Blog Newsletter

Tea Infusiast News, No. 15

Welcome to the March 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News–a newsletter for tea lovers to connect with and through tea. This is the 15th edition of the newsletter.

In this March 2024 Edition

Events and Offerings

Past: International Women’s Day Celebration with Tea and Poetry

On March 2, 2024, I was thrilled to collaborate with Taniya Gupta of YogaTeaPoetry. We offered an online International Women’s Day Celebration with Tea and Poetry. We donated 10% of proceeds to the Nomi Network–an organization that works to end human trafficking. A hearty thanks to Taniya and to everyone who supported our event.

Upcoming Long Island Event: Tea as a Gateway to Mindfulness

Until now, all of my tea offerings have been online.

Next weekend, I’m thrilled to be offering my first in-person tea and mindfulness event. It’s for a local organization. (Sorry I can’t invite local Tea Friends to join.) Sign-ups exceeded my expectations, which is both exciting and a little stressful!

I’ll report back how that goes.

Photo of Traci Levy, writer of Tea Infusiast News, holding a teacup while seated on a sofa. Traci is a white woman with silver hair wearing violet glasses and a black sweater and pants.

Starting soon, I’ll be looking for other opportunities to offer in-person events near me on Long Island or in New York City.

Spring Rest Kit for Tea Lovers: Registration Open

Spring Rest Kit for Tea Lovers: Photo of brown ombre teacup on a blue and white piece of fabric sitting on a tea chest

Thanks to the response to February’s Rest Kit for Tea Lovers, I’m excited to announce that I have launched another online kit!

Make it easy to have restorative and mindful tea sessions this spring: sign up for my online Spring Rest Kit for Tea Lovers!

Registration is now open.

Weathering the Seasons

I know many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are thinking–often longingly–of spring now. As you might guess, I have to compose most of the March 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News in February. And, in my part of New York, winter weather arrived belatedly this year. So, it finally felt like winter in February!

I was actually relieved. I was worried I would never feel like I went through winter before it was over! It was an unsettling feeling. The February snow explains the snowy photos below. Also, I can never resist a snowy tea walk.

Teaware Talk: Thrifted Royal Grafton with a Surprise

This month’s highlighted teaware is a bit of a mystery.

March 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News features red and gold Royal Grafton sugar bowl being used as a teacup.

What’s more, I didn’t even realize there was a mystery until I began working on this March 2024 edition of the newsletter! I saw this gorgeous red teacup with a gold grapes and leaves in a thrift shop in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago. It was priced very affordably, so I bought it. I use this cup at home and often slip it into my travel tea bag for tea walks.

(In the two photos of this red cup, I combined pink rosebuds and dried quince from Chai Affairs with a yellow rosebud from Kiani Tea. Delightful!)

I started researching this Royal Grafton piece to find out the name of the pattern, etc. To my surprise, I have not been able to identify the pattern. I found one piece with this pattern, but it wasn’t named. In fact, I couldn’t find any evidence that Royal Grafton made any handless teacups. Their uncovered sugar bowls sometimes have this size and shape.

Red and gold Royal Grafton sugar bowl being used as a teacup. Inside, two pink rosebuds, a yellow rosebud, and a slice of dried quince make a lovely tisane.

My research, thus, suggests that this “teacup” is actually an uncovered sugar bowl. I thought it was a fluted, gongfu teacup! It’s a great as a teacup, so I’m going to keep using it that way. If you have any insight about the name of this pattern, please leave a comment. I’d love to know!

One other backstory to this piece is very meaningful to me. This teacup was one of the first that I started adding to my teaware travel bag as an “extra.” I had an experience that made me want to be prepared in case I ran into someone on my tea walks who would like to have tea. In my “Tea in the Canyon” post, I wrote about how a missed opportunity with a stranger inspired this practice. It has been almost two years. I haven’t had the chance to use that extra teacup on my tea walks, but I haven’t given up hope!

Famous Cultivars, Processed Unusually

In the last month, I’ve been enjoying two teas with a twist! Each tea is made from a cultivar–or variety of the tea plant–known for processing a particular type of tea. One cultivar I’ve been sipping is known for its use in the oolong Tie Guan Yin (TGY) and another for the green tea Long Jing (Dragonwell). The versions I have been sipping process each cultivar as a black teas– the TGY cultivar’s as Guan Yin Hong and the Long Jing cultivar’s as Black Dragonwell.

I brought both of these delicious teas at the Toronto Tea Festival in January. A friend and I split both of theses teas, thanks to a tea festival tip to bring extra food grade pouches to share purchases.

I’m happy to share my thoughts on these teas in this March 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News.

Black Dragonwell Tea

The Black Dragonwell from The Tea Practitioner was new to me. It’s from the Hangzhou area of China.

The first time I prepared the Black Dragonwell, it presented powerful and heavenly notes of orange marmalade.

Subsequence steeps have been different–but also very good. (And, I don’t think I’m doing anything differently. It’s mystifying!)

Black Dragonwell tea leaves in a white dish.
Tea Infusiast pouring Guan Yin Hong tea from a gaiwan into a fairness pitcher. The tea shows bubbles from the force of a pour. A white and magenta orchid is in the background.

I’ve tasted the fig mentioned in The Tea Practitioner’s tasting notes on their website.

I’ve also noted buckwheat honey, and a caramel/milk chocolate flavor that reminds me of a nostalgic candy of my childhood.

I still get an orange marmalade flavor at times, but more muted than that first time. This tea is a like a mood ring–in the best sense!

Have you tried Black Dragonwell? What are your tasting notes?

Guan Yin Hong Tea

Whereas Black Dragonwell was new to me, I’ve purchased the Guan Yin Hong from Zhen Tea several times before. But, I hadn’t had it in quite some time.

I was happy to reunite with this tea from Anxi in China! It tastes of caramel, fruit pie, and honey.

I would guess that if you enjoy one of these teas, you would also probably enjoy the other. They have sympathetic flavor profiles.

Guan Yin Hong tea leaves in a white dish.

I would have loved to compare the Black Dragonwell to Long Jing and the Guan Yin Hong to Tie Guan Yin. It would be fun to see if I could taste any similarities despite the different processing. Alas, I didn’t have any Long Jing or TGY at home. And, I was enjoying these teas too much to wait. One day, hopefully I’ll do that side-by-side cultivar tasting.

Tea Shares Another Lesson About Rest

As I have mentioned in earlier newsletters, I’ve had to cut back my tea consumption. These days, I’m usually only drinking tea in the morning. The process of reducing my tea intake has made me confront one way I used tea that was denying me the rest I needed.

Before I share this insight, I would like to emphasize that I regularly incorporate short, mindful tea breaks into my days. They feel gentle, affirming, and restorative. A day with these tea-and-rest pauses is so much better than a day without them. I still interact with tea this way during my morning tea. I used to integrate afternoon tea pauses into my day, too.

A green clay teapot pouring tea over a small clay turtle teapot on top of a tiny clay teapot.

My experiences with tea have shown its generosity as a gateway to rest and mindfulness. That’s one reason why, for example, I’ve offered tea and rest experiences. Registration, in fact, is open for my online Spring Rest Kit for Tea Lovers. I do want to share some limitations, in my opinion, of *only* using tea as a rest practice.

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