Friday, July 29, 2005

Garden Critters

Drinking a Pouchong tea this morning, scented with coconut. The DH says it smells/tastes like drinking suntan oil. :-) I think that's a favorable assessment. Here are some photos from the garden this week - various critters of all sizes!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

World Tea Photos and Brit Humor

Cindy, from Cup of Tea and a Blog, has discovered some incredible photos of tea in its context around the world. I'm just in awe of these! Scroll to the bottom of the post for the links to the photos.

Also, here is a link to one of the funniest tea sites I've ever encountered. The authors are dedicated PG Tips-drinking Brits. They offer humor and in-depth perspectives on biscuits (aka cookies and other delights). What I enjoy most about this site is its unpretentiousness!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Simplify! Get Rid of Junk Mail

Simplification is a current life theme for me -- as Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify, simplify." My recent move to the Midwest, in great part, was about simplification. We put a lot of thought into choosing our community. We wanted a place where our primary transportation could be self-powered (bicycle, walk). It sounds counterintuitive, but getting rid of the car for much of my life has made life soooo much easier! I no longer worry about gas prices or traffic jams. When I run errands, it is a joy rather than a hassle. I get to walk through the pretty parts of town and enjoy the scenery!

We also don't own a television. We made this choice about 2 years ago, and I don't regret it at all! I find that I have a lot more time for reading and conversation.

I did something today that was empowering. I took steps to rid myself of junk mail! I got off the pre-approved credit card list and I signed up for the Direct Marketing Association's mail preference list. This list is something many companies check before sending advertising mail. If a name is on the list, they don't send the junk mail. My primary driver for these actions is to save some trees. A nice secondary benefit will be saved time - I'll spend less time weeding through junk mail and more time drinking tea and reading poetry!

For information about the services mentioned, visit these websites: (To get off the preapproved credit cards) (To get less junk mail)

Old Fashioned Living and My Style

I enjoy visiting the Old Fashioned Living website. The author has a section on tea. I also subscribe to the daily newsletter, which generally features recipes and garden tips. Here are instructions from this site on making homemade rose water.

I'm drinking Picasso Soiree this morning. I received a surprise package in the mail yesterday bearing this tea. What a treat! The tea is described as having the aroma and flavor of a caramel crème brule. Indeed! It is an indulgent tea. Thank you!

I've been reflecting on my clothing choices. (Allison, you got me started down this path with your introspective on shoes.) I'm trying to cull not only my large teacup collection, but also my stockpile of clothes. It's a difficult task, as I'm a bit of a clothing collector - OK, a lot of of one. It runs in the family, right Mom? :-) Through this process, I've tried to define just what my personal style is. What I like to wear most are 1930-50s styles with a modern twist. Don't get me wrong - I practically live in jean shorts and tank tops. I work from home and don't have many reasons to dress up. Thank goodness my company doesn't use PC cameras (yet)! Nonetheless, when I have the occasion to pull out something other than my trusty home uniform, I like lace and frills.

What is most remarkable about this is that it's very different from my style in my college years. Then, I was fearful of wearing anything that would make me look too sweet, too young. I look young for my age, and when I was first starting out in the business world, I had a constant struggle with not being mistaken for the high school intern! (Yes, that really happened.) Now that I'm 32, this youthful appearance is beginning to be a blessing! So, bring out the skirts and the lace! Here's an example of something I would have never worn a decade ago. Stephanie and the DH.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Tea at the Nutmeg House

I had tea today at the Nutmeg House. I was eagerly awaiting this excursion, because it has been since April that I've visited a tea house. I've been hostess to a few tea parties, but I was definitely ready to relax and just take in the tea and company. Friend Sukie joined me in the tea excursion.

The Nutmeg House sits prominently in the small Midwestern town of Ellettsville, IN, just off the main street called Sale. It's a light yellow two-story house. The old kind with all the charm. Sukie and I had a table by the window. She ordered the Blackberry tea and I ordered the Sugar Plum Spice. The tea itself was the Celestial Seasonings bagged variety. (I prefer loose tea, but my tea was pleasant.) The tea was served in pretty teapots with matching cups.

