Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A most unusual teapot

A disadvantage of brewing tea in a teapot is that the tea leaves can over-steep: If, after pouring the first cup of brewed tea, the tea leaves are still submerged in the hot water, then by the time you pour your second cup the tea will be strong and bitter.


This teapot made by Ronnefeldt, however, solves that problem in an ingenious, out-of-the-box way. For details, see the photo and caption below.



"Put leaves on the shelf (seen through the opening on the teapot to the left), fill with hot water, and lay the teapot on its back. As the tea darkens, tilt the pot. Finally, when brewing is complete, stand the teapot vertically, so the water no longer bathes the leaves and the brew does not become bitter."


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Monday, March 30, 2009

On Japan's rice farms, tiny shrimp fight weeds naturally

One of the all-natural techniques that Japan's rice farmers use to control weeds in their paddies is the tadpole shrimp.


This tiny crustacean controls weeds in three ways:

by uprooting small weed seedlings, by agitating the soil surface so that the water becomes muddy, thereby inhibiting photosynthesis of small weed seedlings, and—last but not least—by eating young buds and roots of plant seedlings.


Aw, what a cute little feller. And useful, too.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A teahouse too high

If you are ever in the city of Chino, in Nagano Prefecture—which can get quite foggy—you simply must visit architect Terunobu Fujimori's teahouse on stilts. The structure's name is Takasugi-an (高過庵)—literally "Too-Tall Teahouse."


Peruse more pictures of Mr. Fujimori's creation here.



Sorry—no TV and no Internet access.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shanghai, old and new

The photo below, contrasting an old neighborhood of Shanghai with skyscrapers in the background, is one of the professional finalists in the Sony World Photography Awards 2009.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Friday, March 27, 2009

Green tea may help keep gums healthy

A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that the more green tea you drink, the less likely you are to get gum disease.


Researchers postulate that this is because the polyphenols in green tea inhibit the bacteria that cause gum disease.



Muko Shrine in Kyoto. (More great pics here.) What, did you want to see pictures of gum disease?


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mellow Monk supports Kiva.org

Kiva.org is a great concept and a great organization: Through it, ordinary folks like you and I can extend microloans directly to independent farmers and other entrepreneurs anywhere in the world.


Mellow Monk has chosen to support a tough gal in Tajikistan named Nigora Masaidova.


It is all part of our mission to promote family farms—just like our growers—wherever their farms may be located.


And if you want to join our lending team, then by all means please click here.



Say hi to Ms. Nigora Masaidova.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Little tea house on the prairie

Perhaps a cooler, more relaxing place to drink green tea than this can be found. I am just not aware of one presently.


Seriously, though. Ain't it cool?


Update: This teahouse is not in Japan but in the vicinity of a U.K. locale called Mere.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tea, ritual, taste, and relaxation

It is not just your imagination—your tea really does taste better from your favorite cup.


The psychologist quoted in the linked-to article says that "Caffeine is very much a drug of reward and like any addict, people develop passions on how the drug is delivered."


Yikes. That makes we green tea drinkers sound like a bunch of junkies. Instead, I think that the relaxing ritual of preparing green tea really does make your tea taste better. That is because the ritual relaxes us, allowing us to focus on the flavor and appreciate it more.


The psychologist is right about one thing, however: Green tea is a great way to reward yourself.



That cup may not be your cup of tea, but to each his own, yes?


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mellow melodies from Masaaki

Here, for your listening enjoyment, are two acoustic guitar pieces from Japan's Masaaki Kishibe.


Hana (Flower)







Hajimari (The Beginning)





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Sunday, March 22, 2009

From 1912. Really.

Can you believe that the photo below was taken waaaay back in 1912? (And contrary to what his kids think, the Monk was not in high school that year.)


This is a self-portrait of Russian photograph Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Saturday, March 21, 2009

This canyon is indeed grand

I would love to be sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon at sunrise or sunset, cup of tea in hand, contemplating the natural majesty before me. Since I cannot be there, however, I will have to settle for the next best thing—these wonderful photographs.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Friday, March 20, 2009

Green tea and lung cancer

Lung cancer is a particularly nasty form of the disease because it can spread very quickly to other organs in the body. This spreading—called metastasis—happens when cancer cells break away from the main tumor, latch onto another organ, and begin reproducing until they have formed another tumor, after which the process starts all over again.


Scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles have reported that green tea could help slow the spread of lung cancer—thereby improving the prognosis for treatment—by reducing the migration of the cells themselves.


Specifically, green tea polyphenols were shown to trigger molecular changes in tumor cells that made them "stickier" and therefore less able to detach from the main tumor and float away into the blood stream. The polyphenols also reduced the cancer cells' motility.


If you can make sense of this sentence

In particular we found upregulation of several genes that modulate actin remodeling and cell migration, including lamin A/C.

then why not dive into the full paper (PDF) ... and let me know what it means, would you?



