Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Pure Leaf Moment

There are those moments in life that are truly pure. A quiet moment looking out over the misty mountains at dawn.

Hearing and seeing your baby laugh for the first time.

But a pure moment doesn't necessarily have to be a momentous or grand occasion. They can be simple things too, like reading a beautifully written sentence, or hearing a song that gives you goosebumps, or noticing the first tiny tomatoes on your first attempt of a vegetable garden (which has turned into a jungle, by the way).
Tame garden

Jungle garden
Tiny tomatoes
But I digress. In these pure moments, there is great joy and peacefulness. Maybe that's the reason I've been so drawn to single estate teas recently. Such pure leaves, allowed to be solely themselves, is a rather sublime thing.

The muse for such ponderings? Assam Hazelbank, from Whittard of Chelsea. I think I'm on something like Day 5 of complete obsession.

Pure heaven
Assams are often included in "Breakfast" tea blends, so it's no surprise I would enjoy any Assam. But this isn't just "any" Assam. It's from a " small and picturesque garden producing one of the world’s best teas. This tea was named after Hazel, the daughter of state official, Dr Mead." I love that description.

Smooth, full bodied, not a trace of bitterness. Even after steeping way too long, it simply gets stronger, not soapy as some teas can become.  The word that keeps popping in my mind whenever I take a sip is, "Pure."  And so... every day, I fill my tea cup again and again with these pure leaves. I can't stop. And, frankly, I don't want to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Queen's Bakery Moment

It's always fun when a friend clues me into a new local tea spot. So when E forwarded me a Travelzoo afternoon tea deal for The Queen's Bakery in Costa Mesa, I had to jump on it!

The deal was much more popular than I (or the Queen herself) anticipated, so although I purchased my deal in May, I wasn't able to book my reservation until July!

So E and I, with great excitement, drove over to this hidden gem in the heart of Costa Mesa, California. In an industrial neighborhood, behind Hank's Mexican Food (I kid you not), is this lovely little slice of heaven.

Though not on their regular menu, the Deal was for afternoon tea. We each chose our tea from their list of socially responsible teas. My 1st and 2nd choices were unfortunately not available (Empress Estate and Darjeeling), but they had English Breakfast, so I was happy! E went for their Cherry Rose Green Tea. We were seated at our reserved table - a high-backed fuschia couch on one side, a sleek modern chair on the other. We admired the whimsical curlicues and bright, girly colors on the surrounding walls.

With our little pots of tea came a tiny scone, darling little cookie and a very lovely salad.

And then came the sandwiches: mint and cheese, cucumber, and Nutella with sliced almonds. I could have eaten about 20 of the Nutella sandwiches. Dangerous!

Being a bakery, the sweet treats were no less than glorious. I didn't take a photo of the plate that I nearly licked clean.

While we were enjoying our fare, there was some kind of cupcake or cookie decorating party taking place behind a screen wall at the far end of the cafe. We learned that this is one of their biggest draws, and it sounded like a lot of fun!

Unfortunately, their tea service is not listed as a regular item on their menu, though I hope they will consider promoting it more. This deal may have been one way to help draw some new customers, but it shouldn't just end there as a one time thing. They do afternoon tea well! Why not share it with the world?

The Queen's Bakery
2950 Grace Lane, Suite A
Costa Mesa, California 92626

Monday - Thursday 10:30 am to 5 pm
Friday - Saturday 10 am to 6 pm
Closed Sunday for private events
Call the Queen at 714-540-9500

Find them Here on Facebook

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Lord Petersham Moment

I can't believe 2 years has passed so quickly, and here we are back in Ashland. It's the bi-annual "Sisters" weekend where my mom, her sisters, their daughters and daughters-in-law all meet in Ashland, Oregon. Aunt D secures one of the many quirky rental homes in the area and we descend from all over the country. It is one of my most favorite traditions.

And in this early morning, as baby Anne Marie and most of the women-folk sleep, I sit overlooking the lush, green garden of this quirky home with my niece, and enjoy my first sip of Lord Petersham from The Devotea.

Though I know milord would distain this early hour, he has risen to the challenge and is an amiable companion. Smooth and more layers than an onion, each sip is a discovery of something subtle and new. I have a feeling we'll be spending more time together. I may even introduce him to my aunties.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Persian Princess Moment

It finally happened! But let me back up a little.

This hobby of mine - to write about tea moments - has led to the unexpectedly delightful result of tea people sending me samples of tea. Edie has seen the packages arrive. She has even asked for the occasional sip from my cup. But it wasn't until yesterday that she suddenly (and much to my surprise and delight) asked if she could taste the newest arrivals with me!

It started when we came home from our vacation in Boise to quite a large collection of mail. Among the contents was a box from The Devotea. He had sent me 5 samples of his new tea collection, and I couldn't wait to try them out. It made it all the more exciting when Edie asked if she could try them out too. So I began reading her the names of the blends. When I came to the name, "Persian Princess," she yelled out, "That one!"

Of course.

And so, for the first time in her 4 years, my daughter asked (of her own accord) to take part in a tea moment with me.

To highlight the event, I let her choose the tea pot and tea cups. When she chose the pansies all around, I couldn't help myself. I had to get out the matching sugar and creamer, too! And fill the sugar bowl with sugar cubes. And bring out the little tea spoons. And the sugar tongs.

Of course.

I poured our cups, though I made hers according to the Little House on the Prairie description of "cambric tea" - more than a splash of actual tea, with lots of milk and sugar. Two lumps, at her request.

And without me even reading the description of the tea, she seemed to know exactly what to do. Either that, or she was enamored of the sugar cubes and couldn't help herself. In any case, she put the sugar lump in her mouth as she sipped her tea.
"A strong black tea designed to be drunk in the old-fashioned Persian court manner, with a lump of sugar held between the teeth and the tea sipped over it."

Yep. That's my Princess.

And the tea! Let's not forget that! I've always suspected The Devotea was a kindred spirit, and this confirms it. Persian Princess is a black tea blend that packs a wallop! This princess is no shrinking violet! Bold, to the brink of mild fermentation, I may go as far to describe it as leaning toward Puerh. As Edie will attest, it is robust enough to stand up very well to milk and sugar. Though I prefer mine black, I admit I admire a Princess who can be both tough and tender.

Our tea conversation consisted of pondering what color hair the Persian Princess might have (red), what color eyes (brown), color of dress (blue), type of pet (cat, with long, brown fur), and what her favorite colors might be (pink and purple). And while this tea has a serious nature, our moment was anything but. Which is exactly what I think The Devotea would appreciate.

I don't want to tempt fate and hope this is just the first of many, many Mother - Daughter tea moments in our house... but that's exactly what I do hope.