Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Movie time: Tea Culture in the Wuyi Mountains

Hey all, hope you're doing well and enjoying a good cup of tea.

I just saw this great documentary posted on Camellia Sinensis' Facebook page!  It's about the Tea Culture of the Wuyi Mountains that I wanted to share with you.

This CCTV documentary takes the viewer through the history, making of the Rock Oolong tea, and the tea culture of the Wuyi Mountains of China.

Please click here to watch this beautifully filmed documentary and journey into the tea land of China!
Documentary 2009-09-04 Tea Culture in The Wuyi Mountains - 1 CCTV-International

Shhh, quiet... film's rolling...hey, pass the matcha green tea popcorn...

Friday, October 14, 2011

DTL & Aroma's Adventures in the Land of Tea

Happily sipping hojicha as a digestif after a yummy Thanksgiving weekend feast of turkey, pot roast, all sort of veggies, and Gordon Ramsay's Leek Risotto, I settled in to relax and let my tummy digest.

As I slowly sipped the warm toasty, well-rounded flavours of my Japanese roasted green tea, noticing the slight caramel finish on my tongue, I read news on the Internet.

Hojicha leaves

go ahead, have a sip

Flipping from page to page on some of my favourite tea sites, I found something for kids to learn about tea! 

Well, really kids of all ages... I stumbled upon ' new website for tea kids!   I had met one of the owners of Dilmah Tea, Dilhan Fernando and tasted many of Dilmah's wonderful teas at the Art of Tea event back in June, so was very curious to check out the site some more.

In DTL & Aroma's Adventures in the Land of Tea, I followed the cartoon characters named  DTL and Aroma on their journey into the land of tea, their visit to Dilmah Tea Gardens in Sri Lanka, meeting the owners, learning the process of making tea, and of course, enjoying tea.

There are quizzes and games to test your tea knowledge, or if you are new to tea, a great way to start your education of the second most popular drink in the world, after water!

So, go ahead, and check out Dilmah Teakids' site!  Read a comic so you can follow DTL and Aroma's journeys, play a game, or give yourself a pop quiz... and have fun on your journey into tealand...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Art of Tea

On a sunny day, back in June, I joined a group of Certified Tea Sommeliers, Jane Pettigrew, the famous tea expert from U.K., and Dilhan Fernando of Dilmah Tea Estate , plus many others at Toronto's historic St. Lawrence Hall for "The Art of Tea", organized by Carol Mark in memory of her dear friend, Hema Abeygunawardena.

Through tales of her childhood in Sri Lanka, where tea ran deep in its people's lives, Hema would unknowingly ignite a new meaning of tea in her friend, Carol Mark.  Hema recalled how as a little girl on the first day of school, being among strangers was a little scary...until a family member would bring her a cup of tea.  Ah, the comforting smell and taste of tea... of home.  Tea...such a seemingly simple thing...yet it can bring great comfort.

When Hema died of cancer, Carol had promised to help fulfill her friend's wish to help give back to those less fortunate in her home country.  Carol wanted to honour her friend's memory through tea, since tea was such a constant throughout her friend's life, and thus "The Art of Tea" Event was created. All proceeds of the event were donated to the MJF Charitable Foundation.
It was a most fun and informative day, starting with a master class for Certified Tea Sommeliers and Tea Sommelier students before the event. 

Feel free to grab a cup of tea and enjoy, as you follow this link to my summary of the day's events (posted on the Tea Guild of Canada's website),

Monday, May 2, 2011

Yerba Mate... the new Red Bull?

**First posted November 6, 2010, on The Art (and Business) of Blogging, , Edited April 4, 2011 **

First time I tried an energy drink was at this year's Nuit Blanche. They were giving the stuff away for free! It was AMP energy drink, not the famous Red Bull, you know the one that "gives you wings" .

As I walked along Queen Street West late that night, I gave it a try. One sip of this sugary, medicinal tasting, lemony brew and I was already starting to feel the brain fog lift... wow...

Next sip I start to feel my body start to shake, umm, wait a minute ... is it supposed to do this ... this fast?

