A tea house heated by compost

If you’ve been wanting to build your very own private tea house in your backyard, but the cost of heating it has been stopping you…well a Japanese design  firm, BAKOKO,  has just the thing for you.

Bakoko Comploo Composting Teahouse

This circular pod-shaped teahouse  harnesses the heat generated by compost –  temperatures in excess of 120°F. According to  Inhabitat:

To feed the composter, garden waste, food scraps or other compost materials can be dropped in through a door at the top of each bin.

A system of sealed ducts runs through each of the bins, and as the air circulates within the walls, the decaying compost warms it. This heated air is in turn emitted through a central vent that releases into the structure’s interior. Occupants can comfortably sit along a circular bench surrounding the heat source, and enjoy the ambient natural light permeating through the transparent dome roof above.

It’s not clear if this is just concept at this point or if you can order it. I’m sure if you contacted BAKOKO they’d work with you to create it.

(via Boing Boing, Inhabitat)

The Victoria Tea Festival 2010

Victoria Tea FestivalThis weekend the Victoria Tea Festival celebrates its 4th year on February 13 and 14 at the Crystal Garden in Victoria, BC. Weekend passes are $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.

It promises to be an energy-filled weekend with over 3,000 attendees.And the festival is expanding to provide more opportunities this year for festival goers to experience, learn, sample, touch, smell and inquire about all things tea and to engage in an exclusive, interactive and educational tea experience. Exquisite tea wares are available to buy. For the first time, a limited edition souvenir tea-tasting cup—designed and generously donated by Artfarm—will be available for purchase to help raise funds for Camosun College’s Child Care Services.

Festival attendees can steep themselves in tea lore by taking in a complimentary presentation by tea experts who will share their knowledge on the presentation stage.

Saturday, February 13

  • 1 pm – The Ache’s Pride: How Yerba Mate is Saving a Rainforest and Her People (Robert McCauley, Cebador – Northernites Syndicate/Guayaki)
  • 2 pm – Chinese Tea Ceremony (Daniela Cubelic, Owner – Silk Road)
  • 3 pm – Cooking with Tea (Heidi Fink, Chef & food writer)
  • 4 pm – English Tea Traditions and Blends (Susan Livingston, Director of Product Development – Murchies)

Sunday, February 14

  • 11 am – Rooibos and Honeybush Teas (Irene Drmla, owner – Special Teas Inc.)
  • 12 pm – Taking the Chill off of Iced Teas (Bob Krul, CTC Brewt Corp. & Brendan Waye, The Tea Guy)
  • 1 pm – Ceylon, The Island of Tea (Jennifer Petersen, Master Tea Blender & Tea Business Trainer)
  • 2 pm – Refreshment of the Spirit: Oriental Tea & Wine Drinking Vessels (Barry Till, Curator of Asian Art – Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
  • 3 pm – Commentaries on Modern Life~Selected Teatime Readings (Earlene Grey, Author)

For a complete list of ticket outlets, event details and presentation descriptions, visit  the Victoria Tea Festival website.

The Great One supports great green tea from Bigelow

Wayne Gretsky Bigelow TeaWayne Gretzky, aka the Great One, will be promoting the healthy benefits of green tea, in particular Bigelow green teas.  Soon you’ll be hearing Gretsky talk about the merits of four new Bigelow “Gretzky Green” green teas:

  • Green Tea with Pomegranate: a masterful blend of flavorful pomegranate with delicate green tea.
  • Green Tea with Lemon: The refreshing, light lemony taste adds a zesty note to the delicate flavor of green tea.
  • Green Tea: for green tea purists, a fragrant, light, and mellow brew reputed to have many healthy properties.
  • Decaffeinated Green Tea: The same delicious flavour of regular Bigelow Green Tea in a naturally decaffeinated form.

You can get more information on Gretsky’s support of Bigelow teas at the Bigelow Tea blog.

