Tag Archives: Pu-erh tea

My Tea and Sweets Cafe’

Standard

e2b5cc95-0623-4842-bdc9-5f6e78327e4c-medium

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.

teaandsweets4

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.

teaandsweets3

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!

newstore1a

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

april2012aa

The Dangers of Being a Tea Proprietor – Part II

Standard

untitled

 

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.)

dreamstime_s_5890990

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!

dreamstime_s_45797643dreamstime_s_21577203dreamstime_s_13362504

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.”

dreamstime_m_58203268

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

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

 

It’s off to the World Tea Expo we go……..

Standard

 

White Tea Brew

It’s THAT time of year again! In February, I begin to receive the notices in my inbox that my time is running out! Early registration ends on February 29th (since this is leap year)! Anxiety sets in about the 14th. Can I really afford to attend this year? Having finished my latest degree in December 2015, I am thrilled to be back to my tea venture almost full-time. (There are other ‘clean up’ things I have been putting off for – oh, say, the last three years!)

oolong2

 

I develop great angst knowing that within the next two weeks, I have to decide what I will be doing in JUNE! Really? I have enough trouble deciding what I will be doing next week! Then, in the last week of pre-registration, I begin to receive emails daily! “Your time is running out!” “We will miss you if you don’t register soon!” Then, “Monday is the last day to reserve your spot!”  With each passing day, the pressure builds, until, the one email that really sends me into action – ” You can save $$$$ if you register by the end of today! Last chance!”

This email seems to spring me into action! Of course I want to go. I feel so out of the loop having missed last years Expo. I log into my account and proceed to fill out the registration. Then, wait, why can’t I sign up for my all time favorite Expo experience, The World Tea Tour. Nine whole hours of nothing but tea, tea, tea, then lunch! Then tea, tea, tea and more tea! It’s an absolutely glorious day – for the true addict! The tour experience includes all of the teas of the world, it’s the only time to connect with my all important suppliers! After all, I haven’t seen my friends in two years and certainly there are new varieties that I must add to my shop! After three attempts, I grow very frustrated and pick up the phone to call in my problem.

The folks that handle this Expo are always so nice – but, then again, that is part of the tea culture. She was unable to determine why the Tea Tour was not available on my forms. She tried on her computer and there it was! I tried switching from IE to Firefox and still no luck. Well, she says, then I will just register you from here. And with all of the patience in the world, she filled in all of the details for me. There is one question that asks if this is your first time attending. I said, “No, I have been three times before.” To which she replies, “Yes, I recognize your business name!” For a moment, I contemplate, “Is that a good thing? Or, a bad thing?” I chose to be positive and replied, ” Great! Yes, I have felt I missed so much last year since I was unable to attend”

tea brew

Since I was saving so much by pre-registering, I selected two or three additional lectures. I have never been disappointed, the speakers are superb. Upon finishing my registration, I hung up – quite pleased with myself at getting things done nearly at the absolute last-minute! Deciding not to procrastinate further,  I proceed to the airline and hotel sites and booked everything for my trip.

Shortly after, I begin to receive emails from my tea friends and tea suppliers, “Are you coming to the Expo this year?” To which I happily replied, “Absolutely!” It may not have been in the budget, but as my plans for the Tea Shop are expanding this year, I need to re-connect with my vendors and friends. It’s going to be a great adventure! And, this year the Expo falls on my birthday! I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than with my tea addict friends!

World Tea Expo: Las Vegas, Nevada – June 13th – 17th.

teahouselogo2013

What’s New at the Zoo?

Standard

Well, well – back from the Tea Expo and back into an insanely rushed 5 week course at UNT. But, I had to get it done. I am a bit late with the news and review for the Expo, but here goes. It was marvelous – of course! The new venue in Long Beach was a nice change from the awful hot of Las Vegas. It was really nice that after three years, folks on the show floor actually recognized me from previous Expo’s. I took that as a good sign. I am always amazed at the new items and niche items the vendors bring for display. There was some outstanding packaging ideas – which I have been seeking, and some delicious products such as icing made from tea and herbals by The Modern Girl Tea group! Those girls were busy dishing out the samples. It took me three days to get to the booth, but it was well worth it. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? There is always new tea maker products and this year the vendor with the crowd was Alpha Dominche with their Steampunk Tea Brewing System. I just might have to get me one of those….. Here is a YouTube link for the ‘Steampunk Machine’. This is demonstrated for coffee, but the system can be used for tea as well. Since tea  – good tea – requires brewing at the correct temperature and for the correct length of time to enjoy the tea at its best, this system is really cool.

http://youtu.be/2mTKtdzBKJM

The educational courses offered this year were top-notch. I enjoyed a class with Scott Svihula, Tea-smith, China Mist Tea Company about problems that can happen in the process and handling of tea that seriously effect the taste. Scott’s courses are always outstanding and I learned much about identifying the processing errors. The Expo is never complete without taking a Legal Course for all of the new rules, regulations, and laws that affect the tea industry. This course was presented magnificently by Mr. Dan Dwyer of Partner, Kleinfeld, Kaplan and Becker. If this is the only class I can attend, it always has something new that affects the tea business and as a retailer, new regulations we must follow for advertising and labeling our products. I think though, I have to say my favorite course this year was the Pairing Cheese and Chocolate with Tea taught by Chef Robert Weischner. It was one of the most informative and educational for this year and for the future of our tea business. I will be incorporating these tastings in my product presentations going forward!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????tea black????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

