Bamboo leaf tea – part 2

A friend and fellow blogger in Japan was kind enough to send me links to some Japanese blog posts about bamboo leaf tea. (Thanks, Megumi!). So, following on from Bamboo leaf tea -part 1, here is some how-to (with the aid of Google Translate) for making your own bamboo leaf tea at home.

The instructions in the blogs are similar and use Kumazasa, a bamboo that grows in Hokkaido. In fact, Kumazasa is something of a Hokkaido speciality and is sold as tea (loose leaf, tea bag, and canned drink), granulated extract and candy. Bears are also very fond of Kumazasa bamboo.

Kumazasa bamboo

Kumazasa bamboo

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World Bamboo Day, 18 September

wbd_logo_onecolor_alt_thumbWorld Bamboo Day is a day of celebration to increase the awareness of bamboo globally. In the week leading up to World Bamboo Day I’ve been harvesting bamboo inside the very large stands of one of the smaller kinds of bamboo here.

Inside

Inside

It’s very pleasant inside the bamboo. The light and breeze is gently filtered through the leaves. It is quiet and peaceful.

The best time to harvest, Continue reading

Bamboo card holder

Bamboo card holder

Bamboo card holder

Special preview: a new item for my Etsy shop: a bamboo card holder and display.

It looks to be simplicity itself, but, as with most things handmade, producing the finished product is a little more involved.

First the bamboo is cut from the clump. Bamboo of a suitable age is usually covered in lichens and dust and needs washing to reveal its true nature – useful, damaged, beautiful, interesting… whatever it may be.  Some of the bamboo culms (stems) are discarded at this stage.

Storing and curing the culms

Part of my area for curing and storage

The green, freshly cut bamboo is not suitable to make things at this stage for two main reasons. The bamboo shrinks as it dries and without adequate curing is very prone to insect infestation. Therefore, the bamboo needs curing and storing in a dry airy place. This takes months. Then the bamboo is ready to make something with.

Once I have some culms ready to work with, decisions are made about what to make. The diameter of the culm and thickness of the wall are considered, as is the general look of the bamboo.

Bamboo card holder

Bamboo card holder

Much experimentation goes into the very simple-looking functional items that I make, and many prototypes are produced. Once an item is made it then undergoes a finishing process with numerous grades of sanding paper.

Once I’m happy with a new item, I make a few of them. Then they are priced, photographed and described, before posting on Etsy. And that’s where I’m at with the new card holder and display. It shall appear on Etsy soon.

Bamboo leaf tea – part 1

bamboo leaf teaHave you heard of bamboo leaf tea? The proponents of bamboo leaf tea make it sound marvellous, of course. The main health benefits proclaimed are those associated with the intake of silica.

Bamboo Leaf Tea lists some of the benefits;

  • improves skin elasticity
  • benefits teeth and gums
  • improves connective tissue and strengthens musculoskeletal system
  • plays a role in helping the body to eliminate aluminium
  • strengthens hair and nails and encourages new growth
  • thought to improve cardiovascular system
  • may help to reduce high blood pressure
  • essential for bone growth

I consulted Michael Tierra’s book, The Way of Chinese Herbs (1998) to see what he had to say. Bamboo leaf is listed under ‘herbs that clear heat and purge fire’. The properties of the bamboo leaf are listed as anti-inflammatory, antipyretic (reduce or prevent a fever), and diuretic (promote passing of urine). “Indications: This herb is used for heat conditions associated with irritability and anxiety. It can also be used for swollen, painful gums and urinary tract infections with signs of irritability” (p. 171). All this said, he makes no clear suggestion as to how to ingest the bamboo leaves as a medicinal herb.

bambooleafteaThis morning I went out and picked some low-hanging bamboo leaves. Following some ideas I found online, I roasted them in the bottom of the oven for short time and made a tea. The liquid was rather colourless, but the flavour was fresh, slightly sweet and subtle. Rather delightful really.

I made another cup of tea with fresh, raw leaves. The flavour was quite different – more like grass, but in nice way. Still, the lightly roasted leaves win the flavour stakes.

