Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

The New Year fast approaches and I want to wish all of you the very best of health, peace, joy, good fortune - every good and wonderful thing for your lives this year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crystal Morning

What a gorgeous morning! Everything is just shining with frost - every little branch and twig. The long needled pine looks ethereal and the weeping Norway spruce looks like a tulle-skirted ballerina. Our Lodge Pole pines remind me of those exquisite Chinese or Japanese ink drawings. In the midst of all that crystal are 3 red berry clusters on the sumac. Just perfect. Like all perfect things, quickly gone, but that is part of their perfection. It can't be prolonged, but it can give you so many moments of joy! I always find that true joy comes in little bits - the way a cat trots, the wobbles of a new fawn, the sun striking just so, the shape of a tree against the sky, a little kid dancing.

I've been savoring some green tea I have reviewed before - Life in Teacup's Snowflakes on Green Lake. It is the finest jasmine tea I have ever had - not that there aren't others as good or better, this is the best I personally have had. I am beginning to understand why the Chinese and Japanese serve their tea in such small cups. I used the whole pot of the Snowflakes in one very large cup. By the 2/3 mark, it was quite cool and getting bitter. I think a smaller pot and smaller cup would keep the enjoyment level high. Bigger is not always better.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tea, Tisane and Teapots

A lovely bright day today after much wind and some snow. The birds are back at the feeders. I got a "squirrel fooler" feeder for Christmas, which I am hoping I will be able to put up closer to the trees and then see if the little buggers and the deer can empty this one!

Do you know the difference between tea and a tisane or infusion? I'll tell you. Tea only comes from the tea plant - Camellia sinensis. Just like coffee comes from a coffee plant. Anything else is not tea. It is an infusion or a tisane. This includes all herbal teas, all rooibos, all mate, honey bush, peppermint, sage, tulsi, etc. There are hundreds, if not thousands of variants of tea, depending on where it is grown and how it is processed. Personally I don't really consider the tea drinks to really be tea, but just a step away from soda and almost all of the flavored stuff falls in that category to me, also. I really prefer my tea straight up, although I do occasionally like Earl Gray and Jasmine. I may report on them here, but if I am drinking tea, it is tea, period.

Today I am preparing the first of my 2 new YiXing teapots for use. This one is for green tea. I first scrubbed it with a new sponge to get rid of any dust clinging to it and then rinsed it several times until it no longer smelled of clay. It is very importent to never use soap, as the clay is very porous. You also only use one type of tea per pot. Then I filled the pot with hot water and let it sit while I brought a pot of water to boil, threw in a handfull of assorted green teas - obviously I am not a purist - and let that boil for 5 minutes. Then I drained the little tea pot, took out as many tea leaves as I could and gently lowered the teapot into the water and turned down the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. I drained the teapot and put it in a safe place to thoroughly dry. Then it will be ready to make tea.

This is one way to season a YiXing pot. There are others. This was the simplest. These teapots acquire a patina over the years, just as silver does. I've read that with very old pots, you can practically make a cup of tea from the pot alone. We'll see how this all works. Tomorrow I will do the other one for flowery Oolongs, which I prefer to the more roasted tasting ones.

Monday, December 27, 2010

French Tea in the Snow

That's kind of how I feel after Christmas, like a bird about to take wing.

We had such a lovely Christmas. There is nothing quite like seeing everyone have a really good time and knowing that you have made this fun work. It is so satisfying to really please guests and make them feel special. One of our guests is in his 90s - still playing trumpet, still has 7 trumpet students, and one of the true gentlemen of this world. It has been such a privilege to know him.

I certainly got tea presents! A new electric teakettle, which, as the switch on mine is going, is very welcome. I got 4! teapots - 2 Yi Xing teapots that I am intending to use solely for Oolong and the best green teas. I really want to do the whole thing of first boiling them in the tea I want to use in them and then exclusively use them only for that tea. I was especially happy to receive them, because the ones I currently had are so special, I feel I can only display them or use them for very special occasions. I also received a really cute little glass one and a beautiful blue Yi Xing that looks like a bunch of bamboo tied with a small vine. That may be display. I also got some Fauchon tea, which I will have this afternoon and review here.

