My intention for this post was to feature Lu Ann Pannunzio and review her book, Tea-spiration: Inspirational Words for Tea Lovers. However, during the holidays, Lu Ann sweetly sent me a card along with some of her favourite matcha from Encha Organic Matcha! So, instead, this will be a Tea Feature of Lu Ann with a review of her book, Tea-spiration, and a Tea Review of mini-Encha.
Since there are a few areas I want to cover in this post, here is a rundown of the various topics:
- TEA FEATURE: Lu Ann Pannunzio
- BOOK REVIEW: Tea-spiration: Inspirational Words for Tea Lovers
- TEA REVIEW: Encha Organic Matcha’s mini-Encha
Now that this is out of the way, let’s go!
TEA FEATURE: Lu Ann Pannunzio
Lu Ann started her tea blog, The Cup of Life, back in 2011 and it focuses on reviews, recipes, and tea-inspired crafts, as well as teaching her readers more about tea. In November 2016, she published her first book, Tea-spiration: Inspirational Words for Tea Lovers, which covers some of these topics as well.
Lu Ann and I crossed paths in early 2016 when I came across her blog. I noticed that she was a fellow Canadian, so I reached out and asked her for some tea recommendations. She suggested a few Canadian brands, such as Genuine Tea and Amoda Tea. The emails really helped me to start exploring other tea brands outside of DAVIDsTEA!
Flash forward to 2017 when I started to use Instagram more. I ran into Lu Ann again and for the longest time, I didn’t expect her to remember our earlier interaction. I brought it up to her, and I was surprised she remembered. Lu Ann has been someone who constantly enriched my tea experience through my Instagram communi-TEA (I couldn’t help myself). I really enjoy chatting and learning from her and getting to know her better!
As I mentioned in previous posts, in each Tea Feature, I ask what tea means to the person. This is what Lu Ann had to say:
“For me, tea means many different things. You might even say it means everything to me as it is the number one thing I look forward to in the morning, every single day. Aside from being happiness in a cup and a warm hug on a cold day, tea is an escape, stopping time and allowing me to slow down and enjoy life’s moments. Tea is also a connector, whether it is simply connecting family and friends over a cuppa, tea lovers online or connecting the drinker to the farm and workers who are the reason for the leaves in the cup.
I’m a firm believer that there is something for everyone in the world of tea. The beverage has provided me so many wonderful opportunities and it’s a creativity starter for tea or non-tea related projects. Tea never becomes a stagnant experience.”
BOOK REVIEW: Tea-spiration: Inspirational Words for Tea Lovers
Description: “Tea-spiration aims to create a quiet movement where one can experience devotions, comfort, inspiration and the simple joys of life. Tea drinkers know that tea, the wonderful drink, can help them slow down and savour life’s moments.”
Review: I originally came across Lu Ann’s book in my local bookstore in the Tea & Coffee Section. It was a small bright teal book tucked between all the larger tea books on the shelf. Whereas the other books focused more on tea as a plant or tea recipes, this book clearly had a different tone.
On the back of the book, it writes: “[e]ach page is filled with mindfulness moment (big and small) that tea provides us, and encourages us to slow down and enjoy life every day.” Additionally, the book is “[f]illed with tips, tea lore, and the inspired ideas, Tea-spiration offers a cup of calm, deep comfort and escape from the “daily grind.” I was curious!
I ended up purchasing Tea-spiration in e-book format. However, I’ve since picked it up in the paperback format because I feel that I miss being able to physically flip the pages while sipping tea and all the brightly coloured illustrations. Like with other books, there is a price difference between the Kindle and the paperback version.
The book is a short read, only 135 pages. However, on each page, you can clearly hear and feel Lu Ann’s love and passion for tea. She has a very gentle voice and it comes off very genuine, like an enthusiastic friend who wants to share something they love.
Tea-spiration discusses a range of topics regarding tea from how to evaluate tea, the different types of teas, considering how tea gets to the consumer, how to appreciate tea, how Lu Ann sips her tea, and tea pairings. At the back of the book, Lu Ann also includes 24 inspirational quotes from various people.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and it works because of its short format. It is very different from the other books I’ve read on tea. I found Lu Ann almost like a companion or friend chatting about tea. For me, I really appreciated her talking about how she drinks her tea. When I first started my tea adventure, I always felt like I was doing something wrong. But she encourages people to drink tea without worrying.
This would be a great book for someone new to tea and even someone who is experienced and wants to see tea from someone else’s perspective. There were a few lines that I felt were more geared to someone who has quite invested in tea already, but I think a beginner could still pick it up and enjoy it.
I’ve now read it twice; once on my Kindle and once on the paperback version. I personally enjoy the paperback version experience better (4/5 rating).
- Category: Tea
- Format: Paperback, Kindle
- Publisher: Mango
- Year: 2016
- Pages: 135
- Website: Tea-spiration: Inspirational Words for Tea Lovers
Encha Organic Matcha: Ceremonial Grade mini-Encha
Description: “Ceremonial-grade Encha Organic Matcha is premium 1st-harvest matcha grown in our farm in Uji, Kyoto, Japan, ground from the most tender leaves of each spring.”
Review: As I mentioned earlier, Lu Ann sent me some of this matcha since she knew that I was going to Japan soon. I had to review it at the same time I was featuring her because when I think of her, one thing that always comes to mind is her Matcha Mondays on Instagram!
Each single serves mini-Encha packet contains 2 grams of matcha powder. I can see how this would be great on the go. The instructions were pretty basic, just pour into water and “hold whisk from the top and shake wrist FAST in “L” line. Or, shake vigorously in a bottle with cold water.” I used the first method.
I noticed it didn’t tell you to sift the matcha powder like other matcha instructions recommend. That being said, the matcha powder was a bright green colour. It had a very faint grassy aroma. However, it could just be hard to smell because there was so little in each packet.
After whisking, the liquor was a dark murky colour that had a few bubbles at the top. I found that the matcha seemed to separate and ‘split’ from the water slightly after whisking. There was a bit of grit when sipping the liquor. I’m not sure if both of those things happened because I didn’t whisk it enough since I currently do not own a proper matcha bowl.
The liquor had a strong grassy and nutty flavour, but it wasn’t overpowering or overly bitter. The flavour mellowed out near the end and became mildly sweet and then was replaced with a more subtle grassy flavour that lingered in the mouth.
I enjoyed that this had a nice sweetness to it and it wasn’t overly powering grassy. Also, another bonus is that it comes in a small packet so you only need to worry about the water and whisking. I want to also try it using a bottle and see how that turns out (4/5 rating).
- Type: Green tea
- Origin: Japan
- Caffeine: Unknown
- Ingredients: Pure matcha green tea powder
- Other: Organic
- Company: Encha Organic Matcha
Hopefully, you enjoyed this jam-packed post and that it logically made sense! I really wanted to review Lu Ann’s book and I wanted to try the matcha at the same time. It seemed like a good pairing. This was actually the first book review on the blog! Please tell me what you think. I will admit that I haven’t written a book review in years, so I am a bit rusty!
What other tea books should I review?