Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tornadoes on Top!

Hello all. We had a small tornado on Thursday and so have had no power, no computer, no phones. We just got power back. My computer is still away, so no real blog for a while yet. Of the 40 or so houses up here on the hill, only three had pretty minimal damage but our trees are a sad and sorry sight. My neighbor's beautiful flower garden has a huge pine across it and she is just sick, as you can imagine. But no one was hurt, all our critters are ok and if we're a little smelly, that's nothing.

I'll be back when I can.

By the way, jasmine tea that has been brewing in the fridge for 3 days is quite good and not a bit harsh or nasty. I just wish I had found out about it a different way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hello all - my computer has to go to hospital, so until it is well, I won't be writing. See you all then.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pitch Pine Pollen Matches Matcha!

Wow, a breeze just came through the pitch pines and scattered pollen in a huge greenish yellow cloud. It is just about the color of the matcha tea I am having, from the Bamboo Tea House.

I had ordered a bowl, whisk and spoon from Rice Tea company because I couldn't really get much froth with what utensils I had and it just arrived yesterday, so of course I had to try it out. I know it is no "super set" but I like it. The bowl fits my hands well and is an attractive creamy beige with brown and green markings. The tea is made, in the beginning, the same way as gyokuro, that is, the bushes are shaded for 6 weeks before plucking, to enhance the amount of chlorophyll in them. Then the leaves are dried and ground into a very fine powder.

I got out my matcha, warmed the water to about 150 degrees poured it over a scoop of tea and whisked away in a "W" shape. Behold! Frothy matcha. I feel so proud of my self. The tea is so springy - a nice bright green color and a nice bright green flavor, slightly sweet, slightly astringent. Altogether a very nice drink and I am happy to have the utensils to go with it. This is not top-quality or ceremonial matcha, but I figure when you are learning to do something, it is best to start with perhaps lesser or different quality and cost.

If I really get into Matcha, I may buy some that is more expensive. For now, this is enough. The grade I purchased is also used in cooking and I am going to see about adding it to my vanilla ice cream and see how it is. Or maybe matcha macaroons, if the weather ever dries out. The first time I ever had green tea ice cream I loved it. It was a nice subtle flavor in good quality ice cream. I have had some since that was not, the makers got too exuberant with the matcha.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Twenty Cups of Tea

Market Day in front of the town hall in Durlach, Germany. My many greats grandfather emigrated from here in 1750.

My friend Leon, who is a well-known rosarian in NYS, is also a middle school teacher. He does something with his homeroom kids that I think is wonderful. He likes a cup of tea to start his school day and his kids asked if they could have some, too. Now all the kids have brought in mugs from home and have a cup of tea before starting the day. It's a time for community building, relaxation and just a good time. Isn't that a great idea?


I am still trying to recover my bird feeders from the bear. I am trying them in big pots filled with grave, sand and water. So far, so good. Now if I could just convince Mr. Ernesto Poosey-Kat to quit jumping up for birds, we'd be in business.

Gardening is going slowly. We only have about 4 inches of heavy clay topsoil over gravel. Oooh, hear the gardeners swear! The builder, who is a very nice man, keeps telling me that the gravel will turn to soil as the roots work it. In about a 1,000 years. He is not a gardener. Obviously

I had the sample from the Tea Table of their Yunnan Superior Golden Tips today - all buds and first leaves, all golden, very attractive. It smelled of floral, earth and spice notes.However, in the cup it was just ok, with nothing special to it. I am fairly sure this was last years, which was not a really good Yunnan year. However, their Tsarina Blend was quite good.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Coconut Shy

What would picture taking be without shots from the train window? This is far eastern Switzerland. No mountains, only hills.

There are a grackle and a starling having a loud discussion over a suet feeder. Go grackles! I really dislike starlings. I don't mind this one too much, as it is only one, but a flock of them will decimate your bird feeders and leave a big mess. Speaking of which I read a book recently about bird feeding and I don't think the author really liked birds. Most of the book was about which birds were messy and which ones ate too much and how to avoid feeding messy birds.

It is a stunningly beautiful day. The sky is a perfect blue, with big puffy clouds and, ahem. ahem, SUNSHINE. It also has finally gotten green up here and the birds are singing their little hearts out.Maybe it will dry out enough to plant something soon, but not now - the lawn is squishy again.

