Tea is a way of connecting. Drinking tea is one of my favorite rituals.
You might call me a “tea snob” because I have come to love tea and am pretty picky about it too. It wasn’t always this way. Years ago I attended a tea event at my friend’s chic tea import store on La Brea in Los Angeles. Owner Gail Baral was my guide to all-things tea. How to make it, what to eat with it, and which countries did it come from. I got hooked. Drinking tea all day works for me because the buzz from tea is a smooth uplifting constant as opposed to coffee which can be a roller coaster of ups and downs. At least, that was how Gail explained it to me many years ago.
I learned to brew loose leaf tea. I studied different tea regions like Darjeeling in India and Ceylon in Sri Lanka. I enjoy a strong black Aasam tea during the day and calming Chinese green tea in the evening. More importantly I experienced tea rituals through global travels.
In Europe, it is common to add milk. This came about because in the early days of tea arriving from the East India Trading Company it was low quality so milk made it taste better. The highest quality was super expensive and saved only for the rich. Today in India adding milk is the norm. Usually it is a hot steamed milk or even ground spices are added calling it masala tea. BTW did you know that the word chai means tea, so when you ask for a chai tea, you are asking for tea tea?
What really took me over the edge understanding tea was when my friend in London, Pete Hendricks, suggested I read one of his favorite books, “For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History” by Sarah Rose. Based on journal notes and historic events of Scottish botanist Robert Fortune who was sent to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India, it reads like adventure fiction. The odyssey of this tall Scottish man who went undercover in 1848 pretending to be from Northern China (because Northern Chinese are taller) is a fascinating read. One of my favorite books.
The art of negotiating always takes on a tea component throughout Asia, especially in Bali. Traveling to the small craft town Tenganan in East Bali with my friend Robert in 2000 I witnessed a master class. Tenganan is famous for beautiful baskets handmade according to ancient techniques with a smokey scent. They are said to be so sturdy they last a hundred years. Robert was there to purchase baskets for a client in Sweden. When we reached the village I stood back to watch him work his magic. Like the ancient art of tea, the ancient art of shopping has important lessons too. Don’t talk business before making friends and sharing a cup of tea. Bicker about the price then have another cup of tea. Finally, meet in the middle so everybody walks away happy. And then of course there’s a final cup of tea to seal the deal.
If you are already a tea drinker, enjoy. If not, maybe you will give it a try. I have found tea to be so much more than a hot drink and it’s always “tea time!” My favorite new find is Steven Smith Tea from Portland. Their flavor combinations is superb whether loose leaf or sachets. Try Mao Feng Shui or Portland Breakfast! Cheers!
Yin and Yang represents the cosmic dance between polar opposites. Yin is passive female. Yang is active male. Yin is dark and quiet. Yang is bright and loud. You need both to live a balanced healthy life. If you look closely you can see that within Yang there is a dot of Yin and within Yin there is a dash of Yang.
How to recognize Yin?
Yin is found in cave-like rooms, low ceilings, decorative patterns and lots of collectibles. Yin can be cozy and comfy, but too much can be stale and stuck like granny’s house.
How to recognize Yang?
Yang is found in large spacious rooms with high ceilings and massive picture windows. Bright sunlight streaming in and vast sweeping staircases can be sexy like a bachelor pad, but can also be icy, cold and overwhelming.
Two of everything is much better than one, which is why every Yin has its Yang!
Magical Candles are no ordinary candles. They are working candles that raise your vibration to manifest your goals. True Magical Candles are made by spiritual practitioners during specific moon phases (waxing and waning) with strong intent using color and scent to align with magical intentions.
How do Magical Candles work?
Let’s say you want to listen to Led Zepplin, but are tuned into a country music station. You will never hear rock music unless you change the channel. Sound frequencies cannot be seen, yet they do exist. Spiritual frequencies work the same way. You must be tuned into the proper vibration to match your goals. That is why it is important to pick the correct candle for what you are trying to manifest.
