Category Archives: The Art of Tea

Gopaldhara Darjeeling 2014 | Lalani & Co, London

Lalani & Co’s newest team member is Ben Ireson. Studying for his WSET4 diploma, Ben has a sharp palate and knowledge of fine drinks and terroir. Here are his tasting notes on our collection’s Darjeeling 1st Flush 2014.


Gopaldhara Gold*

The Gopaldhara Garden ‘Wonder Gold’ is a tea that purveys layers of fruit and perfume. At first sight, this 2014 1st flush glistens gold in the light. The aromas of stone fruit and herbaceous notes fill the room.

As soon as this tea touches your taste buds its freshness is unmistakable. It cleanses the palate with ripe peach notes following through to a tropical elixir. It has a slight sweetness and beautiful citrus aroma.

Tightly rolled and fresh fired leaves. Gopaldhara artisans are known for their almost tie dyed silken leaves. A collage of flavors.

This batch is grown at 6,000 ft elevation giving a large difference in temperature in the day and night giving the leaf a vital rest period. A supreme terroir combined with the process of hard withering, which rapidly extracts moisture, gives this Darjeeling fine complexity. It has an enchanting zingy finish, perfectly refreshing. Of all the Darjeeling 1st flushes tasted at Lalani & Co, this batch (Wt5) was the most expressive and complex.

There is nothing more invigorating and reassuring as the fire spritely nuances within a Gopaldhara cuppa!

What makes a great tea for me is the combination of complexity and the length of flavour. The Gopaldhara ‘Wonder Gold’ 1st Flush of 2014 has it all.

If you are a lover of teas with floral fruity flair this Darjeeling is a single batch you must try.

via Tasting Notes: Darjeeling 2014 | Lalani & Co, London.


Tea Origins: LaLa Shan, Taiwan | Walker Tea Review

La La Shan hides itself in many ways. Down in the southern corner of TaoYuan county, narrow and winding roads keep it off the itinerary of most travelers. For those who do come, they more likely beat a path to the ancient cypress trees, those sentinels of time and cousins of the redwood. And if anyone does press on past the forests and the shoulder-less mountain passes, she must still ascend into the clouds.

LaLa Shan (拉拉山) tea production occurs at elevations of 4,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. On the pecking order, it means the mountain isn’t as extreme as Li Shan and Da Yu Ling teas that can grow well above 7,500 feet.

This difference in altitude is not to say LaLa Shan teas deserve to be turned away. The qing xin varietal flourishes here as it does on those other lofty slopes. Depending on season and weather, the farms can turn out 20,000 to 40,000 jin (26,000 – 52,000 lbs) of finished tea per year.


LaLa’s real challenge lies in its northerly position. As spring arrives, southerly mountains warm up first, granting Li Shan (about 35 miles south) and Ali Shan (about 90 miles south) a head start on growth and plucking before the spring rains begin.

So LaLa Shan has 2 cards dealt against it; the first is elevation. Higher altitude can foster divine teas, but the cool days among misty clouds can sink a tea processor’s heart to the deepest low. Necessary withering and drying has to be done in controlled conditions that nature does not provide here.

The second obstacle is LaLa Shan’s northerly position. It waits longer for the warm Spring air, then has less time before the rains begin. LaLa Shan producers work frantically within this small window.

The result is that LaLa Shan remains tucked away, waiting until more people discover its richness. Tea plantations there are about 15 years younger than those of Li Shan or Ali Shan. Until they gain more credibility, their teas often get marketed under the catch-all “Gao Shan Cha” (High Mountain Tea). You may have already tasted some of LaLa Shan’s treasure but didn’t realize it. Some Li Shan and Da Yu Ling processors will blend LaLa Shan tea with their leaves to increase the volume they can sell under a more reputable mountain name.

But LaLa Shan teas deserve a place of their own. When done properly, the tea here takes on the floral sweetness of sweet pea blossom. Textures run rich while resorting to less bitterness. Maybe this character is due to the extra coolness in these northern mountains. The  bushes may have been more sluggish in waking from winter, and therefore did not pump as much polyphenol into their younger leaves.

via Tea Origins: LaLa Shan, Taiwan | Walker Tea Review.

When life makes you depressed? Remember to dream your way out, in a narrow escape!


Although, I am as fragile as glass? As delicate in my dreams as a simple whisper. I imagine?  I remember, I recall…  A few of my favorite things.

When I was around 11? I have glints and murmurs, gleanings or shimmering  memories.

