Tag Archives: Himalayas

My Tea and Sweets Cafe’

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Good things come to those who wait! All in good time….. Sayings that I have ingrained into my existence. I knew when I started my ‘TEA’ experience, there would be hills to climb, obstacles to surpass, and trials and tribulations – so goes life! After all, I was embarking on the adventure of tea –  a tonic that has been around since the Shang Dynasty as a medicinal drink, dating to the 3rd century AD. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century. To enter the Tea World – one must pay respect and some dues.

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When I completed my degree from UNT, I was elated, mostly because now, finally – now, I could dedicate my time to my new tea venture – 9 Lives Tea House. The website had been designed and a preliminary launch was accomplished in 2014. E-commerce has been a rough learning curve. The technology expands and adjusts at a lightening pace. I have been ‘technically’ challenged, or technically hesitant, however you wish to look at it. My website – although secure and sound for today’s mobile market, already needs a major upgrade and revision. One I am about to undertake….. all in good time.. lol

My ultimate dream in the tea world was to take 9 Lives to a physical presence – a brick and mortar, where I can offer the tea experience to my clients and share what I have learned about this delightful indulgence. I have tried many times to secure the perfect location to open my tea shop. Every time, there was something in the way; the timing was not right, someone else won the bid, the owner of the ‘perfect’ building decided to sell it instead of lease. I met with frustration at every turn. But, I am not one to give up easily, after all – there was the ‘all in good time’ part of my mantra.

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Well – last week, my opportunity finally came! A building I had been looking at and wishing to acquire for 10 years – became available for lease. An 1800’s building in Old Pilot Point Square, formerly an antique store, will now become my first Tea House. In addition, I am in the process of acquiring a well-established candy business – another long-time dream from my childhood. Words cannot describe how excited, hopeful, and blessed I feel about the opportunity before me.

Though it will take me a bit to get it all set up, I hope to open my new tea and sweets shop early 2018. If I can at all make it happen – perhaps by Christmas Season 2017, but it has taken me this long to get to this point, a few months is not too much longer to wait.

And – with that – my third and fourth mantras:

Patience is a virtue!

and then,

On to the next!

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Watch for my formal announcement and in the meantime, ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ – everyone, tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames

9 Lives Tea House and Candy Shoppe

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The Dangers of Being a Tea Proprietor – Part II

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The yearning is a strong one….. For those of you who share my love of All Things Tea, you will understand the natural desire that comes from the pure enjoyment of Tea. Although I began my tea journey in my teen years, I did not grant myself freedom to consider becoming a Tea Proprietor a possible twilight profession until about 5 years ago. But, being practical, and having enjoyed several professional careers over the years, I did not feel quite ready to launch a Tea business. I decided to return to school while I built my plan, my brand, and my skills. After all, my tea experiences to that point had mostly revolved around grocery store brands and ‘common’ tea varieties and blends.

Having completed the major goals in education with a Behavioral Science Degree and a Doctorate in Metaphysical Studies, I thought I would proceed into the work of counselor or life coach. I took 2 months to unwind. I spent time in self-reflection and review. I traveled and took the time to reconnect with friends I had sadly neglected during my school studies. Most asked me, “So, what is next now that school is done?” To which I would reply, “I’m not really sure?’ I think I will just mediate on it and put it out to the universe for guidance and see where it leads me. (And, yes I really do this frequently. It has served me well through the years.)

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And so the tug-of-war began. My mind began searching for – the logical and practical path for this last career venture. But my heart, my heart began the tug to the tea business. Having launched the e-commerce site a couple of years ago, school prevented my full dedication to running the site. sure, I listed items and I sold some of my most collectables. I also built a dedicate fan base for many of my teas. But, I never could go full throttle. My business plan projected several future paths.

