Falling Out and Making Up Over Tea

I am extremely privileged to have met so many wonderful tea friends over the years from the States, Canada, China, UK, several countries in Europe, India and Australia and I often reconnect with these friends through the world of Social Media.

With a large group of tea friends though, there is bound to be a falling out.  Whilst we all love tea many questions are poised with accompanying bold statements and at times we often forget that our own opinions may not be held by others.  I was brought up in a working class background; my parents didn’t have two pennies to rub together.  I was also brought up in a Chinese household which meant no hoighty-toighty-ness; simple as you like with no fuss.  These two influences have also lent themselves into my business.  Whilst there are temperature controlled kettles, thermometers, special teaware like Yixing Teapots, gaiwans and English bone china, I’m just as comfortable with a flask of hot water, tea leaves sitting at the bottom of a cup which is topped up with hot water through-out the day as and when required.

Chinese Thermos

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Tea Appreciation Classes with a KISS

In my former life as an IT trainer, I remember the first few days of training to become a certified Microsoft Applications trainer.  Every class started with KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.  The premise behind the acronym is when delivering a training course to ensure that you speak in layman’s terms: speak in a language that the audience can understand.  Travelling around the world with my IT role forced me to do that in countries where English was the second language.

May King in action

May King as a Tea Note Speaker

Who’d have thought that my training skills would come in handy when talking about tea?  With so many acronyms and tea terminology, it’s ever so easy to become daunted by them when you see them on paper, or online, but if explained with KISS, hopefully the audience can understand it better.  Here are just a few Tea Terms you may come across.

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Tea Tales: Magical Mysteries, Health and History with Regional Flavours

It has been an extremely busy few weeks for MayKing Tea.  A couple of Tea Note Speaking gigs in Melbourne, one in the Sunshine Coast and now it’s back to Brisbane this weekend, this time in South Bank where I will be doing tea talks as part of the Regional Flavours Food and Lifestyle event.  It’s a fabulous 2 day event showcasing the best of Queensland produce on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July.

Showcasing local produce is especially poignant for me as one of my Queensland Business members very sadly announced last week that she found out that a second vegi/deli/small goods store closed down in Brisbane within a week.  An amazing discussion ensued with the plea for our members to go local and events such as Regional Flavours is a perfect opportuni-tea for local businesses to showcase their fabulous local produce and encourage consumers to go local.

If Celebri-tea chefs are your cup of tea, I understand that there will be live cooking demonstrations in the Epicurious Tent by said chefs.  There’s a whole host of amazing speakers talking about cheese, wine, and beer in the Froth and Bubble Sessions (do check out my dear friend Matt Kirkegaard aka @goodbeermatt in his Good Beer Hunting talks).  There’s plenty of children’s activities in the Tea-licious Garden and I will be sharing a few tales about tea on the Little Stanley Street Lawn.  Follow the bright yellow wheelbarrows and you should be able to spot me.  Children will be able to pick their favourite herb from one of the wheelbarrows and take them to the infusion station (next to the T-licious stall) where the freshly picked herbs can be made into a cup of herbal infusion goodness.

This is a quick breakdown of what I’ll be talking about on each day:

Billy Tea, Ann Street

10:30am – 11:00am – The History of Tea

Come and find out who discovered tea, how tea came to Britain, what is the Boston Tea Party, the Opium Wars,
who invented the tea bag and I’ll also be sharing some local Australian stories too.

11:30am – 12:00pm – Tea 101

 Did you know that green tea is not a tea but a category of tea?  Find out more about the other categories of tea including white, oolong, pu’erh and black teas.  I’ll also be talking about the difference between blends, scented, flavoured and smoked tea too.

1:30pm – 2:00pm – Teas and Herbal Infusions

Why is Peppermint not really a tea? What is a herbal infusion and what is the difference between a tisane and a fruit melange?  I shall be sharing my thoughts on all of these tea-licious beverages in the afternoon.

3:30pm – 4:00pm – Health Properties of Tea

Find out about the health benefits of tea, the truth about green tea, oolong tea, and I’ll also be dispelling some myths about caffeine and weight loss.

In between the talks I will be available to answer any questions you may have, so do please stop by and say hello.  It’ll be lovely to share a cup of tea with you this coming weekend.

Book Review – Homemade Health – Home Remedies Your Grandmother Knew

I had the privilege of meeting with Anke Bialas from Herbology fame on more than a couple of occasions. I even had the privilege of sharing the stage with her as I spoke about herbal infusions at the Friday Tea Club. Anke was there by my side reinforcing the answers I gave to the questions asked and we had a wonderful evening, but I digress; this post is about her new book, Homemade Health – Home Remedies Your Grandmother Knew.

I remember writing last year about how I was being snobby about herbal infusions but I have since had a new found respect for our caffeine-free friends as I have delved into them and studied them a lot more deeply.

I love the front cover of this book. It is simple and uncomplicated, which kinda sets a precedent for the rest of the book as each section is clearly marked and leaves the reader with no illusion as to what to expect.

Homemade Health – Home Remedies Your Grandmother Knew

I also love the sub-title. “Home Remedies your Grandmother Knew”. It made me smile; one of these smiles that is immediately followed by a confirmation nod and as I opened to the Contents page, I was greeted with a beautiful photograph of a bunch of herbs – and another smile ensued.

There were lots of light bulb moments for me as I read fascinating insights into herbs such as rosemary, sage and garlic. And I’m sure that most readers of this book will have their own stories and remedies that they share with others. In fact, it was only the other day that I was asked for any remedies I had for a cold and I shared with a friend of mine a Mexican recipe for garlic soup. It is a soup that my husband always craves for when he has a cold. Funnily enough whenever we’ve had the soup we’ve never experienced bad breath and one of those a-ha moments I previously talked about was when I read about parsley (one of the ingredients in the soup) which is said to chase away garlic breath.

