Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wedding Favor Tea

"Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things." - Chaim Potok 

Because often things are pretty crappy in life. It's been a week of snot and hacking for one. But in the midst of it, I got to attend a joyous wedding between two sweet people. So let's discuss that because tea was also in attendance. 

My daughter (co-founder of TeaPunk) and I drove out to CT for the wedding, and the first thing we did upon arriving at the reception area was scout out the tea location. One, because we both had a cold and really need a hot drink, and two, because we always look for tea. We were pointed in the right direction and found a spot decorated with two tiny tea pots in the shape of houses. So cute! We chose a blueberry flavor tea, which was in the theme of the day's color: purple. I would love to tell you it tasted good, but I couldn't taste anything at the time. But it felt very nice on my throat, so there's that :)

Each table's centerpiece was a decorative teapot. The mother and aunt of the bride spent the last few months keeping their eyes peeled at garage sales and the Salvation Army for all the pots. The one at our table had elegant gold trim. There was a game we were supposed to play to find a winner to take the teapot home, but we all decided instead to give it to the aunt of the bride who had expressed a love for this particular one. I had my eye on a japanese style one at another table, but I thought it might be bad form to just steal it on my way out the door. (You think?) I hope it went to a good home. 

We also received a wedding favor bag that contained: a decorative card with the couple's name and that day's date, two chocolates with purple trim, and...wet wipes? It couldn't be, but what else...oh! A tea bag! Yeah, my daughter couldn't believe that I didn't figure it out immediately. Just like it's human instinct to see faces in amorphous designs, I should assume "tea" for everything. 

In my defense, my brain was foggy from my cold. All week I kept remarking, "This tea isn't brewed enough; I can't taste...oh, right." Remembering I couldn't taste anything. So incredibly sad (Yet effective in trying to eat less. I didn't snack much.)  I've been rating food on texture. Hot tea without milk but lots and lots of honey. Especially tea with ginger in it- that spicy feeling was good.

This morning I drank some tea and said aloud, "Wow! This tea tastes great!...oh, right." Realizing, it was just that I can finally taste again. That's a happy thing.

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

High On Breakfast Black Hi-Caf

With curiosity and compassion.

Back in January my resolution was to simply acknowledge myself: physically, mentally, emotionally. There's nothing simple about it when I've spent most of my life denying, cutting off, or trying to alter my own perceptions to reflect acceptable values. Three months in, and I'm having a hard time. Thoughts are tricksy, tricksy. However, when I do remember, it's freeing since I really only have one step: feel.

A yoga teacher once said to be mindful in your practice with curiosity and compassion. I've found that to extend beyond the mat.

I do not want to review teas for this blog. I have gotten offers from companies. The most popular tea blogs do reviews. I could get free samples and more followers. But I don' wanna. There. Feelings acknowledged. 

How exactly do I feel when thinking about tea reviews on Steepings? No judgement, just curious...

Another item on the to-do list, overwhelmed, guilt if I don't do it timely, guilt if I don't like it, sucking all the joy out of drinking tea by making it a measured obligation. It would be like homework, like doing dishes, like the feeling of the entire ugly, cold, wet month of March...

A+ for honesty there. Now, I do write about teas I'm drinking, so what are the feelings about that? Compassionate ears...

I enjoy randomly finding teas. I like to look at the cover art on boxes in a store, or try a free sample in a cafe, or accept a cup at a friend's house and discover something new. I received a packet of Republic of Tea Hi-Caf one month in their catalog and really liked it, so I bought a tin, and when a friend was over and needed a jolt, I brewed it for him. That made me feel happy to recommend.

I'm all for sharing my thoughts on tea but not because I have any authority-wielding tastebuds, just because...well, it's fun! I think of Steepings as inviting a friend over once a week to brew a cup with good intentions, sitting down on a couch together, then babbling about everything and anything on my mind. No expectations, just good company with good tea. 

(Full disclosure now: I did write to Tea-rrific Ice Cream company offering to review their product. I can almost guarantee I'll write a good review if I get a coupon for a free sample. I can make a moral exception for ice-cream...)

I'm currently running a Hogwarts Philosophy discussion group for teens. We're reading selected essays from this book and then chatting. Last week, we discussed the different aspects associated with each House, and how any of them could be extremely evil or good. At one point we wondered what virtue was the epitome of all virtues, and most kids had "kindness" or a variation on it as their answer. I offered compassion, but I said that we had to be compassionate to ourselves most of all. 

That got me confused looks. I tried to explain that we can only be truly compassionate to others if we practice on ourselves first- often we are our harshest critics. Not sure I sold them on that idea, but at least I snuck it in their developing brains. Mwa-ha-ha.

