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Category: Tea Talk Page 2 of 14

Shadow Box in Life

Have learnt a new management vocabulary today, “Shadow Box“.— a group of non-executive employees that works with senior executives on strategic initiatives. The purpose? To leverage the younger groups’ insights and to diversify the perspectives that executives are exposed to. This all sounds great, but what is the reality? Can the sounding board from younger workers and non-executive senior staffs can help the top executives see well what need to be changed? The real challenge probably would be “will the executives who have the power to influence the implementation are really willing to listen and act to change”.

When thinking this explanation deeper, I think the purpose of having a ‘shadow box’ is not limited to the change management in organization development only. In fact many people are struggled by two problems in life:

  • Disengagement – Often how many people (even closest partner or friends) are willing to act together without separate agenda but a collective goal for a longer period of time? Checking reality regularly is necessary.
  • Weak response – when it seems we are surrounding by many friends that we ultimately expect they are willing to listen but again we quickly realize in the process that many of them only interest in their own problems or even have different agenda and there are only few willing to engage and listen. It is normal, there are many “acquaintances” but only few “good friends” who are truly willing to listen, urge us to face the truth and to identify solutions for problem solving in life.

When we think we have many friends, but when we need friends to listen and to give us guidance because of facing puzzles, having troubles or in stress, we will quickly confront a challenge of how many are there truly willing to listen? To get us out from trouble situations in life, what we really need are not those who seems agreeing with kind words or give us suggestions that they can’t even act for themselves but not truly willing to listen. As matter of fact actually what we really need are few friends who can maintain objectiveness and urge us to examine the situation and push us to take actions that we need to take in order to get ourselves out from the trouble situation, step by step, without judgement.

In life, the reality teaches us few crucial facts: We can only reduce disappointments with the least expectations and God only helps those are willing to help themselves to put their feet on the ground and act forwards.

Even though the sky is grey, but the sun is still shinning above the cloud and waiting to shine through at the right time if we could wait it with patience.

Only those who are strong dare to examine the inner-self and clear the mist in the situation in order to identify actions to take; those who are weak only try to find excuses to explain the situation that they want to think or even push the blames on others by lying to themselves..

Is Tea Good for Young Children?

Either in China or in the West, often I met parents who were proud that their child can either make tea or drink tea at the young age, sometime even at the age of 3. This reminds me the teaching from my mother when I was about 8 years old when I was responsible to prepare tea for my father and mother in the weekend, but at that time my Mom dis-allowed me to drink tea. I could only sometimes have a zip of it, but never drank strongly brewed tea.

So, one day I came out with the “Why” question to my Mom why I might not drink tea, because it’s so attempting by its fine flavors when I made tea for them.

Even though my Mom was not a tea master or doctor, but she has very good common sense about healthy diets based on her learnings on the fundamental principles for health based on the Chinese traditional medicine (CTM) from her mother and grand mother, so here is what she said to me:

During the growing period, children need to have a lot of calcium and nutrients, so it is better to keep your body sober and clean as possible. In tea there are Tea Tannin and others that might affect the conditions to the stomach and could influence to digestion, particular during the developmental phase.

So, I was only allowed to drink tea at the age of 12.

Now when it comes to the subject if tea is good for young children, here is the summary of suggestions based on several researche reports found in China:

  • Tea contains substances such as theophylline, which can easily cause excitement in the central nervous system, infant and young children are still in the developmental stage, and each nervous system has a weaker ability to inhibit substances with excitatory effects.
  • The tea contains tannic acid and theophylline. When these two ingredients enter the body, they will potentially inhibit the absorption of some nutrients such as calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. Excessive drinking of tea or drinking tea may lead to a lack of nutrients in the body and even malnutrition.
  • In general, tea has diuretic function. After drinking tea, the process of diuresis, tannic acid and theophylline can also cause the loss of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus for young children (this is what my Mom was talking about), which is not conducive to the absorption of iron and can even easily cause iron deficiency anemia . That might affect the absorption of nutrients
  • Avoid giving tea to children younger than 6, give selected tea, either caffeine-free infusion, or aged tea or very lightly brewed tea, to children over 6 and younger than 12.

