Chamomile

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Tea of the Day: Chamomile by Celestial Seasonings

Description: This calming herbal classic will captivate you with its rich golden color, delicate aroma and sweet floral taste. It’s a soothing antidote to life’s little complications.

Dry tea smells like, well, chamomile. It’s got that familiar herby sweet-sharp smell

Liquor is golden in the cup

As I believe I mentioned before, I am not the biggest fan of chamomile, it just doesn’t agree with me. That being said, I do like the herby flavor and light taste. This particular tea tastes like it would be great with honey and lemon.

Tea Rating: 2.5/5


 

As someone who has flirted with art for a long time, I spend a decent amount of time thinking about how you define art/what makes someone an artist.

When I say “flirting with art” I mean that I’ve always loved music and dance and sculpture and painting and well made movies and videos and beautiful writing and have been inspired by it, mostly to write poems and scenes from stories….but I’ve rarely thought: “oh hey I’m awesome at this”

Now, I’ve had a show, gotten good feedback  (largely positive) and had people express interest in my work beyond just looking at it and saying “oh hey that’s pretty.”

I’m still not sure that makes me an artist, but it certainly feels good

To me, an artist is someone who is so moved by the world around them that they are driven to create something. A song, a poem, a dance, painting, photograph, sculpture, a video, any and all of those things…and I’m sure I missed some form of expression.

Art doesn’t have to be appealing to be art. It can be raw and harsh (Think Picasso’s Guernica) or move you to tears, or even make you angry. The emotion it generates is the point, no matter what that emotion might be.

I guess that makes me an artist, so the next question is: what makes someone a good artist?

That’s something I don’t have a good handle on, and I rather doubt –though there are plenty of art critics who make their money off this–that anyone ever will.

Art is just too subjective, to have any hard-and-fast declaration of what is universally good or bad.


Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.
― Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

 

Grapefruit

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Tea of the day: Grapefruit Black Tea by Adagio Teas

Description: A wake up call to the senses! Our Grapefruit tea is invigorating both in scent as well as taste. This blend of tangy, full Ceylon black tea and grapefruit is fantastic choice for a morning cup, or any time you need a citrus-infused pick-me-up.

Dry tea smells like slightly fermented grapefruit–not rotted, but rich and tangy

Liquor is a red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea has a stronger tang to it

Before sugar, tea is bracing and bright, with grapefruit showing up most in the aftertaste.

Adding sugar helps the grapefruit shine

Tea rating: 3.5/5


 

Today, January 12, is the first annual National Hot Tea Day (for those of us that live in the USA)

As far as I’m concerned, of course, just about every day is hot tea day but it’s fun to feel like I’m celebrating something.

I also learned something I did not know we have a Tea Association of the U.S.A as well as a Tea Council.

It has apparently been around since 1950 and was established “as a partnership between tea packers, importers, brokers and allied industries within the United States, as well as tea producers in India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. In recent years Kenya & Malawi have become full members of the Tea Council.”

Here’s their website if you’d like more information: http://www.teausa.com/index.cfm 

I think it’s pretty neat that there’s an organization specifically to support and promote tea in this country, particularly because there’s so much tea out there and it’s a healthier alternative to a lot of popular drinks (provided you don’t drown it in sugar, of course)

I personally feel that if all we ever drank was water and tea, we’d be the healthiest people you’ve ever seen.

Tea on!


 

 

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” Japanese Proverb

 

Hazelnut

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Tea of the Day: Hazelnut black tea by Summit Spice and Tea

Description: This rich blend is great for ex-coffee drinkers to appreciate. Good black or with milk and sugar!

Dry to smells sharply nutty, and very rich. Seems to have a hint of mint

Liquor is a very dark red/brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells like the dry, but more rich and the minty is pretty much gone.

First sip is full and wonderfully nutty, with a lightness in the aftertaste.

Adding sugar highlight the hazelnut flavor, but also seems to make it taste more like coffee, punchy and very rich

A splash of milk makes it smooth and satisfying, like a latte from your favorite cafe, but without all the hassle of dealing with people

Tea Rating : 4/5


 

As we get toward the end of November, I find that my mind seems a bit anxious

I’ve been restlessly tossing about at night, and oddly sensitive during the day (but not all the time)

It occurred to me that I’m expecting something bad to happen, that someone I care about will leave my life, because this happened about this time the last two years running.

