Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter's Evening Tea Moment

With Christmas a week away, it's easy to get caught up in the panic of Gotta's: Gotta buy that last gift; gotta get that box of gifts to UPS; gotta get the cards in the mail; gotta, gotta, gotta!

But it has been so nice over the past few days to be a part of some very mellow, very leisurely get togethers. One neighbor invited just 3 or 4 couples over for a grown-up cocktail party. There was almost no talk of presents or Santa. Just conversation. Ahhhh! 

Sometimes the mellow and casual get together is best. And there's nothing that says that tea is reserved for the afternoon. An evening tea has its own charms.

A Winter's Evening Tea Menu
Roast beef and horseradish sandwiches
Goat cheese and kiwi canape
Veggie tray
Cheese platter
Sugar tree cookies
Tea Rum-Pah-Pum-Pum

Roast Beef and Horseradish Tea  Sandwiches


  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 8 thin slices white sandwich bread
  • 1/4 lb. roast beef, sliced paper-thin
In small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and horseradish. Spread 4 of the bread slices with mayo/horseradish mixture. Layer the roast beef on the bread. Top each with one of the remaining bread slices.

Using a serrated knife, trim the crusts off the sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Serve immediately.

Goat Cheese and Kiwi Canapes

  • 2 Tbs. creamy goat cheese
  • 2 Tbs. cream cheese
  • 1 Tbs chopped walnuts
  • 1 kiwi, diced
  • Crackers, lightly salted
In small bowl thoroughly mix cheese and walnuts. Add dash of salt, if desired. Spread dallop of cheese mixture on cracker and top with a few kiwi pieces. Serve immediately.

Veggie Tray
Assortment of celery, carrots, red bell peppers

Cheese Tray
At least 3 cheeses of varying textures or flavor profiles. Example: Brie, sharp cheddar, smoked gouda

Sugar Tree Cookies

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Sugar/sprinkles
Preheat oven to 325 F. In medium bowl combine flour and dash of salt. In large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed. Add egg and vanilla dn beat until well mixed. Scrape sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Blend on low speed until combined.
Gather dough into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out dough onto floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Use Christmas tree cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate with sugar/sprinkles.
Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Tea Rum-Pah-Pum-Pum
Brew strong black tea (Example, Irish Breakfast blend from California Tea and Coffee Brewery). Add shot of rum and twist of lemon. Add sugar or simple syrup as desired.

Take a moment to step away from the Gotta's and just relax with the Wanna's. Enjoy a simple winter evening moment with some low maintenance friends. It may be just the thing to give you that second wind before Santa makes his appearance. 

Ho Ho Ho...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Green Tea Expedition Moment

Welcome to An International Tea Moment’s Green Tea Expedition
I just have to come out and say it: I’ve never been much of a green tea fan.  Part of it is because I was such a black tea fan, why bother with anything else?  It’s kind of like going to your favorite restaurant and always ordering the same dish because you love it so much and you don’t get to go very often, so why lose even one opportunity to enjoy it!

And then I began to explore other teas just for fun – Oolongs and Whites. And then I was hearing from more friends and acquaintances who said their doctors had recommended they start drinking more green tea.
All signs pointed to green tea.

So, I tried it, and I just didn’t like it. Some tasted like grass to me. Others tasted fishy. Either way, it was a no go. And then some things happened. I had some "moments of clarity." And for a variety of reasons, I decided to just immerse myself in this green tea world and see what happened. You can read all about the start of that journey here.
Recently, I was inspired by one of my tea friends, to start another Green Tea Expedition - this time as a guide. I asked for volunteers and have 4 willing souls ready to take a chance and go green. Their packages were finally dropped in the mail today, and I'm looking forward to their thoughts and experiences.
If you'd like to explore with us, here's where our journey will take us: 

In the next week or so, I'll share the instructions I gave to my fellow explorers so you, too, can understand the method to my madness.

In the meantime, join our expedition. Try one or more of the teas listed here. As an added incentive, American Tea Room is offering 20% off any orders placed by December 16 by using the code: GIFT20

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Tea's In the Mail Moment

It's a very happy feeling to go to the mail box and see this waiting for me.

