Japanese Instant Matcha – Fine powder tea

What I call Instant Matcha is the fine powdered tea that is ready to be used and can be bought in bulk or in individual packages. The tea mixes very quickly with hot or cold water, milk or other types of foods.

Matcha is made by grinding whole Camellia sinensis tea leaves (except the stems and veins). The tea plants for Matcha are shade grown for at least three weeks before leaves are rharvested. The pure leaves have additional properties, flavor and aroma.

Green tea bags matcha

Japanese Instant Matcha bag

The Instant Matcha is also available in individual packages for convenience. The packages are beautiful, made with aluminum foil to avoid contamination and oxidation.

Individual bags of Matcha

Individual bags of Japanese Matcha

One individual bag

One individual Matcha bag

The Matcha can be enjoyed as cold or hot tea, but also be used with milk, ice cream, candies, chocolate, pastries, cookies, etc. I will post more pictures in the next blogs.

The traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony with Matcha is very complex, artistic and ritualistic.

The Ultimate Turkish Tea Making Machine – Serving about 200 Turkish Tulips

These teapots for Turkish tea always called my attention during the breakfasts in Istanbul. On the top it contains 11 teapots that are kept hot and has two faucets with hot water on the bottom. Each teapot has about one liter capacity.

Big Cai Machine

The 11 teapots tea making machine

The Turkish tea on the teapots is usually very strong and is diluted with hot water from one of the two faucets to each personal taste. It is common to have half tulip with water and half with tea. According to my calculations this machine has the capacity to make about 200 Turkish tulips of black tea. Need more tea? there is a box with at least 10 different types of teabags in a box in front of the machine.

Tea in Italy – Firenze (Florence) cotton muslin teabag

After several Espressos during the day my friend invited me to have a teacup in our favorite coffee shop. Black tea with some dolci...

We got English Breakfast Tea; my surprise was to find a cotton muslin teabag filled with tea inside the package. The teabag was manufactured by La Via Del Tè (The Tea Road) in Firenze (Florence).

The cotton and silk teabags were the original types of teabags that have been used in decades since the 1900’s and now are mostly replaced by paper or thermoplastic teabags.

Tea in Italy 1 web

English Breakfast cotton muslin teabag

The tea brews instantly since the cotton muslin is very open and allows excellent tea infusion.

Quick tea infusion with the open cotton mesh

Quick tea infusion with the open cotton mesh

This tea brewing efficiency is one of the best I have experienced. After removing the teabag several pieces of lint from the cotton teabag were floating on the surface of the tea. The lint was removed with a teaspoon.

Cotton teabag after brewing

Cotton teabag after brewing

It was an interesting experience to come back to the origins of the teabags. The tea was very good on taste and made a bright moment on a rainy winter afternoon in Vicenza.

A Chrysanthemum Herbal Tea Blend. What is inside.

Herbal tea blends are very popular in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The packages are usually transparent to observe the components and may contain ten or more small packages inside. These blends may or not contain tea. Seeds, fruits, leaves, flowers and rock sugar are very common. The packages are very attractive, colorful and are for short term storage; the tea blends must be used freshly for the best flavor and aroma. The teas can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Nice herbal tea package from China. On the bottom right it shows one of the small transparent package

Nice herbal tea package from China. On the bottom right it shows one of the small transparent package. The tea is called Chrysanthemum Tea, but it is a blend

The use of rock sugar (solid sugar) has the advantage of the slow dissolution; on the beginning the tea is not so sweet and will get sweeter as is being enjoyed. When refills of water are made the rock sugar continues to dissolve and tea continues to be sweet for longer time.This eliminates the need of keep adding sugar in each refill. The color of the rock sugar varies from transparent to dark brown, depending on the amount of refining.

