bluecreek's blog

How I drink tea

bottle of 1979 Hospices de BeauneSome things are great luxuries in life. Great wine, for example. It is wonderful, but it takes years to learn to appreciate and it is very expensive. Gaining the experience to appreciate a truly great wine is an enormous investment. 

Tea, on the other hand, is inexpensive. It is, arguably, the most affordable luxury item. Even great tea is within reach of most everyone.

Outdoor Wildlife Photography

I was not able to imagine how it would work to host a panel of two outstanding wildlife photographers but it worked really, really well. Although their work has much in common, there are crucial differences. Dave Shumway produces photographs to hang on the wall as fine art; Jack Ballard creates photographs to appear in books or magazines. In both cases, wildlife photography demands exceptionally high quality from a technical and artistic perspective.

Lisa Densmore Ballard presentation

World class skier Lisa Densmore Ballard, presented her most recent book, Ski Faster! Guide to Racing and High Performance Skiing .

Tasting tea: evaluating traditional tea

Tea tasting can be simple. When you are deciding which tea to buy, there are just a few things to consider.

  • Does the tea smell good?
  • Does the tea look good?
  • Does the tea taste good?
  • Does the tea feel good in your mouth?

On the simplest level, do you like it? If you like it, it is good.

We have several pages on making and evaluating tea. Here is their logical order:

Tasting tea: health

Many people promote teas and tisanes for their health benefits. They are often used in traditional medicines. This is a very complex topic, requiring considerable expertise, because while many popular tisanes are known to be safe, there are many that are dangerous to drink, such as foxglove or comfrey. This House of Books carries a variety of common tisanes known to be safe, but does not promote their use medicinally. We recognize that many teas and tisanes have properties that may be beneficial to health.

Tasting tea: brewing

Many of the obvious defects in tea are found at the level of taste. A cup tea might be too flat, too sour, too bitter, and so on. Know that This House of Books acquires high quality, premium teas that are not likely to have glaring taste defects. If you find that a cup does not suit your expectations for taste, experiment a little with brewing methods before moving on. Obviously, though, if a tea smells differently than what you expect (should this one smell smokey?), then it is a problem.

Tasting tea: what is tea?

We call a lot of things “tea.” Technically, tea is a beverage made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. Informally, we just call any beverage we extract from plant leaves a “tea,” although these are more properly called tisanes. Some of the most popular tisanes have become so popular that they are grouped in their own category. These include yerba maté, a drink that is popular in South America, and rooibos, a beverage popular in South Africa, where it is know as “bush tea.”

Tasting tea: flavor

Flavor is experienced as aroma. Whereas taste is experienced on the tongue, flavor is experienced in the nose. Whereas we can detect only six tastes, we can detect thousands of aromas.