Why choose Glass over Plastic?

Glass is amazing…even though you might be like “oh well it’s heavy, breakable and stuff”…etc.

Well at least it forces you to be careful and pay attention. Yes, you…lazy person, too lazy to use a reusable container, listen, it takes sacrifice and effort to change bad habits. (Not saying I am perfect, far from it…but I try to improve) And yes, we’ve got to start somewhere. One of the things that really annoyed me the most when I moved to the U.S is how extreme and super fast the process of “buying-dispensing” was here. Almost every single purchase comes with something to through away in the first 10 first minutes. You buy a coffee, a snack or anything else, you get unlimited plastic bags, containers, wrappers, napkins etc and it fills up these trash-canes in no time.

Big shout-out to the garbage men in New York City, I barely see them, but I know that they work hard!!!

Everyone wants to come back to nature, right? It’s like the current trend lately… well here you go, let’s first start with a reminder.

Glass is

-100% recyclable

-reusable (yay)

-Transparent! :P

According to a researched, “glass has the purity of structure that makes any interaction with the stored liquid impossible. Plastic on the other hand is known to alter the properties of certain beverages because of the chemical reactions that appear in time between the artificial structure and the possible acids in the beverage.” (Even water)

That same researcher said that “glass bottles do not affect the structure of the environment by their chemical composition, their only problem comes from the fact that they remain in the same form for millions of years, there will actually be no change in their structure”.

It is a stable material, but at least we can recycle it in many noble things.

Glass comes from nature and even if you drop your glass container in the ocean, it will transform into a nice piece of “landart”↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

Ocean Glass

Ocean glass*

If you have mason jars at home, give this little thingy a try (The Cuppow)! I have one, and I use it everyday on my glass jar. Anyway it taste better to drink tea from a glass container when you don’t have nice tea-cups with you. (I do have a nice and super cute portable Gongfu Tea Set but…not always carrying it with me)

Portable Kit

My Portable Gongfu Cha Kit

Drink from a jar!

Cuppow is made in the USA!

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic. Glass is really a great material. You can really get creative too, you choose your own container, it’s cheap, and it’s getting cool again. When I used to be in art school, I worked with this material, so I always loved it very much. My two fav were wood and glass. I am glad that I got to work with both of them. They are so esthetic, that’s how it is when it’s a classic. It never gets old.

So if you transformed your mason jar into a cup, you might need a jar sleeve to absorbe the heet. Either you make your own or you can find one on etsy.

Cute Mason Tea Cup

That’s how I drink my tea at work.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you drink tea or not, consider ditching the plastic habit and drinking out of something reusable, even paper cups. I tried stainless steel but not a fan of the taste. I don’t know about you, but I am very sensitive when it comes to the taste of the water, especially from weird man-made containers, it’s even more a problem when it comes to tea. If you want to read more about water and tea, check out my previous post about how to purify water.

If you’re still not convinced, they are still great containers with Glass inside and plastic outside. So a little more practical for our modern city life. Here my post about my wonder-super-duper crush tea tumbler.

Now Germany and France produces more and more glass containers, hope that the U.S will follow in that great trend. FYI the French company Saint Gobain, is ranked 2nd in the world for glass bottles and jars hehe.

*(Found that pic here)

Never having enough of pretty Tea-Tumblers

photo

Eco-friendly thermos

This eco-friendly thermos is my new “to-have” thing. And Holidays are coming up…If there is one thing I want it’s this. The problem is, I have so many tea-containers already…I just don’t know which one to use, even though I kind of function per phases. I have a phase with that one or that other one…

I found this Aquaovo Therm-O Terra on Fab.com

I haven’t purchased IT because the price of handling + shipping is too outrageous on Fab, even though they have a lot of cute things.

What do you guys think? Have you ever bought things, especially Kitchenware or things like that on Fab?

Cha-yen aka «Thai Iced Tea» so sweet, it could be called “Tea Dessert”.

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If you ever been to a Thai restaurant in your area, you might have noticed this drink because of its flashy orange color.