The afternoon tea meal started with a delicious cranberry and walnut scone, served with plum butter and whipped cream. For the second course, we actually nibbled on part of dessert, before it dissolved in the Midwestern summer humidity! It was a shortbread topped with lemon curd and whipped cream. After taking dessert a little early, we enjoyed the savories: a spinach and water chestnut mix served in a philo tartlet, a yummy chicken salad on croissant, a crab salad turnover, a cucumber dill sandwich, and a salmon patty. Dessert (aside from the aforementioned lemon treat) included fruit (grapes, honeydew melon, and a peach slice), zucchini bread, and chocolate dipped strawberries.

The food was very fancy and tasty; also very sweet. Both of us came home with many leftovers. It was a very nice trip, and I am grateful for Sukie's company!

Of course, any tearoom that I visit has an unfair benchmark in the St. James Tearoom, in Albuquerque, NM. I really think the St. James may be one of the top 5 tearooms in the entire USA! (And I visit as many as I possibly can!)

I know for certain I will definitely be visiting the Nutmeg House again. Maybe I can even convince them to carry some loose teas! Or, perhaps we can partner to offer my tea class from there. (The tea class is called "The Art and Etiquette of the British Afternoon Tea.") I may have to check out the tearoom on a number of occasions! :-)

Hummingbird Babies

Here's a link to a really cool photo log of a hummingbird and her babies!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Weekend Chocolate Fun and Tea Prices

From my trolling about today...

Online games about chocolate! From Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea blog.

Interesting discussion about very recent changes to China's currency and the potential impact on tea prices. From Tea Masters blog.

Tea and Books

Drinking Lung Ching green this morning. It fits. We had a big thunderstorm last night, and this morning the world seems fresh and revived.

Every summer, I let myself read anything I want, and I generally gravitate toward books I loved in my childhood. This summer, I've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series. As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been pleasantly surprised at the number of references to tea throughout the series. I just finished the last book, The First Four Years. This one is quite different from the others. It's not as happy. Perhaps it's because Laura is now an adult. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the series.

I'm now reading the next installment of Laura Child's Tea Mysteries. If you enjoy tea and you haven't read these, you're missing out! They're not classic literature, but they are very fun and easy. I finish one in a weekend without even trying. What's fun about them is that the stories all revolve around a teashop owner, her staff, and her dog - Earl Grey. The latest is called Chamomile Mourning. Previous books were called: Death by Darjeeling, Gunpowder Green, Shades of Earl Grey, The English Breakfast Murder, and The Jasmine Moon Murder. This author also writes a series of scrapbook mysteries. I may have to check them out, as I'm a newbie to the scrapbook craze.

Finally, I've been reading another favorite of young girls - Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This is a 3-book series that describes a young girl and her becoming of a young woman. It's set back in the days of corsets and petticoats. It's very like Anne of Green Gables. Rebecca is a vivacious being who finds herself in all sorts of trouble. She's also very endearing. There are a few references to tea throughout. My favorite is when Rebecca brings tea into the parlor to serve some guests. She (about 12 at the time) servers herself tea, with the adults, and gives the other children milk. She has moved herself into adulthood, and taking tea is an important designation.

I don't want to mislead you - I also read fiction throughout the rest of the year. It's just that I wax a little nostalgic in the summer. I already have next summer's series planned - a return to the Black Stallion books!

If any of you would like to recommend a book that takes you back to your childhood, or one that has delightful references to tea, please respond!

Also - be sure to check out my blog on Sunday! I'm taking my first visit to an Indiana tearoom tomorrow, called the Nutmeg House. I'll write a review, with photos.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tea Arts

So I'm just now discovering some of the other tea blogs out there....and most of my fellow tea bloggers already know about these. Nonetheless, I'd like to point them out so that my other readers can enjoy them, too!

Today's find is this one: Tea Arts. Be sure to scroll all the way down through the photos. There are some interesting ones of people taking tea at a park, and some beautiful tea ware.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Beaches and Tea

Take a look at this blog, Tea Masters.

Today's entry is an entertaining, and at the same time poignant, comparison of the beach and tea tasting. The article is lovely to read. Stephane's language in his description of how to use a gaiwan to taste a new tea is delicious. I particularly enjoy his description of the different ways to pour the water..."pour the first water with a strength in harmony"..."pour the water in a circle on the rim."

