Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spring Harvest Taiwan 2014

This spring in Taiwan it was raining for the high mountain tea harvest in the highest elevations. Li Shan proper and Li Shan's Da Yu Ling had rain throughout most of the harvest season.
Rainy weather is not suitable for picking and processing tea. Not because people don't want to stand in the rain and pick tea, but because for the most part, the results are subpar; too bitter. Some farmers went ahead and picked tea anyway, but we haven't been able to find any that we are satisfied with. For the most part we will not be buying high mountain tea from Taiwan this spring.
At harvest time, rain is a constant threat, especially in the Spring. Spring tea starts growing in the coldest part of winter, thus it grows very slowly. Slow growing tea results in a thicker leaf. Conditions are ideal and the result is high quality tea. The main threat to spring tea is that at harvest time, there is more chance of rain.

Some of our farming friends that have more experience decided not to pick this spring, instead they will wait until the rains stop and use the leaf to make high mountain black tea. Many of you have tried our Li Shan black tea. It is exceptionally sweet, fragrant, and delicious. Sweeter than most black tea, people often do not believe that it is just tea with no sweetener added. If you want to try some amazing black tea, we wholeheartedly recommend our Li Shan Black 2008 and 2009.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Short History of the Tea-bike

J-TEA’s vision, a bicycle built by CAT, and a cart transformation by GORM

What was the original vision for the tea bike cart? The vision for the bike came around the idea of having fun in the moment, or working in a way that allows us the most enjoyment of life. By being at the festivals, and street fairs, we are living our dream as a college student. The vision was really about being able to participate in the fun of working by working in the places that are fun to be. That way, at least if we want to have a good time, we are already at the party, and tea at a party is... well, a party. At J-TEA, we bring tea to the party.

And in the name of “Party!” we are now parking the tea-bike in The Healthy Pet parking lot, former home to Party Cart. However, we will not have the same geographic footprint as the iconic and legendary food cart that was the best thing that happened to the neighborhood since it was named after the iconic and brilliant Sam H. Friendly, Eugene's 12th mayor (1893-1895). A little bit close to home, you might gripe. Well I tell you, loading and riding that tea-bike all over town is no joke. Talk about ultimate fitness! You work the legs and cardio on the way to and from the selling location, and you get an upper arm workout from shaking iced tea. It's basically the entrepreneur’s workout plan. No time to leave the office and take care of your general level of fitness... thank you tea bike! Problem solved.

“CAT” stands for Center for Appropriate Transport and their method of transport is appropriate. CAT is known for their hand-built Tri-hauler cargo bikes that you will see from time to time blocking the streets as you are innocently stuck behind a slow moving bike as it works its way from point A to point B. CAT is world famous and a great place to learn everything there is to know about bikes. They offer a unique membership which allows you full reign over their bicycle work stations, providing access to enough tools to build an entire bicycle from the ground up. When it comes to specialized cargo bikes, CAT builds each bike by order. For J-Tea, they built a yellow Tri-hauler. Once I had the bike, I knew I had a start, but to get to the tea-bike, there was a long way to go.

Enter GORM, the husband and wife design team established in 2007. Jon Arndt and Won Hee came up with the name for their company as part of an inside joke. Won Hee had a copy of Matilda from Rauld Dahl. Won Hee asked John about the meaning of a word used by Rauld. "What is gormless?" John didn't know, so they turned to Won Hee's electronic Korean / English translator. It meant slow; dim witted; not bright. And so to them gorm was incorporated into their lexicon as the opposite of gormless. They started to use the word to describe things that they saw which were sharp. Their style is minimal and their focus is utilitarian, and so we got a custom made dream tea-bike. More of Studio Gorm's objects can be found here: Studio Gorm's Object Page.

So far, the bike has sold its frosty frothy iced tea at the Bite of Eugene, Whiteaker Block Party, UO Street Faire, and Eugene Sunday Streets. As we mentioned, we will soon act as a beacon to the parched as they follow the flow of West 28th Avenue as it curves around Healthy Pet's parking lot in the foothills of South Eugene.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tea Caddy

Today was a cool day at J-Tea! We'd recently received a request for some detailed photos of the older well made tea caddies in the tea shop. The first caddy, a modern approach, was made for the Japanese market but manufactured in China in the 1950s.

This second piece, more traditional, was reportedly manufactured in Japan with high grade pewter in the 1940's. 

But the best part of the day was that we needed some amazing photos of this beautiful tea ware. Andrew took these photos while I was enjoying a conversation with an interesting customer. I love it when the tea house works well.