Nepali Tea

A friend recently introduced me to this really amazing website called “Kickstarter.”  Kickstarter essentially is a place to raise funds for creative projects.  Case in point, my friend used Kickstarter as a place to raise money for an independent animated film she is making called “One Per Person.”  She recommended the site to me since she knows I would love to start my own business and also as a place to possibly raise capital for my jam making.  It’s really an amazing place to reach out and help the “little guy.”

Kickstarter is also one of those websites to get lost in.  It has everything from art, music, film to food!  Yes you got it food!  It is so inspiring and if you need to kick (pun intended) your creative juices into high gear this place will do it!  It’s refreshing to see people passionate about the projects and work they are creating.

During my perusing of Kickstarter, I came across a company called “Nepali Tea Traders.”  After reading about the company and their intentions I immediately sponsored them.  In return for my contribution I was rewarded with the most delicious tea.  I selected a set of black tea.  The first a Himalayan Masala black tea.  Incredibly tasty with a nice hint of black pepper and spices.  I’ve been partaking each morning with just a splash of milk.  The second is the Shangri-La Classic Organic Black Tea, this one I have yet to try but look forward to a cup when I get to work:)  I cannot wait to order more varieties and support a business that stands for so much more than the bottom line.

If you haven’t already please check it out.  It feels good to reach out to a small business and help support a dream!

Kickstarter

Nepali black tea

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The digital age and tea

I am fortunate enough to work for an amazing animation studio (with a long legacy to boot!)  The past couple of weeks there have been a slew of interesting guest speakers and field trips that have really provoked thoughts on the digital age we reside in.

The animation industry moved from 2D (hand drawn) to what most people currently see out in the theaters 3D (computer generated.)  With this change came the transition to use Photoshop to create the art and backgrounds as opposed to hand painting.  I’ve always been a little dismayed by this concept.  I realize that it is quicker and cheaper and easier to make changes but what have we lost with this digital transition?  The company I work for has a library of artwork steaming back from its first feature film.  Beautiful works of art which are now carefully preserved for future admirers.  I wrestle with the disheartening feeling, now that we have moved to a mainly digital media, what will we have to show to inspire the next generation?  A Photoshop JPG (albeit equally as crafted) can never take the place of a tactile canvas.  There are no brush strokes to absorb; the smell, texture.. it’s all taken away with a digital piece of art.

In yoga we are taught about balance and moderation.  Everything has its place.  I wonder in this technical age if we can find that balance?  What if the great Masters only painted in Photoshop would the Mona Lisa have the same appeal?  Would she hang quite as majestically?  It is easy to be seduced by “convenience” but let’s step back a moment and realize the impact it has on the grand scheme of things.

I think of tea and the advent of the tea bag.  To have a perfect cup of tea it is a timely process, it becomes almost a meditation.  If we were left with only low-grade tea bags filled with “tea” fannings our palettes would surely suffer.

I have an IPhone and a laptop however, to unplug I still go to bed at night with a real book on my bedside table and a good cup of slow brewed loose leaf tea……

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa jpg- see not the same

Good cup of chai tea

Good cup of chai tea

Good book

Good book

Downton Abbey and French Tea

A friend was recently in Paris and brought me back a tea blend from one of the oldest tea houses in Paris, Mariage Freres.  I visited the tea room on my first trip to Paris back in 1999.  It was so exciting to be in such a gorgeous city with three of my closest friends and nothing brings back memories more so than the taste and scent of a good cup of tea🙂

Today I’ve enjoyed the delicious tea with a thick slice of buttered bread (from La Brea Bakery) and homemade cranberry jam.  Tonight as I settle in to watch the season premiere of Downton Abbey, which always requires a pot of tea, I’ll reminisce of my first visit to Paris and a time well spent with good friends and a cup of tea.

 

tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jam with Tea

I started making jam about two years ago.  The first experiment was at my friend’s family farm house in Canada.  An amazing experience as well as intimidating considering her family cooks and cans all sorts of delicacies.  I found a pear/vanilla jam recipe in the New York Times and started my experimentation.

Today I made that same jam only I used Vanilla Chai tea in place of the water.  I also experimented with a tea/jam recipe from this months Tea magazine.  The jam is a cranberry/apple using a black tea.  I made the jam using a spicy Masala tea (a friend had brought me from Kenya.)  The jam came out delicious!  I was really happy with both considering my cooking experiments sometimes go awry!:)

jams

Pear Vanilla Jam

http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/3057/Chunky-Vanilla-Pear-Jam.html

I substituted water for brewed Gypsy Rooibos Vanilla Chai tea.

http://teamag.com/

Cranberry Apple Preserves (taken from Latest Issue of Tea Magazine)

This preserve is equally at home on the breakfast table or with your afternoon scones as it is on your Thanksgiving dinner table.  It can also be made with pears in place of apples or a combination of apples and pears. For the black tea, Darjeeling, Ceylon and Keemun are excellent choices, but any black tea should give you a very good result.  This recipe can be doubled or tripled easily, so make plenty to use and to share.

