Hello all! Today’s guest on What’s in My Cup is my beloved Eldest Son!
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.
He’s my red-headed, hairy lumberjack, and often my partner in adventure. We’ve battled to save the world together and geek out as much as possible. And my I could write a series of books describing how wonderful and sweet he is, and how very much I love, but you’re hear to read about tea instead! So please give a warm welcome to J!
Years ago, a longtime friend sent me a care package with a ton of goodies, including a collection of loose leaf tea.
Mom had just started getting into the obsession hobby, and being a coffee drinker, I didn’t even own an infuser.
So it sat.
We’ve cracked a few vials since then, on vacation and an occasional cup at home. Judging from what’s left, the “berry fruit tea” flavour is a favourite, though there’s a hibiscus & lemon vial that’s been tried too.
So what have I picked for this review? Computer…
Famous words from an idyllic future?
Full confession, I meant to do a review months ago and forgot, and my second go ’round was less flavourful than I remember, but we’re not sure if maybe I skimped on the tea leaves, or if it just aged on me.
So after a third and fourth attempt, we abandoned my batch of tea leaves and opened Mom’s packet. Mom’s tea was called Cream of Earl Grey by Puck.
The first sips reminded me of every other tea, but after a second, I noticed it is very flowery…so orange pekoe and flowers?
All told, it’s not bad, but probably not a “go-to”, but as Mom said, maybe ‘you’ve just never had a proper cup of Earl Grey tea’ before.
Happiness [is] only real when shared.
John Krakauer, Into the Wild
BTW: If you would like to share your favourite tea and tea mug on the last Monday of the month, please pass it on!
Dear Diary – This week we experienced our first heat wave of the summer. Temperatures soared into the mid-30s (celsius) and with humidity, felt like it was over 45! I was out briefly to water some plants and not a creature was stirring.It was too hot even to sit out in the shade with a book. I always worry about Eldest Son on super hot days because, not only is he working outside, his job is very physical and requires things like work boots and kevlar lined pants! On “Halo night”, our weekly online video game session, he confessed he felt like he needed a nap before he could drive home. But the car was too hot!
I sold some craft supplies on Facebook Marketplace and Youngest Son helped me put out the boxes for pickup. I forgot there were crayons in that box…
I love summer, and I prefer to be too hot over too cold. But that, that was bit much Mother Nature.
Dear Diary – We ordered pizza for Father’s Day from a respected chain, and it was the worst pizza I’ve ever had! Not only was it 50 minutes late, it was cold, dried out, and burnt. I called to complain when we hit the 1 hour-since-we-ordered mark, only to be put on hold by customer service. When she returned, she apologized. The store wasn’t answering the phone. I should have called to complain about the state of the pizza, but by that time, we were too hungry to care anymore.
Earlier in the week, I had surprised Hubby with California Sandwiches, a chain that closed in our area during covid. There just happened to be one at the plaza where I drove a friend to an appointment, so it was really a spur of the moment thing. The best part about these meatball sandwiches is they are the size of my head! I got 2 delicious meals out of mine, and Hubby…Hubby was…
Happy! Happy! Happy!
Dear Diary – Youngest Son is officially finished classes, but in lieu of exams, students were given a few days to complete outstanding assignments. Or that was the theory. Instead, a number of teachers have used the additional days to pile on more assignments.
Youngest Son is not impressed.
Dear Diary – I was watching a movie with Hubby and the young thing enters a room wearing only a lacy black bra and panties. Her skin is flawless; her stomach flat.
“I don’t think I ever looked like that?”, I said to Hubby.
“What,” says Hubby, “tall?”.
Dear Diary – This week I purchased a selfie stick, thinking it might be a useful tool for my taking photos for my business. Just the name “selfie” makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to be like the majority of sheep people who are obsessed with posting fabulous pics of their fabulous face, enjoying their fabulous life.
“Look at me! I have fabulous eyebrows and a Starbucks iced coffee. I’m driving toward a speeding freight train and I know how to use the Disney Princess sparkle filter! Don’t I look adorbs?”