And the effects? I don’t know yet. I’ll continue to make and drink bamboo leaf tea and tell you another time. Do you have experience with bamboo leaf tea? Please leave a comment.

Corrugated bamboo roofing

The ubiquity, in the tropics at least, of corrugated iron roofing and rainwater tanks comes with concerns for many of us who live with such arrangements. What, exactly, is all that lovely rainwater washing off your zinc roofing and depositing in your rainwater tank?

Tin roofs

Aside from the obvious fallout from air pollution and bird shit, a study in Germany found that dissolution of the roof systems’ metal components is one the main sources of run-off pollution. Similarly, other studies have suggested that the acidic nature of  rainwater may cause chemical compounds from the roof to leach into the harvested rainwater. Worse still, yet other studies have showed that older roofs leach more metals, suggesting that the age of the roof can negatively impact the quality of harvested rainwater.

A roofing product under development in Columbia may well address these issues. Corrugated bamboo roofing sheets are essentially laminated and resin-soaked, woven bamboo mats pressed between two corrugated pressing plates. The sheets are strong, durable, and are very resistant to insect attack.

roofing

The Guadua Bamboo website describes the  results of a study that compares the mechanical properties and performance differences between bamboo roofing and three other common roofing materials in the tropics. 

Those folk who live in the tropics know well the noise of a tropical downpour on a tin roof: it can be thunderous. One stand-out for me is that bamboo roofing is significantly quieter than our omnipresent corrugated iron roofing.

The roofing is produced from a sustainable and renewable resource, creates local employment, is easy to work with, is cooler in the sun than plastic or metal, looks great …. What’s not to like?

Let’s hope it becomes available in, at least, other parts of the tropics around the world.

Bamboo leads to…

While visiting Taiwan earlier in the year, I had the good fortune to spend some time with two different bamboo crafts practitioners. Following a lead from one of them, I visited a ‘tool shop’ situated in the lounge room of a small house down a narrow lane in LukangI was able to add to my small collection of bamboo tools with some hand-made ones from Taiwan.tools

From left to right: tool to make round holes; double-sided knife; twin set of blades to produce strips of bamboo for weaving. The small blades are extremely sharp. I don’t weave, but use them as trimming/shaving tools.

Longshan templeAfter the transaction (and the obligatory cup of green tea), the daughter of the house escorted me to an old Confucian temple. At the temple, I took the opportunity, under guided instruction, to bestow blessings upon a wedding that had occurred just the day before back in Australia. We did this by offering burning sticks of incense at several different alters within the temple.

bamboo paper moneyAs well as incense, paper money, made from bamboo, is available for purchase at the temple. There are special furnaces within the temple grounds for this purpose. The paper money is burned as offerings for the Gods and ancestors. Burning paper money is not confined to the temple though. Moving through just about any street in Taiwan during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday (when I was there) is to be enveloped in smoke, especially early in the mornings, as householders and business owners make their offerings in small braziers on the pavements.

You can read more about paper money in Taiwan here.

What to do with those leftover tubes?

Bamboo tubes

Bamboo tubes waiting patiently

In the course of creating bamboo candles and bamboo pots for Shop for Bamboo, there remains, usually, sections of tubes or cylinders. These are stacked on shelves awaiting some inspired idea for their use.

Then I saw this house designed for the climate in Costa Rica by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe featured on the dornob.com website. I’m guessing that the bamboo used is Guadua, a giant bamboo native to Costa Rica well suited for structural work.

Guadua bamboo seems to be the mainstay of the The National Bamboo Project of Costa Rica. The Project was established with the dual aims of reducing deforestation by replacing timber with bamboo as a primary building material and providing low cost housing for Costa Rica’s rural poor.

The way the tubes are used becomes even clearer inside the house. The view to the ceiling is said to be reminiscent of leaves.

Given the right situation, this house may well be my dream home. Light, airy, spacious and private. And who wouldn’t want a paw paw tree growing in their lounge room?