Focusing on Taste

Today on Talking Tea we focus on the nuances of flavor, and how to fully appreciate the taste of tea by engaging all of our senses. Guiding us through this exploration of tasting is Billy Dietz, a tea development specialist based in Montreal. We chat with Billy via Skype as he shares a little of his own remarkable tea journey and then takes us through two methods of preparing a tea he selected for this episode, a Muzha Tie Kwan Yin oolong from Taiwan provided by Naivetea.

We compare the preparation of this tea in the traditional Chinese covered cup known as a gaiwan with the professional tasting method known as "cupping". (In the image here the gaiwan is in the left foreground, the cupping set to its right.) Billy explains the purpose of each of these brewing methods, gives us details on brewing tips in each style and discusses how these details of preparation affect the taste. We chat about how the other senses come into play as well - the visual aspects of the dry and infused leaf and the brewed tea, the aroma, the tactile sensations of the tea after we sip it, and even how we breathe before and after taking a sip - how to fully engage with all of these to allow a fuller discovery of the tea. Throughout,  Billy emphasizes the need for playful experimentation with our tea, so that our tea drinking becomes an art of discovery, an opportunity for mindfulness and self-awareness.

 

You can follow Billy on Twitter and Instagram at @sirwillotleaf. You can find his blogsite at sirwilliamoftheleaf.com.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Photo courtesy of Billy Dietz.

 

 

Direct download: TT_Focusing_on_Taste.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 5:58pm EST
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Montreal's Tea School

What did Talking Tea do this summer? We went to summer school, of course. Tea summer school, that is. In August we attended one of the English-language Summer School workshops offered through the tea school at Montreal's Camellia Sinensis. After the workshop we sat down with Kevin Gascoyne of Camellia Sinensis to chat about current and emerging trends in tea education.

Kevin talks with us about Camellia Sinensis' model for tea education, how its tea school began with a goal of giving consumers better access to tea knowledge and how it's evolved to include programming oriented to tea industry professionals as well as consumers. We discuss the Summer School and the benefits of small, seminar-style workshops where students and instructors have the ability to share first-hand experience. Kevin also shares his perspectives on what students should look for in choosing a tea education program, identifying a student's goals and finding a program to fit those goals, the pro's and con's of certification and the ability of tea education to empower consumers and industry professionals for their own tea journeys.

We also sat down in the Camellia Sinensis tea house with four participants in the Summer School workshop to chat about their perspectives on tea education: Tea researcher/educator/author Selena Ahmed and chef Noah ten Broek talk with us about increasing awareness of the nuances of taste and sensory experience, and tea sellers Zhen Lu and Phil Rushworth discuss addressing misinformation within the tea industry and the importance of educating tea vendors as well as consumers.

More info about Camellia Sinensis and its tea school is at the Camellia Sinensis website, camellia-sinensis.com. To inquire about next year's Summer School, contact Kevin Gascoyne at info-en@camellia-sinensis.com

More on Selena Ahmed, her work and publications, are at Montana State's Food and Health Lab website. More on Zhen Lu and Phil Rishworth's company, Zhen Tea, is at the Zhen Tea website, zhentea.ca.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Direct download: TT_Montreals_Tea_School.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 6:52pm EST
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The Sencha Episode

This week on Talking Tea we're exploring the intricacies of sencha, the most ubiquitous of Japanese green teas. Sencha? Intricate? Many tea drinkers don't think of those two words in the same context, but we sit down with Zach Mangan of Kettl, a Japanese tea seller based in Fukuoka, Japan and Brooklyn, New York, to sample some senchas and to look at how multifaceted this tea can be.

Kettl has developed a reputation for being a purveyor of tea to some of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York City, and Zach talks with us about his own tea journey and his inspiration for launching Kettl. We chat about how sencha is grown and processed, how differing production techniques result in variations in taste, aroma and complexity, and how Japanese tea producers mix tradition with modern technology to create their teas. As we sample and compare a blended sencha from the Uji region and an unblended single-cultivar sencha from Nagasaki, Zach talks with us about why sencha is often (but not always) a blend, and about how differences in steaming result in the quite notable variations in appearance, texture and flavor of asamushi, chumushi and fukamushi sencha.

More information about Kettl, including its online store, info about its retail shop, classes and events, and where you can find Kettl teas in New York City, is available at Kettl's website, kettl.co.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Image of Kettl's Asanoyume sencha courtesy of Kettl.

 

 

 

 

Direct download: TT_Sencha.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 12:49am EST
Comments[1]

Creating Forest-Grown Tea in Hawaii

Since we launched Talking Tea in 2014, one of our main areas of focus has been the continuing growth of tea enthusiasm in North America. We've chatted with tea sellers, educators and writers, but we haven't had the chance to talk with anyone actually farming tea in the US or Canada. Until now.

