How to Travel with tea

 Every tea drinker wants to ensure they always have their favorite tea with them at all times. Now for someone obsessed with tea, I bet that is most of us, we need more than one type.  While packing for Halifax I packed my tea first and thought of an easy way to make it where ever I am.
     In a box I packed up all the teas I thought I might want. This included a few kinds of matcha, samples from various companies and a tea cake.

    The vessel I picked out was my tumbler from the Camilla Sinensis that I got at the Ottawa Tea Festival while talking to Kevin Gascoyne. The exterior is coated in bamboo with a stainless steel inside. The infuser opens up to hold any type of loose leaf tea and screws closed.

Here are a few other options for brewing:

1- Paper Tea filters
       These are great, even for when introducing others to loose leaf tea. It’s close to how a tea bag works but allows you to choose your tea. My favorite kind is by Finnum, the extra long ones are great for all teas and for a teapot.

2-  Travel gaiwan set
        Sadly, mine broke while packing, but they are super handy. They come with a small fair cup to decant your tea into and several cups so that A great site I found  in Toronto is from Tao Tea Leaf.It is great for trips .

3. Double walled travel infuser
     These babies are a fantastic way to bring tea with you, even to work. Libre is a great Canadian company that has a plastic wall on the exterior and glass on the inside. This way it keeps your hand cool while keeping the temperature inside.

Take pART 2013: Art Fundraiser and Tea

       Every year I make sure I submit work to Take pART here in Toronto. This fundraiser is organized by The Branksome Hall Alumnae Association. All the raised funds go to student financial aid at Branksome Hall, an IB World School for girls, which is located in the heart of Toronto. 
The past few years my work has been consistently following the themes from my undergrad thesis. This involved themes of the body, gender, women, femininity and identity. This year I decided to show newer themes namely my tea art.
      All of the works are 10″ x 10″, each piece is a mystery till it is purchased. This is the reason for me posting this so late today. As promised to each of the new owners of these works here is some background information for these pieces. So if you are one of these lucky few, brew your cup of Phoenix Mountain Almond tea that was attached to the back of the work and read on.

” Japan Vs. China”
    This work features chawan (matcha bowl) and yixing pots. The reason why I choose these two types of tea ware is due to how tea spread from China to Japan. The latter then developed their own way to present the whisked tea and China created the first tea pot.
    I adore both cultures and enjoy studying both extensively through tea.

“Song Dynasty Tea Tools”
  These historic tea wares were mentioned in Lu Yu’s Tea Classic when I first read it back in 2010. Upon reading it again I looked them up and felt the need to paint them in sumi-e style. Like the work above I like to mix the two cultures together in ways such as this.

       Being of Indonesian decent, I feel that I am looking back the past of cultures who influenced the development there. The first work pokes at these ideas I have, mixing the two together to get something singular and unified. I am planning to visit all of these countries before I have grandchildren, I personally have a weird tendency to plan far far in the future like this. I can not wait to see them.

  To the patrons who purchased these works,Thank you for supporting the arts! Please contact me as I would love to meet you. If you have time I would love to meet over tea (or coffee if you prefer, lol) to hear why you purchased my work and how it makes you feel. Thank you with all my heart.

Sommelier Exam Study: Some tips

  Studying for this type of exam is hard work. I work towards the day I would be finished my classes and have to be fully ready for it. Back in 2012 I participated in the “So You Want To Be A Tea Sommelier” event at the Coffee and Tea Show. Here I had my first chance to try to identify 10 teas with only the liquid present. It is not as easy as some may think. When brewing teas in class we always had the leaves to look at, both dry and then wet. This helped narrow down which tea it was and the taste sealed the deal. The part that you have to get around is that all of the teas are steeped with boiling water for 5 minute steep. It was a lot to take in for a first try but I am glad I did it.

The last day of my class we did this exercise with 15 teas and then last week again with 20. Repeating this with many more teas than there will be helps you recognize where you need to focus. 

Friday last week I had organized a tasting with those who had also finished the program. The turn out was small but we got great pointers from Tao.

  We did three sets of teas. The first was white and green. Second was Oolong and Pu-er. And last was blacks.

 In this manner we were able to focus on the slight differences between them.

For example: Japanese green teas have a bit of a bite to them with a distinct vegetalness while Chinese green teas still maintain their sweetness. Another note to taste for is smokiness as some styles of Chinese teas are pan fried by hand. 

For Our oolongs and Pu-er, we looked for the difference between a green and dark Ooong. Then tried to find the pu-er by colour alone, and checked it by taste and smell on the back of our spoon. 

