Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s that time of year again. The official start of summer, a time we New Englanders cherish and dream about when the frigid winter winds are howling outside. One of my favorite summertime treats is a glass of frosty cold iced tea. So, to kick off this holiday weekend and the start of summer, I’m resurrecting my post on how to prepare iced tea for you all to enjoy.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, dear tea friends!

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I make iced tea with the “cold brew” method. It’s so easy to make iced tea this way. Gather up your supplies either in the morning before work or in the evening before bedtime. This will give the leaves sufficient time to steep either all day or all night.

You’ll need a container, a tablespoon and some tea leaves. For my iced tea, I use a glass pitcher I purchased at Target and some organic green South African Rooibos. I’ve written about this herbal before here and here.

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Spoon your tea leaves into your pitcher, using one tablespoon for every 6-8 ounces of water. Next, pour your water into your pitcher. I recommend either bottled spring water or filtered tap water. Hard water can definitely affect the taste of your tea.

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Now all you have to do is place your container in the fridge. That night or the next day, strain the tea into another container to remove the leaves. I use a large Pyrex measuring cup to strain my tea into. Then I clean the leaves out of my pitcher and pour the tea back into it. You can also use an infuser or tea filter papers to put your loose leaves into, making cleanup easier.

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There are so many variations with iced tea creation. You can put lemon or orange slices in either while the tea is steeping or after you strain it. Or, you can fill your glass halfway with iced tea and then pour some flavored seltzer water in for a fizzy iced tea. The possibilities are endless!

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I’m enjoying my iced tea plain with ice and a bowl of fresh blueberries on plain yogurt. Mmmmm…. I’ve been exploring ways in which I can remove sugar from my diet because I believe there is just way too much of it in the food we buy. Even my Stonyfield Farm yogurt cup, while it’s very delicious and organic, has sugar added to it. So, I’m now buying plain yogurt and mixing it with fresh fruit, depending on what’s in season.

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It’s all about sharing

I recently came across this on Donna Downey’s blog, Simply Me. It just resonated with me so deeply that I thought I would share it with you.

As I browsed through Donna’s blog, I thought about how this amazing mixed media artist personifies the word sharing. Her posts are filled with tutorials and videos sharing her love and passion for her art with others. Wow.

I started making jewelry back in the early 90s. At that time, there was no internet, no bookstores in my small town, no jewelry classes, no artists’ groups. As you can imagine, I knew what I wanted to do but I just didn’t know where to start. So, I traveled to a craft show about 45 minutes from my home, hoping to meet some artists, namely jewelry artists, who could give me some advice on where to start. I had an experience there that I will never forget for as long as I live.  I wandered around the show and finally found the table of someone who made jewelry. As I was admiring her work, I asked her how she got started and where she purchased her beads and components. She literally hissed at me, “I worked hard to come by that information and I”m certainly not giving away any of my secrets to you!” I was stunned and left the show in tears, thinking I had done something really wrong.

Over the years, I’ve thought about that experience and discovered what a great teaching it’s been to me. In the years to come, whenever I was asked that very same question at a show where I sold my jewelry, I freely shared all of my “secrets”, where I bought my beads and components, often writing down the information about the bead shows I attended every year. Yes, I did have to work hard to obtain all of that information but I wanted to share it with an open heart with as many beginning jewelry artists as I could.

It’s amazing how a negative experience like that will stay with you and shape your future. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, dear tea friends. I apologize for not being here last week. Someone very dear to me had surgery so I was out of town. I’m happy to say that all is well and my dear one is on the road to recovery.

Let’s have a cup of tea together, shall we?

This morning’s tea is called Special Purchase Hao-Ya “A” Keemun, a black tea from China. The term “Hao-Ya A” refers to the grade of tea, this tea being a top grade. I’ve written about Hao-Ya “B” Keemun tea before here. To me, all Keemuns have such a dark glossy leaf, this one also having a sprinkling of golden tip.

Keemun tea is named after a county, Qimen, in Anhui province. There are several stories about its origins but the most common is one of a governmental official in the late 1800s who learned black tea production in Fujian province and then decided to return to his native county, Qimen, to produce black tea there. He met with success and his new black tea was imported to England where it was enjoyed as a breakfast tea.

If you enjoy the darkest of chocolates, you will love this tea. The aroma of rich chocolate of the deepest kind wafted up as I lifted the infuser out of my glass teapot. There was an underlying hint of red wine which validated its description as the “burgundy” of China black teas.

I steeped the tea for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. The dark chocolate aroma carries on into the flavor with notes of 90% chocolate bar, hints of red wine and a whisper of perfumed flowers. Silky smooth, thick and rich, this tea would stand up well to any additions, like milk and sweetener. I suggest trying it plain first to experience its wonderful flavor on your tongue.

