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Welcome 2022

Since January 1st, I’ve been intently listening to talk radio – the CBC, BBC and NPR for the most part.  The overwhelming sentiment that I am hearing is that 2021 was a dismal year of epic proportions.  In our small corner of the world, we’ve been subjected to a relentless succession of extremes. Extreme cold, …

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The Perfect Tea for a foggy day

Here in the Pacific Northwest it seems as though with the arrival of October the last warm breezes of summer somehow slipped away without even bothering to wave goodbye. The leaves are changing as quickly as our wardrobes and even on a sunny afternoon an iced coffee or chilled tea suddenly feel so out of …

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SATURDAY SIPS

Organic Sun Dried Yerba Mate When I received Olivia’s request to do another tea segment for Global, I was clad only in undies, dangling a tuna carcass over the side of a boat off the shores of Key West. I had managed to attract 4 to 5 large sharks who were making coy, teeth glaring …

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DEMYSTIFYING LOOSE LEAF TEA

We’ve all heard it. We’ve all tried to explain it. Sometimes the patron buys into your pitch about the merits of loose over bagged, but other times it can be like talking to a wall. You know what I am talking about here. You might be able to sell them on the quality and taste …

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THE ADVENT OF BIG TEA

When the thought of tea jumps into mind, even in this day where the leaf seems to be cropping up everywhere, we think of quiet solitary times, times where you may have a slight chill penetrating your bones.  It’s now you realize that wrapping your hands around a mug of steaming tea is just about …

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PHOENIX MOUNTAIN SINGLE TREE OOLONG

During April in North Guangdong province at an altitude of 4,500 feet, 100-year-old Oolong trees are harvested for their young shoots, which are than oxidized to 45%, fired under medium heat, and meticulously crafted all along the way. These single-branch cultivars from Chaoan County’s infamous Phoenix Mountain grow straight up and than fan out, creating …

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TEA FOR THE AILING

As the months fly by, and signs of spring slowly emerge from the warming earth, I pause for a quick glance back. What have I accomplished? Where (and how) have I spent my time? What do I have to show for my efforts? Is my life by design materializing? Or am I just wandering around, …

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BLISS IN DISCOVERY

I was strolling through Chinatown last weekend, killing some time while waiting for a client to open a nearby shop. During my stroll, I ducked into a herbal remedy store to smell and gaze at the myriad concoctions and dried stuff that filled every corner of the pungent shop. Over on one of the sidewalls, …

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THE PUSHBACK

Teaopia was a much better concept than Teavana from a customer’s perspective, although the idea for Teaopia was hatched after its founder was lured into a Teavana outlet at a Tampa megamall. With a keen eye for retail trends and a wealth of shopping-mall expertise, Teaopia’s founder took all that was good about Teavana and …

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A TEA LIFE

As I sit here, this first Saturday of September in my back yard, trying to compose a coherent piece of tea prose, I initially (as often happens) come up empty-handed. So, I get up from the patio table and head indoors to find a cup of inspiration in my cluttered cupboard of tea samples. The …

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WHEN LESS IS MORE

There are few consumer product sectors that, when reduced to their most basic form, offer you a significantly better experience. Imagine walking into a car dealership and telling the salesperson you want to buy new wheels with every bell and whistle available but were only prepared to pay their basic version price. You know full …

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THOMAS LOVE

When my 7-year-old niece comes to visit, one of the things she loves to do is swim and drink tea with her uncle. Her first choice for a swim is the ocean, but up here in Canada in January, swimming in the sea is best left to polar bears and spot prawns,  not skinny little …

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THE HUNT FOR THE PERFECT CULTIVAR

November is when the tea bush drops its hazelnut-sized seeds and withdraws into winter hibernation. It is the last hurrah of the growing season in the northern hemisphere for Camellia sinensis. As my tea plants recede into protection mode from the harsh winter temperatures, I lift my head up for a moment and restart my …

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A CUP OF COMPASSION PLEASE

In the face of what on some days seems like a crumbling world, a planet in total chaos, we find ourselves retracting and hiding rather than confronting the fears that seem to be escalating around us. With daily catastrophes playing out in real life and in the media, it is easy to let fear creep …

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WORRIED YOU MISSED THE BOAT?

In the 12 years since I opened my first tea lounge back on that hot, dusty day in Edmonton, I had a vision of an industry whose trajectory would replicate that of our darker cousin. I had the sense after less than a year in operation, that within the decade there would be such things …

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BEING A PART OF THE SOLUTION

The increased use of loose-leaf tea in cafés and restaurants has been a most pleasing evolution to us tea aficionados. Not all cafés have dumped the stale bag for a better, fresher, more exotic offering, but the ones that have are indeed seeing an increase in the amount of tea they are selling. Simply by …

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ON BECOMING A TEA FARMER

When the idea struck me some years ago that Camellia Sinensis might grow and possibly thrive on the west coast of Canada, I decided it would probably be best to keep it to myself. It was one of those epiphanies you get when you’re scrunched down in a muddy trench, reaching for a ripe bunch …

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BITTERSWEET TEA

I arrived at the office a little later than usual Friday afternoon and the box of Japan Sencha was waiting in front of the door. I had just purchased 55 pounds of the steamed leaf for my fervent customers. The whole lot was vacuum packed in a solid brick, the size of a small engine …

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SEEDS OF HOPE AND GRATITUDE

Quite a few posts back, I mentioned that I had this wild dream of starting a tea farm on Canada’s west coast. At that time, I was searching for suitable land to plant tea, which for the most part, thrives in warm damp climates. The west coast of Canada is definitely moist and, compared with …

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TEA LATTE ART STEPS UP TO THE CUP

Latte art has become a very cool phenomenon in the coffee house industry.  With perfectly textured milk poured into rich espresso shots and finished with a barista’s insignia, it’s no wonder people line up for a latte made to perfection. Sadly, this care does not exist in tea cafes that serve up their repertoire of …

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ORGANIC TEA VS. QUALITY TEA

Shop owners are looking for it, customers are demanding it, and numerous gardens are working toward it. The future of organic tea production is looking very bright, yet there are still some issues to be explored. Paramount among them is whether or not we are compromising quality in switching to an organic line of loose …

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THE DECADE THAT TEA WOKE UP

May 3, 1999 Edmonton, Alberta. Steeps the Urban Teahouse opened its doors for business on a hot and dry prairie morning, 1000 square feet, 28 seats, 78 teas, 2 pies, 2 cakes, 3 kinds of cookies, date squares, and an antique sideboard where you could choose your very own tea cup to sip from. It …

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DISCOVERING THE BEST TEA STEEPER

Over the years, I’ve read numerous reviews in various coffee trade magazines and on websites about what brewing devices make the best cup of coffee. Coffee-holics usually arrive at a similar place when they cup the strong brew in today’s conventional devices. If my memory serves me correctly, the French Press usually ends up on …

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tea field

HOW TO DEEPEN YOUR ROOTS IN TEA

It floored me a little when I thought about it. Eleven years of all things tea and I had yet to visit an actual garden. They remained just images and visions, pictures that I have poured over for what seems like decades. Those pristine gardens of Japan where Fuji shimmers in the foreground; Darjeelings and …

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yerba mate

THE LIQUID VEGETABLE

I have to be completely honest and admit that I did not and could not drink Yerba Maté for the first seven years I was in the tea business. Unlike my brother, who liked it from the very first sip, I could simply not wrap my palate around that smoky, earthy bitterness. I tried my …

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