I’ve never heard of it before until I went to eat Thai with friends and a friend of mine order this drink. I was very curious because I love everything tea…and I have never heard of “Thai Tea” before. When the drink arrived my friend let me have some, and it’s true the taste was pretty unique. Since it was a new thing to me, I needed to know everything about it, and its origin etc. I tried a lot of them in New York, Philadelphia etc. Bubble tea versions, restaurant version, canned version (Might have gained 4 pounds thank to this “explorational effort” :p but well…). I didn’t go to that many Thai restaurants when I used to live in Europe (I might never been to one there actually). And New York City, Philadelphia and other big cities I guess have a countless numbers of them.

Actually, the “original” Thai Iced tea is a mix of a strongly brewed black tea (Chinese black tea usually), spices (star anise, orange flowers, vanilla, clover, cinnamon…), sugar+++, condensed milk, (I got lost with the evaporated milk thing, so some versions add sugar then evaporated milk), and this red food coloring (in my opinion not necessary).

Most Thai restaurants use sugar and condensed milk to make Thai Iced tea. Lots, and lots and lots and …yeah lots of sugar! That’s why, to me it’s not just a « drink », it’s literally a drinkable dessert.

Restaurant style Thai Iced Tea (The rich orange color is from food coloring)

Thai Iced tea is very popular with girls for some reason. I’ve read a lot of blogs, or threads about Thai Iced Tea and how (usually girls) crave for it. Now Bubble teas are not only popular with teenage girls, but with a larger crowd. You will be able to find a « Thai Bubble Tea » version in most Bubble tea places.

Thai Iced Tea Bubble Tea style at Tea Talk, Philadelphia

Thai Tea Recipe From Scratch 

  • 1 gallon water
  • 8 Chinese star anise, ground
  • 1 tablespoon orange flowers
  • 1 tablespoon powdered vanilla
  • 1 pinch of clove powder
  • 1 pinch chopped cinnamon
  • 3/4 quart long cut China black tea leaves
  • 1 to 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart half & half
  • red food coloring
  • crushed ice

Boil water. Add star anise, orange flowers, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, and tea leaves to boiling water. Continue boiling for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cover and allow to steep until luke warm. Strain, and add sugar to taste. Serve in a clear glass over plenty of crushed ice. Top with half & half.

Traditional Variation: Substitute coconut milk for half & half.
Decaffeinated Variation: Substitute decaffeinated tea leaves.
Low-fat Variation: Substitute evaporated milk or rice milk for half & half.
Natural Variation: Substitute unrefined cane sugar for refined sugar and beet powder for food coloring.

(Source One Letter Words)

In one of the community threads I found someone mentioning a canned version for anyone interest in satisfying irrational cravings. In some places they actually sell them. (At The Little Thai Market inside the Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia). There is actually a Philipino store online selling them, if you’re thinking about ordering call them first to make sure they’re not out, it’s $1 the cane.

Foco Thai Drink found at The Little Thai Market, Philadelphia

Foco canned Thai Iced Tea

If you’re on Yelp and like Thai food, you can also check my Thai Places reviews.

I would like to finish my post with this very artistic video:

Making Thai Iced Tea like a boss!

How to properly store you tea

When you start “collecting” different loose teas, you’ll wonder where  and how to store it.

Tea’s life, quality and flavor depends on quality storage.

Tea will absorb odors, humidity and any sort of toxins in the air. Actually, that is also why I use my infused tea leaves to absorb bad odors in my fridge. Then I through them away in my compost.

Avoid these 5 tea flavors assassins

Light

will degrade your tea by stripping if from its natural color and of course its flavor ➞Dark place, Tea tin.

Moisture

will degrade your tea, causing decay and naturally loss of flavor, quality ➞No fridge, Sealable container.

Heat

will degrade your tea as well, summer is approaching ➞Cool place, Away from stove, oven.

Odor

will absorb good and bad odors, better avoid putting it near anything with strong odors (Spices, oignons…)➞Avoid spice cabinet.

Air

will absorb every particles in the air (air also carries moisture and odors)➞Avoid porous packaging materials

By avoiding these 5 elements, you’ll be able to preserve the freshness of your tea, as well as its flavor and quality.

This cherry-wood box presents a double lid inside to preserve the freshness of your teas

This cherry-wood box presents a double lid inside to preserve the freshness of your tea

Cherry wood box

Open metal tea canister

Tea canister with the double lid

Here few pictures of one of my tea canisters. You will notice the double lid, something pretty common for tea containers.

