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Feb 16

February 16, 2018

tea farm in Japan

Touring A Tea Garden In Asia

I’ve always loved to travel but I’ve never gotten the opportunity to do much traveling in my life. I’ve taken a few smaller trips, but not too many longer trips and definitely not too many trips to faraway places. I would have loved to do some backpacking in my youth, but I just didn’t have the money or the time.

I did take one amazing trip in my life, though. That was a trip to Asia. Back then I was still a big coffee drinker, so I loved trying great coffees in Indonesia (the main island is actually called Java!) and in Vietnam, where I tried the weasel dropping coffee.

Since I got to see several of the main countries in Asia, that means I also got to tour the biggest tea producers. I spent a week each in India, China and Japan. I know those aren’t all the tea producing countries in Asia, but those are the biggest three.

huge tea garden in asiaMy favorite among those three tea growing nations was Japan. It is the smallest, but is by far the best to travel. It is clean, safe and everything just works. The people are also very friendly and not at all pushy. And that is one of the biggest drawbacks of the other two. The people in China and India are very pushy and even though you get some great tea there, the whole experience is marred a bit by the filth and the aggressiveness of the people.

Even the tea, although it can be amazing, is not always that great. There are a lot of scammers who will sell you very low quality tea and try to get a very high price for it. That is a big problem. You can never really trust a label or a store in China or India. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can easily end up drinking bad tea. Luckily, I know how to recognize good quality tea leaves, so I could catch it when they tried to sell me crap. Many people can’t and end up drinking bad tea.

tea farm in JapanIn Japan you do not have this problem that is why it was my favorite country for traveling and also for drinking tea. It was also the best place for touring tea plantations. I took tea plantation tours in all the countries, but only in Japan did I feel like they actually enjoyed having me there, apart from just wanting my money.

The other countries just wanted me to pay and they gave me a standard tour and then tried to sell me souvenirs and overpriced, low quality tea. In Japan they took the time to explain everything and really show me around their tea gardens. They even took me indoors and showed me their tea growing operation there and they also showed me their outdoor operation.

They even showed me some areas where they were using grow lights, which, as you know, is something I’m very interested in, at the moment. I’ve gotten into growing tea with grow lights indoors myself, so I really enjoyed seeing that in Japan. They really only do it to start seedlings. In this case they were using fluorescent grow lights, but I’ve heard of other farms using LED grow lights as well. Either way, just the fact that they did this was highly interesting to me. It’s another reason why really loved touring the Japanese tea gardens most of all.

I really wish I could’ve done more traveling, but this one trip was pretty amazing. I know a lot of people don’t ever get to take even one trip like this, so I do feel very lucky. I got to try some of the best coffee and some of the best tea in the world. I do still hope to make it to Africa someday, mainly for the music, but they also grow a ton of tea in Kenya.

If you are one of the other lucky people that get to take trips, and you ever find yourself in one of these Asian countries, definitely take a tour of a tea growing region. Even in China and India, the tours are pretty good and very informative. They just pale in comparison to the ones in Japan, that is all.

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Oct 17

October 17, 2016

small electric tea kettle in my kitchen

Going Small With My Tea and My Indoor Garden

It’s been a while since I posted and a lot has changed. I both started my own indoor garden and I started traveling more. Those two don’t really seem compatible, but they are both things I wanted to do. So I did them.

I’ve also decided to minimize my life. I’ve decided to go small. Much of this is due to travel. I simply don’t want to lug around as much weight. So I looked for smaller versions of everything I usually carry with me. And as an avid tea drinker, my tea obsession always took up a large portion of my suitcase. It still does, but it takes up less than before.

small electric tea kettle in my kitchen

A small electric tea kettle on my kitchen countertop

The biggest part of that was my electric tea kettle. It took up a lot of space and weighed quite a bit, but I absolutely love that thing. I still have it, but I keep it at home. I’ve since bought a new small tea kettle specifically for travel.

I actually had quite a hard time finding one, but luckily I found this post that reviewed a bunch of different small travel kettles. It really helped me narrow down my choices and pick the best one. If you’re looking for a tiny electric tea kettle for your travels, definitely check this post out. It will help you.

