Welcome to Cat’s Tea House

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This whole adventure came to be because I realized that I have enough tea stashed away in my kitchen to run a tea house…but I could not honestly say that I had all of the tea I own recently, or even at all.

That’s when I decided that I needed to change this. I also decided that I would make it into an ongoing journal project, to get me writing again and to motivate me to actually do a tea every day. It is far too easy for me to just skip the things that take a little extra time in favor of something quick and technically easier; keeping a tea journal would force me to make space in my busy day to slow down.

And then it occurred to me that I may not be the only one who feels this way, feels that life is just moving on way too fast. So I will endeavor to post my Tea Of The Day, plus whatever thoughts I may have about life and such as well.

I do not intend to include pictures of the teas, I am going to rely on my descriptive powers to convey what the tea looks, smells and tastes like

Welcome to Cat’s Tea House. May your perfect cup find you when you least expect it.


“As far as her mom was concerned, tea fixed everything. Have a cold? Have some tea. Broken bones? There’s a tea for that too. Somewhere in her mother’s pantry, Laurel suspected, was a box of tea that said, ‘In case of Armageddon, steep three to five minutes’.” 

Aprilynne Pike, Illusions

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Informative Post!

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Hello my lovely fellow tea enthusiasts!

It occurred to me that you all might want to know where I get my information about the teas I drink and how I know how to make the teas (since different teas require different temperatures and steep times)

The descriptions I write generally come directly from the company that made the tea, usually word for word, although I do paraphrase if I find the wording to be awkward.

For information about the tea, such as how long to steep it, how it is made, or where the name comes from, I have used the following sources:

The Tea Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide by Jane Pettigrew

drink.seriouseats.com (and just search out the particular type of tea in question)

http://www.artoftea.com (it’s a store’s website but there is a lot of good information here)

http://www.teavivre.com  (same as previous)

http://www.teaadvisor.com

http://www.teachat.com

Some definitions:

Camellia sinensis: the tea plant. All teas come from the same plant; it is how it is processed that creates the six main types of tea

Liquor: the technical name for the liquid that is the result of steeping tea leaves.

Tisane: any infusion of dried herbs that does not contain any product of the Camellia sinensis

White tea: the new buds of the tea plant are plucked before they are opened, withered, and then dried

Green tea: the leaves are allowed to grow as normal, allowed to dry, and then heat treated to stop any fermentation

Oolong: referred to as “semi-fermented”. Processed immediately after plucking. First withered in direct sunlight, then shaken in bamboo baskets to bruise the leaves, then alternately shaken and spread out until the edges of the leaves yellow. After about 2 hours of this, the leaves are heat treated to stop the fermentation process

black tea: picked and then withered until the leaves can be rolled without splitting the surface of the individual leaves; then the leaves are rolled. The rolled lumps of tea are then broken up and spread out in a cool humid atmosphere for 3.5 to 4.5 hours then fired to stop the fermentation process

As I find more interesting resources I’ll add it to this list!

Happy tea time!

Honey Lemon Ginseng Green

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Tea of the day: Honey Lemon Ginseng Green by Celestial Seasonings.

Description: “This Spirited blend brings together traditional green tea, rare and delicate white tea for smooth taste, and a lively combination of botanicals for eye-opening flavor. We’ve also added antioxidant Vitamin C to support your everyday wellness.

Dry tea smells sweet and warm, with a little bit of a almost peppery bite

Liquor is a light clear amber color in the cup

Steeped tea smells like lemon quite strongly where the dry tea did not. It also has an almost savory scent to it, which has the effect of making my stomach rumble. In flavor it is pretty mild, tasting like it already has honey in it with a nice lemon finish. Adding sugar actually makes it seem less sweet on the finish.

Tea Rating: 4/5


 

Today is the general election day for the USA.

I voted, as I usually do, but I have a less than positive feelings about it. I generally feel like it doesn’t mean much, but I do know that if I don’t vote at all it means exactly nothing.

So today I woke up in a mood. Just…irritable for no discernible reason. Maybe it’s the time of month, or the time of year, or the repetive political adds or the invasive feeling letters, calls and emails with urges to go vote or vote a particular way, or maybe it was just the general feeling of stress surrounding the election in general. Whatever the case, it is/was just an irritable day.

I went and voted on lunch as planned, then went to a local Starbucks drive through for coffee, as it’s a bit chilly here, and if sugar, fat and caffeine can’t fix my mood than what can? The person in front of me was taking a bit, so I had enough time to check my email and check on a couple of things while I was waiting.

When I finally got up to the window, I was eyeballing the clock, trying to figure out the most efficient way to get back to work on time when the gal at the window said “the car in front of you paid for your coffee.” It completely took me out of my thoughts and I was touched. It was a small gesture, and not really needed since I wouldn’t have been there if I couldn’t afford my drink but…it felt really good.

I paid for the order for the couple behind me, and headed back to work in a better mood.

I’m still irritable. I’m still glad that the political calls and adds will stop for a bit. But I’m moving through the rest of my day a bit less grumpy, and a bit more hopeful for the future.

