Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Second Look...

First look: What do you see?
Second look: What do you see?

Close your eyes: What do you see?
In your heart: What do you see?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month!  Poems share our hearts in ways that regular language cannot. Poetry and tea - fast friends! 

I'm giving NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) a go - want to join me?  30 poems in 30 days.  They don't have to be good.  They just have to be written - and that IS good!

~Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A FaceTime Tea Party

Those smiling faces are my mom, sister and niece. We recently had so much fun - SO MUCH FUN - on a virtual tea party! I had sent them goodies from my recent trip to Paris and London. (Side note - I still need to write about the Paris tea adventures!)  

Across the miles, the grownups were enjoying the same Mariage Freres Earl Grey Provence tea. My family tried macarons, madeleines and financiers, treasures that had filled my bag on the return flight. Thank goodness I'm a light packer!  

We spent an hour together over video, laughing and having a wonderful time. Most of us have friends and family who live far away. A virtual tea party (with Skype, FaceTime or other tool) brings them closer and makes happy memories!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Women and Tea - International Women's Day 2016

Image from Library of Congress, taken in 1895

Happy International Women's Day!  Today, I want to share some interesting photos and articles about women's role in the tea world...

Women Tea Pickers (from my travels)

Women and Boston Tea Party

"Maybe it has only been men who have protested the king up to now.  That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard.  We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party.  The British will know who we are.”  ~Penelope Barker

Women, Tea and Suffrage

Other Interesting Articles

Monday, February 29, 2016

Some Days, It's All About Color

I spent a long time admiring this camellia - so long, my tea went cold. I set the Chaxi ("tea stage" literally, meaning a beautiful, intentional setting for drinking of tea) in, perhaps, a non-traditional way, but that color had me in its thrall!

What colors are calling to you these days?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tea and Dumpling Party at T Project

Small businesses hold a special place in my heart. My mom worked for many years at my aunt and uncle's family business. She knew most of the customers, and probably knew their families, too. People talked about their kids and their lives as they did business. They connected one another to other local services. Customers were loyal and customer service was excellent. My sister and I roamed in and out of the shop, always leaving with a hug. It's not something seen in big-box or chain shopping, for sure. 

Last weekend I attended T Project's tea and dumpling party and was taken back to that feeling of a small business with heart. Teri Gelber runs this highly curated shop in Portland, Oregon. She offers her own tea blends and local/regional items like salts, jams, pottery, linens and clothing. 

I appreciated Teri's discussion of her desire to source teas from small farmers. She believes that small businesses help one another survive.

This event was a celebration of the Lunar New Year. We enjoyed conversation, teas and delicious foods. We started with traditional foods like dates, watermelon seeds and citrus.  

Teri brewed several rounds of tea: Dragonwell Green, Old Tree Sheng Pu-Erh, Bi Luo Chun Golden/Black and Da Hong Pao Oolong. As she brewed, we enjoyed handmade dumplings - fabulous!

And to finish off, we sampled an assortment of Japanese sweets from Gena at Yume Confections. It's another example of small businesses supporting one another. 

It was a beautiful afternoon. My senses were full of color, texture, flavor. I met new people and enjoyed the company of old friends. I was reminded of the importance of, the gift of small business.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Tea Story at the Docklands Museum, London

Sometimes serendipity happens, and it's an amazing thing. I was recently in London and enjoyed tea at a pub. On my way out, I passed the Museum of London Docklands, in the same brick building. I popped in, expecting a bit of historical edification, but not expecting a tea connection.  I was so glad to be wrong!

To experience the museum as designed, visitors start at the top and work down through each floor. The museum highlights life around the Thames, particularly during past times when trade was done via long-distance, slow ocean shipping.  This building was a warehouse for the West India Quay.  Perhaps that name should have given me a clue...

It wasn't until I stumbled upon this exhibit that the light bulb went off in my head - TEA!  In fact, in this very warehouse, tea that had arrived on a clipper ship was weighed, sorted, sampled and laid out in lots prior to auction.

According to the museum materials, prior to 1834, nearly all tea arrived in the East India Quay and was part of the monolithic East India Company.  In 1834, the Company lost its monopoly. The importation of tea continued to increase, and some of that tea made its way to this very building in the West India Quay. In 1869, when the Suez Canal opened, steamships began to deliver tea further down river. 

Also at the Museum is the Sainsbury Study Center, an archival and research institution with an interesting display of retail and grocery. The photo below greeted me at the door. 

There are also interesting details to be found about tea in the museum's online site. For example, I learned that Sainsbury used to sell tea by the colored label, Blue, Brown, Green and Red.  Red is still sold today.  

Photo from Sainsbury Archive

And today...
Image from

If you find yourself on the East side of London, do make time for this museum, and tea next door!