Blog

Mini Cinnamon Sticks

Mini Cinnamon Sticks

After some serious hard work, everyone here at Tea Connoisseurs Delight is - well - delighted to announce our newest cinnamon adventure: the Mini Cinnamon Stick

These alluring sticks are shapely and packed in a glossy transparent container that refines their figure.  After the initial impression, you may just want to mount them on the wall!  

The small size is custom made for decorations, and they are also organic, so you can eat them too!    

Morning Stroll in the Tea Fields

The Morning Stroll

Every cup of Tea Connoisseurs Delight Virgin White Tea starts in the flowing fields of the Diyadola Estate.  Located in the heart of the Southern Province, a majestic rainforest gives scenic sights and calming sounds that wash over the inhabitants.  

In this environments,  An early morning stroll among the tea fields is the favorite past-time of any good tea farmer.  Looking over the fields, often he will take a bite of the freshest, most delicious tea shoots.  This is the dream of any Tea Connoisseur but it is also quite practical.  To the experienced palate, the condition of the plant and soil, even sunlight, can be inferred.  The tea maker can monitor his plants and the quality of tea that they will produce.

And of course, an early morning hike in the fresh moist air is calming to the soul, giving youthful energy to both the young and old alike.  

While inspecting the fields, the tea maker will determine which fields are prepared for work that day.  On some days, no tea can be collected as the plants must be allowed to rest from the previous plucking.  There is always much work to be done: tending to the nursery, watering the needy plants, planting new seedlings, or weeding. 

 

How to differentiate between Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon

Soft texture, easily broken
Soft and sweet aromatic
Coumarin content 0.0004%
Generally safe
Expensive and not found everywhere
Native to Sri Lanka
Soft in apperance
Several folds of layer like a cigar

Cassia cinnamon

Hard texture, not easily broken
Pungent and very spicy flavor
Coumarin content 5%
Toxic if taken in case of prolonged use
A lot cheaper and found in supermarkets
Native to China, India, Vietnam, and Indoonesia
Rough in apperance
Only inaward folded, empty cavity

A Homebuilding Gift and Housewarming Party

The Right Thing to Do

As part of Tea Connoisseurs Delight's belief in helping the less fortunate in our communities we take real steps to meaningfully improve others lives.  Very recently we had the opportunity to give a less fortunate tea plucker and his family something to truly celebrate, a brand new home!  The entire community was very excited and the family invited everyone over for a housewarming celebration.

Backstory

This tea plucker and his family - totalling 7 - had been through quite an ordeal.  Homeless for some time they worked on a neighboring tea estate barely making ends meet.  It was a heartbreaking situation not least of which due to the lack of hygiene and basic necessities.  The family struggled to stay happy and focused.   

Late last year, one of the tea pluckers former employers stepped in to make things right.  The employer very generously gifted a plot of land on which the family could build their very own home.   Now, building a home is no simple task requiring concrete, gravel, sand, roofing, wiring, government permits and approval, and the labor to put everything together.  

But the entire community, hearing of the gravity situation and leveraging the generous land donation stepped up to make sure that the family had a truly great home.

Construction

A relative overseas was able to get international support from Korean friends for some of the building expenses and the local government also made a generous donation.  Tea Connoisseurs Delight donated concrete, gravel, sand, and fuel for transportation and the local Buddhist temple spread the word about the construction.  

Everything happened so fast there was little time realize.  Local officials pushed through the necessary building permits, sand and building materials were delivered, and workers started working like mad to finish the project.  

The Korean donors traveled to Sri Lanka to show support to the family and personally give housewarming gifts.  Bringing chocolates, sweets, and local delicacies their presence greatly warmed the spirits.  To show gratitude for everything that had happened, the family offered to hold a housewarming party and allow the foreign donors to help in the construction.    

Housewarming Party

The whole community showed up for a huge feast, with a mixture of local and foreign foods.  The local government ministry was present to congratulate the family and greet the Korean visitors.  They also thanked Tea Connoisseurs Delight for our contribution.  

The family was very grateful and made sure that everyone had a wonderful time.  They endlessly thanked everyone for all of the support and prepared a lavish feast with local sweet cakes and breads, coconut water, and rice curry.  The Korean also brought customary noodle dishes and Kim Chi for the celebration. 