When I volunteered to work in a thrift shop on Vermont avenue in Los Angeles.  Carrot juice at 8 in a glistening curvy  deco platinum counter with ice cubes made of  madagascar vanilla ice cream. These are a few of my favorite things.

 The strange man whom I worked with, whom brushed his hair with ivory Victorian hair brushes, with smooth bone milky ivory handles. His hair platinum bleached white. A David Bowie kind of goblin. My boss had no arms?  Every day she hiked up her toes and opened the door with keys with her feet. She wrote letters with her wood scented lead pencil. In the back near the velvet smoky gowns.

Pink mischievous  pale orange pink deco slips, There…high on shelves, these wonderful depression era glasses. Mostly green mixed amongst some aurora borealis Northern lights hues on a caramel glaze.  There was cobalt cosmic blue glassware too, albeit rare. My job was just fussing over everything and listening to T-Rex with my platinum goblin in his David Bowie hairstyling’s.

I guess Los Angeles is not a very old city after all. There is stucco in pale pastel colors like old wedding cake all dusty as the length of this suburban sprawl encapsulates you. The entire city reminds you of living inside of pastries with the smell of jalapeños and tamales. My life was so simple. Deciphering my mothers mysterious beguines. She told me once that she was Mona Lisa’s poodle and she did not have to smile.

She said I am going to catch all the family photographs on fire in the freezer. I asked why? She said because you are going to finally pay attention as life leaps before you as the dragonflies wings burn like stained glass of sacredness. Don’t you want to remember where you came from?  You never remember the important things?  So, I watched her as the ice melted and fire burned. Century of warm expressions glazing with kodak banana smelling developer. My Mother was right! I never forgot what I would not remember otherwise inside of amere book. She said pay attention. This is our story and you have one chance to jump thru these rings of fire like a trapeze star.

My mother was so mysterious to me. She would read me the biography of Charlie Parker with her tiny legs on an African stool, which barely reached the floor. Lissen up she said, because music will pass you by and you must remember the scent of jazz. Each night before I went to sleep, she read to me about the stirrings if jangling bells, xylophones and flutes. Do you remember the scent of the soprano in June?  Looking back, my mother was like a zen master. She was a pioneer. She worked so hard at the bank so my father could practice drums and horns. My mother told me freedom is everything. We were all alone and she would sew and sew and practice her fencing with swords. She made all of my school costumes and cheerleading dresses. I have come to realize, that we had o money and we never knew how we would survive. She made certain that I knew that I was very much loved. 

  But, now?  I really would love to design some organza with these lovely delicate patterns. I’m sure there is a way to design textiles which are embossed and so smooth.  I can become my memories and my future by remembering  precious things which are my heart. I can become a lace glass teacup filled with my favorite tea. No matter what life throws at me?  I shall always remember John Coltrane’s musings on “A few of my favorite things”

Depression Era Glass Pattern Guide Glassware Georgian Floral items in Vintage Elegant Depression Glass store on eBay!.

L-Theanine Reviews: How Does L-Theanine Work?

How cool is a mountain of serenity?

How cool is a mountain of serenity?


y neuropeptide boosters. Willy Wonka and the tea factory . .

y neuropeptide boosters.
Willy Wonka and the tea factory . .


For those interested in reducing anxious feelings and improving the quality of their sleep, L-Theanine is a natural supplement worth looking into. L-Theanine Reviews say that this supplement boosts alpha brain waves which lead to a feeling of relaxed and alert calmness and clarity. This compound is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in green tea and is a form of L-Glutamic acid. In this review of L-Theanine, we will look at how this nootropic compound works, what its specific benefits are, the right way to use it and the possible risk of side effects.


L-Theanine Introduction


The chemical structure of L-Theanine is very similar to that of Tryptophan, another important nutrient for the body. It is considered to be a precursor to the neurotransmitter Serotonin and indeed many of the benefits of L-Theanine are known effects of higher levels of Serotonin. Some of these benefits include a greater ability to relax and remain calm as well as promoting a sense of well-being. The presence of L-Theanine in green tea is one of the main reasons why people can drink this caffeinated beverage without displaying typical stimulant side effects like jitters and nervousness L-Theanine also has a positive effect on being able to fall asleep and is commonly used as a sleep or lucid dreaming aid.

via L-Theanine Reviews: How Does L-Theanine Work?.

Thich Nhat Hanh | Tea Life, Tea Mind



“Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves–

slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. 

Live the actual moment.  Only this moment is life.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh | Tea Life, Tea Mind.

Steampunk tea-cosy


We must keep our preciousness guarded in the Neo-realms?

