I’m not really a “stick my head in the sand” kind of person, but it’s true. I don’t watch the news. I hear enough in general conversation, or something on Facebook will tweak my interest and I’ll investigate, but I don’t often seek it out. There are thing I’ve known a long time. I know there is evil in the world. There is hatred and discrimination, and a terribly long history of it.
It breaks my heart.
It makes me anxious.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
1 Timothy 1:7
So while I live in this world, I keep myself separated from it by not immersing myself in every thought that Kim Kardashian has (most of them are not golden!), or filling my head with images of death and destruction.
I am also not oblivious to the world. I mourn and pray. I teach my children to live with integrity and love. I endeavour daily to be an active minister of reconciliation for the past, a person of peace in the present, and a harbinger of hope for the future. It’s not enough, but it’s a place to start. And if we never start, we will never move forward.
There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
This is certainly the case for growing and harvesting tea leaves, and tea masters know the seasons can have an impact of flavour!
Tea comes from the plant, Camellia Sinensis. Tea trees are almost constantly in a state of germination, which is affected by climate and weather. Green tea flavour and aroma is the most affected by weather and climate changes. Too wet or dry, fluctuating temperatures, and frost can affect the quantity and quality of all the types of leaves and buds. Typically germination slows during the winter months (Dec-Feb), so most harvesting takes place bi-annually: Spring and Fall. Some areas are able to harvest 2 or 3 times.
Fresh leaves and buds harvested in the Spring are highly valued because they have had more daylight and more time to grow and absorb nutrients. It provides the tea with lighter flavour profile and sweet floral notes. Buds are picked along with two to four leaves, depending on the tree type, tree age, and the season. Older trees are more established and resilient, so more leaves will be picked. Those leaves are generally richer in flavour. Green and white teas are ordinarily harvested in the Spring and require minimal processing.
Larger farms will also harvest in summer, particularly those who provide tea leaves for mass distribution. These leaves grow quickly and provide a bolder flavour than those harvested in the Spring. But they also have little natural sweetness so are normally used as a base for flavoured teas.
While black, darjeeling and some white teas are harvested in Fall, it is the optimal season for Oolong tea. Oolong tea is neither green or black tea, and is processed differently. Tea masters can extract different flavours and aromas with the same leaves by adjusting that process. I will be discussing Oolong tea in another post. Tea harvested in the Fall has a fuller body and richer colour than Spring teas, and contains stronger floral or malty notes.
Regardless of the season…
…or at least tea!
Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm… what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity.
Even the weather has been weird. It was well into the 30s (celsius) on May 22, the day we decided to shovel and spread a million pounds of dirt and grass seed on our front lawn. We had to take frequent breaks to avoid heat exhaustion. Less than a week later, we were pulling on our slippers and watching the snow falling on our lilac blooms! And now, we’re back to sweating.
Regardless of the weather, I never lose my taste for tea. Just sometimes the temperature of the tea varies. When it’s cold, I want it hot. When it’s hot, I want it…hot or cold. It depends on what I’m doing. First thing in the morning, hot! If I’m sitting outside on the backporch with a good book, like this past Saturday, cold. And the best way to keep something cold is ice cubes. But ice cubes dilute the tea…no good!
So what if there was a way to keep it cold without diluting the tea, or a way to add flavour to your morning pot that’s already cooled on the counter? There is! It’s called an ice cube tray. It’s not that hard to boil some extra water when you’re making hot tea and use it to steep an extra mug or two. Or a few flavours in a few mugs. Once cooled, pour it into an ice cube tray and pop it in the freezer. Feel like peach? Drop in a peach tea cube. Chocolate chai? Drop in a cube! Peach and chocolate chai? Why not?!? It’s a great addition to your iced tea.
For a really hot day on the porch, with a really good book, I need a really big cup of iced tea, so I make ahead and use iced tea pop molds. I got these from David’s tea, but I’ve seen the same thing in grocery stores and dollar stores. It works great.
Just like ice cubes, don’t forget to make some iced tea ahead too, using the hot or cold brew method and prepare to sip the summer days away!
One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.