The latest Republic of Tea catalog had dandelion tea as their sample. Haven't tried it yet, but when I do I might write about it. Maybe I won't. 

(Compassionate, I hope.)

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Personal Evening Herbal

No matter what my issue is, there is a tea to help. I like that assurance in life.

Dealing with heartburn is no fun, so I made myself a nice evening tea to help: chamomile, licorice, ginger, anise hyssop, and lemongrass. I've said it before, but it's worth mentioning again, peppermint is not included here because it is very bad for heartburn sufferers. Mint is soothing for the stomach, but it relaxes the sphincter of the esophagus and lets acid up for those of us so inclined. My tea blend is also a nice flavor steeped for 15 minutes in very hot water (with a top over the cup to keep it warm until ready.) 

Continuing on the health theme, black tea has been shown to help regulate blood sugar level for diabetics. As a pre-diabetic myself, it's nice to know my Earl Grey helps when I have a scone or two (as I currently am.) My husband likes to bake and everything is gluten free for me. Hard to resist, though he has cut down on sugary desserts and mostly makes more snacking goods. These scones don't have much sugar in the recipe, but he did add a banana to keep them moist. You can't taste it, but what a nice texture. Bring on the tea!

He made a double batch of scones because we went to a dessert potluck over the weekend that was part of a community dance: live old-timey music, a caller, and I wore a skirt that flowed. We don't go dancing often: a couple of years ago to a swing dance (neither of us were very good), several years before that to a family dance (the kids loved it), and over a decade ago to a community dance back in Syracuse (lots of fun.) That's about it. For whatever reason (the cloistered feeling of such a cold  winter perhaps?) I saw the ad and asked him out on a date. My son was invited, but not interested. My mom was happy to come along. We really enjoyed ourselves.

Circles, easy contras, and squares. Being a bit shy about partner dancing, I told my hubby he better stick to my side the whole night. Even though he was asked by other woman to dance, he stayed the whole time. Good man. The caller was clear, the band was tight, and most of us seemed to be on the same level- unskilled but enthusiastic.

At break time the desserts were wheeled out and the scones gobbled up. No tea, but plenty of cool water, which is all I really wanted then anyhow. A lady came over to say how she enjoyed watching my husband and I dance because we looked so happy. We were laughing a lot (as we tried to figure out which way to spin, alamande, or do-si-do) and after twenty years together, that's a good thing. Especially since the empty nest is only a couple years away (though I've heard kids come back nowadays...) That night I slept better than I had in weeks.

Live music, happy stomping, and love holding your hand are as healing as a cup of tea.

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Earl Grey With Perty Flowers

Last week I awoke to the feeling of Spring. It was about six degrees outside and snow everywhere, but a sunny switch clicked. Or maybe I just had several nights of good sleep. Either way, hope has returned. I sit here drinking Earl Grey with yellow flowers. I can't remember where I bought it, or what kind of flowers they are (linden?) but the taste is lovely: a subtle difference from the regular bergamot and black tea, not enough to change the character of my beloved drink, but enough to awaken something new.

I sent out a few postcards to people I love but don't see often enough. Does anyone send postcards anymore? The lady at the post office had to search for the stamps. My messages were basically the same: "Hi! I love you!! Spring is coming!!!" A part of me is eternally ten years old. There are worse examples of immaturity. 

March can be a challenging month in upstate New York: Daylight Savings Time kicks in the wrong direction (why is that still a thing?!) so we're all cranky in the morning, the sun is shining more, but the weather swings like February or April sometimes in the same day, and the technical date of Spring waltzes by regardless of what's actually happening outside. 

The memory of last March is one I'd rather forget because my house was in the midst of a six-week plague. I am not one to visit the doctor or take my children unless there has been a couple weeks of personal immune battles. We went twice to the doc during last March, "hoping" the flu was something else so drugs could cure us. Alas, it was just a really, really strong strain of the flu (the 1918 Spanish version had been going around- aren't we the lucky winners to catch it!) The two teens and myself were laid out, while my healthy husband did everything and listened to us whine for over a month. But it passed, we brightened up, and Spring eventually arrived.

On a positive note (la!) extreme temperature changes are also why the maple sap runs so we have syrup. I guess I can't complain too much because I love maple syrup. Try it in your chai- FANtalicious!

Perhaps my joy this March is because no one is sick (quick! knock on wood!) or because my TeaPunk Soirèe went well (good attendance! happy faces!) and I'm planning another for April with the theme: Bloomin' Blast. Or it could be that this tea is really tasty and hot, and with the sun falling through my window, I am warm inside and out.

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.