On this fine day I am having a new tea - a sample from the Tea Table I got with my order. It is Coconut - black tea blended with coconut pieces. And I am sure there is coconut flavoring there as well, because it tastes like the coconut muffins I make when I slip up and put too much flavoring in.

It is an attractive tea, with the white fruit offsetting the dark tea. It smells wonderful, from sack to cup. I am sure most coconut lovers would like it, but it has too much falvoring in it for me, so I need to give it a thumbs down. Sigh, I was hoping. My husband loves it. We are so different in our tastes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Frolicking in the Far East

On my last swing through the aisles of the Asian market, I picked up what I thought was Rose black tea. Nope, it is Roselle Black Tea, distributed by Fujian Blue Lake Foods, from China. Okay, so what is Roselle? Wikipedia to the rescue. It is a kind of Hibiscus. It comes in a smallish glass apothecary jar, with a really good seal.

The tea is quite pretty, with crinkled black and brown leaves and red flower petals. It smells sweet, like heavy brown sugar. I brewed it for 3.5 minutes with boiling water. While it was brewing it smelled distinctly like rhubarb, which I have been having a lot of, lately. It is a fairly light colored brew - medium honey at best. It is rather odd tasting, sharp, dark, medicinal, but tasty. I could really get used to it. The deeper I go in the cup, the more the hibiscus comes to the fore, but very politely, not as sharp as usual. Perhaps the black tea modifies it more than herbals. The medicinal aspect disappears, as well as any heaviness. Altogether pleasant.

I am having this with homemade low carb, sugar free, chocolate chip pecan scones. Oh my, this recipe is a keeper. If there are other low carbers out there who would like the recipe, go to and go to the recipe section. I also made some really good blueberry pecan scones and there are frozen raspberries just begging for use in the freezer.

I bought myself a matcha whisk and bowl, as I do love matcha and I wanted to treat it right. Also, my efforts to whip it into a froth were not at all a success. When it arrives, I'll fill you in as I have matcha waiting from the Bamboo Tea House.

I see Dean and DeLuca, that purveyor of exceedingly expensive food stuffs, which I admit to giving as gifts, now carries not only its own brand of elegantly packaged teas, but a good selection of Mariage Freres, who make some absolutely wonderful stuff. Come Chritmastime I shall have to forward a small selection to Himself as a hint.

A grackle and a blue jay are taking turns at the feeders. They are both bully boys, so I don't feel sorry for them picking on or scolding each other. The rose-breasted grosbeak was here this morning, looking a bit worn. Kiddies keeping you up nights, hmmm? A male Hairy woodpecker was at the suet last night, filling his beak with as much as he could carry several times. I suspect he is doing papa duty as well.

The Sunny Azores Isles

Did you know that Starbucks, that ubiquitous purveyor of that other hot liquid is hoping to sell top-quality premium Darjeeling? They are negotiating with the Darjeeling Tea Board for a license to do that. This is necessary in order to label it "Darjeeling". Y'all know they bought Tazo Teas way back in 1999? I guess they really want to corner the market on drinks. Is Hershey or Nestles next? Someone ought to tell them that bigger is not always better.

There is another new tea infuser out. This one apparently let's you squeeze as you infuse so the tea leaves are "massaged" and thereby infuse faster and it works especially well with larger leaf teas. If you feel you just have to have another gadget in your life, go to for more information. Personally, I probably have enough, but there's this little corner on the tea shelf.....

Who am I kidding? Tea shelf? It's more like shelves, drawers, boxes. Which is why I am getting rid of teas I don't like or are too old to be good any longer. The latter goes in the compost, which is about ready to harvest, at least from the oldest bin. Such nice black dirt. Now, if it would stop raining enough to be able to plant the rest of my trees and shrubs.... We did have sun today - from 6:58 to 7:02. Just enough for me to think "Oh boy, a planting day"

I told you I got my order from Gorreana Tea, a company that's been producing tea on the island of Sao Miguel, off the coast of Portugal, since 1883! I ordered the Pekoe and tried some yesterday. It came in a dark blue and silver pouch and smelled wonderful when I opened it. The aroma was deep and nutty - like a really good dark tobacco. My dad was a pipe smoker, so I got to smell a lot of tobacco. The leaves are quite large and a deep red brown. I only brewed it for 3 minutes, but today I am having some brewed for 3.5, with boiling water and a few more leaves.

