Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Harney tea club at Columbia Greene Community College

Good afternoon my friends! We have a new development going on here at the Columbia Greene Community College. I'm starting a tea club. Right by the front door of the school there are two picnic tables. We'll either be there or in the back of the Arts Building, where all the little chairs are to sit and study...

There are a few rules:

1)There is no talking about the tea club
2)Each new person that joins the group is unique and interesting. Basically, have love for your neighbor.
3)Everyone has to bring their own cup.
4)We steep only loose tea, no tea bags. (no tea bagging allowed)
5)Everyone has their turn to bring food. (crumpets, scones, muffins, donuts etc...)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Robert's Gong Fu~



The gentleman




Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Long, busy, and full of tips!

Good afternoon, or good evening depending on your time zone. Today was a great day although I felt like I really worked for my money. I actually got the biggest tip I've ever gotten since working at Harney and sons! I got 23 bucks from this cool group from Interlaken Inn. We got thoroughly buzzed on Yerba Mate and peppermint.

My friends Mike and John came to visit me from school.
There is Alex also throwing up his kitchen gang signs up, KITCHEN WHAT WHAT!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

On weekends, you can taste

Yo. Monday blues today, very very slow. Quite a few tasters who wanted a lot of attention and did not buy a lot of product. Two ounces of this, two ounces of that. Oh well, some days are like that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some pictures of favorite teas

I like tea a lot. This is one legal and healthy way of putting two thumbs up and being in between two piles of grass.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ridin' the tidal tea wave~

The past couple of days at Harney & sons have been great. As you all know, I am a human being behind the counter in the tea tasting room. First and foremost, I would like to say that I am passionate about my life. I love my world, I love my people, I love each breath that I take. The privilege that I have is beyond words and cannot be expressed over this computer... It is an honor to be able to delve deeper and deeper into who I am just to share that with people.

In meeting Wendy I will be able to truly express to you a small fragment of the passion I have for tea and people. She was a woman in her fifties, wide-open green eyes, a couple of necklaces that exuded spirit, love, and trust. She was wearing loosely fitting clothing and she had a glow on her that was undeniable.

"Hey there! How are you doing today?"
"I am doing very well, and yourself?"
"I am well, very well." after saying this, I looked deeply into her eyes but not penetratingly. I looked at her more with a sense of knowing because I knew that we were playing on common grounds. She knew my spirit, and to an extent I knew hers.

From there we tried different teas. We tried a second flush Darjeeling named Selimbong. Before the June monsoons there's a brief set of showers that kicks off the second flush season in May. These teas naturally have lighter bodies than most typical black teas.

Typical black teas in my opinion are what most people would consider black tea blends with more oomph, Irish or English blends, Assams, or Chinese black teas. In comparison to these other black teas there's shorter oxidation period... they also go through a hard withering process... also going through a short firing period, I believe.

Second flush darjeelings are known for their Muscatel qualities, conveying the muscat grape taste. There's a gentle floral pucker, an astringent factor that leaves you happy in your mouth. This pucker ought to not be confused with bitterness. Either people really consider that to be bitter or do not know how to differentiate a bitter tea from a tea with a gentle pucker which is what a second flush Darjeeling will do to you.

Or maybe peoples' lack of vocabulary plays an issue in this because they don't know what other words would describe this taste.

In Michael Harney's book which is about to come out, he mentions that Berdnt Wulf says to buy a tea that makes you happy, that makes you smile.

When I went to Hamburg to meet up with Marcus Wulf, his son, he told me the same thing.
"Hillel, does this tea make you happy?" "Are you left with a smile?"
If this is so, this is the tea for you. If you are unhappy, or not ecstatic, why buy the tea?

I was talking to Wendy about these gentle qualities... every time she looked at me she conveyed such tenderness. She just went through some Shamanic healing seminars at Omega. The shamans deeply explore themselves, one must understand why they judge... or why some people make them unhappy. Maybe it's not the person, maybe it's in you? Of course it's in you...

We are all beautiful people and we just be privileged to deal with our issues... our problems... our fears... and we should treat all of these things with such tenderness and acceptance.

If we could realize that we're all mirrors for one another. We reflect all of our deficiencies and proficiencies off of one another. If you look at me, you are looking in me, and you should see yourself in me. The universal common thread of mankind.

This is so basic, and she and I shared this so powerfully.

Later on in the day, I tasted tea with a couple, Bob and Janine. They were Quakers from Pennsylvania. I was happy to know that they were for Obama. They owned a coffeehouse in Pennsylvania in a very blue collar conservative town. A lot of the people in the area frowned upon their political affiliations, but that doesn't stop them.

Bob seemed really at peach with himself. He went through heart surgery a year ago. No fear in this guy, no fear.

We tasted some Wuyi Shan Lapsang... a lightly smoked Chinese black tea with an elegant sweetness that makes you so happy. This smokiness is welcoming and softly coats your mouth with a very sweet and gamy feel.

Pretty soon pictures will be going up. Cheers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Culmination of experiences

Over the past few days at work, I've been lucky enough to come across some interesting people which have given room for beautiful experiences.

Lately, I've been fascinated by the Chinese black teas. Our Keemun Mao Feng for this year, 2008, is amazing. At Harney & sons in Millerton you all ought to come and visit me at the tea tasting room. This tea is relatively affordable considering its unique and elegant qualities.

Coming from Keemun in China, in the Anhui province, this tea lends itself a very amazing flavor. There's a sweet quality which pervades the taste, partly because of the fact that there's an essential oil in it called myrcenal.

This year's Keemun Mao Feng is amazing and if you'll come and visit me at the tea store at 10 AM, you will see this tea as the tea of the moment. With such incredible richness and a body that does not offend, it is easy to fall in love with this tea. Such sweetness, maltiness, chocolate notes along with a body that's really mellow... you really can't go wrong.

I met a woman named Hong. She's a beautiful woman from New York City who came to visit us for a couple of hours. She was in the tea lounge having a pot of tea and scones. As I walked over there, I was completely overwhelmed by her style and youthful spirit. I hugged my co-worker, Sarah, and told her that I was in love with her. This woman was like, what a sweet young man he is... it's got to be a joy working with him.

She came my way to the tasting room. She tried the first tea of the moment which was a second flush Darjeeling tea called Selimbong. Second flush implies it was the second picking of the year which is in late May, early June. Second flushes are quite different from first flushes. Second flushes tend to have a more prominent muscatel quality, with an astrigency that sustains itself longer in your mouth. There's more of a pucker and there's also a heavier body. The leaf is usually darker, and I believe it's been oxidized for a longer amount of time as well.

We then decided to taste a couple of white teas and my favorite green tea, Gyokuro, which is a Japanese green tea from Uji.

After that, we had a bowl of matcha. She and I were so buzzed on tea it wasn't even funny.

She's working in finance in lower Manhattan. I asked her if she enjoyed her work. She said that it's okay. She then looked at me deeply into my eyes and asked me if I enjoyed my job. I told her that my job is my passion, I love my work.

She told me she's doing this job because when she's older she wants to travel and have her life be comfortably taken care of. I can't settle for less than passion and love, maybe I won't have a retirement plan. Oh well.