Some might say I’m jealous of fabulous eyebrows, or people who do look adorbs with the Disney Princess sparkle filter. I know how to use the Disney Princess sparkle filter; I just choose not to! And I’m not saying it’s wrong to post cute pics – I do it too. I want people do see that at almost 50, I still weigh as much as a Backstreet Boy. But I post one now and then, not 105…an hour…
I played with my selfie stick for about 10 minutes one afternoon, and I admit…it’s harder than you think. Now I can capture a lot more unflattering angles than I did just using my own stumpy arms.
Rather than taking a selfie, I used my stick to take a photo of some really cute chicks!
You thought I was going to post a selfie, didn’t you?
Dare to be a sprinkle doughnut in a world of plain bagels.
Baby squirrels were chasing each other in the yard yesterday afternoon and enjoying the first of the apples to fall off the tree. I suspect a couple of recent strong wind storms prompted their premature departure from the branches. The apples, not the squirrels.
I watched them playing while sipping David’s Bumbleberry Burst tea.
A bumbleberry is a perfect mixture of burple and binkle berries, which grow on a giggle bush. Giggle bushes are extremely rare, as they only grow in special places. As the bush begins to shake, the burple and binkle will begin to ripen from green to a deep purple. At the exact moment that the berries are perfectly ripen, they will giggle. This transformation may last for hours as the bushes quiver, and if you are quiet enough, you may hear them.
If you can’t find an elusive giggle bush, you can re-create bumbleberry flavour using a compilation of fresh berries in your pies, jams and other delicious baked goods.
Fresh berries are slowly coming into season, so instead of ice, I used fresh, frozen blackberries to keep it cool.
At first, I felt about disappointed with this tea. The name had “burst” in it! As well, there was a pungent aroma wafting from the sleeve, so I expected a sweet, bright, mouthwatering berry flavour. Instead, it seemed flat, missing that punch of flavour. What it does deliver is a subtle fruitiness with floral notes, that as an iced tea, totally work! I think in North America we’ve become developed cravings for highly sugared, “dessert-y” treats. Because this tea isn’t highly sugared, it could easily be dismissed, but it was very refreshing on this warm, sunny afternoon.
David’s Blackberry Burst tea is rosy brown in colour, and the loose leaf tea itself was a warm mixture of creams and browns, with a vibrant splash of indigo petals. It is a pu’erh based tea, so caffeinated. It also includes apple, raisin, ginger, hibiscus, elderberry, strawberry and currant flavouring, beetroot, candied ginger, carrot, blueberry, garcinia, raspberry, cornflower, nutmeg, and stevia extract.
Dear Diary – Someone in my family asked me why I bring a travel mug of tea in the car to church, only to leave it in the car. Especially when I’m there early for rehearsal.
I had to patiently explain that this is the tea…that will get me to Tim Horton’s so I can buy more tea. Duh!
Tea – a magical elixor that turns “leave me alone or die” into “good morning sweetie”.
Dear Diary – Sometimes the sense of smell doesn’t seem like a gift. Hubby has no sense of smell. I believed him when, having been assaulted coming down the stairs but a big baby “bomb”, the kind where if it were a cartoon drawing, noxious green gas would be snaking across the floor, I told Hubby “your son reaks”. Hubby lifted son’s butt to his face and inhaled, and swore he couldn’t smell it. My eyes were burning. I could smell colour. Every creature within a 5 mile radius had already run for their lives as if pursued by a dark evil from the abyss. And Hubby was blissfully (and legitimately) oblivious!
As a result, I am the “tester” for all things foul…is this milk bad? Does this bread smell mouldy to you? This week it was, does my garbage can stink? That’s exactly where I planned to stick my face this evening…how did he know?
Occassionally, he can catch whiffs of something. Or the odd scent becomes noxiously potent to him, like the vanilla handcream I used to keep in my desk at the law firm. He could smell it hours and many hand washings after I put it on, so much so that I had to give it away, rather than cause him to have a severe allergic reaction.
