Monday, October 29, 2012

A Chateau Marmont Moment

In early celebration of our 13th wedding anniversary, Gene and I unplugged from an extraordinarily insane October and spent the day in L.A.  I can't even remember the last time we spent time up there. When we first moved to Southern California, we were there on nearly a weekly basis.

As we drove the Sunset Strip, we reminisced on past adventures. The Key Club. The Roxy. How Washington, the bouncer at the Rainbow Room, knew our names. The rumor I inadvertently started regarding the demise of the band Cypress Hill. Or was it Rage Against the Machine? (This is exactly how it started. I still can't keep them straight.) The Viper Room and the "Pants" incident. The Hyatt.  The Coach and Horses and lessons learned regarding homeless men and their pitbulls. And then we discussed how our daughters will never be allowed to go hang out in L.A...

One place I had never visited, however, was Chateau Marmont. A Hollywood institution. The stars and starlets who had been guests are the Who's Who of all-time celebrity. Even today, I can't count the number of times I read an interview of a movie star that takes place in the Chateau Marmont restaurant.

We intended on going and having lunch, then walking around for a couple of hours before heading for the Pantages Theater. Seated at our little table in the middle of the outdoor courtyard, shaded by crisp white awnings and square cabana-like umbrellas, I felt truly transported. It was another world, far from the work demands and pressures, away from parental responsibility, away from all things familiar.

And we talked. The kind of conversation that we normally don't get to until Day 2 or 3 of a leisurely vacation. And what we had planned on being a leisurely lunch turned into a leisurely afternoon. There was no other place I wanted to be than right there. With my husband.

So, he ordered me some tea. It was the perfect moment, of course, and an opportunity that could not be missed.

I was curious what would be served at such an iconic place. Tea Leaves, based out of Vancouver, and a supplier to some of the premiere hotels around the world. Although it was late afternoon, I went with my default English Breakfast request. I was pleasantly surprised that the tea was served loose leaf, with a brewing basket in the small tea pot. Truly a perfect moment.

While only there for an afternoon, it felt like a weekend getaway. The perfect day with the best of company.  I look forward to the next 13 years. And the 13 after that. And the 13 after that...

Happy anniversary!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Pouchong Moment

It's week 2 of the Canton Tea Co. Club launch, and I can see this is going to be just lovely. Last week, I missed the grand launch because of work travel. I was home just long enough to pick up my package of tea and take it to my next work travel stop. While I loved having a beautiful, full leaf green tea to keep me company as I ran between hotels for a conference and strategic planning, this was not the way I envisioned enjoying a tea with a name as fun as Green Twirl!


Week 2 has allowed me to enjoy tea in my more natural enviroment, and this week's pick by Canton Tea Co founders, Barney and Jennifer, does not disappoint. As I've been sipping it throughout this hectic week, it has been a strong yet subtle companion. There is great debate among tea enthusiasts on how to classify this tea called "Pouchong," grown in Taiwan, high on the slopes of Wen Shan mountain. The locals call it a green tea, but others insist it is a lightly oxidized oolong.

I have always found Taiwan's oolongs to have a distinct floral perfume, and I detect no such perfume here. While more earthy than grassy, there is an almost spinach quality to its scent. I have to side with the locals on this one. It's a green.

I unveil my full tea nerdiness now, in that one way I have found to slow down a little this week is to watch the Pouchong tea leaves unfurl as they steep.  For those who have not indulged much in full leaf teas, I will say it's one of life's simple pleasures to watch the tightly rolled, dried leaves slowly untwist, stretch and relax into the steaming water.


What can I say? It makes me happy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Tea Chai Te Moment Part 1

There was much to agree upon as we sat down: that we're looking forward to @The_Devotea's book, that it was very cool that @GongFuGirl had a booth at the Northwest Tea Festival, that @TeaForMePlease was so right in suggesting we meet for tea in Portland, and in particular, how much we love @AGiftofTea. There was minor disagreement on how lovely Brioche tea is (from @AmericanTeaRoom), though we agreed that no matter what you thought of the straight tea, when you add cream and sugar, it's like sipping a French Bakery. But the most memorable moment was when I asked (of course), "Okay, what did you order?" "Zhen Qu Golden Buds," was the reply. Out of 140 teas on the menu, so had I.

You know what it's like when you run into an old friend from high school - there's the immediate comfort level of shared history and shared acquaintances. The same, so it turns out, happens when you meet up with fellow tea enthusiasts who you've gotten to know over the years through Twitter. And so it was when I had the opportunity last week, while on a business trip to Portland, to meet with Geoffrey Norman, of @Lazy_Literatus fame, for tea at Tea Chai Te.

As I always say, the best tea moments are those that are shared. And while it doesn't really matter if the tea is amazing (which is was), or the venue is notable (charming and comfy as a favorite sweater, in this case), if the company is good, everything else is just the icing on the cake.

Conversation went from first ventures onto tea, to the perils of tea reviewing, Russia, the pursuit of Georgian teas, the importance of whisks, the blight on society that is flavored matcha, and even covering the dangers of gnomes in court (it's a long story, though a good one).

"They" say that, as a society, with our obsession with social media and texting and so on and so forth, there is a danger that we will forget how to just communicate with each other, that our children and their children will not know how to relate to others because conversation is boiled down to 140 characters. However, in these 140 character exchanges, I have found a treasure trove of kindred spirits. I'm looking forward to more impromptu tea moments like these. @Lazy_Literatus - it was an honor and a privilege! (And please let me know how the gnomes fared).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Moment in 1910

Life is in one of those modes where I feel like I'm in a blender, and someone keeps hitting the "Pulse" button randomly. I have 6 different pieces of technology sitting in front of me that allow me to communicate with anyone and everyone in the outside world. The Southern California heat has suddenly dropped from 98 degrees to a cool 72, which actually feels chilly. My baby is getting over her first cold and her older sister is showing signs of having caught it. And let's not talk about work. Not today.

Let's talk about 1910. A simpler time, I'm sure. Thomas Edison introduced the first talking motion picture. A Hersey bar cost 5 cents. Father's Day was celebrated for the first time.Unelmployment was at 5.9%, but then the average annual household income was $750.  (That's per year. Annual). "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," was the hit song, and Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to ride in an airplane.

I need even simpler. And this cup of 1910: English Breakfast Tea from The Devotea will do the trick. Timeless, elegant, simple and robust. Let's just sit here. Together. In peace.