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Sep. 27th, 2012

New Stuff For The Holidays

Hello Live-Journalers, Customers, Fellow Marshies, etc......

Sage Blackthorn here, your friendly neighborhood Dragon-Blogger, with a new update for all our online friends. First off, an apology, I know I have been lax is keep this blog up-to-date, Mea culpa. Live gets in the way and things at work have been hectic. The high temperatures have been keeping people indoors, so we've been staying open late on Fridays and Saturdays. Various festivals and events have been occupying our time, such as preparing for the up-coming Inland Empire Pagan Pride Day at Citrus Heritage Park this Saturday, September 29th from approximate 8am to 5pm.

Dragonology, Wizardology, and Piratology:
Also we have just gotten in some of the "Dragonology" games and stuffed dragons. We also got some of the "Wizardology" and "Piratology" games as well. Kids love these days, especially if they fans of Dragon, Wizard, and Pirates. Other than entertainment they will also get kids off the computer and interacting IN REAL LIFE with friends and family.

Table-top games are a good way to get kids socializing, they are a good way to get families to spend time together doing things everyone enjoys. So if you have children who are enamored with Dragons, try getting them a Dragonology Game to play with you. If they really like it, they may like the stuffed Dragons that go along with the game. If they prefer Wizards, we have wands and we can make Wizard's Robes that will suffice not only for daily play, but they can wear them to Renaissance Faires with a few more accessories (could be a Monk, could be a Scholar, could be a Magister, take your pick and it's a great way to teach them history!)

Monsters, Boogeymen , and Things That Go Bump In the Night:
Everyone who has children, or nieces nephews, cousin's younger than themselves, etc. knows that sometimes small children are afraid of the dark. They will hide under the covers, they will want the lights left on, they will require a special stuff animal or cherished blanket in order to fall asleep without worrying. At some point, however, they must learn to deal with their fears. For these times, DragonMarsh has acquired a line of Monster Destroyer sprays. These pleasantly scented sprays can be used by your wee-ones to drive away goblins, dissolve ghosts, frighten away Boogeymen, and drive off that strange hairy beast that is making noises under their bed (and no, I don't mean the cat). With fragrances such as Pure Linen, Sugar Cookie, Lavender&Chamomile, Sweet Peppermint, Raspberry, and Vanilla Tangerine your children's nightly battles with the unknown may even get rid of those mysterious smells emanating from their bed chambers....which we all know are caused by goblins.

New Jewelry:
We have just received a new batch of jewelry as of last night. There are quite a few strikingly beautiful pieces of costume jewelry to accent your formal ware and historical garb, There is at least one faceted, black stone pendant that has a Pearl Clip type bail. This means that you can open the bail and clip it around a strand of pearls or large beads. Other pendants are done as a free form wire wrap. We have Gold-tone and Silver-tone Butterfly Necklace and Earring Sets. There really are to many for me to adequately describe here, you'll just have to come down to the store and see them.

Upcoming Events:
As I mentioned above, DragonMarsh will be attending the Inland Empire Pagan Pride Day Festival at Citrus Heritage Park this Saturday, September 29th. I believe the festivities start around 10am or so, we'll be arriving about 8am to set our booth up. The festival then closes at 5pm. For more information, please go to Http://www.ieppd.org/ 
For a map to the park, please click this link: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=citrus+state+park+riverside+ca&ie=UTF-8&ei=2d5kUMz5N6iziQL91oCQCw&sqi=2&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg

We hope to see you all there and in the store!
   Sage Blackthorn
   Assistant Web-Scribe At DragonMarsh

Sep. 14th, 2012

DragonMarsh Now Open Late On Friday and Saturday

Greetings Readers (if there's anyone still reading this),

This is just a quick little announcement to let everyone know that DragonMarsh is now open late on Fridays and Saturdays. We noticed that with the high temperatures Riverside has been experiencing lately, very few people are coming out to shop in the afternoon. Most people are coming out in the evening. So we have decided to stay open until 8pm on Friday and Saturday to let people take advantage of the cooler temperatures and shop in comfort.