And if you’re a Gretsky fan, rumor has it that tonight you might get to see him tonight carrying the torch in the opening ceremonies in Vancouver.

Best places for sit-down tea in Vancouver

Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

We took a look at the best places for on-the-go tea in Vancouver last time.  So now you’re probably asking – where are the places to have a relaxing sit-down tea. While I haven’t exhausted all the options for a nice tea in Vancouver, here’s a list of places that are either my favorites or are on my list of places to go (in no particular order):

  • Murchies825 W. Pender St (North side between Hornby & Howe) – Not only can you get tea to go here, but you can get a quick lunch (a menu that changes but usually offers sandwiches and shepherd’s pie) and delicious scones. Their tea is great and their scones (with cream and jam) are so good that my friend and I have trouble resisting them.
  • Urban Tea Merchant1070 West Georgia St. @ Thurlow (also on the North Shore in the West Vancouver Mall Village) – This downtown location just opened this year and they did a great job in separating the store from the tea room. The elegant, quiet room is the perfect respite from busy downtown. They have an excellent selection of a la carte dishes as well as your traditional high tea selections. The West Coast Tea for two is not to missed if you enjoy salmon. And if you’re not up for full high tea, the petite tea hits the spot. Plus you can choose from an enormous selection Theodor tea to pair with your meal. Reservations recommended.
  • Muzi Tea Bar –  870 west cordova street (by Canada Place) – This very sleek tea bar has some seating, but makes lovely traditional japanese teas as well as those with a modern twist. A good spot down by Canada Place for a rest. There’s a lovely milk/rose tea latte.
  • Pekoe Tea Lounge (formerly Steeps) – 895 W Broadway –  What’s great about this place is it’s homey atmosphere and the fact there’s a tea sniffing station from which you can choose your tea. You may find the Shitty Weather Tea apropos. If you’re with a group you can snag the couches in the back. Or if it’s just the two of you, the armchairs against the large windows in the front are a good spot for people watching. They have a small selection of cakes and sweets as well as some savories, such as samosas.
  • T1568 West Broadway – This is the tea that the Fairmont uses for their high teas, as do several other high-end hotels and restaurants around the world. It’s austere atmosphere looks like it’s only a shop, but you can order tea to stay or go. And you can also sniff the teas at your leisure before ordering. My fav here is the Mad Hatter tea.
  • The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver High Tea900 W Georgia Street – Dubbed Tea at the Castle, its held every day from 2 – 4:30pm. Traditional Afternoon Tea includes exclusively blended Fairmont teas (from T), finger sandwiches, tasty pastries, and scones and fresh strawberries with Devonshire cream. To make your tea extra special, order the Champagne tea by adding a glass of Moët & Chandon. For the kids, there’s the Children’s Bubblegum Tea that includes finger sandwiches (PB&J, you can always order something else if you’re anti-PB), fresh strawberries and cream, a giant chocolate chip cookie and a seasonal fruit tartlet. Reservations – strongly recommended.
  • Wedgewood Hotel Baccus Afternoon Tea845 Hornby Street – Weekends 2-4pm – (Not open during Olympics) This intimate setting in one of Vancouver’s best award-winning restaurants, plus the hotel is consistently on Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure lists. This afternoon tea offers a lovely selection of teas with finger sandwiches, a selection of tarts and pastries, and, of course, scones with Devonshire cream and jam. And for adults, you can add an extra special twist with a Kir Royal (cassis and champagne). Reservations recommended.
  • Secret Garden Tea Company5559 West Boulevard – Located in the posh Kerrisdale neighborhood, this tea room feels like you’re in a quaint English cottage.   It’s one of Vancouver’s favorites for special occasions and mother-daughter/son teas. For high tea, they have seatings at 12, 2, and 4pm. Reservations are a must. Choose from 40 different teas paried with a three-tiered tray of miniature pastries, sweets, scones, Devonshire cream, raspberry jam, and sandwiches.
  • Adonia Tea House2057 West 41st Avenue – Located in the same neighborhood as Secret Garden, this cozy (and less formal) tea room offers an slight fusion of your traditional English tea with Asian touches.In additional to the traditional English afternoon and mini-afternoon teas, you can order slushies, a shaved ice platter, iced tea and iced coffee. Adonia also offers a la carte soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. And in the evening there’s also a section of pasta dishes.
  • Shaktea3702 Main St – Located in Vancouver’s hip Main St neighborhood, Shaktea brings the calm of yoga to tea. Your tea is served in individual tea pots that sit atop candle warmers to make sure it doesn’t cool as you relax and chat away the afternoon. There’s always a tea awaiting for you to sample prior to ordering and a lovely selection of gourmet pastries and cakes. 

