Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Little Inner Peace With Your Tea, Sir?

Kaldi Coffee Farm is a chain of stores that sell imported food products as well as their own line of gourmet coffee. I know of two in Narita and one in Mito that have been in business for at least the past three or four years. Ever since they opened they have been regular shopping stops of mine to get such things as Quaker oatmeal, Bac-O's, Betty Crocker cake mixes, and all manner of imported candy, dips, sauces, and canned foods. Their coffee is comparable in quality to Starbucks or Tully's but is considerably cheaper. They also have an interesting selection of herb tea, and that is the inspiration for this post.

One very interesting line of herb tea that they sell is Yogi Tea. The packages not only have interesting pictures and titles, but each type is indicated to have some sort of specific benefit, such as a natural sleep aid, memory enhancer, and so on. I got some out of sheer curiosity and found them to be quite enjoyable. However, what really intrigued me was the discovery that the Yogi Tea company is based in Eugene, Oregon. It is actually affiliated with the Golden Temple of Oregon, also located in Eugene.

No, it's not a cult. The Golden Temple of Oregon is officially of the Sikh faith, but it apparently caters to any religion. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, but it is a very open-minded one. One of its underlying principles is that God speaks to different cultures through different voices, hence the strong and inclusive tolerance of other faiths. What makes both Yogi Tea and the Golden Temple of Oregon even more interesting is their connection with Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh activist and yoga master who came to the U.S. in the late '60s. Sikhism is anything but dogmatic, and Yogi Bhajan was mainly interested in helping introduce yoga to the West. His doing so was actually kind of ironic; not only is yoga traditionally affiliated with Hindu rather than Sikhism, but the Sikh people in India have long faced discrimination at the hands of the Hindu-dominated government. In fact, when a movement of militant resistance arose among certain Sikh groups culminating in a showdown at the main Golden Temple in India and a subsequent massacre of Sikhs by Hindus in the 1980s, Yogi Bhajan was one of the chief moderating voices that helped bring an end to the crisis (though he couldn't prevent PM Indira Ghandi's subsequent assassination at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards).

Anyway, whenever Yogi Bhajan conducted a yoga lesson or seminar on healthy living he would always conclude it by offering his students his own homemade herb tea based on ancient Indian traditions. His tea, which came to be called "Yogi Tea" by those who drank it, became quite popular, and as more and more people asked him for supplies of it to brew at home, the idea came about to market it. Hence the Yogi Tea company was born.

I thought the tea itself was intriguing! However, regardless how you feel about herb tea, natural healing, yoga, Sikh, or Eastern religions or philosophy in general, the Yogi Tea website is interesting and kind of fun. At any rate, I thought it a nice break from the darkness permeating the internet these days. The web site for Kaldi Coffee Farm is pretty funky, too! Check them out!


Pandabonium said...

sat sri akal - That is a most interesting story about Yogi tea. Herb teas a wonderful. I also found them to be a gentle but effective alternative to chemical meds for treating a child's tummy ache or helping them to relax and sleep.

That Kaldi website is fun. Thanks. We'll have to check out the Mito store. Meanwhile, I see that they have an online store with Yahoo Japan so we can have it delivered to our door. They even offer guava juice - quite a treat for homesick Hawaiian Pandas. Thanks for sharing that!

ladybug said...

Actually, Sikhs within the US are considered a cult by some circles (Specifically those NOT from India/Pakistan, but American converts of some gurus that came over in the '60's)- practicing the age-old paradigms of separation from non-believer family & friends, donation of all monies to the temple, and severe ostrazation if one attempts to leave. More here
I do know of one person who left the LA branch, and basically had to leave the state, and the rest of his family (whom he had all converted).

I think original Sikhsim does not promote personality cults like the New Mexico or LA ones...don't know about the Eugene one.

Having said that, I really don't have an opinion on the Yogi tea. I simply prefer Celestial Seasoning Tea (especially Sleepy Time and Tension Tamer). They're out of Boulder, Colorado.

The Moody Minstrel said...

You're welcome! Actually, I figured you'd know about Kaldi already! They've definitely been helpful for me!

Online store? Whaaaat...?

It doesn't sound like the Golden Temple of Oregon is anywhere near so dogmatic, but I really don't know. If I can trust the sources I read on Yogi Bhajan, he was vehemently opposed to any kind of religious restriction (which sometimes put him at odds even with other leading Sikhs back in India) and discouraged his students from trying to donate money to him, insisting that they give to charitable causes instead. He was also against the idea of separating families. It doesn't sound like he really had an organized following per se, and he encouraged his students to follow their own paths. The sources also say that followers tended to come and go, so I guess they weren't quite so militant.

Of course, Yogi Bhajan is no longer in direct charge, so things might have changed.

Yes, Celestial Seasonings is my main "squeeze", too, but its selection and Yogi's are different enough to allow for both.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Actually, from the look of things, Golden Temple of Oregon isn't even so much a religious organization as a company producing all kinds of organic food products. Job-search websites list it as a favorable equal-opportunity employer, so I guess the dogma thing isn't an issue.

Dean Wormer said...

With all due respect I personally prefer Boo Boo tea to Yogi tea.

So does Mr. Ranger...

Pandabonium said...

My karma ran over my dogma.

Moody - I was poking around the Kaldi website and came across the yahoo store under the link index:
it's also listed under "Corporate Data" on the English page.

Dean - maybe that's why he's smarter than the average bear.

Arkonbey said...

Dean: I prefer Cindy Tea, myself.

Actually, I'm a tea and coffee snob. I get my green tea loose/bulk and my coffee is from a plantation owned by a cool author.

I know nothing about the Sikh religion except for something about turbans and a dagger? (I'm ignorant, but not intolerant,see).

So, Kaldi feels sort of like a Japanese Trader Joe's. It all depends on context, doesn't it? Iknow this and still find the thought of Annie's mac & Cheese being foreign and interesting to be funny.

Pa've said...


Don Snabulus said...

I've had their Kombucha tea and it was tasty.

Momo the Wonder Dog said...

I like that song.

Kombucha ya my lord,
Kombucha ya...