A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A Californian Ginseng Oolong grown in Wisconsin!


My blood sugar is already better! The health benefits of Ginseng have made it prized in the East and the West.  In China, Ginseng was historically said to sharpen the senses, cure illnesses, and even prolong life.  While not quite as fanciful, modern medicine has shown that ginseng does contain several unique types of anti-oxidants and other compounds known as ginsenosides.  Clinical trials have also shown that American ginseng in particular can help in controlling blood-sugar levels in patients with type-II diabetes.  It is no wonder that ginseng has a long-running record as the most popular herbal health supplement in the United States.

Asian ginseng tends to overpower the taste of the tea, but American ginseng is both milder and sweeter.  We’ve found that our more floral teas pair very well with just the right amount of ginseng.  As the steep time increases the flavor of ginseng becomes more pronounced, so a bit of experimentation is necessary for each individual brewer’s tastes.  Our own sweet spot uses 3 grams of tea with 100ml, steeped at 90c for 50 to 60 seconds.  After the third brew 20 seconds can safely be added to the steep time.  The liquor is very sweet and savory, with a hint of nuttiness in the aftertaste.  The floral flavors of gardenias concentrate on the tip of the tongue and linger.

Bana Tea has an aged Da Hong Pao that is so mouth watering! Get it while you can!

I have never had such a rich and juicy Big Red Robe in all my life!

From the Bana site we read:

Type: Wuyi Rock Oolong - Da Hong Pao - premium grade
Production area: Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province

Grown in the Wuyi National Scenic Area, this tea is an Authentic Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) Rock Oolong. This amazingly flavorful tea possesses all the flavors and characteristics of an authentic Wuyi Oolong. It is thick, aromatic, toasty, and viscous. During processing, some of the leaves were crushed. The tea master sorted out the crushed leaves and pressed them into a 150g chocolate bar-like block that can be broken into 18 pieces. For a fraction of the price of the whole leaf, you can enjoy a cup of aged authentic Wuyi Rock Oolong.

In addition to the great price, this tea is very convenient to make. Simply break off a piece, place it in a cup, pour hot water, and enjoy. No measuring of tea leaves is required and no more messy tea leaves scattered on the kitchen counter. It is a great tea for busy people on the go.

A brand new experience for BuddhaMum with added info by West China Tea out of Austin!

 ...don't really know what this is or why I bought it but I was stoned when I bought it and it comes from Austin so those are two signs that I made good decisions. It reminds me both of the cicada corpses to come this summer and of pistachios. I wonder what it'll taste like!

And here is information from the merchants website westchinatea.com

"Raw Ya Bao (野生芽苞, Yě Shēng Yá Bāo, "Wild Bud") is the new growth of a species of plant that the farmers in Yunnan refer to as yě shēng chá 野生茶 ("wild tea"). These trees are distributed randomly throughout the forest, and were not planted by anybody, nor are they cultivated by anybody. At first glance, these trees are similar in appearance to gǔ shù 古樹 ("ancient tree") Pu'er tea trees, however the latter are often found planted in rows in old arbors. Unlike the domesticated Pu'er plant, the Yá Bāo plants send off their new growth in the middle of Winter, as opposed to Spring. The differences don't end there: whereas the buds of domesticated Pu'er plants will regenerate several days after being plucked throughout the growing season and will develop into one or two leaves upon reaching maturity, Yá Bāo only come out once per year and do not regrow after being plucked until the following year. When they mature, each bud develops into four or five leaves, which are often red, purple, or even white when they are young, turning green as they grow. Because each Yá Bāo is destined to become multiple leaves, their appearance is distinct from the slender single buds we associate with the domesticated tea plant. Instead, they appear as a sheaf of buds nested within each other, similar to bamboo shoots or hops. The fact that these wild trees grow far apart from each other, as opposed to in patches, and often in remote or inaccessible places, combined with the low annual yield of each tree, has prevented Yá Bāo from being commercially viable, despite being prized by tea farmers and locals. These plants have recently been identified by science as a completely distinct species, Camelia crassicolumna, which may be a contributor to the gene pool of the modern domestic tea plant. Recent studies (Liu et. al., 2009) have found that crassicolumna contains neither caffeine nor theophylline, the stimulant xanthines found in tea. It is considered, however, to be tea by tea farmers. Raw Yá Bāo is simply sun-dried, and yields an almost clear liquor, with a sweet, heady fragrance; a mild flavor; and surprisingly deep, lingering mouthfeel. In spite of its light color, this is a very long-lasting tea, and can be steeped 15-20 times. The Qi is euphoric and cloud-like."


And I can confirm the euphoric Qi! 

Thoughts on 'Small Enlightenments and of course, Tea as Practice to WAKE UP!