Jul. 8th, 2012

Upcoming Glasses and Holiday Graffiti

Greetings Live-Journalers, Friends, and Customers,

Last night's "Death By Chocolate" Class was a lot of fun, But it got me thinking that we haven't been notifying folks about the classes as much as we use to here on Live-Journal. This is mostly because the vast majority of our customers have migrated over to FaceBook. So I figured I should get back at it for those of you who are still here:

Upcoming Classes:
Descriptions are available on our Classes At DragonMarsh website

Crystals 101
Fee: $25
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Date: Monday, July 9th
Location: DragonMarsh, 3643 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

Sacred Spaces: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters
Fee: $25
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Date: Friday, July 13th
Location: DragonMarsh, 3643 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

Basic Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Class
Fee: $175
Time: 12-5 P.M.
Date: July 14th & 15th
Location: DragonMarsh, 3643 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

Incense 101
Fee: $25
Time: 7 P.M.
Date: Wednesday, July 18th
Location: DragonMarsh, 3643 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

Candle Magick
Fee: $28
Time: 7 P.M.
Date: Saturday, July 21st
Location: DragonMarsh, 3643 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

Graffiti and Tagging In Downtown Riverside:

While we were closed for the Fourth Of July, several individuals decided to graffiti our store and many others in the area. Normally this is not a huge problem, because they use sharpie markers or paint and tag the walls or the glass windows. Lately however, many Taggers have been scratching the glass and etching their tags into our windows. This means we have to have the glass replaced, and because our landlord will not pay for it, we have to pay for the windows ourselves. Morgianna posted about this on our FaceBook page recently:

"Rant from Morigianna: To the person(s) who deeply etched our front windows during the holiday-Thanks to you several of our family may not get paid this month. Bills won't be paid and food will not be bought for hungry mouths. Things will be put off for lack of funds. Double pane windows are expensive and not covered in insurance. This small family owned store is thrilled to see how you showed YOUR FREEDOM on Independance Day. You had nothing better to do than deface buildings? You shame your family and everone who has fought for your right to "express yourself". ;-("

Some folks have suggested that we paint over the damage and do a mural for the summer which will also help block out some of the summer sunlight and heat. Others have suggested that we start a Donation Jar to help cover the cost of new windows and some of our wonderful customers have already donated to replacing the glass. (Thank You!)

Yesterday morning, we noticed new graffiti on the side of our building, and last night while leaving we saw the oddest bit of Tagging yet..... someone had tagged an old toaster that was sitting on top of a trash can.......

FaceBook Comment From Morigianna:

"Just as a comment- we noticed someone left a toaster on the trashcan down the street from the shop. A silver old style one- And someone had tagged it on the side. How desperate are you to tag TRASH? LOLOLOL (better than our window!). Mora is looking for someone to paint/design something for the windows. She likes the etching idea and the dragon eating or branding a tagger ;-) This is your chance to be famous!"

Personally, I'm not feeling as casual about this as my other half (Morigianna). To me this is Vandalism, plain and simple. It's disrespectful.... no one asked us if they could paint artwork on our building. Now they have scratched up our display windows, making it more difficult for people to view the wares we offer.  And let me be perfectly clear, Tagging IS NOT ART! I've seen some spectacularly beautiful Graffiti in my life. Tagging is just signing your name on someone's wall, there is no artistic talent involved in signing your name.....especially if it's not legible! When I was a child, if I scribbled something on a wall, I was spanked and sent to my room as a punishment. Tagging is nothing more than childish behavior coming from individuals who seem to think it's alright to deface someone else's property. And these same people would be very upset if someone came to their home and damaged or destroyed their possessions, so why do they think it's alright to do to someone else?

More than anything else, this is about a lack of respect. When I was a child, I was taught that if you wanted to be treated with respect, you had to treat others with respect. If you are disrespectful to someone, you can expect to be treated exactly the same way in return. When someone behaves in a disrespectful manner, they loose the respect of others and the community as a whole. It occurs to me that some people may simply never have been taught what respect is. Here is the textbook definition from Webster's Dictionary:

"1
: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation<remarks having respect to an earlier plan>

2
: an act of giving particular attention : consideration
3
a : high or special regard : esteem b : the quality or state of being esteemed c plural : expressions of high or special regard or deference<paid our respects>
4
: particulardetail <a good plan in some respects>"
While those we just meet, or have never met, may not have earned "high or special regard, Esteem",  They do deserve "Consideration". To treat someone with respect, as my friend Haikaa says, should form the basis for all our interactions with them. In my opinion, at least until they do something disrespectful to loose the "Consideration" which should be extended to all whom we first meet as a matter of civility and politeness. Here's another quote to consider: "For me, Politeness is a sin qua non of civilization." --Robert \A. Heinlein. In other words, "Politeness" is something that defines "civilization", or "that without which something cannot be." If you're not being polite, you aren't civilized. And ya' know what? Writing on someone's walls, or painting them without asking their permission is very impolite according to the rules and traditions of the society I was raised in.


