Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tea and Weeds

Yup, another Italian church interior. I really enjoyed them.

Congratulations are due in the bird world. The Grackle children, as well as the Hairy Woodpecker child have learned to eat on their own. H.W. is chowing down like a pro. Grackle children are still screaming for food, but realize it is a lost cause. One brave youngster is trying to figure out how to get suet and seed from the feeders.

Weeding for tea lovers. This is right up our alley. If you have some pesky weeds in your sidewalk or driveway, put the kettle on, boil up a pot and go out and pour it on those pests. It will kill them, root and all and is organic, to boot. One caveat, don't do this near plants you want to keep or they will also be affected. I have done this for year and it works, even on bindweed.

The wild orange day lilies are in bloom. They are so common, no one gets too excited about them, but they were practically the only flower we grew when I was young, aside from some very sweet smelling pale pink roses. I welcome them and realize I need to get some. Abandoned acreage, here I come.

If you are still concerned about Japanese green tea and pollutants, you need to know that the government is checking it all before it comes into the country for different sorts of radioactive materials.

Today I am having a tea I reviewed before, nothing new. It is Czar Nikolas ll, which I got from . It is soo good. Very inexpensive, kind of heavy and fruity and really the best of the Russion style teas I have had, although all of Kusmi's are pretty darn good.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tea Party in a Cupboard

Same parking structure, taking the long view.

After yesterday's post about a grocery store tea, I got thinking about what you could do for a tea if all you had was what was in your cupboards or fridge or freezer. I like to cook and bake, so there is always lots.

There are all sorts of baking supplies, but I am talking about an impromtu party, so let's do a tour and see what we could do.

My freezer has a pound cake, ice cream and cookie dough for desserts. There is also a box of frozen hors d'oerves, but they are for another party. There is a pizza, some soup, some pesto, and some very good egg rolls. In the fridge are two kinds of chocolate sauce and a caramel one. Hard boiled eggs, veggies, condiments are there as well as some ham and cream cheese. Some whipping cream for, well, whipped cream is always good, no? In the cupboards there are lots of different kinds of nuts, both salted and unsalted. Ditto on the dried fruits like apricots, prunes, pears, cherries and mango. and also an assortment of chocolate bars. Plenty of stuff for some desserts. There is also some fresh fruit which could easily be included.

We have plenty of crackers and cheese and a number of small sausages to make up some small bits, with some pickles, olives and pickled onions to garnish them. I have a wide array of homemade chili sauces, conserves and chutneys which can be used as well. There are lots of olives, sour cream and other things to make dips with, veggies to dip into them. I have a small herb garden and anything is perked up with fresh herbs. At this moment, we have no bread, so no sandwiches. Lots of homemade and store bought jams and jellies, though. But I could make a bunch of silver dollar pancakes and use them as bread, right?

Aha, if there was time, I even have a scone mix, not a usual inhabitant. So, it might not be traditional, but I could throw together a passble feast for tea. I didn't mention the tea, but I can assure you that I have about a gazillion kinds, even after doing some tea shelf cleaning.

Now, what is there is your cupboard you could use for an impromtu party? I would bet that if you look around, there will be an astonishing amount of things you could serve, with little or no cooking or prep time. We can get so caught up in planning way ahead or having everything according to a formula, that we forget we can throw things together out of our cupboards that will feel like a feast to our guests. Just serve it forth without disclaimers! I have to say I do like doing "a proper tea" when there is time.But,you know most people are just pleased you took the time to do anything and are happy to relax and enjoy your company. I certainly would.

We have been enthralled by the number and kinds of fledglings that are being brought to our yard for life lessons. The latest is a hairy woodpecker who is sitting with his father on the suet feeder. The father takes some suet and gives it to the baby. The baby doesn't catch on. Papa leaves. The baby doesn't catch on. They'll be back, I'm sure, until the kid wises up. Yesterday a female cardinal was just sitting on the lawn, looking tired. I think the kids must have worn her out. This morning the grackles were trying to convince their kids to lower their heads and pick up the seeds. They preferred making a big racket. Growing up is hard to do.


Tea Party at the Grocery Store

I have discovered that some of the comments on my blog are coming from "adult" sites promoting nudity and other sexual things. Please do not click on the commenters, unless, of course, that is where you want to go. I am trying to make it more difficult for this to happen.

