Teaviews Profile: Raven

Hi my name is Raven. I grew up going to too many Disney movies. It marked me with an appreciation for fantasy and pretty much explains my curiosity in everything. I would say I am equally content tiptoeing through my herb garden to searching the stars to pick one to wish on to hearing someone’s life history. Upon first discovering the world of tea its explicit culture and folklore easily enticed me. Although I am Canadian, rather fittingly, this grand discovery came about five years ago when I was working in foreign lands, namely just outside Washington DC at the National Institutes of Health. A girl I worked with from China often carried around this clear tall cup of steaming golden liquid with what appeared like creatures at the bottom. When I finally asked her what it was to find it was tea, I was in awe. Before this ‘tea’ was solely defined by the generic perforated black tea bag always left out beside the coffee in restaurants or social functions. Soon after we ventured to an Asian grocery as I had mentioned I’d like to try this new fangled ‘tea’. I remember viewing that mile long tea aisle almost like a deer in headlights both overwhelmed with excitement and insanely frustrated at having to choose just a few. Hearing more about the different types of tea and how it is grown in China from my friend, tea became like a fascinating new world through its cultivation that was matched by the world of new flavors. Tea was no longer a singular entity but a universe of worlds to explore!

But that was not my only encounter with tea. In fact, many paths have lead me back to the soothing comfort and whimsy of tea’s character. And have developed my love for tea now.

My grandmother was a gypsy at heart who often took me back to her garden, revealing the magic born simply from the earth and seed which I still appreciate. From that garden, came spoonfuls of good luck concoctions and various remedies brewed or cooked or steeped with conviction and care. I would have trusted my luck with a tisane from my Nunny over any apothecary. Thus, I also came to revere the potential power of plants decocted through brewing in teas and tisanes. Through university, science introduced me to alchemy. Although traditionally, it was converting stone to gold, the fact one plant can be transformed into such a variety of different teas conjures similar sorcery. Plus, it reinforced my growing mystique for mixing simple parts to transform them into a different unique whole. Thus, I enjoy mixing herbs and spices for my own brews and I have tried to brew just about everything….galangal tea anyone? I am equally delighted to try new combinations out there. In order to use every precious drop of tea I brew, I often cook with the last steepings of leaves using them in everything from soup to desserts.

Throughout graduate school and after, I researched the chemistry of taste and sensory perception, culling a thoughtfulness for how what we taste and smell translates into experience. Yet I still find it remarkable how a marvelous cup of tea can easily diffuse a trying day. During my degree, I was also involved in an oenology and viticulture program participating in wine tasting panels and assisting teaching a wine chemistry course. This revealed many of the considerations involved in beverage production while I learned more about terroir and the nuances in taste that arise from modest variations in production. As a result, I have begun to seek out teas from different regions to try and compare their tastes and recognize how different climates influence a tea’s flavor profile. Now often in my career, teaching biotechnology at university and researching antioxidant and lipid biochemistry, my path encounters many of the health benefits of tea.

Finally, living in Canada, one is always on the look out for tasty warm beverages. Plus, as my path has crossed several others from famed tea regions like China, Sri Lanka and Japan, tea has brought ease and friendship from a shared enthusiasm. So although the fantasy reeled me in, as I learn more of the rich history of tea, it continues to excite me. And, there are just still so many teas out there to try.


Raven's Favorite Tea Products

JING Tea Jasmine Silver Needle (Bagged)     9.3/10
Rishi Tea Vanilla Mint Organic Pu-erh     9.2/10
Teavivre Bailin Gongfu Black Tea     9.1/10
Norbu Tea 2005 Ye Sheng Wild Tea Log     9/10
California Tea House Silver Needle     9/10
Camellia Sinensis Anxi Tie Guan Yin     9/10
Mountain Tea Imperial Pearl     8.9/10
Joy's Teaspoon Ruby Red     8.9/10
Canton Tea Co. Ali Shan Oolong     8.8/10
Tao Tea Leaf Rice Pu-Er Tuo Cha (Shou)     8.8/10

Recent Posts by Raven:

Review: Vintage Tea Company Anji Baicha     24 Jul 2014
Review: Teayama Tai Ping Hou Kui     28 Jun 2014
Review: JING Tea Nilgiri Frost     06 Feb 2014
Review: Mountain Tea Imperial Pearl     31 Jan 2014
Review: Kally Tea Tropical Heaven Oolong     27 Dec 2013
Review: Nucha Tea Midnight Express     10 Dec 2013
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