Jul. 2nd, 2012

July Manager's Sale and Assorted Rants/Stories Of The 'Marsh

Quick announcement for all our LiveJournal friends:

The Manager's Special for July will be on our Dragon's Kitchen Spice Blends. This is a Buy One Get One Half-Off sale. When you buy 2 bottles of the Dragon's Kitchen Spice Blends, the less expensive of the two will be discounted 50%. So if they are both $4, you pay $4 for one and $2 for the other. If one is $5 and the other is $4, you pay $5 and $2. Pretty simple rules for the sale. 

Now the reason I'm explaining this is because last month we did this same sale on a different item, and nobody seemed to get it, so I wanted to make sure it was crystal clear this time. 

Strange Happenings:
This is an Editorial, the views expressed here are those of Sage Blackthorn and may or may not be agreed upon by Dragonmarsh, it's employees or owners.

Over the last couple weeks, many strange incidents have been occurring here in lovely Downtown Riverside, California. Last week, we discovered that the electrical junction box that controls the fountain around the corner on the Main St. Pedestrian Mall had been broken into and all the copper wire stolen. That same week, the lock on the gate to the enclosure that houses the trash dumpsters in our alley was cut, as were the locks on the recycling bins...... Folks, I know times are tough, but that is never a justification for stealing. Yes, I said "stealing", as in committing the crime of theft, you know, taking something that doesn't belong to you without asking permission. Scavenging/Dumpster Diving has become such a problem here in Riverside that the City has had to pass a law making it illegal here. The City Recycling Program is suppose to use the money generated by the sales of recyclable materials to help pay for the cost of trash collection. Therefore, stealing things out of a recycling can/dumpster is deemed theft of city property. 

Now personally, I could care less about the legal mumbo-jumbo. The major problem is that people are now cutting locks and destroying public and private property in the process. They are not just taking things people have thrown out and presumably don't want or need anymore, now they are taking things, like the wiring from the electrical junction box that's still being used. It's bad enough when Scavengers just toss trash all over the sidewalk and make a mess, but now many of they are destroying property.

And the really sad thing is that if they want to collect bottles and cans, all they really need to do is go around and ask for them instead of taking them. Most of us have no problem separating out aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles, we do it to put in the dumpsters anyway. That, for me at least (Sage Blackthorn) is the core issue here. When you take without asking from someone, you are taking away their right to choose. Stealing disrupts a community, it generates frustration, anger, suspicion, and damages trust. Will EVERYONE give them bottles and cans when they ask politely, no. Some of us don't throw our bottles and cans in the bin, we bag them up and take them to a recycling center to exchange for money. But again, it is the individual's right to choose and when you don't respect that right to freedom of choice it damages the community as a whole. 

Some people don't recycle either, they UP-cycle. I just recently watched an instructional video on YouTube that showed how to make a variety of useful items out of old glass bottles simply by cutting them to make drinking glasses or wind-chimes. Plastic Soda Bottles can be melted down and injection molded or vacu-formed into a variety of useful items. Tin cans, aluminum cans, old newspapers..... the list of things that can be up-cycled goes on and on. It by-passes many of the more toxic recycling processes that actually pollute our environment MORE than just throwing the things in a landfill......

But it all comes back to freedom of choice in the end. As long as what you are doing does not harm other people or the community at large you have the freedom to choose how to live. When you start harming others, then there is a problem. When I was in high school, I took "Youth And Law" as an elective class. I've always remembered what my teacher said about the paradox of Freedom Of Choice. Freedom is not absolute, you can't just do whatever you want to because somethings infringe on the Freedom of others. Your Rights end where they start taking another's rights way. We have laws, ideally, as an agreed upon code of social conduct so we can all live together peacefully. As a People, we've discussed and agreed that Stealing/Theft is wrong because we don't one anyone else taking our stuff. We've agreed that Littering is wrong because scattering trash all over makes a huge mess and we all like to live in a clean city. So when someone breaks into a locked area steals valuable materials and makes a mess in the process, these are all things that we've agreed are wrong to do. Where as if they simply ASKED for recyclables, none of those things would happen.