I think for all of us bitten by the tea bug, one goal is to open a true Tea House. A community place for friends and neighbors to gather, talk, and share the wonderful teas we make available. I was bitten by this bug very early on but had to bury it because my educational goals and running a Tea House were in direct conflict. I am capable of multi-tasking, but not quite to that extent. I had several places I have been interested in that I thought would make a great shop but they were owned by other people at the time. But I always kept my eye on them, hoping and wondering what the universe will bring. Then – Bam! I was made aware that one of the places just – suddenly, became for sale! Imagine that!

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I proceeded through the due diligence. Yes, yes – this place would be a great store-front for my tea business! I was so excited – my vision was forming before my eyes! But I was not receiving the message to JUMP! Just do it! It is time! Why was that, I asked myself. Being one to reflect, I decided to step back. I needed to think about it . Explore my gut feelings. “I think I will make some tea and contemplate.”

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In the end, I decided it was just not the right time. My current life is pulling me in many directions right now and I am not sure where these paths will lead. After all, tea culture is one of relaxation, sharing with friends and family, and enjoying the grand tea experience. For those that have been bitten by the Tea bug – you can understand fully the draw and the pull to having your own Tea House. For me, at this time, my e-commerce store fits my lifestyle better than planting myself and putting down roots in one community. There are other towns, cities, and states to explore before making that commitment.

 

But – stay tuned! The universe may redirect me at any time! How exciting that is! Life is such an adventure and one can only hold on for the ride.

In the meantime – brew a cup of tea and relax. All things in good time…..

Judith A. Ames

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

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Be a Tea Fashionista!

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???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Tea is trendy! Tea is hip! Tea is cool! Tea is replacing coffee as the go to ‘it’ drink. And why not? One doesn’t have to follow the crowd. One can ‘try on’ many different styles, colors, and flavors. Tea is an elegant drink; the drink of kings and queens, emperors, and lords and ladies. Tea is a casual drink – it’s the perfect ‘take a break’ drink, afternoon drink, and a great compliment to an evening dessert. Tea can sooth a sore throat and settle an upset stomach. And best of all – who can resist a tall, cool, refreshing glass of iced tea in the hot summer. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Tea is one of those beverages that can lift you away to different countries and cultures. With each sip, you can experience China, Sri Lanka, or Nepal. Even though the tea leaves come from the same plant, each region and climate create unique and individual flavors and tastes. Even the processing technique used makes for many flavor variations.

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Some people are tea purists – preferring the least amount of processing possible, brewing mildly processed tea leaves. Others prefer blends – combining different regions or adding an organic botanical to the tea leaves such as lavender, mint, or cinnamon. Then there are some people who choose to forgo tea leaves all together and simply brew herbal combinations. What ever your choice – enjoy with pride! It is your unique you! Your unique style!

Tea allows a person to be adventurous. With each variety, new flavors dance off your taste buds. You will experience grassy, floral, and smoky flavors. Some varieties inspire memories of  fresh-cut grass, aged hay, fields of wild flowers, and the woods after a spring rain. The liquors’ range in colors is just as wide as its flavors; from pale green to sunny yellow, burnt orange and bold, rich, browns. Tea can transport you to any country or beloved area of your memory in just one cup. Wear your Tea choice with pride! It defines your style!

With tea – you will never be out of style! And just think – as the seasons – and the fashions, change, you can move along to try on the newest designer blend to see if it fits your unique style and personality. So, Drink Up! – the 2014 season is just starting!

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‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames-Hardman

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

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The DANGERS of being a Tea Proprietor

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Tea – it sounds benign and all, but little do you all know that once you have been bitten by the tea bug, it holds you under its spell. I thought coffee was addicting and it is – that caffeine rush in the morning to wake you up and get you started on your day. The thing I do not like so much is the coffee jitters from that caffeine. And though there are various roasts – coffee pretty much tastes the same, like – coffee!

Now tea, it has caffeine also, but you can find decaffeinated and herbal blends that are caffeine free. The dangers with tea is that it comes in so many glorious flavors. There are thousands of blends and combinations one can create with just a little ingenuity. There are floral, fruity, and spicy; white teas, green teas, and black teas; Christmas blends, dessert blends, and morning blends, and heck – they even have blooming flower teas! There are more combinations than any one person can count. And all one needs is a little imagination and the will to be creative.

