Fire, water, and whiskey: three days in Kyoto
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
Whenever you go to Japan, you should always check and see if there will be a festival where you are. I don’t mean the major holidays—golden week, and so on. I mean the niche festivals—or matsuri, as they’re called. The more obscure, the better. Some little shrine holds a yearly dance-off? I’ll be there. It’s time for the firefly-watching festival? Sign me up. Occasionally, the festival dates run up against each other, where night after night you can enjoy colourful yukata, endless rows of stalls selling delicious treats, and maybe even a cold beer or two. If you’re headed to Kyoto, I recommen ..read more
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Coldbrew sencha at Byodoin temple in Uji, the heart of Japan’s historical tea territory
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
The city of Uji in Japan is famous for its green tea. The phrase “Uji tea” carries a unique history and promise of quality amongst Japanese tea lovers. Located half an hour south of Kyoto by car or train, Uji lies in the heart of the country’s western tea corridor. When I came to this historical tea town, I hoped there would be some unique experiences waiting for me here. The famous Byodoin temple in the centre of town was build in the Heian period—the year 998. In the middle of the temple rises Phoenix Hall. And just south of Phoenix Hall, lies the Byodoin Temple Tea Salon,  Sabo TOKA ..read more
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Exploring Iceland’s Ring Road for 14 Days in a Honeymoon Camper Van
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
It wasn’t long after we got engaged on Mt. Robson in BC that we threw around the idea of going to Iceland for our wedding. It was this epic and poetic ‘land of fire and ice.’ We’d seen it in documentaries, on Game of Thrones, on Instagram, in the news—we wanted in. After weighing many pros and cons, and even sending out wedding invitations to Iceland and then cancelling once our friends and family wrote back saying, “yeah, sounds great, but we can’t make it to Iceland.” We decided to have the wedding in a yurt back home and to do our honeymoon in Iceland, taking a camper van around the ring r ..read more
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How to become a certified tea sommelier
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
I started taking courses towards my tea sommelier certification through the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada in January 2015. If you haven’t found your New Year’s Resolution yet, maybe this is it! Tea sommeliers are the new wine sommeliers. Tea sommelier classes and certification programs are popping up all over the globe as tea drinking enjoys a surge in popularity. Some love tea as a healthy alternative to juice or pop, some love the irresistible dessert blends from David’s Tea.  A tea sommelier is someone whose expertise is in, you guessed it, tea! Here's how I became a certified ..read more
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This is what happens inside a Japanese tea factory
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
Most of us only see one phase of tea, the dried leaves that end up in our cup. If you’re drinking tea from a tea bag, you might actually never see your tea at all. Between the bush and cup tea takes an exciting journey with many steps that takes them from being a fresh leaf to a finished product. Let’s take a look at what that looks like in a Japanese tea factory with the country's most popular tea—sencha. The sencha factory I get to work in here in Wazuka belongs to Obubu Tea Farms where I’m living. Obubu hosts weekly tea tours that take guests through the fields, factory, and then for tea f ..read more
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I'm living on a Japanese tea farm!
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
For the past month and a half I’ve been living on a Japanese tea farm in the Kyoto countryside. The place I’m staying at is called  Obubu Tea Farms and is a really amazing meeting hub between Japanese tea farmers and the international tea loving community. In just the short time I’ve been here I’ve already made connections to other tea lovers and enthusiasts around the world. Some from far away, like Nairobi in Kenya and Utrecht in the Netherlands, and some as close to home as Saint John, New Brunswick in Canada. I came here because in the past couple of years as I’ve been learning about ..read more
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Sencha do, the other Japanese tea ceremony
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
Kaoru Nakai welcomes us into her family's home. It's more than 130 years old and cool in the summer."And also in winter," she jokes. Nakai speaks Japanese but between my small knowledge of the language and the translations provided via the employees of the tea farm I'm staying at in Wazuka, we manage a comfortable level of translation. We’ve come to Nakai’s home where she lives and teaches tea to take part in a rare sencha do tea ceremony, where we’ll drink the tea she grows. Nakai's family is a tea farming family, through and through. Her son works for a larger tea company called Marukyu-Koy ..read more
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How to taste tea like a tea sommelier
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
One of the frequently asked questions I get is about the words to use to talk or write about tea, which I really think is a question how to taste tea. After all, how can you talk about what you can't describe? In this guide, I'm going to show you how to describe the physical characteristics of tea, and taste sensations beyond salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami. Then we'll talk about how to get creative when describing tea, and how I make my tea tasting notes. Follow along and you’ll be talking like a tea sommelier in no time. Maybe you’ve been out with your friends, when one of you orders ..read more
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6 great places to drink tea in Portland, Oregon
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
Although Portland is known as a popular pilgrimage place for coffee enthusiasts, this weird, Bigfoot and alien-loving, farm-to-table, artisan-friendly, rose-growing paradise also houses some very fine tea establishments. The City’s unofficial slogan is “Keep Portland Weird,” and although I didn’t experience any Bigfoot sightings while I was here, I did have an unusual amount of great tea in Portland. In no particular order, these are six places I’d encourage you to visit the next time you’re in the City of Roses and looking to get tea drunk. Lan Su Chinese Garden Teahouse Operated by the Tao ..read more
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O'Sulloc tea museum on Jeju Island, South Korea
Mel Had Tea
by Mel Hattie
1M ago
I know, a tea museum? But trust me, it was so, so, awesome. Even if you're not a tea freak like me, I'd bet you'd still get excited at the adorable demonstrations of Korean tea culture and beautiful, historic tea artifacts found inside. Plus, there's a delicious café that serves FRESH matcha and these delightful matcha Swiss rolls, served chilled so their creamy centres are almost an ice-cream-like consistency. These guys have tea pleasure down to a science. Note how they sprinkle a bit of un-whisked matcha on top of the creamy, frothy goodness underneath? I love it. Taking notes here. Am ..read more
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