Sage Blackthorn

May. 18th, 2012

A Quiet Moment At Work......

Greetings Live-Journalists, 

It's been quite some time since we've posted anything here (most everyone seems to have gone over to our FaceBook page these days). But I figured it was time to check all our social-networking pages and see if there were any messages, posts, or inquiries....... So far the last message we got was inquiring about the shop's Peeps Show pictures which were uploaded to MySpace. We're having trouble editing them........

Right now the next event that we are preparing for is the SCA's "Potrero War" down in Potrero Park. It's about a week away, so we're going over our equipment, checking the stock, and preparing for the journey. For those of you who've never attended the Potrero War, there is a link for more information on the Kingdom of CAID web-page ( Http://www.sca-caid.org/ ). It's a 5-4 day event. We merchants show up on Wednesday to set up, some members will show up Thursday if they don't have to work, and the majority of folks show up on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As will most all SCA Wars, there are a variety of events, classes, and gatherings for everyone's enjoyment. Siege Cooking and the Iron Chef competitions for those with culinary inclinations. Home Brewing competitions. Textile Artisans gather to share their skills in spinning and weaving. It's just an all-around good time. We hope to see all our friends there.....


DragonMarsh
"An Historical Shoppe"
Serving the Living History,
Re-Enactment and Recreation,
And Spiritual Community
Of Southern California
Since 1988
Come down to the store and see all the fine Historical Accessories we have for you


Sage Blackthorn, Assistant Web-Scribe at:
DragonMarsh.
And Forum Moderator at:
The DragonMarsh Forums

Mar. 22nd, 2012

The Peep Show Returns To Downtown Riverside!

Greetings Revelers!

Sage Blackthorn here with an update for you on the goings on in Downtown Riverside! As part of Downtown Riverside's "Easter Egg-stravaganza" on Saturday March 31st from 12 o'clock noon to 4 p.m. DragonMarsh will be putting on The Peep Show! 

Right about now I can tell many of you (if anyone is reading this these days) are thinking "Oh my God! They're going to do a Peep Show in PUBLIC!" Relax, this kid friendly. We're going to be doing things with Peeps Marshmallow Candies. There will be an Art Contest, a Best Dressed Peep Competition, Stack-A-Peep, a Historical Peep Display and Peep Museum, Peep Jousting, and much more. 

In honor of the upcoming Peep Show, I thought I would share with you, our readers, a fun Peeps Recipe we found last year....Peep Sushi. Now I love Sushi, it's one of my favorite foods and we have an excellent Sushi Bar around the corner from us called Pacific Cabin Sushi. They do all kinds of traditional and modern fusion Sushi, but Peep Sushi is one item that is not on their menu. This type of Sushi uses Peeps and other candies (such as Fruit Roll-Ups) for filling and Rice Crispy Treats instead of sticky rice. They are very easy to make and the only limit is your imagination. Here are a few pictures to get you started:



The Serious Eats website has a great page on how to make Peep Sushi (aka Peepshi):
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/03/peeps-recipes-how-to-make-peepshi-sushi-rice-krispies-treats-easter.html

What Are The Different Types Of Sushi?
First off, you need to know what the different types of Sushi look like, so you can re-create them as a confection. (Top Left)Nigirizushi: This consists of a oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses into a rectangle between the palms of his or her hands. The topping (the Neta) is then draped over the top of the rice and sometimes held in place with a strip of  Nori (sheets of roasted and dried Kelp). (Middle Right)Makizushi: This category covers a variety of Sushi made in Rolls. Some with the Nori on the outside, followed by a layer of Rice and then the filling. Some with the Rice on the outside, then the Nori, then the filling, these are called Urumaki (Inside-Out Roll). Then you have Futomaki (Thick Roll), and Hosomaki (Thin Roll), and one of my personal favorites, Temaki (Hand Roll, pictured in the lower left corner of the graphic), which resembles an ice-cream cone with the rich and filling inside.