Vanilla handcream he can smell, but the dead mice and potent posterior poops are all mine. Oh Goody!
Dear Diary – We have been getting quotes on our HVAC system since everything is at least 20 years old and needs to move out. Hubby was late for the most recent appointment, so I had to fill in. I did my best not to the let the sales guy see my eyes glazing over as he explained the whats and whys of his recommendation. Hubby arrived home before I completely passed out from boredom.
Shortly after that, I excused myself to answer the phone. I was literally saved by the bell. I forgot I had potatoes boiling on the stove (for potato-stuffed meatloaf) and they were just boiling dry. I whisked the smelly pot to the back porch as the men were coming up from the basement. The sales guy commented that someone’s been cooking and it smelled really good.
It did not.
Maybe he has no sense of smell either.
Dear Diary – This week I saw a chiropodist. Apparently it’s pronounced with a “ch”, not a “sh”, and I’ve been saying it wrong for years. I was really hoping there would be something I could do to regain my mobility with less pain, and stay off the heavy duty medication that may or may not have made me sick and/or contributed to the death flu I had in May.
I felt bad for this lovely young thing handling my alligator feet. The recommendation was braces.
When I was a tween, I desperately wanted braces (for my teeth) because all the popular kids had them. So I’m wondering, will these braces make me popular in the nouveau geriatric circles?
I really don’t mind getting older…but my body is taking it badly!
Dear Diary – I haven’t been swallowed in my jungle garden yet, but the job is far from complete. I did almost get eaten by a horde of angry ants. On Saturday, I also had the pleasure of watching Mr. Cardinal and his son. Like a Dad teaching his son how to drive, they flew circuits together around the backyards all afternoon.
This morning I’m pretty sure I spotted son navigating the neighbourhood on his own.
I hope my birdfeeder becomes his regular hang-out too, and I will get a photo session, just like I did dear old Dad.
Dear Diary – Probably the biggest news of the month: I FINALLY opened my Etsy store! In the last week, I made 0 sales, but I have 2 admirers. I know both of them…but it counts!
I have more inventory to upload…and I went fabric shopping again, so more projects to undertake.
And I’m happy!
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, and while not everything isn’t “peachy” in my world, I’m choosing to join with the birds and sing!
This morning I fixed myself a cup of T-Kettle’s Peaches & Cream tea, after I hung out the clothes to dry on the line.
Of all the peach teas I’ve reviewed, this tea boasts the fewest ingredients and it’s the only one that is not an herbal infusion. Peaches & Cream is a black tea base, so it’s is high in caffeine. It also includes mango, peach, amaranth petals and camomile petals. Amaranth is a plant long used for medical purposes, boasting a purple-coloured flower. It should not be consumed by dogs, cows, or people with kidney issues. Strange list, but apparently true. Some studies suggest it may help lower chloresterol, but no study has conclusive evidence that this is the case in people, at least.
It has a delicate colour despite being a black tea base (but you can’t, which didn’t show up in this vintage tea cup so you’ll have to trust me). I also appreciated the depth the black tea gave to the peach flavour. Often I find peach teas taste as though they are artificially sweetened (some actually list peach juice granules as an ingredient, so it’s not wonder!) and like they’re missing something! Overall, it was tasty, but I think I prefer peach teas as an iced tea on a hot day.
Other peach teas I have reviewed include Tetley’s Peach Bellini and Ginger Peach with Dandelion, both of which are caffeine-free and contain hibiscus and blackberry leaves. Another summer favourite was David’s Tea “Just Peachy“. I used Peach Bellini to make sorbet last year, and T-Kettle’s Peaches & Cream would work just as well! Yum!
Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.
Dear Diary – I just want you to know I’ve entered the snapdragon stage of the year…part of me has snapped and part of me is draggin’! It’s gardening season!
Yesterday I armoured up and headed into my backyard to tackle the “jungle”, a long rectangular flowerbed aligning the fence next to our neighbour. Our neighbour just spent a lot of money paying a guy to landscape her oasis, and in order to be a good neighbour, I need to do my part.
