Monday, May 31, 2010

Full moon, winter sentinels


I see a full moon a-rising — over the California Sierra Nevada mountains.




Winter Sentinels
, by Joseph Hattenberger.



—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Control your brew with Finum Tea Control

We tea lovers can brew our tea in a wonderfully wide variety of ways today — there's no need to feel limited to any one type of brewing option.


Finland's Finum has come up with an interesting solution to the age-old problem of how to stop your tea leaves from steeping between cups of tea.


With a traditional teapot, for instance, if you don't pour out all of the tea, the leaves will keep brewing in the pot, and your next cup of tea will be too strong.


An in-the-cup infuser, such as this well-made one by FORLIFE, is physically removed from the water, leaving your brewed tea behind and your leaves high and dry until the next steeping. This is a simple, elegant solution enjoyed by many.


The Finum Tea Control teapot keeps the leaves physically in place but isolates them from the teapot's hot water with an ingenious rotatable tea basket: After pouring your brewed tea, you turn the filter element to slide its perforated section behind a non-perforated shield, thus stopping the brewing process until you're ready for another cup of tea.


Here's the promo video for this very clever teapot, which is yet another addition to our ever-growing options for brewing the tea we love.




 

—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Did you know — about the power of recycling?

A talented group of K-12 students won the "Best in the Fest" award at the Palm Springs Unified School District's Annual Digital Community Film and Video Festival with Did You Know?, an elegantly powerful message about the positive environmental impact we can all have simply by recycling more.

This video was sent to Mellow Monk by our friends at Clean Conscience Goods, who also helped out with the production.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Walking cat, barking parrot

... and a roosting owl.


But let's start with the barking parrot: In a pet shop in Hiroshima, Ruby the parrot has spent so much time around dogs that she is starting to sound like one.


Also in Hiroshima, a woman has been raising wild owl chicks that hatch in her attic. Every year, an owl makes a nest there, deposits an egg, and then departs, entrusting the woman with the raising of the hatchling. The baby bird usually stays for about 2 weeks, enjoying the woman's indulgent rearing, then goes on its way.


This has been going on every year for the past 20 years. Needless to say, she has become something of a local celebrity and receives scores of human visitors every owl-rearing season.


The winged visitors, meanwhile, began showing up shortly after the woman's husband died. "It as if they sensed my loneliness," she says.


Animals — how lonely we would all be without them.


(Some of this information is from a version of the story that has since disappeared from YouTube. Also, towards the end of the linked-to video, the woman takes a young owl outside, but he seems reluctant to fly away. By nighttime, however, the owl had indeed returned to the wild.)


And now for the walking cat: In the wonderful short story "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles," the titular feline lives in the Japanese capital of a thousand years ago, enjoying a blissful life there until one day, the ground begins to shake . . .




—Mellow Monk

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

High school harvests and bottles its own green tea

Students at the Kanoya Agricultural High School in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture, have released bottled green tea made exclusively from leaves grown and harvested on school grounds.


Some may scoff at the idea of bottled tea. Nevertheless, this story is a wonderful example of how much green tea is a part of the culture of Kyushu and how proud the people there are of their tea.


This is precisely the same spirit that our growers put into their tea.


Congratulations, kids. You sure deserve an "A" on this assignment.


[Source: Japan Agricultural Newspaper (Nihon Nōgyō Shinbun)]


—Mellow Monk

 

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Checking out a tea master's wares




In these photos, a Mellow Monk tea buyer is tasting tea at the estate of an independent tea artisan in Aso, Japan.





The tea was incredible, and this particular estate grower has become one of our primary tea suppliers. The day Mellow Monk met up with that grower was a truly fortunate one indeed.





—Mellow Monk

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Chokei temple — sights to see and history to take in

In the city of Toyama, in Japan's Chubu region, is Chokeiji Temple, famous for its 500 statues of Rakan.


The temple is also the final resting place of actor Sessue Hayakawa.


Next to the temple is the Toyama Folkcraft Village. And not too far away in Toyama City is Toyama Castle.


All in all, Chokeiji Temple is a wonderfully mellow place, full of culture and history and close to other mellow sights to see. Sign me up for the next tour!


The famous Rakan statues. More photos of the temple grounds here.

 



—Mellow Monk

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Matcha dumplings — homemade


We made these dumplings with our matcha, and they were scrumptious.


Dumplings, by the way, are incredibly easy to make.


(Instead of the sweet sauce, though, we just added a generous dollop of anko.)


I wish I could send dumplings to all of you, but instead I limit myself to the inspiration and the wonderful feelings that come from enjoying them.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For Japan cinephiles, a golden age

For lovers of Japanese cinema, these are truly wonderful times.