 Oshizushi(Box Sushi): This is a style of Sushi from the Kansai Region of Japan, and a specialty in Osaka. It is made by using a special box mold called an Oshibaka. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the toppings and presses the rice into the mold to create a compact, rectangular block, which is then cut into bit-sized pieces.

For a quick overview of what Sushi is, you can check out this page on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi

Peep Sushi
Peep Sushi Rice: The basic idea is pretty simple. Make a batch of Soft Rice Crispy treats, but instead of putting them in a deep cake pan, spread them out on a shallow cookie sheet and press them down to about 1/2 inch thick.

Peep Sushi "Nori": This is simply going to be your favorite flavor and color of Fruit Roll-Ups. My mom use to make these at home, only she called them "Fruit Leather". You can try making Fruit Leather yourself, but buying the Fruit Roll-Ups is honestly much easier.

Peep Sushi "Neta": These are the Peeps themselves, as well as any other soft candy fillings you might want to throw in. Sushi Chefs have an incredible variety of fillings to choose from between different types of cooked and raw fish, fish row (fish eggs, think caviar) and vegetables. They are always artfully arranged as well as having flavors that compliment each other. You might take some Strawberry Red-Vines or Licorice Red-Vines and cut then into julienne strips like the Chefs do Carrots for color. Rainbow or Chocolate Sprinkles might be used to look like Fish Row, particularly if you use a little corn syrup to make them sticky. 

For "traditional" style Nigirizushi, you'll cut the Rice Crispies into bars the length and width of the Peep you place on top of it. Then using a strip of Fruit Roll-Up, wrap a band around the middle of the Peep/Rice Crispy stack. For Makizushi (sushi rolls), a Makisu (bamboo rolling mat) will be helpful, but isn't absolutely required for Peep Sushi. You simple lay down a Fruit Roll-Up "Nori", place your 1/2 inch sheet of Rice Crispies on top of it, then place your Peeps and other fillings, whole or sliced, on top of the Rice Crispies and roll the whole thing up into a log. You then slice the "log" into bite-sized sections. How you arrange your fillings will determine how your Makizushi looks when it's cut.

Now for Oshizushi, you'll want to "skin" your peeps and use the colorful outside coating. You can slice the outsides off giving a profil of a Bunny or a Chick. You can also cut your Fruit Roll-Up "Nori" into fanciful shapes using scissors or stencils and a sharp knife. In Japan, they have Nori "Punches" for making decorations for Sushi, Onigiri (Rice Balls), and Bento (Traditional Lunch Boxes). And with a wide variety of Cookbooks for Sushi, Bento, and Traditional Japanese Food Meals, you can use your imagination (and Licorice, Red Vines, Peeps, and Rice Crispy Treats) to make candy versions of not just Sushi, but Onigiri, Taiyaki, Takoyaki, and many other traditional Asian foods.

I hope you enjoy making Peepshi, but don't forget there is also Peepza (Peeps Pizza) and many, MANY other ways to serve your Peeps for Easter. Try the Peep Sushi, kids love it and it may even amuse an adult or two...or three!







DragonMarsh
"An Historical Shoppe"
Serving the Living History,
Re-Enactment and Recreation,
And Spiritual Community
Of Southern California
Since 1988
Come down to the store and see all the fine Historical Accessories we have for you


Sage Blackthorn, Assistant Web-Scribe at:
DragonMarsh.
And Forum Moderator at:
The DragonMarsh Forums

Feb. 12th, 2012

Teas Re-Stocked!

Morigianna just told me that we got in a small batch of the Seasonal Holiday Chocolate Mint Tea, as well as a few others. Remember, Valentine's Day is right around the corner. If your Significant Other likes Tea, NOW is the time to come and get some! 

This is also a reminder to everyone that we have Pendulums back in stock and we've brought in some new Stone Necklaces. There are still some elegant Tea Sets to go with the New Teas we have in stock. 

The Manager's Sale Of The Month is 25% Off Incense (does not include Incense Charcoal, Sea Salt, or Incense Burners.... just the sticks, cones, resins&woods, blends, Sage Bundles.... Red Tags, basically.)