 Seeing the ocean as I rarely do, it has become an opportunity to question my daily habit of defining reality before experiencing it. Wonderfully, almost teasingly, the Universe urges me to try to see at the waves with scrutiny or critique because it simply cannot be done! 

It resists my tendency to “script” my experience there—to create a personal drama of what’s happening around me. The sea is far too vast for my ego to get to penetrate these moments with its memories of beachdays past. There is just THIS ocean and THIS moment, just NOW and then gone! 

The generous Universe makes small enlightenments a repeatable gift. So go see the ocean occasionally. Look at the clouds. Sit in the sun or on your meditation cushion and Just Wake Up to this moment whatever it brings.

The mindfulness that vast water provokes is able to draw me out of the buzz of my incessant, internal conversation with myself. It urges my seeing reality as it truly is. Doing that requires being present to the moment, apart from the expectations and interpretations I bring to it. Once I stop shaping reality into a theatrical performance with myself at its center, mindfulness allows the world to surprise me. The Universe becomes delightfully open-ended. 

My Practice, as I see it, is to stay in that moment any/time I get the chance to be even momentarily astounded by beauty/pain/reality/oneness/? Wether its vast like the ocean, or small like the fading wine-colored  leaves upon my stoop as I begin another walk, another chance at seeing reality without dualism, without independent-arising mind, showing me the true connection of Inter-independent Origination.

And then perhaps I sneeze at the diesel fumes of a truck that passes and then I idly look with very little sincere curiosity at the landscaping choices of my neighbors and I think about my bodies newest complaints. And so back into Samsara I go. This is Life! 

And so then I mindfully, as a Practice create GongFu Cha Tea starting before meditation, do the dishes just to do the dishes, and I walk with intention, or I sit on my meditation cushion and voila! I begin again to be open to opportunities, to find my various paths of return to Inter-dependent Origination, that place of Oneness, of both Form And Emptiness that arises in the rare moments of small enlightenments. 

Foxtrot from Whispering Pines Tea Co!

 This has been sitting around forever and is still tasty! Sold-out status but you can put your name on a contact list should the company ever make it again!

As Larry (David) would say, "pretty, pretty pretty pretty good!" 

This pu-erh blend has a flavor profile that perfectly matches a cup of dark hot cocoa! Opening with cream and dark chocolate, Foxtrot dances across the tongue with a silky texture accented with powdery cocoa notes and an almost chewy marshmallow finish. Blended with 2012 Huron Gold Needle loose shou pu-erh, organic & fair-trade Ethiopian cocoa nibs, and hand cut madagascar vanilla, Foxtrot will have your tongue and soul dancing to the warm rhythm of bliss! Strong and warming cha qi!

A great affordable introductory Shu Puerh from Hidden Peak Teahouse


Just finishing up the last of a ten gram sample I bought over six years ago from Hidden Peak, the 2008 Lincang Shu. Every session I liked it more, did it age over this brief year and a half lingering in its little sample bag, stuck in the dark all alone in  tiny ceramic cupboard drawer? I don't know but I know my palate has evolved a TON over this time, and I know further that I LOVE this tea.

Will it still be available? That's the cool thing with aged teas, it just might! If it still exists no way can it still be a very affordable four bucks for ten grams as seen in the above photo.

It is a great introductory shu I think, and I furthermore think, I am off to buy some more! This shu is deeply earthy, dark from first flash-rinse, almost meaty in color and texture and has all that forest undergrowth mossiness I have come to love. Clean earth, great energy and of this writing, the last three grams of this teacher of a tea are still telling me tales that change with each steep, going on the 9th as soon as I finish this brief missive to you, my readers.
Visit Hidden Peak Teahouse and check it out for yourselves.
(Photo from HPTH website with my thanks. Gonna go buy me a brick o'this right now!)

Hannah's Simmer TF Down Tea!

 Oh man, did I make a masterpiece! I thought I was just making something to bubble all day on the stove for the scent only, to welcome in the new season, but damned if I didn't make an extraordinary large pot of homemade deliciousness.

Here is how it went, may it inspire you to play around too!

Used my large clay stovetop pot as seen here.

Filled with water, I used tap water today, I then added Fresh Cinnamon sticks from Sri Lanka, half a ball of Jaggery also from Sri Lanka, large chunks of slightly crushed fresh ginger and a dash of nutmeg, (sadly not fresh and not from Sri Lanka), and thanks to my favorite farmer’s market, this Louisville-based spice merchant, CEYOLANKA SPICES supplied the other two luxuries, the Cinnamon and the Jaggery.

 Find them online at the above link!

I let that come to a soft boil and then I added, just spur of the moment, a large glass of iced Houjicha from DEN’S TEA which I had made yesterday and put in the fridge for today. That added a subtle roasted flavor that makes this brew so balanced. Well, I might have gone a bit overboard with the crushed fresh Sri Lankan cinnamon, but it is SUCH an amazing flavor, far, far better than the Cassia based stuff we are all used to.