What a smoothie this tea is. It's just like silk. It brewed up much lighter in both color and taste than I was expecting yesterday. Hence the more tea and time today. I guess the leaves were just big enough they needed both - at least for my taste. The aroma from the brewing tea is nutty and earthy, with some cocoa and floral or sweet notes in it. Even today it is a much lighter appearing brew than I would have expected, kind of a honey color. This is a very gentle tea, reminiscent of walnuts, a bit of tobacco and very very smooth. It takes cream very nicely. I think it would be excellent any time of day - sturdy enough for mornings and made just a touch weaker, perfect for an afternoon with a bit of pastry.

All of Gorreana's teas are single estate grown, using no pesticides, herbicides, etc., but their prices are competative - $13.99 for about 1/4 pound. You can read all about it at . You can purchase the tea there as well. Sororitea Sisters blog also did a review of one of their green teas, available at Put Gorreana Tea in the search box.

I do have 2 very small complaints. The bag is not resealable and there is no English on the packet. I am sure, if they grow an English market they will do so, but exotic is nice, even if I can't read it. The resealable I handled by just plopping it in one of my empty tins. Which I probably also need to weed out. For now, a lot of them are in the attic.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gardening Days

Another altar cover from Amalfi

Oh frabjous joy! Not just one oriole, but a pair. I have to say, the male may be very handsome, but he is not very agreeable. He wants to be the only one at the feeder, including his mate, whom he also chases away. She is much duller in color, but still attractive.

I love the little downy woodpeckers. They are so darn cute when they are bobbing their heads around to make sure it is safe to eat. If you don't have them where you are, they are about 6 inches long, about the size of a suet holder, and black and white with a bit of red on their crowns. The hairy woodpecker is about 8.5 inches long and looks almost the same.

Our backyard is covered with violets and rockcress and down the road an old apple tree is bursting into bloom. When I was a kid, walking home from school, to the farm, one of my favorite sights was coming over the hill and seeing the apple orchard in bloom. And the scent - so sweet, I always wanted to keep it forever. I still do.

I spent a lot of today planting daylillies and some black hollyhocks. Daylillies are so accomadating. with little care they just bloom their hearts out and spread nicely so you eventually have great tracts of them. You can use the buds in some Chinese dishes and some of them are even nicely scented.

Speaking of scent, today's tea doesn't have much. It is Irish Cream from one of our local shops, Front and Center. It is a pretty tea, with blue and yellow flowers decorating it. I did my usual for new black teas and finally there was some aroma - sort of creamy, and definitely Irish Breakfast. Yes, it tastes creamy, but that fake cream, not the real stuff. Even putting the real thing in didn't help much. And I certainly couldn't taste any good Irish whiskey, either. Not a very satisfying cup.


Today I am just happy with my Tsarina Blend mentioned yesterday. However, my order for Gorreana Tea - Orange Pekoe - just arrived and I will have that tomorrow. I have heard good things about them, so I am looking forward to it.

Remember I told you we'd had a bear visitation? So did everyone else on this side of the road, with bird feeders. I was out today trying to repair some of the damage and it really smelled rank and the cats won't go out in back, so I guess either one visited again or the rain and humidity brought out the scent. My newest feeder - an anti-squirrel one - is sadly awry and I am hoping I can realign both it and the pole it was hanging from.

Ta for now, more tomorrow.

Lazing in the Spring

There will be a series of posts which somehow never got posted, due to the Blogger Thingy having a hissy fit.

In Amalfi Cathedral there was a niche with the scene of Christ being
prepared for burial. Mary and her companions and all the angels were
weeping and dressed in black. This one little cherub was just hitting
himself in the forehead. It cracked us up.

In the Sunday NY Times, there was a picture of "An unexpected peace and quiet...found in Java, a densely populated gather tea leaves". It did indeed look peaceful, with the neat rows of tea and 2 people overlooking them

In World Tea News there is an article about the growth of Fair Trade teas - a whopping 38% over last year. This is good news - for us, because we can be assured of decently produced tea and for all the workers who will be treated better

Have you gotten any teas from this new tea year? I have to finish cleaning my cupboard first

I may not taste any tea today - my husband is cooking collards and rhapsodizing about the smell, whereas I am trying not to breathe, as I think they STINK. I think it is keeping the birds from the feeders, as well

There is such a difference between where we are and down on the river. Most of our trees have finally gotten that first flush of Spring green. Down on the river flats, the trees have real leaves and shade! Amazing.