After an afternoon out, it was time to depart and allow the family to return to their daily life, with one major housing addition.  Everyone took pictures of smiling, funny poses and passed around their thanks for everything.

Galle Tour

Sunrise

Waking before the crack of dawn to make an early departure to Galle city to not waste any time on an action packed Galle tour.  Everyone prepared for the full day, packing extra sun screen, water bottle, hats and nibbles in case of hunger.  

By 7:00 AM, our van had arrived and everyone jumped in.  An air with good air conditioning is a must in Sri Lanka and Tea Connoisseurs Delight takes care to ensure that all of our guests are always comfortable.  A trusted translator was also present to ensure that the free flow of information.

Galle Fort

The first stop on our itinerary was Galle Fort, any Galle tour would be incomplete without it!  This World heritage site and historical landmark is a magnificent structure.  When the Portuguese arrived in the early 16th century they asked the king of Ceylon - modern day Sri Lanka- for land to build homes, shops, and to store their goods.  The king famously replied that they could have as much land as would fit in an ox's hide.  Ingeniously - and a little deceptively - the sailors cut a hide into thin strips and enclosed a few hundred acre plot of land where the fort now sits.  

The fortress citadel is a magnificent structure, with its central courtyard and commanding 15 meter high walls it has a similar feel to other European or Caribbean fortresses.  Inside the fort we toured the old harbor, dungeon, and old customs warehouse.  The streets are built in 17th century Dutch style, lined with cobblestones.  Many of the shops retain this antiquated look, but some have a very modern flair after renovation.  

There are a variety of restaurants and cafes, ranging from French to Italian or the local Sri Lankan cuisine.  The fort also boasts calm lounges and cafes with chique interiors where visitors can wait and chat, enjoying coffee, tea, liquor, pastries or other small bites.  Several spas line the city streets, with the wonderful aroma of their shampoos, cremes, oils, and lotions wafting into the street.  Painters are available to give personal portraits and other vendors have a variety of specialty Sri Lankan products for sale.   Our tour stopped at several antique shops with colonial maritime relics from China, India, and Europe.   

The modern fort has several churches, mosques, and temples.  The district court had its headquarters in the fort grounds and the countries major undergraduate civil studies univeristy, Sri Jayewardenapura is located on the grounds.   

Everywhere people were excited to greet foreign visitors and chat.  Many of the shop keepers speak good English and are eager to practice with visitors.

Beach Party

After a few hours of sightseeing and souvenir shopping inside the fort everyone was getting hungry.  Rather than eat inside the fort itself, we decided to travel about 5 miles south to a more scenic beachfront.  

Sheltered from the commercialization of the city this 3 or 4 mile wide cove is endowed with a perfect sand beach.  Several boat tour operators line the shore with their boats or along piers.  Fishing, guided boat tours and glass bottom trips take travelers along the coast or into the open ocean. 

The sun was beaming a made the sand glitter brilliantly while a soft shore breeze whisky by and Tea Connoisseurs Delight's guests were happy to get into the water and splash around!  You would think the travelers were a third of their age or less as they posed for photographs and threw water about.  

Lounging on the beach as waiters brought over beer, ice cream, rice, fish, and steamed vegetables everyone could relax while we ate, drank, and enjoyed.  

 

 

Japan Peace Pagoda

After wearing our guests out at the beach, our group stopped at the Japan Peace Pagoda.  The pagoda was the perfect tranquil place to rest on a busy day of activities.  Located on the far side of the Galle harbor cove, it offers a marvelous view of the city.  The fort, city center, boats, and ascending hills are clearly visible.  

The pagoda itself, is a shimmering white building, that glows in the sunlight.  At night or during festivals the chanting of the monks or practitioners may be heard in and around the temple grounds.  As a Buddhist temple it is complete with a adjoining shrine where the faithful may come to worship.  

Sunset

By sunset of our Galle Tour everyone was very happy, tired, and hungry, having walked up an appetite.  

For dinner, we chose the Hasasa Hotel Restaurant which is strongly recommended.  The website is currently under maintenance but you can reach them at +94-912-233-933.  The restaurant offers typical Sri Lankan cuisine and the staff is very attentive.    