And then opening it and seeing:

And then brewing and admiring:

And then tasting...   Who knew Hawaii had such a lovely Oolong.

Thank you Canton Tea Club!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Guest Blog Moment: By Todd Michael Schultz

When Todd first contacted me about a guest blog, I was very happy. It's always fun to learn from other tea enthusiasts. When I found out he wanted to write about Tulsi, I laughed. This was the second time in one day that Tulsi had come up - and the first day I had ever even heard of it! So, please enjoy learning about Tulsi from Todd of the blog Todd and Tea.

Coffee for the 21st Century: The health benefits of Tulsi (Holy Basil)
By Todd Michael Schultz

I want to start by saying that I am not a licensed practitioner.

I strive every day to make life better for myself and those around me. That is, in my belief, the best medicine.

Tulsi is one of the most beneficial plants I have come across as of yet. It benefits your health, stamina, and overall stability. Sold widely across the United States by a company known as Organic India, the box for the “India Breakfast” flavor, my favorite one, claims a few things: (1) Stress-relieving (2) Invigorating and (3) Contains Caffeine. This was enough to start me on starting my mornings with Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil (It is extremely Holy, in my opinion).

I didn’t know what to expect to be quite honest. I hadn’t alternated my lifestyle from a coffee-lifestyle (I’ll explain below) to a, what I now consider to be the much healthier route, tea lifestyle. First question I wanted to answer was: Will I feel well caffeinated? The answer: Yes. The second and for me at the time, equally important: Was it really stress-relieving? You bet your teapot it was.

From my research, I have found that the differences between coffee and tea are not that many: They are both grown from the earth. They both contain caffeine naturally, and they both are brewed with water. So, why was I feeling that tea was the way to go? I didn’t want to be arrogant and make this assumption, so I spent some time researching it, both empirically (or through drinking the stuff) and through some research.

Coffee uses approximately 3 to 4 times the amount of ground materials as tea, giving it a stronger caffeinated kick. While coffee has on average 80-185 mg per 8 ounces, tea has between 15-70.

That’s about it, as far as the effects are concerned. Both are said to have health benefits, and of course too much of either is not the best route. Additionally, if you are a coffee lover, I urge you to love your coffee, I’m sure it will love you back. However, consider that coffee is much intense on your system. Instead of working with your system, it forces a large amount of caffeine into it. It can work like tea if prepared properly and is drunk in moderation, however, tea, and the variety available will have you drinking more water (which will help you lose weight and balance your system) and absorbing the Earth’s beneficial gifts of herbs and spices… real vitamins, real good stuff.

Now, to put it plainly:

Here are some of the health benefits to drinking Tulsi tea: According to the Wikipedia page, Tulsi is said to have anti-oxidant, or cancer protection and repairing properties. In addition to this, it has shown heart related benefits, potential protection from radiation poisoning, protection from cataracts. It has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the glucose levels of type 2 diabetics, as well as cholesterol.

Read about it, then come to www.ToddandTea.blogspot.com and order some off my site so you can prepare yourself for your tea journey! Ten percent of proceeds will go to supporting tea causes, like this blog you’re reading right now!

Love and Tea,

Todd Michael Schultz

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Best International Tea Giveaway Moment

December arrives on Saturday. Is anyone else as shocked by this news as I am? I'm looking back over the last 8 weeks with complete gratitude for being able to say, "We survived!" There were a lot of "firsts" and a lot of moving parts these past 2 months.

My job reached a 4-week fever pitch, the likes of which I had never experienced. Gene's launched a new product category for a clothing company the exact week that I had to be at a conference for 4 days. Overlapping work travel, intense work demands, the sense for both of us that the answer to any question our companies ask of us must be, "Yes!" and then two young daughters who very much need their parents. Plus all those little necessities like grocery shopping, paying bills, filling the car with gas, scrubbing the toilet occasionally, making sure everyone has clean undies, and so on.

So with a collective effort from my out of town parents, our wonderfully wise, supportive and flexible child care provider, selfless friends and neighbors (and countless gallons of tea), we made it.

Now, I won't get silly and say that tea saved my sanity, but I will say that the luxury of the quiet tea moments helped settle my thoughts and allow me to mentally prepare for the next task. And isn't it interesting how, in moments of stress, we fall back on our comfort foods - in my case, teas - and we long for the familiar.