You would like to give a tea party. But you are one of the original members of the "I hate to cook club". What to do? First of all, if these folks you want to invite are really your friends, Oreos and a cup of tea are enough. But perhaps you wish to honor someone or just have a fling into tea partydom. Well, hie yourself off to the grocery store, Walmart or one of the big box stores like Sam's Club, BJ's or Costco and peruse the goodies.

First, however, the tea. If you don't know your guests tastes, pick a middle of the road black like a good second flush Darjeeling or a Ceylon, or the everyday tea of your choice. You could serve a second pot of Earl Grey if you want to offer a second selection, it is very popular. Half and half or whole milk, sugar and a nice sweetener, maybe some thin lemon slices or small lemon wedges, remembering to wash the lemons. If it is hot and you don't want to have hot tea, make ice tea. If you feel unsure, buy some Lipton's Cold Brew tea bags and follow the directions. It isn't the greatest tea on earth, but it isn't too bad and you could always add one of those little packets you use to make a glass of lemonade to give it a bit of a kick. Some taste like strawberries, which I can say is pretty darn good in tea.

Dessert stuff next. Any good supermarket will have cakes, or cupcakes and some have small individual desserts. The frozen aisle always has a number of things that only need reheating. The cookie aisle always has some nice small offerings and if there is an Italian section to it, many of the Stella D'Oro brand go very nicely with tea. Try to have a selection of 3-4 and not all chocolate. And try for small things, so people can eat more than one.

Savories - ie not sweets. Again, hit the frozen aisle, where there is usually an assortment of hors d'oerve type things, like crab puffs, stuff wrapped in phyllo, mini quiches, etc.. The big box stores always have them and other party things, like frozen cream puffs you can thaw. If you feel up to it you can buy those loaves of party breads which are about 2"square and make sandwiches, covering them with a damp paper towel and saran wrap, in the fridge, until serving time. Just make sure there is an assortment, like chicken salad, ham salad, egg salad, cheese and ham, tomato, whatever sounds good to you. Some stores will have fresh made scones or some sort of biscuits you can warm and serve with butter and jam. Try to decorate the serving platters with some bits of fruit or parsley or lemon leaves if you feel creative. If not, don't worry about it.

Table decor - if you're really feeling insecure, go to a party store and buy paper plates, napkins and a tablecloth that will go with your teapot or is a nice contrast to it. Some flowers or a potted plant are a nice addition, even weeds are pretty.

So, there you have it, an elaborate tea party and the most cooking you may have to do is warm things up or make a sandwich. Personally, I would go for something simpler, but I am the laziest creature! The point is to relax, have a good time and eat goodies. Oh yes, drink lots of tea.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Earl is Receiving

Believe it or not, but these are the pillars of a parking garage in Sorrento,

Yesterday's Coconut Black Tea was really good iced. Sweetener nicely brings out the flavor, so here's another one for your summer tea line up.

Today the air feels as heavy as lead and as invasive as Bishop's weed. All the plants and trees are motionless. It may rain. It would certainly be a relief to this heaviness.

I ordered some Aged Earl Grey from Numi Teas, as well as a sampler. These folks are truly generous. I not only got my teas, but 3 samples of an organic granola bar from Nature's Path, a fruit bar from Pure Organics and chocolate animal crackers from Barbara's Organics. I have to say they were all excellent and would make a nice nosh with your tea. The tea is a hearty organic Assam that was aged for several weeks with "real organic Bergamot". No flavorings here. The leaves are small and broken, a combination of brown and black with some nice golden buds. It smells delightful in the package and while it is brewing for 3.5 minutes. The infusion is heavy and solid, quite dark and aromatic of both tea and bergamot. It has a great smooth, definitive Earl Grey taste, which really pleases me, as so many Earls I have had in the past year or so smell wonderful and taste like nothing. My one complaint is that 3.5 minutes is too long. Next time I need to do three as the Assam was getting a bit tannic. And that is my fault, not theirs.

I just finished putting away my spice haul, which made me itch to make something different. I think I will marinate some chicken in yogurt and Greek spices and then see what I'll do. Nice Greek salad with feta cheese. Hurry sundown!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Are Ravens Really Blue?

Gee, I wonder what this is.