  • Finch’s Tea & Coffee House353 West Pender – I have to say that while they serve good quality loose-leaf tea, it’s their sandwiches that I come here for. The brie and pear and the tomato and bocconcini baguettes are the best! Get their early before the lunch rush to get a seat.
  • Starbucks – one on nearly every corner – Vancouver embraced Starbucks as if it were a long lost child. And you can’t go 2 blocks in this city without coming across one. Their tea mistos (don’t call them lattes) are pretty good. And if you just want to get off your feet, it fits the bill.

To tea or not to tea – workplaces cutting perks

At Work - Business Day

Brits are famed for their love of a good brew and yet just 57% of British workers get to enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee at work, according to new research from uSwitchforbusiness.com. In fact, a quarter of workers have seen companies cut back on refreshments over the last year – leaving a bitter taste in the mouth for many:

  • Less than a third of British employees (32%) think that the company they work for is generous to staff with four in ten (43%) describing staff perks as poor
  • Two in five workers (38%) expect an employer to at least provide tea and coffee – just one in ten (13%) don’t see why companies should be expected to pay for them
  • One in ten (10%) say that cutbacks on refreshments have changed the atmosphere for the worse at work while 19% say it has left workers feeling jittery about the future
  • 32% say that small perks like free tea and coffee boost morale – just 6% of workers don’t value such perks

The press release goes on to talk about how not having the perk of complimentary tea and coffee hurts morale and the ability to attract employees, but it doesn’t complete the thought and discuss how that could hurt productivity. If employees have to purchase it off premise or bring it from home and then heat it up, that’s time away from work. Also, there are productive conversations that naturally occur around the tea kettle between employees who work in different departments – conversations that lead to good ideas that otherwise wouldn’t happen (or at least not in an as-speedy timeframe).

So how would you feel if your tea perk was taken away? Would it hurt your productivity?

Cheeky Yorkshire Tea commercial from the UK

So would you interrupt a good snog for a cuppa?

We all brew in a yellow submarine

What’s the best shape for a tea infuser? And what’s the weirdest shape for a tea infuser that you’ve seen?  Well , the good designers at Ototo and Monkey Business tackled those two for you with the TeaSub. Now I’m not sure how good of an infuser this would be since there doesn’t seem to be too many holes in the sub for the water to circulate through the tea properly. But it sure is cute. And it would make a lovely gift for a Beatles fan who loves tea.

It looks like the only place to get it will be from Gift Lab in the UK at this point. I’ve searched high and low on the internet and can’t find it anywhere else.

(via CNET)

Gaga for teacups? What’s with Lady Gaga’s teacup?

Complete with her favourite teacup and saucer, Lady GaGa heads to the BBC Radio One studios in London to appear on Jo Whiley's Live Lounge

Looks like Lady Gaga love tea just like us. But what’s the story behind Lady and her teacup? As you can probably tell, I love tea (and Lada Gaga) more than your average girl. But Lady is consistently photographed with a teacup, and I’m not sure if any two are alike. (Oh how jealous I am if she has a teacup collection that rivals mine.)