My symptoms included heart palpitations, quicken breath and a bad case of the jitters. It felt a little scary, I had to stop. What am I doing to my body I thought. Aren't there healthier ways to get a boost of energy and stay awake?

Just as I was about to cross Dovercourt Road, the answer came in the form of a little cafe called El Almacen. Oh, it's that yerba mate cafe that had opened earlier this year.

I remembered reading about this place in a blogto review . I had meant to go check it out...

As a Certified Tea Sommelier, it is not just "Tea" (camellia sinensis) that we studied, but all infusions including tisanes or herbals too. We had learned about this South American herb, yerba mate, only briefly.

It would be a few weeks later that I got the chance to actually visit the cafe. I went with another certified tea sommelier, we both had yerba mate in form of lattes. It was very refreshing (not the strong earthy, astringent and pungent taste I knew from class) and yes, it did give me a boost. But without the jitters.

This is a very interesting product, I must come back and try it again I thought.  A few weeks later, I finally made it back to the cafe.  When I arrived at the cafe today, there were quite a few tables filled with people. Nice to see for a new cafe, good sign.

I examined their menu and decided to have the yerba mate served in the traditional gourd.

A thermos of hot water comes with your order. It comes with the gourd, a silver straw and little jars of sugar and yerba mate leaves. This allows you to adjust the strength of the mate yourself.

The empanada ... you have to order it separately.

Sugar and yerba mate leaves.

Add 4-5 teaspoons of leaves into the gourd, I was told by the co-owner, Elsa.

If you like sweet, this is the time to add some sugar. Add hot water till it almost reaches the top, gently add the straw, sip and enjoy...

Drink to the bottom. Add more water. Do not stir the straw or even the filter at the bottom of that silver straw will not be able to help you - from having to spit out leaves for a long time to come...

It was very strong tasting. Roasted and herb like flavours. Abit of astringent and bitter - this first steeping. But I was starting to feel a buzz... but this buzz was a calm kind of buzz. I felt alert but not jittery.

I kept refilling with more water... with each refill, it tasted better, more mellow. It's a bit of an acquired taste.

It give a nice boost of energy without the shakes (like you may get with energy drinks or coffee). Plus it's supposed to have some minerals and antioxidants too, I heard.

I felt alert and calm at the same time. And drinking it from the gourd was fun!

If you're looking for a fun way to give yourself a bit of a boost, maybe give yerba mate a try?

Not sure if it will give you wings though...

(All photos taken by Rita Fong)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tea and Chocolate Tasting at Montgomery Inn

Hello everyone!

I'm so sorry it's been awhile since my last post.  My day job is in the financial services industry and it is RRSP season in Canada!   One of the busiest time at work.. long working days and weeks...but on the bright side, six days left to go!  

No matter how busy it gets, a girl still needs a tea break once in a while!  On a cold Saturday morning on January 29th, I joined my fellow Tea Sommeliers at the historic Montgomery Inn for a successful tea and chocolate tasting event.  It was a fun, informative and whenever there is tea involved... fantastic day!

Pairing tea with chocolate... mmm ... definitely give it a try!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tea & Chocolate Tasting Event

What better way to start the new year than with tea!  Even better, with tea and chocolate!

The Tea Guild of Canada will be presenting a Tea and Chocolate tasting event. If you're in the greater Toronto area on Saturday, January 29th, why not indulge in a fun and informative afternoon of tea and chocolate! See below from the Tea Guild's flyer for more details.

RSVP needed, don't hesitate, call now!  See you there!

(below is  from the Tea Guild of Canada website)
Tea Guild of Canada presents...
A Tea and Chocolate Tasting

Join the Certified Tea Sommeliers from the Tea Guild of Canada at the historic Montgomery’s Inn for an afternoon which will pair these two ancient beverages.

Featuring Barry Callebaut, Soma & Valrhona chocolate.  You will be regaled with tales, tastings and treats.

Saturday, January 29, 2011
Montgomery's Inn
4709 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke (
click here for map), free parking & TTC accessible

Time: 1-4 p.m.
Cost $30

VISA reservation required, payment is CASH at the door

RSVP with Raelene Gannon

Proceeds to support Montgomery's Inn & Tea Guild of Canada (not-for-profit)