Saturday, December 21, 2013

a very busy december.

In the midst of the holiday chaos ... I got my driver's license! I was 10 years late to the driving game, and the instructor had a good chuckle at my self-admitted embarrassment at not driving sooner. I passed the test on my first try, and my spare time was dedicated to trying to find a car. We went to numerous dealerships, had the Blue Angels fly over us during one car-hunting excursion in an ice storm, but we repeatedly turned up empty handed. Every car I looked at was either keyed or driven to death. Mostly keyed, though. Some were even scratched down to the METAL.

My dad managed to find blue Civic pictured above at a local dealership... and it was within our price range! I got the call at work that my parents were arranging things but that the car was held for me!

Driving alone for the first time was exciting and also terrifying. The terrifying factor was increased tenfold when, two days later, I was stuck in such a TIGHT parking spot that I scuffed some man's bumper while backing out. I mean, we were so close that I had to crawl in through the passenger side door. Thankfully the gentleman was understanding, and the insurance adjustor said reassuringly that, "We don't call accidents 'on purposes' for a reason ... we all know you didn't mean for that to happen." I am now terrified of backing out, but I managed to get out of the apartment lot the next day.

It figures that I finally find a car that has all it's paint intact, and then I took it upon myself to scrape off some upon acquiring ownership of it. Glad it was only cosmetic damage. Sheesh. :(

Still working on getting my computer situated. I'm guessing my SSD was having issues, so I reinstalled Windows onto my big HDD used for photos and music, and am working on getting programs reinstalled so I can resume editing my photos. I am feeling super guilty about not touching my camera for as long as I have ... but not being able to edit photos the same day I take them would drive me utterly crazy!!

Tackling one thing at a time this month ... license, car, and now computer. It's a wonder I've even been able to worry about presents or keep gatherings marked on my calendar! Can't wait to start the new year with wheels and the ability to visit the dance studio and take classes like I used to!

Friday, December 6, 2013

kuma green 1228 from mellow monk.

[mobile] kuma green 1228.

The folks over at Mellow Monk were excited to inform me of a new tea being added to their fine selection. Mr. Watanabe is an award-winning artisan who is dedicated to the quality of his tea, and Kuma Green 1228 refers to the location of his tea estate. This new tea is a guricha-style sencha. It should be brewed at 167°F for two minutes. The dry leaves are tiny and emerald green with some lighter tips scattered throughout. The aroma before brewing is a slightly bitter vegetal scent, and reminds me of cut grass in the summer. Use a wide strainer in order to give the small dry leaves room to unfurl. You'll be amazed at how they expand while steeping!

[mobile] sencha.

The bitter aroma softens once brewed, and takes on a whole new identity once you take your initial sip. The first flavor on the tongue is surprisingly sweet. Like sugar has been added! Fortunately for us the tea carries that refreshing sweetness naturally! I marveled over that for some time, as I've never had a tea tasting start out like that. A light citrus note comes into play afterward that lingers on the palate and reminds me of a sugared lemon candy -- followed by that I get a taste of jasmine on the back of the tongue. It is a very gentle and light cup. It makes me think of a springtime afternoon just as winter lets go ...timid greens and flowers springing up once the snow melts.

The cup brews an incredible peridot color, and is marvelous to look at in a glass teacup.

[mobile] jade cup.

Thank you again to Mellow Monk, for finding such incredible Japanese artisans and sharing their tea with the world. I am never let down by their offerings and their dedication to quality. Did you know they offer gift certificates on their website? I recommend picking one up as a holiday gift for the tea-lover in your life! ♥

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

technical difficulties.

Pardon the recent lack of posts over here. My computer ran into some issues, and after reinstalling Windows I'm waiting to see if it was overall a software issue, or if I need to replace hardware. In the meantime, I've reinstalled most of my staple programs, but not all of them. Alas, the constant wiping of my operating system has left me without Photoshop for the time being, but I promise I'll be back soon! I've been drinking and reviewing teas from Mellow Monk, JalamTeas, and NudoDarjeeling and I can't wait to share those cups with you! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

october chill.


Around this time last year Hurricane Sandy hit the area and stripped the local trees of all their pretty fall foliage. Not only did we get thrust straight into wintery conditions ... but we lost power for several days and had to huddle around my father's woodburning stove to keep warm. We were more fortunate to have a less chaotic autumn this time around and as such Ryan and I took the opportunity to visit Tyler State Park to appreciate the turning leaves. It just so happens that we picked a perfect day to do so ...  it was a clear 55 degrees out, the sun was shining, and people were harvesting corn from the fields within the park grounds. 

along the trail.