Either to children or for adult, there are my simple suggestions for daily tea:

  • Alter the selection of tea drink according to the change of season
  • Avoid drinking strong tea
  • Avoid drinking fresh tea
  • Keep the brewing as light as possible
  • Limit the drinking quantity per day
  • Have a glass of water in between tea drinks

Pregnant women certainly should avoid drinking strong tea, not only it’s susceptible to anemia, but also not conducive to the absorption of other nutrients. The stimulation of having too much Tea Tannin (Caffeine) can accelerate heart rate, increase urination and burden on heart and kidney. Tea does stimulates many health benefits, but drinking too much non-sense blending, or contains aromatic or coloring addictive substance might hidden the health. But the fault is not from the tea itself, but it is because people do not know what to select and how to drink tea.

We do, however, can train young children the techniques of brewing and serving tea, because it helps to start the respectful and disciplined behaviors training at the younger age.



Using #gaiwan or #purpleclay #tixingteapot does not mean it is gongfu cha technique already, and it does not necessarily mean you are making the #gongfucha.

I started to practice gongfucha technique without knowing its true meaning. It took me years to realize the time I have wasted when realized those mistakes I made based on assumption, and corrections took me triple efforts and devotion.

I am glad with the early wake up call that I was able to restart my journey on the right path.

Before learning Gongfu Cha techniques, one must first learn what is tea. Knowledge about tea is must before learning Gongfu cha. Before practicing Gongfu Cha techniques one must first learn what does gongfu means, then what does gongfu means in tea????

Simple process  requires serious and submissive learning.

Every Detail Counts

It is delightful to read different opinions about tea tree cultivar on various social media.

As matter of fact, there are lots of unique varieties in tea trees, growing environment and climate factors around the world today.   It is not only hard but also not fair to compare or to say which one is more superior than the others, because It does not matter what, the most important criteria are:

  1. How tea plantation was managed? because all tiny details about how tea trees are taken care and maintain can influence the health of  tea trees which could eventually also influence the taste.
  2. How manufacturing processes being managed? This is extremely important to tea that requires complex oxidation, fermentation, rolling and roasting processes. In front of nature and Mother Earth, it does not matter how smart we think we are, we all have to learn how to emerge and show respect.   

Furthermore, there is another question for us to question ourselves is :

When we receive the tea, how much do we really understand and respect the natural characters of that particular harvest of that particular season from that particular region? How can we can brew a cup of tasty tea based on our understanding.

Danger of excessive consume tea per dag

The local TV, VTM, replayed a real medical program – De Kliniek tonight, in the program there was a mid-age woman who suffered the bone pain and was worrying for bone cancer.

The blood test result was surprisingly confirmed she has no cancer, but the source of the problem is because of her tea drinking habit – she liked strong tea and consumed 50 to 60 tea bags per day.

I was stunned when she told the doctor about her ‘healthy life style’ that she ‘loved’ tea.  The doctor was shocked when she explained how much she ‘loves’ the strong tea by using 8-10 tea bag per “cup” for nearly 10 minutes. I was shocked and wonder how could she drink such thing. Actually it makes me sick when I think about the tea that she had in her cup already.

A similar case was posted a year or two ago. A woman in the UK died from drinking excessive amounts of the cheap bagged tea.

The diagnosis revealed the problems in two folds: ⋯⋯
1. The quality used for tea bag is either BOP or dust, in one word “cheap quality”
2. The danger of drinking very strong tea for a long period of time.

Tea is a very healthy drink, but excessive consumption could cause more problems than can be anticipated.

Tea actually is a very economical drink, but if you calculated the cost of 50-60 tea bag per day, I am afraid her daily tea cost more than the 3g of fine tea that I normally like to drink.

Tea provides, tea does not speak unless one is willing to listen. So who or which to blame for this problem? Certainly the problem is not coming from tea itself, this is the case how people misuse the tea.

Tea does not hold the key for your health, it is up to you to manage the life style yourself.

There is ONLY ONE planet

We can think and talk a lot about the importance of enlightenment or finding Tao in life, we can talk about how important it is to live in ecological way or what kind of benefits we can get from mediation and/or relaxation…… Yes, we can talk a lot of wisdom and to share many clever ideas, but at end it all goes back to a simple question of are we really managing our daily life by  respecting the ecology in the nature balance and harmony?

