Monday, February 24, 2014

Tea: my non-traditional tasty delight.

This is a post from last year that may (or may not) have been published, but in the editing phase it bumped it up to today.   Enjoy! : )

This week I awoke with an intense tea-craving for which I have not yet fulfilled!  I was in Trader Joes, a health foods store here in America, with my mom and walked by the tea section. I saw a box of pomegranate white tea! It looked delicious, but right now I'm on a no caffeine kick. Although I now know it has less caffeine than natural green tea, I'm trying to hold strong to the no caffeine.  Pomegranate is delicious and white tea is loaded with antioxidants, all the good stuff that helps you fight off illness and bad things in your body! The combination is difficult to beat. Pick some up if you have the chance.

The color of pomegranate white tea reminds me of one of my favorite Korean teas: omijacha.  It literally means five-flavored tea and is supposed to satisfy the five distinct tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent).  This tea, often slightly bitter to first time tea drinkers, is made of a berry from the schisandra chinensis vine originating from China and is used in herbal medicine. The red berries have healing properties that can soothe the raspiest cough or open up the airways of asthmatic individuals. They're also known for keeping the liver healthy and helping digestion among other properties.  Don't take my complete word for it! You'll have to try it yourself!  No one individual will react the same way. If it doesn't work for you, just enjoy knowing you're putting something tasty and healthy into your body! I'd be down for a cup of omijacha any day.  The flavor and health benefits are too good to be true.

With the thought of omijacha comes the flooding memories of my first experience drinking it  at a cultural village in a tea house in South Korea. I remember traveling with a group of new friends in 2008 in the Joellanamdo province. After a day of touring the cultural site, learning about pottery, and creating some traditional Korean crafts, we sat down for a refreshing cup of tea. Because it was my first time ordering tea in Korea, I looked at the menu and chose something that sounded flavorful and looked pretty. Of course I don't judge a book by it's cover or a person by his looks! I just have a peculiar interest and obsession with the presentation of food and beverage. Presentation is half the taste. If it looks good, it should taste [at least a little] good!  I chose the iced omijacha to soothe my soul and cool down on a day of humid delight.
My first, and definitely not my last, tea experience was amazing!  I knew I loved tea. However, this experience sealed the deal and developed a long-lasting relationship and devotion to Korean tea houses.

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