Chrysanthemum tea blend. The Chrysanthemum flower is  on the top left, clockwise two fruits, seven goji berries, rock sugar on the bottom and green tea leaves on the left

Chrysanthemum tea blend. The Chrysanthemum flower is on the top left, clockwise two fruits, seven goji berries, rock sugar on the bottom and green tea leaves on the left

The two Oolong cups: Man and Woman – Creativity on the answer

When I lived in China was fascinated with the beauty of the tea cups, particularly the Oolong cups. Tiny, elegant and nicely crafted. The typical setup is one tall cup and one small cup in a little tray. I was always asking to my Chinese friend: why the two cups? why the two cups? My friend would not answer me. After going to more tea shops my friend one day said: the tall cup is for the man and the short cup for the woman. OK, interesting story.


Two Oolong cups: on the left the drinking cup and on the right the scent cup. Both are in a small ceramic tray.

Later I was able to go to a tea shop in Macau and had the Oolong Gongfu tea ceremony, where I learned that the tall cup is the scent (or sniffing) cup and the small cup is the drinking cup. With time I understood that my Chinese friend didn’t want to loose face by saying “I don’t know” and used his creativity to give an answer. It is like saying: “a wrong answer is better than no answer”.


On the left the scent cup is filled with tea. The drinking cup is put on the top of the sniffing cup and inverted (picture on the right).

Now the scent cup is removed from the drinking cup (left) and we can sniff the cup to enjoy the tea aroma. On the right the drinking cup is full of tea to be appreciated. Enjoy the tea!

Now the scent cup is removed from the drinking cup (left) and we can sniff the cup to enjoy the tea aroma. On the right the drinking cup is full of tea to be appreciated. Enjoy the tea!

Lavender (Lavandula) Tea

The lavender, also called Lavandula tea is a very fragrant and aromatic tea, made with lavender flowers. It is usually mixed with green, black or other herbal teas. As the tea is prepared by adding the boiling water to the flowers a nice fragrance can be perceived in the whole room; it is one of the most fragrant teas. One or two teaspoons per cup of boiling water are sufficient to prepare a tea.


The dried fragrant lavender flowers have the characteristic pink-violet color, which is also called lavender color

When used alone as lavender tea it is slightly bitter, for this reason usually honey and lemon is added. When lemon (or other acid fruit juice) is added the color changes from pale yellow to pink as is illustrated below. This tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. It is a great summer tea! The pictures below are from a tea package I bought in Taiwan, where the use is very common.


Brewed lavender flowers. The tea color is pale yellow.

The common lavender species  is called Lavandula angustifolia, also called English lavender. Most probably the name lavender comes from the Latin  lavāre, of  lavō, to wash. In the old days the lavender flowers infusions were added to the water to wash the clothes to give a scent. The word lavender and its variations is used in many languages (e.g. French: lavande; German: lavandel; Spanish: lavanda). In Portuguese lavender is called alfazema, a word with Arabian origin.


Typical lavender teacup made with 2 teaspoons of tea, lemon and honey added.


Brewed lavender tea. The neat tea with pale yellow color is on the left. The same tea with lemon juice is on the right. There is a nice color change with the addition of lemon.

Tulips, Turkish tea and friendship – Balikesir, Turkey

Recently in Turkey my friends Kemal and Zek gave me a nice gift set of Turkish tulips. The tulips and plates are hand painted with gold and have a pretty nice design, still maintaining the traditional tulip shape and transparency to visualize the Turkish Tea.
On a trip from Izmir to Istanbul we had the opportunity to stop in Balikesir. After dinner we had the tea served in the new tulips and enjoyed hosmerim (cheese pudding), a nice traditional dessert from the area.
That moment of sharing tea with friends is what makes the tea flow beyond the glasses. It is a fluid sharing pipe of peace.
The tea time as recorded in this picture goes beyond the taste, smell and colors. An old saying “the amphora always keep the smell of the first wine” might be true also for the tulips and tea. The smell of the first tea in Balikesir will always be in the tulips.

The three Turkish teas on the new gold painted tulips are ready. The hosmerim is on the right. What a joyful moment.