Thank you, Stephane, for sharing your knowledge, skills, and imagery!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mr. Turtle and Bai Hao Oolong

I'm a little distraught, as my favorite tea of all favorites (I have many) is about out, and I don't think it's currently in stock. :( I must be patient and hope for good harvesting conditions! This favorite tea, Imperial Bai Hao Oolong, is in a class entirely of its own. The color of the dried leaves is incredible - many are a deep burgundy. The flavor is crisp and sweet, without a touch of bitterness. Oh, may this team come back to me!

To cheer me up, this little creature was hiding in the back garden this morning!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Simple Things Sustain Me

Sitting on my front porch this morning and sharing a pot of Black Pearl tea with my DH (dear husband), I sat content and happy in the mere simpleness of daily living. There were a number of exciting events to watch: the hummingbird working the red bee balm, the little brown bird hopping around the plants and eating bugs, the cardinal zipping in and out, a number of birds bathing in the puddle on the street.

My desire is to take more pleasure in life's simple gifts, and let the commercial expectations of our society slip away from me. Not an easy goal; one that I must work at continually.

Here is another example of recent simple delights. Last week at the Farmer's Market, the DH purchased a carton of eggs - the friendly kind. Imagine my delight when I opened them to discover beautiful blue and brown eggs! Why are store eggs white? They look sterile to me - and not in a good way. These lovely blue and brown eggs are almost too pretty to use! An added touch is the memory these eggs invoke. I remember my Grandma LolaBelle getting fresh eggs (brown and speckled ones) from her neighbor. Grandma's opinion was that brown eggs tasted better!

It is humid, humid in the Midwest today! I went for a walk this morning and came back drenched - not so much from the heat of things, but from the condensation. Ah, but this humidity is what makes the climate conducive to other things I love, like gardens and greenery. So I'll take it. And, the humidity certainly doesn't curb my desire for hot tea. Not even a smidgen.

Regarding the Black Pearl tea, this is truly a gem! It's made from a base of black and jasmine teas, and scented with vanilla. It's aroma is glorious, and it requires no sugar or milk. It's a very smooth tea, with a sweetness to it. See for details.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I've just returned from a week in CA for work. It was a busy and productive time. I am fortunate to work with a great team, and seeing them in person is always a blessing.

My teammates didn't know it, but one of the kindest gifts they brought to me was a cup of hot water each morning for my tea. What a simple gesture, but one that brought me the comfort and peace in a cup of tea! Thank you!

Monday, July 11, 2005

From Afghanistan, to London, to Home

This weekend was sad for me. When I read the news about the continued violence in Afghanistan and other middle east countries, done both by us and to us, I felt helpless. This is a war I never believed in. And I feel so sad for ALL families who lose sisters, daughters, sons, brothers, fathers, mothers to this horrific example of barbaric humanity.

The news of bombings in London was hard to read. Tho I was heartened when I visited Cup of Tea and a Blog for stories of British resilience.

Sunday morning was definitely a low point as I read in the local paper of a small bomb that had been thrown into the local Islamic mosque. I am happy that my church sent a delegation to this group to show solidarity and compassion.

I feel like Pu-Erh tea - bringing me deeper into my roots. But maybe what I need is a fresh green - pulling me out into the buds of new hope.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

My Yard

This is a photo of my yard, taken a few days ago. I can't take any of the credit. The DH (dear husband) is the artist. However, I am a great appreciator of art, especially the living kind!

I often sit on the porch, on the steps, even on the sidewalk in the midst of the flowers, with a cup of tea. Yesterday, I even touched a bumble bee. It was too enthralled in the liatrus (tall purple flower) to even notice me.

Other Tea Blogs

I'm discovering other tea bloggers out there, and it's wonderful to be part of this online community! I'll add more as I find them. Right now, enjoy these two - I've learned from both!
Listed alphabetically:

Cup of Tea and a Blog -
Tea Posur -

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Chocolate and Tea Poem

According to the US National Confectioners Association, July 7 is the National Day of Chocolate. In honor of this important occasion, I penned the poem below this morning.