My "familiar" happens to be those strong black Breakfast Tea type blends. Something that, as I often describe it, kicks you in the teeth. I guess what I mean by that is that it is strong, bold, full-bodied and fortifying, and it can easily stand up to as much milk and sugar as you want to throw at it and still be taken seriously. But it's not harsh or astringent. It's smooth and rich.  I have countless favorites of this variety. There's an entire bin in my pantry devoted to these. And in the past few months a new iteration of this comfort tea was sent my way. Best International English Breakfast Tea. It was love at first sip.  Bold. Brazen, even. Just the thing to provide that comfort I crave.

And so, it is with great pleasure I'm able to announce a giveaway by Best International Tea. The winner will receive a gift package (for you, not anyone else!) of three of their loveliest tea blends: English Breakfast, Lady Londonderry and China Green Lemon & Mint. Just in time to be your  comfort before the holidays!

To enter for your chance to be selected for this giveaway, "Like" Best International Tea on Facebook. For an additional entry in the drawing, Follow them on Twitter - @onlythebesttea.  Enter by December 5th to be eligible! (Open to U.S residents only)

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Winning Moment

Congratulations to my 5 Fellow Green Tea Explorers: A.H., Jennifer S., Jenn V., Courtney P., and Glenn B.! I'm assembling the packages and will be reaching out for your mailing addresses shortly. I hope to be mailing your Green Tea Maps during the 1st week of December!
(If you want to be proactive and email them to me, you can find my email address on the sidebar of my blog, An International Tea Moment.)
For those interested in completing the journey with us, I'll be listing the green teas and the order of exploration in the next several days.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Post Thanksgiving Tea Moment

In my house, the weekend after Thanksgiving means 2 things: leftovers and football.  Over the years, I've grown to appreciate football a little more, but I'm no die-hard fan. And while Thanksgiving Day is usually reserved for family get-togethers, I enjoy the opportunity to spend some time with friends at some point too. Which leads to my idea for a Post Thanksgiving Tea.

While the guys are watching football together,  the gals who may be lesser sports fans can join me in the dining room, or even at the kitchen island, and make beautiful use of those lovely leftovers!

We can do better than this.
The Post Thanksgiving Tea

Ever-Giving Turkey Cranberry Tea Sandwiches
Gimme-A-Ham Tea Sandwiches
Mashed Potato Rolls
Granny Smith Apple Slices
Pie in my Fridge

Recommended Teas
Romanoff - From American Tea Room. The hint of orange is the perfect compliment to fall flavors.
Dark Green Needles  - From Teasource. The earthy, nutty feel is a clean backdrop to traditional fare.
Constant Comment - Bigelow Tea. In a word: Autumn

Ever-Giving Turkey Cranberry Tea Sandwiches

Cranberry cream cheese:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons leftover cranberries/cranberry sauce
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, or to taste
  • 8 slices wheat bread (the thinner, the better)
  • 1 cup leftover turkey – thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
For the cranberry cream cheese, combine the cream cheese, cranberry, orange zest and salt. Do not whip.
Lay out 4 slices of bread and spread them all with a layer of cranberry cream cheese. Place a layer of turkey on half the slices, cutting the edges to fit the bread. Top with the other slices of bread, cream cheese side down.

Gimme-A-Ham Tea Sandwiches


  • 1 ½ cups leftover ham, finely chopped (or a few pulses in the food processor)
  • Handful of pickle slices, finely chopped )or a few pulses in the food processor)
  • 1/8 to ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 8 slices white bread (the thinner, the better)
Combine the ham, pickles, mayo and salt. Lay out 4 slices of bread and spread them all with a layer of the ham mixture. Top with the other slices of bread.
Tea Sandwich Cutting Tip:
Place sandwiches on baking sheet or large cutting board covered with parchment paper, cover with damp paper towels and wrap the sheet with plastic wrap. Refrigerate sandwiches until chilled. With the sandwiches on a cutting board cut off the crusts with a serrated knife, using a careful, sawing motion. Cut each sandwich diagonally, twice, to make 4 small triangles. Serve chilled.

Mashed Potato Rolls

  • 2 cups warmed leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
  • Dill (if desired)
Open can of biscuits, roll out or flatten each biscuit. Place tablespoon of potato into center of each uncooked biscuit. Sprinkle fine layer of dill over potato, if desired. Wrap dough around warm potato filling to make little biscuit pillows. Place on baking sheet. Brush with butter if desired. Bake according to directions on biscuit container. Serve with leftover gravy on the side.

Afternoon tea doesn't have to have a million components. It doesn't even have to have scones (though I love them dearly). What better way to use leftovers in a new and fun way. Who knows... maybe even the guys will swing by the table for a nosh.

 As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of American Tea Room, and they have been a wonderful mentor in my tea journey, as well as an amazing sponsor of many of my private tea events. Think of them when you begin your Christmas shopping! Support this privately owned small business. And be sure to take advantage of these :

Take 20% Off All Orders + Free Teaspoon With Orders Over $25, code BFCM20

20% Off over $150 on loose tea & Free Shipping, code GIVETEA

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Tea Cup Of Life Moment

Happy Thanksgiving! There are so many things that I'm thankful for this year. So many back stories about family, work, and more. There are many of those big things, but there are also the smaller treasures. Like tea. Today, I'm especially thankful to Lu Ann of The Cup Of Life who agreed to share some of her most treasured tea moments. As I like to say, the best tea moments are those that are shared, and I love how Lu Ann has experienced this truth in some truly lovely ways. Thanks for sharing your Tea Moments with me!

1. It all started with a cute, little wooden box that contained strawberry flavoured tea bags. I was seven around that time so I can't recall many details about the exact tea, I just remember it being gorgeous and the sweet aroma filled in air. As most can imagine, it was hard to stay away after just one sip. I was happy just because my mom finally let me have a cup of tea, and it was a great way to bring her and my sister together for a calm evening. Ever since then, I realized this is a beverage that brings people together, even through the most hectic days.

2. My boyfriend and I will have be dating for three years this coming Friday, Nov. 23. It started off a bit shaky at first (I said 'no' to dating him about 10 times before I caved, lol) but saying yes was one of the greatest thing I have done for my life. It wasn't until a few months into our relationship that I came over to his dorm room and noticed his stash of tea all organized nicely on the shelf. When I called him out on it he said he got more teas the night after we first spoke. I think I remember having the biggest smile on my face and feeling like I was seven all over again. Tea, once again, brought a greater connection between me and someone else. <3 Also, it helps that he's a jazz musician and plays great tunes for tea time!

Follow Lu Ann @theteacupoflife on Twitter here 

Would you like to share your Tea Moment? Send your story with photos to me at jen.piccotti@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Decadent Brioche Moment

Tomorrow is Thankgiving! I remember the first time we hosted Thanksgiving at our house a little over a decade ago. I was a nervous wreck. I had never cooked a turkey before. Heck, I didn't really cook, period. We had invited new friends to join us, so of course I wanted to impress.

Everything turned out alright. The biggest snafu was the Sweet Potato Casserole I attempted to make. I had forgotten to buy marshmallows, so I sent Gene out to try and hunt some down. The only place open was the local gas station. Amazingly, they had marshmallows. However, they were green and red. The resulting dark purple/black ooze that we discovered upon taking the casserole out of the oven was less than appetizing. But our new friends ate it anyway. It's one of our annual jokes now: "Who's making the sweet potatoes?"

The same friends are joining us tomorrow, and I'm decidedly more calm. This is despite the fact that the turkey shows no signs of defrosting, and I forgot 3 key items when I went to the war zone known as the grocery store yesterday.

Today I prep. In a leisurely fashion. And I'll do it with one of my favorite decadent teas. Brioche from American Tea Room. I normally drink my teas straight. Not today! To enjoy this cozy French Bakery-In-A-Cup to its fullest, I'm adding milk...

And sugar. (Lumps, not granules. A girl has to have standards!)

I always add milk first, then the sugar. Not for any reasons tied to etiquette or proper this or that. Simply because I love watching the ribbons of cream billow up when the sugar sinks to the bottom of my cup. Ahhh...