For those of us who may find goat cheese a bit ‘strong’, paired with the right tea, that bite is lessened and a good goat or blue cheese is very enjoyable. Of course my mind was running faster than I could keep up with in ideas for doing Tea Parties using chocolates and cheeses. I will have to work on the format for that one. There is a new coffee-house opening in Pilot Point, Texas that may be interested in hosting these pairing parties – we shall have to look into that possibility.

The World Tea Tour – with tastings involving 25+ teas from 7 countries, is always a delightful way of starting the program. I can never hear enough from folks like: Jane Pettigrew, Rona Tison, and Thomas Shu and his lovely wife.

My stay on The Queen Mary was great – except for the fire drill about 5:00pm on Saturday – that was a bit strange. But, the ship does have her own stories of ‘odd happenings’.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Well – back to work! 9 Lives Tea House is making a huge leap! We are in the process of developing our own label of teas. We will let you know when they are ready to ship. It has been a long-time coming, but we are finally ready to take the leap.

In the meantime – ‘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

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

Be a Tea Fashionista!

Standard

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? 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

Standard

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.

oolong3

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!

kenyanspicestea blackoolong2

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 Champagne of Oolongs….

Standard

oolong2     I was going to save my fourth installment for the Magic of Tea series for Oolong, but yesterday I had the opportunity to taste the most luxurious Oolong I have enjoyed to date. Three years ago, I had never even heard of Oolong, and you might be asking yourself the same question.

I just started back to school and have so much homework to do this weekend, I really shouldn’t be taking the time to write this blog today, but along with my collegiate studies I am taking the second class of Core Tea courses through the World Tea Academy. This class focuses on Tea Enhancements and Grading Systems. The final week involves a comparison tasting and detailed write-up/review of each tea sent for the class. (How tough could that be? Right?) We tasted and compared; flavored and scented, blend and decaf, and baked and aged. The flavored and scented were somewhat like an herbal blend but purely tea leaves without the botanicals added to enhance the tea flavor. Though these were good and had delightful tastes of passion fruit and jasmine, the enhancements can and do sometimes overwhelm the natural tea aromas and flavors. The blends are a combination of different types of tea – either from different plants, different processing techniques, different years of harvest, or from different countries. The decaf is processed with Carbon Dioxide to extract the caffeine from the tea leaves. This was a process I was unfamiliar with and now that I know – I may rethink the decaf tea in my cupboard – but that is another story….

oolong1 oolong3oolong6

The Baked and the Aged tea is what this story is about. You may be asking, “why would one BAKE a tea?” Baking is a process that enhances the drying of the leaf. It aids in removing any water that may be left in the leaf after processing and it is used to ‘tweak’ the flavor of the final product. The additional heat process can activate chemical properties in the leaf and continue to remove moisture which, concentrates the flavor properties of the tea. I will be adding this process to some of our own designer teas in the future. It deepens the quality of the final brew. But back to the Oolong….

oolong5

The Aged Tea we had the pleasure of tasting was from ABC Tea – web address is www.abctea.com . It’s origin was from Taiwan, the Wenshan District. The cultivar was called: Buddha’s Palm. This particular Oolong was originally harvested in Spring 2002. There were three baking procedures, one in 2002, the next in 2007, and the last in 2012. The tea is allowed to age, this particular one was aged 10 years before distribution. The brewed tea is a sunshine yellow in color. The dried, rolled leaves have an aroma of aged grass, dandelions, and a hint of clover. There was one scent that was familiar but I still cannot put my finger on it. It is one of those things that just comes to you when you least expect it and you find yourself saying, “oh yah….. that’s what that was…” As mellow as that sunshine brew looks, don’t let it fool you – it has a mild, but full-bodied flavor that has a lingering ‘perfumie’ flavor and aroma. That sounds kind of bad – but is actually a very pleasant experience.

oolong7

Some teas, once brewed, quickly lose their aroma, but this one maintained throughout the cup. It reminded me of a fine wine or champagne. The boldness of this Oolong is obvious but not obnoxious. All of the flavor is up front when you take your first sip. None is wasted as it is going down. Some teas impact the front of your mouth, others, the mid palate, and some have most of their impact going down. Many of the darker teas do the last and there is little enjoyment when you first sip. This fine tea is all up front which allows you to enjoy the flavor immediately and then as you swallow. I bet you didn’t know there was so much experience to take in when tasting tea. The baking throughout the aging process produced a very fine tasting experience, and after all – that is what tea is about, the experience.

Well – back to the school work. and, until the next time, remember to: ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames-Hardman, MHs.D

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

oolong4