaf and it’s preparations or beneficial qualities. If you have any stories or recipes, I’d be happy to hear them.

Spill the tea, not the infusion

I was recently introduced to the work of Susun Weed and her Wise Woman Way. She is a Green Witch and teaches about green blessings from her green heart!

She is a simpler- using only one herb at a time. She teaches people how to make nourishing herbal infusions from nettles, red clover, oatstraw, comfrey and linden. Infusions are different from just herbal tea in that they can provide richer benefits.

For tea you use a teaspoon of the herb per 8 oz and steep a few minutes. In contrast, an infusion uses 1 oz of your chosen herb per quart and steep 4-10hrs.

I had been making chilled unsweetened herbal tea on the daily since it’s been so hot. Now I’m drinking nourishing herbal infusions to impart greater benefits from our plant allies!

Susun offers free courses and videos on how to build your immune system so that you only have a mild case of the flu when you get it.

Check out her website at http://susunweed.com

Or this video where she makes a nettle infusion!

Nettle Infusion and nettle tea
Mullein infusion

Cut Corners

It’s been a long time since I’ve been out here blogging! This year, I am called to curate some magical multi-media here on the internet diaries. I got an actual 21 megapixel camera to complement the new adventure. My own page and my own photos shared on my own terms. No need for social or their awkward algorithms. Of course, I am serving this blog up with a smattering of inspirational materials from other sources that I digest on the daily. You’re welcome. 😉

When I graduated college in 2006, I started “such is, the case” on Blogspot to serve as my personal online gallery. My parents gave me an 8 megapixel camera as a graduation present. I was living at 420 Laporte Ave in Fort Collins, Colorado. Here we are 14 years later in Phoenix, Arizona dusting off the old blog and camera. Cheers to carving out a space to breathe, chase our passions and be back in the blogger-sphere.

My friend gave me some green HoJi Cha and black Winter Chai tea. It resonated with my craving for a daily ritual that relaxes and soothes. Tea pervades across the entire globe, preceded by ceremony and circumstance. So I purchased several herbal teas while we were visiting Jerome, AZ. The packages listed ingredients but no brand name or instructions. So when we got home, I went looking to learn the best time, temperature and ratios to use when brewing.

What I found is that there are many traditions of tea, but it is all the same leaf- one plant around the world called camellia sinensis. Depending on the processing, tea becomes white, green, black or even Pur’eh! I also read about herbal infusions like rooibos, hibiscus, mate, mint, nettles, mullein, osha- deliciously endless possibilities. From the webpage I was browsing, I popped over to the shop and started recognizing the blends: turmeric and nettles? rooibos and hibiscus? These are the very teas that I just purchased! Funny coincidence.

Most herbal and black teas are brewed at 212 degrees for 5-7 minutes; for green tea, let the water cool to 175 degrees and only brew for 2-3 minutes.

vegemite toast
Vegemite Toast

With a little practice, I brewed the HoJi Cha well today. Along with the tea, I’ve been eating vegemite toast for breakfast since my friend went back to Colorado.

You see, my friend also brought me a jar of vegemite! She had me sniff it a dozen times before I even tried it. In Australia it is spread thin on toast with butter. My cousin tells me it’s called Marmite in England. It is quite yummy, but definitely an acquired taste.

It’s the cut that counts

Each day, a ritual goes

Thanks for toast and tea

Vege you will and vege you won’t;

Vege ya do and vege ya don’t;

Vege ye maybe and vege-ye-mite!

Blueberry Mint Tea

  • 1 pint (2c) fresh, local blueberries
  • 1/4c fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 springs peppermint
  • 8 pints (16c) water
  • 3/4c sugar

Makes one gallon. Simmer blueberries, lemon, mint and a cup of water for 5-10min. Strain and set aside. Brew tea, combine with blue infusion and sweeten to taste! Pour over ice and serve with sprig of mint or stevia.