I say flower bed rather loosely. It’s more like a strip of land ruled by an overlord called Elderwart. It’s a noxious tyranant who chokes out all living things in its path, and reproduces at an alarming rate. At the moment, the leaves are knee-high, and the delicate flowers that resemble queen anne’s lace, is nearing my shoulders. I realize I am not a giant among men (or women), but it’s beyond ridiculous.
I have battled this demon for over 20 years. Nothing kills it! I have dug pits 2 feet deep to remove it’s roots and offspring. I have severed and slashed ruthlessly and without mercy. Every year I vow that this will be the year I am victorious, and by mid-May, I hang my head my defeat.
I almost conquered it once, and it nearly killed me. Three Saturdays in a row from the time I rose until the evening dinner hour, I travailed, wreaking destruction and burying it under a thick, black cloth. But the overlord creeped under the cover of darkness to pop up along the edges and cracks, and seams in the cloth. I lost.
Yesterday, I laboured for an hour and a half (with a minecraft break in the middle), but only succeeded in clearing a 4’x2′ patch. I freed the sweet peas and I’m nearing the border on a lily. My knees were covered in dirt; I had pieces of tree in my hair. And today, my shoulder and butt muscles are screaming, “what have you done”?
I vow….this year is THE year I will conquer. Or burn it to the ground
Well it’s over, it’s over, it’s over, I won’t be pushed around Move over, move over, move over, Get back or just get out Set this plane up in flames It’s over, it’s over, it’s over…It’s time to burn it down!
Skillet, Burn It Down
Dear Diary – I had a TMI moment (aka Too Much Information). A TMI is the suddenly manifestation of a mental picture painted “with broad, sweeping strokes” when your brain (whether it dwells in the gutter or not) spontaneously fills in the blanks after someone says something that may be completely innocent.
Youngest Son asked me if I wanted to play Halo. It’s been kind of our chillig out thing lately. I was rushing up the stairs at the moment.
Dear Diary – It took us several hours, but Hubby and I finally scraped the mud off our boots and headed to the Mall Saturday afternoon. Hubby’s phone battery has been in the “vestibule of heaven” for quite some time, requiring charging daily so it can limp through the working hours. There are days I relate!
I got up at 9, as promised, so I would be ready to go and we could be there for the 10 a.m. opening. But Hubby was updating his laptop, so I drank tea and watched The Great British Sewing Bee instead. Then we realized my cellphone, which he was going to assume, was almost dead.
A couple hours later, we made the long trek to the Mall, very narrowly escaping collision with several drivers who drove like they were alone in parking lot! Safely parked, we headed to the nearest exit, when Hubby realized. He left his cell phone at home.
An hour later (which included a detour to the post office and a potty break at home for me after the extra breakfast tea), we arrived at our destination. Only the storefront was now part of the food court. We travelled along with the unmasked masses until we could find the “you are here” sign and find the new location.
It was a half hour wait at the store as an older gentleman argued with the sales clerk, who patiently explained over and over again until he stormed off in a huff. Our own transaction was remarkably painless, and would have been shorter had their only 2 tablets been in working condition. After a dozen attempts to write my e-initials on the screen, she went “old school” and printed out the contract.
Most of my settings, contacts, etc. transferred to the new phone, which is very similar to the one I had. The only big difference is that my cell phone hoots at me when I get a text. I’ll have to change that. For Hubby, this is the new adventure of finding all the important buttons. Most of my photos, texts and contacts are still on his phone too, hopefully not providing him with light entertainment. My ring tone and text tone are there too, so whenever the phone rings, we have to ask “is it yours or mine”? He’ll have to change that too.
Most phones come with a charger. This one did too. Only instead of having a “boy” end (USB to charge) and a “girl” end (to plug into the phone), this charger is both “girls”. Cute, but useless.
We’ll have to learn to share our one charger.