When I have acquired a new book, I like to flick through the pages and I have to admit, the section “From Acne to Warts” excited me. Ailments are clearly listed in alphabetical order with the accompanying herbal to suit that ailment underneath it. As a simple girl, I like simple things and so the alphabetised ailments were easy for me to flick through to get to the conditions that I was interested in. I’ve talked about smiles and light bulb moments and now I’d like to share with you a funny thought as I read through the section on colds.

The first recommendation for a cold the book suggests, is a decoction of ginger root which took me back to my childhood and reminded me of my mother’s age old recipe for treating a cold. The recipe also involves a few slices of ginger being thrown into a pot, but deviates slightly with a smattering of chopped spring onions with….wait for it….a famous branded cola! The mixture would then be heated on the stove and once boiled, it was ready to drink. Now I don’t know if it cured my colds when I was a child but you can imagine that the sweetness of the cola and the warmth of the ginger, which was enhanced through heating the beverage, certainly made me feel a lot better. In fact, I was later to find out that the famous branded cola was once sold as a tonic. I remember telling this story in a Tea Appreciation class I held last month, pens were at the ready for my mum’s age old recipe and you could see the bemused faces when I revealed the secret ingredient. 😀

Homemade Health is packed full of extremely useful information, beautiful photographs and illustrations and it is a book that you will keep returning to as and when you need it. It is an easy book to digest and is far from intimidating which I have sometimes found with other books that talks about remedies found in the garden.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that I am a huge fan of technology and I love the fact that there is a QR code at the back of the book so that you can have instant access to the “Herbology on the Go” app: an app that is not only available on iPhone but also on Android and Microsoft’s Windows phone too.

So, if you would like an easy reference guide to “simple and effective treatments from the pantry” then I would look no further than “Homemade Health” and if herbal “teas” are your cup of tea (guffaw), then I suggest you connect with Anke on Twitter or on Facebook where she has herbal infusion blends with endearing names such as Sereni-Tea and Simplic-Tea available for purchase.

Qld Food & Wine Show’s Branded Beef Awards 2012

I was extremely privileged to have been invited to last week’s Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show. (And this opportuni-tea came through the power of Twitter. How marvellous!) Although there wasn’t a cup of tea in sight many of us were able to get our daily dosage of antioxidants by other means. 😀

According to their website, the aim of The Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show is to showcase the nation’s finest food and wine offerings. I remember watching their tweets earlier in the year and salivating as they announced the winners of the Cheese and Dairy Show and the Icecream, Gelato and Sorbet show.

On June 5th they crowned the Tajima Fullblood Wagyu as Australia’s best steak. It is a NSW Wagyu that was said to have beaten a high class field of record entries. Here is my attempt at capturing the moment when samples of this tea-licious beef was offered around the room. There were a lot of salivating onlookers trying to grab a bite as you can see.

Tajima Fullblood Wagyu crowned Australia’s best steak


The Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show is the most prestigious beef competition in Australia, RQFWS Chief Judge, Russell Smith announces. He also gave credit to the people that cooked the beef whom he deemed them more important than the judges themselves. He was very humbling.

I was extremely privileged to have exchanged a few words with Russell where I openly admitted I was unaware the Queensland Food and Wine Show were showcasing products not just from Queensland but Australia-wide (well, I have only been in the country for less than two years). He did mention that previous competitions such as the chocolate show (I wish I knew about that one!) showcased chocolates that are imported as Australia isn’t renowned for its production of cocoa beans of course. So there might be a chance for a tea competition at least given that there are great tea plantations here in Queensland and Australia-wide, I remarked; rather cheekily.

My star struck moment was bumping into several food bloggers including Kerry Heaney from @eatdrinkbekerry fame and the tea-lightful Michelle Levings from @FoxedGlove fame whom invited me along to the event (thanks m’dear). It was ever so lovely to meet a fellow tweeter Gemma and of course, the equally lovely Miss Foodie.

Kerry Heaney (aka @eatdrinkbekerry)

Other competitions to be featured later on in the year at the Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show include the Sausage King competition on 8th July and the Beer competition in October. I’m looking forward to those.

I also look forward to the day that the Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show presents a tea competition in the near future. I’m hoping that my appearance at Regional Flavours in July is a small step towards that momentous day. (More details to follow very soon).

Here’s to all the 2012 RQFWS Branded Beef Winners and the 2012 RQFWS Branded Lamb Winners. Raising a cup of tea as a toast to you all!

Website Review: The Tea and Jazz House

As a tea consultant, one of the best parts of my business is offering advice to tea business startups and seeing them flourish.  It’s rather like a mother or father waving their child off to school.  Mary Cali from The Tea and Jazz House is one such ‘cool cat’.  After offering business guidance, I was like that proud mother waiving her child off to school.  These are a few points on what The Tea and Jazz House as an online tea business has done extremely well:

Branding: Mary has created an extremely strong brand identity in The Tea and Jazz House.  The logo, the look and feel of the website clearly shows how tea and jazz are intertwined.  The website’s philosophy, vision and passion are outlined on the home page which demonstrates how the two complement each other.

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Making Sure We’re on the Same Tea Page

“Tea is dehydrating, so if you want a hot drink then go for herbal tea instead.”  I know: I nearly spilled my Travel Mug and spat out my tea when a speaker from the fitness industry made this bold statement.  I bit my lip and wondered whether I should interrupt when the next claim was made:

“If you really need to drink a cup of tea, make sure you drink a glass of water to rehydrate yourself.”

Wah??? Right! That does it!!

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