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Sunday, November 22, 2009

learning to read tea leaves

I have glanced into tea leaves,
and found a forest.
Tea is all in a moment,
and a way of life.
It is recollection,
and attention to Nature.
A murmur of the breeze through the trees of Autumn,
and the warm of the hearth.
Silent mornings at home,
when rain streaks the windows’ panes.
If you analyze tea, you’ll find chemical components,
but not a hint of Life.
Analysis is achieved through concentration,
Synthesis arrives through relaxation.
Tea relaxes the stomach,
but it revitalizes the Heart.
~Tim Maxwell
find this post and other blog posts with tea quotes  here  tea leaf image and tea leaf reading instructions here

yesterday afternoon i went with friends to a small shop in suburban forest park to a darjeeling tasting. i have only become a tea drinker about 6 months ago. i gave up coffee for a couple of reasons- i was experiencing intestinal issues and i was starting every day with a vanilla latte and it was seriously contributing to a weight gain issue. i couldn't see giving up the lattes because i really didn't enjoy the taste of coffee. i did enjoy the warm liquid every day, but the flavor of java must have gone down the rabbit hole with alice.

i have been drinking tea ever since.and even though i loved vanilla in my lattes, i am not a flavored tea fan. i much prefer the black teas or the oolongs to the chai or spiced or herbals. so the opportunity to learn more about darjeeling ( a well-known and lovely black tea). so when the opportunity to learn a bit more about my new found path popped up, i jumped at the chance. the shop is charming as one would imagine a suburban tea shop. plenty of hermetically sealed bags lined up on shelves with different varietals and samplings from around the world. small pots on the shelved in front of the bags allowed for savoring the aromas of the dried leaves. it was a subtle sensory extravaganza. it's said that our sense of smell is only able to discern about 3 scents at a time, after that our smell is useless without a rest in between.

the darjeelings were i tried were soft and thoughtful. they didn't overpower any of my senses. sipping warm liquid from a glass cup and catching up with old friends. it was a perfect autumn afternoon. the shop is quaint (at least) and family run. bill todd seems quite adept at regaling stories and nuances of loving tea. the selection is substantial, and you can order online. here is a little about todd and holland of forest park.

For the serious tea drinker, once introduced to fine teas, there is no turning back! As a child growing up, Bill Todd often drank iced tea with his English grandmother. She liked her tea strong. It wasn't a proper iced tea until the spoon would stand up straight in the glass. For young Bill sugar was the answer. Spoonfuls of sugar made the tea go down. As the years passed iced tea became his drink of choice served with many spoonfuls of sugar in each glass.

In the late 80’s, Bill tasted choice rare teas for the first time. He couldn't believe the difference. These fine teas needed no sugar to make them enjoyable. The teas were full-bodied. Their aromas were superb and their astringency was pleasant and refreshing, not harsh and bitter as were the teas of his youth. Thus began one person’s adventure exploring the wonderful world of tea. After several years of seriously studying tea, Bill launched Todd & Holland Tea Merchants in 1994 with a web site and a mail list. In 1996 Todd & Holland moved into a charming white brick building in River Forest. The store had a quaint kitchen for cupping and preparing teas, floor to ceiling tea shelves and room for many functional tea accessories.

Since then Bill has made many tea pilgrimages to China, Taiwan, Tibet, and Japan. Janet and Marianne have enjoyed attending shows in several countries looking for new and different teaware.

more about todd and holland teas here 

back to the art of reading tea leaves... i don't understand much about this really. i am just currently interested with the onset of this visit to chicago. i can sense that i am seeing a glimpse of something. it feels strange and weirdly emotional. i can't predict the future, but i can foresee some change. perhaps i'm being vague. well there is no perhaps about it. the leaves at the bottom of this cup have displayed a message. that's the easy part. the true challenge is walking through what i see. 

today's sound choice will hopefully seem flavorful, rich, and steeped in tradition. and it seems a perfect sunday morning choice. i have out of town this weekend and can't continue the "back to mine posts". hopefully you will fall in love with lauryn hill as i have.... here she is with "a change is gonna come"



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