Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blissful Buds reviewed

Wesley Crosswhite, a.k.a. Green Tea Man, has reviewed one of the newest additions to the Mellow Monk family, Blissful Buds Green Tea.



A cup of Blissful Buds that Wes brewed for his review.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, February 27, 2009

Green tea promotes weight loss

The catechins in green tea can help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism, increasing the rate of heat production and fat oxidation.


In fact, I've read that drinking 4 cups of green tea burns the equivalent of 50 calories—which adds up to 350 calories per week.


Not bad for a humble leaf.



Imagine how many calories you'd burn just walking to the bus stop if you lived in Tiger Leaping Gorge.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mindfully mellow

Mindfulness—focusing on the here-and-now, on what is going on all around you at this moment—is a fundamental element of meditation, including Zen. This state of mind is also key to the green tea ceremony and to happiness in general.


In contrast to mindfulness is rumination—obsessing over the negative—and it's not conducive to mellowness.


When you brew your green tea, do so mindfully. Watch the water boil. Listen to it boil. Take in the aroma of the dry leaves. Feel the warmth of your teapot or cup as the tea brews. Before sipping, breath in the luscious aroma. Sip, and focus on the flavor tingling in your mouth. Then feel the tea's warmness travel into your belly.


There. Don't you feel better already?



We can all create our own mindful ceremony whenever we drink green tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Get happy. Now.

If you're feeling down, there are ten things you can start doing now to fix that.


Green tea will also help boost your mellowness factor.



These Tibetan monks seem happy.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Learn Japanese online

Many online resources for learning Japanese exist, but here is a list of ten exceptionally good ones.



After brushing up on your Japanese, you can practice it at Itsuku Island, known for its famous torii (gate).


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mellow Monk debuts on European TV

A while back I wrote a series of blog posts entitled "Stringing Tea" about my tea-buying adventures in Kyushu and working with a European film crew that was documenting my journey for Arte.tv's "360° Geo" series.


Well, the show was finally broadcast late last year and I received a copy, a clip of which I humbly present to you here.


The German/French narration is stripped out of this clip. There are no subtitles yet, but in a nutshell, a tea grower is showing off his fields and his tea-processing operation. He explains how he maintains healthy fields through proper soil management and discusses the demanding business of harvesting and processing tea leaves in just the right way to assure the highest quality tea.


Stay tuned for more clips!





—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Garlic chicken soup and green tea

When you have a cold, a bowl of chicken soup really and truly does help. But to boost the cold-fighting power of this old-fashioned remedy even more, add garlic:

“Adding garlic, a fresh clove or two minced, to hot chicken soup just before you're ready to sit down and eat it really does help,” [Healing Remedies co-author] Lydia Wilen said. Then sip a cup of green tea to take away garlic breath, she suggested.

And green tea doesn't just work on garlic breath, but bad breath in general.



Running away from garlic breath. (Click on the pic to see more "impression of movement" photographs.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, February 20, 2009

Japanese bladesmiths

Kohei Ebuchi, a third-generation bladesmith, doesn't make samurai swords, but perhaps his ancestors did. Instead, he makes kitchen knives (houchou) in the city of Sakai, where some of the world's best — and most expensive — knives are made.


And when you read the article about Mr. Ebuchi, don't forget to check out page 2, too.





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Grassy Tokyo

Tokyo would be a much mellower town if the streets and sidewalks were covered in grass, wouldn't you agree?





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Green + exercise = goodbye belly fat

From NaturalNews.com:

New research published in the Journal of Nutrition reveals that consuming green tea along with three hours of exercise a week results in accelerate[d] loss of body fat around the abdominal region compared to exercise alone.

You can read the original abstract here.



A fog-bound bridge in Vancouver. (Well, I just couldn't post a picture of belly fat, could I.)


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shigeo Fukuda, master of illusion and the impossible

The recently deceased artist Shigeo Fukuda was known as a master of optical illusions and the impossible.



