Cinnabar, Lead Writer, Editor, Coordinator
I’m prone to obsessions about protocols, purity and ceremony when it comes to types of teas and ways to serve them (and most everything else in my life, for that matter). I almost always prefer teas that are exclusively pure tea leaves, with the divine and notable exception of jasmine pearls. I also love the whole milieu of beautiful tools that one must procure in order to fully indulge in the practice of Gongfu Cha to full effect.
I am most strongly attracted to oolongs and smoky teas – demanding teas with strong personalities. I like Pu-erhs as well. I have a slightly irrational attraction to infusions of orange, orange peel and orange blossoms, which betrays my puritanical tea preferences occasionally. When enough time and attention are present I will generally serve a Chinese oolong using traditional Gongfu methods and traditional accoutrements. I almost always prefer the strictest adherence to the traditional manner, methods and utensils, but am not interested only in the Chinese methods.
If I had enough spare income and room on my property I would have a small outbuilding dedicated to rotating themes of particular traditional beverage and food traditions. It would be a Chinese scholar’s tea house, then a French turn of the century absinthe bar, then a Moroccan tent serving mint tea, then a [Republic of] Georgian dining room resounding with toasts, then a Turkish coffee house, and so on.
More generally, I am a graduate school drop-out with a degree in Oboe Performance. I have always had a strong passion for writing, proofreading and editing and particularly enjoy writing about tea.
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The creation of this site was inspired by a friend’s return from a vacation to Japan. She brought me some amazingly fragrant tea and some wonderfully deep, stoneware cups that are perfect for savoring the aroma. So, because I seem to have a website for almost everything I do, I started writing down my tea experiences, and began developing my guide to brewing and drinking tea, which I hope will someday become comprehensive. I’m attracted to its timelessness and their ability to bring people together in so many ways.
I adore pu’erhs, as they bring back the scent of damp forest floor, where I like to spend my time camping and backpacking. I also enjoy yoga, dancing, and photography, and I’m a web developer at my day job. My husband is a tall, dark, and handsome stagehand, and we live with our two cats, Dib and Gaz, in the heart of Seattle. [ Email ]
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Seven years ago I fled a university teaching job in Arizona to start a new and very different life in Seattle. I currently work downtown as a database administrator and live in a big, beautiful, drafty old Capitol Hill apartment with my partner in crime, an information security guru, and one very cantankerous cat. In the summer I spend my free time hiking and camping, and in the winter I try to get in as much snowshoeing as possible. The Seattle International Film Festival keeps me inside darkened theaters for much of May and June, and my boyfriend and go to our local Russian bath house at least once a month.
I started doing yoga on a regular basis about two years ago, and that has transformed my life in many, sometimes surprising ways. One of the things yoga seems to have done is to convert me from a confirmed coffee drinker into a born-again tea enthusiast. Without ever intentionally deciding to quit drinking coffee, I found myself wanting coffee less and less as my yoga practice deepened — and eventually tea supplanted coffee entirely in my daily life. I still enjoy the occasional espresso — with cafes like Vivace and Victrola and Bauhaus in the vicinity it would be criminal not to — but tea is now my mainstay.
I’m something of a fundamentalist when it comes to tea: I have a strong predilection for hearty Indian black teas, drunk neat. As I have become more interested in tea drinking, I continue to experiment with as broad a range of teas as possible — one of the things I love about tea is how many different varieties there are. But while I can appreciate the grassiness of Japanese green teas, or the delicate fragrances of herbal infusions, I tend to find myself coming home to assertive, winey teas with a bit of a tannin bite (and — yes, I admit it! — a strong dose of caffeine). I enjoy tea rituals and tea paraphernalia, but what I really love is a good solid cup of tea.
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I was born in the UK. Although I grew up in the States, my father’s British predilections influenced my own palate, including the daily ritual of tea. The warming of the pot, the full rolling boil — these were so much a part of life for me that when I was preparing for college, one of my first purchases was a two-cup teapot.
The way the Brits go on and on about tea, you’d think I would have a head start towards tea expert status. You’d be wrong. Any tea aficionado who has been to the UK can tell you that the only thing more dependable than the makings of a cuppa wherever you go is the absolutely wretched quality of the tea. (And the tea-related program activities: “Skimmed milk with non-milk fat,” anyone?) It’s like coffee or hamburgers here in the States — sure you can find a great example if you look a little, but the vast majority of the time, you get a thin, sour brew that tastes like rusty water poured through an old sock, or a paradoxically dry yet greasy puck of mystery meat lying sullenly on a stale bun. So it wasn’t until about eight years ago that I was introduced to the world of decent tea.
I prefer strong, flowery, slightly smoky Chinese red (black) teas, most of all those from the Yunnan province. Sometimes I’ll take a good Lapsang Souchong like barbecue in a teacup, or a fine, light Darjeeling, or even a really spectacular green jasmine tea. And unlike many Tea People ™, I drink an awful lot of non-tea teas; herbal, fruit, and flower tisanes are a big part of my diet. I look forward to learning more and more about tea with every passing day!
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I am a former Seattle resident now living in London. I graduated with a degree in Chinese which somehow led to a two year stint working as the tea buyer for a gourmet coffee shop in Tempe, Arizona. During this time I designed packaging and educational pamphlets, sampled teas from around the world, developed custom tea blends for corporate clients, and led tea seminars for employees. Since then I have been unfit for drinking bagged tea but have done my best to smile when served one, because, well, at least it wasn’t coffee. These days I’ve got a reputation as a bit of an extremist due to having not just loose tea and an infuser at my desk, but also a kettle and a bottle of filtered water, but if you ask nicely I’ll be sure to make a second cup because life’s too short to drink bad tea.
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My experience with tea began when I was introduced to çay while living in Istanbul, and slowly grew over the years through Southern sweet tea, basic mass-market tea bags of indeterminate flavor, herbal teas and specialty bulk teas, and into the vast world of country- and culture-specific teas and tea traditions courtesy of the other Gongfu Girls.
I’m the extravagant one of the group, loving tea that’s been brewed too long and tea that’s mixed with all kinds of non-tea flavors and tea that isn’t even tea, as well as the range of experiences of having tea as a ritual (which can be defined in many ways). I approach tea in an epicurian way, similar to how I experience food and wine (another of my passions), savoring the range of flavors and possibilities inherent in the steeping of leaves, flowers, and branches in hot water.
I’ve worked in the publishing industry in various facets for many years, with a particular focus on writing, editing, and production, and I’ve loved to write about just about everything since I was a teenager. I have my own blog, Popcorn and Pretense, where I intermittently write about food and wine, film, and whatever else I feel is fascinating enough to inflict on the rest of the world.