Chocolate and Tea, Such Lovely Companions
(Written on 7/7/05 in honor of National Chocolate Day)

Chocolate and Tea, such lovely companions!
They sit side by side on my china plate,
My Milano cookie and my blueberry tea.

Chocolate nurtures love and Tea is inspiration.
I sip my tea slowly, allowing its warmth to
Melt the chocolate in my mouth.

And if I pay attention the Tea will melt
My heart and make it soft
And full of compassion and forgiveness.

For it is in the quiet, still moments that I can

Truly forgive and see my enemy’s reflection
In my own teacup.

And if I pay attention the Chocolate will sweeten

My thoughts and make them kind
And full of hope and patience.

For it is in the quiet, still moments that I can
Truly listen and see my enemy’s perfection

In my own teacup.

Chocolate and Tea, such lovely companions!
They sit side by side on my china plate,
My Milano cookie and my blueberry tea.
My compassion and my hope.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

New tea set from the DH (dear husband)

New Treasures

My DH (dear husband) found an incredible tea set for me over the weekend. He was puttering around town on his bike and found a yard sale (no surprises there!). He secured the tea set in the post above for a steal - Only $5!

Now, the dilemma is that I have a "no new china" rule in place for myself. I have soooo much, and I love it all, but it takes up too much space. However, how can I turn down a gift from the DH, especially when it's such a good deal? That makes it even more exciting! I decided if I could thin out my collection so there is room for this beautiful new set, I would be OK. My real goal is to thin out and end up with a little less than I started! I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tea and Books

It's been a lovely weekend of relaxation! I have both Monday and Tuesday off from work, and I have been able to really relax! It's a nice break, because June was a very busy month.

This morning, I made fresh blueberry streusel muffins, which I drank with my blueberry tea. Can't have too much of blueberries! It was delicious!

I've been re-reading the Little House on the Prairie series. I read these books when I was about 11, and I love them as much this time as I did in my childhood. This time through, I am picking up on the many references to tea in these books! In each book, tea is mentioned at least once. Tea was an important staple to the settlers - and they didn't always have the luxury of it. Here is one of my favorite examples, from By the Shores of Silver Lake. The Ingalls family is hosting new neighbors (the Boasts) for Christmas dinner. Charles Ingalls (Pa) and Mr. Boast come in from digging out a stuck bobsled...

"With such good company, the morning seemed to go by in a minute. Dinner was almost ready when Pa and Mr. Boast came back with the bobsled. The enormous jackrabbit was browning in the oven. Potatoes were boiling, and the coffee pot bubbled on the back of the stove. The house was full of the good smells of roasting meat, hot breads, and coffee. Pa sniffed when he came in.

'Don't worry, Charles,' said Ma. 'You smell coffee, but the kettle is boiling to make your tea.'

'Good! Tea is a man's drink in cold weather, ' Pa told her."

If it's good for Charles Ingalls, then it must be good for me! Tho July in the Midwest is far from cold!

Friday, July 01, 2005

A Wild Salad!

Last night I asked my husband to bring in a few beet greens for a dinner salad. I was cooking - frozen pizza and salad. >-) What he came back with was the most *wild* and creative salad I've ever eaten!

All of the ingredients came from our yard. Most were grown intentionally in our garden. A few were grown *wildly* in the grass. Here are the green ingredients: New Zealand spinach (does well in the heat), loveage, beet greens, dandelion greens (*wild* - aka weed), purple basil, regular basil, lamb's quarter (*wild*), oregano, tarragon, plantain (*wild*). Here are the edible flower petals: marigold, calendula, cilantro, and geranium.

The salad tasted wonderful! We had it with a vinegar/oil/herbed vinaigrette. Now, I don't think the average American palette would immediately enjoy this...but I loved it! It was such an acrobatic event for my mouth. The oregano was very peppery. The tarragon and basil tasted like licorice. The dandelion and beet greens were bitter. The flower petals added an interesting texture. It all blended together nicely!

How does this relate to tea? Well, I'd like to say that I had a nice glass of iced tea with dinner. But I didn't - I had water. >-)

PS - A word to the wise: Don't try this at home unless you're really sure what you'll forage is safe. My husband is more plant than human, so we're cool with that. In addition, only eat weeds that are "grown" pesticide-free. There are some super-nasty lawn chemicals out there.