Each time I return, I convince myself that I must have imagined it. Can a place really be so perfect?
Well, I’m back again, and the answer is yes.
I’m on the southern California coast, and just a quarter turn of my head presents me with the ocean. Another quarter turn – rolling green hills dripping in sunshine.
And the food – words fail me, you lucky, lucky Californians! California cuisine is fresh, gently handled and absolutely delightful – even my poolside veggie sandwich consisted of lovely mixed greens and light mozzarella cheese on whole grain bread, lightly brushed with olive oil. I enjoyed all of my salad greens, felt each one interact differently with the mix of lemon juice and cilantro and spices. There was simply no need to douse, sauce, fry, smother, or hide this food.
And what does this have to do with tea? I’m getting there, my friend. Eating this way reminds me how to eat and drink always and everywhere – mindfully and with total attention and awareness. As you know, I always advocate drinking tea in just this way.
So, be still with that cup in your hands. Sip, wait, breathe. How does the ginger interact with the fennel and licorice in this cup of tea. And in that cup, how does it interact with the mint? How does that black tea feel on your tongue – and how is it different from the green? This sort of mindfulness while tasting tea is a meditation of sorts, a way to be entirely in the present moment. So, baby, sip, consider, savor your tea.
I get interesting questions about tea every day: "Where is tea grown?" "How much caffeine does it have?" "Is it healthy?" Occasionally, I’ll get a particularly fun one: “Is it OK if I bob my tea bag up and down while it’s steeping?” (Yes, baby, bob away.)
By far the most common question is about the “right” steeping time for various teas. Of course, there are some general guidelines you can follow: 5-6 minutes for black tea, 3-5 minutes for green tea, and 2-3 minutes for white tea and herbal teas.
Really, though, such guidelines are just a starting point. As I always love to say, tea drinking is an experience. More accurately, though, tea drinking is your experience. If you prefer a 6 minute steep time for your green tea . . . well, then, 6 minutes is the "right" steeping time.
Whenever you try a new tea, spend some time experimenting with different steeping times. Eventually you will find the perfect balance of flavor and astringency for you.
I'm glad to find this tea group. People with the same passion. Looking forward to sharing.
A hot drink is as good as an overcoat. - Latin Proverb
Straight from the teapot to the soup pot is this wonderful recipe. Yes, you can cook with tea! This is a wonderful new approach to cuisine.
Tea themed sheet music is one of my favorite things to look for when I'm antiquing. I frame each one with a simple black wooden frame.
On our recent trip to Sacramento (CA), we stopped at the Arden Fair mall. This was the first time I had been there and the first time I had ever heard/seen/been to a store there called Teavana.
From the outside I could see in, a whole wall of tea canisters and tea pots, Buddhas and fresh tea for tasting! I had to go inside and have a look!! I was so excited!!
Fist off, it smells great in there! Second; I have never seen so many teas, tea blends, tea pots, tea gadgets or honey for tea in one store before. The store has a definite Asian influence. I tasted 3 teas and ended up at the wall of tea canisters where I stood in amazement, looking at them all and feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the choices.
The Lady there was very nice and let me smell test any of the teas I wanted!! I ended up getting "To life" a white tea blend and "Green tea Mojo" a green tea blend. Both are fabulous. I drink "To life" when I want something a little lighter, usually in the evening and "Mojo" as my morning tea.
I also bought a gadget called "The perfect tea maker".
You scoop your tea into it and pour hot water over, let steep, and hold it over your tea cup, as it filters and dispenses your tea!! It's awesome. At first I didn't want it but my husband thought I should get it, so I did. Now I'm so happy I got it because it does make the perfect cup of tea!
They also have the most beautiful bottles of organic honey there! She informed me that any sweeteners that isn't organic will destroy the antioxidants in tea. I didn't know that! So next time I will buy one of those fancy honeys!!
Another fancy thing they have there are "Blooming" teas. Hand tied tea leaves that bloom open in water to resemble a flower, as you can see in the picture:
Take a look at their online store: www.teavana.com/shop.axd/Default
forlifeI decided to buy some loose tea. I've always been a "bag" lady, but I thought I'd give loose teas a shot. I ordered a few different teas from Arbor Teas, not really knowing what I'd like. I ordered a white tea sampler, Jade Oolong Organic Tea, Decaf. Coconut Black Tea, Honeybush Organic Tea and a Decaf Green Tea. Right off the start I'd say my favorite has to be the coconut black tea. The aroma is outstanding. I have to wonder though, how "decaf" it really is, since I drank a cup and still had a little jitters (seriously, I can't take caffeine, it makes me crazy! :ROTFL: The honeybush is really nice, too. It has this smokey, woodsey smell that I love. I don't know what to think of the white tea, maybe I didn't steep it enough, but it didn't have as much flavor as I thought.
I also picked up one of these FORLIFE mugs, and I LOVE it! It's a regular mug, with a large infuser inside of it. It's got a nice lid for keeping the tea hot while it steeps, and after I'm done, I just turn it upside down and rest the infuser in it. I'm so glad I got it, it wasn't until I used the Oolong tea that I realized how great that big infuser is. I was shocked when I saw that huge clump of wet leaves after it was steeped. I also stumbled across Harney's Organic Peppermint Tea (bagged) which I think is pretty awesome, and it's a really pretty shade of green after it's steeped.
I am thinking about trying loose tea. I have always just used the regular old teabags (and I still love using them!) but I thought I'd try something new. I was looking at the Adagio website and saw a cool tea cup/infuser call IngenuiTEA and was wondering if anyone has tried it or something similar (like Bodum?) or do people like using the infusing ball?
OK, since you guys were AWESOME at giving me suggestions for new teas, here is a question for the tea drinkers. Do I really need to use a tea kettle? I am the only one in the house who drinks tea. I basically just drink one cup of tea. I just put cold water in a mug and then nuke it, rather than waste time with a kettle. I bet some of you are gasping at this, but really, does it matter if I make my tea this way? Is taste really affected at all? Keep in mind that I don't think I have a very sophisticated palate.