I am comfortable in the thought that such things will not be happening this year, but the tense seems still to be there.

So, I asked my dad what he does when this happens to him (if it does).

He said “Act otherwise.”

At first I was upset, feeling like that was neither particularly helpful or particularly kind.

But it did get me thinking.

He’s right, of course. There is nothing to do but change it. No magic pill, or secret song that will change what’s going on in my head.

Just myself, and my choices.

I can choose to worry and be bothered and not enjoy Thanksgiving or my birthday fully because of it

Or, I can acknowledge that these things happened, accept that they were neither my fault, nor in my control, and choose to have a better time this time around.

It helps to focus on the good things.

Last couple of year, when things were hard, I wasn’t entirely alone.

I had my very good friend around. There was no way for her to change what was happening, but she made it safe for me to cry when I needed to, got me to laugh when I didn’t think I could, and prodded me when I started to wallow in self-pity.

She was awesome, and still is.

So, I choose not to worry. I choose to remember the good that came from the bad, and look forward to what’s in front of me


“Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.”
― Michael Shermer

 

Moroccan Mint

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Tea of the Day: Moroccan Mint by Stash Tea

Description: A delightful and exotic blend of green tea and mints, with a hint of lemon. China Young Hyson green tea, spearmint and peppermint from Oregon, and freshly cut lemongrass are combined for a fragrant, refreshing and aromatic Moroccan Mint green tea.

Dry tea smells like wintergreen candies, making me think of childhood memories of sneaking mints from candy dishes

Liquor is a warm honey-brown in the cup

Tea smells just as minty when steeped, and tastes like it smells but not anywhere near as sweet. Adding sugar just makes it more minty and taste a little bit more like the candy it smells like, but not cloyingly sweet.

Tea Rating: 4/5


I went into yesterday’s workshop not knowing what the expect, thinking perhaps that it would be a little silly, but willing to give it my full attention anyway—it was a work function, after all, so why not focus on it like I would normal work?

I came out crying.

The speaker was real, using language that we all do, everyday.  At one point when she was speaking about strategies we use, cycles we go through when trying manage pain, she actually said “what the fuck is wrong with me?!?” to illustrate the point of self-criticism and self-hate so many of us get to when we try to come to terms with getting pain no matter what we do to not get pain.

She used examples from her own life, open and vulnerable for all of us to see and hear. But even in that context she came from a place of compassion, not just for herself, but all of us in the room, recognizing that we were just like her. There was no sense of master/teacher…just a friend talking to us

She said a number of things that I have hope to take with me forward from here, but for all of you I’ll just relate the ones that stuck out the most to me

She told us that she had a teacher who once said something to the effect of “if you need people in your life to be something other than what they are or if you’re trying to be something other than what you are to be happy, then your spiritual life is pretty shallow”

She said that the surest path to pain is to run from it and that, conversely, you can’t find happiness by chasing it. Pain adds depth to the human experience.

Wellness is not the absence of illness, or the absence of symptoms of unhappiness, it’s connection

In reality, all of our needs and wants and often frustrations come down to the desire to connect and the fear of doing so, the fear of truly being vulnerable with another person

She also pointed out to us that frustration also comes from not keeping healthy boundaries, and that the biggest violators of our healthy boundaries are ourselves. We need to soften on the outside, allow our world to expand, allow experiences–yes, pain as well as pleasure–to actually happen to us, living in the moment the way our pets and children do

The thing that struck me the absolute most, that had me crying as I tried to express how much I appreciated it (and even now as I write about it) was this:

You are not unbroken, you are just unfinished. And to be unfinished is to be alive.

At the end, I got a hug, and she looked directly into my eyes and told me “who you are is enough”

What a blessing.

What a blessed day.


Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life” — Omar Khayyam

Strawberry Cream

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Tea of the Day: Strawberry Cream by Teavana

Description: Imagine luscious peaks of whipped cream brightened with slices of ripe strawberries. This rich desert treat is served on a snowy white tea base reminiscent of a delightful, creamy, strawberry dream

Open the bag, very strong strawberry smell. Smells maybe a bit artificial; like strawberries and cream hard candies

Liquor is bright pink in the cup

Smells like strawberry, tastes like hibiscus. Adding sugar brings up the strawberry, but not by a lot

Tea Rating: 2.5/5


A while back, I came across this quote “So the small things came into their own: small acts of helping others, if one could; small ways of making one’s own life better: acts of love, acts of tea, acts of laughter.”