Black teas were interesting, I personally mixed up Golden Yunnan and Golden Assam. When I asked Tao how to tell the difference he mentioned about the astringency of an Assam                                  and roundness of the Yunnan.

 Using this last study method helped me feel more at ease for the up coming exam.  I hope these points help anyone else who is going as I like to share information I learn. So if this helps you please share it with other students. This way we all benefit from these experiences.

 The Tea Association of Canada exam guide can be found here for download.

 Suggested books to read:  

   So good luck! I hope this helped out out a little. I would love to know how it goes for everyone. Please e-mail me or comment below!

                  Happy Steeping!


Lessons with Tao: Ancient Pu-er

     Since the end of July I have been with Tao Tea Leaf and have learnt a lot since. A few weeks ago, with some friends we began the day tasting an Ancient Tree Pu-er. I have never had the chance to try this type of tea, but I have always wanted to . Others in the online Tea Community have written many pages on this type,but this is a first for me.
       The tea we tried was 2009 Bing Dao , Tao described it as the “Queen or Pu-er” latter in the day. On an empty stomach this tea made me feel warm and I had a light sweat. This feeling was new to me, I wish I knew why the body has such a reaction after drinking it.
   As we continued to brew Tao invited Mike our guest who came in with his wife, to explain “Qi” to me. 
    Qi has been mentioned on many blogs I have read, It is hard to describe. To put it simply its how the tea effects your body, to understand this more I suggest giving this type of pu-er. 

 The teas dry leaves have a sweet biscuit like scent to them that,when
steeped, opens up to a stone fruit taste with a hint of menthol (Hui Gan is the name for this). A
lingering mouth feel, as the menthol coats your pallet  The body feels warm and
the tea makes you sink into your chair further, becoming more centered and
aware of its weight. As the body adjusts to the
tea, we found it hard to control our body from burping. This is a very natural occurrence, each time it made the body feel like it was fixing something from within.

       Latter in the afternoon We sat down again to try Ban Zang 2011, which I was told was the “King of Pu-er”.

Smelling the wet leaves has a menthol smell, it feels like it
opens the sinuses. It has a very young taste. The taste is similar to a good
cigar and the smell takes us to a secluded creek. As the body adjusts to the
tea, we found it hard to control our body from burping. It has a strong Cha Qi , Tao tells me which causes this.This is a very natural occurrence,
each time it made the body feel like it was fixing something from within.

           There are two villages in the area this is made, new and old. The old village
is located apart from the new, where this tea originates. The area experiences
a thick fogginess for  about a third of
the year, due to its high altitude. There are thousands of old trees that vary
in age, from over 100 years old to over 800 years old. 
  Have you tried Ancient Tree Pu-er before?  I would love to hear about your experience with them. 

What are you going to be? A Tea Sommelier!…Why?

    Back in October 2011 It had been about a year since I had finished at OCAD U and a year at Teaopia. All of my family over Thanksgiving dinner asked me what I wanted to do now that I had a years experience in the “real world”.
      There are so many movies on people my age trying to find out what they want to do. So, instead of finding something else I stuck with tea. That same fall I had joined The Tea Guild of Canada and felt I had a found a long-lost family. Ian from Majesteas urged me to join the board, and I am still with them today. At Teaopia I continued to meet great people at the store in the financial district here in Toronto. Two regulars even joined the Tea Guild the following year.
        February 2012, My co-worker joined The Tea Guild , she turned to me latter that month and proposed we take classes together. Not just any classes, but The Tea Sommelier Program. I had been advised to take them for over a year before but did not know how to go about it.  So I learned how to and began to strengthen my knowledge of tea.After the first class she found she had to move her focus on work and I kept on going with the classes. I even started taking Japanese Tea Ceremony classes during that year.  I let my family know my new focus was to become certified and keep working with tea. At the time it was with Teavana, where I learned how to manage and teach the great staff we had at our stores.
      Fast forwarding to now, I have finished my certification. I am still hearing these questions from family and friends.

What does it mean to “be a Tea Sommelier”?

             In response to this I created the video below to help  you out. Feel free to comment or e-mail me any questions you may have (ps. My website is now up, you can find my e-mail in the contact section at ). I absolutely love questions so at anytime you want a question answered, send it my way, Thank you all.

Shout out to Ian at Majesteas, Tao at Tao Tea Leaf, Carol Savage and the rest of the Tea Guild. I would not be who I am today without you. Thank you so much for supporting me and I hope we can continue to support each other in the future.