The picture to the right is from a recent trip to London, but she was also spotted with a Royal Dalton Old Country Roses teacup at the Grammys this past Sunday. Lady is all about symbolism in her costumes/outfits, so it wouldn’t surprise me if these little teacups mean something more.

So what do you think, is she a tea freak like us or does is it a symbol of something more?

Drinking tea may slim your waistline? Why don’t I weigh 100 pounds?

Overweight Woman Weighing Herself

I always have to take any new health study with a shovel of salt.  In this article from the Examiner.com they say that a new study found that drinking tea may slim your waistline, but it is not conclusive and a bit misleading. After saying that tea reduces your waistline, they state:

When it comes to coffee and tea drinking, the use of sugar vs. artificial sweeteners seems to play a role in abdominal obesity. And the findings might surprise you. For men, the use of sugar in tea was associated with a nearly 1-inch smaller waist measurement, but the use of artificial sweeteners was linked to a nearly 2-inch larger waistline. Among women, the use of milk in tea was associated with a two-thirds-of-an-inch smaller waistline. But women who used artificial sweeteners had an average of nearly an inch larger waistline.

This seems to be more of a study on the effects of artificial sweeteners than it is of tea. And if it were true, I would not have a nice belly given that I put milk and sugar in my tea.

Yes, tea is good for you, but it is not going to replace exercise and eating right.

Best places for tea on-the-go in Vancouver

Vancouver Skyline and Mountains HDRWith the Olympics just a few days away, there will be an influx of visitors to our little city. And many may not be prepared for the cold and rain that can chill you to the bone. But the best remedy for that is a good cuppa tea.  Here are my picks for a quick cuppa, no sit-down required, tea on the go in Vancouver (in no particular order):

  • Tim Hortons – various locations – Most people think coffee. But not many people know they make a good tea. Be sure to ask for the “steeped tea” and how much milk in sugar you want in it.
  • Murchies825 W. Pender St (North side between Hornby & Howe) – This is a B.C. institution. You can do the sit-down tea, but they do take out with any of their teas. They also have a location in Oakridge Mall on the Canada Line. (Prince Charles tea is my fav, but I’m still campaigning for a Prince William or Harry blend).
  • Urban Tea Merchant1070 West Georgia St. @ Thurlow (also on the North Shore in the West Vancouver Mall Village) – Another place that’s better known for it’s lovely high tea and lunches. But they do spectacular tea lattes made with their premium teas. Also, they have macarons and chocolates from France. I strongly recommend the Tribute tea latte in tribute to the games – an almond & marzipan flavored tea that’s even more yummy with almond syrup.
  • Granville Island Tea CompanyGranville Island Market – They recently did a well-needed expansion to accommodate the line-ups. If you’re exploring Granville Island, they’re inside the market, on the east side, next to Stuarts Bakery.
  • Muzi Tea Bar –  870 west cordova street (by Canada Place) – This very sleek tea bar has some seating, but makes lovely traditional japanese teas as well as those with a modern twist. There’s a lovely milk/rose tea latte.
  • Pekoe Tea Lounge (formally Steeps) – 895 W Broadway –  What’s great about this place is it’s homey atmosphere and the fact there’s a tea sniffing station from which you can choose your tea. You may find the Shitty Weather Tea apropos.
  • T1568 West Broadway – This is the tea that the Fairmont uses for their high teas, as do several other high-end hotels and restaurants around the world. It’s austere atmosphere looks like it’s only a shop, but you can order tea to stay or go. And you can also sniff the teas at your leisure before ordering. My fav here is the Mad Hatter tea.
  • David’s Tea2199 West 4th Avenue – Okay, so I haven’t been here yet. But so many people have recommended it to me that I’d be remiss for not including it. And supposedly it’s take away only.
  • Starbucks – one on nearly every corner – Vancouver embraced Starbucks as if it were a long lost child. And you can’t go 2 blocks in this city without coming across one. Their tea mistos (don’t call them lattes) are pretty good. And it’s the only non-Canadian tea shop on this list.