Friday, December 30, 2011

Rock garden carved into a book

Part of Guy Laramee's "The Great Wall" project is this fascinating, somehow compelling piece: a rock garden carved out of — or is it "carved into"? — a book:

There's something very Zen about finding such a small rock garden in such an unexpected place.

—Mellow Monk


blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Friday, December 23, 2011

A stainless steel, BPA-free tea-brewing mug that's truly top of the line

Here's an excellent last-minute gift idea: the Hybrid Mug from Revenge Is. As you can see in the photo, it contains all the accoutrements you need for brewing loose-leaf on the go.

It even comes with its own travel case. It's also BPA free, naturally, for peace of mind and convenient tea-brewing on the go.

I also like that the Hybrid Mug holds a full 14 ounces, so that a single steeping will yield plenty of tea for a nice, leisurely tea break.

Happy steeping!

—Mellow Monk


blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Aso tea-win article translated

Since I blogged about our win in the North American Tea Championship being reported in the tea grower–artisan's hometown of Aso, Japan, I have received some requests to know what's in the actual article, so here goes:
Aso City: Mr. Nagata's Steamed Green Tea
Even Americans Say, "Wonderful"

In America's largest tea contest, the North American Tea Championship, first place in the "steamed green tea division" was awarded to tea producer Koji Nagata (age 42), of Miyaji, Ichinomiya-cho, Aso City.

In the contest, held in late July in Las Vegas, U.S.A., over 200 teas were submitted in 15 divisions, which included matcha, white tea, pan-fried green tea, and blended tea. Mr. Nagata's "steamed tamaryokucha [curly green tea]" was chosen as the best through a judging in which each tea was scored according to leaf color and shape and the tea's aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and overall balance.

Mr. Nagata has been making tea for 23 years. He cultivates 1.7 hectares of tea plants and has emphasized making fertilizer from manure and reducing agrichemical use.

Eight years ago in Aso, he met Paul Kotta (age 45), who works at an American defense research organization and whose wife is also from Ichinomiya-cho. Liking Mr. Nagata's green tea, he entered it in the contest. [Editor's note: The reporter omits reference to Mellow Monk as his newspaper's rules forbid mentioning companies by name in such stories.]

Part of a trend toward health consciousness, green tea is undergoing a quiet boom in the United States. Mr. Kotta says, "Tea grown in Aso, with its large [temperature] difference between summer and winter, has a good balance of sweetness, bitterness, and savoriness." Says Mr. Nagata: "I was surprised when I learned about the first place win, but I'm glad to see Aso tea recognized overseas."

—Hiroshi Imamura

Koji and his wife, Miho, in their tea field.

—Mellow Monk


blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wagashi and a homemade mug

Little Monk made his own tea mug in Japan recently (although the proprietors of the make-your-own-ceramics store fired it for him), we recently used it at tea-and-snack time.

The treats are two Kumamoto specialties — Jindaiko and Mushagaeshi, the latter named for the curved stone walls of Kumamoto Castle, designed to repel climbing enemies.

—Mellow Monk


blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos