19 April 2009

The same, only different

A quick two-step here to mention a lovely new blog hosted by Cat V over at http://theteadrinker.blogspot.com ... she's got a great thing going there, but Trixie and I want you to know that it's Cat's own thing, not related to http://www.TheTeaDrinker.com in any way (except by a love of tea). We're about to link up with Cat, and we hope that she'll do the same with us. It's all about tea, so it's all good!

Addio for the moment, my friends,

10 April 2009

If I were an egg...

... I would certainly want a hat as cute as this one... see this link to Emily Brown's absolutely adorable teapot and egg cozies! I know she's in England (home of my handsome Aga), but with the magic of Internet Travel we can at least look admiringly upon all of the springtime wonders floating around out there, even if we can't just pop down to the local shop and get us one. But wait! She has even more cute egg-hats... lookie! It just doesn't stop. I want one so very much. Thank you, Emily, for your creative genius.

Happy Spring Holidays to you all. The apple trees of western Sonoma County (where Trixie hangs out most of the time) are blossoming out of all bounds, and we're lolling around in the sunshine today, sniffing the air and feeling rather smug while the apple trees do their thing. Oh yes, we certainly are drinking tea, too -- you might think of Kusmi's Chocolat Épice (see the picture here) as being delicious only in wintertime, but I shall tell you different (or is that "differently"?). Yum yum. Made a sort of quasi-chai out of it, and it was just the thing beneath the billowing boughs. Almost made pleasant work out of weeding... locals, take note: the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival is almost here! April 25 & 26 at Ives Park and also at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Music, art, games, apples (perhaps even some Turkish Apple Tea this year? We shall go find out).

I never could fathom why bunnies delivered eggs at Easter, and no-one seems able to explain it to me properly. It's alright, really -- as long as I don't start suspecting all those cute bunnies of stealing all of those chicky eggs... If you want to get all weepy for a good cause, please take a long look at the SaveABunny rescue website (warning: do not attempt to view w/o hanky in hand!!). If you are thinking of housing a bunny for any length of time, please check in with the good folks at SaveABunny first -- there are so very many bunnies who need you! Long, long ago Trixie made a home for one lovely bunny, and she will tell you that Bunnies Rule. Most of them can easily be house-trained and live indoors, making them ideal pets for city folk. They don't bark, for one thing... and their food is vegetarian so it won't get stinky.

With a song in my heart and an apple blossom (or an egg cozy!) on my head, I wish you well until we meet again, Dustin
p.s. Trix says that from now through June 30th, use discount code WELCOME10 at TheTeaDrinker.com for a nice discount on your purchases.

06 April 2009

First Flush

Greetings, people! Spring, for some of us in the Northern Hemisphere, is well and truly here, and with it comes a desire for new tea. Any tea you buy right now will be last year's tea (this isn't a bad thing, it's just how it is), but When (I hear you ask) will the '09 first flushes arrive... and what's a first flush, anyway?

It's not about toilets, that's for sure -- please take a good look at this link to the website of the Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India, from which some of the most beautiful, aromatic, gorgeous, and amazing teas emanate. This estate produces tea according to the biodynamic principles espoused by Rudolf Steiner in the early part of the 20th Century, and there's no better way to grow things sustainably than biodynamically. A whole system, working in harmony, every part of which supports the other parts... doesn't that sound lovely? It makes for lovely tea, that's one thing I know. Trixie agrees, and she stocks several flushes of Makaibari at TheTeaDrinker.com.

When you investigate the yearly cycle of Darjeeling teas, you will see that the first flush teas of Darjeeling will be here fairly soon, since those are the first plucked, the first processed, the first finished, and the first of the Darjeeling teas sent over the sea for us to consume. What joy! First flush Darjeeling teas have particularly piquant flavors, with lighter aromas and body in the cup than their later-season counterparts (the second flushes and autumnals, for example); they are much admired by scads of confirmed tea enthusiasts, and perhaps soon you will be one of them. The leaves vary in color from greens to browns, despite being "black" tea, and are sometimes partially twisted and of irregular shapes (I refer to excellent-quality full-leaf teas, not teabag cut); it's fascinating to see the dry leaves before infusing. The scents and tastes are more like apples, citrus fruits, and champagne than those of the almost-malty, almost-rosy, nutty-flavored autumnal, post-monsoon, and second flush exemplars. They are all perfectly, magically delightful in their own ways and fashions, and a "vertical tasting" of all the seasons' flushes is an excellent way to learn quickly and enjoyably which you prefer.

There are hundreds of tea estates throughout the Darjeeling region, some of them growing tea conventionally, some organically, and some (like Makaibari) biodynamically. Teas' characteristics vary according to the places where they are grown, just as wine characteristics are influenced by terroir. One of my friends happens to be trekking in Darjeeling right now (way, way up in the Himalayan hills), and I look forward to comparing the tea he promised to bring me with several that I already have in my tea compartment. I shall report my findings pronto.

Speaking of "pronto," we extend our heartfelt sympathies and thoughts of support to Italians in the Abruzzo region right now, who are digging out after this week's terrible earthquakes. Those who can and wish to contribute material support, please view our fellow online scribe's blog at Opera Chic for more information... thank you.

All of this rumbling and quivering sounds very much like my stomach, which is asking rather plainly for tea and a biscuit! Never one to ignore my middle section, off I must go in search of starchy sustenance and limpid liquid refreshment, bidding you a fond farewell until our next encounter... Dustin

01 April 2009

A Proper Link to Tea

Still new at this, bear with me... Let's make this link to Trixie's site active, shall we? http://www.TheTeaDrinker.com
That's better; now you can sail right over and start shopping. Wonderful!
I'll be back soon with more tea tips,