Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Silver and Gold Moment

It's interesting, being back in my home town after 16 years away. In some ways life is very different, but in many ways life is very much the same. Work routines, school routines, even the neighborhood- kids-playing-outside routine. But there are differences.

We miss our old friends. The ones we've known forever, the ones we met through work,  the ones we met through our kids, the ones who quickly shifted from "just" neighbors to people we spent most weekends with, the ones we took family weekend getaways with. They are what we miss most.

They are gold. Pure gold. And yet, we realize how blessed we are to have these stashes of gold in California, but also here. In just a couple of short months, we've had a chance encounter with an old high school friend that resulted in a backyard BBQ,  hookups on the best soccer coach in town, and ski lessons. I've also reconnected with a childhood friend that has so far produced lunch dates, family BBQs, and laughing so hard that my stomach muscles hurt the next day.

I'm full of gratitude for the people who have enriched our lives over the years, no matter where we live, and that extends to the people I've met through tea, as well. I've been so pleasantly surprised with some housewarming packages that have arrived on my new door step. The first, which actually made me tear up just a little bit, was from my friends at American Tea Room.

"Happy Idaho! Enjoy!" exclaimed the handwritten note. It never ceases to amaze me, the power of a thoughtful, personalized gift.

And in the package, David Barenholtz, the owner and my long time friend and tea mentor, surprised me with two signature pressings of puer. Yongde Wild Arbor from 2013 and Sun-dried Silver Tips from 2015. Both from the Yunnan Province of China. Both, limited edition and a new experience for me.

It is David who has pushed my palate to explore Japanese greens and oolongs, and it is he who opened my eyes to how tea can be more than something to be enjoyed with sugar cubes and scones. It can be enjoyed in its own right. His tea rooms - now 3 locations - give tea an elegance and elevation in ways I would have never imagined, while still making them excessively accessible.

Perhaps he knew that I was lagging in my pursuit of new tea exploration. My friends in the Tea Bloggers Roundtable have been exploring and enjoying puer for quite some time, with highly formed opinions. I have none. Until now.

Once more, I have been given a gift in the form of adventure. I broke off a piece of the Yongde Wild Arbor. The scent is reminiscent of horses - leather and hay. I steeped the tea for the recommended 5 minutes and then it was time for the first sip. Full bodied and rich, there is a maltiness that lingers. Hints of caramel made brief appearances. This is something I need to get to understand more. Pure gold.

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

I am enjoying meeting new people in my new/old home town. Their helpfulness and recommendations have led me to a new hair stylist (hooray!), insider info on schools and the scoop on local grocery stores. They have been precious discoveries. True silver.

Who knows what this year will bring. One thing is for sure, though. We'll be exploring puer together. It's time to get to know this treasure. Who knows the amount of silver and gold I'll discover along the way.

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