Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Moment with Assam 1860

Summertime, and the livin' is...


It's been an exciting few months as both the Man o' the House and I have each been travelling extensively for work engagements. We send each other online calendar invitations to ensure at least one of us is home to carry on family life.

But now, it's time to finally slow down, enjoy the summer, enjoy our family and friends. Enjoy some tea.

I was so happy to receive a gift from Assam 1860 of their Assam Combination Box. One side contained a 80g pouch of loose CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl) tea and 10 tea bags. How perfect for my on-the-go present mode! Some loose tea to be brewed leisurely at home, and individually sealed tea bags to carry in my purse or briefcase for those hotel mornings on the road.

But, of course, with both options, one can't help but ask, "Which is better?"

This morning, as the sunlight was barely filtering through the front window, I brewed a small cup of each. The steeping lasted 2 minutes, and then the fun began.

First, the Assam brewed from the tea bag. The aroma is malty with a hint of sun-ripened berries. The first sip is bold and velvety smooth. There's a light astringency, but not at all unpleasant. This is a tea that can kick you into gear and soothe at the same time. I may be in love.

Next, the Assam brewed from the loose tea. The aroma is malty and earthy. The first sip is so bold, my eyes are opened a little wider. This is a tea that will wake you up and boot you out the door! The mouth feel is a little more raw, not as smooth, and definitely has more astringency than the tea bag. Again, not unpleasant to me, but some tea drinkers may want to add a little milk and sugar to mellow it a bit. 

Loose tea on the left. Tea bag on the right.

I also found the tea bag to brew a clearer tea, while the loose tea was just the slightest bit cloudy (unnoticeable if they had not been side-by-side).

My conclusion: they both win in my book! This is what  I love about Assam teas. They ARE bright. They ARE bold. They feel substantial and sustaining. The color is deep and rich. It's a feast for the eyes as much as my taste buds.

On this pleasant, summer morning, I'm sitting back and enjoying the view, cup of Assam in hand. I think summer vacation has finally arrived.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Moment for Mothers and Daughters

I remember when Edie was just a baby and Gene, "Now you have someone to go to tea with!" And I was so happy at the thought. So, when I had the opportunity to participate in her school's annual Mother Daughter Tea, what could I do but jump at the chance.

When I went to my first committee meeting (a very late comer, as we had just started attending the school a month before) and explained that I was a tea blogger, the long-standing committee at first just sat and blinked at me. Then one got up out of her chair and came over to hug me. I had been accepted!

The theme of the event was, "Springtime in New York," and upon entry, we were greeted with a Times Square sign and a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Each table had been set with Tea Cups loaned by dozens of the mothers. Each table was unique and beautiful!

The annual event incorporates a fashion show with any of the girls from the school as the runway models. Afternoon tea consists of all the right things: finger sandwiches, scones...

.. .and an assortment of teas. That's where I got to have some fun. 

As it was a California-based school, I reached out to a few of my favorite California-based tea companies and asked for their participation. I was overwhelmed with their generosity to help make this day something special. 

A very special thank you to my friends, Diane and Vern, owners of California Tea and Coffee Brewery, who provided my very favorite blend, Irish Breakfast Tea, which was renamed "Breakfast at Tiffany's" for the event. 

Another heartfelt thank you to my friends at The Republic of Tea. They provided our caffeine-free option, Chamomile Lemon, renamed, "Broadway Dreams" for the event (and which the little girls couldn't get enough of!).

An official Thank You in the Program
In addition to the fashion show, there was a raffle, where once again, my tea friends showed off their generous spirits! Thank you to one of my oldest and dearest tea rooms, American Tea Room, for an exquisite Tea Gift Box with a rare tea. This Grandmother with her Granddaughter were thrilled to win it.

And thank you to one of my newest friends on the Tea Scene, Tea Ave, who provided a beautiful Aroma Set along with a collection of beautiful Oolong teas. 

This family, with Grandmother, Mother and Daughter, were the happy winners of this raffle prize!

The crowning glory of it all, for Edie, was the surprise candy bar that was opened up at the end of the event. Candies of all shapes and sizes in Tiffany Blue were laid out in abundance. You can see who liked that idea very much.

My admiration goes to the the committee moms, many of who have been a part of the Mother-Daughter Tea for years. Finding a new venue, organizing the loan of over 170 tea cups from dozens of school moms, coming up with a theme, building a set to be the backdrop of the fashion show, organizing the models, recruiting vendors for the boutique, rounding up raffle prizes, not to mention the basic set up and clean up of the event itself. Their dedication to creating a moment for moms, daughters and friends to build memories together is a beautiful thing. 

This was such a special day for me. My daughter transferred into this school in January, and I've been so pleased with how encouraging and engaging the teachers, administrators and children have been with our entire family. The Mother Daughter Tea was a chance to get to know other moms better, see my daughter giggle with her new friends, and really enjoy the moment. The fact that so many tea friends contributed to the day made it that much more special.