Every religion and spiritual practice uses candle magic in ceremonies and celebrations. The element of fire is mysterious. The flame is powerful, but not every candle is magical. Commerical and mass-produced candles promising to add good Feng Shui to your home or bring wealth because they are green and come with an I Ching coin will not do the trick. Just because a candle is red and shaped like a heart does not mean it attracts love.
Color Guide – each color resonates with a specific purpose:
Red – courage, sexual love and lust Pink – friendship and sweet love Orange – attraction Gold – financial gain Yellow – protection, focus and healing Green – abundance Light Blue – health, patience and calming Purple – ambition and power Brown – grounding Black – banishment White – purity
Pi Yao (Pixiu) are baby dragons. Cute mythical hybrids resembling a winged lion, they are considered powerful to Feng Shui practitioners. To me, they are more cultural, but either way they are super cool. What makes them special is that they have no anus. That is right. They are missing a butt hole. Pi Yao’s purpose is to eat up all your good fortune and hold it in. It is said that he craves the smell of gold and silver and likes to bring his master money in his mouth. Once he has it in his tummy he can’t poop it out.
Money Toads are those lumpy bumpy creatures with three legs. Sort of creepy, super powerful. The key to the Money Toad is the coin he holds in his mouth, an amulet that wards off evil spirits and attracts wealth. I first discovered the Money Toad at the tiny crumbling Man Mo Templein Hong Kong. Built in 1847 on Hollywood Road it is famous for being located across from Ladder Street where scenes from the 1950s movie“The World of Suzi Wong” were filmed. Totally atmospheric, the ceiling is covered with enormous hanging incense coils. You better duck or ashes will hit you on the head and ruin a perfectly good hair day. The temple gift shop is where I purchased my first brass Money Toad. The sales lady told me to place him by my front door for good luck. She went on to explain I should turn him facing out when I leave home for protection. When I return home turn him inward to bring good luck from outside. Every time I visit Hong Kong I go back to Man Mo Temple to pick up a new Money Toad because I completely believe in them.
Do you have a Money Toad and how did you first discover him?
Consulting sticks (kau cim) with numbers tipped out of a bamboo cup is a popular way of looking into the future. My friend, Mable, taught me how to consort with the spirits at Wong Tai Sin Temple (1921) in Kowloon. Dedicated to the gods of gamblers, this is where we purchased a handful of yellow incense sticks to light in the burner during a monsoon storm while juggling the umbrella. Next we knelt at the main altar while holding our can of fortune telling sticks. Tossing sticks is tricky. You shake the cup while asking the cosmos your personal questions. The stick that magically pops out (it truly does) holds the answer. On it is a number. This number means nothing until you take it outside to fortune teller row. The soothsayer interprets the fortune. Since you are in China you must hire someone to translate. Entrusting you most important life dilemmas to someone else’s explanation is dicey. I recommend you ask only one question. If you ask three like I did you end up paying a lot.
What is your most memorable fortune telling story and where were you?
My Ganesh dharma began in Cambodia. I booked a room in the Grand Hotel d’Angkor where the service was so impeccable my feet barely touched the ground, and organized day trips to temple relics, to get in touch with a deeper sense of spirituality. It was at the mysterious overgrown jungle temple of Ta Prohmwhere I received my first Ganesh statue. Ta Prohm (1186) is a truly chaotic and spiritual temple ruin built by Jayavarman VII, dedicated to his mother and his guru. It was here I met the wizened monk who sweeps the steps of the temple to ensure the gods will have a safe passage up the steep narrow stairways. I bought a bamboo cowbell from him and posed for a photo. My father thought at least I was meeting men on my travels! As I left, the monk placed a tiny golden Ganesh in my hand. “He protects travelers and will help you find your way,” he told me as my guide translated. A sort of golden light washed over me in that moment, and then the monk was gone, and I began to wonder… why did he think I was lost?