Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hope Tea from Thistle Farms

Today I am drinking another tea purchased from Thistle Farms.  This one is a black tea from Uganda which they call "Hope" tea. It is a strong, full-bodied tea with earthy tones.  This is my favorite type of tea.  It would be perfect for those who like to add milk and a sweetener to their tea.  But I take mine black.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Way of Tea and Justice

Today I am drinking a moringa blend black tea which I purchased from Thistle Farms.  This tea, which is a blend of moringa leaves, black tea, lemon balm, and lemongrass, is reputed to be rich in antioxidants and other healthful components.  I, myself, enjoy this particular tea blend as an afternoon pick-me-up because it has a perky, lemony flavor, and a bit of caffeine.

I first learned about Thistle Farms and its founder, Becca Stevens, back in 2011 when they were featured in a series on National Public Radio.  I immediately searched for Thistle Farms online and learned more about its mission.  I have been an admirer of the Thistle Farms enterprise, products, and founder, ever since.

To go along with this moringa blend tea, I have begun re-reading Becca Stevens' book, The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from its Violent History (2014).  I highly recommend this book to any tea lover who also has a concern for the plight of tea plantation workers, who are mainly women, and a concern for social justice in general.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Mindful Cook on Taking Tea

I am currently taking a course called "Mindfulness and Spirituality" so these days, any book with the word mindfulness in the title catches my attention.  I believe that the practice of mindfulness holds multifaceted benefits for anyone who devotes herself or himself to it.  So this book, The Mindful Cook: Finding Awareness, Simplicity, and Freedom in the Kitchen by Isaac Cronin drew me to it when I saw it on a store shelf.

As I thumbed through the book last night, I was pleased to discover that there is a section in which the author discusses the ritual of taking tea.  (pages 146-156)  He talks about taking tea in the context of mindful attention and hospitality.  So he opens these pages on tea with a quote from the queen of hospitality, Alexandra Stoddard.

In Alexandra Stoddard's Tea Celebrations, Stoddard writes:
"Each occasion is special. Every time you plan a tea happening, certain dynamics come into play. Listen and hear the message. For long after the event there is a lingering intimacy. Three sips into a sincere tea ritual could change our attitudes about the way we choose to live our lives."

These pages devoted to a discussion of taking tea focus on mindful attention to the ritual of tea and the interactions between host and guests.  (It also points to fascinating differences between how tea is taken in the East and in the West.) An article I referenced in an earlier blog post, "How to Be Mindful With a Cup of Tea" gives more explicit "instructions" on how one might practice mindfulness while drinking a single cup of tea.

I enjoyed the ten pages in The Mindful Cook which are focused on tea. Now I look forward to exploring the remainder of this lovely book.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New To Me: Butter + Toast Pottery and G & Tea

Today I am enjoying two things that are new to me.  The first is an art pottery mug that I found at a thrift store this morning.  The maker's mark on the bottom of the mug reads "Butter + Toast."  So I have done a little online sleuthing and have discovered that Butter + Toast was a design company founded in 1986 by RISD graduates Gibb Browlie and Michael Lamar.  If you follow the links you will see that these two talented men are now engaged in other activities, but are still in the art and design field.

The second "new to me" thing I am enjoying right now is the tea that I am drinking from this mug.  I recently purchased a 2 ounce bag of "G & Tea" created by Jessie Dean of the Asheville Tea Company. As the name of this tea blend suggests, it is inspired by the botanicals that are typically found in a gin and tonic cocktail.  This loose tea mix blends green tea, lime peel, lime basil, rosemary, and juniper.  It is delicious and a great afternoon pick me up.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tea Craft Tuesday: Tea Bag Wrapper Flowers

I save the wrappers from tea bags that I use to brew tea.  I've done it for years, and now have quite a collection.  I use them in collages, and was not sure what else to do with them until one day when I got the idea of using them to make paper flowers. I searched out instructions in a book that was on my bookshelf, Fanciful Paper Flowers: Creative Techniques for Crafting an Enchanted Garden, by Sandra Evertson.  I learned the structure of making these paper flowers from this book. It really is a wonderful book that is full of fun ideas and beautiful illustrations.

Above you see flowers created with two different types of tea bag wrappers.  The pink ones are made with foil-lined wrappers.  The lavender, white, and yellow flowers in the teapot are made with paper wrapper.  I prefer the look and malleability of the foil-lined wrappers.  But both types of wrappers will work.

If you want to give this project a try, I suggest that you buy the thick material flower-shaped punch by Fiskars.  I believe I found mine at JoAnne's. Regular flower punches will work.  But I punch through both layers of foil/paper at the same time, so the two layers of the tea bag wrapper tend to get stuck in regular punches.

I guess the only technical part of this project that is not obvious from the photos is how to attach the wire floral stem to the flower.  Here are basic instructions.

1) Punch a cardboard circle from card stock or lightweight cardboard.
2) Glue this circle to the back of the flower that you have created.
3) Take your floral stem and bend it into a small spiral at one end.
4) Glue the wire spiral to the cardboard circle on the back of your flower.
5) Bend the wire to orient the face of the flower in whatever direction you like.

Voila!  You have a flower on a stem that is ready for a vase or a floral arrangement anchored into floral foam.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: A Decent Cup of Tea

I recently had the good fortune of finding this book at a thrift shop: A Decent Cup of Tea by Malachi McCormick (Clarkson Potter, 1991). Actually, the book just jumped off the shelf into my hand after my eye got caught on the word "tea" as it was browsing titles along the shelf.

I say that I had good fortune in finding this book because A Decent Cup of Tea turned out to be a quick and entertaining read.  The book gives a synopsis of everything tea - from the history of tea drinking, through making a decent cup of tea, to reading tea leaves.  And McCormick's witty way of writing kept me engaged from the first of the book's 79 pages to the last.  

My recommendation is to buy this book.  It would be a fun addition to any tea book library.  And I am glad to have added it to mine.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tea Craft Tuesday: Silver Chalkboard

This sort of project has been around the blogosphere for a while now.  But I am sharing it on today's "Tea Craft Tuesday" because it would make a lovely addition to any tea party.  I associate tea parties with the British tradition of taking afternoon tea accompanied by silver, porcelain, and beautiful linens. This project adds an elegant, though practical, touch to a tea party event.

The directions are quite simple.  Select a flat-bottomed tea tray.  I purchased this "silver" tray at the dollar store.  Paint the flat inside of the tray with chalkboard paint, following the directions on the chalkboard paint package.

1) Put this project near the front door to greet your guests with a message of welcome.
2) Write your food or tea menu on this silver chalkboard tray.
3) At a large event, write directional instructions on chalkboard signs. For example, "Ladies' powder room this way."
4) At a fundraiser tea party thank an event sponsor with a note written on the tray.
5) Congratulate the bride-to-be or the anniversary couple with a note on the tray....

The possibilities are endless.

© my tea diary
Maira Gall