A poster for a Fukuda exhibit at Keio Department Store in 1975.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, February 16, 2009

The book of tea

Written originally in English by Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea is one of the most well-known books about Japanese green tea.


In the book, Okakura emphasises that tea taught the Japanese many things, including the simplicity that can be seen in Japanese art and architecture.


One of the most famous quotes from the books concerns teaism—a word that Okakura coined himself and which he defines as "a religion of aestheticism":

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence.

In addition to the above-linked version, you can find a free, no-frills copy at Project Gutenberg, or view a nonprintable PDF with fancier typesetting.



A cup of humanity.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lakeside mellow

Need a break from weekend madness? Gaze into this photograph while sipping some nice, hot green tea:





Don't you feel better now?


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Have a rose for Valentine's Day. On second thought, have three roses.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Miyako festivals

Kyoto, famous for its generations-old tea shops, was once the capital of Japan and, as such, was the site of numerous festivals and other events.


Miyako nenju gyoji gajo ("Picture Album of Annual Festivals in the Capital") is a two-volume album of paintings that chronicle these many colorful events.



"Kannenbutsu ("Winter prayers").


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lantern festival

The traditional tea masters of Tianjin's tea houses certainly do impress, but what the city is perhaps most famous for is its annual Lantern Festival.



"Local Chinese visit an ancient cultural street to celebrate the annual lantern festival in the city of Tianjin, located 100 km (62 miles) east of Beijing February 9, 2009. The lantern festival marks the last day of the two-week Chinese lunar new year or Spring Festival." (UPI Photo/Stephen Shaver).


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hot green tea is good for a cold—in an unexpected way

We already knew that the antioxidants and vitamin C in green tea can help you fight a cold.


But researchers have now found another way that hot green tea may also help your body fight illness—just by being hot. Researchers at Cardiff University were surprised by the finding, and still aren't sure why hot beverages work better than their cold counterparts. It could be the sinus-opening effects of the steam, or it could be psychological, they speculate.


But here's one possible explanation they missed: the heat itself.


After all, when you are sick, your body diverts a lot of energy to your immune system. That's why your sick body feels so weak.


Your body also uses energy to make heat, so consuming a hot beverage may take some of that heat-generating burden off your body, allowing it to better fight germs.


And to give your green tea an additional cold-fighting boost, add your favorite citrus juice.



Feel a cold coming on? Start brewing green tea, then.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets

This matcha parfait in bamboo is only one of many delicacies featured in the set "Wagashi."


Wagashi are traditional Japanese confections and are crafted to be eaten with—and complement the taste of—green tea.





—Mellow Monk


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Monday, February 09, 2009

Ride the scenic rails

I could mellow for hours staring at this massive photo of a Kuranda Scenic Railway train traveling through magnificent Australian scenery.



Click to see this shot in all its glory.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Geisha out for a stroll

The photo below, which shows two geisha on their way to Maruyama Park, is part of a set succinctly titled "Japan."






—Mellow Monk


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Friday, February 06, 2009

Green tea may inhibit HIV

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have found that Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—an antioxidant found only in green tea—"appears to prevent HIV-1 (the virus associated with AIDS) from infecting cells in the immune system and could prove a valuable part of treatment for the disease."


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Chitose snow festival

With sights like this, it's no wonder the ice festival at Lake Shikotsu attracts so many visitors each year.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

D.C. cherry blossoms

This beautiful photograph of cherry blossoms near the Washington Monument is part of an album of travel pictures from all over the world.



Click on this pic to go to the ShareAPic website, then click on the image there to see the breathtaking full-size version.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snowy train trip time-lapse

Brew up a cup and kick back to this time-lapse journey through snowy scenery from New York to New Jersey.





More info here.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, February 02, 2009

Lakeside painting

There's something hauntingly beautiful about Seiki Kuroda's Lakeside, isn't there.



That Mona Lisa mystique.


—Mellow Monk


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