Today I need to reset all the bird feeders. I figured out that we did not get a bear visit again, but that the landscapre people just threw things on the lawn when they renewed the mulch and did not put them back. So, lots of clean up. I did get my tomatoes planted before vacation, but they look kind of puley-wally, as do my little basil plants. They are tiny for something 2 months old. I did discover that if you buy basil in the grocery store that has roots and was raised hydroponically, you can plant it in pots and it very likely will do quite well, provided you cut it back to just above the first or second leaf set. Which is why I already have 3 containers of pesto in my freezer. Oh yum.

Basil is such a great herb, smelling and tasting wonderful. For a tea party savory, make a pizza with just pesto and some extra oil on top, cut in small squares. If you want to gussy it up a bit, top with a small slice of fresh mozzarella and a bit of cherry tomato after baking. It would also go very nicely chopped finely in some savory scones, perhaps with some sun dried tomato. Some basil are very tiny and look like fat little globes, which would be perfect for a centerpiece or a take home gift for your guests. Tulsi, an Indian form of basil makes a very nice "tea" and is easy to grow from seed.

Blue Raven Tea Company sells some very interesting sample paackets of tea, both black and green. I purchased them and I am having the first of the blacks today. The samples are good for about 2 pots each, which is quite generous for under $10 for seven packets to a sampler. I am trying South Pacific Black, with largish dark leaves interwoen with gold petals. It smells like sugar cookies, with an overlay of fruit and floral. I brewed it the standard 3.5 minutes with boiling water. The aroma was still quite mild and sweet. The brew was quite mild also, faintly sweet and nicely tasting of coconut. No chemical taste, not overwhelming. I may have found a coconut tea I like. I have some in the fridge to see how it would be iced - I'll let you know

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Grace-Full Tea

In front of those gorgeous buttresses is a stone sarcophagus.

Our friend Marcel shared a "tea" recipe with me that I will share with you. There are no measurements, so a bit of trial and error will be needed, but it sounded delish! Make some strong chamomile "tea" and boil it down until it is very, very reduced. Combine this with a recipe of Creme Anglaise or Bavarian Cream and serve over fresh figs. Or one could make a tart with it. I am going to try it and see how it works. At least the cream part. We don't get fresh figs around here very often.

The grackles have brought their children to the feeders and the robin young are all over the lawn. The training of them to learn to eat on their own consists of example and a fine ignoring of their open mouths and loud demands. At least it is a bit gentler than bluebirds who give their young a sharp peck on the head as an inducement to independence. Our solitary turkey is also back. Very odd, as you always see them in flocks. We have one new fawn, although I haven't seen it. Most of the deer are not visiting us - they probably don't want to deal with the downed trees and the cacophony of the power saws. I must say I agree with them.

On vacation, I bought 4 teapots - I know, I should be ashamed. One was antique - the blue and white "Phoenix" pattern from China - a whole set for so cheap, you wouldn't believe. Another gently used, the replacement for the one I broke, and a new one by Bodum in bright purple. It comes in other cool colors like turquoise, red, yellow, and a funky green. It looks very modern - a straight glass cylinder with plastic fittings. The parts all fit together by means of nooks and crannies. You pop your tea into the infuser, add water and the lid and when the time is up push down the plunger as you do with all Bodum presses. The tea goes into the bottom of the infuser, which has no holes. You can find a picture on if you put in "Bodum tea press".

I am trying out this new toy with some tea from a new-to-me tea seller - Gay Grace Teas, . It is run by a woman, in Natick MA, who decided to open a "MobileTea Shoppe" she takes to events. Apparently she has met with great success. It's nice to know that civility and grace are making inroads.

My selection for today is China Yunnan Black, which is my all time favorite, at the moment. In the packet the leaves smell fresh and vaguely spicey. They are on the small side, with an abundance of gold tips. Brewed they have that wonderful characteristic Yunnan aroma, earthy, spicey, with a touch of cocoa and fresh wash. The brew is very dark and deep looking. Oh my, this is nice tea. A good full mouth feel, quite earthy, but not a bit like Pu-erh. A touch of sassafrass, hints of spice. Altogether very, very tasty, worthy of favoritism. The Bodum did an excellent job.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Spoiled Tea Woman and the Tea Shops

Okay, I will now admit that I am thoroughly spoiled about tea. Oh yeah. I did not take my water filter to Cape Cod because it would have to be taken off the faucet, I'd have to find the doohicky that would fit it to another faucet, etc. etc. I did take a couple of my favorite teas and a teapot. First morning, I make my tea, "Aargh, it's disgusting," so I settle for coffee, neither happily nor silently. I went and bought bottled water, having no clue what to buy. Now the tea tastes like tarnished copper. I try another brand, it's back to disgusting. I settle for coffee and try to go to tea shops, vowing next time I will take some sort of filter for my tea or find the right kind of bottled water.

Speaking of tea shops, I did manage to hit three of them, all quite different. The first was Beth's Special Teas in Sandwich. This was a small charming cafe with kind of a "front porch" decor of old chairs and tables and lots of whitewash and summery curtains. The tea was Harney's, loose-leaf and always top notch. There were lots of baked goods for our "Elevenses" and I chose a cannoli since they didn't come already filled. Sadly, it was just okay, as the baker had put too much confectioner's sugar in the filling and I could taste the cornstarch. The shell was nice and crisp, however. Never buy a cannoli that is already filled, they're a soggy mess.

The next was a real disappointment. The Tea Shoppe of Mashpee Commons is very nicely decorated in blues and yellows, with attractive tea-related pictures on the wall.. Service was quite slow, we had to wait nearly ten minutes to be seated although we were the only people waiting and there were a number of empty tables. The menu concentrated on "Old Cape Cod " food and afternoon tea, which I, of course, had. I also ordered the house blend tea, which came as an over-stuffed tea bag, making the tea weak and bland. A second pot was merely a wash of the first - colored water. The waitress had to be reminded twice to bring me some cream. My scone arrived first and was dry. The Devonshire cream wasn't really, and was ever so slightly off, but the raspberry preserves were exquisitely good. When the sandwiches and desserts finally arrived, they were very nicely presented, but we could smell the onion in the chicken salad before it arrived. The desserts were pretty and imaginatively presented, but not very tasty. It was all not very good. However, in the shop part, there were a host of teapots and accessories, good teas by Mark T. Wendell and pretty "tea-shirts", so all was not lost.

However, the third restaurant we visited was a real gem. The Dunbar Tea Room, also in Sandwich, presents an outwardly plain front. Inside, however, it is quite elegant, with pale green walls and cream trim. We'd all had a very late breakfast, so we weren't up for much. Our friend, Marcel ordered scones and cream and we had crumpets, those holey buttery griddle cake wonders. We each had our own pot of tea, Marcel's was a Formosa Oolong and mine Ice Wine. Himself had a really good and spicey Ginger Black, very well balanced. The service was excellent and comfortable-friendly. The scones were moist and buttery, the crumpets yummy and the jam was superb. The Oolong was a heavy roast, which is not my cup of tea, although I could tell it was quite good and the Ice Wine was delicious, winey, floral and with a touch of pineapple. Well worth going to. What I could see of other people's orders looked really good.

Coming and going, you had the opportunity to indulge your need for yet another teapot, accessory or tin of tea. Dunbar's carried top brands, such as Harney's, Grace Fine Teas, Mark T. Wendell and others of that ilk. I bought a tin of their own special blend, a cranberry/almond mix, which you will hear about soon.

Much farther out, in Truro, we hit the Atlantic Spice Company, a foodie's piece of heaven. Just to smell all the wonderful spices and herbs was a super treat, as were the low prices. I have gotten stuff from them before and been very pleased with the quality. Marcel and I got huge bags of necessities and then traded. Frank found spice jars and other things for me, including a teapot to replace my go-to everyday favorite which I broke just after we moved. They had teas as well, but only in one pound packets, which were very inexpensive - all less than $10 a pound, but what if I didn't like it? Expensive mulch. So I left them there. They had a large collection of tea pots, creamers, T-sacs and other tea utensils, all at very good prices.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm Baaack

Hi Everybody- We just got home from Cape Cod and we are unpacking. I have lots to tell you about teashops and new teapots and 4 - yes, 4 new orders of tea, but I am tired and my kitties missed me, so tomorrow will have to do.

In the meantime, lift an ice tea with me to celebrate the Longest Day of the year, aka the Summer Solstice and First Day of Summer. Put on those shorts, lift your glasses high and celebrate!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crafts and Crafty Things and Oh Yes,Tea

Ah, the Ravenna Church. Can't remember which one at the moment, but
I loved it. Strong and beautiful and over 1,000 years old.

It is a gorgeous day - cooler, sunny, low humidity, perfect! Yesterday, when I got in my car, the car's thermometer said 106 degrees. Good grief, that is tooooooo much!

I saw a really cute idea for those of you who like to do crafts. It is a wreath made from teabag covers - those interesting individual wrappers. Pictures and instructions can be found at . It looks to be quite simple and it would make a nice gift for a tea friend.

Ticolino Tea has a clever idea for a tea infuser. It is called a tea stick, comes pre-filled with tea and you just stick it in your cup of water, stir around for 2-3 minutes and Voila! a cup of tea. They look like metalisized carboard with holes in them. Go to and click on "shop on line" to see the full line.

I usually never buy bottled teas, but every now and then, in the interest of blog topics, I do. The one I tried is Black Tea Drink, from the Tung-I company. I should've read the label - sugar is the second ingredient. It includes barley and perhaps that is what gave it such an odd taste. It was also so sweet, my teeth threatened to fall out in protest. After about 3 sips, down the drain it went. I have no idea what sort of tea it was, the sugar totally obliterated it.

I shall have some hot tea this afternoon and report on that.

Life In Teacup specializes in Chinese and Taiwanese tea. Today I am trying one of the latter, Dong Ding (sometimes called Tong Ting) Oolong Traditional Medium Roast. I used boiling water to first rinse and relax these tight little balls, with a piece of stem. You can go to Gingko site to see a picture. Their dry scent was green, floral and straw. I infused them 3 times, but for a lot longer than recommended - 1, 1.5 and 2 minutes. Gingko says if you do shorter times, you get many more infusion. The first tasted kind of straw like.

The second began to smell a bit like osmanthus, with a hint of summer squash. This came out in the taste as well, mixed with dry grass and some greenness. The third infusion was very pale and had little scent or taste, it was much more vegetal than the others. I expected this to have more of a roasted character and I am just as glad it didn't - heavy roasts are not my thing. I think next time I have this I am going to try doing it for only a few seconds at a time, with more tea. I have so much to learn about both Oolong and green teas. Well, really, all of them. I need one of those T shirts - (So many teas, so little time).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A New Kid on the Block

I didn't say yesterday, but these poppies line the Italian train

I'm not sure this falls in the category of "now I've seen everything," but it's pretty nifty. A tea vender in Bagladesh has perfected a 7 layer tea drink, using different kinds of tea. If you'd like to read the article and see the teas, go to http://blogs.wsj/scene/2011/06/07/the-secret-of-the-seven-layer-tea/. It really is worth a moment of your time.

My Ernie has decided to live, eat, drink water, and howl because I won't let him out until he eats more. I am doing much better as well. All of the critters are out on the very hot back porch, having hot naps. Me, I go for AC.

There is a new iPhone app - Tea. Guess what it is for. There is a built in timer for different types of tea and places to keep notes on tea, brew settings and lots more. I have no iPhone, so I can't say anything about it other than it exists. If you try it, consider doing a review of it here as a guest blogger.

I could not resist the siren song of a new Keemun from Upton's - Mao Feng Imperial, which hails from Anhui Province, China. Hmm-mm, what an aroma - deep and winey and fresh - the true "burgundy of tea", which is its nickname. The leaves are quite long and thin and twisted - I discover later some are twigs, but no matter. I brew this up for about 4 minutes by the two pot method, so those big leaves have lots of room. What a scent - very roasted and winey, with a background of corn silk or roasted corn. The liquor was lighter than I expected, definitely more a red than a black.

The flavor was definitely intriguing. Light, but deep, with overtones of honey. It is very smooth and there is a hint of a warm spice. There is no smokiness, which I know many do not like, but which I do. This would make a great afternoon tea with some sweets or cheesy savories. I may try it iced, but I have my doubts about that.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh Happy Day

Today is a very flowery day, from this picture of an Italian
railside, to new discoveries, to some very nice tea.

Oh Happy Day! My computer is back and mostly functioning! Now if the "Orange Ernster Cat" would stop being sick, I would be ecstatic. Poor baby, not even his favorite tea entices him, nor ham slivers, nor chicken livers. He did go to the vet for a shot and some sub-cutaneous fluids. They put a solution between his skin and the rest of him and he looked quite lumpy until it was all absorbed, but it helped start him on the road to recovery. I had never heard of this procedure, which only took about 10 minutes and a lot less stress for him than being sedated and kept over night.