Alright turkey. Let's get this party started.

After I finish this luxurious cup of tea.

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of American Tea Room, and they have been a wonderful mentor in my tea journey, as well as an amazing sponsor of my blog and tea events. Think of them when you begin your Christmas shopping! Support this privately owned small business. And be sure to take advantage of this :

Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Save 20% + Free Lemoncello Tea with Every Order - Code: BLACK20

American Tea Room Your Ultimate Tea Resource

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Green Tea Exploration Invitation

In the spirit of giving, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am going to indulge a whim that struck me this week. It was sparked by a comment that my dear friend, A.H., left on my post about Hawaiian Volcano Green. It reminded me that it was not all that long ago when I was not a fan of green tea and avoided it like the plague. It tasted like grass to me. Not the experience I was going for!

So, here's what I want to do. Because I did quite a lot of green tea exploration, I'd like to take a small group of green tea skeptics through that journey and see if they, too, may develop an appreciation for at least one or two greens. Maybe even more.

Since A.H. got the idea rolling, she is Green Tea Explorer #1. I'd like to bring along 4 more adventurous and open-minded souls. To be entered into a random drawing to be included in the Green Tea Exploration:
  1. Comment on my posting on An International Tea Moment's Facebook page here by Friday, November 23rd: on.fb.me/SNU9aZ
I won't guarantee that you'll become a Green Tea Groupie after this exploration, but you may be pleasantly surprised at the vast variety of green options out there!

I'd love to connect with you on Facebook! Click HERE to "Like" An International Tea Moment"s Facebook page.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Blue and White Teapot Moment

I've received many tea cups and tea pots as gifts over the years, and for the most part I remember their unique story. However, I have given very few tea cups or tea pots as gifts. Reason being, I try to keep in mind that everyone has their own tastes and preferences.

There is one tea pot, though, that I did give as a gift. It was this one, and I gave it to my Mom during my early college years as I was working in a ultra-doily boutique in the mall. I had this tea pot on layaway for quite some time, and a part of my paycheck went toward it every week. It was one of those things that just had my Mom's name all over it, every time I saw it. I had to have it. For her.

Now that I live so far away from home, that tea pot is kind of a cozy landmark for me. It says "Mom" and it says "Home" to me every time I see it. With 2 little kids in tow when we do visit, there isn't as much leisure time at her house to sit and have a pot of tea, but just seeing it there is restful enough for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Hawaiian Volcano Green Moment

Tea Clubs are all about discovery, in my mind. And the Canton Tea Club is doing a lovely job of introducing me to things I've never experienced, and in some cases, never heard of.

Did you know Hawaii grows tea? And this week, I get to experience Hawaiian Volcano Green. One person describes it, "Like standing on a beach in Hawaii eating a piece of watermelon." For a green tea, it doesn't have a lot of that bright, grassy taste that I associate with Japanese greens. It's lighter, mellower, and would probably be a good introduction to green tea for a first timer.

Edie loved the idea of having Hawaiian tea. I think she liked even more the idea of drinking from one of my small, cast iron tea cups.

Aloha, my friends. Aloha.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Gone Til November Moment

Can I just say that I'm thrilled October is done? Please understand, autumn is my favorite time of year. However, this year October has been the most demanding work month I've ever experienced. I've had days like that. A week here or there, even. But this was day after day, intense, grinding work that required focused and contact attention. I basically had to tell the world, I'll be Gone Til November.

Okay, so I didn't fly the coop for the year, and I can totally work a 9 to 5, but I like the sound of the chorus.

So, now the it's finally November and there is occasionally a chill in the air, I'll sit with a cup of lovely Diamond Second Flush Darjeeling, from Canton Tea Club.

