Category Archives: Green Tea

The SF Japanese Tea Garden

A couple weeks ago my mom came up from SoCal for a short two day visit. We took the chance to check out an exhibit at the de Young Museum on resist dye textiles. After the exhibit we headed over to the Japanese Tea Garden which is right next door.

The Japanese Tea Garden was originally built as the Japanese Village for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition by Makoto Hagiwara. He designed the bulk of the garden and was the caretaker from 1894 until the anti-Japanese hysteria during World War II.

Here are a few photos (phone camera) from the garden:

This little pagoda and wishing rock are in a nice shady path that made for a nice break from the warm afternoon.

There were Koi hiding in the shadows of the little bridges that connect this pool and several others that run through the garden.

This bridge was VERY popular with the kids visiting the garden, this was one of the few moments it was not being climbed on. The little guy in the corner of the frame was very determined to get his chance at a climb no matter what Mom had to say about it.

There is a small gift shop in the gardens that offer nice tea and sake sets, origami paper and other souvenirs. This little beggar comes regularly into the shop and gets walnuts from the ladies behind the counter. He climbs right up their pant legs to take the walnuts from there hands, then he runs over to this isle to eat it and then go back for more. I caught him mid snack.

After watching the squirrel get his snack we realized if we were going to survive the Muni-BART trip home we needed some sustenance ourselves. We headed to the Tea House where they serve several kinds of green tea along with traditional Japanese sweets. I got the Jasmine Green Tea set with salty crackers and an separate Hawaiian Coconut Mochi Cake. Normally I am not a big coconut fan but the mochi had just enough coconut flavor to be yummy and not over whelming.

If you are in the Bay Area and haven’t had a chance to check out the Japanese Tea Garden I highly suggest going and having some tea and mochi. Of course the best part of the day was getting to hang out with my Mom.

Cheers!

1 Comment

Filed under Green Tea, Jasmine, tea, Tea House, tour

Tisane Thursday: Mint 25June2009

Hello readers!  We’re trying a new regular topic: tisanes or herbal infusions or herbal tea… depending on where you’re from.

Don’t get me wrong, I love tea… and the stronger the better!  However, if you’re anything like me, you don’t make it home until later in the evening and you hesitate to drink a caffeinated beverage as you wind down and get ready for bed.  I have accumulated a hefty supply of different tisanes over the years and I have really enjoyed many.  I would love to share some with you by way of another interest of mine, medicinal plants.  Keep in mind, however, that I am not a professional herbalist and I am never giving medical advice.  My goal is to let you know how good that tisane you’ve enjoyed for years is for you!

For starters: peppermint!

 

Peppermint has been around for at least three thousand years, and was used by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans prior to becoming popular in Europe in the 1700’s.  Medicinally, peppermint is used to treat gas, bloating and colic but peppermint can also be effective in other ways.  The next time you reach for your Bengay, IcyHot or Vick’s Vaporub, I hope you remember that menthol, which has a cooling, anesthetic affect on the skin, makes up a major part of peppermint.  Other mints such as spearmint are related to peppermint and have similar, though milder, medicinal properties.

For digestion, an herbalist might prescribe peppermint to be taken as an infusion several times a day.  Dried or fresh peppermint can make a nice tisane, and in general more fresh than dried is needed for a given volume of water.  The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Chevallier recommends 1 tsp dry or 2 tsp fresh per cup, but peppermint tisane can be made to your taste.  I have a friend who shoves as much fresh mint as will fit into a teapot to make her tisane.  I find a slight difference between the taste of tisane from fresh vs. dried peppermint, but both are satisfying.

Many blends that include peppermint (and other mints) are available commercially and quite enjoyable.  My favorite Celestial Seasonings tea blend contains decaffeinated green tea, peppermint and just a touch of some other herbs.  It is perfect for an evening drink and hits the spot when I have a cold.  It is called Candy Cane Lane and although only available seasonally in the grocery store, I was able to pick some up on my recent trip to the factory in Boulder, CO

The flavor comes mostly from the peppermint (my palate has trouble distinguishing the flavor from the green tea) but the blend has much less of what I would call “raw plant” flavor than straight peppermint.  I also find the finish to be much smoother than straight peppermint, which can have a delicious, but strong, flavor as you swallow.

