Tag Archives: nature

Be a Tea Fashionista!


???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? 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.


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!


‘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


The DANGERS of being a Tea Proprietor


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.


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


The Magic of Tea


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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