Our group was pleased with the service and food.  They liberal indulgenced in beer, vegetables, chicken, fish, rice and breads.  After having stuffed ourselves as much as we could we stayed sipping on coffee and nibbled on pudding and cake talking of the day's adventures.  When we packed into the van to return to Tea Connoisseurs Delight in the setting sun it was nearly silent as the group slept or forwarded pictures of the Galle Tour to friends and family.  

Monsoon Flood

Prelude to the Flood

Every year, during the annual Southwest Monsoon, the country receives a torrential amount of rainfall, which sometimes causes minor flood ing.  Starting sometime between May 10 and May 20 rainfall increases precipitously.  During this time of year there are torrential showers almost every day, commonly several times each day.  The air is cool from the cloud cover and damp from the moisture.  At night it is sometimes cold, if you don't have enough covers.   

The Monsoon is a blessing, bringing needed water to the country, especially the less humid climates.  This year there had nearly been a water shortage and storage levels were well below capacity.  Many were hopefully looking forward to the coming Monsoon, but that changed quickly.

This year starting on May 18 the Monsoon came.  It rained for 7 days with breaks of several hours or more before the next shower.   Starting on May 23 nearly 2 full days of rain followed what had been an already soaking season.  Several member of Tea Connoisseurs Delight were attending a conference in the capital city of Colombo hoping to escape the rainfall. 

Flood Waters

On the afternoon of the 26, the land which had valiantly been accepting ever more sums of water could take no more.  The onrushing rainfall began filling the rivers, raising them past their steep banks, where they poured into the valleys.   The most affected communities of Neluwa, Morovoka, Udugama and other had no access to electricity, medical care, food and water sources, transportation, heating and every other kind of necessity. Many people lost their lives to the floodwaters and resulting landslides.  It was a heart braking situation to watch.

Located on the top of the hill Tea Connoisseurs Delight offered shelter to our less fortunate neighbors for more than 4 days as the flood waters receded.  Reading and telling stories by candlelight we supported each other during that difficult time.  As there were no working telephones it was not possible to assure safety with one's family.  Trapped on the other side of the mountains, there was no way to know what had happened elsewhere, if everything was ok.

Flood Relief

But the people of Sri Lanka are resilient and we rallied to the occasion.  Support for the worst affected communities came nearly as soon as the rains stopped.  

For more than 4 days, Army helicopters delivered the most essential materials while the roads were impassable.  Once the waters had receded a range of community organizers, the armed forces, government officials, international donors, ourselves at Tea Connoisseurs Delight and common citizens joined to provide the bulk of the relief effort.  

Food kitchens and food banks were set up to meet the communities immediate needs, simple bedding, and clean water were provided.  The roads were cleared of debris, mud, and stones.  The Buddhist monks held special session for those had lost loved ones during the disaster and opened their temple doors to the homeless.    

It was a marvelous sight to behold people, who commonly are too busied with their daily lives, coming together to rebuild their lives and grow stronger, together in the process.

Recovery

As of this writing, most businesses have reopened, roads have been cleared, and life has mostly returned to normal.  School children again take classes in rooms that were filled with water, hospitals can perform life saving surgeries without fear of power loss, and the grocery stores are again filled with many fine foods.  

But the life lost in the flood cannot be fully replaced.  The Buddhist tradition encourages people to mourn for their lost loved ones continually after passing.  In this way we remember their cherished moments.   If you would like to donate in support of these flood victims or victims of other natural disasters, a link to those organizations has been posted to the right: 

Myanmar Visit

On the Ground in Myanmar

Descending at 8:00 AM upon the Yangon, Myanmar plain, one could see everything in the dawn's first rays.  Row after row of patty field filled the airplane window's view.  The intricately rectangular fields were a dark greenish color.  Every now and again a house appeared at the boundary of two fields, as if to confirm that someone does really live there.  Passing quickly overhead, the green fields turned into settlements and then towns, until just before landing one could see large buildings, roads, and the hustle and bustle of activity.

Myanmar is a difficult country to describe.  It seems as if it the entire country is stretched out between two worlds, two times, standing both in the past and the present at the same time.  