I’m also trying to make things smaller at home. I mentioned that I started gardening indoors, but I was actually using up a huge room in my basement for it. I decided to separate my gardens out.

I’ve created several smaller gardens for different types of plants. For example my herbs are in one corner. Some of these plans I can just grow regularly in the basement, but others do better in their own self-contained environment. For these plants, I decided to buy a grow tent.

Again, I wanted a small one. And again, it was really hard to find a small grow tent. I did more research, much of it on Amazon and much of it useless. But eventually I stumbled across a site that reviews the best small indoor grow tents on the market. It’s great to find them all in one place and it made it very easy for me to choose.

I ended up buying the gorilla grow tent. It was a lot more expensive than the others, but I love my garden and I don’t mind paying more for it. I kinda feel about it the same way I do about my tea.

And that last sentence actually brings me to my last topic. I recently read another post, I can’t remember where I saw it, that discussed growing your own tea in a garden. It even had a section that discussed growing indoors, so naturally that was perfect for my new indoor gardening endeavor.

I’ve been doing more research on this and unfortunately I haven’t found all that much information. But what I have gleaned is that it is definitely possible. And I’m going to give it a try.

That’s right, I’m going to start growing my own tea. No I don’t expect to compete with the best teas in the world, but I hope it’s at least drinkable. I think just the fact that I grow it myself will make it taste that much better than it would if I just bought it in the store.

I actually had this plan years earlier, but then it was going to be coffee. I used to drink a ton of espresso and had this crazy idea that I could grow my own coffee beans. That never materialized, but now that I drink tea, I resurrected the idea, since tea is easier to grow.

I’m actually going to get a grow tent for this, although it probably won’t be as tiny a grow tent as I use for my herbs. I’m sure I will also use artificial lighting again, because you kind of have to in a grow tent. I’ll probably stick to standard fluorescent grow lights, which is what I’m using for my current gardening, but I am considering LED grow lights as well. More on that in a later post though.

For now, the point is just welcome back. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written, because I’ve been very lazy. But I’ve actually been doing a lot. And this minimizing my life and making everything smaller is part of that, as is my new gardening endeavor. Thanks for sticking with me.

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Jan 14

January 14, 2014

tea farm in kagoshima japan

Where does tea come from?

I suppose most people know tea originated in Asia, but do you know which country? And you know where all it is produced today? The answer to the first question is China. The answer to the second is pretty much everywhere. Okay, not quite, but it is produced in a lot more countries than you might think.

tea farm in kagoshima japan

Tea plantation in Kagoshima, Japan

Originally, tea was grown in China. From there it spread to Japan and I suppose also to Korea (travel guide found here), although the Koreans don’t really drink tea the way the Japanese and the Chinese do. Eventually, tea was brought to India from China by the British. They were tired of having to trade with the Chinese for their tea and was looking to create a source of their own.

China Japan and India (head here for a guide) are probably the top three tea drinking countries in the world today. They are also three of the top suppliers. Japan produces almost only green tea, while India produces mostly black, although their Darjeeling tea, while considered a black, is actually an oolong tea. China produces every kind of tea. It is the biggest tea producer on earth.

Other countries that produce large amounts of tea are Sri Lanka which produces mostly black and some green and Kenya (I bet you thought Kenya only produced coffee; ok, maybe you didn’t, but I did). Even the US produces tea, with Hawaii beginning to grow more and more oolong tea. On top of these countries, there are hundreds of others that produce their own teas, but most of them are not well known yet. And they will probably never be all that well known.

The most famous and highest-quality teas come from four countries: China (travel guide for China found here), Japan, India, and Sri Lanka. Japan produces the highest quality overall, with China coming in second. China loses a lot of points because, although they produce some of the best teas on earth, they also produce a lot of really low quality crap. India is the same but to an even higher degree. Darjeeling is famous as one of the best teas on earth and it is a good tea, but there is just too much horrible tea being passed off as Darjeeling.

If you want to try the highest-quality teas on earth, try a gyokuro from Japan for the best green tea. For the best white tea, you want a white hair silver needle from China. For the best oolong, you’ll want a big red rope from China. For the best black tea you what a Golden Monkey tea from China or perhaps a Darjeeling from India.

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