Today on Talking Tea we welcome Eliah Halpeny and Cam Muir of Big Island Tea, a pioneering tea farm and producer on the (you guessed it) big island of Hawaii. Eliah and Cam have created an ecologically complex forest environment for growing tea on the fertile slopes of Mauna Loa volcano. They chat with us about how they came to tea production, their model of sustainable tea farming in a self-replenishing forest and how that model impacts the flavor, aroma and quality of their teas. We also chat about Hawaii's budding tea industry and about how the artistry and science Cam and Eliah bring to their work go into creating what Cam calls a "symphony of flavors" in their teas. And from our perspective, that symphony is a masterpiece.

 

More about Big Island Tea, including retailers and restaurants carrying its teas, can be found at its website, bigislandtea.com. Additional images are on its Instagram feed. For info about private purchases of Big Island teas, contact Eliah at eliah@bigislandtea.com.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Image of the Big Island Tea farm courtesy of Big Island Tea.

 

 

 

 

 

Direct download: TT_Big_Island_Tea.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 10:05am EST
Comments[1]

Tea, Heart to Heart

This week on Talking Tea we return to the Tea Institute at Penn State University to explore the evolution and burgeoning growth of interest in Japanese tea ceremony study at the Institute and beyond, and the transformative nature of tea ceremony practice. We first chat with Drew Hanson, founding instructor of the Urasenke program at the Institute. Drew talks with us about his own journey from art to tea, the history and development of the Japanese track at the Institute, and changing demographics and perspectives among students of Japanese tea ceremony.

Aside from his work in tea, Drew's teaching background is in literature and theater, and since tea ceremony has been called an "improvised drama", we look at whether tea ceremony in the Japanese tradition is a form of interactive theater. We explore the roles of action, dialogue and utensils, the "parts" played by participants, and those transformative moments of giving freely from the heart which are common to both theater and tea ceremony.

We're also joined by Courtney Singley, current student director of the Japanese tea ceremony track at the Institute. Courtney is an architecture student at Penn State, and she shares with us her perspectives on openness and intimacy in the spatial elements of tea ceremony, and how those elements can be internalized and then used in building for ourselves and our world.

 

More about the Tea Institute, its programs, events and tea house, is in our earlier episode, "Tea Goes to College", and at the Institute's website.

For information on Drew Hanson's private classes in Japanese tea ceremony, go to his website, njgreentea.com.

Info about Japanese tea ceremony classes offered through Urasenke Philadelphia and Shofuso is available at Shofuso's website or at phillytea.org.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

Direct download: TT_Penn_State_2.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 12:23pm EST
Comments[1]

New Visions in Japanese Tea

If you've listened to our Talkin' Matcha episodes you'll recognize the name of Tyas Huybrechts. Tyas has been a blogger and tea ceremony instructor based in Osaka and Kyoto, Japan, and we're delighted to welcome Tyas back to Talking Tea to chat about his new venture, The Tea Crane, a company focused on chemical-free Japanese tea.

Tyas shares his views on how the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has impacted the taste and aroma of Japanese teas and influenced the preferences of tea consumers.  Tyas is also an instructor in the Enshu school of Japanese tea ceremony, and we discuss his vision for spreading an awareness and understanding of tea ceremony through emphasizing the role of the guest in tea ceremony education.

More about The Tea Crane, including information about its programs, workshops and classes, can be found at its website, http://www.the-tea-crane.com/ and on its Facebook page.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Photo of tea farm in the mountains of Nara Prefecture, Japan, courtesy of Tyas Huybrechts.

Direct download: TTNewVisions.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 9:57pm EST
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Tea Goes to College

An institute dedicated to intensive, interdisciplinary tea education and research is not something you'll typically see at a college or university in North America - or anywhere else, for that matter. But it's exactly what you'll find at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where an initiative originally undertaken by students has resulted in the groundbreaking, university-funded Tea Institute at Penn State. This week on Talking Tea we visit the Penn State Tea Institute and chat with its current Executive Director Zongjun "Sam" Li, Director of Research John Miraszek, founder Jason Cohen and past Executive Director Ryan Ahn (all pictured here, along with host Ken Cohen), to explore the Institute's history, curriculum, public programs and research.

Jason first talks with us about the Institute's beginnings as a student club, how it grew into a tea house and finally, in 2009, into an institute with an established international reputation and funding from the governments of Taiwan, Japan and Korea as well as from Penn State University. The group gives us an overview of the curriculum in the Institute's three tracks of tea study (Chinese, Korean and Japanese) as well as a more in-depth look into its lineage-based Chinese track and instructor certification program. All of our guests this week are scientists, and we chat about the integration of science and art in tea and the impact of aesthetics and environment on taste perception and appreciation. We also discuss the Institute's libraries of books and historical teas, its past and current research projects, its upcoming programs and its successes in introducing students to the world of tea.