Every path within the forest was covered with leaves. It was one of those idyllic autumn days. After our walk we immediately went and picked up some spiced wine and were happy to receive a batch of sausage lentil soup from my father. We cozied up in our apartment and relaxed for quite some time.

And, speaking of the apartment, the landlord was NOT lying when he said the building got cold! I suppose I underestimated the exposed stone's ability to retain the cold from outside. Our radiators kick on and warm the downstairs portion of our apartment, but the loft doesn't have pipes that go that far up, and as such we have to flick on a cheesy fake fireplace heater. The radiators don't stay on as well, which is disappointing. They'll be oozing warmth for a whole 10 minutes before it starts to fade away. It's like the building thermostat is situated in the basement where I assume some mysterious temperature-controlling arctic native lives.

The chill has increased my tea consumption tenfold, though. I might need to invest in a nice thick mug to simply hold and warm my fingers with throughout the winter! I've recently fallen in love with the charm of Polish bubble mugs! They look like the sort of cup a hobbit would use during colder months. :)

morning tea.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

nudo darjeeling.

nudo darjeeling.

I was recently contacted by Nudo Darjeeling and sent samples of their tea for review! Darjeeling is one of the types of black tea I have very little experience with. Normally I pick a malty Assam for fear of the bitterness I previously encountered in plain old tins of tea labeled as "Darjeeling." It was a pleasant surprise to try these teas out and get to know more about them!

What's exciting about this company is the concept of it all: You adopt a tea garden through them and receive quarterly deliveries from each seasonal harvest. The tea you're sent is from the garden you adopt, and if something happens with the harvest they will inform you if they need to send you tea from another garden. It gives you a unique chance to really get to know the tea, origin, and see the difference between the leaves from the same source as months pass by.

spring harvest.

Pictured above are the leaves from the Golden Harvest which is the Spring delivery. These are leaves picked in October 2012 from Nurbong. The cup brewed a beautiful amber color and produced a well rounded tasting experience! At first it had a sweet fruity note, similar to a currant, but then it eased into an earthy green flavor, and then carried a light aftertaste similar to a mildly bitter violet. It is a very fragrant tea and the aroma wafts up as you lift the cup to sip. It is light and mildly astringent.

The summer delivery, or the First Flush harvest, was much more astringent and light. This was harvested in March 2013 from Nurbong as well. The brewed color was a similar amber to the Golden Harvest, but the difference was noticeable right away from the aroma of the leaves alone: floral, sharp, and sweetly astringent. The first sip on the tongue was tangy and then morphed into an airy muscatel note followed by the bitter violet aftertaste. I found that the lingering tea on the tongue carried an orange blossom note well after I finished my cup!

I'm saving the Second Flush & Monsoon Flush for another time as I found that drinking too much Darjeeling in a short period of time makes me a little bit loopy! Then again, that applies for all teas that have sharp floral notes. I can drink malty and dark teas in excess, but give me a refreshing floral tea and watch how delicately and sporadically I must sip it. How strange is that?

If you get a chance, check out Nudo Darjeeling and read about their incredible tea garden adoption program! It would make a great gift for the tea enthusiast in your life this coming holiday season!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

lazy days.

autumn sun.

These past few days I've been lazy with my blogging! (Sorry!!!!) Sometimes it feels good to put down the camera and just bop around without fretting about editing photos. Work has been hectic, but I've got lots of neat things in the works as well! I can't wait to share those fun tea related things with you soon!

We got a little taste of nippy autumn weather, but suddenly we're trudging through 85 degree days in OCTOBER. Ryan and I packed up our AC unit for the year, and as such the loft is a bit muggy. I would very much like for the chill to come back so I can wear the cozy black cape I found while shopping with my mom!

lazy days.

Check out my new tea area! Ryan went to the local Asian market and found me a nice low table to serve tea on. On top of that, my grandparents gifted us one of their old Oriental rugs to make our apartment more cozy. It's a wonderful addition to our little home, and has made my tea area so much nicer! I can't wait to have friends over, sit by the radiator, and serve them a warm cuppa tea.

Chai is a big fan of the table as she can rest her paws on the ledge while sitting on a cushion. She's my frequent guest at the tea table -- sometimes she even gets a tiny saucer of milk to drink while I sip my own tea!

kitty tea time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

ny renaissance faire.

forest seating.

