Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Matcha truffles

Mmm, don't these look scrumptious? Matcha truffles.



I volunteer to taste-test any matcha truffles you make.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, June 29, 2009

A Zen garden's lesson

The karesansui garden at Kyoto's Ryoanji Temple contains 15 rocks, but only 14 can be seen from any one location. The idea is that no matter what your perspective into any situation is, you're always missing something.

Karesansui means "dry landscape" and is more commonly known in English as a Japanese rock garden.


There are more pictures of the beautiful Ryoanji Temple here.



As you sip your green tea, close your eyes and imagine you are contemplating this serene garden.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Abandoned but beautiful—or at least interesting

Of all the abandoned structures shown in this collection, my favorite—in a kitchy way—is this old Bulgarian Soviet one.



Click the pic for a large photo of this magnificent monstrosity.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

If you like Japanese food, you'll just love Just Hungry and Just Bento

A sister site of the super well-done Japanese food site Just Hungry is the equally excellent Just Bento.



"Spring pasta and chickpea salad bento."


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Do you like your tea sweaty?

When I first saw the heading about "sweat tea" I thought it might be referring to a "sweaty" pitcher of tea, or maybe an offshoot of Japan's super-popular beverage Pocari Sweat, but it turned out to be just a misspelling.



Or maybe it's tea mixed with chili sauce?


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green chai facial toner recipe

From green beauty expert Julie Gabriel's Green Beauty Guide comes a recipe for making your own green chai facial toner.



Click the pic to see the book's Amazon page.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The tea sage speaks out

The New Tea Lover's Treasury author and Tea Society founder James Norwood Pratt says:

There is literally nothing better you can do for your physical self than drink tea. It fights everything from tooth decay to cancer. It's impossible to name any one substance that confers as many benefits as tea.

Well said, Brother Pratt.


The Tea Geek has recently interviewed Mr. Pratt.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The return of Russel Wright's American tea tumbler

Bauer Pottery has revived the classic drinkware designs of Russel Wright.


My favorite is the American Modern Tumbler, which I have taken to calling the "American Tea Tumbler," because it's shape is so right for tea.


I have ordered one myself, and it's one of my favorite teacups. The white one, in particular, would look very nice with the Mellow Monk logo on it.



The classic returns.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, June 22, 2009

A face only a mother could love: the Amazonian river dolphin

Then again, the Amazonian river dolphins could have personality. And personality goes a long way, yes?



If Jim Henson ever made a Muppet dolphin, it would look like this.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another D.C. cherry blossom panorama

Below is another panorama I found of Washington, D.C.'s famous cherry trees.


A previous pic is here.



Click to see the glorious full-sized panorama, then click again to zoom in.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Optical illusion

In this optical illusion (also shown below), when you stare at one star, others seem to rotate slightly.



Neat, eh?


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Make your own green tea slushie

Alright, I admit—"green tea slushie" is what I called it. The folks at Health.com call it a frozen iced green tea.


Actually they call it "frozen iced tea," but there's no reason you couldn't make it with green tea instead of black tea.



Imagine this same scrumptious-looking concoction, but greener.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A lovely mug for green tea

I am always in search of nice cups and mugs for green tea, and this latte mug from Crate&Barrel fits the bill in many ways—it's nicely shaped, fits naturally in the hand, and holds a nice amount of tea (20 ounces).


And with an in-mug tea infuser like this one, the mug also doubles as a teapot.


One caveat about the mug, however—its narrow base makes it a bit too easy to knock over, say, while reaching for your tea without taking your eyes off your computer monitor (as yours truly has done).


Still, isn't it a beautiful mug—especially with the Mellow Monk logo on it?



Isn't she lovely? Unfortunately, she exists only in Photoshop.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hypnotizing iceberg

What an awesome, tea-break-worthy image this is.


Green tea and a photograph like this ... the pause that truly refreshes.



This is only a sneak preview of the full magnificent photograph.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, June 15, 2009

Green tea fights leukemia, study shows

I blogged about green tea and leukemia previously.


Now, a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic has found additional evidence of green tea's leukemia-fighting properties.


The active ingredient believed to be responsible for shrinking tumors in the study is, of course EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is found only in green tea.


The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.



And now for something completely different: An amazing photograph of Saturn's rings.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Coffee in a can from a vending machine is big (and manly) in Japan

It's interesting, if you think about it, that Japan's beverage industry decided to market canned coffee as a manly drink.


For instance there's Suntory's Boss, whose label features an iconic man who looks suspiciously like Ernest Hemingway.


I don't see why it wouldn't be possible to market green tea as a manly drink. After all, we green tea drinkers include some pretty tough monks, for instance.



Just a few of the wide variety of canned coffee drinks sold out of Japan's ubiquitous vending machines.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Japanese girl group Tokyo Pinsalocks

Here are a couple of music videos from Japan's Tokyo Pinsalocks, who have a very unique sound.


Their music may initially seem somewhat cacophonous, but I find their rhythm and melody soothingly entrancing:


"Plutonium"







"Repeat"





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, June 12, 2009

Electric kettle roundup

In the beginning there was the humble iron kettle, and for about a thousand years, that’s about the only option there was for us green tea drinkers: you filled your kettle with water and either let the it reach full boil and then cool, or you tried to cultivate the art of removing the kettle from heat at just the right temperature.


The advent of the electric kettle unshackled us from stoves and other sources of heat, but that still didn’t solve the temperature issue: Your typical electric kettle will keep heating water until it reaches a roiling boil, which is far too hot for green tea.


Now, however, it’s a brave new world, complete with high-tech kettles with temperature-management features.


The Lexus of such kettles is the Breville BKE820XL Variable Temperature Kettle, which even has a green tea button. Unfortunately, in addition to Lexus-grade features, it also has a Lexus price tag to match.


