Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Rains

Katrina has a long reach! She's dumping rain on us in the Midwest. The rains that bring devastation on the East coast also bring life to the parched Midwestern land that has been in a drought.

As I sip my Royal Puerh (a smooth "cooked" puerh), I contemplate how Mother Nature has a pretty good cause for being upset with us! We continue to abuse our planet. I believe that while we think we're in control, nature can take back her authority at any moment. Let us never forget that we (humans) are merely one small part of this interdependent web of life.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lovely Luna

Here is the result of my emotional and impulsive purchase several days ago. It's the Jenaer Luna teapot and warmer, and I'm glad I got it! You may recall that I panicked because Jenaer Glass (a German company) is going out of business. Such good quality things they make. I've come to find out the closure is from pressure from lower-cost manufacturing in Asia. It's just not profitable for Jenaer anymore.

I must say, I was wondering if the Luna would be as nice as the Mikado in terms of the no-drip feature. Yes, it is! Absolutely no drips! The tea steeping is Spring 2005 High Mountain, a green from Taiwan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tea Tidbits

I've been accumulating a number of tea-related tidbits to share with you. Here goes:

1 - Tea Quotes: I've added several new tea quotes to my Serendipity Teas site - see the quote page. Enjoy! My current favorite is this: "There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea." - Bernard-Paul Heroux

2 - Cooking with Tea: Check out these incredible recipes from Is My Blog Burning?

(Thanks to Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea and Teaswap for alerting us to these recipes!)

3 - For a Laugh: Read a Brit's review of the tea kettle situation in the US. http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/ - Go to the right column and scroll down to the article under Your Feedback by Robert Landon. It's fun. Quite! I especially love the perspective on too-good water pressure and the "water splatter problem."

4 - Fashionable Tea: The fall edition of Town & Country Travel reports that London is experiencing an afternoon tea revival. Powerhouse restaurants are now packed all day long. One restaurant makes pastries inspired by the latest fashion collections.

Monday, August 22, 2005

New Tea Outfit!

I think my new outfit would be perfect to wear to tea. The tank top came from the Victorian Trading Company. I made the skirt myself! It's my first attempt to sew something wearable. I got a sewing machine last Christmas. So far, I've stuck with making napkins and bags. Only recently have I felt confident enough to branch out to a skirt. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.

A special thanks to my sewing mentor in NM! She talked me through a way of making the drawstring hole so that I didn't need to make 2 button holes! Yeah! I just bought some more fabric this weekend - a dark blue toile. I plan to make another skirt in the near future. Practice, practice!

Spode Artwork

This gorgeous teapot is by Spode. It's the Fleur-de-Lis pattern. This lovely teapot came from an antique store in England, and now belongs to a friend and coworker. I love this color of blue!
I love the form of a teapot! And, when it is graced with lovely decoration, I think a teapot is a marvelous (and functional) piece of art. Thank you for sharing!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tea Review - Vanilla Silver Needles

This post will review my experience tasting a new tea. This tea, Vanilla Silver Needles, is a special one from the tea club (Imperial Tea Court) that was a Christmas gift from my mother. It's worth pointing out that this is not a flavored tea. Rather, it's a scented tea. Tea takes on the smell of things near it. This works beautifully when done by design! This is how your highest quality Jasmine teas are scented. In the case of the Vanilla Silver Needles, the tea is dried in between layers of vanilla bean.

The write up by Roy Fong (proprietor of the Imperial Tea Court, ordained Daoist priest, and one of America's leading tea experts) describes the tea as follows: "A perfect harmony of the sweet fragrance of vanilla beans and the soothing elegance of our Vanilla Silver Needles white tea. This tea is mild and forgiving but never lacking in flavor." I believe this is an appropriate description. Besides, who am I to argue with Roy? :)

Dry Leaf: The dry tea leaves are quite large and downy. I felt a sense of cognitive dissonance with the aroma. My mind detected something sweet, but the prevalent aroma was spinachy, and I couldn't seem to congeal these two together.

First Steeping: My first steeping was for 2.5 minutes. (The directions recommended between 2 - 3 minutes with water just shy of boiling.) The directions also suggested this tea would hold up well to multiple infusions. The liquor at 2.5 minutes reminds me of gingerale. There are even a few bubbles. The aroma of the steeping tea highlights the vanilla scent. The taste is very smooth and light. I notice a sweetness at the mid and back of my mouth.

Second Steeping: The leaves sat overnight (in the fridge). They held up well for the second steeping. Water at the same temp, but steeped for an additional minute. The sweet aroma is still prevalent. I notice a little more of the spinach flavor this go.

I've enjoyed this tea a great deal and look forward to exploring it more!

9 Years Later

Here's a photo of the DH and I, celebrating our 9th anniversary. The DH smiles often - just not easily in photos. :-) Someone has to crack a really good joke. We had a wonderful dinner at Tutto Benne, a local Italian wine bar.