Dear Diary – Summer’s heat is coming an with it, Hubby’s complaints when I use the oven and heat the house even more, so I made a few things to tuck away. I made beet pickles, blueberry scones, chai scones…and bunny buns.
Or what was supposed to be bunny buns. They were adorable on Pinterest.
Mine looked more like an obese mixture of the dragon, Toothless, in the How to Train Your Dragon movies and a gerbil-like Pokemon.
It didn’t help that as they baked, they grew more obese, and their noses ended up stuck to the bottoms of the ones in front of them. Mmmm-wa!
Hubby complained that they were too “bready”. Ah…hello! They’re buns. Bunny buns!
I wanted to tell him to kiss my fluffy white keester, but instead, I just smiled sweetly…it makes him nervous because he has no idea what I am thinking
The next time your wife gets angry, drape a dish towel over her shoulders like a cape and explain, ‘now you are … Super Angry‘.
June has arrived and with it, strawberry season! Luscious, sweet, juicy red berries that pop in your mouth. Even sweeter when plucked by hand and eaten still warm from the sun.
T.Kettle’s Strawberry & Kiwi looseleaf tea smells like fresh strawberries. It is a fruit infusion blend of apple, hibiscus, rosehip, papaya, strawberry leaves, strawberry, kiwi, and red plum petals is caffeine-free and vegan.
I really thought the colours of the looseleaf tea was inviting…soft purples and pinks. The tea itself was a soft and delicate rosy pink, which promised sweetness.
I once described strawberry tea as “elusive as a great summer blockbuster. Both have their are high points, but in the end, they just don’t deliver”. This delivered. Even though it had some of the all-too familiar “fruity punch” flavour found in fruit infusions, it also had sweet and slightly tart notes, and a strong strawberry aftertaste. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about kiwi fruit in tea. It’s a very tart, citrus-y berry from New Zealand, and not loved by everyone, but it was a successful pairing. While I didn’t particuarly taste the kiwi fruit, I still think it provided some sourness which only served to enhance the sweetness of the strawberry.
I think this would be a delight as an iced tea as well. I’m definitely adding this to my summer repertoire!
Dear Diary – Not only is my child faster in video games, he’s faster in come-backs. I’m not sure it’s a good thing.
On Sunday evening, phone in hand, Hubby headed up the stairs. “I’m going to call my Dad”, he said, “but I have to go to the bathroom first”.
“That’s a pity”, I said (referring to the bathroom break, not the call).
“No,” Youngest Son retorted, “it’s a duty”.
Dear Diary – Summer is fast approaching, bringing with it hot and humid days. Which means my window for baking is coming to a close. So in an effort to find joy in the current “ho-hum” of life, I decided to tackle a couple of new recipes.
The first was onion jam. It was a tearful experience…but only because I had to chop 4 cups of onions. It was also a long experience as it required constant attention, and disappointingly, yielded only 2 cups. I’m not sure I would call it “jam” as the word infers something sticky and, well….”jammy”. It was the texture of very soft and caramelized onion. But! It was delicious on a hamburger, and if there’d been bacon and goat cheese too, I would have been in heaven.
My second recipe was not really a recipe at all. I literally cobbled together an apple-rhubard crumble pie using my apple crisp recipe x2, and instinct.
Two years ago, my aunt blessed me with some of her rhubarb plants and I have been carefully watching my tiny patch. This year, it produced enough rhubarb for a taste, while leaving plenty to go to seed so my patch will grow. Rhubarb is hard to find in the city and it’s priced like gold!
To make things easier, I used a frozen pie shell for the base, because eating was a higher priority than fussing with pastry. I’m happy to report that, for once, I didn’t have a mental bakedown. My instinct paid off, and we polished that pie off in 2 days. It would have been one but I managed to keep the wolves at bay with a wooden spoon.
This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.
Dear Diary – I was playing Halo with Youngest Son yesterday, and in a panic, I furiously pushed the button and yelled, “why can’t I change guns?. Slightly annoyed, Youngest Son tells me, “that’s because you’re pushing the “capture screenshot” button…like 20 times”.