However you drink your peppermint, it makes quite a satisfying cuppa.

1 Comment

Filed under Bagged, Green Tea, herbal infusion, herbal tea, medicinal, Review, tisane

Libby’s Boulder Tea Adventure Part II: The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House

This past week I was lucky enough to find myself in Boulder, CO on a business trip with a couple of free afternoons.  In addition to plenty of natural beauty, Boulder can be a tea-lover’s paradise!

As nice as the Celestial Seasonings tour was, the real jewel of Boulder’s tea scene was yet to come.  Credit where credit is due, however, and I might not have made it there without the address on the pamphlet that came from Celestial Seasonings!  After dragging my coworker/conference-mate to a place famous for herbal tea, I was looking forward to satisfying both of our black tea habits.

The Dushanbe Teahouse was given to Boulder by their sister city, the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe in 1990.  The hand carved structure was sent disassembled and the tea house opened on May 15, 1998 after being reassembled by the Tajik artisans who also made the journey.  It is the only tea house of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and is also the largest tea house outside of Asia.  The building is stunning, but we came for tea, and boy, was it worth it!

In addition to appetizers, entrées and desserts, the privately owned restaurant that operates in the teahouse has an impressive tea menu that consists of over 100 premium loose-leaf teas, many exclusive.  Each pot of tea holds about 2.5 cups and is about 3-4 dollars.  Considering that one can pay almost 2 bucks for a mediocre teabag in tepid water at a coffee shop, I was pretty excited!

We picked Puerh Imperial, Tun Ting Oolong and Silver Needle (white tea) and snacked on hummus and samosas while we enjoyed the fleeting sunshine (with a dead camera battery, unfortunately). When the tea came to the table, our waitress Jen brought a timer and let us know how long to let the teas steep.  I enjoyed the puerh and even my coworker, who doesn’t usually go for that kind of thing, said that she would drink it again.  The white tea was pleasant and light, but that oolong was amazing!

After staring at the foreboding sky for three pots worth of tea, we decided that we’d pushed our weather luck for far too long.  Jen, who I can’t recommend enough, couldn’t have been nicer when we asked if it would be possible for us to move inside.  She got us a table in seconds and the tea and dessert we had ordered before fleeing the downpour was there to meet us when we got inside.

(The carvings on the walls and columns were amazing!)

For dessert, we ordered chocolate cake and gingerbread cake, (which came with delicious chai flavored ice cream) and Zao Bei Jian black tea.  The Zao Bei Jian was so excellent that my coworker (henceforth referred to as Kyla) parted with some $ to take a bag home with her.  The Dushanbe Teahouse also had lots of teapots to resist buying.

Being a knitter, I particularly liked this one:

We were so glad that we had gone to the Dushanbe Teahouse.  In fact, Kyla and I liked it so much… we came back the next day (equipped with a charged camera battery)!  Nerds, huh?

On our second trip we decided to try lunch, I had some curry and Kyla had some pulled pork that she said hit the spot ( it smelled pretty good, but as a veggie, I didn’t go there :p  ).  For tea we chose two oolongs, Jinxuan (Formosa) and Ti Kuan Yin.  The Jinxuan was not at all what I had expected, it tasted vegetal like some green teas, but had a nice sweet flavor as well.  The word that came to my mind as I sipped was raw, and it was refreshing.  The Ti Kuan Yin was quite tasty too.

For dessert we had the Ricotta Butter Cake which was far and away the best dessert we tried there.  It was so good that we ate half before I had the presence of mind to take a picture!

The Dushanbe Teahouse was a real treat.  If I lived in Boulder… I would basically never leave!  The food was pretty good, but I really enjoyed having a good place to sit and sip new, delicious tea with a friend (in or out of the weather!).

But don’t take my word for it, check it out!

Dushanbe Teahouse

1770 13th Street

Boulder, CO 80302.

303-442-4993

open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner

tea parties and afternoon tea can be arranged by reservation

Leave a comment

Filed under Green Tea, oolong, puerh, Review, tea, Tea House, White Tea