Yield: 4 cups preserves

4 cups peeled and diced apples

2 cups fresh cranberries, washed

3 cups sugar  (I also cut the sugar to 2 cups)

2 limes

3/4 cup triple strength black tea  (used a spicy masala tea)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger root

1/4 teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients except the lime and ginger to a heavy pan.  Bring to a boil over high heat and turn down to medium.  Simmer, skimming the foam after about 5 minutes.  Let simmer until the cranberries have burst and the apples or pears are tender, roughly 10 to 15 minutes.  Add lime juice, zest and grated ginger.  Simmer until thickened and remove from heat.  Let cool.  Process in a canner, or store covered in the refrigerator.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Big Bear and Tea

I’ve recently returned from a rather shortened sabbatical.  I was on the East Coast visiting family when hurricane Sandy hit.  Fortunately, my family is safe and well.. Unfortunately, my trip was cut a bit short due to the flight cancellations, and difficulties traveling.  I retreated back to LA and settled back into my Hollywood Hills retreat.  My little place is coming along and feeling cozier by the minute.

Heading back to work in less than a week, I made a very short escape to Big Bear Lake.  It is located a bit over 2 hrs outside of LA.  It is known for outdoor activities such as hiking, snowboarding and skiing.  The weather being still a bit warm for the latter, I decided hiking would be on the agenda.

It was my first time visiting the area and was pleasantly surprised to find two tearooms.  One unfortunately was closed however, the other was suggested to me.  It appeared to be more of a coffee shop, however, when I entered I noticed quite an impressive lot of loose leaf tea.  Also many interesting tea accessories.  It was really such a treat considering that I missed out on shopping my favorite tea shops in Toronto.  Also, I was happy to find that all of their teas can be ordered online.

Have a look for yourself and if ever visiting the area, I highly recommend a visit to

The Tea and Coffee Exchange.

PS: They also made a To Die For pumpkin chai with fresh pumpkin puree!

Hiking Big Bear

This tea house was closed:(

The Tea & Coffee Exchange

 

 

 

Boston Tea Party

Have you heard, there is a new museum that has cropped up in BostonBoston Tea Party Ships and Museum.  Just in time to celebrate the birth of our Country, a few days before July 4th I received an order of tea from Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.  The particular teas are a special blend created by the museum’s master blender Bruce Richardson.  The gift pack I ordered contained two teas which were created specifically to commemorate the opening of the museum.

The first called Abigail’s Blend (which is also the namesake of the tea room at the museum)- is a blend of Chinese black tea and also a bit of India and Kenya.

The second tea (which has become my iced tea addiction!)  Is a Strawberry & Apple loose tea.  It is an herbal blend and caffeine free.  It represents the colonists love of tea and in rebellion and boycott of England created their own blends out of herbs and fruit.

The museum looks to be an exciting and educational outlet to celebrate our beautiful nation.  I look forward to visiting in the fall!  If you are interested in reading more about it pick up a copy of  Tea Magazine, there is a great article featuring the museum as well as other interesting tidbits on tea and the world of tea.

Here’s to tea and independence:)

Yoga and Gypsy Tea….

Last night after a long day of training on new software at work, I dragged myself to a 7:30pm yoga class at Yoga Blend.  It is a mixed level class taught by Christy, the owner.  She is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had.  She has such a warm and welcoming personality.  She always does something different with her class and presents a flow that is inspiring and creative.  Upon leaving her class I feel grounded, happy, safe and secure.  She always gets the energy and juices flowing that really open the mind and the heart.  I was completely exhausted from all the mental powers I had to utilize during my day but leaving her class last night I felt my body and soul cleared out and room made for more that was to come.  I’m thankful to have found her studio and happy to be back in her warm presence.

While practicing at Yoga Blend last year I discovered Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.  I am also thankful to have found this tea because I really do love it.  Christy keeps a wide variety of flavors out and available for pre/post yoga class.  It is a perfect way to finish a class and bask in the glow of doing something good for our bodies.  If you haven’t tried Gypsy tea I suggest checking it out!  The woman behind the company also has an inspiring story which will make you feel glad that you support her tea and her business.