DragonMarsh
"An Historical Shoppe"
Serving the Living History,
Re-Enactment and Recreation,
And Spiritual Community
Of Southern California
Since 1988
Come down to the store and see all the fine Historical Accessories we have for you


Sage Blackthorn, Assistant Web-Scribe at DragonMarsh.
And Forum Moderator as The DragonMarsh Forums.

Feb. 10th, 2012

New Merchandise In!

Greetings Live-Journaler's and Loyal Customers,

Sage Blackthorn here with another update for you of the goings on at DragonMarsh, Riverside California's Most Unique Downtown Store!

We've just gotten finished receiving and labeling new Pendulums, more Crystal Necklaces and Books this morning. We now have a fine selection of both Stone and Metal Dowsing Pendulums, including 4 very special Merkaba Star-Stone Pendulums in Quartz, Black Obsidian, Purple Fluorite, and Green Jasper. Each Star-Stone is held within a spherical frame which is set with a natural Quartz Crystal Point. Metal Pendulums are available in Brass and Steel, both solid and spiral. We also have more of the Carved Stone Point Necklaces, Tumbled Stone Necklaces, and a small assortment of necklaces of Black Tourmaline in a White Quartz Matrix. 

Also, we received a small shipment of Pewter Mugs and Tankards the other day, the Herb Board has been recently re-stocked, and we are having a Manager's Sale on Incense this month (some restrictions apply).



DragonMarsh
"An Historical Shoppe"
Serving the Living History,
Re-Enactment and Recreation,
And Spiritual Community
Of Southern California
Since 1988
Come down to the store and see all the fine Historical Accessories we have for you


Sage Blackthorn, Assistant Web-Scribe at
DragonMarsh.
The DragonMarsh Forums


Feb. 3rd, 2012

Tea Brewing Equipment.

Greetings and Welcome to the last of our three part discussion on Tea,

Today I want to talk about the equipment used for making Tea. Some of them are basic requirements and used by everyone. Others are optional and while they are convenient, are not absolutely essential for making tea for those on a budget.

The Kettle. This is the cooking vessel that you use for heating your water. Some people use a Stainless Steel kettle that is available at most grocery and home stores these days. I have seen beautiful Cast Iron Tea Kettles, Handmade Ceramic Kettles, and some very elegant Pyrex Glass Kettles. Whatever type you like, you must have a way of heating your water up to just below boiling temperature to make your tea.

The Tea Brewing/Serving Pot. These are not a requirement if you are using tea bags, muslin bags, or Tea Balls to strain your Tea. Also it is traditional in many countries to leave the tea leaves in the Tea Pot and to pour them into the Tea Cup when serving, especially if you want your tea leaves read to tell your fortune. We currently have some Tea Sets that include a Tea Pot that has a mesh strainer that sits inside the pot itself and will strain the leaves from the tea. It is usual to first take some hot water from your Kettle and swish it around in your brewing pot to warm it up. This makes for a better tasting tea as the cold brewing pot does not leech the heat out of the tea. It's also recommended to do this if you brewing cup of tea at a time with a tea bag or Tea Ball. Once your brewing pot or cup is warmed up, discard the water, add your tea leaves and add fresh hot water to begin brewing your Tea.

The Tea Cup. These are the cups you will be drinking your Tea out of. Some people have a special set of Tea Cups that they reserve solely for serving in. Others of us use what ever ceramic or glass cup or mug we have handy. I stress CERAMIC or GLASS drinking vessels for a few reasons. First of all, they retain heat better and prevent your Tea from cooling to fast, unlike plastic. Secondly they do not heat up to the point that you may burn your lips as you sip your tea like metal mugs and cups can. Trust me on this, I've sipped hot beverages out of a Pewter Mug before. The metal conducts heat VERY quickly, so it heats up fast. Ceramic is an Insulator, so it retains the heat and keeps your tea warmer, longer. As for size, in my opinion that is a matter of personal choice and what is appropriate for the setting. I use a 12-oz. mug for my tea on a cold day at home by myself. For Victorian High Tea, you may use a 6-oz. matching set of Fine Bone China Tea Cups and serve out of a Silver-Plated Tea Pot. In Russia during the time of the Czars, Tea was drunk from Glass Fine Crystal Mugs set in holders of Silver or Gold. For the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony practiced by Tea Master and students of Zen in China and Japan, Tea cups are very often small, ceramic cups of simple and elegant design prescribed by the sect of Zen Philosophy known as Teaism, (which is also where the Asian Tea House draws much of it's inspiration for a quiet, serene and contemplative environment with it's rather sparse and spartan lack of decoration.)