We had a yummy lunch today - falafel sandwiches. A Middle Eastern treat. It's a mix with the prime ingredient being ground chick peas and spices. You make patties with it and then saute them and put them in pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki, which is a sauce made from Greek yogurt, garlic and finely chopped cucumber. Serve it up with mint tea and be transported to Greece or Morocco. I was trying to think how to do it for a tea, but then I remembered there are those mini pitas. Hmm and with some of those lovely Greek pastries... You could have a really nice exotic party, perfect for the winter doldrums.

However, on to the tea. As I said, this is from Fauchon, another French tea company. It is called Le Melange Fauchon, aka Fauchon's Blend. The label says it is Ceylon and China Black teas with rose petals, citrus peel and lavender. It comes in a very nice tin, with a sliding, outer lid and an inner one, to keep it nice and fresh. The dry tea smells of old leather with a very heavy, sort of sweet citrus aroma, reminiscent of some of the heavier Russian blends. As it brewed, the scent moderated quite a bit and became much more pleasant. There didn't appear to be much in the way of lavender in it.

The first time I made it, I brewed it for 4 minutes, as they recommend. Unh, unh, the citrus peel overwhelmed everything and it wasn't very nice. The second time I only did it for 3 minutes with a bit more tea. It brewed up a nice dark amber, with almost a sugar cookie aroma to go with the tea and citrus. Interesting. Ah, this time, the tea is much, much better. The citrus seems to be taking its proper place and some sort of spice is coming to the fore. Sadly, I can't say I really like it. I tried it with some sugar and that was a great help, as it smoothed out the edges of the citrus. In fact, with sugar, it is very good, and some cream completes the process. And you all know I am not a sugared tea person. It is always interesting how tea can change so much in one cup, with a few additions.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Joy to You and Yours

Well, gang, here it is Dec. 23. The gifts are bought and sent, a lot of the food is done or thawing, some of the house is clean and I am going to rest up a bit.

I am not trying any new teas for a few days, just going with some of the holiday ones from Celestial you all know about or my favorites of Keemun and Yunnan Gold, all of which I have reviewed.

I managed to do very little in-store shopping this year, so I am in a better mood. I have also been listening to instrumental and Renaissence Christmas music, so I am not tired of carols. I really feel they are used so commercially that one doesn't want to hear them anymore. however, with top quality music, they come alive.

I wish all of you a Christmas blessed by the Lord Jesus, whose birth we celebrate and a New Year that is healthy, happy, joyous and full of growth and good cheer.

I'll be back after Christmas, probably the 27th.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh Canada

I got bored with my "look", so I changed it. I am not sure I like this
one, so it may change again.

I love the paintings on these houses in Sorrento, Italy.

It's trying to snow today and the wind is blowing. On my walk, I saw a squirrel with a large "something" in it's mouth. It finally came close enough to recognise it as leaves and sure enough, he scurried up a tree to a hole and climbed in, obviously padding a nest. Our local squirrels are very adept at getting the bird seed for themselves, but I set our ferocious [lol] pussy cats on them. Ernie actually went half-way up their tree to try and catch them. The only result was a lot of squirrel swearing.

I have to say I was most happy to get back inside after our walk and snuggle right up to a tea pot. I am having another gift from Elizabeth from Ontario - President's Choice English Breakfast. And that is indeed what it smells like, but there is a faint cinnamon aroma as well. This is a teabag, which I only brew for 3 minutes, or less if that seems right. On the whole, you brew black tea depending on the size of the leaves - longer for longer leaves. That doesn't seem to work with many of today's Darjeelings, who seem to need to be treated as if they were green - even the second flush and autumnal ones.

The tea smells wonderful - utterly fresh. It's a lovely reddish brown and there is still a hint of cinnamon or sweet to it - unusual in English Breakfast, I think. It is very smooth, not nearly as harsh as many I've had, and yes, there does seem to be a bit of sweetness to it. It's a really pleasant brew.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, Those Camels

We sent out our email Christmas letter and if my husband hadn't started it, I'm not sure I would've remembered it. It turned out to be kind of a hodge-podge. All that carefully planned stuff for Thanksgiving somehow did not carry over into Christmas planning. I guess it was too much for a non-detail person to continue. lol The important stuff is all planned, like Christmas dinner.

Today it is snowing, that lazy drifting kind that we would refer to as "Minnesota snow" when we lived in Michigan. It never snowed much, but it snowed all the time. I want enough to cover the ground so it looks pretty. Getting the critters out this morning was quite a chore, as they all ran to the door, then had to stand and sniff and look around and think about it and, and, and, then sit down and think some more and finally go out, only to turn around and come back in. Cats! Spoiled? My kitties? Surely not!
Today's tea is "Original Russian Caravan" from Upton's, sent to me by my new tea friend, Elizabeth. It is a mix of India, China and Formosan teas, all nice big leaves and a mix of browns. It smells very fresh, with a kind of herbaceous, straw, old wood twist. This delightful aroma continues through the brewing, which I did for 3.5 minutes with boiling water. This is different from many Caravans I've had, in that there is no smokey smell, which generally came from the addition of Lapsang Souchong. No camel smell, either, for which I am grateful. The taste is pretty much like the aroma, a nice woodsy herbaceous taste, with a bit of astringency at the end. A very pleasant blend.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Frosty Green

Last night we went to the movies with some friends - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I enjoyed it, but I had read the books and seen the other movies. It would be hard to make sense of it all unless you had. The most fun part was finally finding the right theater. This is a small town theater, made up of several buildings and it's a real maze, for us, necessitating several changes. An adventure. But it was only $4.00 for a first run movie and you can't beat that. I did notice that Harry and friends had not only 1 but 2 teapots in their runaway tent. We took some of Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Jelly Bellies and I nicely took out the earwax and booger ones. (Jelly Bellies is the brand, the rest is a spoof).
Hooray, hooray, the sun is shining! Which means that I am, too. I love to watch it come up, if I am up. At this time of the year, it shines in the swamp and back lights the fringe of trees at the edge of the lawn and the spinney across the road.
Dear me, what tea to have today. I guess a green, since I am feeling light. It is Frosty Spring Yunnan Roast Green from Life in Teacup. This was picked at the very beginning of the year, so I guess it is appropriate to end the year with it. The dry leaves do not have a great deal of scent. They are quite pretty, ranging from palest to darkest green. I brewed them for 2 minutes with water about 190 degrees. This is a very vegetal green, smelling almost like asparagus. The taste is surprising, as it is not a bit like asparagus, but it is bitter, with a hint of mint, and maybe the merest breath of sweet around the edges. As the tea cools, the aroma softens, as does the flavor. A good tea for making you feel alert and warm, as the bitterness keeps you aware of the tea. Not a bad bitterness, mind you, like citrus pith is, more along the metallic side.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vanilla Trump Card

A gorgeous vine in the courtyard of the Franciscan monastery in Sorrento, Italy. Obviously in more clement weather.
Speaking of which, according to the rumor-mongers - ie. weather reporters, we should have a foot of snow on the ground. Oops, only 1/2 inch. But that's ok, supposedly there are 18 inches coming. Oh well, they did get it right about being cold. It is cold. Perfect weather for tea.
In spite of myself, I have wound up with some Trump Tea - Union Square, " a bold black tea with notes of smooth vanilla bean and rich fine cocoa". All of the ingredients are either organic or "natural". Union Square is one of those old squares/parks in Manhatten. The tea is encased in those little silky pyramids and looks to be full leaf tea with bits of vanilla pod and bits of cocoa. It smelled like vanilla, but I couldn't catch much chocolate. I brewed it for 3.33 minutes and it continued to give off a very pleasant scent.
It tastes pretty pleasant, also. I know I am often very critical of vanilla flavored teas, but this one seems to work. I think the cocoa must have something to do with it, even though I can't discern much more cocoa flavor than I could smell. It all just comes together in a smooth pleasant drink.
Now I am off to the dentist for the last visit for 6 months. Hooray, hooray! Maybe I'll finally even get some cookies mixed up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I See the Heather Bloomin"

Now that's a lovely sight - flowers in mid-winter, wonderful on an ugly day. Actually it is the
picture closest to heather that I happen to have .

I'm doing that because my tea today, which comes from the Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company is Heather Tea, a blend of African and Assam tea with a lot of dried heather blossoms. Heather is a beautiful sight in full bloom and I have often had a plant or two, just to keep in touch with that side of my family heritage. My husband often teases me about being a "mutt", but every army in Africa, the Middle East and Europe marched through southern Italy. I mean, how many blond, blue-eyed southern Italians do you know who also have a red beard? A touch Norse perhaps? Descended from Eric the Red?

Back to the tea. It is very pretty in the can, with all those flowers and smells just very faintly flowery. Mostly it is just very fresh tea. I brewed it for 3.5 minutes with boiling water and I must say, it is a hearty color. There is still that faint flowery scent, with just a touch of citrus. The taste is very "British" or should I say "Scottish"? A nice full, Assam/ African taste, somewhat milder than most, again with the citrus/flower teasers. It takes milk well, but I don't do sugar, so I don't know how that will affect it.

I made a very nice Asian style soup last night that I will probably use as a first course for Christmas. It is about half and half chicken and beef broth, about 1 quart total, with a lot of chopped ginger and a good slug of garlic. One thinly sliced onion that was cut in half, a handful of thin sliced shitake mushrooms, two julienned carrots, 3 inches of julienned daikon radish, some practically embryonic bok choy and left over shredded pork. Cook until the veggies are done. Add soy sauce or mirin to taste. Or both. For Christmas, I won't put any meat in it. If the veggies were a bit smaller, I might use it for a tea party. It takes only as long as you need to cut up the veggies and have them cook, maybe 30 minutes, if you're a medium speed cutter. If you can't find baby bok choy at an Asian market, use spinach or julienned pea pods.

I'm sorry I can't give more specific directions, but unless something is new or a particularly good recipe, that is mostly how I cook. It's a bit risky, but then I feel very smart when something really works.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tea Roses

If I were rich I would live in Switzerland for half a year and Italy
the other half. As it is, I guess I will live right where I am.

I take back what I said about the deer. Those lovely scoundrels have eaten ALL the seed from both feeders.

Sorry to be so lax in tea tasting, but I have been trying to finish my gifts for my neighbors. I made them all bread and just finished in time yesterday to take it to our neighbor's party. Now I can do some cookies.

Today I am trying some tea I got a while ago - Taylor's of Harrogate Choice Rose Petal Leaf Tea. The dry leaves are almost blue-black, with a bit of a sheen to them and some rose petals. They smell very strongly of rose, with a citrus overtone - very much like... tea roses. In fact those roses were named that because they had an underlying scent of China tea. I followed their directions and brewed it for 3 minutes with boiling water. Sadly, the scent disappeared, as did the taste. In fact, it was a bit odd, but I am not sure I could describe it. It also was quite weak.
I think I'll make some more tomorrow and see if making it stronger makes it better.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Molasses Cookies for Tea

This is about what it has been looking like around here, Grey sky, sullen river. But today, the sun is lighting up the trees and sparkling on the snow.

I have been noticing that our local grocery stores have been making more of an effort to stock locally grown and produced products. More fruits and veggies, even canned ones like pumpkin and tomatoes and meat, poultry and eggs. Now it is our responsibility to buy them, even if they're not a famous brand.

Our deer herd has been eating the bird seed that gets dropped, but they don't try to eat out of the feeders, even though one would be easy for them to use. For some reason the birds have all stopped coming to eat. Every last one of them.

Yesterday was a good day. I made 3 batches of bread for gifts - cherry and marzipan, chocolate chip and cherry and cheddar walnut, I have to confess I saved one of the cheese loaves for us, because I really love it. The first 2 I got out of Totally Tea Breads, which is a very small book loaded with great recipes, not only for tea breads, but spreads as well.

Ma's Molasses Cookies.
I have no idea where she got this recipe
In 35 minutes, you can have fresh cookies that are super. 325 degree oven

Using a large mixer, mix in order:

2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup molasses

Mix together and add
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves

mix in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
the grated peel of one orange or orange oil or 11/2 teaspoon orange extract.

Dump out on floured board and knead about 1 minute, form into 2 long loaves
that fit on a cookie sheet, make them a little taller than wide and bake about 25-30 minutes.

If your kitchen is warm or just because, and the loaves are a bit soft, put the cookie pan with them in the fridge for 1/2 hour and then right into the oven.

You can slice these or just break them off and eat them. You can double the recipe with no problem. You can not add nuts, but I think the orange flavor is essential, whatever it comes from. My kids and everyone else I have ever served these to has loved them. If you make the loves small, you can slice them and add them to your next tea party. They don't keep forever and I would store them in a tightly covered tin with an orange or pieces of apple. They are wonderful with Keemun tea.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Icy Day, Warm Ice Wine

It's really Tuesday.

I am feeling very spiffy today. My narcissi are in bloom! They are filling the house with their lovely heady scent. I always feel so darn smart when something I do for the first time works. Even if it is a no brainer like sticking some bulbs in dirt and watering them once in a while, or making a recipe that really works. I am doing an amaryllis this year, too, so I will really be hot stuff, don't you think?

I found the neatest idea on the chat group Afternoon Tea Across America. It is a tea Advent calendar. Go here - to see it and maybe adapt the idea for yourself. Wouldn't it be a really neat gift for next year for a tea-loving friend? Especially one who has everything. One you could make yourself. I certainly have enough kinds of tea to do it. Now if I can just remember to do it!!!!

Oh snow! Beautiful snow! We have snow! About 3-4 inches. People are driving stupidly and there are smash-ups. Snow driving really is differerent and there's always someone who either doesn't realize it or thinks they are somehow different. After the first snow fall I always find a safe place to throw my car into a skid, so I can remembe how to recover from one safely, as it is counter intuitive. Our new to us car is all wheel drive, so I better read up on it first. I love snow. I love the silence it first creates, the patterns on the porch screens, the scent, the taste, I don't even mind shoveling the first few times. That last pleasure does dim, however, when there is just too much and then I am in favor of just stomping out a path.

I think today would be a perfect day to try some Ice Wine Tea I received from Stepanie over at Steph's Cup of Tea.

Okay, I never did get to that tea, so I am trying again today. Sometimes life interferes with tea drinking, much to my annoyance. On the plus side, I got all the specialty items for holiday entertainment and a bunch of Christmas presents, so I don't need to go near the malls again until after Christmas. I don't mind shopping, but I hate the crowds and the noise and the traffic and the people who are so harassed and unpleasant. A lot of my presents this year are going to be specialty breads, cakes and cookies. If you're not a baker or you're overwhelmed at Christmas, what could be better? I'd like that as a present, myself.

Ice Wine Tea. Neat Concept. Ice Wine is made from grapes that have frozen on the vine, which concentrates the sugars, producing a sweet, but acidic dessert wine. It is a very chancey operation as the grapes have to be perfect, almost over ripe and ice wine is a rare treat.

This dry tea smells intensely of rich deep berries or grape mash, waiting to ferment. I brewed it as I usually do for a black tea - 3,5 minutes with boiling water. If anything, the aroma intensifies as it brews. The tea is a pretty pale amber. What a great taste - like ice wine, sweet and full and deep! It reminds me of some of the better Keemuns, mixed with one of the muscatel Darjeelings. Very very tasty. It also reminds of the autumns in college when I picked grapes for Great Western and Taylor Wine Companies, on the shores of Keuka Lake in the FingerLakes of New York. Thank you, Steph!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beauty in the Snow

Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin'? In the lane snow is glistenin'.

Just getting ready, it is supposed to snow, anywhere from flurries to dustings
to actual snow for the next 5 days.

My local chain - Weis Markets, has Christmas teas from Bigelow, Stash and Celestial Seasonings. Maybe yours does too. They are also carrying a line from Bigelow that is probiotic, anti-inflammatory and something else - three separate one. I got a couple Christmas teas for guests, but didn't feel like trying anything too new today.

Except, of course, some tea. Today's' cup is Teas Etc. "Oriental Beauty" Oriental Beauty was my introduction to Oolongs and I fell in love with it. I have never had any as good as that first batch, but I've had some good ones. This one smells like baking bread, in the dry leaf. The leaves are quite mixed, with some beige and silver, some long slender pieces and a few shaped like clover leaves. I just did this a little below boiling, for about 2 minutes. It came out a medium old gold in color and as soon as I sipped it I was struck by its full, round mouth feel. It smelled slightly spicey, and a little like corn silk. The main flavor was that of honey and clover, sweet but not at all sugary, with a touch of astringency at the end. The aftertaste was of sweet bland crackers, like perhaps Marie Bisquits. A very nice tea for a quiet afternoon and a rather different Oriental Beauty.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Wind in the Bamboo

I love this picture. I love the contrast between the strength of the
rock and the delicacy of the flowers, the way the flowers fit them selves into the curve of the stones.

This has not been the greatest week for many reasons, but I certainly hope yesterday's episode ended it. The oven was a little dirty - really, a little, but it was enough to constantly set off the fire alarm, so I decided to clean it. So I did and it melted the oven controls on top of the stove. A new one is coming today. Good thing tea doesn't need an oven.

How is your Christmas shopping coming? Mine is almost done. I start in January and when I see something for someone, I grab it and stash it. In early November, I see what else I need or what can only be gotten last minute - like baked goods or candy. Now, if only I were that good about birthdays and housecleaning and planting schedules. Oh, the list goes on...

Reminder - if you haven't done it - stock up on those special teas you like for Christmas. There are a lot I know you like, so make sure you get them now, don't wait any longer or they'll be gone. I have to admit, I do love some of the Celestial Seasonings offerings. It's very easy to order them on line - grocery stores can be very chancy.

It's such a nice day I am going to try a green tea - after I take the vacuum cleaner in to be fixed - one of this week's many not-so-happy ingredients.

I was so lucky today - decided to do a bit of shopping, if the stores weren't too bad, so I did. And I found a beautiful teapot with poppies. I got very fond of poppies in Italy and have some cups and saucers with them and now, I have a teapot, too! None of them match, except for the flowers. But that is kind of how I am, anyway.

The tea I've chosen is Life in Teacup's Bamboo Leaf Green, Zhu Ye Ong. I love bamboo, I think it is a beautiful plant and I love to listen to the wind blow through it. [Next spring, my friend Leon is giving me some to shade our porch. I can hardly wait. ] This tea is very attractive, with long slender, flat leaves that feel like silk sliding through your fingers, you can almost hear the soft susseration of a breeze as they pour into the cup. There is not a lot of scent in the dry leaves. I brewed it for about 2 minutes with water about 180. [Next time, I will use a lower temperatures, as by the time the cup is done, the tea begins to get bitter]. The aroma became that of cookies with a green twist added. The brew was a pale gold, with a helping of green to tame it. The taste is a delicate green with some astringency, with perhaps some good metallic overtones. This again strikes me as a tea made for all day sipping. As I sip, the wind is beginning to move the pines and a few round flakes of snow start to fall.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Picking Berries With the Earl

It started out so beautifully today, with so much sun. Now it is November grey. It is better than yesterday when it rained so hard, we could hardly see and then we had sleet and finally, snow. Fortunately, I managed to be inside for all the very worst of it - good errand planning. Ha Ha.

The rivers and creeks, of which we have an overabundant share, are just roaring. But it is nice and warm inside and I have a tea that matches the picture, having pink raspberries and blue flower petals in it. It is Culinary Tea's Earl Grey Raspberry Tea. Amazing - I can remember when there was Earl Grey and then a foray into Earl Grey Decaf and now, you can hardly name all the varieties of them.

This one smells just like its name, Earl Grey with raspberries. It is a black tea and the pieces varied from about 1/2 inch to a good bit of dust. I don't know if that was from the journey here or if it was not the best quality tea. I brewed it my usual 3.5 minutes at boiling and the scent of raspberries and bergamot did a kind of a dosey-do, first one was forward and then the other. Very nice. The brew was a fairly light amber, which I was a bit surprised by, as I had made it on the strong side. Sadly, the tea itself did not live up to its aroma. It kind of tasted the way good mulch smells. Neither of us cared for it. Neither the Earl nor the raspberries could really be tasted.

Ya know, I've not had very good luck at all with flavored Earl Grey. Some I can tell are good, just not to my taste. Some are not so good, period. Maybe I should take a hint!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oranges in the Rain

Love the sun and the sea on the Amalfi coast

Hoo boy, rain! It rained hard last night and today it is blowing and raining. Only Bert the brave has gone out. Ernie is whining about it, Andy went out, got rained on and returned immediately. La Principessa thinks they're all stupid and remains regally on her silk cushion.

I've just joined the Cornell Feeder Watch program, where I keep a tally of the number and kind of birds that I see in my backyard, two days a week. I don't get a huge variety as my yard is new and it is quite a ways to the trees. So far, the dread starlings haven't discovered us, and I am just as happy.

I was out for lunch and had a pleasant tea - Wild Sweet Orange from Tazo. This is a "juicy blend of lemongrass, citrus herbs, licorice root and orange essences", an herbal blend. It was a teabag, in a pot of very hot water. I let it brew about 5 minutes. It was so good. There was some sweetness, but mostly a very clear, sharp orange taste, a bit acid, a bit full and well-rounded. I am always surprised by Tazo, their teas carry a lot of flavor for a tea bag tea, much more than I would expect. I don't think I've had any that weren't well done.