I decided to be lazy today and just have an old favorite - Culinary Tea's Lady Londonderry. I've reviewed this before and it supposedly was Princess Diana's favorite

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chocolate + Tea = Bliss

Today I seem to have my brain connected to my hands and managed to get the tin of Twining's Darjeeling Tea - Classic, no less. It is a blend of teas and when I opened the tin, I was a bit disappointed, as the tea was such tiny bits. It is not the hard core pebbles of many CTC teas, but tiny, nevertheless. It smelled kind of hay like, but heavier, almost toasted. It was clearly a mix of black, brown and silver bits.

I used my usual, 1 teaspoon, boiling water, but only 3 minutes, as the leaves were so small. While it was brewing, it again had that roasted hay aroma. The tea was much darker in the cup than I expected, almost black. Rats, the 3 minute steep is too long and the tea is pretty tannic. Cream does help, but I guess I had better try for 2 -2.5 minutes tomorrow.

Oh goody, the mail just came and with it my order from the Tea Table. I am very taken with their Tsarina blend, which I reviewed a long time ago. I also got a couple samples - one of which is coconut. My husband loves coconut tea and I am trying to find one I like as well.

For those of you with an iPhone, there is now a tea app, accessible at or for a $3.99 download from iPhone. There's a tea map and James Norwood Pratt's Tea Dictionery available there as well.

What Ho! Somone has finally come up with the ideal melding of chocolate and tea - chocolate tea cups! They are infused with several different teas and come in a tea tin. They come from Kitchen TLC (tea, life, chocolate). I am not sure how to order from them, but there is a place on the site for stores and to contact them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bears and Birds, Oh No!

Let me tell you a bit about the "retirement community" we live in. Sometime in the 30's a woman left her farm and some money for a place for retired Presbyterian pastors. From the main farmhouse and manager's cottage, this has grown to 9 cottages. All individual, looking like Any Street, USA. We are in the country, near Owego, NY, on the Susquehanna River, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

Sometimes we do things together, usually we are busy with our own stuff. I think we are tired of the very public life we have led for so long and are quite happy to all just be "regular folks". I find it especially nice not to have to live up to some unstated ideal, not that I felt like I really managed that. We share a garden space, but that is way up at the other end of the row, nearly 1/4 mile away. I think I will do containers for what little gardening I feel like doing this year, except for making it prettier.

Our birds and cats are VERY unhappy. Sometime last night a bear came through and decimated the seed and suet. I guess hibernation has come to an end. The cats won't go off the porch and are very nervous. I assume they can smell the bear. I hope that is the end of it. I must say, keeping our stuff out of the wildlife's mouths is practically a full-time job. Good thing we retired.

I was going to taste some Twining's Darjeeling for you all today. Instead I grabbed the Earl Gray next to it. I wondered why the Darjeeling smelled so flowery. So I shall try again tomorrow!

Aha! The marsh marigolds are blooming, the mustard is turning the hills yellow and today I noticed that the forested hills are almost as colorful as they are in the fall - much more muted, but there is a lot of bronze, some red, willow yellow near the streams, bright bright "spring" green, the black of evergreens, some pink and white from shadblow and redbud and dogwood. Apple, pear and cherry add their colors, too. Altogether lovely.

Lots of New Teas, Hurray!

Amalfi from the great porch of the cathedral. The original home of the Amalfitanos.

Beware the bandersnatch! Or the male courting grackle. His lady love is not impressed with his courting display, in fact she pecked him on the head before flying off! I thought he was impressive, but then, I am not a grackle.

If you can't go to Ceylon/Sri Lanka this year, go to and watch a neat video on the tea gardens from seedling to cup.

Bella Online has a tea forum you might be interested in. The forums are listed on the left. Choose Wine and Food and then Tea. There are recipes, chat, information, poetry, etc.

Mark T. Wendell has announced it has received its shipment of First Flush Darjeeling from the Singbulli Estate in India.

Upton Teas has several First Flush offerings, both Indian and Ceylonese. Ceylon is the former name of the island now known as Sri Lanka, off the southeast coast of India. Its teas retain the old name of Ceylon tea.

I am sure there are many, many more, as well as many green teas. We can expect the new teas to just keep rolling in from now through the late fall. The Tea Trekker has a calandar of tea arrivals on their blog.

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Almond Blossom Time

Amalfi from the Cathedral steps.