More classics are available on disc and even on line than ever before. The Internet is also increasing awareness of Japanese cinema, leading to revivals of the works of timeless masters like Yasujiro Ozu and even the chambara (samurai swordplay) genre.

Even previously obscure chambara films are being rediscovered, thanks to DVDs and the Internet.

Not only that, but today's international interconnectedness is making it possible for small, indepedent films like Dean Yamada's Jitensha (Bicycle) to be made and — just as importantly — to find an audience.

... just as Mellow Monk is able to connect tea aficionados like you with exclusive, ethical, exquisite green tea from small, independent artisan estates in rural Japan.

Yes, this is truly a golden age — for connoisseurs of Japanese cinema and Japanese green tea, too.


You can catch a screening of Jitensha in your town, or wait for the DVD to come out.

—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Inspiration — it can come from many sources, even fictional ones

A friend about to enter college is a fan of the TV show Bones. She recently decided to major in criminology and criminal justice, with a minor in forensics. ("Now that sounds very Temperance Brennan," she says.)


And there is nothing wrong with that. If your goal is a good one, then it doesn't matter from where that motivation comes. (As long as you know what you are getting into, of course.)


And speaking of Bones, many people became real-life doctors after being inspired by Dr. "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek.


Fictional characters who inspire people to make real-life achievements suddenly seem a lot less fictional. Such is the power of inspiration.


She, too, is powerfully inspirational.



—Mellow Monk


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Friday, May 14, 2010

Green tea knocks leukemia for a loop

A study done at the Mayo Clinic showed that the polyphenol EGCG — which is found only in green tea — is effective against a form of leukemia.

Another medical researcher who has published research on green tea's anti-leukemia effects is Dr. Shunro Sonoda, who is interviewed in part 5 of the documentary "Kyushu, Where Japan's Green Tea Grows."

(The Arte.tv documentary also features a Mellow Monk tea buyer traveling through the mountains of Kyushu in search of delectable green tea.)

And of course, fighting leukemia is only one of the many, many health benefits of green tea that the medical community is discovering.

Did I also mention that green tea tastes great, too?


Doctor Sonoda is in.

—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tea expo's winning products

A lot of cool new products will be on display at the World Tea Expo in June.


One that I have already fallen in love with is a glass kettle made by Northwest Glass Designs.


A watched pot never boils, the saying goes. But in this case, I wouldn't mind — I could watch this kettle for a long time.

 


Isn't she lovely?

 

—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Say g'day to easy brewing


A previous post showcased yet another option for brewing loose-leaf tea — the Australian Press.


Think of it as a see-through teapot that empties from the bottom (hence "down under" ... Australia ... get it?).


First, you put in your tea, then pour in hot water. When the tea is done brewing, you set the Australian press on top of your cup, press the button and — voilà! — the brewed tea pours through the bottom and into your cup.


The tea leaves, meanwhile, are left high and dry, which is important for additional steepings — you don't want the leaves soaking in leftover tea while you are drinking the first cup.


The only confusing aspect of the Australian tea press is that unlike the French press — which can be used for tea — there is no actual press. Instead, gravity does the work.


The Australian press is, in short, a pressless press. Confusing, yes — but that is more than offset by the simplicity, convenience, and good looks of this smart solution for us loose-leaf brewers.

 

—Mellow Monk

 

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Aso Easy Rider

Here's a photo taken recently by a friend in Aso, on the way to see the bussharito (stupa) on volcanic Mt. Aso.

Mt. Aso, incidentally, is the source of the volcanic soil that makes our tea so tasty and healthful.

 

—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cherry blossom slideshow — set to music

Even if you missed your local cherry blossom festival — such as the one in San Francisco, Macon, Georgia, or Washington, D.C. — you can still mellow out to this music-accompanied slideshow:

 

 

—Mellow Monk

 

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How to make ginger green tea

Rob Barrett — whose motto is "Cook well; it's worth it" and who also runs the site Cooking for Dadsshows how to make ginger green tea:



—Mellow Monk

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Tea plants in the snow

Along with her latest shipment of delectable tea, one of our growers in Aso enclosed this photograph of newly sprouting tea leaves breaking through a layer of late-winter snow.




Life always finds a way.

—Mellow Monk

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

New re-sealable packets are here

We have finally finished the transition to our new tea packets. They are resealable, to preserve our wonderful tea's freshness without the unmellow hassle of transferring the tea to another container.


Plus, the new packet is the kind that stands up on its own, taking up less counter space (or desk space) and letting the little monk on the label keep you company.




A screen capture of our virtual carousel.


—Mellow Monk

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