Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Amoda Moment

Vanilla Jasmine Special
There's something so fun about a tea delivery service. It feels like the mail man only ever delivers bills and ads, and then suddenly there's a flat little box from Amoda Tea that arrives, opening like a treasure chest.

Inside are three teas from a different tea vendor each month. In the September box, for example, the tea was from Hale Tea Company.

In the weeks following delivery, I found these teas popping up randomly whenever I was craving a treat.

Mirabelle Cream, a green rooibos with Mirabelle plum, which gives the scent of peach or apricot. I'm not typically a rooibos fan, but this was something special, something unique. A true treat that kept me coming back for more.

The Vanilla Jasmine Special (pictured above) was another one that caught me by surprise. It's the rare vanilla blend that I can really rave about, but this is certainly one. Working heavily in its favor is being a black tea with very subtle and balanced hint of vanilla and jasmine. No one flavor or scent overpowers. I'm sad that I'm down to my last cup. This has become a highly anticipated afternoon companion...

I'm a sucker for sleek, simple packaging, and so when I was called in for strategic planning, it was easy to bring in some much needed back-up.

Creamy Cacao Delight brought some critical solace to a long two days.  A soft white tea with touches of chocolate and vanilla. I don't know, I may have to change my position on vanilla in tea.


Now, let's see... 3:30. Looks like it's time for a little more Mirabelle Cream.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Fall Floral Moment

It's been a bit rainy and cloudy this past day or two. Just perfect for a cup of a familiar favorite, Irish Breakfast Tea from California Tea and Coffee Brewery. I'll sit out here and admire my flowers for just a minute or two.

I love the vibrant colors of fall flowers in Southern California. We just added these outside my front door, and I love being greeted by them each morning as I take the girls to school.
See how the raindrops cling to the snapdragons? Snapdragons make me think of my dad. There were always lots of these in the garden when I was growing up.

These pansies make me think of my dad's sister, Aunt Sue. Many of the tea pots and tea cups she's given me over the years have pansies on them. Such sweet, friendly flowers.

I'll linger just a minute more...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Confessional Moment

I love a good game of tag, and I want to thank Lu Ann, author of The Cup Of Life, for thinking up a great way to get to know more fun folks in what I dub, "The Underground Tea Syndicate."
And so, based on the questions she has posed, here is where I write my Tea Confessions:

1) First, let's start with how you were introduced & fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea. There were many initial tea moments as I was growing up. My great-grandma Olive, for example, would steep me a cup of Lipton tea and let me drop numerous ice cubes in it. Or, in the summer she'd scoop a tablespoon of powdered tea concentrate into a glass of cold water for some instant iced tea. But where the fascination really took hold was a trip to visit my Aunt Jane and she took me out for afternoon tea. You can read all about that moment right here.

2) What was the very first tea blend that you ever tried?

 Difficult to recall. My mom often had and still has Red Rose tea on hand, and that was my first foray into Lipton alternatives.

3) When did you start your tea blog & what was your hope for creating it?
 I started this blog just after the birth of my first daughter. Becoming a mother was terrifying, confusing and exhausting, and as much as I ferociously protected and cared for my little baby, I needed something, anything, in which I could feel competent. And so I wrote. It wasn't really intended for anyone else initially. It was reflecting on past tea moments and remembering there was a greater world out there that I could someday introduce my little girl to. It was my creative outlet and a way to recharge. I was actually surprised when I realized there were people reading it, and even more surprised (and delighted) when tea companies began reaching out and asking me if I would please try their teas.

4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog & one thing most discouraging.
 I love, love, love when readers share their own special tea moments with me, and I feel like a kid at Christmas when a tea company introduces me to their own creations. I feel both surprised and honored every single time.
I rarely feel discouraged except when I realize how long it's been since my last post. While I initially started writing just for me, now I do feel a bit of pressure (self-imposed) to now stay on the radar screen of the blogiverse - and that can only happen by writing and posting on a regular basis.

5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?
 Single estate Assams or any really robust Breakfast Tea blend. I like a good, strong blend that really kicks you in the teeth and lets you know it's there. That doesn't sound very refined or relaxing, I realize, but I love 'em hearty!

6) Favourite tea latte to indulge in?

 I've only had one Tea Latte and it was a green tea latte from a local café that shall remain nameless. I generally prefer not to write negative reviews about things - I prefer to write about that I love - but that was one of the worst things I've ever tasted. I'm going to have to give Tea Latte's another go at another venue. I am very open to recommendations!

7) Favourite treat to pair with your tea?
The cucumber sandwich. It is practically perfect in every particular when it comes to accompanying tea. You can find my recipe at the bottom of this past blog post.

8) If there was one place in the World that you could explore the tea culture at, where would it be & why?
 A tour of tea rooms in the UK would be a fun thing to do again. That would probably be one of the most relaxing vacations I could take right now. But for really exploring tea culture, I would love the opportunity to go and stay at a tea estate in the Assam region or with a tea farmer in Japan. That would be a near religious experience for me. So, if any tea estate owners would like to fly me out to be your personal estate blogger for a week or so, I'm totally available for that. Just sayin'.

9) Any tea time rituals you have that you'd like to share?
 No rituals, per se, but traditions in a sense. Every time my Mom comes out to visit, I try to take her to afternoon tea at a different local tea room. Those are some of my very favorite times in my entire life.