The Tea Strainer. In the West, most people do not like having tea leaves floating in their tea, so we strain them out using a Tea Ball, Brewing Basket, Tea Infusion Spoon, muslin bags, or tea bags (either empty that we fill and seal ourselves, or more commonly the convenient-for-travel ones filled by the manufacturer....which very often in my opinion contain the lowest common demoninator of teas that appeals to the widest market..... Loose Leaf Teas may take a little more attention during their preparation, but they can taste worlds better when brewed by someone who knows what they are doing. Of course this is true of most things in life, and this is one of the lessons that Teaism teaches in these modern times.)

The Tea Jar. If you drink Tea regularly, you may want to invest in a Tea Jar to store your Loose Leaf Tea in. Very often these simple containers will match your Tea Serving/Brewing Pot (aka The Tea Pot) and Tea Cups in design style and decoration as it is traditional set out with them when brewing Tea for company and for Tea Ceremonies of all kinds (High Tea, Gong Fu, etc.) since you scoop the tea out of it when you are preparing your tea. Which brings us to......

The Tea Scoop/Spoon. This can be any spoon from ones you have on hand that are convenient, to special long-handles spoons that are only used to scooping either Loose Leaf or Powdered Tea from your Tea Jar to your Tea Pot.  They are different from the Tea Infusion Spoons however, as they do not strain the already brewed leaves from your tea. They are normally of a long-handled design in order to reach down to the bottom of your Tea Jar. In some cases they are very specifically designed for certain traditions. For example, the traditional Tea Scoop for the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony is fashioned out of an elegantly curved strip of Bamboo and is designed for scooping the proper amount of Powdered Tea out of the small Tea Jar used as part of the ceremony. Trying to use it for Loose Leaf Tea tends to be difficult as it is so small.

The Tea Board/Tray. A Tea Board or Tea Tray is a special box with drainage holes or slots in the top used to catch spills when pouring Tea. Again, they are not a requiement for making and serving tea, but they do make the presentation and clean up much easier.  They can also serve as a way to transport all your tea equipment from the kitchen to the table when serving your Tea. 

The Tea Towel. This one is pretty self-explanatory. It is small towel used both to mop up liquid and to protect your hands while handling hot Kettles. Usually of Cotton or Linen, or some other soft, natural fiber fabric. Synthetics are not recommended for handling hot Tea Kettles as they have a tendency to if the kettle is to hot. Trust me, molten nylon on your skin is a bad thing!

Certain traditions require specialty equipment. The Gong Fu Tea Ceremony, as I mentioned above, uses Powdered Teas. As part of making a Powdered Tea, you need to mix and froth the tea powder into the hot water. This is accomplished traditionally with a Bamboo Whisk. Brick Teas and Tea Cakes such are Pu-Erh require a Tea Knife to separate the Tea Leaves for brewing. There are travel Tea Sets that fit into a satchel where you brew the tea in a Gaiwan. (I have one of these travel tea sets, they are wonderful, we can get them by special order.) 









DragonMarsh
"An Historical Shoppe"

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Re-Enactment and Recreation,

And Spiritual Community
Of Southern California

Since 1988
Come down to the store and see all the fine Historical Accessories we have for you





Sage Blackthorn, Assistant Web-Scribe at
DragonMarsh.




The DragonMarsh Forums


Feb. 1st, 2012

The Three Ages Of Tea.

Greetings and Welcome to Part 2 of our discussion on Tea,

Making herbal infusions and decoctions to flavor plain drinking water is a practice the goes back literally thousands of years. No one really know when it first started. It could be that humans noticed that the flavor of certain plants could be enjoyed by soaking them in water and drinking the water. Later on someone may have been cold and heated up the water on a fire, adding raw leaves for flavor. It is likely that herbal brews have been around since shortly after we discovered Fire.