 

 

 

Bengal Spice

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Tea of the Day: Bengal Spice by Celestial Seasonings

Description: “Brimming with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, this adventurous blend is our caffeine-free interpretation of chai, the piquant Indian brew traditionally made with black tea. Try it with milk and sugar for a true chai experience.”

Dry tea smells sweet and spicy, a warm cinnomny hug. Honestly I don’t know why I haven’t reviewed this tea before, it is one of my favorite teas.
Liquor is a dark chestnut brown in the cup.
Steeped tea is fragrant and flavorful with really no need for sugar. It can stand up to a longer steep time, and I would argue you get a better depth of flavor if you do steep it for a longer amount of time. Milk makes it even smoother and cuts back on the cinnamon ginger bite, if that is an issue for you. I find it to be a great mid-day pick-me-up
Tea Rating: 5/5

Let’s get real.
Life is hard.
It’s beautiful and terrible and wonderful and maddening, sometimes all in the same day, sometimes all at once.
No matter if you believe in an afterlife or reincarnation, you only get one. And it’s almost laughably short.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the hardest thing about life isn’t the late nights or the heartache or being broke or being alone.
It’s your own expectations that make it bearable or not.
When you hold yourself to some impossible standard, of course you fail. It was a setup from the beginning.
Some of us do this consciously, by design…but some of can’t help it. There’s faulty wiring or imbalanced chemicals in the brain that runs everything and the result is feeling out of control in one’s own mind.
This is where other people come in. No man or woman is an island and this is all the more apparent when you can’t trust your own mind.
If you can afford to seek professional help and can find someone you trust to talk to, awesome.
If not, then reach out to your friends. I’m sure you have at least one friend who is a truly good friend, going to bat for you, watching your six at any time of day or night. If you can’t stand to reach out then try to respond when they reach out to you. The good ones will, I promise.
Or, if you can’t do that, as much as the internet can  be a bad place, there are good people out there. I try to be one of them, but I don’t have a post for every situation. But someone out there does. There are writers and artists and youtube channels and chatrooms full of people who are right there with you or at least have been there and understand.
Just remember that you don’t have to be alone, and that you are loved. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Tension Tamer

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Tea of the Day: Tension Tamer by Celestial Seasonings.

Description: “This comforting blend begins with eleuthero, an Asian herb popular for centuries because of the sense of calm and well being it imparts. We’ve added cooling peppermint, spicy ginger, and tangy lemons to create an uplifting and restorative blend that can bring harmony to your hectic day. ”

Dry tea has a sweet but sharp scent the tickles the nose.

Liqour is a clear amber in the cup.

Steeped tea smells much strongly of lemon, and tastes that way as well, with a pleasantly minty aftertaste. From the description, I would expect the tea to be almost too flavorful, but the actual end result a pleasantly warm and comforting blend, something I would be quite happy to drink again.

Tea Rating: 4/5


Today is October 1st, and here in my hometown fall is almost over. Most of the trees that shed their leaves for the winter have already done so, and though the weather is warm, there is a chill in the breeze.

I absolutely love it. The fall crispness with the bright blue skies does wonders for my mood and my creativity.

Today is also the start of something that a lot of people do: Inktober. The basic premise is one ink drawing a day for the whole month so by the end of the month you’ve created–and shared–31 drawings.

I’ve seen it and been interested in it for years, but I would not consider myself to be an artist in that way, so I’ve never attempted it myself.

This year, though, that changes.

I decided to try it, with the promise to myself that it’s supposed to be fun, just little doodles as I have time. No stress, just because I can.

I’m considering also doing photographs of each of the prompts, which actually might be more difficult since I would have to find or somehow real life representations of these things so I *could* photograph them. I may also just do my favorite prompt or two from each week, just to keep it fun but still be creating.

Regardless of whether I challenge myself with turning these into photography prompts or not, I am already two drawings into Inktober and looking forward to the rest.

Happy Fall, everyone!

 

 

 

Peach Cobbler

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Tea of the day: Peach Cobbler by Tazo

Description:  A delectable mélange of black teas with peach notes, apple & cinnamon.

Dry tea smells sweet and cinnamony, makes me think more of apple pie than peach cobbler

Steeped tea actually does not have a ton of scent to it, but it is more peachy than the dry tea is.

Liquor is a pleasant chestnut brown in the cup.

The tea itself is surprisingly light and fruity for a black tea. It’s also a warming and soothing cup, good for a rainy day. My only complaint is that I wish the flavors were a little stronger. Also, be careful of steeping too long; this particular blend is not at forgiving and tastes extremely bitter.

Tea Rating: 3/5


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Memories feature Facebook has is an odd thing.

If you wrote it or shared it on that day since you started using Facebook, there it is. Facebook remembers. Facebook remembers better than you do. But Facebook doesn’t judge…or does it?

It seems impartial, but then it has to. But I’ve often wondered if there is someone behind the scenes who sees what you post or posted and judges you.

