Monday, September 01, 2014

Chai Blossom - Really Good Tea Mocktail


This tea mockatil is really, really good!  It's perfectly refreshing on a hot day, and the warming spices will help it transfer well into the fall and winter, too.  The recipe comes from Bon Appetit.  I made the following variations:

  • I used loose leaf tea with chai spices
  • I used fresh lemon juice (because I had it from the lemon twist), but I think lime juice would be great 
  • I used 1/4 cup sugar instead of 1/2 cup; I like tart drinks and I found it to be the perfect amount for me
I can think of so many variations!  I think grapefruit or blood orange would be interesting near the winter solstice.  If you like citrus and you like chai, you'll love this!





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Flash


Summer is starting to give way to fall here and it's promising very nice weather this long weekend!  Sunshine and mid-to-upper 70's. I think of this as summer going out with a flash of glory as fall nudges it along.  I'm drinking a Japanese green tea in these photos, feeling a sense of urgency to drink up my "summer teas".  Of course I can (and do) drink this in the winter, and yet it's more what I crave when the sun shines long. 



While my tea is green and fresh, the colors of these photos suggest a fall scene. These transitional periods are very interesting times.  I find them full of energy and opportunity.


What teas are your drinking as we make our way from one season to the next?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Passion Fruit and Coconut Curds

Coconut and Passion Fruit curds


From West Coast to East Coast, these curds connect me to special tea friends.  The passion fruit curd began as a conversation between two mutual tea friends.  One had a  vine full of the exotic fruit.  The other wished she could grow her own to make passion fruit curd.  Alas, she didn't have the climate for it.  Very soon thereafter, a box of fresh passion fruit (just picked from the California garden!) arrived East of the Mississippi.  Wow!  The longed for passion fruit curd became a reality.

I had a chance to visit the maker of the passion fruit curd recently and it was spectacular!  She has also been experimenting with coconut curd and I tell you, it's also stellar.  Some of each came to my house. I've been eating these (regularly) with a hearty cookie.  Literally finger-licking good!  Also wonderful with scones, of course.  Thank you to both of my friends for sharing this bounty with me.  XOXO!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sunshine on the Water



Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely, sunshine almost always makes me high.
~John Denver

(Now we'll be singing that song all day!)


Thinking of my family today and the happy times we spent recently at the ocean where we took these photos.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Chief Encouragement Officer" - Thoughts on Marriage

The DH and I enjoyed a few quiet moments together, sharing an herbal tea, as part of our anniversary celebration


The DH (dear hubby) and I recently celebrated 18 years of being married.  It feels good, really good.  I know you're thinking, "Why, Steph you must have been married at 14!"  Not quite that young, but as grown up as I thought I was at the time, I had so much to learn.  It's a serious thing to be an adult living in a committed, conscious relationship with another human.  The DH and I still have our challenges.  But they're much fewer and more preventable now,  if we each stay conscious about our own "stuff".

We've worked hard at making our marriage good and that includes seeking outside help for enrichment and for managing the tough times.  One of the most valuable lessons I've learned is that what my partner needs most from me, and me from him is to be each other's "Chief Encouragement Officer."  He doesn't want or need me to be his mother.  Nor should I be.  I've learned over time that's not my job.  Instead, it sure feels good to have a life partner on my side to believe in me and cheer me on through it all.  That's what he wants from me, too.  We sometimes disagree or need to hold one another accountable.  But for our marriage to work at its best, the ratio of encouragement/praise/thanks/celebration/support/dreaming far outweighs the complaints and dissatisfaction.  And here's the real secret - it's up to me.  Where do I put my focus*?

If you've been in a long-term relationship, what is your #1 tip for going the distance?

*Please note - I'm not suggesting we overlook destructive behaviors.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sanctuary


From one of my favorite authors, Alexandra Stoddard:

"The 'art of tea' is a spiritual force for us to share."
and
"If we could make our house a home, and then make it a sanctuary, I think we could truly find paradise on Earth."


Friday, August 08, 2014

My Brew This Morning


I have a mix of folks who read this blog...first, of course, there's Mom and other family and friends.  :-)  Then there are people who enjoy Afternoon Tea.  In addition,  some readers  are interested in Chinese or Japanese style tea.  And then there are the "all of the above" readers.  I try to write about a mix of topics, to hit on something interesting for everybody now and again.  

Today's article is for those of you who are interested in dipping your teapot in the water of "small pot" or "gong fu" style brewing.  I wanted to show how easy it is to get started. This is how I brewed this morning. (Here's another similar posting.)  I'm brewing an Alishan tea (a high mountain oolong, very aromatic).  I pre-warmed this small little porcelain pot in a bowl and poured out the liquid into the bowl so that the pot could sit in the bath and stay warm while it brewed.  The towel is used to blot the bottom of the teapot before I pour.  I'm not using a serving pot here (also called a "fairness pot") because I'm pouring straight into my cup.  That's it!

And then again, there's always more. A few tips:
* This style of brewing uses a lot more tea and less water (in proportion) than a typical large teapot.  That means the steeping happens fast and you'll want to pour off quickly.  I typically pour off the first brew between 30 seconds and 1 minute, depending on the tea.

* These little pots each have their own pouring quirks.  Play around until you know how to minimize drips.  And keep a towel handy.  Drips happen.


* For a starter pot, I suggest glass or porcelain.  That way, you can use it with a variety of teas.  


* In the brewing style above, I will generate a fair bit of water in my small bowl quickly and need to dump it into the sink or a larger container.


* Be sure to look at the leaf - both dry and wet.  And smell the tea.  These things will enhance your enjoyment.  


* Try to brew in this style when you can focus on the experience.


* Just Go For It!  The spirit of gong fu brewing is to practice,  learn and improve.


What other questions do you have or what other tips would you give?