Regardless of how tired or mentally fatigued you feel, do something good for yourself today:)

http://www.gypsytea.com/

The Goji Cacao Berry and the Coconut Chai are two of my favorites!

 

 

Sunday tea time at Pom Pom’s

I’m visiting my old stomping ground this week Orlando, FL.  It’s entirely too short of a visit but so refreshing to be back in the “hood.”  Sunday, upon arrival I met my gorgeous friend Birgit for a brunch of tea and sandwiches at a very cute little teahouse called Pom Pom’s.  As soon as I suggested we meet at Pom Pom’s the idea was met with a very satisfying “yes!  the food is fabulous!”  Pom Pom’s is not your typical teahouse, there are no lace girly touches.. it’s a cute, little grungy place that serves a variety of excellent food and a small but good list of teas.  It has a very bohemian artsy flair to it and it is busy!

I had a tea called “New Monk’s Blend.”  It’s a black tea that has a touch of spice and mint.  It was so delish!  The sandwich I ordered was Turkey with Ginger cranberry chutney, Cream Cheese, Smoked Gouda & Red Onions- and soooo good!  It’s pretty dense so ate half and brought the rest home for later.

We stayed for quite a long time, chatting and catching up over a second pot of tea.  It was such a lovely way to arrive back to my old home and a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  A good friend and a pot of tea:)

Pom Pom’s Teahouse

http://pompomsteahouse.com/

Tea and Spices

Currently I am in Florida taking a mini break and enjoying the warm weather.  While here a friend of mine referred me to a small quaint little town called Stuart, FL.  Stuart is on the east coast nestled between Orlando and West Palm beach.  It has a really cute historic downtown that is right on the inlet.  While wandering the downtown I came upon this darling spice shop.  The shop is called “All Spiced up.”  It is owned by a lovely woman named Ana.  As I perused the delicious smelling spices I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ana also carries tea in her shop.  Not only does she carry Elmwood Inn Fine Teas but she also carries tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation.  Did you know the US has a tea plantation?  I have heard the urban legend but never actually encountered the teas.  So you can imagine my surprise when I saw them at this wonderful shop!  I immediately purchased a tin of “Plantation Peach.”

As I sit here writing, I’m sipping a cold, refreshing glass of peach tea and it is fabulous!  I can close my eyes and fantasize that I am a true Southern belle sipping tea on a wrap around porch of a grand olde Plantation!

I cannot wait to plan a visit to Charleston Tea Plantation!

http://www.charlestonteaplantation.com/

 

 

 

Charleston Plantation Peach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If ever in Stuart, FL be sure to drop by and say “hello” to Ana!

http://www.allspicedup.net/

All Spiced up - Stuart, FL

What to do when you brew

To brew a proper cuppa it takes a bit longer than your average tea bag, however the results are so much more fulfilling.  When brewing my favorite morning tea- chai, it can be steeped anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes and because it is a black tea the water should be completely boiled (about 212 degrees.)

What this means is an average of 10 to 15 minutes of your morning is spent making this warm, spicy elixir. Somewhat of a luxury for a girl on the go!  And you know what they say; a watched kettle never boils:)

Always looking for a way to multitask, I’ve been doing a mini yoga routine while preparing chai tea.

  1. Start in Tadasana– take a few deep cleansing breaths
  2. Inhale arms up over head and exhale down by your side (do several to warm the body)
  3. With feet hip width apart- move into gentle side stretches– move slowly from left to right.  Remember to breath, inhale left arm up and exhale stretch to the right side, while right arm travels down side of the body.  *Repeat on other side (again, do several to warm the body up)
  4. Mini sun salutations– Repeat step “2,” only this time include a forward fold.  Let the head drop below the heart, grab opposite elbows, sway and move hips while you gloriously drink in the lower back stretch you will receive.  (Repeat a few rounds)
  5. If you are feeling warmed up, delight the upper body with a fulfilling shoulder stretch.  This can be gomukasana arms, eagle arms or interlace hands behind the back and lower the body forward, stretching the arms up overhead.  Rolling the shoulders back to receive the shoulder stretch.

Be sure to set a timer so you don’t become too absorbed in the relaxation of yoga and forget about your tea:)

Tea tips

  • For Black Tea– boil water (205- 212 degrees)
  • Pour a bit of water over the leaves to “wake” them up- swirl and pour out the water.
  • With leaves “awake” fill tea pot with boiling water
  • Set timer (black chai- 5-10 minutes or more if so desired – I’ve been loving Elmwood Inn’s Indian Chai)
  • Pour in a cup – add a touch of honey and your favorite milk product ( I love almond milk with mine!)
  • Drink in the joy of starting your day off right!