And yes, I am talking to YOU, Saigon Cinnamon, you less than fabulous competitor!

I am calling this brew, which is perhaps a little overly warming on a rather humid Kentucky day, my Simmer The F*{* Down Tea. Even though it’s making me sweat I’m off to make another cup!

How to determine which Shou Puerh to order from my favorite Hidden Peak Teahouse in Santa Cruz, California?


The answer is a HUGE and FOCUSED session spanning five Shous, over 12 hours and the answer was pretty easy!

Big Blessing 2008 for the win! Again! I did this same comparison six years ago and Big Blessing was my favorite then too!

There is a strong camphor element in Big Blessing that the others I tried just do not have.

I had rather hoped I might fall in love with one of the less expensive ones, but it was not meant to be. There are still a lot of Shous I would love to try from Hidden Peak Teahouse  but for now I’m going to avail myself of their sale and order some Big Blessing today. Check it out for yourself at hiddenpeakteahouse.com and also here are some notes from their website. I’m just thrilled. They still have it as I think I ordered this tea a long time ago.

Someday I hope to live a block away from this teahouse as I am a native Californian, but I’ve never been to the actual brick and mortar before. I left Los Angeles for Louisville Kentucky five years ago and this teahouse and their wonderful website are one of the tenuous holds I still have on my love for California that keeps me sane.

The Big Blessing has complexity in its nature due to the distinctly unique raw materials in the blend. We have found, through gung fu manipulation, that you can exalt different elements as you wish - once you get familiar with it.



rust colored, highly dense pressed leaf showing heavy fermentation • visible blend of broken, coarse leaf and young tip shoots



ripe, dense, thick • unctuous liquor with some suspended substance • taste is generous and full-bodied • fruity, woody, mineral-rich with date flavor • butterscotch with ginsing bud character



this tea is benevolent, descending in you like a Himalayan sunset • electric and alive, while passive and contemplative.

( its all that AND a box of camphor crackers!)

Trust me! I am Buddha Mom Tea, baby!

Revisiting Mandala Teas Temple Stairs from 2014


After nine years my remaining grams of this lovely Shou Puerh seems to have aged well, and if possible have become even more mellow, smooth and sweet! Heavy-handed as I tend to be when feeling this excited I used nearly seven grams in my 110ml Yixing teapot, the one which is reserved for Shou Puerhs only and which will be seeing a lot of action with winter coming, I hope, eventually, to this ridiculously hot place where I now reside. For those of you who know me as a native-born Californian may know that five years ago we moved to Louisville, Kentucky. But we won't linger on that, for wherever you are, damnit, there ye be, am I right? It is a decent enough place to grow old which I am doing with a certain lack of aplomb and good taste. That means weight gain and Muumuus, my friends.

Next tea adventures on the way with more Puerh being delivered this week and perhaps a new Nepalese tea company to check out!


A gorgeous Assam from the Mangalam Estate from ZENTEA.com


What a nice treat to meet an Indian gentleman (tea) like Assam Mangalam!

Gentle, deep voiced, hearty and full of warmth, this is a good follow-up to some tasting sessions of things too sweet for me, and I welcome this Assam into my home.

Dark leaves with reddish tips, warm rich color, scents of rich chocolate, malt and a little pepper during the later steeps.

This is a tea to brew in a larger vessel, not a tiny gaiwan, I used a 'large' seven ounce pot with 3 grams of tea, very full-bodied but not a hint of bitterness to be found. I can see this tea being enjoyed with milk and sugar but as for me? Who needs it!

This particular Assam from the Mangalam Estate is from Zen Tea and I find their description perfectly fitting;

Golden tips evoke the hot sun of the early June Second Flush Harvest. One of finest producers in the region delivers a beautiful example of what is possible under the right conditions. Slightly heartier and creamier than some whole leaf Assams, this selection picks up deep malty notes of cocoa and subtle fruit.

FTGFOP1: highest quality grade (Note: A number 1 at the end to indicate the very finest), often hand processed and produced at only the best plantations, roughly one quarter tips.

Origin : Mangalam, Assam, India

Grade : FTGFOP1(Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1)

Steep : 1 heaping tea measuring spoon(3g) per cup. Boiling water. 3 min.

This is also an organic tea which I appreciate as well as the visually fine quality of the leaves.

Creamy and delicious, I will now be going back to see how many steeps I can get before he moves on from my mouth and into my memory! Luckily for me, the sample was over seven grams so we can meet again, perhaps tonight, under the warm, Californian moonlight.

Zen Tea may no longer be in business after the pandemic so I am on the hunt for new suppliers of these sorts of wondrous elixirs!