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And there in lies the danger of being a tea proprietor. You place your order with the tea distributor with all good intentions of receiving the tea or blend and selling this wonderful product to your devoted and loyal customers. You order one pound, then 5 pounds, then on to the 10 pound bags of your favorite teas. With each shipment comes “Quality Control”. To be a proper business – one must open, inspect, smell, and then ‘taste’ or sample each order – just to be sure it meets your standards. Quality Assurance requires that you select samples of your bulk order and retain them for future testing if the need arises. I am familiar with all of these rules from my days as a QA/QC manager in a product development lab, so I select, catalog, label, and then place in storage a sample of every tea that comes through our door.

Even though I know the rules, I find that those samples call to me. And lets face it – they make a great ‘personal’ stash of your favorite teas. Before you know it – the samples have disappeared and more samples are needed.  This continues until you find that you have confiscated the entire bag – 1 lb., 5 lb., and even 10 pounds for your own use. You justify your addiction with phases like – “I’m going to use this for my free samples” , and “This will last me the entire year!”.  Before you know it, you are calling your supplier and ordering more, knowing deep down that with the new arrival, the process starts all over again!

Being in the tea business is hard! And from one who enjoys the product so much – expensive!

Oh well – I guess there could be worse indulgences. I could be addicted to chocolate – which in my personal opinion would be much worse. And – besides, I can always find a chocolate tea for that addiction if I needed to!

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To all of my fellow Tea Addicts – it’s OK – we can start a support group – order our favorite teas and just brew away! After all – it’s Winter! and all of the new varieties and new blends are just coming available! Until then…..

‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

 

Opening soon!

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After two years in search of a place to call home, 9 Lives Tea House has recently leased a small warehouse in Pilot Point, Texas. It’s simple but has everything we need at present – a reception area, an office, a packaging clean room for the teas, and a great big warehouse space to handle all of the ‘stuff’ we will be listing on the web site. Between the antiques and the teas we should have the place filled in no time. LOL!

We anticipate having special days for our customers to come in and try the latest teas we will be packaging and offering for sale. We are thinking – ” Free Tea Tasting Tuesdays,” but haven’t settled on it yet. We are looking forward to summer 2014 because we have a great selection of iced teas that will be available too. The first tea packaging run on the schedule is our ‘Wild Yeti’ from Nepal. This was by far my favorite Oolong at the World Tea Expo 2013. There are several gift items available in production and as soon as we have them assembled, I will post an announcement.

If you would like more information or would like to follow our progress, you can ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow our twitter account @9livestea

My next article will touch on the Oolong Teas – in the meantime, enjoy the brew!

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White Tea Wishes…. part 3 of The Magic of Tea

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Don’t let that nearly clear brew fool you, depending on where your tea leaves come from and the processing technique, that elixir can pack a punch of flavor! The term ‘White Tea’ brings to mind – ‘light’, ‘mellow’, ‘smooth’, and little flavor. That couldn’t be further from the actual flavors and experience you will encounter when enjoying a white tea variety. So many things go into the development of quality tea. The cultivar (plant) used, the region where the tea is grown, the temperatures of that region, the season harvested, and the process the teas will go through before arriving to your teacup.

White Tea leaves are the least processed of all of the teas. There is some disagreement as to exactly what ‘qualifies’ as a white tea, in general terms, the process involves picking the leaves and allowing them to wither in the sun. Often, there is not enough sun to complete the job so the leaves are moved into carefully monitored drying rooms where the leaves are allowed to continue the withering process. Very little additional processing is done to the leaves.