This past Saturday my dad drove me, my mom, and Ryan to the NY Renaissance Faire. We usually go to the PA one, but we were tipped off that the PA faire could fit into the parking lot of the NY one, and as such we had to make a trip up to see! We're a very nerdy family and enjoy suspending disbelief and watching jousts together.

We got there early enough that we were able to park in the lot next to the park. It was a massive field and it was actually at such a distance from the park that we had to trudge up a long ways through the forest to get to the entrance. We were immediately greeted with a singing gravedigger and a place to acquire a hot beverage. As it turns out, it was the first brisk autumn day we've had so far, and we weren't adequately bundled up. I was a bit envious of a man who walked by in full costume looking all warm with a big woolen cape.

aerial silks.  trapeze.

Our first show was the tail end of some skirmish in the joust field, so we decided to get one of those gigantic smoked turkey legs and find a restroom. After we acquired food, drink, and relief we glanced at our map and noticed some aerial acrobatics listings. We had to walk through a lovely shaded area of trees alongside a pond to get to the next stage area. The Circus Stella girls performed on the static trapeze and aerial silks. They were adorable and completely caught me off guard with their agility and strength. We got there early and got really nice seats, so I was able to take a few photos! I wish I could do the aerial silks...

housing. spotted.

We wandered around a bit catching shows and looking at shops. It started getting incredibly crowded. In fact, we were shocked at how difficult it was to traverse paths without some inconsiderate group stopping to talk and blocking traffic. We struggled our way to the field where they had the Birds of Prey show. I love going to these as falconry is the coolest thing ever in my book, and birds of prey are majestic and incredible. This show was SO much better than the PA one. We were in a close circle around the demonstration, and the birds grazed us ever so slightly as they flew by. My mom's head got tapped by the wingtip of the lovely owl pictured above. The photo of her peeking out of the hut was taken not 4 feet away from where I sat. I could feel the wind off of her wings as she took off. They had a vulture named Igor, and a beautiful 13 year old Andean Condor with a 10ft wingspan. It was an awesome show, and we enjoyed it immensely. 

The joust field filled up by the time we got there, and our only option was to sit in the forest behind it atop boulders. It was actually very pleasant and the air was nice and fresh. It was good to be away from crowds too. The horses were beautiful and it was fun watching from the shade of trees. I loved that the forest was clear and inclined enough that it was like stadium seating. For once I was able to see the action from the back!

After more walking, snacking, and exploring, we noticed how FULL the fairegrounds had become. We decided that it was about time to head back to the car for the 2 hour drive home. We took the long walk through the forest to get back to the lot, and I was in shock at how many cars they managed to cram in. As we exited the lot we saw the reason for the filled paths ... there were cars parked for at least 2 miles down the side of the small highway near the faire. There was no shoulder for a great distance, and people were STILL walking in costume to get into the fairegrounds. I did NOT envy them one bit.

It was a lovely weekend & I wish I could go back, but their faire runs only until September 22nd. No chance for Halloween fun. :'( At least I was able to make it with family this year!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

imperial pearl oolong from mountain tea.

tea assistant.

Ryan and I celebrated our birthdays together & with family on the 18th, and my father gave me a surprise bit of money to buy myself something with. I, of course, opted to purchase some tea! I decided to step out of my comfort zone of Dragonwell and Tieguanyin and saw someone on IG mention tasting a "brandy oolong." Their description of it was intriguing, and their praise convinced me to acquire some of my own.

Brandy oolong? What's that!? It is apparently an uncommon Taiwanese dark oolong that is heavily oxidized to the point of nearly being mistaken as a black tea. It is rolled tightly, has glossy dark brown leaves, and the aroma is malty and brisk right out of the bag. The company I purchased it from also calls it an "Imperial Pearl Oolong." Sold! I also added an Oriental Beauty cake from Mountain Tea into my cart, but that will be photographed and talked about on another day! (It is the cutest little oolong cake ever!)


My first infusion was a quick one. On the website it states that a quicker infusion will provide a sweeter flavor, and sweet it was indeed! It was a light amber in my teacup, and the flavor was something I've not quite experienced before. Spicy and light. Then at the back of the tongue an interesting woodsy taste came through. It made me think of the smell of freshly split wood sitting out to cure for the winter.