Today I will be happier than a bird with a French fry
I googled “ways to keep from going crazy” yesterday afternoon and was directed to 10 Activities to Stop You Going Crazy During Lockdown (Attachment Mummy). I’d venture to say it’s already too late! This list was posted a year ago and here we are in parts of Canada, heading into lockdown #3? #4? I can’t keep track, since the lockdown rules and stay at home orders extend and start before the last finishes. Attachment Mummy suggested making a list of things I’ve always wanted to do, but that seems like cruel and unusual punishment since we have to stay at home! So instead I wrote a list of things to do today. It’s too hard to plan any further ahead than that!
This morning, I started with Steeped Tea’s Orange Marmalade, an organic black tea flavoured only with orange peel. Marmalade is a jam or jelly made with citrus fruit, particularly orange, and this mimics the slight bitterness of it. This tea is also strong and quite astringent. Sometimes, however, you just need to start the day with something basic and strong so you can get on to the important things. I’ve done #1 – Make a list and #2 – Drink tea. Time to move on to #3…
Tumeric is a spice that is acclaimed for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. So it’s not wonder that Tetley has included it in it’s line of “super herbal teas”.
Tumeric is a perennial, flowering plant in the ginger family, most commonly used in Southern Asia and Middle Eastern cooking. When it is dried and ground, it can also be used to dye fabric a rich, golden colour.
Tumeric is a perennial, flowering plant in the ginger family, most commonly used in Southern Asia and Middle Eastern cooking. Dried tumeric packs three times the flavour over fresh. Also, when it is dried and ground, it can be used to dye fabric a rich, golden colour.
Tetley’s Antiox tea is a rooibos base and includes cinnamon, white hibiscus, tumeric (of course), licorice root, rose hips, chicory root, orange peel, and apple. It also lists vitamin C, a nautral diuretic and antioxidan. Vitamin C helps protects cells against heart disease, cancer and other diseases, as well as helping your body absorb and store iron. It’s necessary for the formation of blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones.
As you can see, this herbal tea has a lovely, deep golden colour. The tea bag smells rather medicinal, but mellows once it is steeped. I could taste both the cinnamon and apple, but it was subtle, as it was also paired with earthy and gingery notes from the tumeric. Some people describe tumeric as bitter, mustard-y or horseradish-y. I found there was a slight tingle or heat from the tumeric, but it wasn’t unpleasant or overpowering. It’s definitely on the savoury scale
Tea is the magic key to the vault where my brain is kept.
I believe there’s a degree of goodwill in all us. An innate desire to join with others to contribute to our world in a way that blesses. It may be in your local community or the global community, a grand or complex legacy for the next generation, or as simple as tending a garden for the birds and the bees.
In the tea community, there are organizations that promote fair business practices, safe working conditions, and sustainable resources. Right now, David’s Tea is donating 10% of the proceeds from their “Bee The Change” tea, to The Bee Conservancy, a non-profit organization that creates bee habitats in Canada & the US.
It’s a drop in a bucket, but as you add drops, the bucket fills up.
“Bee the Change” tea is a delight for all the senses too. Vibrant petals of echinacea, rose, marigold, pink cornflower, and red clover are combined with rooisbos and honeybush leaves, apple, rosehips, natural honey flavouring, and natural flavouring with stevia extract. Many of these ingredients are said to stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system. The aroma is a bright perfume of sweetness and flower, from the time the tin is opened to the very last drop!
“Bee the Change” is a kosher, caffeine-free infusion. It’s a light honeyed colour (not surprising) that intimates warmth. I found this floral, honeyed elixir to be vivid and cheerful. Would it be weird if I called it “sunny”?The honey is identifiable and sweet, but not provocative or cloying. I’m not a fan of floral teas for the most part, but I found this coupling beautifully balanced.
Not only have I helped my buzzy besties in a small way, but it’s my new favourite indulgence on a gray afternoon or a chilly evening.
The key to nature’s therapy is feeling like a tiny part of it, not a master over it. There’s amazing pride in seeing a bee land on a flower you planted – but that’s not your act of creation, it’s your act of joining in.
I have found that when it comes to Earl Grey tea, there are 2 camps: those who love it and those who do not.
I am in the camp who does not.
However, any tea connoisseur will tell you that not all teas are equal since quality and blends can vary between producers. It never hurts to experiment.
This weekend, I tried two types of Earl Grey Cream tea, which is not quite the same as Earl Grey. To understand one, you must first understand the other.