But we are here to discuss one such brew in particular, Tea. A drink made by either steeping or boiling the leaves of the Tea Bush (Camellia Sinensis). Tea plants are native to South and East Asia, and it is here that it has had one of the largest influences on the cultures of China, India, Tibet, and Burma. There is even a sect of Zen known as Teaism, and it was of Tea that Kakuzo Okakura wrote about in his most famous work "The Book Of Tea". Okakura was a Japanese Scholar who lived between 1862 and 1913 who was responsible for contributing greatly to the arts in Japan. 

According to "The Book Of Tea", the first teas ever made were Boiled Teas. They tended to have a strong flavor and a high tannin content which gave then a harsh, astringent flavor. Traditionally, these Teas were cut with cream or whole milk and salted to taste..... yes, they use to put salt in tea. If you've never tried Mongolian Suutei Tsai (Milk Tea) which is an ancient style boiled tea you are missing out!

The next Era of Tea is one we are a little more familiar with, thanks mainly to the surviving Gongfu Tea Ceremony, and that is Powdered Tea. By this time, teas were no longer being boiled and people had stopped adding salt, and so had a lighter flavor. Teas were ground into fine powders and mixed with hot water to make Tea. 

The Third, and Current, Era of Tea is is the one we are in now, Steeped Teas, and is only really began a couple hundred years ago according to Mr. Okakura's book. Most of us are familiar with Steeped Teas, we put water on to boil in a kettle, when it's boiling, or near boiling, we take it off the fire, pour the hot water in a mug and dunk our Orange Pekoe Tea Bag in it. But there is much more to Steeped Teas than this crude procedure. Teas prepared in convenient little mesh bags may be how we are first exposed to Tea here in America, but really good Tea takes a bit more effort. Starting with the type of tea you brew. As I mentioned in the previous Dragon-Blog, there is Black Tea, Green Tea, White, smoked varieties like Lapsong Souchong and Hojicha, highly fermented teas like Oolong, and then there are Teas mixed with spices.... Between the way the Tea Leaves are processed, and the other ingredients that can be mixed with them, the variety and subtly different flavors, and how to bring them out, is nearly infinite. 

Strong black teas, which have been oxidized more than either green, or white teas, are usually steeped for 3 to 5 minutes in water that has been heated to NEAR boiling. (Not boiling, which cooks oxygen out of the water and leaves it tasting stale if you use a ceramic or Pyrex kettle, and outright metallic with a metal tea kettle. I cannot stress this enough, for a good tasting STEEPED TEA heat your water to just below boiling point.) The type of water used will also affect the flavor of your tea. Fresh Spring Water is considered the best, next best is water from a clear natural running stream or river. Well water is considered the least desirable according to tradition. I would amend that traditional list to put Municipal Tap Water with it's chlorine and other treatments at the bottom of the list.... you can drink it, but it tastes like crap. Something I learned from studying how Japanese Sake is made, is that the dissolved minerals in water can have a dramatic affect on the flavor of the beverage you are making.... be it Tea or Sake.

A green tea has a lighter flavor than a black tea, and tends to be sweeter, less astringent. You can brew your green teas a little longer than you would a black tea. Perhaps steeping them for 6 or 7 minutes, again depending on the tea being used. One of my favorite Green Teas is a smoked Hojicha Green Tea, which has a stronger flavor than a standard green tea, so I steep it for 3-5 minutes just like I would a black tea....

So you can see that HOW you brew your tea can affect it's flavor, and different teas are brewed for different times. The water you use can affect the flavor of your tea. The kettle you use to heat the water can affect the flavor of the tea and the vessel you brew your tea in can also affect the flavor of your tea. Knowing all of these things can take a lifetime, and devoting a lifetime to the subject of Tea is why Tea Masters are so respected. Knowing how to bring out the best flavor from Tea can brew something that is truly magical. 

Next time, we will discuss Tea Brewing Equipment, such as "What Is A Tea Board, and Why Do You Need One?"



DragonMarsh
"An Historical Shoppe"
Serving the Living History,
Re-Enactment and Recreation,
And Spiritual Community
Of Southern California
Since 1988
Come down to the store and see all the fine Historical Accessories we have for you

Sage Blackthorn, Assistant Web-Scribe at DragonMarsh.
And Forum Moderator at The DragonMarsh Forums


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