I've tried Darjeeling occasionally, but they often seem to be a little too mellow, not terribly robust or memorable. Not so with this one. Rich, pleasantly substantial without being astringent. For the first time, I understand why Darjeeling is sometimes referred to as the "Champagne of Teas."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A No Frills Tea Moment

I love that my friends send me text pics, emails, Facebook messages, etc. whenever they see, hear, read about or have a tea moment. It's a nice reminder about the simple pleasures in life. Like R sending me this pic from a recent flight:

"Thought of you. Southwest tea stick. Makes up for the way the stewardess looked at me when I said I brought my own tea."
 It does my heart good to know I'm not the only one who brings my own tea on the road.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Olive Beryl Moment

I am one of those lucky souls who knew a couple of my great-grandmothers. There was Great-Grandma Leona, (though everyone referred to her by her last name, Church) of whom I have vague recollections at her home for Sunday dinners. I remember the smell of the roast as we walked in her house and a sweet kindness that emanated from her. 

And then there was Great-Grandma Olive. Her home smelled of cigarettes, and she used curse words like "Damn," and "Hell." Shocking stuff in my world.  I loved her dearly. I especially loved her because she would tell me on a regular basis that I was a terrible baby, mischevious and difficult. This was in direct opposition to what my mom told me about my baby years, but I liked Grandma Olive's version better. I liked the idea that I was capable of being wicked.

I was named after another Great Grandma, Jenny, whom I never met. My mom and I have discussed several times my fortune in being named after that particular one. I could have been a Leona or an Olive, or (gasp) a Beryl. Even worse, if I had cruel parents, I could have been an Olive Beryl.

But I digress.

I often credit my Aunt Jane with introducing me to the world of tea, and it's true. She was the first to take me to a tea house and give me the full afternoon tea experience with tea sandwiches and scones and all the fanfare.  But it was Grandma Olive who first served me tea regularly, as though I was a grown-up.  Usually bagged Lipton, but sometimes when it was too hot outside, she'd mix up some instant iced tea that had some peach flavoring in it. Either way she served it, she let me put as many ice cubes in my mug or glass as I wanted.

I love trying new teas. I take great pleasure in tasting some of the highest quality, amazingly limited teas from exclusive gardens. But I try to never forget that the best tea moments are those that are shared. And in those great moments, the type or quality of tea is not what matters. It's simply the fact of it creating a moment to be together, to talk, to enjoy.

On today, what would have been Grandma Olive's birthday, I'm enjoying the view of my olive tree outside my window, and I'm sipping a very special tea out of one of her china tea cups that I inherited upon her passing.

And I'm once again grateful that I'm not an Olive Beryl.  Happy birthday, Grandma Olive.

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.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Canton Tea Club Moment

I love tea clubs. Like any subscription service, it's always lovely to have something arrive in the mail that is not a bill. And it's especially lovely when that something is fun or thought-provoking or delicious. Tea clubs are usually all three of those things. They are always a good way to be exposed to some new teas or blends that you may not have chosen yourself.

Most tea clubs, however, are fairly self-directed. A selection of teas may arrive monthly or quarterly, and many times the selection is based on some preferences you may have disclosed upon registration. There are many pros to this approach. But you also miss opportunities for those surprising discoveries.

Enter the Canton Tea Club. They've deconstructed what it is that makes clubs fun, interesting, compelling and worthwhile. They've really taken the time to know their own customers extremely well, what's important to them, and what makes them tick. And they've created a new tea club, that I believe is a game changer.

Founder, Jennifer Wood, conducts a tea tasting
As a member of their tea club, each week, a rare and interesting whole leaf tea is delivered to you with descriptive notes and brewing guides. Members can visit the Tea Club blog to find videos, interviews and feedback about each week’s tea. Click to take a sneak peek at the what the weekly content will look like. Special Guests are lined up to choose their Tea of the Week and share their thoughts about it. They will include the world's foremost tea historian, world-renowned Chefs, Food Writers, and tea-loving celebrities. I've been given a peek of who's on the list, and... W.O.W.  I can't even find the words to share my anticipation of those guests!

Canton Tea Co has even re-thought the subscription approach. Subscriptions are flexible with no minimum period so you can join for just 1 week. Alternatively, you can sign up for a specific time say a month or 12 weeks – or choose a rolling subscription which keeps delivering until you stop it. You can suspend it while on holiday, or redirect it to a friend. I love that! You could redirect it one week to a friend for his or her birthday. Or to Mom for Mother's Day!

Try it for a week. Try it for 7 weeks. Try it for all 52! Whether you simply enjoy a cup of tea from time to time or are a complete tea nerd like me, this is such a well-thought-out experience, well, all I can say is I can hardly wait for my first tea box to arrive! (And by the way, membership is limited to 100 members for the first 3 months!)