I decided that my second infusion should be stronger. The cup reddened slightly but was still a glowing amber. This time I got more of that woodsy note up front in addition to a note similar to an almost opaque dark wildflower honey flavor. Molasses-like, but gentler. The spicy note from before rounded out into the honey, and it eased the strength of the woods and transformed the cup into something hearty and quite delicious.

If you're interested in trying this tea out, head on over to Mountain Tea! In addition to their Imperial Pearl/Brandy Oolong they have an incredible selection of other Taiwanese teas. Like I said, I picked up the Oriental Beauty cake and I can't wait to try it! Their customer service is great, and they handled my panic at the post office almost losing my parcel wonderfully. They even went so far as to get in touch with USPS to clarify the situation and make sure my much anticipated birthday tea order would arrive safe and sound!

imperial pearl oolong.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

a whirlwind week.


This past week has been a crazy one, but I am glad to say the stress and negativity have passed. The bronchitis has finally left me, and I am beginning to feel more like my old self again. I am incredibly relieved to have full sinus function, and to not cough at every deep breath taken.

My mother and father found the perfect dress for me! They're certainly helping me step up my "cat lady" game with lots of cat prints. I couldn't resist having Ryan photograph me holding my little Chai-kitty with my new outfit. My coworkers cracked up when I wore it to work, and simply said, "Oh Dani, that is so YOU." I think this is a sign I gush about my cat's antics a little bit too often at work...

Really though, how can I not gush about my cat when she has such personality!? I try and catch her sassiness on my instagram. I'm glad my followers aren't sick of seeing her little face pop up amidst the teacups!

weimar teacup.

The folks at Verdant Tea were incredible enough to send me a brand new Jingdezhen red lotus gaiwan after reading my sad story about how porcelain and gravity work poorly together. She's a beaut, and I am being extra careful with it so that I don't break it again. I also purchased a new teacup as a treat for myself to counteract the sad stuff going on in our building. It is a gorgeous Weimar teacup (from Germany!) and it oozes elegance. It's so lovely that it makes me feel like a princess when I sip from it!

In the gaiwan and teacup today is Red Blossom Tea's Organic Golden Monkey! It is a lovely, earthy black tea with pretty golden buds amidst the dark twirled leaves. True to what they said on the product page, it does carry a scent and flavor reminiscent to roasted sweet potatoes. Even the reddish amber color of the brew makes me think of that delicious root vegetable. It is very mild and not at all bitter, and I brewed it both with my gaiwan and "Western style" in my teapot. It was rather enjoyable both ways!

I can see myself stocking up on this tea for the autumn weather. It has a sort of autumn feel. Hearty, warming, but gentle and refreshing. Like sitting next to a bonfire on a chilly night!

golden monkey.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

keemun mao feng from tea horse.

cascading tea.

This past week has been a rough one! A coworker gave me a cold that morphed into a difficult-to-be-rid-of case of bronchitis. I'm just now finishing my prescriptions and the cough remains, but I can at least taste things! Which brings me to this post ... the lovely folks at Tea Horse were kind enough to send a few samples of tea my way. Now that my senses are no longer dulled and foggy, I was super excited to brew up some of the Keemun Mao Feng they included in the package.

Now, I have a love/hate relationship with Keemun Mao Feng. For a while it always struck me as Lapsang Souchong's weaker buddy ... only mildly smoky with not much else to write home about. That was before I started brewing Chinese teas in gaiwans with more attentive practices. Today was my first time brewing Keemun Mao Feng with my little red lotus gaiwan, and it turned out wonderfully!!

loose leaves.

The tea brews up a lovely amber-orange cup and has a mildly smoky aroma. With the first sip you're hit with the smoky aroma, and then the flavors turns into a tangy malty note ... somewhat like cocoa with a snap of tart cranberry. The aftertaste is smooth and lingers on the palette with a note similar to a whisper of pine.

It is smooth and full bodied, but brewing with a gaiwan lends it a lightness that I've not experienced with other Keemun black teas. It isn't heavy on the stomach or rough to drink en masse. I'm on my third gaiwan-full as I write this and it is still satisfying and refreshing. The leaves are unfurling from their tightly twisted shape beautifully in my gaiwan and are a lovely dark chocolate color.

This might be my new breakfast tea of choice when cooler weather rolls around!

They also sent me samples of their Dragonwell and Winter Spice! Can't wait to review them!

keemun mao feng.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"blissful buds" from mellow monk.

blissful buds.