I got that one in Paris, 4 or 5 years ago at the Mariage Frères store in Place des Ternes. It’s kind of pricy for what it is, even though it’s a very nice one, in cherry wood. They sell it for 46€ on their website.

Well I took the pictures outside, and of course there is air and bright light…but it was for the sake of the photo.

Here an example of how tea is sealed

Usually tea stores online are very meticulous when it comes to the storage of the tea they ship. Lately I received  some samples of Tea Vivre (I will review them soon on this blog) and their storage was great. Double wrapped and all, plus the box etc.

TeaVivre packaging

Samples inside the packaging (TeaVivre)

Actually they also have great posts about storage for Pu-erh or other teas.

How to purify the water of your cup of tea.

Water is something we take so much for granted. We buy it in plastic bottles, we take endless showers, or just let it run for much longer than needed while we wash our dishes, or tea-ware.

Everyone heard (or saw that video on youtube) of the Japanese Dr. Masaru‘s research on water, and his theory that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. There is also a documentary on water called “Water, The Great Mystery” pretty interesting.

Since water and tea go together, I could not skip this major element. Nowadays water is victim of pollution as much as everything else around us, and we just adapted to it, so much that we can’t tell the difference from what is “pure” and the bad things we actually absorb. If you go hiking in altitude, in the mountains, you might get a chance to taste a water somewhat purer, even though, even there the environnement is victim of our pollution from down there in the cities.

Here few tips I gather that might help enhance the quality of your tea.

How to purify your water?

1-Filter your water

Water Bobble

They are many filters out there, and more and more people buy them because people are more and more aware of the effect of pollution on the human body. I personally use Brita filters (One on my water faucet and a pitcher), but are other brands as good I think, like PUR, or Aquasana. This summer I tried the nicely designed water Bobble bottle, now they also sell pitchers.

2-Put silver coins in your water pitcher

As far as I remember, back when I was little I always saw silver coins or silver “things” in water pitchers in several houses. My mother explained to me that it is good for the water. And it does taste different if you keep them in it all the time. The silver coins need to be entirely in silver though.

According to the Canadian drinking water website:

“Silver-based water purification units for the home have been in use in Europe for more than 50 years. Royal Doulton ceramic candles combine silver within the ceramic during manufacturing to take advantage of the outstanding bacterial disinfecting properties of silver. These units meet the National Sanitation Foundation Standards covering bacteriostatic efficacy, the reduction of lead, copper and particulates and the reduction of taste and odor. They also have the approval of the US Environmental Protection Agency as a bactericidal unit.”

Their website has actually a lot of interesting information.

3-Store your water in glass or non-plastic containers if possible.

Plastic is so common nowadays, that we don’t question anything related to this material. But if you think about it,  it’s made from petrochemicals, (“petro” and “chemicals”…I don’t know about you but it’s not really something I would want to be in contact with my water and even less my great tea leaves. I am kind of exaggerating here but well).

But the idea is, you can re-use glass, it’s more natural, even though it’s heavier and breakable, it’s 100% safe, which is not the case for plastic bottle. Who knows how much this BPA leachs into it, etc…

“According to several recent studies, polycarbonate plastic gradually leaches a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) into foods and liquids that are stored in containers made from this material. BPA has been identified as an endocrine disrupting chemical, or a chemical that easily mimics hormones when absorbed by the human body.” (Read more ➫ “Glass Water Storage Bottles vs. Plastic”)

A last tip I haven’t tried yet but am really eager to:

4-The bamboo charcoal water purifier

Bamboo charcoal

The websites selling tea, also sell them. One of them as all these miraculous explanations about this bamboo and I admit, I want to try that:

“Researchers and users alike call it a miracle filter because it can eliminate the residual chlorine and other chemicals in your water and replace it with healthy minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium and iron, transforming ordinary water into mineral water that leaves the drinker refreshed. “

Apparently it works as an air purifier as well. According to wikipedia “Bamboo charcoal has a long history in China and has been documented as early as 1486 AD during the Ming Dynasty”. I am sure they had good reasons to use this great plant for all sorts of things!

5-Demineralize/ distille your Water.

