Reaching Into the Universe

Pu-erh of the moment

Mandarin pu-erhI've been getting the Mandarin Pu-erh lately when I go to Samovar. I haven't seen it on the menu lately but, when asked, they've had it.

Pu-erh is an aged, fermented tea. It's one of the only kinds of tea that get better with age. Very old pu-erhs can command prices in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars per pound. It's also great for the digestion, according to my acupuncturist, probably because of the fermentation. Did I mention it's delicious?

The mandarin pu-erh is aged inside a mandarin. You can see the empty mandarin at the bottom middle of the photo. Pieces of the mandarin peel can be torn off and placed in the brew pot, adding citrus notes to the resulting tea.

The presentation is also fun and more of a production than some of the other teas. After bringing the tray out, the server first scrapes the tea out of the mandarin into the pot using a special tool. The tea is rinsed once with the hot water, then offered to each person at the table to smell. The first serving is brewed without mandarin peel so you can taste it on its own. Then you are invited to add mandarin peel to the brew pot to taste.

Samovar is one of those rare businesses in which I feel like I'm enjoying, rather than compromising, my humanity by patronizing, and the mandarin pu-erh is my current favorite tea. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

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Food or poison?

PoisonMuch of what we pass off as "food" in our grocery stores is not food. It is poison. Frequent enough dosing eventually causes degenerative diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease to cancer.

Companies sell it because it is cheap and because we buy it. They sell us sickness, and we buy it. We make some people very rich for killing us this way.

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Letter to the SF Bay Guardian on food sustainability

To the SF Bay Guardian:

The framing of your article on food sustainability stokes the same class issues it decries. Unfairly hanging all of the responsibility for solving social justice problems on food sustainability movements simply encourages blaming and distracts readers from a more productive and comprehensive understanding of the issues.


Healthy food basics: Water

water flowerImagine being treated to a sumptuous, healthy meal made of high quality, organic, sustainable whole foods… and served a glass of tap water with it. Is this water worthy of drinking with, not to mention cooking, this meal?

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