... is where our tea is grown.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green tea, PAHs, and breast cancer

At a recent forum on breast cancer, Dr. Gail Sonenshein gave a presentation on how a green tea catechin can help prevent breast cancer.


According to Dr. Sonenshein — a professor of biochemistry at the University of Boston School of Medicine — epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) stops polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from turning healthy breast cells into cancerous ones.


Long known as carcinogens, PAHs are generated from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, polluted air or water, cigarette smoke, and charcoal-broiled foods.


Dr. Sonenshein's work is called "one of the most detailed molecular characterizations of how green tea may be an effective risk-reduction strategy for breast cancer prevention."


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A life of bento

From preschool to high school to the golden years—Just Bento chronicles the wonderful variety of Japanese bentos that are eaten in Japan in each stage of life.



Even this collage gives only a tiny glimpse of the truly varied and wide world of bento. And please do not even think of washing down your bento with anything other than green tea.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Monday, March 16, 2009

Get more from your green tea

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and other disease-fighting catechins quickly lose their power in stored tea, and even more so in your intestine. The solution is twofold: brew your own tea and add citrus juice to it.


More about green tea and citrus here.



Oh, sorry. I thought you said, "Get more out of your green tree."


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who's a pretty bird?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the magnificent Gouldian finch.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sky, trees, and the surface of the sea

I found a beautiful photograph of a red sky. I am sure you will also enjoy sipping green tea to these pictures of lone trees and these half-underwater photos, which bear a striking similarity to those taken by Asako Narahashi.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Friday, March 13, 2009

Create your own album covers randomly

This is just plain fun: My Album Generator lets you generate, with the push of a button, an album cover with an image, band name, and album title pulled randomly from various sources.


In the time it took to drink a single cup of green tea, I managed to generate these instant classics (click to see the full-size compilation):



If anyone wants to actually form one of these bands, drop me a line.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Amazing aurora

One item on my bucket list is to see the aurora borealis. Check out this amazing photo. Wouldn't you love to sit back in a lawn chair sipping green tea under these skies?


It would be the ultimate sky show.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

High on Hiroshige

Submitted for your approval—a nice, mellow woodblock print by Ando Hiroshige (1797–1858). I could literally spend hours gazing at his wonderful artwork. So here is more of it.



"Otsujuku" (Otsu Station), from Hiroshige's "Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road" series.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Green tea—for healthy teeth and gums

A study recently published in the Journal of Periodontology found that drinking green tea can keep your teeth and gums healthy: for every cup of green tea consumed each day, there was a decrease in all three periodontal disease indicators that the researchers examined—periodontal pocket depth, loss of gum tissue, and bleeding gums.


So don't be embarrassed to swish your green tea. Your teeth and gums will thank you.


Speaking of teeth, I found some pictures of some truly tough guys who would probably knock out a person's teeth for looking at them funny:



This is one monk you don't want to mess with.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Monday, March 09, 2009

Adobe Girl's pics

Here are a couple of photos sent in by customer and Monk's friend Mary Palmer, a.k.a. The Adobe Girl. From her beautiful photographs I can tell her mission is the same as mine—to create more mellow in the world.








—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Keiko's Moroccan ashes

One of my favorite Keiko Matsui songs is "Moroccan Ashes," from the album "Doll." You can listen to the song in its entirety at Rhapsody.com.


And yes, it's perfectly legal.



Click on the album cover to go to the photo gallery at her official website.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Zoom!


Click for the big version.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Friday, March 06, 2009

The hall of a thousand tatami has no tatami

Located on Ikutsushima—also known as Miyajima, or "Shrine Island"—the building known as the Pavilion of a Thousand Tatami Mats (Senjoukaku) actually has no mats inside. "Thousand mats" simply refers to the size of the interior.





—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Seiho the painter

The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is having an exhibition from its permanent collection of the works of Takeuchi Seiho (1864–1942), who at the turn of the century was considered the leader of modern Japanese painting's Western school.



Takeuchi's "Green Pond" (circa 1927).


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Daily tea could prevent strokes

A researcher at the University of California Los Angeles reports that drinking tea every day could reduce the risk of stroke by as much as 21 percent.


The linked-to article also has an accompanying video report.



In addition to green tea, making regular excursions to mellowing places like art museums is another way to reduce the stress that contributes to strokes.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shark infuser

Here's a nifty idea—rather than sinking to the bottom of your cup, the Shark Fin Infuser floats on the top as your tea steeps, for easy retrieval after brewing.



The only tea infuser with its own theme music.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog

Monday, March 02, 2009

Long exposure

Got mellow?


If not—and even if you do—Session Magazine has a great collection of long-exposure photographs for you.



As the world turns. Literally.


—Mellow Monk


Visit our tea page
Watch our videos
Subscribe to this blog