This process is pretty radical, but maybe the best one to have the purest water possible. (Plus say positive, kind and nice words to your water ;) I am sure Dr. Masaru will approve). This method exists already in nature. I heard that the taste of distilled water is really great though. If you’re interested, I recommend reading this or buy a water distiller on amazon. They’re a little pricy, but it’s probably worth it.

If anyone has other tips, or does it some other way, please feel free to share in the comments. Thanks!

Here the video I mentioned at the beginning of this post:

Water – The Great Mystery

I’ll finish this post with this great quote, if you watched the whole documentary you might understand better why I share it here:

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”

- Albert Einstein

Entering 2012 with some wisdom around Tea and Chinese culture.

I will start the year with this post, I personally need to reflect on.  A friend of mine shared this quote on her Facebook wall. I think it reflects a lot on things I personally need to seriously consider as the New Year starts.

“If you care about others, but they still remain aloof, then you should ask yourself if you are truly kind. If you advise others unsuccessfully, you should ask yourself if you are truly wise. If you are courteous to others but they do no reciprocate, then you should ask yourself if you are truly sincere. When you do something but do not get a response, don’t complain about others. You should first look within and find where you have to change yourself.” – Mencius (Chinese philosopher)

Since it’s my first 2012 post. I might make it a little more diverse. Of course it still is all about tea here :)

I found the topic of tea very vast. Tea, is also pretty much connected to culture. And when you think about it, it always goes back to the old “story of the origine of tea”. This aspect has always been very interesting to me since the origine of tea takes place in China. And Chinese culture is something I have had deep interest in for many years. (If you’re curious, I found this great post about “Kangxi Emperor’s tea cups and Chinese porcelain history“.

My favorite Gaiwan Tea cup with floral ornements

We have to remember, that back in the past, tea was consumed as a luxury item, on special occasions. I guess like Chocolate was. And now its value is totally different. Not to say it has no real meaning to people, except the health benefits. I find the traditional aspect something very valuable, we should learn to re-appreciate.

Shen Yun and traditional Chinese culture. 

Using arts to bring something uplifting to people.

Actually there is something I would recommend to everyone interested in Arts and in Culture in general. It is a performance called Shen Yun.

This performing arts company is touring the whole world. So wherever you are you have a chance to see it. For more touring information you can visit their website (On the top left you have all the cities listed).

I have seen the performance last year. They actually just launched their 2012 Tour. Here a video of the audience feedback from last New York performance at Lincoln Center. I actually plan to see it in either in January or April in New York, or maybe Philadelphia too.

I think that anyone interested in learning how tradition can enhance today’s life, should see it. It’s really worth it on so many ways. The Chinese civilization brought us so many things we take for granted nowadays. On this show, it’s actually more about the universal message than the “chinese pride”. That’s an aspect I like. Because I can relate to that, even though I cherish my own Russian heritage and Russian culture. Well take a look and let me know what you think.

If you’re interested NPR Radio interviewed Jared Madsen the Master of Ceremonies and Ying Chen, the Orchestra director of their company. Really interesting to hear them talk about the performance.

Direct link➫ Shen Yun at Lincoln Center, NY

Tea Steeping Tumbler with tea infuser inside.

Here another Tea Tumbler I got after the Aladdin Travel Mug.

First of all, I love the design of this one. It’s less bulky than the Aladdin one, it’s more colorful, (Also exists in Green)

I kept the sticker for you guys :)

First of all, I have it for few weeks now, and tried to use it as much as I could. I have already few pros+ and cons- regarding this one.

Here the positive points:

  • 1. The Removable tea filter (basket) is really nice, I keep using it for other things actually. +++
  • 2. The Design is very nice, it takes no room in a bag. ++
  • 3. I has not leaked or broke yet. For me it’s a ++

For the less positive ones:

  • 1. The stainless steel makes my tea taste weird. So I won’t brew any nice tea I have in this. —
  • 2. I have to remove the tea infuser right after I brewed the tea, otherwise it still is in contact with the hot water. –
  • 3. It’s kind of hard to open. But it’s a small -

Tea Tumbler in full (with label even)

Tea Tumbler with removable tea filter

Removable Tea filter with cap

How the tea unfolds from the inside

Stainless Steel

Just one last thing. I don’t know where to buy this Tea Tumbler, I got it as a gift again. But I found some “cheap looking” version here.

When I find out, I’ll let you guys know.