Regardless of the judgment of an unseen person, I judge myself for what I’ve posted in the past…although not all the time. It seems the further back the memory goes the more likely I am to internally facepalm when I see it.

Aside from the cringyness f my younger self, I’ve also noticed something else: I can tell when if I was feeling sad or lonely or trying to make myself feel better by being outwardly positive. To me, there is a noticeable difference between faking happiness and a genuine enthusiasm for life, although the language I use in both cases is remarkably similar, so perhaps it’s only obvious to me because I can remember what I was feeling at the time.

If nothing else, it’s a way to track past events and growth in one’s life, whether you actually want that record or not.

White Coconut Creme

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Tea of the day: White coconut creme by the Indigo Tea Lounge

Description: this is the tea that I had while out solo adventuring in Anchorage when I was there for work for my old job. The Indigo Tea Lounge was right around the corner from my hotel and they make their tea in house, and I didn’t think to grab their description of the tea I had before I left. However, I chose this one based on the recommendation of the gal behind the counter

The dry tea smells troplical and light; once steeped it smells richer, like it already has honey in it.

The tea was light and flavorful and already pleasantly sweet without any kind of sugar, and the second steeping of the small pot I had was equally good. It had a very coconuty flavor and also tasted a little bit like pears.

Tea Rating: 4/5


Hello to anyone who is still getting updates on this little blog!

It’s been….almost exactly 7 months since my last post.

Not exactly intended, I just had a lot of upheaval in my work life, then got married, then went through a low motivation phase after that.

I’ve recently been getting back to my normal, taking pictures again, and walking, and wanting to write.

I’m not sure why now I feel more like me again, but I’m trying to embrace it.

What I’m struggling with the most right now is the feeling that I need to apologize for not doing these things…but also that I need to apologize for seeking the solitude it really takes for me to create. Obviously when I do portrait photography I’m not alone, but the nitty gritty of editing and touch ups I do alone in my office and all work usually stops if someone else comes in the room.

It’s hard for me to say “I need to be alone right now.”

Or when I do express that need, it’s not to try to explain it

It’s a work in progress, like most things in life.

Sangria Punch

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Tea of the Day: Sangria Punch by Teavanna

Description: Colorful as a drive along the Mediterranean coast, this flavored black tea is deep, complex and full of personality.Rich red grapes, tangy orange slices, juicy peach and crisp apple spring to life with a hint of sweet cinnamon, creating a magical elixir.

Dry tea smells dark and just slightly fruity with a little bit of a tang to it.

Steeped tea smells a little brighter than the dry and tastes smooth and slightly tart and overall very pleasant. It’s really a shame that I discovered this tea after they shut down their website and closed the only brick and mortar store they had in my state. Alas, such is life. Still, it’s worth a try if you can get it!

Liquor is a chestnut brown in the cup

Tea Rating: 4/5


Earworm of the day: Bloom by The Paper Kites.

I am away from home for work training and I’m finding the experience…strange.

On the one hand I appreciate that the company I work for is taking the time to train me and putting me up while I am away. Also, I get to see my family over the weekend, which is good because otherwise I would likely not see them until July, when they come up for the wedding.

On the other hand, I have a lot of time to myself. I’ve realized that even when I am the only human in the house, my dog and sometimes the cats come give me affection, or demand it. I miss my other half, and my best friend, and my fur babies.

But…I’m also not finding that I suddenly hate myself just because I’m alone with only my thoughts and my books to keep me company.

I’ll be glad to go home when it’s time, but so far the experience isn’t too terrible.

 

 

 

 

Notting Hill

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Tea of the day:  Notting Hill by the American Tea Room

Description: classic, English style Breakfast black tea blend of leaves and buds from Assam and Yunnan. The deep copper-garnet brew have bold scents of malt, tannins and honey. Expect the astringency you find in any great English Breakfast, but also note the complexity our Notting Hill has to offer. The full, rich aftertaste cements Notting Hill’s reputation as an imminently drinkable English Breakfast worthy of countless food pairings and able to stand on its own or handle milk and sugar.

Dry tea smells sweet, like it already has sugar or perhaps vanilla in it

Liquor is a dark chestnut brown in the cup

Steeped tea has a smokier scent than the dry, which is apparent in the flavor as well. Adding sugar brings out the vanilla flavor I smelled earlier. Adding a dash of milk highlights the richness of the tea

Tea rating: 4/5


My consciousness is like a small boat floating on a vast sea.

The boat is part of me.

So are the wind, the water, and the sky.

My state of mind determines the weather, and the condition of my boat.  Also too, how deep the water really is.

Sometimes it’s all I can do to keep the boat afloat.

Sometimes I ignore a leak because I don’t know how or don’t want to face something.

Sometimes I swim.

Sometimes I find rest in the journey, an island or another boat, another person traveling or resting or sometimes both.

Right now I find myself traveling with a little fleet. We help each other, work better together than we did apart.

I am both blessed and a blessing; as I accept help with repairs and improvements I in turn am able to offer the same help, and the journey goes on.