Oh me aching back and grubby fingernails. I have been putting in perennials this week and my body is a bit unhappy - all those muscles I didn't know I wasn't using. I also don't wear gloves unless it is to handle something prickery or nasty. They just bug me. I like to feel the soil.

This is the last garden I am starting - we've moved so much I've rarely gotten to see them come into any sort of matruity. It's very hard to constantly leave behind carefully selected plants or plants your friends have given you.

Hmm, all of a sudden we really have some green up here. Both understory and trees are leafing out. Hooray!

Today's tea I got in a swap with my new tea friend, Rene, from California. It is from the Bamboo Tea House and is their organic Almond Blossom Oolong. It smells wonderful and has slivers of almond in it. I brewed it up with water at about 205 for 2 minutes. Now it smells nutty and roasty, as this is a more heavily oxidized Oolong. It tastes nutty and dark, with just the barest, barest hint of almond blossom. It is tasty, but I think the scent and flavor would work much better with a lighter roast.

Not much action at the bird feeders today. Ernie is under a bush, pretending to be a groundcover, but they aren't fooled. Some have given him a good scolding, too. YesterdayI saw the first hummingbird. They are so amazing, with their ability to fly backwards and make right angles in flight. They don't even weigh an ounce and come up here all the way from South America!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gardening Days

More of Amalfi

Oh frabjous joy! Not just one oriole, but a pair. I have to say, the male may be very handsome, but he is not very agreeable. He wants to be the only one at the feeder, including his mate, whom he also chases away. She is much duller in color, but still attractive.

I love the little downy woodpeckers. They are so darn cute when they are bobbing their heads around to make sure it is safe to eat. If you don't have them where you are, they are about 6 inches long, about the size of a suet holder, and black and white with a bit of red on their crowns. The hairy woodpecker is about 8.5 inches long and looks almost the same.

Our backyard is covered with violets and rockcress and down the road an old apple tree is bursting into bloom. When I was a kid, walking home from school, to the farm, one of my favorite sights was coming over the hill and seeing the apple orchard in bloom. And the scent - so sweet, I always wanted to keep it forever. I still do.

I spent a lot of today planting daylillies and some black hollyhocks. Daylillies are so accomadating. with little care they just bloom their hearts out and spread nicely so you eventually have great tracts of them. You can use the buds in some Chinese dishes and some of them are even nicely scented.

Speaking of scent, today's tea doesn't have much. It is Irish Cream from one of our local shops, Front and Center. It is a pretty tea, with blue and yellow flowers decorating it. I did my usual for new black teas and finally there was some aroma - sort of creamy, and definitely Irish Breakfast. Yes, it tastes creamy, but that fake cream, not the real stuff. Even putting the real thing in didn't help much. And I certainly couldn't taste any good Irish whiskey, either. Not a very satisfying cup.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sun and Samovar

I believe this is a beaten gold altar cover - still in Amalfi Cathedral.

As I write this, the orioles are at the feeders. I even went and bought an oriole feeder - only to discover that oriole food is sugar water with orange dye in it. Doh! But he is still a real beauty. I've never really seen them this close before. It kind of reminds me of the Cape May, NJ Zoo, where in a sense, you are in the cage and the animals have huge spaces to roam in. Huge for a zoo. It is really nice because you can very close to many of them.

Our farmer neighbor is finally plowing and discing his field, I bet he's happy to be able to do it at last. Discing breaks up the big clods and furrows the plow leaves behind. Think of a long row of discs mounted on a rod, parallel to the ground. Another farmer has goslings, along with his lambs and calves. At the moment they are wee little balls of yellow fluff. Geese are good parents, one of them is always on alert and the goslings are always between them. The lambs are growing rapidly, eating grass as well as milk. The mamas still have their long fleece and now that it is warmer, I would imagine they are almost too warm.

Back to black tea today, Samovar's Russian Blend. The small leaves are black and silver and have a smokey smell. The teas come from China and are supposed to have lychee flavoring. I can't smell it, but I am not sure I would recognize it as lychees are pretty bland. I do my usual 3.5 minutes with boiling water. The smoke aroma is till there. The tea tastes smokey, but pleasantly, gently so. There is a certain juiciness around the edges that I would attribute to the lychee, as well as a bit of teasing fruit. Unlike most teas labeled "Russian", this doesn't have a bit of heaviness or citrus peel. I think this would be a pleasant afternoon tea for those who can tolerate smoke, probably served with cheese and crackers and sturdy fruits, red grapes perhaps.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Orioles for Tea!