The folks over at Mellow Monk were kind enough to send me a new tea to review after seeing me restock some of my favorites from their store. They sent their Blissful Buds blend! According to them this tea is also know as an "agari" in sushi lingo. Apparently it is what is used to cleanse the palette and refresh after a delicious sushi meal! It is made from the youngest buds and shoots of the tea plants, and it yields a very sweet and refreshing cup.

emerald green tea leaves.

The leaves unbrewed are an incredible dark emerald color, and are so finely rolled that it felt like I was touching dry coffee grounds at first. Once the hot water hit they blossomed into rich, bright leaves with a lovely green mist making the brew take on a more solid and foggy appearance.

The aroma is strongly vegetal and green. Like steamed asparagus -- it is snappy and savory. Followed by that, the first sip is astringent, but not as much as other Japanese greens. The astringency drops off into a sudden tangy sweetness that I found comparable to a mildly tart plum. Followed by that was an aftertaste that was creamy and reminded me vaguely of a milk candy fading off of the palette.

The color of the brew is incredible. Yet again I'm finding myself wowed by how vibrant their Japanese green teas are. It was a lovely glowing green, and the sun caught it and illuminated the cup wonderfully.

It was just my luck that while sipping this and jotting down notes a summer thunderstorm rolled through our area. I sat in the windowsill with the windows open and enjoyed this tea with the rain cooling down the yard and watering all the plants. The color of the tea made me think of our backyard after a rainstorm. Bright green and alive! Now, if only I had some delicious sushi to truly tie this tasting experience together ...

Thank you again to Mellow Monk for having such incredible offerings & for being generous enough to send me another one of their teas for me to write about! It's always such a delight!


Friday, July 19, 2013

new gaiwan ... that's already broken.

lotus gaiwan.

I got this lovely red lotus gaiwan, and was thrilled as it was specifically marketed for "people with smaller hands." The issue I have with brewing using a gaiwan is that I have TINY hands. I always burn my fingers and nearly drop the other porcelain one I have because I can't grip it lightly, I have to get a huge hold on it cause my hand will already be stretched around it and compromised. Plus, this gaiwan had the prettest hand-painted design on it and even had a matching tiny translucent teacup that showed the color of the teas off so well.

So imagine my dismay when I put the gaiwan down after emptying out the leaves, go to grab a box of cereal, and turn my back for 5 seconds only to hear the most disheartening shatter. I had owned the gaiwan for less than a week, and hearing that sound made my heart drop, especially since Ryan and I are are budgeted and I couldn't just immediately replace something that breaks.

I turn around and see the lid shattered on the floor and see that somehow the bowl itself came out unscathed. It was a mix of relief and "well, crap, they don't exactly sell standalone lids, now do they?"

I had been having a horrifyingly bad week and ended up sitting in the kitchen chair defeated and crying for an hour while ruminating on all the crappy things I went through. Strangers saying cruel things to me in person, my mother and I having to rescue a small wounded dog hit by a car on a very busy road, and just overall stress. It was rough. The lid breaking was akin to putting the cherry on top of my miserable little cake.

Thankfully, my glass gaiwan, notorious for burning my fingers despite being small, had a lid that was a PERFECT fit. I was able to pop it on top of the red lotus gaiwan and got the best of both worlds: I could watch my tea steep and get the true color of it against the white porcelain too! Aaaand no burning fingers!

Monday, July 8, 2013

early spring tieguanyin from verdant tea.

rolled leaves.

I ordered some of Verdant Tea's Handpicked Early Spring Tieguanyin and was not disappointed. I am always drinking their autumn harvest and can only say positive things about it. This tea is like a gentler, sweeter version of their autumn offering, and I enjoy it immensely.

summer days.

The leaves are a lovely pale green, and are tightly rolled. Yet again I found that a surprisingly small looking amount of tea filled my yixing pot to the brim after steeping! The color is a lovely light green, and has a sigh-inducing fragrance of orchid and orange blossom.

It feels smooth and refreshing upon sipping, and you're hit with a very sweet grass flavor. Following that you have the faintest hint of sugared vanilla, and a snap of red grape. The red grape sweetness stays on the back of the tongue for a refreshing aftertaste that layers well with every new sip.

After drinking several infusions I found a lovely hyacinth flavor and fragrance came through once the snap of the red grape faded. It was an incredible new floral note to experience on the tail end of my tea time.