One of the aspects of white tea that is frequently miss-understood is that the brew will have little flavor due to the minimal processing of the leaves. Quite to the contrary. Because there is little handling and manipulation of the tea leaves, they hold onto much of the components that make the flavor of the brew. I have found white teas to have a strong, grassy or hay aroma and a full body, slightly astringent flavor. Depending the variety being steeped, I have enjoyed the light floral flavor and aroma of calendula flowers, lavender, and citrus tones. Some varieties have a light smoky flavor. Additionally – white teas have a bold, lingering impression. They are different from the oolongs and the darker teas, but definitely deserve a place in your kitchen cabinet. Give a try and see what you may have been missing!

Until our next installment for The Magic of Tea: ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames-Hardman

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas
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The Magic of Tea

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All of my life I have been fascinated by the plants given to us on this earth. When I was an undergrad student at Cal Poly Pomona in California, I was an Agricultural Biology Major because I knew someday I wanted to farm and grow ‘unique’ plants or crops. I was pulled away from that because of my love of animals and I turned to Genetics/Animal Husbandry. But I still thought I would some day grow crops.

My favorite plant of choice was the ‘cotton’ plant. What a neat plant. It grows rapidly, and in a few short months, we are able to harvest those cotton bowls and the rest is history. That fiber is processed, dyed, and then becomes material that is transformed into so many things we wear and use everyday – like our favorite jeans! It may have been in my family genes to some extent as my grandparents used to work the California Valley driving the planting and picking crews for the first cotton crops ever planted in the state. Then, when a very clever geneticist found a way to grow colored cotton, I was beyond amazed. Plant science is a fascinating field.

Which brings me to the ‘tea’ plant: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis. This plant is really quite a simple plant. If you stumbled onto it, you would most likely not pick it out as beautiful, or particularly colorful, or even attractive in any way. In many settings, it would be a large, bulky tree and not a shrub at all like you see in many tea plantations.  The Tea Bush is just a simple ‘evergreen’ shrub that grows in many climates, at different altitudes, and in many temperatures from hot and steamy to the highest mountains in the Himalayas up to 5000′. It grows on flat, valley terrains and on the sides of mountains.

I am sure you are asking yourself – “Well that is all good but what makes the Tea plant so special and why should I care?” A good question and here is just one of many answers:

This amazing evergreen, although all of the same species, will adapt its chemistry to the climate where it lives. What this means is that white tea, green tea, oolong, and black tea all come from the same plant but not all green teas or black teas have the same flavor or taste. The tea-plant is highly sensitive to the insults of the ground it is grown in and the weather surrounding it’s home. Only the end two leaves and bud are picked and processed to become the teas you see in stores and specialty shops. The regions with warmer more temperate climates will see several harvests in any given year and the colder, higher regions will see only a few plucking’s each year. The chemistry of the soil, the rain and cold, soil run off, and any fertilizer additives used all influence the flavor the plant leaves will produce in a tea brew. That, to me, is one of the most amazing abilities of this wonderful, little, beverage generator.

I have compared the tea industry to the wine industry because there are so many similarities. A grape is a grape, is a grape…. or is it? Not to the wine maker who understands and appreciates  how all of the influences Mother Nature can have on the final product. They also appreciate the blending process and aging process. The production of Tea has become a true art just as the production of a fine wine.

Although I am still developing my ‘Tea’ palette, I do believe I have entered the phase of considering myself somewhat of a tea snob – but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It just means I am learning to detect the differences in regions and altitudes. I have had good teas and I have had ok teas, and I have had bad teas. Just like with wine, everyone’s palate is different and you cannot manufacture a GOOD tea for the masses. Each year the crops vary with subtle differences and because of this, each harvest is a one time offering. Loose leaf teas command a higher price because they deserve it due to the limited quantities of each harvest. So, if you find a particular type of tea you enjoy, I would recommend stocking up because next year there will be slight differences.

Some of you may be saying under your breath – What about the Camellia sinensis var. assamica, fermentation, oxidation, and the processing used for by the tea producers? Don’t these also influence the tea? All very good points as these also affect the flavor and taste of the tea brew. I will be addressing these other things in future blogs as each has very important influences on the final product.

Until then: ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames-Hardman

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

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