While preparing to head to dinner, I found myself wondering, "What do we talk about after 9 years? Will there be anything special to discuss?" Throughout the entire wedding anniversary day we joked a lot and talked about our memories of the wedding. When we went to dinner, the conversation was comfortable and typical -- how we liked the restaurant, the music (live jazz), the food, the interesting glassware, inside jokes. I suppose there is something sacred in everyday conversation. What strikes me as important is that families, partners, friends continue to have these simple conversations and listen to each other. Not listening to hear themselves, but for the other's message. That makes 9 years of conversation interesting. Not always easy, either! :-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

TEA Poem - Originally posted on this site: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/8/3/215657/4423

Tender and Fragrant Tea is Adored by Monks and Poets.
Prepared in White Jade Dishes Couched in Softest Red Silk, the Topaz-hued Leaves Growing in the Fields are Yours in a Trice;
Ready to Accompany You to Enjoy the Bright Moon of Night and to Greet the Rosy Clouds of Early Dawn.
Never in Ancient or Modern Times Has One Ever Been Tired of Taking it -- Never Can it Be Praised Too Much in the Presence of Those Who Love to Be Drinking!

English translation by Ms. An Yu-bin, Shandong Province, PR China

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Blog for Hope

Take a moment to review Blog for Hope. "Yahoo! and the American Cancer Society are breaking new ground in an effort to connect individuals in the fight against cancer. In a 30-day Blog for Hope event on Yahoo! Health, celebrities from every walk of public life will share the triumphs, insights, and personal stories of how cancer has affected their lives."

I particularly enjoyed the posts by Deepak Chopra and Fran Dresher.

A coworker pointed out this site. It came at an impactful time because just yesterday I lost a former coworker to a two-year battle with cancer.

Americana on a Rainy Day

I'm dry now. I spent the past 2 hours fairly soaked. The DH (dear husband) and I set out shortly after 6 am this morning for the post office. I had two tea packages to mail. I like to go to the post office early in the morning. It's a refreshing 20-minute walk and the new machine that weighs packages and prints the postage is fun to use! :) (Can you tell I work for the high tech industry?) We'd planned last night to make the pilgrimage, so when we woke to a steady rain this morning, that didn't dissuade us. I wrapped my tea packages in plastic and buried them in my backpack. No rain was getting through to them! I, however, was another story.

My community is quite hilly and it had been raining all night. That combination of meteorological and topographical features made for a lot of puddles. Being only half awake shortly after 6 am, I promptly stepped in a big puddle and drenched my feet. Thank goodness the temps were a comfortable 72! We made our way to the post office. The DH even began his singing about half way there. (He's one of those people that almost always has a song in his head, and he often shares it with the world. Unfortunately, I can't remember today's selection.) The packages made it - safe and dry!

As a reward for our rain trek, I suggested bagels. The DH suggested biscuits and gravy. That sounded pretty good to me, as well, so we rounded the corner and turned into Ladyman's Cafe. We sat at the counter - I always love that because I feel tall! The DH had traditional biscuits & gravy and coffee. I had the two egg special: 2 eggs over easy, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and hot chocolate. Oh, the toast! I just love cafe toast! It's the kind that is perfectly golden with the butter melted over the entire surface. Yumm!!! We chatted with the sweet waitress and read the paper. A nice leisurely breakfast. This is a definite benefit of working 9 am - 6 pm. I have time for enjoying the morning before the daily grind begins. On that note, now I must be off...time to make some tea and then hit the work clock!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Farmer's Market

Below are some photos from the local Farmer's Market. Walking here in eager anticipation and home with arms loaded is a Saturday morning ritual for the DH and me! The Market runs 8 months of the year. I think there's a small niche for someone to sell herbal teas. All Market products have to be grown in the surrounding counties. There could be Indiana mint tea, chamomile, lavender, bee balm, red clover, and all sorts of blends! I think it would fit in best with the local honey vendors. They've probably got enough to do already. :) Enjoy the pics.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Major Setback in the World of Teapots

Hello, All - I was so saddened today when I learned that Jenaer Glass is going out of business! The company's Mikado teapot is my absolute favorite - I love the teapot's beauty, the abilty to observe the tea as it unfolds, and the practical benefit that it doesn't drip! I posted a photo of this teapot previously.

My wholesale supplier is out of the teapot - and not able to get more. However, I was put into direct contact with the comany, and it does have a few teapots left in the warehouse. If you're interested in one, act quickly. Here is the URL to purchase a Mikado: http://www.jenaer.com/teapots/mikado_teapot.html See the other lines of teapots by clicking on the small tabs near the top of the screen (Petit, Luna, etc.) Against my rational judgement, I have just made a very emotional purchase on the Luna. I can't imagine this teapot line going away! This is definitely sad news for the tea world!

Ironically, last Saturday evening, the DH and I hosted a dinner party. I used the Jenaer teapot with much success. One of our guests was German, so I asked him to interpret many of the long German words on the box. It was great fun! He shared with me that the Jenaer region in Germany is famous for its world-class glassmaking.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

World Tea News

Check out this link for regular feeds of tea news on the global market: http://www.worldteanews.com/ My favorite was the one about a room odor eliminator using green tea extract.

The site is sponsored by the World Tea Expo (formerly TakeMe2Tea).