The spring harvest was much lighter on the palette than the autumn Tieguanyins I usually brew, and I found that to be very refreshing and appropriate for the weather. I even brewed a small amount and chilled it in order to combat the sweltering heat the Northeast is getting. The flavors translated well to a colder cup of tea -- the florals came out to play with a bit more strength! Yesterday the thermostats hit 92°F and the channels said the humidity made it feel like 98°. The iced tea helped keep me cool, but it was fighting a losing battle. It was absolutely muggy in the loft yesterday, but my mom rescued us with tickets to go see a movie in a gloriously air conditioned theater. :) If only I had thought to put some of the iced tea in a bottle to sneak inside!

spring harvest tieguanyin.

Friday, July 5, 2013



This morning I am drinking Numi's tried-and-true Aged Earl Grey. I can never go wrong with brewing this tea in the morning. I was going to make scones, but as it turns out, I wasn't paying attention to our groceries, and the milk in our fridge was a bit too old for me to bake with. Thankfully my mother dropped off some cream earlier so I was able to have nice milky tea with some of my Abuela's rice pudding for breakfast.

Ryan went to NYC last night with the guys for a 4th of July party ... while I opted to stay home in lieu of cooler accommodations, low noise, gluten free foods, and peacefulness after a very rough week at work. I suspect the humidity the area is getting has resulted in shorter tempers and more briskness overall. Even I found myself irritable at very small things when standing in the sticky heat. I don't think I would have taken well to the way cities smell in the heat of summer, and the overall aggressiveness of the populace.

I realized it was my first night alone in our new apartment. Seeing as the building is so very old I, of course, started thinking about ghosts and the possibility of having an ethereal roommate that only comes out when the lady of the house is alone. I also started thinking about 28 Days Later, and then The Last of Us, and then couldn't stop thinking about fast zombies on top of my previous lingering ghost thoughts.

Seriously, who came up with fast zombies? Those things are TERRIFYING.

(These are things I do to myself often. I even made myself jump over my own reflection in a window.)

In order to counteract my incredible ability to freak myself out, I made an Earl Grey cocktail, and put on a Bollywood move: Om Shanti Om! I used the Earl Grey Infused Gin recipe from The Framed Table, and it turned out wonderfully! I danced away the evening in my Animal Crossing town (aptly named 'Teacup'), watered the flowers in the village, and finally went to bed. I survived my first night alone!

 PS: Do any of you have Animal Crossing: New Leaf? It is one of my favorite things to play!

Monday, July 1, 2013



So I found a blog that I've been enjoying quite thoroughly -- Paige Z's Tarot and Tea. I followed her on instagram, and after seeing her daily readings I decided to find a tarot deck that I liked, and start learning to read the cards! All these years I had seen tarot circulating the internet, but only read posts that broke down the meanings in ways that felt insincere. Her readings were down to earth, made sense, and made me look at tarot in a new light. Thanks Paige! I can't wait to start learning more about these cards!

In my gaiwan is Verdant Tea's 5 year aged Tieguanyin. I got some as a sample with my most recent order (a restock of their delicious Dragonwell) and enjoyed the little bit I received! It smelled like wheatgress and bitter greenness. The leaves were rolled tightly, green, and had slightly broken edges.

It was malty in flavor with an almost chestnut-like quality to it. Following the smooth nutty note I was hit with a splash of kiwi and orchid, as well as olive oil (which I wouldn't have so specifically stated if not for the mention on their product page.) Had they not listed olive oil I don't think I would have EVER been able to figure out what that one mellow flavor was. It would have driven me crazy.

It was remarkably smooth to drink. Sipping on it felt like the tea was making a film on the back of my tongue, giving me a lingering note of orchid. It was delightful. It made for an interesting entry in my tea journal!

tea notes.

The apartment has been so hot lately. The East Coast is getting nailed with humidity, high temps, and lots of storms. I don't mind the storms -- but I do mind the heat. The AC unit my mom got us is keeping the loft nice and cool so Ryan and I can be on our computers in comfort. The downstairs is so muggy, though. I try to use window fans to get some cool air in from the shady forest in the backyard, but it only lets the humidity in.

I actually put down the teacup one afternoon and cracked open an ice cold cider instead! When it's too hot for me to drink tea ... well, it's simply too hot. Dear weather: please chill out. Literally and figuratively, thanks!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

keeping myself balanced.

the balance.

In the midst of moving I wasn't able to keep up with one of my favorite ways to meditate and relax: belly dance. I found myself getting more stressed and agitated at stupid small things in recent weeks since the move was finished, and couldn't figure out why. I was tired, cranky, and seriously mopey.