An astonishing film that urges us to rethink our life style. Please share it with your family and friends.  We can be different in many aspects but we share the same planet and life together.  It’s not yet too late for us to wake up and cooperate with each other to save the planet not only for ourselves but for our children and generations after that by taking actions together .

We are the one who are killing the planet, how can we deny our responsibilities further? Indeed talking is important, please spread the message and let’s live by example. Give our future a chance.

Change of pH and TDS

Evaluated the chage in pH and TDS in water from beore boiling and the chage with the green tea brewing.

Water selection: Lifialla, untreated mineral water from Iceland. Even though the pH level according to their brocure is about 8.2, but actural testing showed 7.8. The TDS according to the meter is between 49-50ppm.

First boiled the water, and took some sample for measurement when cooled down.

Added some fresh mineral water to the pot, to bring tge temperature down to 80℃ and brew Chinese green tea, #LungJing.

Tea :Water 1g:50ml

Water temperature : 80℃

Steeping time: 30sec plus 1minute

Here is measurement of green tea

Forever Young in Heart

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to grow up.

Sharing is a way of moving forwards

Before 30, never thought or worried about age, I was so confident and playful that I forgot about time.

In the late 20, I wanted to stay on 20 longer and thought I still have plenty of time, I did not worry too much because I was so occupied by many other things about work, relationship and preconceived self. I forgot about taking time easily until one day I stood on the cross road and asked what have I done in life, who was I and what did I want in life. My first awakening happened in time that I found my way in tea, the practice of Daoyin Qigong for health and inner peace.

In the late 30, all in sudden, I realised the time pressure. psychological pressures started to mount up, the risk of stress rose; the only thing I thought what I could do was to continue my life as in the 30, I thought could gain time by accepting and tolering. Of course, I was wrong because nothing could stop the clicking of clock,not in the past, now or future.

Life is like a boat journey, don’t ask why you’re on board, because you are already on. The when is not upto our choice, but the key of what and how is on our hands that we have to learn how to manage it ourselves.

Soon stepped into 50 from 49, I realized I couldn’t stop the time and the youth was flying out through windows that I forgot to close in time. I hoped I could stay forever young, ignored menopause crisis; but of course nothing could stop the clock. I started to think and worry about the time and fun that I lost and hoped to stay young longer. But I didn’t know who could I talk to, so I became more silent and submissive. Hopefully the emptiness and pain would go away. Of course, they didn’t.

The bitter betray and chaotic change that my ex-husband (father of my children) forced me through were like iced cubes over my head. I lost the family that I have dreamed about, I lost everything, luckily I and children were protected under Belgian laws. I was alone, I have no family to turn to and I didn’t know who to trust; I was forced to stop my carrier because of the responsibilities for two young boys. Despite all those unthinkable chaos and pain, I found myself back. When it seemed I was abandoned by the world, I realized “ I can’t change others, but I can change myself”. Others can fail me, can deny me, but I have to do my best to be myself and I can’t forget who I am and may not deny myself, simply because I am daughter of General Hsiao Li-Guay. I found so much strengths from the Chinese traditional moral teachings that I was fortunately inherited since childhood, I was enlightened by the wisdom of Chinese Buddhism, Daoism and saw the beauty of implementing the practices of Confusius teachings in life through tea, Chinese tea ceremony and Daoyin Qigong. This time I refuse to be submissive without trying best with a peaceful mind and devoted actions.

When one door is closed, another one is opened. Life goes on and on.

Once said goodbye to the 50, started the number with 6, I realized I couldn’t stop the time, regrets won’t help. I reborn from heart. Everyday from heart I appreciate the time that I gain, I am doing my best for myself through tea without asking why.

My life as tea and tea is as my life. I don’t live for tea, because I am tea, tea is in me.

Indeed I can’t stay as young as before, so what. Because I can keep the young in heart forever, and I am trying best everyday.

My health, my choice; my life, I live with gratitude.