At the other end of the price spectrum, the Sunpentown SK-1717 lacks a preset button, but it does have a temperature display, which allows you to experiment with different water temperatures to find the one that suits your tea and your individual tastes.


The temperature dial of Adagio's UtiliTEA Variable-Temperature Kettle is color coded, e.g., the "green" range on the dial tells you the usual temperature range for green tea. That's quite cool—or, I should say, not too hot for green tea.


Finally, the T-Fal BF6520004 Vitesse may have a plastic exterior but does have a steel interior, to avoid adulterating the water. Another selling point is power: "With 1750 watts of electric power, this high-speed kettle brings 1 cup of cold water to a rolling boil in one minute" [from the Amazon website].


So many choices . . . but if these many choices help entice more people into trying green tea, then I am happy for them. Although it would seem logical to learn the art of boiling water before the art of steeping tea, I can understand if some of you are impatient. After you learn the art of steeping, you will soon become mellow enough to then turn your attention to the art of boiling water.


For the culture of green tea is all about mindfullness and patience, Grasshopper.



The Lexus of electric kettles.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gonfugirl reviews our green tea

Gongfugirl has very thoroughly reviewed Mellow Monk's Top Leaf Green Tea.


I am truly humbled to be on the radar of dedicated folks like Gongfugirl.



Our Top Leaf Green Tea being brewed by one of Gongfugirl's tea connoisseurs. (That she is reviewing a Mellow Monk tea proves that she is a connoisseur, yes?)


—Mellow Monk


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Kitaro's mucho mellow "Matsuri"

Here is the incomparable Kitaro performing his piece "Matsuri" ("festival") for a live—and lucky—audience:





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Horseshoe Bend at sunset

If this desktoppable photograph of Arizona's Horseshoe Bend doesn't mellow you out, then you just have to brew up another cup of tea and meditate to it a little longer.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Green tea promotes weight loss by altering the behavior of fat cells, say researchers

A study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism shows that white tea extract "induces lipolytic activity and inhibits adipogenesis in human subcutaneous (pre)-adipocytes."


Translation: Something in the tea causes fat cells to produce less fat and to destroy fat they have already created.


The researchers know what that "something" is—epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG):

These effects were, at least in part, mediated by EGCG . . .

Since white tea is a type of green tea, there is every reason to believe that these results apply to green tea, as well.


In fact, there is a large body of research on green tea's slimming effects.

[Edit: "Large body" pun in fat-related article completely unintentional.]


So what are you waiting for? Start sipping, everyone!



And now for something completely different—goldfish jelly.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, June 08, 2009

Roll reversal: American sushi

Sushi is popular in America—and worldwide, for that matter—not just among those who eat but also among those who cook, and these sushi chefs are putting their own personal and cultural touch on their culinary creations:





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rubberduckzilla

Rubberduckzilla is the mascot for Japan's "Oasis" bottled beverage, which is billed (get it?) as the drink for "people who don't like water."


I would normally, at this juncture, point out that green tea is a much healthier alternative, and is great for people who do not like to drink plain water, but then I would not want to incur the wrath of Rubberduckzilla:





—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Green tea for cancer prevention

Health News has a concise rundown on green tea and cancer prevention, written by Dr. Cary A. Presant, MD:

[The green tea polyphenol] EGCG was shown to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells growing in culture, and also reduce cancer cell growth in test tubes. It also was found to reduce growth receptors on cancer cells, so that cancer cells could not grow in response to chemicals that stimulate cancer cell reproduction.


Only a small portion of a huge, beautiful panoramic shot of the Philippines' magnificent Pana Banaue rice terraces.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, June 05, 2009

Mellow moon movie

Japan's space agency has taken some ultra-clear, close-up videos of the moon's surface with its Kaguya orbiting spacecraft.





—Mellow Monk


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Two pics: Suizenji Park in Kumamoto and a tea estate on Yakushima

From my collection—a picture of Kumamoto City's Suizenji Park (top) and a tea estate in the hills of Yakushima Island (bottom).








—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Another animated slideshow from my tea-buying trip to Kyushu, Japan

I've created another high-resolution, animated slideshow from pictures from a recent tea-buying trip to Japan.


To watch it in full-screen mode, click on the icon in the lower-right corner of the player, between the "Vimeo" name and the sound bars.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mellow Monk featured on European TV—again!

Last year Mellow Monk was featured in a German-French TV network's documentary about green tea in Kyushu.


Well, that show was so well received that this year, a crew from France's TV 5 went to film one of the same growers for a French TV documentary.


Below are some photos taken by the program's director:











—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A low-cost, low-impact Hobbit home

A family in Wales, U.K., has built a supremely eco-friendly home that was also inexpensive to build and looks super-cool, like your Hobbit friends would feel completely at home there, too:



From the outside, it may look dark and cramped in there, but . . .



. . . it's surprisingly bright and roomy.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, June 01, 2009

Green tea's theanine comes into focus

Beverage makers are focusing in on a substance in green tea that improves mental focus and alertness:

Loaded with caffeine and taurine to stimulate the central nervous system, energy drinks have become the go-to solution when you need a quick, energizing pick-me-up.

But sometimes energy isn't what you need. Concentration and attention can start to fade in the face of those midafternoon doldrums and a host of distractions. Something to enhance focus would do the trick.

Some beverage manufacturers say they have just the solution. They're touting a new kind of drink that emphasizes focus over ferocity. The key substance is the amino acid L-theanine, which preliminary research suggests might calm the brain to enhance concentration and mental stamina.

Green tea naturally contains just the right amounts of both caffeine and theanine, so why not get them naturally?



There exists a magical plant whose infusion contains all of the things in these bottled drinks that you need—and none of the things you don't.


—Mellow Monk


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