"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~ C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Painting with Tea with Dara Gold

Dara Gold is an artist and illustrator located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I first found some of her pieces on Twitter and started to dig deeper to notice her creations painted with tea! After connecting with Dara she has shared with me three of her favourite pieces along with her process for each.

Fox Goddess

*The whole in progress series can be viewed on Dara's Facebook page and website.
 I started this series by making large tea stains based off of reference photos of galaxies from our solar system. Once I finished the tea stains I started to think about what I wanted them to be. I really liked the idea of heavenly bodies and the zodiac, and eventually decided to create a pantheon of goddesses based on the stains. I didn't plan the illustrations before hand. I had the idea in mind, and then stared really hard at the stains until an image took shape. The final illustrations are created freehand with ink. I'm really excited about this series, and the eventual accompanying print project that will go along with it.

Tea Owl

*The whole series can be viewed on Dara's Facebook page and website.
I love animal portraits. I think that in general animal's features lend themselves really well to the abstract and exaggerated shapes created by tea stains. I started this series by taking polls on various social media to figure out what animals people thought of as the cutest. Then I tested a variety of teas to figure out how to get the different colours for each animal. I really tried to give the final illustrations a lot of personality.

Secret Suit

This image, like most of my tea stains illustrations, had absolutely no planning. I stained paper with tea, and then free hand inked on top. The idea was totally inspired by the shape of the tea. I love starting with something abstract, and slowly but surely exacting more control with a free associative drawing process. I also adore drawing characters in suits.

Out of all of these wonderful tea creations, it's hard for me to pick a favourite. If you'd like to get to know Dara Gold more, or check out the rest of her tea art and illustrations you can find her website here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How To Tea: Cold Brewing

Being a tea drinker, you have to be somewhat patient as you can't just pour a pot of tea and go. Steep times take up some of your time, but it's totally worth it. Up until this Summer I have been avoiding the cold steeping method of making tea because, well, I just didn't think I could wait that long for a cuppa. I decided to experiment though, and settled on trying to cold steep a white tea as I found that it required the least amount of wait compared to other types of tea.

Cold brewing is easy and can be quite rewarding. This method involves making your tea with cold water only, eliminating the water-heating process. It will produce a lighter-bodied tea with less astringency and bitterness. Any black, green, oolong or white tea will cold steep well, all varying in times. I wouldn't recommend any tisanes. 

What You'll Need

  • a jar with a lid (mason jars can work well for this!)
  • loose leaf tea of your choice
  • cold water
  • flavouring of your choice (optional)

Directions

  1. Measure 2-3 teaspoons of your loose leaf tea and place it into your jar. I put my leaves directly into the jar to get full flavour. If you'd like you can use an infuser.
  2. Fill the jar to the top with cold water, preferably filtered. 
  3. Add in any additional flavours you would like to be present in your cold brew tea. Some options could be honey, fresh mint, lemon, cinnamon sticks, etc. This step is optional as cold brewed tea is naturally sweeter.
  4. Seal the jar and refrigerate for appropriate duration based on the tea you chose. (See times below) *Tip: it's a good idea to do this overnight so you can wake up to a refreshing drink waiting for you and eliminate your waiting time!
  5. Before drinking or storing your cold steep, be sure to strain the leaves if you did not use an infuser.

How Long To Cold Brew For... 

  • Black Tea: 15-20 hours
  • Green Tea: 6-8 hours
  • White Tea: 6-8 hours 
  • Oolong Tea: 8-10 hours
Experiment with each type of tea and see what you come up with! Be sure to let me know if you give it a try and how your results were.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Tea Wisdom by Aaron Fisher

Inspirational Quotes And Quips About The World's Most Celebrated Beverage 
 

Never in my life have I felt like I've been swamped with books to read (maybe other than back in College). I'm finding that lately I will see a book, usually tea or marketing related, that I have to have knowing that I still have a stash to read but get it anyways. I'm currently reading probably 5 different books at once - I do not recommend it though. However, Tea Wisdom is quite different and more of a leisurely read for me. 

Tea Wisdom is a charming collection of the most beautiful tea photography perfectly pair with lovely tea quotes and quips. I especially like how Aaron Fisher has divided the quotes in seven separate sections which make it easier to find an inspiring or quirky one related to how you're feeling. The sections are: Good Living, Good Health, Good Spirits, Good Company, Traditions, Reviving Yourself and, my personal favourite, Reflection and Mediation. For what it is, this book is the perfect size and I was surprised with how durable the book was in person for it being labeled as "paperback".  

