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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 6

January 6, 2015

healthy longjing green tea

Not Everyone Who Drinks Tea Is Healthy

We all have them, don’t we? Those friends who are constantly talking about their new healthy lifestyle and how they feel so much better all of a sudden. They try to convince you to take up the same stupid fad diet they’re on, because we won’t believe just how good we’ll feel once we’ve done it. Everything that was ever wrong with them is due to the food that we are still eating and we’re idiots for not following in their footsteps.

healthy longjing green tea

A tin of healthy Longjing green tea from China

There’s one problem: these friends are invariably huge. That’s right, they’re fat slobs. Or they’re ultra skinny. Point is, they’re unhealthy. They follow some fad diet and five months ago they were following some other fad diet. A few months from now it will be something new. They think they are living a healthy lifestyle, but they are not. They’re cutting out foods that our body needs because some idiot somewhere told them these foods are unhealthy. They’re replacing them with who knows what.

All the while, they continue to eat all kinds of junk food and drink the unhealthiest possible drinks. You know what I’m talking about. They’re sipping on sodas and putting sugar in fruit juices and smoothies and so on. And of course, there is tea. We’ve all heard that tea is a major part of a healthy lifestyle. The type of tea differs from online health blog guru to online health blog guru. Some will tell you green tea is the healthiest, others will tell you, you should absolutely be drinking white tea. I’ve seen ones pushing oolong tea a lot recently. Then there are the ones pushing pu’er tea for whatever reason.

The reality is, all teas are healthy. It doesn’t matter which variety of tea you drink, it is good for your health. The problem with this fat slob of a friend of yours who is pushing his latest fad diet and telling you how great he feels and how he started drinking tea, is that he is not really drinking tea. He’s probably buying some bottled sugar water with a slight tea flavor. Or maybe he is actually brewing the tea himself at home with a tea bag full of cheap, crappy leaves. Actually, leaves is the wrong word. You can’t really call the left-over dust and stems found inside most teabags tea leaves.

Anyway, your fat friend is using these teabags, putting them in hot water for a minute or two, then pouring in 3 tablespoons of sugar. Maybe they’re adding milk, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter, since the sugar ruins at all. And when you spend the rest of the day drinking 15 Cokes, a few cups of tea-flavored sugar water are not going to make you skinny. These people will always remain fat and you really shouldn’t listen to them when it comes to health advice. But, you already knew that, didn’t you?

If you want to be healthier, the best thing you can do is stick to unprocessed foods. Of course, some natural foods are less healthy than others. Red meat for example is not the healthiest thing around. Definitely eat some, though. It taste great and it’s actually good for you. But as they say, everything in moderation. Take it from me, I can tell you that even eating too many vegetables can be bad for you. If you eat gigantic portions of only vegetables, you will end up with diarrhea. You diet needs to be balanced.

So, eat unprocessed foods and drink natural drinks. I spend most of my day drinking water and tea. I’ll switch it around and have a green tea one day, an oolong tea the next day, and a lovely black tea the third day. I’ll have some white tea, too. I won’t have flavored tea, because it’s really pointless and usually there are additives in it as well. Tea and water. That’s all you really need and if that’s all you drink, you are drinking very healthy. Just don’t put any sugar in any of that.

If you are looking for a healthy green tea, try Dragon Well tea from China.

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Jan 15

January 15, 2014

green tea plant

Drinking Green Tea or White Tea and Weight Loss

Drinking tea can lead to weight loss. You’ve heard this before, I’m sure. In fact, if you search for those very words, you will get back thousands of results with articles about the weight loss benefits of tea, green tea and white tea especially. Many of those articles are trying to sell you something and that is why they are so excited about explaining how tea can help you lose weight. Sadly, the truth is that drinking tea does not directly lead to weight loss.

green tea plant

That is not to say that tea is not healthy and that it does not help you lose weight. It just doesn’t do so directly. What this means is that starting to drink tea one day will not result in the pounds melting off the next. In fact, if the only change you make in your life is drinking tea and everything else stays the same, you will not lose a single pound.

How can people say that drinking green tea or white tea leads to weight loss then?

Well, first of all, when people begin drinking tea, they drink less of something else. We only need so much liquid per day, so every cup of tea replaces a cup of some other liquid and usually that other liquid is much less healthy than tea.

The type of people who are trying to lose weight generally drink a lot of unhealthy drinks, like sodas and other drinks with a ton of sugar. Coffee counts among them, if tons of sugar or other sweeteners are added.

When they start drinking tea, they will drink fewer of these unhealthy drinks and that will help them lose weight. The weight loss does not result directly from the tea intake, but from what was given up for that tea.

Beyond that, drinking tea functions as a type of signal. By this I mean it is a signal to yourself, to your mind, that you will now begin to live healthier. It is an easy first step on the road to a healthier lifestyle. In order to actually lose weight, you will need to change your diet and it would not hurt to exercise as well. The steps are fairly hard, but just adding tea to your daily routine is relatively simple. Because of this, many people begin with the tea and then take on incrementally more difficult tasks that can result in weight loss. In this way, a daily tea habit is a great beginning to a healthier lifestyle.

For this article I have mentioned green tea and white tea, but any other tea made from the actual tea plant is just as healthy. Herbal teas do not enter into the equation here. They come from different plants and as such have very different properties from real tea. Some of them are very healthy and some of them don’t do much at all. They are beyond the scope of this article and you’ll have to look elsewhere to find out about herbal teas.

As far as actual teas go, we have the two I have already mentioned plus oolong tea, black tea, yellow tea and pu erh tea. You will find a ton of articles on each of these, many of them claiming that whatever tea they are talking about is the healthiest and that you should buy their pills or supplements or whatever, but the truth is the health benefits of every one of these teas is about the same. The type of tea does not have as much effect on this as other factors, like the type of plant the tea leaves cam from or the location where the plant was grown or the manner in which it was processed.

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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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