Dallas - T-Bar Club at The Cultured Cup
Posted 15 August 2008 - 11:02 PM
Would it be worth it?
The monthly meetings of the T-Bar Club typically involve a presentation by a member of the club and a tasting of a few teas. Several of the members have toured the tea regions of India, China and Japan...and beyond and bring back interesting stories and photos about their travels, as well as some teas for the group to taste, often teas that would be rare or unknown in the US. I have found this to be an appealing way to learn more about tea, and a pleasant and interesting way to spend a few hours on a Friday evening.
There have been a wide range of programs: the man who traveled the tea farms and tea distribution centers of China and Tibet and shared several rare teas with us, a wonderful opportunity...even though his approximation of Tibetan Yak Butter Tea was not my favorite taste of the year. The teachers who used tea making and tea ceremony to communicate values of patience, trust and respect to their teenage students, including some gang members. The well-traveled woman who reported on her three week tour of tea regions of China and Japan. Blind tastings brought "ah-ha" moments of insight into the layers of flavor, aroma and texture fine teas offer, and greater ability to identify not only the basic types of tea, but also the country and region of origin, as well as how the tea was processed. I have had the opportunity to taste fine green, Oolong and Pu-erh teas that I likely would never have experienced otherwise.
Enjoying tea in a different way now, and convinced that tea is the "next big thing" in the US - where tea knowledge is probably at the same level wine kowledge was in the 1960s - I am going for my third year of T-Bar next month. Kyle and John at The Cultured Cup are on the leading edge of the tea leaf here, providing everything from fine teas to full tea service to a number of fine restaurants including Sharon Hage's York Street and Stephan Pyles. I usually attend more than half the meetings each year, so I'll report on interesting programs in this topic. There are at least a couple of other eGullet Society members involved, so feel free to join the discussion.
Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:43 AM
September 5, 2008
This T-Bar meeting focused on the Japanese green tea Matcha and the tea bowls (Chawan) of potter Ginny Marsh.
Ginny is a potter with an international reputation. Among others, she studied with Kenji Kato. A retired professor of fine arts now living in the Dallas area, her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in Australia, Italy, New York City and elsewhere in the US. Ginny's work is represented in public and private collections in North America, including several architectural commissions.
Her publications include an article on "The Ceremony of Tea". She will be on a panel discussing Japanese pottery at the Crow Asian Art Collection in October.
Ginny talked to the group about the history of Japanese tea bowls rooted in the pottery of China and Korea and passed around several bowls - both those of her own making and one by a Japanese master potter so that we could experience the subtle differences in the bowls and how some fit each of us better than others. She emphasized the relationship between the potter and the individual and how selection of a tea bowl can be a personal matter of color, glaze, size and tactile sensation, as well as its practical utility in whisking Matcha.
Following Ginny's presentation, Cultured Cup co-owner Kyle Stewart demonstrated how to prepare Matcha in a tea bowl using a Japanese tea whisk. We tasted two samples of Matcha, one of which was contributed by a T-Bar member.
In addition, we also had a tasting of two other Japanese Green teas. The first was a Kukicha, which is made using the tender stems of leaves accumulated during the sorting process while making Sencha. Next was a Sencha Select, an unblended Sencha from the Makinohara region of Shizuoka.
Kyle provided helpful information sheets on the teas we were tasting and on Matcha covering the history, cultivation, processing and major types of Matcha, as well as the storage and preparation of Matcha and its health benefits. And as usual, The Cultured Cup offered a 10% discount on any teas in the shop purchased that evening.
Photos courtesy of Ginny Marsh. Used with permission.
Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:11 PM
This re-inforced my experience at the T-Bar with Ginny's bowls, as far as the selection of a tea bowl being a very personal experience. While I liked many of them in one way or another, one of them spoke to me and one sang to me. Ginny had been studying the bowl I finally selected for whatever she can learn from it for future work, so I'll pick it up when she is finished and post more about it and Japanese Matcha later.
Posted 18 December 2008 - 12:14 AM
October 3, 2008 - TCC co-owner Kyle Stewart conducted a Chinese Tea Ceremony for us. Four acted as participants and the rest observed as Kyle showed us the ceremony as he has adapted it for teaching demonstartions in schools and museums. He provide a fine example of a Great Red Robe Oolong for the ceremony and all attendees sampled the tea after the ceremony.
November 7, 2008 - I did a presentation on Chinese Yxing Teapots, covering their history, various production methods, buying them while avoiding fakes, seasoning methods and brewing in them both western and gongfu style. Several examples of Yixing pots were displayed and another member brought the Yixing pot she had made on a tea tour of China last year.
Kyle and I provided a blind tasting for the group, comparing a first and second infusion of a Phoenix Mountain Oolong using a glass Mono Pot and a well-seasoned Yixing tea pot. The general consensus was that the Yixing provided a somewhat deeper, smoother tea liquor and was prefered by the group.
December 5, 2008 - Darjeeling Tasting and Pot Luck
Steve Jones provided a tasting of seven Darjeelings he had sourced from India, accompanied by the following Pot Luck Dinner.
Appetizer: Cheese Plate, provided by Patsy Kahn
Salad: Greens with Clementine Orange Slices & Walnuts with a Balsamic or Mustard Vinaigrette, prepared by Patrick Deupree
Main Course: Chicken with Couscous Steeped in Mariage Frères Routes du Temps, prepared by Kelley Carr
Main Course: Mushroom Casserole, prepared by Greg Duke for Kyle Stewart & Phil Krampetz
Main Course: Cassoulet, prepared by Greg Duke for Kyle Stewart & Phil Krampetz
Bread: French Baguette Bread w/ French Butter, provided by Kyle Stewart & Phil Krampetz
Dessert: Apple Tarts, from Main Street Bakery, provided by Richard Kilgore
Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:06 PM
January - Randy Romig did a Power Point overview of the tea related chapters from "A History of the World in 6 Glasses" by Tom Standage.
February - Adam Sachs, TCC's director of outside sales, did a presentation on his tea travels in the Cameron Islands of Malaysia.
April - Umami, the fifth taste - a tasting of food and green tea pairings choreographed by Kyle Stewart - TCC co-owner, and Adam Sachs.
May - Emily Eldridge did a Power Point presentation on Rooibos followed by a tasting of several Rooibos tisanes.
June - Sam LeCates, TCC employee (one of the people behind the physical tea bar in the shop), did an interesting presentation on Tea & Music, accompanied by...music and tea.
The T-Bar meetings have helped me develop my tea knowledge and my tea palate and are a good, inexpensive opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about tea. A tasting of several teas is part of every meeting. If you are an eGullet Society member interested in going as a guest, please PM me. If you have any questions or comments, post them here, as usual.