October 11, 2018

Finally after a year of research and a ton of paperwork, we acquited a high quality grinder from Shizuoka Japan! It has the capacity to grind  to the fineness of 20 microns. Even industrial flour mills can only grind to 70 microns, so this small grinder is pretty impressive. Unlike other types of grinders that usually cut with blades, this one works like an ishiusu, a traditional stone grinder from Japan, which grinds with two...

July 20, 2018

I am spending part of the summer in a Zen monastery and in the back of the yard near the property line is an old mulberry tree.  There were many different trees in the neighboring yard, but they were chopped down yesterday to make room for a new hermitage building, a residence for the temple priests. 

Seeing the trees fall the head priest started crying.  She said, "I would rather have the trees than the hermitage."  I won...

July 16, 2018

I ate in an upscale Korean restaurant in Ann Arbor Michigan the other day.  Accustomed to having my own bowl of bibimbap, I was surprised to be served instead a number of small dishes in a course menu format.  It reminded me a lot of Japanese kaiseki, a form of dining where each dish is prepared differently and brought out one at a time.

Another reminder of Japanese cuisine was the dessert.  The restaurant served matcha ic...

July 11, 2018

Master Eisai (d.1215), a Japanese monk who established the Rinzai school of Zen in Japan, is also credited with popularizing tea drinking, but mulberry may have been his real passion. 

Eisai wrote "Drink Tea to Nourish Life" (Kissa yōjōki), a text that advocated tea consumption and one that is often cited today to demonstrate the close connection between tea, especially the tea ceremony, and Zen Buddhism.

However, Eisai has a l...

July 8, 2018

In May and June, I had the opportunity to visit tea farms in Taiwan and Japan including some of the most famous tea growing regions that produce Chinese Oolong and Japanese matcha.  Some of the tea fields look like gardens with the tea trees shaped into perfect hedges row after row. 

The immaculate tea trees and complete absence of any weeds would not be possible without the frequent application of pesticides, fertilizers,...

July 6, 2018

Making mulberry leaf powder tea at home is easy to do.  

The first step is to remove the leaves from the branches.  Then wash and dry the leaves.

 Place a bunch of leaves on top of one of another and roll them into a cigar shape.  Cut the leaves into half inch wide strips.

Place water in the base of a steaming pot and boil.

Steam the chopped leaves for 3 minutes.

Dry the steamed leaves in an oven at 300F degrees. Periodic...

May 20, 2018

Eric visited Hong Kong and Taiwan to attend an academic conference about tea.

He sent me a few pictures from a tea farm in rural Taiwan. These small farms specialize in making Oolong and black teas.

He also told me a story about one interesting tea called Imperial Concubine that was discovered by accident.

The earthquake in 1999 devastated some of the tea regions in Taiwan. The tea farmers fled for a month, and when they came bac...

May 20, 2018

An estimated 36 million trees are disappearing from US cities every year. That was the first news I read this morning in the Guardian. The trees are being replaced by roads and buildings of course. Researchers are warning of serious environmental, social, and economic problems, if this trend continues.

Removing tress, which are natural air filters, makes air and water pollution unavoidable. Heating and cooling bills will also c...

May 20, 2018

Hydration Part 5

I get confused seeing all the kinds of water in the store -- distilled, natural spring, purified, reverse osmosis, etc.  When I looked into online sources, a lot of water connoisseurs go in depth about water. 

To make a long story short, use natural spring water to make a good cup of tea. Avoid distilled and tap water at all cost.  I tested distilled and natural spring water with my tea powder. It clearly t...

May 20, 2018

Hydration Part 4

It's interesting to see that there are cultural differences even when it comes to water.

Usually Americans prefer regular water versus the bubbly water that is beloved by many Europeans. When I lived in Spain in my 20’s, this was one of the most confusing things especially when I went to restaurants. To this date I still do not know why many Europeans prefer to drink bubbly water. It must be historical, and have...

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