with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

My Not-So Secret Passon for Tea

Pearl of the Red Robe Cafe serves gongfu tea ceremony at Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon - photography by Lorelle Vanfossen.I’ve always been a tea nut. Not just any old tea, but exploring all parts of tea – my own way of tea.

I first explored tea through the herbals, seeking improvements in health and energy. Along the way I ran into the legends of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and other history, recipes, and ceremonies around this powerful Asian plant, .

In the past few years I’ve dived even deeper into Asian teas, exploring the culture, ceremonies, tea equipment and supplies, agriculture, and, of course, the tea itself. A friend living in China brought over the most incredible green tea as a gift, a tea very expensive here but cheap there, and my passion for tea reignited as I researched the source of the tea and what is known as the Way of Tea, a form of spiritual journey that comes with a passion for all things tea.

I’ve built up quite a collection of knowledge, as well as equipment. In this post, I want to share some of the fun links to online resources I’ve uncovered.

  • Chinese tea – Wikipedia: A good starting point for learning the basics of Chinese tea.
  • History of Tea in China – Wikipedia: Wikipedia’s basic history of tea in China is a great introduction.
  • Gongfu Tea Ceremony – Wikipedia: Gongfu is the type of tea ceremony and service that I am truly attracted to. I love it among all the different ways tea is served and now do it most evenings for a last sip of tea before bed.
  • Chinese Tea: Drinking, History – Travel China Guide: A commercial guide to China, they have a good article on the history of tea and tips for service and consumption.
  • Chinese Tea – History and Types of Chinese Tea – About.com: About.com is a long-standing resource for quality information and their Chinese Tea and Liquor expert offers some great information on the basics of Chinese Tea.
  • How To Buy Chinese Tea by Daniel Lui: A clear and easy-to-read guide to buying Chinese Tea that has helped me make some wise choices.
  • How to drink Chinese tea | CNN Travel: CNN Travel did a great step-by-step article and guide on how to drink Chinese Tea, whether you are in China or not. Great resources are listed as well as solid coverage of the basics.
  • The Gong Fu Style of Drinking Fine Tea – In Pursuit of Tea: “In Pursuit of Tea” has amazing resources and their article on the Gong Fu technique is a good one.
  • Gong Fu Cha – Reddit: I was a bit surprised to find a group covering GongFu Tea on Reddit. It isn’t very active but has some great links and resources in the list.
  • The Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony and Part 2: River Tea has a great article series on the Gongfu traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony.
  • The Japanese Tea Ceremony History and Steps Explained | Teavana: Teavana, the national chain of tea shops found in malls and shopping centers, explains the history and basics of the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
  • The History & Origin of Tea | Teavana: Teavana tea store’s version of the history of tea, a condensed version of the history.
  • Poetry in Tea: A site dedicated to Asian teas and ceremony, as well as the tools and history of tea.
  • Shipwrecked: Story of why one tea pot is better for a specific type of tea over another. Results: Get one that thrills your heart and makes you return to it over and over for more tea and joy.
  • Steep.it – the simplest internet tea timer EVER This site serves as an online steep guide with a chart featuring different types of tea and the appropriate temperature and steep times. Very handy.
  • Teaware Museum: Link to the famous Hong Kong Teaware Museum, a place on my travel list to visit!
  • Buying Your First Tea Utensils: Fumiyaen – Japanese Tea Ceremony Utensils: As the article states, this describes the first tea utensils and supplies you need for the Japanese Tea Ceremony and the reasons behind the choices.
  • Tea Blog | Official Blog of the English Tea Store: This tea blog is not limited to only English teas. It features extensive articles on all aspects of tea. It’s regular tea gadgets feature is an eye-opener on all the gimmicks and gadgets for tea. One of my favorites was the museum exhibit for tea in space during the early days of the space flight program.
  • The Dragon's Well ?: The Dragon’s Well blog is only a couple of years old but already this tea enthusiast and blogger is making his mark in the tea world online. His articles on Yixing Zisha teapots and other references and resources are wonderful. His most recent post on the Tea World Festival 2013 in Seoul features excellent pictures of the exhibition.
  • Tea Masters: Tea Masters Blog is by a Taiwanese tea student learning from a Tea Master, sharing the tips and techniques of tea.
  • Tea Journey – A journey through tea from a member of the board of the Tea Guild of Canada. The author is working on her Tea Sommelier Certification and sharing the lessons she is learning along the way.
  • Daruma Magazine » Glossary: This is a glossary from the Japanese Art and Antiques Magazine with the names for things you may need to know about studying the Way of Tea.
  • Chado Encyclopedia: This wiki takes one through the entire process academically as well as procedurally of Chado, the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Great resources and historical information. It is a work in progress.
  • Koicha Dialog – Chado Encyclopedia: This is a phonetic pronunciation guide with English translation of the Koicha Dialog of discussion and admiration of the various equipment and details of the Chado, Japanese Tea Ceremony. A handy guide for travelers to Japan and those studying the Chado. It includes links to more information on some of the words and concepts.
  • SweetPersimmon: It’s tagline explains it all, “The Art and Practice of Chado, Chanoyu, and the Japanese Tea Ceremony.” Based in Portland, Oregon, this is a school to learn about the Japanese tea ceremony and it gets high reviews. It’s on my to do list! The blog is packed with fantastic information and resources on the ceremony.
  • Chanoyu to wa: A tumblr blog by Daniel Burkus, a dedicated fan of The Way of Tea and the study of it, and the work of Rikyu, Zen, and the tea ceremony. It includes scrolls and translations as often found in tea houses and tea ceremonies, explaining the history and details of the works.
  • Tang Dynasty Times: This site is not focused specifically on tea but includes many references to the Tan Dynasty and their love of tea which influenced culture, art, and way of life. Excellent academic references and resources.

If anyone is interested, I’ll share more tea tips and information as I keep learning more about the art and way of tea. Do you have any favorite online resources for your tea?

One Comment

  • Posted September 8, 2013 at 9:01 | Permalink

    In Chinese, ?? hóng chá — literally Red Tea, is translated into English as BlackTea.

    Concepts of BlackTea and Green tea can be confusing. Why do we call the tea Red and why it is understood as Black in the west?

    In south China and southeast Asia, a kind of brewed ‘tea’ for cooling your internal system is called ?? ? liáng chá, literally Cool Tea. It is brewed with Chinese herbs.

    I have got some pictures to show you about this type of herbal ‘tea’:

    ?? Cool Tea (Herbal) and ??: the colour of this ‘cool tea’.

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