Another Amalfi Cathedral shot. It's a gorgeous place, set up on a hillside - which is most of Amalfi. Everyone there has great legs!

I am so excited! A gorgeous black and orange Baltimore Oriole was at the bird feeder today. So beautiful! I hope they nest close to here, wish we had some elms for them.

Now that part of our creek has been "improved" for better water flow, leaving a huge mess, I can see the bridge for the side road. It is a lovely structure, all hand laid stone, without mortar. That's been there a while.

All you gardeners that want to grow tea plants, The Camellia Shop at has a selection of 5 or more, and an on-line, downloadable guide to growing and harvesting. I decided we are much too far north and it would involve far too much fussing on my part to attempt, but all of you in zones 7 south could fairly easily do it. Zones 9-10 would be easiest, of course. My guess is that these are not the super hardy Chinese clonals that grow in Darjeeling and Nepal. Sigh.

I went garden centering today and got lots of stuff to plant. We have to have deer resistant stuff, but I found a 2-fer daylily sale, with some super colors and some dwarf German bearded iris - this is not the early spring dwarf iris, but true miniatures of the usual kind. It is supposed to be warm this week, so maybe things can go in, I hope, I hope.

I found a packet of the American Tea Room's Giddapahar China Delight, a Darjeeling in my clean out the cupboards frenzy. It is a first flush from the Eagles Nest, a family owned estate. I brewed it for 3 minutes with 190 degree water. Dry, the leaves were a mix of green, brown and silver. They smelled of bananas and nuts. The liquor was a lovely gold, giving off an aroma that was again nutty and biscuit like. Which is what the tea flavor was, with a floral or sweet edge. I guess that all comes pretty close to the description of floral, honey and almond, doesn't it? It's always nice to know your palate is functional.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

All inlaid marble. Amazing craftsmenship. The Amalfi cathedral.

It was very foggy this morning. When the cats woke me up, you couldn't see our one puny tree in the yard. By 10, it had burned off. I'm not sure why we had it. It's sunny today, but, of course, it is supposed to rain later. In April we had 5 more inches than normal. That's a lot of water with no place to go.

I finally have put up my Christmas bird feeder. For a while I lost the directions and couldn't figure out how to hang it, but now it is open for business. The housefinches are checking it out. It is designed to keep out squirrels and big birds. Ooh, a rosebreasted grosbeak just landed on it. They are such lovely birds, black and white with a rosy bib. It's been joined by a tufted titmouse, a downy woodpecker and another finch and now a grackle. Lots of life.

For all your mothers, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Another tea today from Life in Teacup - Frosty Spring Yunnan Roast Green. As one might expect, this comes from Yunnan Province in Southwestern China. These teas all come from small harvests, carefully controlled and processed. I use Gingko's instructions and use water just off the boil for 1 minute or when most leaves sink to the bottom of the gaiwan, refilling for a second time when one third of the tea is left. These leaves are a grayish black and smells of popcorn or barley. When they are brewing, there is a scent of something like squash. The tea calls up a memory, but I cannot identify it. Perhaps the taste of something straw like. The second infusion is more woodsy smelling is ia now a pale yellow green, instead of pale yellow. The taste has moved into a more spring like vegetal greenishness. This tea is unusual in that it is both green and roasted, which is why I would it calls up things like popcorn and barley. Perhaps the woodsiness isa hint of its Yunnan origins. It is a very nice drinkable tea.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sun, Glorious Sun!

I liked this so much, I had to do it again.

Today is our second day of sun after 3 weeks of rain and much flooding. A lot of our road has been destroyed and while it looks as though it is being fixed, it doesn't feel that way. But the SUN is shining and I am happy to see it. I am going out in a bit to dig some holes and see if I can plant some bushes and my rhubarb. I do love rhubarb. But I don't like it with strawberries. Weird, huh?

Our little goldfinches are at the feeders all the time and they are so beautiful. They are all yellow now - the males, that is - and they sing their little hearts out. At the moment the tufted titmice are staring in the window. I try to ignore them so they will stay close.

The deer have moved more into the woods and better pastures. They will be giving birth soon and perhaps we will have some new fawns to get gooey about. They are lovely little creatures. So far, no bears have come out to eat the suet and birdseed, but they may still be hibernating.

