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 http://www.katherinebellman.com ). 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.

Toronto Tea Festival!

   My good friend Tao of Tao Tea Leaf, has been eagerly pursuing the creation of Toronto’s own Tea Festival.  After a lot of research its happening~
  All the information is at the website (click the logo above). It will  be February 2nd 2013 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon (2nd floor). The day will consists of speakers, demos and of course all of the exhibitors. Shop for all your favourite teawares, teas, and related products – this is the perfect opportunity to shop for your Valentine (hint hint).
       Together with help of the team that consists of sponsors and members of the Tea Guild of Canada, this is sure to be an event you DON’T want to miss.  Best part is that if you sign up before the new year you save $5 off your ticket! Great Christmas gift to give to your love ones who also love tea. Get one for your self you know you deserve it, see you all there!

              Here are the speakers that we have so far!

Michelle Pierce Hamilton

Michelle Pierce Hamilton is a Nutritionist, Certified Tea Sommelier, and Healing Arts Practitioner/Teacher. These combined philosophies and disciplines are the spirit behind “beTeas”, Michelle’s unique online tea store where exceptional teas and tea experiences now come alive in London, Ontario.

Michelle also teaches the Canadian Tea Sommelier Certification program now offered at Fanshawe College in conjunction with the Tea Association of Canada. A long-time industry professional in project management, Michelle also continues to work part-time as a Project Management Consultant and Educator for London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

Passionate about tea and health, Michelle believes tea is the world’s healthiest beverage and that it provides doorway to healthier diet and lifestyle.

Gillian Niblett – As founder of “Tea At The White House”, a successful tea room and tea shop in Waterdown, Ontario and current owner of “Niblett and Wiggins – Purveyors of High Tea” in Oakville, Ontario, Gillian Niblett has an extensive background in the world of tea

Gillian is a qualified Tea Specialist, certified by the Specialty Tea Institute of the USA, and an accomplished speaker often called upon to share her expertise about tea at corporate events and educational seminars.

Gillian is looking forward to attending the Toronto Tea Festival where she will share her knowledge of tea gleaned through her education, her business experience, and her travels to the tea gardens of India and China.

Tao Wu – A Certified Canadian Tea Sommelier, is the creator and founder of the Toronto Tea Festival.Tao Wu is a second-generation tea exporter.Raised in the Wu Yi Shan area of Fujian, China, a region known for its oolong and black teas, Tao uses his background and experience to continue the rich history of Chinese tea culture.

Founded in 2009 by Tao Wu, Tao Tea Leaf (934 Yonge St.) is an award-winning, full-service tea store located in Toronto’s fashionable Yorkville area. Best known for it’s extensive loose Chinese tea selection, Tao Tea Leaf also offers a variety of loose teas from Japan, India, South America and Africa, as well as an extensive line of USDA-certified organic loose teas. Tao Tea Leaf hosts regular tea workshops for beginners and experienced tea drinkers, conduct traditional Chinese style tea ceremonies and offer an Annual Tea Tour to China.

Bill Kamula – Tea Sommelier professor, Created the tea appreciation certificate at George Brown College, Tea Guild Co-Chair/George Brown College Tea Sommelier program instructor.

   **Speaker information directly sourced from Festival website November 28th, 2012.**

Video and beliefs

    While looking up more information about “Wu Wei” and it’s association with tea, I came across this video.
As I sipped my Da Hong Pao (Camillia Sinensis- Montreal, review to come) I watched, this short educational video reminded me of my own Tao for tea. I like to relax while I brew, read something Zen or Tao related and listen to the tea. I try out different wares to see their effect on the tea, as that change may in turn change my mood. How we feel while we brew comes out in tea, this I strongly believe in.  Even customers ask me why the matcha/tea I make tastes differently from everyone else  on occasion. This reinforces my belief

Majesteas- Website up and running!

Majesteas website- Robert and Ian are both part of The Tea Guild of Canada 

          After a lot of hard work from my good friends at Majesteas, it is finally up and running. Great timing too since Robert Gignac is off to China with Tao of Tao Tea Leaf latter this week. He has even started off the blog with an entry detailing information about various teas he will get to try.  I wish him well on his trip and a safe return with teas to try.