Earl Grey tea is a blend of tea with the addition of oil of bergamot, which is extracted from the rind of the citrus fruit grown on bergamot orange trees. It is an unmistakable, highly floral aromatic that is also used in perfumed products. Originally, this tea wasn’t meant to be consumed with milk, but tea companies have modified the blend to include stronger black teas, such as ceylon, which lend themselves better to being consumed with milk. Tea companies have also been experimenting using unconventional tea bases, like green tea. Earl Grey Fog lattes have become very popular.
It’s assumed to have been named after Earl Charles Grey, the British prime minister in the 1830’s. Lady Jane was his wife. Charles Grey reputedly received this special blend of tea with the oil of bergamot after ending a tea monopoly by the East India Tea Company. The floral flavour was specially blended to help compensate for the lime levels in Earl Grey’s local water. The first advertisement on record for Earl Grey tea was in the 1880’s.
Earl Grey Cream teas differ in that they do not contain the oil of bergamot (so you don’t have that nasty oily film on the top of your tea cup) but they do mimic the floral flavour (or citrusy flavour, depending on your tastebuds).
Pluck’s tea contains black tea, corn flowers and natural flavours, where as David’s tea of the same name, contains organic black tea, natural earl gray cream flavor, blueberry centaury, and organic marigolds. Please don’t ask me what “natural flavours” mean… I found Pluck’s tea was more like an astringent black tea with a light traditional earl grey flavour. It was a moderate amber colour. David’s tea had the much stronger, heady smell and flavour of earl grey, but with a silky, creamy texture. It was less astringent than Pluck’s tea, and also a much darker colour.
While both teas surprised me, I still have to be “in the mood” for something floral. I still really like that Pluck’s tea is blended in smaller batcher in Canada for quality control, and their tea is sourced from an Ethical Tea Partnership supporting local growers and workers. Both teas are kosher; they are also caffeinated. For a decaf version, try a Lady Jane Grey blend.
Well, I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.
The Derby Crown Porcelain Company was established in 1876, and was granted permission to use the title ‘Royal’ and the Royal Arms by Queen Victoria in 1890.
The Mikado pattern was inspired by rice paper drawings. It was designed in 1894 by Thomas Amos Reid, the art director at the Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company. Each piece in the set depicts different chapters of the famous Mikado Opera, which opened at the London Savoy Theatre on March 14, 1885. Gilbert & Sullivan ‘s satirical musical ran 672 times at the Savoy. By the end of 1885, an esitmated 150 European and American theatre companies were performing the opera.
This cup is a cobalt blue pattern on white fine bone china; the edges are scalloped and edged in 24kt gold trim. While this pattern was crafted in various colours, the cobalt blue was particularly popular in North America. It’s vintage falls between 1921 and 1940.
The theatre is not the place for the musician. When the curtain is up the music interrupts the actor, and when it is down the music interrupts the audience.
It takes strength to step enthusiastically into each day of our lives. This strength comes more readily on some days than on others, but every day makes demands on us.
Karen Casey, The Promise of a New Day
Planning for the new year includes all my posts here on jennsmidlifecrisis, and as always, I’m open to ideas. Have a tea cup you want to learn more about? Share a pic and I’ll see what I can do. Have a question? Pass it on. Is there something you like? I could always use some encouragement. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the nerve, maybe I’ll test the waters for you? Unless it involves sky-diving…I’m not skydiving, no matter how much you encourage me!
In our current global situation, where opportunities are limited and interaction is discouraged, dreaming is not. I encourage you to step enthusiastically into each day, as well as take time with your cup of tea, and let your imagination go…
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you, Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me
I think Christmas is a wonderful time to drink tea. And also after Christmas and before Christmas, and all the other days.
With no travel this Christmas (for the first time in 47 years), I had ample time to sip tea from an assortment of cups and tea pots. Last week, my friend and I each bought a box of Stash tea, and we traded some sachets. Her pick was Holiday Chai. My pick was Red Dragon Chai!
Red Dragon is a red rooibos base and therefore has no caffeine. It also contains cinnamon, ginger root, and clove. I found it a warm, comforting and cozy addition to the holidays. In fact, that’s how I started my Christmas morning. The aroma reminds me of apple cinnamon, and the colour is a rosy hue. The spice was lighter and brighter than Holiday Chai, which tasted strongly of clove. Instead, Red Dragon had a pleasant and balanced blend of spices. In fact, I used the tea bag a second time in a pot of regular black tea, and it added a soothing hint of chai.
I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.