Friday, December 21, 2012

MacGyvering some green tea

Seen on r/tea: a photo of the poster's boyfriend brewing loose-leaf tea at work, MacGyver style.




Clever, no? You could even poke additional holes to allow the tea to drain more quickly.



—Mellow Monk

 

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Single estate, defined

We received an inquiry asking what "single estate" means and whether our tea is single estate. Here is the answer we sent.

Thank you for getting in touch.

All of our tea is single estate, meaning a single artisan grows it, harvests the leaves, and crafts the leaves into tea.

The term "single estate" is to distinguish from teas where a tea-processing operation buys harvested leaves from various outside tea farms.

Our growers, in contrast, are complete, start-to-finish establishments: the artisans plant what they harvest, harvest the tea themselves, and use *only* tea leaves harvested from their own land.

Single-estate tea artisans are the biggest sticklers in the tea world -- they don't trust any tea leaves they didn't grow themselves. There is a practical reason for this: there is no way to truly assure tea quality unless you have overseen the entire process, starting with planting and caring for the tea plants yourself.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you again for contacting us.

You can read more about our growers here.





A mother-and-daughter pair of growers in one of their tea groves. All of their tea — including, of course, what they provide to Mellow Monk — is single estate.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Minako's magnificent art

Minako Yoshino is a New York-based artist who creates wonderfully lifelike works in marble, dreamlike stone abstractions, and hypnotically engaging paintings, including my personal favorite, Aria—Water Spirit.







—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

We're back

Some of you may have had trouble accessing our website in the last couple of days, but we have fixed the problem completely, and the site is once again up and humming along smoothly.


Thank you for your patience during the brief outage.


Now, back to brewing.






—Mellow Monk

 

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two more Kiva loans

We have just added to our Kiva portfolio with two new loans. It's just our way of paying it forward!








—Mellow Monk

 


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Friday, August 31, 2012

Sushi dreams of dedication

Although the tale of a sushi chef, the excellent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi provides a glimpse into the heart of artisans in all aspects of traditional Japanese culture.


"Ultimate simplicity leads to purity," says Jiro about why he insists on simple, unadorned sushi.


This same spirit of pursuing the essence of one's craft is why the teas that our grower–artisans make are all variations on the same simple theme.


Why no fancy blended teas? Because it is unadorned tea that brings us closest to the essence of tea.








No decoration. Nothing extraneous. Just sushi. (And tea, too, of course.)


—Mellow Monk

 

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Monday, August 27, 2012

New Kiva loans

We have added to our Kiva portfolio with loans to Avelina and Rufino, of the Philippines and Mexico, respectively.






—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shaded Leaf wins at the NATC

We just received news that our Shaded Leaf green tea won 3rd place in the Steamed Green Tea division of the 2012 North American Tea Championship.


We would like to thank the Academy . . . I mean the NATC judges and everyone else involved for their hard work, because putting on a competition of that scale takes a lot of it.


And of course we would like to thank all of our customers for supporting us and our mission. Without you, we would not have made it this far.


Cheers!





—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A monk's scroll on tea togetherness

Kogetsu Sogan (1574–1643) was the 156th chief priest of Kyoto's Daitokuji temple — obviously an excellent place to indoctrinate oneself into mellow mindfulness.


A devotee of sado, Sogan penned many calligraphic scrolls about the philosophy of tea, including this one: "Hin chū shu, shu chū hin (賓中主々中賓), which translates literally "Guest in the host, host in the guest."


You may associate the tea ceremony with sharp distinctions between the obligations of host and guest, but there's more to it, namely, the goal of host and guest coming together through the tea they share.


At least, that's one interpretation. What do you think?






—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Yuzu Dream reviewed by Sagaci-Tea

Kate over at the Sagaci-Tea blog reports how she liked our Yuzu Dream. Thanks, Kate!


You can also read other reviews of our tea on our Reviews page.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Monk interviewed on Walker Tea Review

An interview with yours truly — about Kumamoto green tea — just appeared on Walker Tea Review.

And Kate over at Sagaci-tea, a blog that exudes passion for tea, recently reviewed our Blissful Buds.



Blissful Buds as brewed by Kate.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Iced tea trophy

Here is the 1st place trophy won by our Roasted Iced Green Tea in the 2012 North American Tea Championship.


This tea is made by a wonderful grower–artisan in Sagara Village in Kumamoto's Kuma region, famous for tea estates sprawling across the rolling hills.


I stayed in Sayuri Inn in Sagara while filming part of Kyushu, Where Japan's Green Tea Grows.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another 1st place win at North American Tea Championship

Mellow Monk's Lightly Roasted Iced Green Tea has won 1st place in its division in the 2012 North American Tea Championship.