It has been stuck in my mind ever since

What are acts of love? Act of tea? Acts of laughter?

Acts of love, I think are those little things that add up to be more important that you might imagine: cooking their favorite foods, little gifts just because, love notes in unexpected places, walking hand in hand when you go to place together, and so on.

Acts of laughter is another easy one, too. It’s dancing around like you’re five again whilst doing chores, playing games with your loved ones, playing with your fur babies like they’re still puppies or kittens, unabashedly laughing at the silly things in life; just remembering that not everything in life has to be serious.

So, what are acts of tea? If we follow the same logic for the other two, then acts of tea are the other simple acts of life that end up meaning so much. It’s taking time to select good tea (and good food), to prepare it correctly, to enjoy it slowly, savoring each taste and each smell. It’s the “stop and smell the roses” mentality, I think. Acts of tea are reminders that if we rush through life looking at the big picture only, we miss the small things that make life really worth living.

Actually, now that I think of it, this blog is an Act of Tea

Take a moment and think: what Acts of Tea do you have in your life that slip by unnoticed?

Black Dragon Pearls

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Tea of The Day: Black Dragon Pearls by Teavana

Description: These famed pearls carry sweet undertones of chocolate, creating exquisitely smooth body in each cup

Dry, has a very subtle sweet smell because it is tightly rolled

Clear pale gold in the cup. Once steeped, has a smokey smell and flavor not apparent in the dry tea. Subtle chocolaty flavor. Adding sweetener brings out the smoothness and light sweetness.

Tea Rating: 5/5


It’s been an interesting couple of days

My Thanksgiving was good, but also hard. First year where I called home and my grandmother was not there.

This missing people thing, it’s hard, and in ways you don’t expect.

And then the next day I had confirmation that the guy I’d been seeing needs more time and space than I’d hoped.

This was cause to call home and talk to my dad, because frustrated!

Doing so turned out to be the best possible thing I could have done. I was able to get a fresh look at what happened, and what I could have changed (which was, amazingly, nothing), and a better understanding of what to do next. In this case, what do to next is really nothing. Or at least nothing related to the situation. I’ll simply go about my business and keep on being me, because me is pretty great and I’ve too much going for me to sit around and twiddle my thumbs waiting for a change that may never come around. I’ll be the change I want to see, every step, every breath

Another great thing about talking to my father is that it really cemented in my neurotic brain that I’m not alone in this world with my awkward and cute and conflicted but going for it anyway…and my parents found each other so there’s hope for me yet. There’s always hope. And always room to grow.

Now today, it’s my birthday.

I’m older, probably no wiser, but at least willing to admit that there is much I don’t know. Life is beautiful and I’m so grateful to be where I am with the friends that I have that it’s almost like a daydream sometimes. My life may not be what I expected it would be at this age but I can’t say I’d have it any other way.

Blueberry Herbal Tea

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Today’s tea: Blueberry Herbal Tea by Stash Tea

Description: The mellow sweetness and the tart flavor of orange, lemongrass, and spices combine in a refreshing herbal tea.

Dry tea has a smell that makes me think of blueberry bagels or muffins— definitely blueberry, but already sweet 

It tastes about like it smells, slightly sweet blueberry. Great for relaxing. 

4/5

Yesterday I started studying for a chemistry exam I have to take at the end of the month.

I also picked up a non-fiction book about vilians/villanhood in western society.

I have a number of non-fiction books on my Kindle that I have either read or picked up because I am interested in reading them…

…And it got me thinking: why is it that a perceived choice seems to make it easier to learn? If you’re a person that likes to learn anyway, why does it matter if it’s a course you chose to take versus one that is required by your degree? And why does it seem easier to add more things to my brain now that I’m not actually in college.

Is it because I rebel against being forced to do anything? 

Or maybe because learning is easier when there is no stress involved?

I’m really not sure, and knowing what I do know about the brain and people’s motivations (even my own) there’s probably not a simple answer

I think I’ll just settle on being grateful that learning can still be fun for me, because there are so many interesting things in the world I’d miss out on if it wasn’t!