At first I thought perhaps this was a curators whimsical plan to protect a tea artifact?  Alas, we are all guarding our tea!  Tea for some is the sum of a man or a woman. We say in the East? “That man has no tea in him”  meaning little poetry of litheness.   We even say “Mono no Aware”  Which means we know that life is precious and beauty is so fleeting. We savor our little sadness at watching the transitory nature of life, over perhaps a cup of tea.

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Steeped in Admiration: Tracing a Ceramic Tea Jar’s Journey From Factory to Fame | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian

Festooned with ornamental cords. A beloved Japanese tea jar, called chigusa.

This is the story of a single jar.

Its ceramic slopes were caressed by generations of Japanese tea men, who treasured it as a celebrated object. But it was neither ornate, nor crafted with care. Fired in a factory kiln in South China, the jar was exported to Japan in the late 14th century amid a shipment of mass-produced storage vessels. The jar’s size offered utility; its tawny sheen lent appeal. The coloration, however, was uneven, and its glaze texture varied. There were blisters on the base, as well as pinched marks in the clay left from a hasty potter’s fingers. It was a not particularly beautiful jar.

A living vessel of tea history.

The jar’s name was “Chigusa,” and it would became one of the most revered objects in the practice of chanoyu, or the ceremonial drinking of tea. Owners festooned it with adornments fashioned from the finest silk; likewise, connoisseurs noted the jar’s fine qualities in detailed diary entries. The nondescript jar eventually would gain widespread admiration and fame—a far cry from its humble origins—until changing fashions in the 19th century ushered it once more into obscurity.

“Chigusa and the Art of Tea,” a current exhibition on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, displays the Chinese ceramic alongside some 50 other tea objects. Together, they explain the aesthetic and social frameworks in Japanese tea culture that underlay a plain jar’s rise to prominence.

“There is very little that’s beautiful until we say it is,” says Andrew Watsky, a professor of Japanese art history at Princeton University and the exhibit’s co-curator. “And Chigusa helps us to understand some of the ways in which that manifested in the case of one specific object.”

A tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa from China, and dating from about 1350 to 1450. (Courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art)

Chigusa arrived in Japan during time in which the preparation and drinking of matcha, a powdered green tea, was evolving into a widespread custom. Every spring, it was taken to a tea plantation to be filled with new leaves for the coming year. Months later, the leaves’ flavor had ripened and mellowed, signifying the approach of kuchikiri, an important tea gathering held in late autumn.

By the 16th century, the practice of chanoyu had peaked. Guests would file into their host’s small tearoom, where a tea jar would sit resplendent in an alcove nestled into the wall. The host would present the jar to his company before cutting its seal, after which a portion of its leaves would be removed and ground into a fine powder using a hand-turned stone mill. A light meal was served as the host prepared the matcha, whisking the chartreuse-colored grains into a bowl filled with hot water.

via Steeped in Admiration: Tracing a Ceramic Tea Jar’s Journey From Factory to Fame | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian.

The Tea Caddy | The Garden Larder


AS my sister says?  From gloom to bloom!  I am even more impressed with the fantasy of having grown wild violets.  Their propensity to heal a person soul aches.  Well, a shrinking violet should know a lot about it!  I find this so sunny. Dew drops which did not melt upon the Sun , Chamomile

The Tea Caddy | The Garden Larder.

Tea at Trianon: Catherine of Braganza

Thank you profusely to Tea at Trianon. You have provided quite a morsel of antiquity which delves into the unknown life of our Queen of tea!  She is after all credited with popularizing tea in the Western domain. I put my pinky up to this Saint of tea indeed.

No matter what they say about our Queen?  She is noble and auspicious. She being the pioneer of tea and teacups!  Never mind the bawdy and the unbearable, she brought calm and  the fortissimo of teas, their  bright light of medicinal and celestial botany.

I spoke with Guido Cattolica, of  the only Tuscan tea gardens and his family brought the earliest camellias to Italy. We wondered about those delightful antique camellias in his garden.  Had Queen Catharine cried a few tears into those blushing blossoms?  Her life seems very much as I feel today.  A stranger drinking tea inside of a lack luster mad whale!

Alas?  Keep Calm! Drink tea.  I say, she is the embodiment of long-suffering with the diamond heart which grew from her tea tears. Thanks for this article reposting.  A cup of tea to cheer us on amongst the doldrums of  chicanery.

Queen Catharine Braganza.