Thank you to all of our customers for your support, without which there would be no tea for us to enter in the championship. This is an award for all of us.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wherein a centenarian woodpecker teaches us about tealike mindfulness

Here is another work from the Zencha no Kokoro ("Spirit of Zen and Tea") collection.


"Scene of Cherry Blossoms and a Small Bird" (Ohka Shokin-zu 桜花小禽図) by Oda Kaizen (小田海僊, 1785–1862) shows a woodpecker perched in a blossoming cherry tree.


Like a haiku or the tea ceremony, this work focuses on a specific moment in time — that point in the beginning of the cherry blossom cycle when some of the flowers are finally in full bloom, others still barely opening buds, leaves still outnumbering blossoms.


In this state, the leaves provide dark color against which the white cherry blossoms contrast. This suggests another of the work's themes: balance. Balance can also be seen between blossom-carrying branches and the branch-bearing trunk, between occupied space and empty space, between the woodpecker's own dark and light colors, and between an immobile tree and a bird that has alighted there only briefly.


Tea ceremony strives for balance between giving and receiving tea, between guest and host. (In Oda's sumie painting, the tree is also playing host to the bird.) Through the tea, guest and host mindfully savor each moment. Likewise, a cup of tea by oneself is a mini-tea ceremony, an opportunity to savor the moment — before it flutters away.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

SoftBrew teapot

Sowden offers coffee pots with a stainless steel photo-etched filter so fine that you can "steep" coffee the way you would tea. (Although the coffee needs to be ground coarsely.)


The same SoftBrew lineup includes teapots with the same ultra-fine filters.


The ceramic teapots keep tea warm for a long time, and as you can see below, are stylish indeed.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Kiva loan #26

Mellow Monk has made another Kiva loan — to an independent farmer in Tajikistan who will use his loan to plant tomatoes and cucumbers.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

New — yuzu green tea

Mellow Monk® presents a new addition to our lineup: Yuzu Dream™, a blend of artisinal green tea and sun-dried yuzu peel.


The sublime flavor and fragrance of yuzu are well known in the culinary world and also blend spectacularly well with green tea in the form of yuzu ryokucha ("yuzu green tea").


One of our grower–artisans in Kumamoto, Japan, pairs sun-dried yuzu peel with his award-winning green tea. The yuzu is specially prepared to capture all of its tasty essence and blended in just the right proportion with the tea by the grower–artisan himself. The result is an exquisite experience that must be brewed to be believed.


More here.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mesh tea baskets for easy, inexpensive brewing

Mesh strainers like this are sometimes hard to find online. Or, if you find them, only really small-diameter ones are offered. Or maybe the actual size isn't even listed.


Teavana offers stainless steel mesh strainers in a wide range of sizes. The largest size is 77 mm (3.1 in.), which would give you tea leaves plenty of room to bloom. These items are apparently meant as replacement tea strainer baskets for teapots Teavana sells, but there is no reason you cannot drop one into your favorite teacup or mug. And the same kind of mesh baskets sold as stand-alone tea infusers are usually much more expensive.


I like actual mesh better than perforated steel, as the wet leaves plop out easily, whereas they can stick tenaciously to the perforated kind.


One caveat, however, is that there isn't a lot of leeway in width, as the rim isn't very wide. So you should measure the size of the mug/cup with which you plan to use the strainer so it doesn't fall entirely into your cup or get crushed when inserted into a too-small cup.


Happy steeping,


—Mellow Monk

 

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A butler for your tea

Breville is famous for its high-end kitchen appliances, and a recent tea-related entry from the company is the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker.


As the name suggests, this kettle/teapot does nearly the work for you: simply put in the water and the tea, tell the teamaker which kind of tea you have (green, oolong, black?), and press the button. The Breville heats the water to the right temperature and dunks in the tea leaves for the appropriate amount of time, then raises the leaf basket out of the water, which is key to preventing oversteeping.


This would make a wonderful holiday gift for a tea-lover on your list — but you'd better start saving up now.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New 50-gram sizes

Although they are not quite "sample" sizes, we now have 50-gram sizes for two teas: Shaded Leaf and Frosty Garden.


This is in addition to our usual 100-gram sizes.


We had been getting requests for smaller sizes for some time, and we have finally got them in stock — thanks to our patient, understanding growers.


And thank you to all of you who were waiting patiently for these smaller-sized packets.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sagaci-tea reviews Crimson Grove

Kate at Sagaci-tea really likes our Crimson Grove, black tea made from green tea cultivars.





Says Kate: "The liquor is deep ruby with a gentle aroma of fresh cut wood, nutmeg, orchids, and citrus. It's vaguely reminiscent of a high-grown Ceylon."


—Mellow Monk

 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shincha when?

I received an inquiry today asking if we had shincha yet, so I thought I'd share my reply with all of you.

Thank you for your inquiry and for your interest in our tea.

