Tea Infusiast News, No. 14

February 2024, Winter

Welcome to the February 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News–a newsletter for tea lovers to connect with and through tea. This is the 14th edition of the newsletter.

In this February 2024 Edition

Available Now: February’s Rest Kit for Tea Lovers

Looking for ways to enhance and inspire yourself to plan more tea and rest sessions? February’s online Rest Kit for Tea Lovers could help you! The kit is full of resources–grounding practices, mindful tea suggestions, audio tracks, journal prompts, and more–to inspire and enhance restful tea time. Best of all, you can use these resources when and where it works best for you!

Teaware Talk

Tea Friends: I was emphatically not planning on buying any teaware for myself at the Toronto Tea Festival. I didn’t have much space in my luggage. Also, I have quite a collection of teaware at home. I am sure you know where this story is going…lol!

Literally the first vendor’s booth I visited when I entered the festival featured Secret Tea Time. I LOVED the pottery that Helen, the proprietor and potter displayed. So beautiful–and in quite a range of styles and shapes. I was trying to stay “strong.” I still didn’t plan on buying anything. Some rounded tea bowls caught my eye. (There were also gorgeous creamy gaiwans with blushing glaze, some with adorable little “stick” handles.)

Helen of Secret Tea Time--a woman with dark hair and glasses wearing a white shirt with a striped black and white tie and black duster holding a cream and peach blush gaiwan she made.

I made the fatal error of asking to hold a beautiful tea bowl. That was it. From the moment it was in my hand I knew I couldn’t part with it. Besides loving the jaunty blue and black patterns on the creamy exterior, it was the perfect weight, a wonderful combination of smooth and textured, and the perfect size for matcha, bowl tea, or tea lattes. (Helen referred to these as her tea “latte bowls.”)

Ahem. I also had a dear friend (who shall remain unnamed) that “encouraged” me. Honestly, I didn’t need any encouragement. And, I “encouraged” her on a later teaware purchase. I know neither of us have any regrets!

Since this bowl has come home with me, I’ve whisked up matcha and sipped kukicha from it. I feel a tea latte in this bowl’s near future, too.

Moments that bring me irrational joy: every time I put it in the dishwasher. YES–the dishwasher!

Helen explicitly told me that she designed this series of bowls to go in the dishwasher.

And, if she hadn’t assured me that she puts her own tea bowls from this series in the dishwasher, I would have never done it. I handwash SO MUCH teaware. It’s a real joy to have a handmade tea bowl that I love that can go into the dishwasher. Thank you, Helen, for creating this lovely and useful teaware!

What’s Steeping

I haven’t started steeping the teas I purchased at the tea festival yet. I’ll start enjoying those very soon. What I have been drinking a lot of lately–and unusually early for me–is matcha. I usually start craving matcha at the end of February and then drink it through spring and summer. This year, I started craving matcha in early January.

I love the Kiwami matcha from Kettl. I opened a container of in January and am happily working my way through it. It’s fresh, herbaceous, and umami, with notes of cream and chocolate if I make it thicker. It has a gentle sweetness and no bitterness to me at 176F/80C.

I’m also looking forward to opening Momo Tea‘s Usucha Matcha, which I tried and really loved at the Toronto Tea Festival!

Whatever I’m whisking or steeping at home, I’m enjoying it next to my first blooming orchid of the season! As I write this newsletter, four buds have bloomed on my white and magenta phalaenopsis orchid (shown in the photos in this newsletter). I have three other orchids, too. So, if you follow me on Instagram @teainfusiast, prepare for many more tea and orchid photos! It’s my favorite tea pairing.

In fact, the bright pink color in my Tea Infusiast logo was inspired by the first orchid I ever got to rebloom–still my oldest and biggest orchid. The flower spike on that one is still growing.

5 Tips for Attending Tea Festivals

Tea festivals are events open to the public (often requiring attendees to purchase tickets) that feature vendors and artisans (sometimes even producers) who sell tea, teaware, accessories, and related merchandise. They also usually sell tea sweets or other food items.

Additionally, the festivals usually feature tea professionals who offer workshops on topics that range from Tea 101 to specific types of tea, tea and meditation, cooking, history and culture, and so on. They are a great opportunity for tea lovers to try new tea, see teaware, learn, and connect with others.

Traci Levy, AKA Tea Infusiast, a white woman whit salt and pepper hair wearing a t-shirt that says "Tea Infusiast" in front of a Teafest PDX sign.

he USA features a number of tea festivals–including, but not limited to: Chicago Tea Festival, Midwest Tea Festival, Northwest Tea Festival, Pennsylvania Tea Festival, TeaFestPDX, etc. Other countries have tea festivals, too.

(Photo: Me at Tea Fest PDX in July 2022. This festival was held mostly outside in Portland, Oregon. I’ve written before about some of my delightful experiences with tea in Portland in this post, “Tea in the Canyon.”)

After returning from Canada and attending the wonderful Toronto Tea Festival, I reflected on tips for attending tea festivals.

Here, I’ve gathered a few–including some from tea friends!

  • Bring empty, refillable bags for tea
  • Bring a backpack or tote
  • Bring a water bottle and a few napkins
  • Eat before you attend
  • Plan breaks

Message from the Universe

Since tea, mindfulness, and poetry are such wonderful pairings, it feels right to share this personal reflection here in this February 2024 edition of Tea Infusiast News.

I’ve been reading two books by Pema Chödrön, the American Buddhist nun, at the same time as I have been reading Taniya Gupta‘s book of poetry, What Will People Say?

I try to stay alert to resonance between different things I’m reading or seeing. Ideas expressed by these different authors caught my eye.

Chödrön’s Start Where You Are says: “The happiness we seek cannot be found through grasping, trying to hold on to things. It cannot be found through getting serious and uptight…. The happiness we seek is already here and it will be found through relaxation and letting go rather than through struggle.”

Although I was an early reader for Taniya’s book in digital form, I hadn’t read the Chödrön books by that time. When I received the paperback of What Will People Say?, Taniya’s poem “universe to the rescue” immediately resonated with the Chödrön quote that caught my eye. The last stanza of “universe to the rescue” reads:

the wind caressed her skin

as she whispered to herself

let me feel everything

that i have been scared to feel,

because today

the universe holds me safe within itself

I love these resonant sentiments from the two different books. Both are important reminders of being open to our feelings, relaxing into them, and trusting the universe. I’m holding the quote and this poem close these days.


ICYMI on the Blog

This post shares four tips for restful tea time!

Let’s Stay Connected!

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