9 Years Ago Today

9 years ago today, I was married. And my life has been quite the adventure ever since! The photo above is my favorite. It was snapped by my ~9 year old cousin as she rode past us in a convertible. The driver, contrary to popular belief, is not Amish. He's just an old farmer. The horse not shown is named May. The DH (dear husband) and I have a reservation to take another carriage ride on our 50th anniversary.

Our wedding was very special! We were married in the front yard at my parents' home. It was a surprisingly comfortable August day in the Midwest. It was a casual affair. My parents surprised me with the horse and carriage. My sister was my Maid of Honor. I say that it was a "small" wedding, but we had nearly 100 people there. To me, small is appropriate because most of the group was family!

My grandfather married us. There wasn't a dry eye in the yard when he asked us to kneel, then touching us, prayed for our marriage. I remember how his voice and hands shook.

We had a reception at the local Lions Club building. After the festivities, we came back to my parents'. Several of my cousins followed along, and we ended the deal by being thrown into the pond - an old fashioned family tradition for newly weds that just happened to get revived at my wedding!

Now, coming full circle, I am making preparations for my sister's wedding, which we will celebrate at the end of the month. Happy Anniversary to us all!

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Honey of a Book...

Check out this book preview: www.tobeebook.com/preview.html
The preview highlights the adventures of the book's main character, Buzz. I think the marketing is quite clever. I had the privilege to do an advanced-read of the book, as the DH (dear husband) and I know the author. It's a very endearing story. Here are my original comments to the author:

"To Bee or Not to Bee is a book that, when read to children, they will understand immediately. And when read by adults, they will understand slowly as it pricks their minds and souls.

The adventures of Buzz delicately bring to life the struggles and possibilities of our era. We each have our own land of milk and honey. We can find it when we take Buzz’s example and bee present with ourselves."

The book's website is:
www.tobeebook.com/ From here, you can download a free e-book! It's perfect to read with a cup of tea and honey.

"The power of the mind lies in perceiving differences; The power of the heart lies in perceiving similarities." -- To Bee or Not to Bee

Sunday, August 07, 2005


I was a greeter at church this morning. My job was to hand out programs as folks entered the sanctuary. One mom and two youngsters entered right as the service began. The boy was about 5 and the girl was about 3. They sat in the seats nearest the door, and thus me. As the little girl sat down, she lifted up her sun dress. She did this as I turned my head toward her and I noticed she didn't have on any skivvies. Her mother noticed at the same moment, and whispered, as she put her hand over her daughter's to lower the dress, "Where did your panties go?" The little girl, still squirming but trying to get settled in the chair that was much too big for her, said, "I didn't want to wear them!" At this, the mother did an incredible job of not bursting out in a fit of laughter. She just helped her daughter get settled and had a much-deserved chuckle! So did I!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Glorious Glass Teapots

I am adoring my glass teapot! I generally use the teapot when I host a tea tasting, because it showcases the tea as it unfurls (the "agony of the leaf") and gives the best view of the color. In addition, this particular teapot pours like none other that I own. I don't think it has ever dripped.
Yesterday, I pulled out the teapot for my own use. I was trying an herbal tea that I had received as a gift and I wanted to get a good view of the color. I also wanted to make more than 1 cup. So, out of the box comes the glass teapot. (That's a subtle, but important note. If you have or get one of these, they are best protected by storing in their box. The pots are delicate.) My teapot is called the Teekanne Mikado. It's made in Germany, by Jenaer Glas. If any of you interested in one, let me know via e-mail. I receive a good deal on them.

I think I'll keep the pot out for a few days and enjoy it. With fall here (I celebrate its beginning on Aug 1), the light streams into my front window in the late afternoon, and yesterday it just set my teapot and herbal tea ablaze!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tea and Conversation

I had the privilege last night to have tea, dessert and conversation with my neighbor. I'm reminded that slowing down for conversation and a cup of tea is one of the most simple and fulfilling events in life for me.

"The beauty I see over tea is thee." --Unknown

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Entrepreneurial Spirit

I have an entrepreneurial spirit! I'm always thinking of cool new businesses to start. The catch is that I'm not that much of a risk taker, at least not when it comes to my livelihood. So, if I could be in the business of thinking up businesses for someone else to start, I could probably make a fortune!

Here's my latest idea - this one is a modification of two ideas already on the market. I've just read in the recent Time about the newest "dahling" on the coffee house scene. It's chocolate "bars"!!
They serve all varieties imaginable of hot chocolate, plus other sugary drinks (including coffee and tea). Of course, they also feature exquisite chocolate truffles. They tend to be pretty shi-shi places. My idea would be to open a chocolate/tea bar. Have tea be the featured drink (tho I'd probably have to offer hot chocolate and coffee, too), and serve all kinds of chocolate treats. I think it sounds like such fun! At the same time, it's basically running a restaurant - and that's not so fun. That's why I don't open a tea room, even though I've seriously considered and even quasi searched for space. It's a restaurant; that can't be ignored.

So, if any of you pioneers out there are looking for a business...maybe this chocolate & tea bar is the one for you!