Yes, this is an expensive tea but what a special treat this would be for a Sunday morning or to share when a fellow tea lover comes for a visit.

It’s a brilliant, sunshine-y day here in MA. Time to go throw on my overalls and head out to the garden. My sweet daughter gave me a beautiful hydrangea for Mother’s Day with blooms of the palest lavender-pink. I’m off to find a special place for it in my garden.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” 

~Carrie Fisher, Actress

Saturday Morning Tea

Hello again, my dear tea friends! This morning’s tea is a very special treat, in fact, I was only able to obtain 2 1/2 grams of it because so little was produced. I’ve mentioned the ancient tea forests in China’s Yunnan province before. This tea was produced from ancient tea trees located in the Wuyi Mountain Eco-Reserve. The Wuyi mountain range runs along the northern border of Fujian province in China. The mountain range acts as a barrier to the cold air coming in from the northwest. Warm moist air coming in from the sea creates a climate with high humidity and rainfall so the area is enveloped in fog most of the time. It’s an ideal climate for growing tea.

So, without any further ado, I introduce you to Pre-Chingming Ancient Forest Bohea tea.

This tea was harvested before the festival of Qingming (Chingming), usually celebrated on the 15th day from the Spring Equinox. Any teas harvested before that date are referred to as Pre-Chingming teas. In other words, harvested in very early spring. I reviewed a Pre-Chingming green tea about a month ago here. This Bohea tea is a black tea.

I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

The whole leaves after steeping have an interesting aroma of wet stones. I’ve read that this is because of the high mineral content of the soil in which the tea trees grow in. It is referred to as “Yan”, or rock, flavor. I know that doesn’t sound too appealing but it is a very fresh, slightly green, almost toasty quality which I find quite appealing.

The deep amber tea liquor is velvety smooth and quite complex with notes of rock and earth, a rich sweetness, a whisper of vegetal and a hint of cinnamon which lingers into the finish.

This is a tea unlike any tea I’ve had before.

I know it’s quite an expensive selection but I encourage anyone who is curious to try a sample of this very special black tea. I liken it to having the opportunity to try a very rare wine vintage but, in this case, you don’t have to buy the whole bottle. 😉

Have a wonderful week and enjoy your tea!

“Ritual is the way we carry the presence of the sacred. Ritual is the spark that must not go out.”  ~Christina Baldwin, Writer

Beading in Spacetime

I’m a big Star Trek fan. I mean big time. I watched the original series in the 60s with my parents. Then came the Next Generation in the 80s. Voyager in the 90s. Deep Space Nine in the 90s. Enterprise from 2001-2005. When the J.J. Abrams movie came out 3 years ago, I went on opening night. So, you get the picture.

Anyway, they’re always talking about the Spacetime Continuum. You can read the technical definition here but it basically refers to an event as it relates to a point in space and time, with the 3 dimensions of length, width and height (space) and the 1 dimension of time.

A moment in time and where it is located.

I’ve been reading some interesting theories about the concept of time, in particular, the work of John William Dunne, an Irish aeronautical engineer who conducted some experiments with his precognitive dreams and then wrote a book about it in 1927, An Experiment with Time. Dunne posits that past, present and future are all happening simultaneously. We can only “see” the present time because that is what our human consciousness is meant to see. However, when we are unconscious in a dreamstate, our human consciousness is unrestricted and we are able to traverse all of time.

For this Star Trek fan, this is all quite fascinating stuff.

As my mind has been mulling over these ideas about time and spacetime, my imagination has been inspired to manifest this bracelet which I have aptly named “Spacetime”. Created in the shape of a watch, the “face” shows a 3-color pattern representing past, present and future instead of a fixed moment in time as a “normal” watch does.

The “face” is a polymer clay lentil bead with a crushed ikat cane pattern. I believe that Donna Kato is the originator of this cane. I learned how to create this cane from a demo at one of my polymer clay guild meetings. If you’re interested in seeing how it’s created, I found this tutorial by Mia Rox.

I beaded a bezel around the lentil bead using size 11 and 15 seed beads. The “strap” is brick stitch. I puzzled over what to do for the clasp for several weeks. One evening I happened to pick up my copy of Kate McKinnon’s “The Jewelry Architect” and there it was. Kate calls it the “Ram’s Horn Clasp”. It is positively brilliant! Thank you for your inspiration, Kate. I tweaked mine a bit from the original design. The spiral is a universal symbol found in nature and art and I have always been fascinated with its non-linear shape. Perhaps it also speaks of the abstractness of time?

So here I am, still beading and contemplating the nature of the universe…

As always, thanks for visiting!