Water to Tea Flavors & Taste

Water as Mother to Tea; Teaware as Father to Tea

Nearly 25 years ago, I met a good friend of mine in Taipei, Olga, who then just returned from Hangzhou and bought back some Xihu Long Jing. When we had a cup of tea in the tea room, she complained the flavors and tastes of Long Jing she bought were not same as the one she drank in Hangzhou, she thought she has been cheated by the tea shop. I explained to her, the chance she was cheated is small, especially when she bought it on spot where it was freshly made. I briefly explained the reason she felt differently was because of Water.

Water used for tea brewing does influence the color, flavors and taste of tea greatly. The first factors we should check are pH and TDS,

  • First of all, the pH and hardness of water from the water source in Taipei is different from Hangzhou
  • The average pH of our body is between 7.35 – 7.45, therefore the most suitable pH of tea liquor should be as close as to the pH level as in our body.
    • When the pH is lower than 7.0 : Basically the water is more towards to acidic instead of base. Even though the flavor of tea is fine and soft and the color is brighter, but the taste tends to be more flat and weak
    • When the pH is between 7.0 – 7.5 : The tea flavors are more full, the color is more brilliant, the tea liquor is more fine and soft; more able to bring out a good balance in flavors, color and tastes
    • When the pH is between 7.5 – 8.0 : It would weaken the flavor notes, the texture of water is more rough that darken the color of tea liquor. Even though it could present in more full body in taste but sometimes could increase the risk of imbalance in taste.
    • When the pH is higher than 8.0 : The taste of tea is more flat, dull and tasteless; and darken the color of tea liquor.
  • Besides checking the pH, we should also consider the influence from TDS (Tax Deducted at Source) value. TDS values represents the amount of dissolved impurities in water (ppm) , which indicates how many milligrams of total dissolved solids are dissolved in 1 liter of water (mg/l). Normally you can find such index on the water bottle package. The content of dissolves, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Ions, Colloids, Proteins, colloids could make a significant influence to the color, flavors and taste of tea as well.
    • the larger TDS value, the greater the impurity content in the water and vice versa. The value should be suitable for human body’s absorption, suggest to avoid either too high or too low.
    • The WHO suggests less than 50mg/l. But the standard is varied in different countries, i.e. 0-50mg/l in the US standards, 0-70mg/l in the EU standards. Basically speaking 100 or less can be accepted.
    • Some water filter system can reduce the TDS to Zero while maintain the neutral pH values, even though the taste of astringency is less, the color of tea liquor is brighter, however, it also weakens the fullness in flavors and tastes that we expect from certain teas.

The above data can give us a guideline when choose mineral water, but still is not the absolute factor. Years ago in a tea event which was sponsored by a very well-known mineral water company. The pH is <6.0 and the TDS is also very low. When I used that water to brew Taiwan Gaoshan Oolong in the first evening, even though the color was nice (bright and transparent), but the flavors and taste of my Taiwan Oolong were flat, dull and tasteless. So quickly I changed the water for the next day by mixing that expensive mineral water with the tap water from Brussels, then my Oolong was alive and tasty. Recently I tasted the natural untreated mineral water from Iceland, Lifjalla, the pH is between 8.2-8.5 and the TDS 9.4mg/l. The natural taste of that water is sweet, and it matches perfectly well with traditional Oolong, black tea, dark tea and Pu’erh with the representation of full body in flavors and taste, and the color is brilliant and transparent.

Therefore selecting the right water is important for tea. However, there are other factors could also influence the flavors and tastes of tea, i.e.

  • The conditions of water pipeline would make a great difference to the quality of water from the tap.
  • The temperature and humidity in the tasting room would also influence the flavors and tastes, suggested room temperature between 15-27°C and humidity around 70%.
  • Even the light, the quality of air, air flow, colors in the tea tasting room should take into consideration.

Making a cup of tea is easy, but there are many fundamental factors could influence the flavors and taste of the tea that you would like to enjoy. Small details require great attention.

Requirements for Beautiful Tea

Any beautiful cup of tea requires:

  1. Well balance in the Eco-environment
  2. Well match with the climate conditions
  3. Beautiful and skillful people who are devoted to ensure the quality in production, starting from tea picking and then each step in the tea production
  4. Well identified and selected quality
  5. Well matching water, including pH, hardness and temperature
  6. Well matching tea ware

Last but at least, a beautiful and peaceful mind, attitude from heart and willingness to listen, to sense and to learn.

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