Other than the introduction, I have not read this book in order. I prefer opening it up to a random page and just reading the quotes I land on to start my day. For this reason, I think Tea Wisdom is the perfect coffee table book.... or should I say "tea table".

*To find out more about Tea Wisdom, or to pick up a copy of your own you can check it out on Tuttle Publishing.
 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rise & Chai with Tea India's Chai Moments

"Chai is an integral part of India’s history. Throughout India, enterprising young chai wallahs sell steaming glasses of chai in crowded railway platforms. Busy shoppers stop at teeming bazaars for a quick cup of chai served in small tea cups and saucers. Discover the taste of India with Tea India."

If you want a quick fix for a warm hug, look no further. Tea India's Chai Moments are a unique blend of the finest Assam teas combined with authentic and flavourful spices for a true Chai latte drinking experience. Coming in 10 packets per box, Chai Moments is available in four flavors: Masala, Cardamom, Ginger, and brand new Milk Tea (Coming this fall!).

 
I'm grateful I had an opportunity to try all four flavours and report back to my blog that there wasn't a single one that I wouldn't recommend. If you're someone with a hectic lifestyle and find it hard to get a delicious, good quality tea in your day then these Chai Moments may be just what you're searching for. Without needing to add milk or sugar, this truly is the perfect item to place in your travel mug, pocket, purse, etc. and go!

All of the blends were delicious and naturally creamy. The Masala Chai was a rich blend that stays true to the Chai roots. I was surprised to find that the Masala Chai was actually not my favourite as I was expecting. Instead, I was really fond of the Cardamom and it's wonderful fragrant blend. Milk Tea was also nice and a great option for someone who doesn't want too much spice in their sips. It's an easier going Chai that is still warming and tasty. Ginger, probably my least favourite but still delightful, was refreshing and invigorating! I found this one to have the most kick in it which makes for it to be quite enjoyable in the morning.


Chai Moments is an authentic chai product for when you need it on the go. As the season begins to change here in Canada (sigh..) and we begin to pack away our shorts and tank tops to make room for sweater weather this is the perfect time for you to enjoy a moment with a cup of Chai.

Where to find Tea India...

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeaIndia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeaIndia
Instagram: http://instagram.com/teaindia
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/teaindiaus/

*Do you have a tea moment you'd like to share and be featured on our blog? Whether it is chai or any other kind of tea... Take part in our new series A Cup of Zen today!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tea Meditation: Finding inner peace inside your teacup

Have you stopped for your Tea Meditation today? If you were to ask me this question a few years ago I would have laughed and shrugged it off. Meditating with something I drink on a daily basis? How? What? The thing is, most people are doing it and not even realizing it. Keep reading to see if that is you and if it is, do not stop reading, as there will be more tips on how to better your tea meditation for next time.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a practice of tea meditation, where you pick up your tea, breathe it in, and bring your mind back to your body. You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy tea. At times, when we are drinking tea, whether it is alone or with others, we are not fully aware of the cup or even our friends sitting there. It is said, and proved, that just to enjoy tea is enough for happiness. As a beverage that is typically advertised with many health benefits such as calming effects, tea meditation can be a practice for many and it’s a lot simpler than it may seem.

Pick out a teacup, whichever one calls to you, and set it down mindfully. Step aside and select the tea you wish to brew. Grab your kettle and pour fresh water in it (tea should always be made with fresh water for better quality). Bring the kettle to a boil. As you wait for the water to boil, sit and practice a short breathing meditation. Listening to the faint whistles of your kettle, inhale and exhale until it is time to turn the kettle off. Depending on the type of tea, and since you’re technically not supposed to use boiled water on tea leaves, rest with the kettle to the side to let the water cool for a bit. Use this time to cool your mind as well. Inhale. Exhale. Feel the steam from the kettle around you. Inhale. Exhale. 
With your full attention, place the tea you selected into the teacup you were drawn to. Pour the heated water over your tea bag or tealeaves. While you allow it to steep for the duration recommended sit beside your teacup and simply follow your breath, noticing where you are in this exact moment.

When your cup of tea has finished brewing, indulge in it while a tea drinking exercise from Thich Nhat Hanh. You can find it here. Always remember that the process of tea meditation is nothing more than letting yourself concentrate on one thing at a time. 

Namaste,

Lu Ann

*Need a little reminder to focus on the present? Check out Steal Time Back's products, including the popular "NOW" watches. 
 
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