While I was out today I came across a large stand of Poison Hemlock. It looks a bit like Wild Carrot or Queen Anne's Lace. It was quite lovely, but it is deadly poisonous. I also noticed the buttercups are rioting, along with the wild phlox and the very tiny Blue-eyed Grass, which is totally charming.

My Upton's order is already here. Such fun to come!

However, for today I am having Life In Teacup's Dong Ding Cui Yi Oolong, Competition Grade IV. The dry scent is quite floral with a slight pale green edge. I first rinsed these small tight balls to help them relax and then brewed them the first time for about a minute. They didn't unwind much and carried their lovely floral scent right along into the flavor, with a bit of a straw or dry stick nuance.

The second brew was about 1.5 minutes and the leaves were unfurling. The floral aroma had settled into orchid. The liquor seemed to be hearty, floral with a touch of warm hay and a whiff of clean motor oil. I know that all seems odd, but we all have our own ways of describing things - after all, how many things taste"kind of like chicken" when we try to describe something new?

The third and final brew was for 2 minutes and by now the leaves were totally unfurled and quite large. The pale straw yellow brew now smelled more like pansies or petunias and the taste was greenish with a floral overlay. Which one, I don't know.

Although this was fairly low on the competition rating, I have to say this was a lovely tea, one definately worth drinking and savoring. If the higher grade were exported here, they would probably be beyond my means anyway and think of the hundreds of teas that can not compete.

So far, the total of trees on "reverend row" that need to be cut up and or cut down is 85, all over 40 feet tall. We were a regular miniature Tornado Alley.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Just Can't Bear It

There won't be any pictures until I can use my own computer, which will hopefully be Wednesday. The whole thing had to be taken off and reinstalled, which means that I need to re-install all my personal software as well. Not a happy camper.

The @#$%^*&*bear came back and made another mess with the bird feeders and suet. Then it was rude enough to poop in my yard. Usually it only comes once in spring and maybe once in the fall, just before hibernation. How did we get to be so lucky. Maybe the tornado upset it. I sure hope none of the squirrels got that strong!

Oh dear, I overcame all my taboos about vanilla in tea and tried some of Samovar's Vanilla Blossoming. I wish I hadn't. It smelled very, very strongly of vanilla and tasted very, very strongly of chemical vanilla. I hated it, my husband, who would use vanilla as aftershave if he could, loved it. Go figure.

However, I did have a pleasant experience with Life in Teacup's Red Tea Dan Cong. Dry, it had a sharp winey smell and huge, tightly twisted black leaves. As it brewed the aroma was some combination of Asian market, Chinese restaurant, Chinatown streets and incense. The flavor was just as nuanced and just as hard to pin down, some sort of cross between a heavy roasted Oolong and a mild Keemun. I drank 3 cups of it because I liked it and I wanted to pin down the flavor, but I couldn't.

I do like tea that is so intriguing.

The new Upton's catalogue has arrived and Miss Greedy Eyes here wants one of everything. But I satisfied myself with just the newest arrivals until this year's Keemuns and Yunnans come in.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

That Was the Week That Was

Well, here I am again. My computer is still unwell, but I can use my husband's, as we finally got it back. I have been tea tasting in spite of how nuts it is around here. We all have a small freak out when the wind blows hard and stare at the sky, hoping this is just normal, The sound of power saws has been going on for days and it seems the more that is cleared, the more damage is revealed. But we all were truly fortunate in this freak occurrence. No one injured and fairly minor damage.

To add to the fun, I thought some quiet perennial planting would ease my mind. I forgot we have only3 inches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!of so-called topsoil over gravel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The next bit of unsettlement was the vacation we were planning starting the end of the month got moved up to six days from today. I am so unready. I guess I will need it by the time I am there. I have certainly needed tea!

So, on to some tea. One of the teas I have had recently was from the Tea Trekker - it is Wuyi Da Hong Pao Black. from Fujian Province, China. The black and brown leaves smelled something like an old candy with a bit of sharpness added. Maybe close to pineapple. I used a large teaspoon brewed at 212 for 3.5 minutes. As it brewed the aroma shifted to something earthy, sharp and metallic, like a hot iron woodstove. The flavor was nutty and yes, earthy, with a bit of astringency and some cocoa sprinkled over it. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not, but didn't have anymore to taste. I added a bit of cream at the end and you shouldn't, it did nothing for it.

Hopefully I will be able to write some more before vacation - if nothing else happens. I have comforted myself with baking bread and biscuits. Ta for now