In celebration of their launch, here's your opportunity to score a Week 1 delivery of your own or even a FREE 1 year membership! By clicking on the announcement above from the Canton Tea Club, it will take you to their Facebook page where you can enter the drawing. Good luck, and enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Minty Fall Moment

There's that je ne sais quoi about September that brings about thoughts of snuggly sweaters, book bags and "bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils," as was described in the movie, "You've Got Mail." Today was slightly overcast, and had just the faintest hint of autumn in the air. Just a whiff, you understand. It takes years of living in southern California to detect the nuance, subtle as it is. But today, it was there. It only took 13 years for me to get it.

So while the nearly 90 degree heat didn't allow for snuggly sweaters, I opted for a cup of tea in my favorite childhood mug - Winnie the Pooh - and not just any tea. Something that brings the senses to life, that piques one's curiosity, that even makes math problems (almost) enticing. It was Moroccan Mint, courtesy of Whittard of Chelsea. The gentle sweetness of the green tea paired with the brisk freshness of the spearmint, I felt more awake - in the wide-eyed sense - than I have in a long time.

My darling  4-year-old has just started her first year of preschool at the same place where she will enter kindergarten next year. Off she goes, with her back pack, to a world of learning and discovery. Yes, I'm one of those who loved school, and I hope she does too. But for today, I'll sit back, enjoy that whisper of fall and sip my tea as I look at my surrounding world with fresh (and refreshed) eyes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Double-Dipping Moment

Katrina Ávila Munichiello
What can I say? Have AMAZING guest blog. Will double dip!

Thank you to the lovely and talented, tea enthusiast and working mom, Katrina Ávila Munichiello!

Enjoy her post on my alter ego's blog, Home Is Where The Office Is - http://homeiswheretheofficeis.blogspot.com/2012/09/when-life-is-moving-target-guest-blog.html

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Ginger Mint Tea Moment

Every month or so we get together with good friends for a casual cocktail hour. C came up with the most refreshing beverage using Sunpu Boucha from Norbu Tea, though any of their amazing green teas will work beautifully.
1/2 lemon (cut into wedges)
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and sliced)
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Club soda
  • Green tea
  • Vodka
  • Ice

    • Muddle lemon, ginger, mint, and honey in a glass. Stir in equal parts green tea, vodka, and club soda. Top with crushed ice.
    Perfect for a hot, muggy evening as the kids ran around in the backyard, splashing each other with cups of water.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    An Appointed Moment

    We've embarked on a new child care situation this week. Rather than day care for the girls, we have brought a care giver into our home for a variety of reasons. And while this is an exciting change for Edie and a good one for Anne Marie, I am reminded that change - no matter what kind - is difficult. So, we're learning how to co-exist during the day - me in my home office on numerous conference calls and filling in spreadsheets, and the girls and their care giver outside my door.

    In general, things are progressing well and a schedule is taking shape. However, the late afternoons get a little challenging for a 4-year-old girl who can't understand why she can't go visit her Mom. As a mini celebration of successfully surviving week 1, I made a lunch appointment with Edie. For tea.

    We went to my go-to tea house, The Tea House on Los Rios, located in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano. It was the first tea place I visited when we moved to California nearly 13 years ago, and you don't need to make reservations in order to have access to the tea menu.

    Our hostess mentioned the availablity of hats, which Edie jumped on immediately. (Much to her mother's chagrin!)
    She loved having her own tea pot full of apple juice, and it was an even bigger highlight than the cute PBJ triangle sandwiches. The creme de la creme, however, was the bowl of fruit which she topped with brown sugar and heavy cream. Yum!
    I don't wear hats for just anyone. Is that a sombrero I'm wearing?!?
    It was so fun to have this special lunch appointment with my little girl who is growing up so fast. Wasn't it only yesterday...

    When I asked Edie what she thought of going to tea, she thought for a moment and replied, "I thought it was going to be really, really cool! But it wasn't."  Oh well.

    At least there were rocks to climb on in the park next door.
    We'll try again in a year or two.