So…. apparently my new controller has an extra button to capture screenshots.
Dear Diary – Today I went to Home Depot to buy herbs and flowers. I couldn’t invest much in my garden during covid. We couldn’t “shop” and the selection was limited or quickly picked over. I ordered seeds onlinelast year, but most of them never grew. Only the basil, and it was “basil on steroids”. I still have plenty left from my harvest last summer – dried, frozen, and minced and made into ice cubes.
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
I have always felt there is something special about gardening. The size, the space, the colour, the texture of the garden matters not because it’s about more than growing flowers or producing vegetables. It’s about nurturing the soul. Hands not idle, yet a quiet time for the mind to reflect or meditate. A safe space for tears to flow, and a restless heart to find peace.
Peace is something for which we are all searching. Whether it’s a break from the hurriedness of life, or calmness in a storm. I believe our Creator speaks to us in a garden. Like every person, each petal and blade of grass is a different and beautiful. We just need to look more closely.
I’m reminded that when Jesus sought the Father, asking that He been spared the cross, it was in a garden. It was also a garden where He met Mary after He rose again. C. Austin Miles was inspired by this story when he wrote the hymn, In the Garden, in April, 1912. It was my great-grandmother’s favourite hymn. He writes in the first person of walking in the garden with Jesus, and the peace and joy experienced in that place.
I am aware that my new fragrant herbs and purple petunias cannot chase away the grey clouds in my life, (nor rooting out the tangle of weeds that reach my knees), but I expect I will meet with Someone who can. Already, my heart overflows.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.
C. Austin Miles
Dear Diary – I’ve been putting it off for some time now, but in order to get my Etsy business off the ground, I needed photos of my cute bags with a model. Since I can count the number of friends I have on one hand, my best option was not to harass ask them. but to do it myself. But in order to do that, there were a few obstacles to overcome.
First, I needed a plain background, and my house offers neither a plain blank wall or a brick facade. We have a wooden fence but standing knee-deep in weeds, climbing over a pile of assorted boards, or figuring out how to use a power tool to remove paintings (that no longer have a picture) was too overwhelming. I finally decided to amuse my neighbours and use the straggly, hole-y hedge in the front yard.
Setting established, the next challenge was to figure out how to use the tripod. I vaguely recalled Youngest Son using it once for a school project and it being waist-high, but after several minutes of unlocking and locking toggles, and tugging on poles, I was beginning to think it had all been a dream. I could barely get the camera higher than my knees. And I’m short! I would have asked Youngest Son but he was writing a physics test and I didn’t want to interrupt him. Fortunately, before I threw it across the room, I had a rare “ah-ha!” moment, and the problem was solved.
I attached my camera and turned it on.
The battery was dead.
An hour later, having put my hair up and changed into a black knit dress and jean jacket, I headed out with a basket full of bags, my tripod, my camera, and a looming sense of dread.
It was too hot for a jean jacket!
It took several attempts to figure out how to use the timer. After several snaps of my knees, face and butt (thankfully blurry), I figured out how to make it autofocus. Sort of. But despite the gray skies and looming black clouds, the photos were washed out.
I hefted everything closer to the road and tried again. But it was the same issue. So I moved everything again, within feet of the road but under the shade of the tree.
By now, the guy across the street was watching me from his front door, several passers-by had quizzed me non-verbally, and George down the street, was pretending to work in his garden.
I didn’t appreciate an audience.
By the end, I was becoming quite a pro at guessing where to stand with 5 seconds remaining, and how to turn to hide my chubby elbows and “water wings”. Or so I thought.
I have photos.
They’re not great.
But at least I finished my project before it started to rain.
I always thought it would be fun to be a model, but quite frankly, it’s hard work taking accessories off and on, holding odd positions, and pretending it was “fun”. I’d say “I’ll keep my day job” but I’m still figuring out just what that should be.
You know why adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up? It’s because they’re looking for ideas!