Harvest time for our grower-artisans in Kumamoto Prefecture doesn't start until late May or so. (It depends on the weather patterns -- they judge when it's time for harvest by how the leaves develop, so we never know until the day itself).

The grower-artisans are so busy during harvest time that they barely have time to eat, so they don't start shipping shincha right away.

Long story short, we won't start shipping shincha for a while yet, but the tea we have in stock now is kept in bulk in the growers' special cooling rooms and shipped here in small batches, so it's quite fresh, in case you want to give it a try now.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you again for getting in touch.

Sincerely,


—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

We love ramen

Do you love ramen? The people at Hack College do, so they put together this fascinating infographic to share the love:


We Love Ramen Infographic
Created by: Hack College


—Mellow Monk

 

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Cool tower of tea

Nicole at Tea for Me Please demonstrates using her very cool cold-brew drip tower to cold-brew green tea:





My favorite coffee shop in Aso has a similar setup. The owner cold-brews the coffee overnight (since brewing is drip-by-drip slow) then heats it by the cup when you order it. This may seem inefficient, but the coffee is excellent. Some things are worth waiting for — even by the drop.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Enter the tea dragon

"Fugaku Toryu Zu" ([富嶽登龍図] Drawing of Dragon Climbing Mt. Fuji) is a calligraphic brush painting by Kano Eigaku. It was commissioned in 1852 by Ii Naosuke, a late-Shogunate-era official who was also an avid practitioner of sado.


This work was featured in a collection I came across called Zencha no Kokoro ("Spirit of Zen and Tea"). Other than its first owner, what is the painting's connection with tea? This work clearly reflects the turbulent times in which it was painted. But is the mighty dragon being engulfed by the storm around him, even as his eyes are fixed determinedly on the mountain's peak? Or is he emerging from the storm's grasp? Perhaps that is the point: the ending of the dragon's quest has not yet been written.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Music to drink green tea by

We all know that the right music can make a green tea break even more relaxing or rejuvenating. But recent research is also showing that music can even affect how your tea — or any food or beverage for that matter — tastes:

Volunteers rated the toffee eaten during low-pitched music as more bitter than that consumed during the high-pitched rendition. The toffee was, of course, identical. It was the sound that tasted different.

Here are a couple of mixes for you to experiment with. Green tea has such a broad range of flavors, and the low, mellow notes in the music complement deliciously the smooth, earthy flavor of tea, while the high, cheery notes perfectly match the tea's sweet, cheery flavor components.


And of course when the mellow vibe of the two come together, the result is copacetic.


But I still think it's the tea that makes the music sound better, not the other way around.








—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A little teapot reviews Mellow Monk

Tea aficionado Annie Knapman recently started a tea blog called Imalittleteapot and was kind enough to review our tea.


The list of reviews of Mellow Monk tea at Teaviews continues to grow, too.


—Mellow Monk

 

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Friday, February 03, 2012

Chilly, snowy Aso

It's cold in Aso — perfect weather for hibernating tea plants. It makes me want to write a haiku.

An icy blanket
White snow crunches underfoot
The tea plants slumber




—Mellow Monk

 

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Kiva loan

Mellow Monk just made another Kiva loan — to Farhod, a vegetable grower in Hamadoni, Tajikistan.

Good luck, Farhod!

And isn't Kiva awesome?



—Mellow Monk

 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Machine Project

Mellow Monk doesn't only promote independent agriculture; we like to promote indie everything.


Machine Project is a loose group of creative people who hold and host performances and educational activities about things they find interesting — music, poetry, sewing, computer programming, and cheese tastings, to name only a few.


This video about Machine Project starts out with a fascinating and haunting musical piece combining a harp and trumpet. How cool is that?





—Mellow Monk

 

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Mellow Monk introduces ... Artisan's Reserve

Mellow Monk proudly introduces a new tea — Artisan's Reserve.


Artisan's Reserve is an artisinal blend of select kabusecha (shade-grown tea) and sun-grown tamaryokucha-style sencha. This combination produces an exquisite ensemble of tastes: a subtle herbaceous sweetness with citrus and melon highlights, all over a kabusecha-like creamy texture.


Please join us in welcoming Artisan's Blend to the Mellow Monk family. The Kumamoto-based artisan who makes it puts all his tea-crafting heart into this tea, and it really shows.





—Mellow Monk

 

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Friday, January 06, 2012

How green tea staves off hepatitis

In the journal Hepatology, researchers describe how green tea protects the liver from hepatitis C: the flavinoid EGCG — which is found only in green tea — prevents the hepatitis C virus (HCV) from attaching to liver cells, "thus disrupting the initial step of HCV cell entry."


This is just one recent example of studies demonstrating the antiviral effects of EGCG, which in turn is merely one aspect of the health benefits of green tea.


And which shows how much natural goodness there is jam-packed into this humble little leaf:





—Mellow Monk

 

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