The airport itself fits this description exactly.  One half is pristine, divine - attempting to rival the amenities and lavish designs of the best airports in Asia - and the other half is currently under reconstruction from the early 1960s, resembling a rusting hulk.

Tea Connoisseurs Delight story in Myanmar started several months preceding March.  We had been written to by a local Myanmar Non-Profit Organization searching for potential markets for its products and also looking for supplies.  

At first we were hesitant to go to the country.  There are many rumors telling of the endless backward country.  After some cautionary research and internal debate the family decided that it was a noble goal.  

After spending some time in country, it is safe to say that the newspaper article are bunk.  The people, full of energy and life, are so happy to see outsiders.  Everyone is eager to show the country - the new country - to the world.

 

Development in Myanmar

The commercial city of Yangon boasts nearly 30 skyscrapers under construction.  It seemed as if the entire city would soon become one giant building.  The highways are large, straight, well constructed and full of travelers.  The city bus system is extremely well lubricated, but in other cities, the taxis are usually the best choice for efficient transportation.

The telecommunication system is well developed, being superior to Sri Lanka in this regards.  Data is inexpensive and it is easy to obtain a new SIM card for use in Myanmar.  

The morning of our arrival we visited the main Yangon vegetable and produce market.  There were so many things to see - produce: kale, peas, beans, carrots, black tea, green tea, spices: anise, black pepper, clove, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and baked goods: biscuits, pastries, breads.  In another building there was non perishable items - clothing: umbrellas, shirts, skirts, trousers, dresses, socks, scarves and underwear, jewelry: necklaces, earrings, pearls,  gold, silver, and coins, electronics, hardware, pharmaceuticals, perfumes and much more.  Some of the buyers and sellers spoke English, but mostly we needed a translator to assist us, but everyone was happy to help and eager to try and communicate.  

For the next two weeks we traveled the country making friends and learning about Myanmar.  We met in country officials from the newly formed Burmese American Community Institute who were able to give a  seasoned tour of Chin state.   All told, we visited the rugged Northern and Eastern mountains, arid central valley, and coastal wetlands, including: Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Shan State and Chin State.

The hundreds of contacts, farmers, traders and suppliers were very helpful, giving us valuable advice on the country and their products.  They were eager to supply us with samples of their harvest and always inquired about foreign life, culture, travel, and opportunity.  Some joked about transporting them inside one of our return bags! 

When the time came to leave and return to Sri Lanka we packed our extensive collection of samples of Myanmar products and business card into bags.  The bags were too heavy for customs and we had to leave some clothing and other personal items behind.  But this gives us one more reason to go back!

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the entire Tea Connoisseurs Delight family, we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. That we all can make more time for our family, friends, and our humble planet in 2017.

During this wonderful time of year, we would like to share a very neat story from our homeland.  In the capital city of Colombo, a 73-meter tree was erecting to commemorate this very special time of year.

Making the world a better place

We at Tea Connoisseurs Delight are pleased to announce that we have identified two villages in Sri Lanka to provide employment opportunities.

 

Details

Name of the villages: Beralihela and Padikapuhela (both villages are located in the southern province of Sri Lanka)

Village population: 200 families (400 people)

Economic condition: Earlier agricultural (paddy) was the only source of income, but due to a water shortage, there are no longer any employment opportunities in the village. Poor lifestyle conditions and lack of education have caused serious health issues.

Due to the lack of money, and finance literacy, people have acquired loans at the rate of 60% per year and most of their daily earnings/government social support are spend as interest which makes their situation much worse.

Average life expectancy: 65 years old

The two villages have absolutely no economic opportunities, therefore, the communities largely depend on the social support received by the government. Children are only going to school until the 6th grade. As a result, they can’t apply for any professional jobs in the country.

 

Our Involvement 

We have pledged to provide all of our job opportunities in the “20 Acre Ceylon Cinnamon project” to the said communities. We also ensure that we will provide jobs with dignity, and pay above the market wage to bring prosperity to the community as well.

Apart from that, we will also provide accommodations for them to stay in the garden and we will work with local schools to allow for their children to continue their studies.