Information about the Institute, its programs, events and contact info, social media links and the hours of its tea house, are at the Institute's website. Dates of the events mentioned in this episode are subject to change - visit the Institute's Facebook page for updates.

Additional links mentioned or referenced in the episode are:

Jason Cohen's ongoing research at Analytical Flavor Systems - www.gastrograph.com

The Korean Way of Tea, by Brother Anthony - available through Amazon.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Direct download: TT_Tea_Goes_to_College.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 6:44pm EST
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Tea Culture/Youth Culture

This week on Talking Tea we look at the growing popularity of tea and tea culture among youth and teens. Chatting with us (via Skype) is Connor Adlam of Tching.com, the well-known blog and online forum for tea information.

Connor, the intern social media editor at Tching and also a member of this demographic, shares his perspectives both from a personal standpoint and from his work at Tching. We chat about what makes tea and tea culture attractive to younger drinkers, the role of social media in breaking through misinformation and stereotypes, and how tea connects with the rising interest in mindfulness and spirituality among young people. Connor also talks with us about his own “tea ride” and how tea drinkers of all ages can use online resources to increase their knowledge of tea and connect with the depth, passion and diversity of the worldwide tea community.

 

You can find Tching's many resources (including articles by Connor) at Tching.com, at its Facebook page and Twitter feed and on Instagram at tchingblog.

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

  

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Photo of Connor Adlam courtesy of Connor Adlam. Connor's shirt by Teaprints (http://teaprints.com).

Direct download: TT_Tea_Culture_Youth_Culture.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 9:18am EST
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Tea, Zen, Awareness

We're releasing this episode in between the Western new year and the Asian lunar new year, and we took this opportunity to quiet our minds, turn inward a bit, and look again at tea as a contemplative practice. Chatting with us in this exploration is Ven. Hyeonmin Prajna, a Zen teacher in the Five Mountain Zen Order based in New York City, and a student and practitioner of Japanese tea ceremony in the Dai Nihon Chado Gakkai school of tea.

The history of tea culture is so intertwined with Zen Buddhism that it seemed natural to ask a Zen teacher to give us some perspectives on the practice of tea, and we talk with Hyeonmin about the essence of Zen and how to apply Zen ideals to both tea ceremony and casual tea drinking. Hyeonmin sheds light on how the Japanese tea ceremony in particular reflects some of those ideals, gives us suggestions on applying these principles to everyday tea and everyday life, and discusses how all tea culture can, from a Zen perspective,  expand our awareness and help us “correct the mind and the heart”.

 

More info on Five Mountain Zen in New York City can be found at zen-nyc.info and on Ven. Hyeonmin Prajna's Facebook page. To learn about tea ceremony programs in New York City in the Dai Hihon Chado Gakkai tradition, go to http://www.tea-whisk.com

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

  

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

 

 

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Direct download: TT_Tea_Zen_Awareness.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 11:18pm EST
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How To Spot a Quality Tea - Part 2: Silver Needles

In our last episode of Talking Tea we began to explore the elements of a quality tea with Shunan Teng of New York City's Tea Drunk. As examples of what to look for in choosing tea, Shunan selected two historically famous teas from China. We began in our last episode by looking at Gua Pian, a green tea, and now we chat with Shunan about Bai Hao Yin Zhen, also known as Silver Needles, as we continue discussing how to spot a quality tea.

Shunan chats with us about some of the unique characteristics of Bai Hao Yin Zhen and white tea in general, and common mistakes buyers make in choosing a white tea. One of the things that makes Bai Hao Yin Zhen unusual is that it's composed only of buds of the tea plant, and we talk with Shunan about what the appearance, aroma and texture of the buds can tell us about the tea's quality and how it was harvested and processed. 

 

More info on Tea Drunk, including its online store, shop hours and events, can be found at its website, http://tea-drunk.com/. The website also has links to Shunan's fantastic videos of her sourcing trips in China. The direct link to the videos is http://tea-drunk.com/pages/tea-trip-videos.

 

For more information on Talking Tea and updates on new episodes, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/talkingtea.

To inquire about being a guest or having your organization featured, please email us at talkingteapodcasts@gmail.com.

Have something in mind you'd like to hear discussed on Talking Tea? Leave us a comment on Facebook or on our Libsyn episode page, or email us.

  

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @Kensvoiceken. 

  

 

This podcast features music from "Japanese Flowers" (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Photo of Bai Hao Yin Zhen courtesy of Tea Drunk.

Direct download: TT_Silver_Needle.mp3
Category:Society & Culture -- posted at: 7:17pm EST
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