10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?
 Morning. All morning.

11) What's one thing you wish for tea in the future?
 That I would have more time to share tea moments with friends and family. We're all so incredibly busy - everyone is - that it's really challenging to find little pockets of time to slow down, share some tea and treats, and enjoy each other's company. It's a selfish wish in a way, but I wish it for everyone - time to connect with loved ones over a cup of tea.

-- Who do you tag?


Jo from Scandalous Tea
Geoffrey from Steep Stories
Tara from Tea & Cookies
Robert from Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts
Darlene from The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook

*Note: When/if you create your own tag post, please start by letting your readers know who you were initially tagged by. Feel free to use the photo above as well.

**If you end up participating in this game of TAG, tweet us your post so we can get to know you more too. @teamoment and 
@theteacupoflife OR @teaaholic !

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Park on Fremont Moment

Spoiler Alert!

This musing has absolutely nothing to do with tea.

But it was one of the cooler venues I've ever visited, and so you're stuck with me waxing poetic about it. It's a little place called Park on Fremont in Las Vegas, Nevada. When you're in Vegas as often as my husband and I, it's pretty exciting to find out about off-the-beaten-path restaurants from locals. This was one such place. Just steps away from the "Fremont Experience," (which I will say is the "B" side of Las Vegas tourism, currently), is this charming, kooky restaurant. It somehow blends into its surroundings, so we walked by it 3 full times before we realized THAT cute little entryway was indeed the place. Upon entering, it's as though you've stepped into the land of Oz. Only more bizarre.

The decor is kind of like Alice in Wonderland meets Lady Gaga (Yes, for the girl in the portrait, "skirt steak" has taken on an entirely new meaning).

Taxidermy runs rampant throughout, though I'm not 100% sure all of the animals represented can lay claim to all their original parts.

And while weird and wonderful, it is incredibly casual and cozy with friendly, helpful servers. Even the manager stopped by and asked how things were. I noticed he stopped and chatted with each table in a casual, neighborly way.

Everyone had been talking about the Grapefruit beer (Steigl Grapefruit), so of course we had to try that.

Served in a canning jar, this brew was dangerously delicious and refreshing. I could see that this is yet one more attraction in Vegas that could keep you sitting at a table for hours. A glance at the drink menu gives you a clearer understanding of the owner's sense of humor.

I was so obsessed with the steak salad I ordered, that I can't recall at all what Gene ordered. All I know is that it was good, and I don't think you could go wrong with any burger or salad you select. Everything comes served in a basket with a "newspaper" lining, giving it that picnic-in-the-park kind of feel.

Everywhere you look, there's something that makes you do a double take. Even in the ladies room.

A peek through the back window made me wish we were coming back that evening. I can picture myself very comfortable installed at any of these outdoor tables.

And though I mentioned before this venue had nothing whatsoever to do with tea, they did have a fine collection of china...

Next time you're in Vegas, do yourself a favor and venture away from the Strip for lunch or dinner. I know a spot. Tell them I sent you. (They'll have no idea what you're talking about, but I bet they'll smile and nod and seat you anyway.)

To find Park On Fremont:
506 E Fremont
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 834-3160

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Turkish Delight Moment

It's not every day something arrives via Turkish Post. In fact, I'll go ahead and admit this is the first time anything has arrived for me via Turkish Post.

Kedoçay - The name itself is so deliciously mysterious for a Westerner such as me. And the timing couldn't be better. Rocktober is finally over, but the aftershocks are still being felt. My daughter's upcoming surgery, a "Test" program that I'm overseeing at work, and on and on. The daily grind feels like an hourly grind. Being whisked away from craziness via my new friends in Istanbul is very, very welcome. They thoughtfully gifted me with three of their teas. And being a day like today, I decided to indulge in all three.

First, Milan Dancong, which if I recall correctly, is a favorite of +Geoffrey Norman of @LazyLiteratus fame.

This oolong from Feng Huang, China, is much less floral than many oolongs I've been introduced to and has a rather nutty flavor.  Very pleasant and rather robust without being harsh. Even as it cooled, it did not take on the bitter quality that I sometimes find. A good find. A good friend.

Next, Huang Shan Mao Feng, a green tea from Anhui, China. As you've learned from my travels through green teas, these have become an acquired taste. It's not always an easy introduction. And yet, every once in awhile, I get an amazing surprise, as I did here. Smooth, smooth, so smooth. Sometimes green teas almost feel like there is a slight texture to them as sip, but no so with this.  Lovely, lovely.

Jasmine Pearls from Fuding, China, I saved for last. I've grown an appreciation for Jasmine infused teas since we moved into our current home. Outside my office window is a large jasmine bush that scents the air around our home. It's an aroma that has become familiar and comforting. And Jasmine Pearls, the process of steeping involved all of the senses.

First, feeling the little rolled pearls of tea as I drop them by hand into my cup. Smelling the hint of jasmine. Pouring the hot water over the pearls and watching as very slowly they start to unfurl.

The scent of jasmine increases, and the resulting liquid is a sunny yellow. The flavor, mellow, slightly floral without feeling like you're immersed in a bouquet, smooth and substantial. I steep and resteep.

In a whirl of madness that just isn't quite ready to die down, I am grateful for this moment of Turkish delight, and I look forward to becoming better acquainted with the beautiful minds of Kedoçay.