Then I remembered: I haven't given myself time to dance.

I love putting on music, maybe pulling out my scimitar, and dancing to my heart's content. I had found dance in 2009 while at a local hookah lounge (that I was later employed at) and never stopped. I went to one class, having no prior dance experience, and fell in love. I've been doing it constantly since.

Unfortunately I found myself somewhat embittered with students undermining the professionals, people thinking they were ready to teach without the training they truly needed beforehand, and so on. I had to distance myself from the community at times, because it felt sincerely less zen and wonderful for me with drama unfolding. I took my dancing home, and it became more like a dedicated yoga-like practice for me. Dance, clear the mind, release stress, let thoughts slip away, and just move blissfully.

wuyi oolong.

After dance I always reward myself with a good cup of tea. I take that lovely serene buzz and put it into tea making. I like to use my gaiwan or yixing set to brew cup by cup, and appreciate each steeping.

I'm so glad I took the time to relax and dance today. I brewed up some of Verdant Tea's Shui Xian Wuyi Oolong, opened up the windows, and let the fresh air in. Another wonderful thing about our new apartment is that the backyard is lined with honeysuckle plants, as well as TONS of tigerlilies. When the cool air flowed in it carried a distinctly wonderful and floral fragrance that freshened the place up!

I think tomorrow, on my day off, I'll take my yixing set and tea tray out by the lilies and honeysuckle plants.

shui xian wuyi oolong.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

a day of baking failure and success.

summer rose.

Today I decided to make scones, but wanted to do something a little bit different than my usual Earl Grey or peach recipes. I was also working with limited ingredients and had to improvise, but I finally came up with things to use: lemon, honey, and oats!

My grandmother bought me a hand mixer for our new apartment. The first time I had used one was in high school, and the last time I used one was in high school ... after the teacher grabbed the appliance from my hands and told me I wasn't allowed to use one again. I had overly blended a rudimentary pizza dough and splattered it all over the student kitchen. Now, I am certain that same teacher was getting a chill up her spine and I lifted the mixer out of the packaging. I plugged it into an outlet and tested the motor speeds, still wary of my high school experiences, and felt that the motor was gentle enough for me to use. I was so very, very, very wrong.

I went over the big mixing bowl and poured the wet ingredients in, and lowered the mixer. I put it on the lowest setting and everything was perfectly fine ... until I repositioned. In doing so, I managed to flick the mixing speed from low to EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH. Scone batter slapped me in the face, peppered Chai-kitty (who was quietly watching from across the sink), splattered on the roof, scattered on the floor, and was everywhere other than the bowl. In a panic I also managed to knock over my brand new bottle of vanilla extract, and coated the countertops with that too. It was explosive, glorious, and incredibly messy.

summer rose and lemon scones.

Thankfully, after cleaning up the explosive mess, I was delighted to realize I had JUST enough ingredients to make a second batch. I measured everything out all over again, and this time mixed everything by hand. I put the scones into the oven, and the apartment was filled with an incredible vanilla lemon fragrance. I was so happy when I pulled them out and found they were perfectly baked.

I paired these scones with Adagio's Summer Rose black tea with a little bit of Lemon Soleil mixed in. The sweet floral of the rose and went perfectly with the almost candy-like lemon flavors of the scone!

honey oat scones.

Have you had any baking [mis]adventures lately? Do share! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

old cameras.


Not 2 weeks after I moved out of my parents' house their hot water heater hose burst and flooded the whole downstairs. While they were cleaning stuff up and tearing up carpet they found a box that I had been looking for. When my great grandfather passed away he left me all of his cameras. They were sent up for me from Miami and when I opened the box a few years ago it was like Christmas all over again.

He gave me a few 35mm cameras, two of which were a Pentax and Minolta. There was a darling old lightmeter that still works (I triple checked!) and extra lenses for several of the cameras. There is this one camera though ... the one I can't wait to get repaired ... a BEAUTIFUL Rolleicord from the 1950s.

It seems as though the shutter is stuck. I'm not sure if it needs a little bit of greasing in a certain spot, a screw loosened, or something else. I am hoping I can find someplace nearby that will do the work for me. In the meantime, I find great enjoyment in looking through the viewfinder and imagining the photos I'll take with it!

I'm so happy to be reunited with my box of old cameras!

through the viewfinder.