The three Turkish teas in the gold painted tulips. The hosmerim is on the right. What a joyful and memorable moment.

Freshly brewed tea in the gold painted tulip. On the right the Tukish Delights to complement the tea. One pomegranate-pistachio  another mastiqe-pistachio. Magnificent.

Freshly brewed tea in the gold painted tulip. On the right the Tukish Delights to complement the tea. One pomegranate-pistachio another mastic-pistachio. Magnificent.

Turkish Tea (çay) on the boat from Istanbul to Yalova, Turkey

We just crossed the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul to Yalova. It was a beautiful sunny day. The only Turkish tea (çay)in the boat was served in paper cups for safety reasons. But the advertisement continues on the traditional tulip cup.

The çay costs 1.25 Turkish Lira or about 0.70 US dollar

In the morning it is traditional to have the Turkish tea with simit, a crisp twisted ring bread covered with sesame seeds. The simit can be broken in pieces and eaten with the tea.

My friend Zek and I were enjoying the Turkish tea and simit on the Turkish way

While we were drinking tea we enjoyed the view and the seagulls happily flying…

The view of Istanbul from the back of the boat

Seagulls approach the boat to enjoy small bites of simit thrown in the air

Hu Xin Ting Tea House, Yu Garden, Shanghai. A traditional tea experience

The Hu Xin Ting (Huxing Ting) is probably the oldest teahouse in China. It is situated on the middle of a pond in the Yu Garden area (Yu Yuan Garden) in Shanghai.

The Hu Xin Ting Tea House is a landmark in Shanghai.

The name Hu Xin Ting means lake pavilion. Last month I had the opportunity to be there early morning to appreciate a nice green tea, have a quite time and take few pictures. During the day the place gets very crowded and there is a long waiting time for tea, particularly during the Summer months. The most popular teas are the Jasmin and flower teas. There is a small shop on the front where teas, cups, teapots and sets are sold at a reasonably good price.

Since 1996 I had the opportunity to visit few times this tea house. It seems that no change happened. The tea quality and service are excellent with the perfect atmosphere.The Hu Xin Ting is the must go place for tea aficionados.It has the quality and tradition needed to make it a unique experience.

The tea house is on the pond, connected to land with the Bridge of Nine Turnings. The pond has red and yellow carps plus lotus.The building has different sections with nice set ups and decorations. The round and rectangular tables are made of rose wood with marble tops. The open space provide a nice view of the small lake and garden.

The green tea is served with hot water directly to the leaves, not an optimal condition for brewing the green tea. The bottle of hot water is available for refill. The snacks are a mixture of sweet/sour dried fruits, hard salty tofu squares and quail eggs, which are a typical Chinese delicacy.

Traditional green tea setup. The snacks are quail eggs, dried fruits and squares of hard tofu. The rose wood and marble have been seasoned by the tea through the years.

The blue and white contrasts nicely with the red color of the walls, windows and surrounding buildings

Gamro or Sweet Dew Tea – Small leaves – South Korea

A fresh Gamro, Sweet Dew Tea just arrived. This variety of Gamro has small leaves. It is a bit more intense in flavor, aroma and color than regular Gamro. The slight sweet refreshing taste not only reminds of the friendship but also the early morning bucolic atmosphere. The tea came as a gift from my South Korean friend Park.

Gamro tea brewed on the small pot. Here only one tea leaf is sufficient for the brisk yellow brew. As the teacups are filled the typical fragrance flows in the air

Few years ago my friend and I were walking in Seoul, saw a girl in a store promoting a tea, giving small portions to drink. We tried and I bought 2 packages right away. That was Gamro, and it has been a fascinating tea since then.

The Gamro tea leaves are very delicate. Being light and twisted they can remain intact in the bottle. Their asymmetrical shape gives a sparkle to the teapot.

The bright yellow color of the Gamro tea is contrasted by the brown orange color of the infused leaf. The hydrated leaf shows a distinctive texture