On to the tea. Another offering from Life in Teacup, Wild Oolong. The dry leaves are very distinctive, and barely crinkled, with tiny stems attached. They give off a distinct spice smell, coupled with a sweet wildflower aroma. The first infusion was for about 1.5 minutes with almost boiling water and continued the lovely scent. It brewed up on the pale side and tasted of orchids, wildflowers and a trace of spring green. The second infusion was for 2 minutes and by now the leaves were fully unfurled and there was more of an orchid, floral aroma and taste to the pretty greeny yellow brew. A lovely tea for the Spring.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fairy Tea

This has been a busy week of potting up things which I can't yet plant outside, deciding where to put them, getting caught up on a whole bunch of things, including trying to decide which teas to keep, give away or dump. So far, I have 2 of the latter - much too old and no longer at all tasty. I do have a pile of giveaways, so some time in the next month or so, I'll let you all know.

Yorkshire Tea Company, makers of Yorkshire Gold and other fine teas has a project to save parts of the rainforest. They are doing this by selling tea cosies on ebay and using the proceeds to purchase rain forest lands. This is a fine opportunity to get presents for your loved ones or yourself and contribute to a worthwhile endeavor. The details can be found on their website . If nothing else, it is a fun site.

I've read several articles on the web recently indicating that 3 cups of tea a day is good for our hearts. It contains a chemical that tends to widen our blood vessels, thereby lowering our blood pressure. I can't say yes or no to that, but I certainly drink that much tea every day.

Today I had time to try 3 lovely teas from Life in Teacup I thought I would get ahead a bit as I don't seem to be able to manage trying new teas often enough to suit me. The first has a great name - Orchid Fairy Twig Green Tea. I love it. and it is indeed suited to fairies, with the short, twiggy, silvery green leaves. As you might expect, it smells something like orchids. This tea is rare in the USA, as the harvest each year, from wild trees, is quite small. It somes from Jiangchi Province in Wuyuan. The style is Chao Qing, that is, it is stir fried to kill enzymes

I brewed it up for about 2 minutes at about 175 degrees and the orchid aroma persisted. It was a very pale gold and the taste was so mild, I couldn't identify it. I brewed it again for 2.5 minutes and it was slightly more gold and there was a bit more taste - vegetal overlain with orchid. Very delicate, but very tasty. A third wash for the same time yielded a bit more floral taste. I really could not put my finger on the taste, only that it was exquisite and lingered in my mouth for quite a while. The leaves were fully unfurled and so pretty and delicate - mostly on the tiny side, suitable for fairy tea.

Correction - Gorreana Tea is grown on the island of Sao Miguel off the coast of Portugal. I did order some and will fill you in when it arrives.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Fox and the Fur Persons

All of the gold and white designs on this altar in Southern Italy are
exquisite inlaid marble.

Greetings friends. We had company over the weekend, so although I tasted a new tea, I didn't have time to write about it. My friend Dar brought her dog - consternation, upset, fluffed tails, oh my! The fur persons were not happy - after all, "Dogs drool, cats rule". They were all whispering this from under our bed. The dog in question is a beautiful, perfect specimen of Italian Vulpino. Think white and much prettier Pomeranian, with a true foxy face.

As I have driven around, it has been very interesting to observe the progress of spring as it creeps from riverside to hilltop. By the river - which is thankfully down about 3 feet - the trees have baby leaves and the maples and red buds and magnolias are adding red and pink to the scene. Up on the hills, there is either still gray or a faint haze of reddish pink. However, in the spinney across the road, the wild dogwood is lending a delicate white tracery to the gray trunks of the oaks.

I did manage to try a new tea from Teas Etc. It is their Assam Reserve. The leaves are a pretty mix of gold, brown and black and smell wonderful, like the best tobacco. It brews up very daark after 3.5 minutes in boiling water and gives off a wonderful earthy, wet barn wood, spicey aroma. Oh boy, says I, this will be a treat. Well, it was and it wasn't. The cup is pleasant and a bit astringent, which suited me just fine. However, the flavor was so mild and bland, I really have nothing to say about it. Guess I'll blend it with some other more flavorful Assams.

I just heard of a tea company in Europe that has been producing and selling tea since 1883. It is called Gorreana and is located on Sao Paulo Island off the coast of Portugal, I am going to order some of their tea and try it. I never heard of it before, but I saw it advertised on the World Tea News Home page.