I cannot help but being filled with pity when I think of Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705), the young Portuguese princess who became the bride of the profligate Charles II. She was a stranger in a strange land where she could barely speak the language and where her religion was outlawed. Raised in a convent and in a pious, loving family, Catherinesuddenly found herself in the midst of a bawdy and dissolute court, where she was the target for anti-Catholic bigotry. Her greatest misfortune was that she fell in love with her husband during the first halcyon weeks of their marriage. He appeared to be drawn to her as well. After Charles met Catherine he wrote to his sister Minette:

Her face is not so exactly as to be called a beauty, though her eyes are excellent good, and nothing in her face that in the least degree can disgust one. On the contrary, she hath as much agreeableness in her looks as I ever saw, and if I have any skill in physiognomy, which I think I have, she must be as good a woman as ever was born. You will wonder to see how well we are acquainted already; in a word, I think myself very happy, for I am confident our two humours will agree very well together.

How extremely painful it must have been for Catherine to discover that there were other women in her husband’s life. How difficult to have to see Charles with Barbara Castlemaine, with whom the king was besotted, and who was carrying his child when he married Catherine. She could not go home, or to a convent or anywhere. She had to stay and learn to live with it.

Catherine was also deprived of motherhood, with three miscarriages. She found consolation in her faith. Although Charles continued to be unfaithful, having children with other women, he respected Catherine’s unwavering religious convictions, and defended her whenever she was attacked.

As one article says:

Of course life was not all bleakness and misery for Catherine. Although her difficulties with the language persisted, as time went on the once rigidly formal Portuguese Infanta mellowed and began to enjoy some of the more innocent pleasures of the court. She loved to play cards and shocked devout Protestants by playing on Sundays. She enjoyed dancing and took great delight in organising masques. She had a great love for the countryside and picnics, fishing and archery were also favourite pastimes. In a far cry from her convent-days the newly liberated Catherine displayed a fondness for the recent trend of court ladies wearing men’s clothing, which we are told, ‘showed off her pretty, neat legs and ankles’; and she was even reported to have considered leading the way in wearing shorter dresses, which would show off her feet. In 1670, on a trip to Audley End with her ladies-in-waiting, the once chronically shy Catherine attended a country fair disguised as a village maiden, but was soon discovered and, due to the large crowds, forced to make a hasty retreat. Although she was never to wield much influence at court the poet Edmund Waller credited her with making tea a fashionable drink amongst courtiers. And when in 1664 her favourite painter, Jacob Huysmans a Dutch Catholic, painted her as St Catherine, it promptly set a trend among court ladies.

Tea had already been introduced to England but Catherine helped to make it popular.

Although [Catherine] adopted English fashions, she continued to prefer the cuisine of her native Portugal – including tea. Soon her taste for tea had caused a fad at the royal court. This then spread to aristocratic circles and then to the wealthier classes. In 1663 the poet and politician Edmund Waller wrote a poem in honour of the queen for her birthday:

  • Venus her Myrtle, Phoebus has his bays;
  • Tea both excels, which she vouchsafes to praise.
  • The best of Queens, the best of herbs, we owe
  • To that bold nation which the way did show
  • To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
  • Whose rich productions we so justly prize.
  • The Muse’s friend, tea does our fancy aid,
  • Regress those vapours which the head invade,
  • And keep the palace of the soul serene,
  • Fit on her birthday to salute the Queen.

Catherine had the consolation of seeing her husband become a Catholic on his deathbed. After the overthrow of her brother-in-law James II, she returned to Portugal in 1692. She was active in politics, becoming the regent for her brother Peter II in the years before her death in 1705.

She who was often overlooked in life continues to be neglected by historians. According to writer Heidi Murphy:

  • In contrast to Charles II’s mistresses there are precious few biographies devoted to his wife. Little of her private correspondence remains but an examination of those letters that are available show her to have been, in contrast to her public image, a pragmatic and astute woman, keenly aware of the difficulties of her position. Her husband’s mistresses caused her endless grief and humiliation, but as her friendship with Monmouth shows she bore no grudges against his numerous children, and to some she proved a kind and loving friend (up until the time of Catherine’s death Nell Gwyn’s son, the Duke of St Albans, is reported to have received an allowance from her own income).
  • It was on her return to Portugal amongst people who valued and supported her that she finally flourished. An exploration of her regency reveals her to have been a strong leader, capable and firm, a figure that her once dismissive courtiers would scarcely have recognised. In 1687, with the benefit of hindsight Catherine described her role as Queen of England, as being a sacrifice, ‘solely for the advantage of Portugal’. It is fitting then that in contrast to England, where the Merry Monarch and his numerous mistresses continue to capture the imagination, in Portugal the name Catherine of Braganza ‘is held in the highest veneration to the present day’.


Read more:



Tea at Trianon: Catherine of Braganza.

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