Wednesday, October 04, 2017

NW Tea Fest 2017

 A fantastic year at the NW Tea Fest 2017We celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the event in a larger venue, allowing for new vendors and instructors.  I've been fortunate to attend 7 out of 10 years, and my love of tea has grown with each year. Here are a few highlights from 2017:

Ephemeral filter, from the skeleton of a Bhodi tree leaf

Ingrid explains the Indiegogo Campaign for a Global Tea Exchange
(I've donated!  Consider an investment in tea's future.)

Brewing in the Wu-Wo tea ceremony, gifted with glorious sunshine

Celebrating friends - Shiuwen and staff from Floating Leaves Tea

The vendor floor, and Portlanders drinking tea

Oolong Owl Blogger Char

Aged white tea that Char brewed up

Excited to taste teas from Colombia, too!  More on that to come.

I was a panelist in a Blogger forum, and co-taught a class on Bowl Style Brewing.  Fun!  And thanks to my co-instructor Ana!

Congratulations and thank you to Julee, Doug and the team that has made this event fantastic for 10 years.  Lifting my teacup to many more!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Totem Teas

I recently spent a lovely afternoon drinking tea with friends. I'm hard-pressed to find a way I'd rather spend my time. In this gathering, Phillip, of Totem Teas, guided us through his current selection. Phillip's business model is to sell teas he's excited to drink. It's a great plan! He also sells very fine incense.

I enjoy hearing about people's tea journeys, and Phillip's began with a passion for Japanese teas. Below is his first teapot, well-loved and used. 

We tasted a number of teas together, making our way from a light Lishan oolong to a deeply oxidized Bai Hao.  Note the lovely multi-colored leaves below, one hint of a good  Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty).

All very good teas! I was particularly drawn to the Floral Mountain Tie Guan Yin. I found this to be a liminal tea. It had the light, top notes of the modern, competition styles (Anxi, greener) but with a depth of roasty groundedness (more like my preference, Muzha style). Another point of interest for this tea - it hails from Ali Shan.

Now let's talk incense.  I used to avoid it. It made me sneeze or gave me a headache. Then I discovered the amazingly delicate pleasures of Japanese incense. I was hooked, and my love of incense has grown. Finding the type of incense I appreciate isn't an easy thing from the US, and I'm delighted to recommend Phillip's line. He's got some really nice incense here, folks.

I appreciate the well-curated line of teas and incense from Totem Teas. Buying teas via the internet is always a risk - you don't get the benefit of sampling. What I can say is that you're in good hands with Phillip's choices.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Viewing and Tea

I was lucky, here in Portland, to be in 99.2% coverage during yesterday's solar eclipse.  I enjoyed the viewing from a park near my home.  I went old-school with a pinbox projector.  I also brewed tea grown near Sun-Moon lake in Taiwan.  ;-)
Old Growth Tea, Black, from Sun-Moon Lake in Taiwan

Sun and Moon cups

As the eclipse was beginning
Due to the optics of the pinhole projector, the image is inverted

Crescent shadows through the trees

The twilight was beautiful, and I was lucky to see the shadow bands dancing on the sidewalk.

Did you enjoy tea with the eclipse?  Tell us about it!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tea Fest PDX: A Great Celebration for Us All

Wow - last weekend's Tea Fest PDX was amazing!  Raising my teacup to the core planning team that worked for over a year to bring this to fruition.  So many invisible tasks and challenges to meet. We are grateful! To the people who kept this dream alive over the years, thank you! To the volunteers who ensured the event ran well, you are awesome! To the NW Tea Fest team that not only loaned us equipment, but also came down to offer guidance and cheers, we are in your debt. 

Here are some photos.  Can't wait for next year!

The Vendor Showcase

Such an interesting mix of vendors!

Jennifer Petersen, local author and tea mentor

Richard Brandt, Portland potter who specializes in teaware

Babette Donaldson, promoting her endearing books and Sip for Peace coming in January, 2018

Reps from Brew Dr. Kombucha


Pearl Zhuo Zhang, Red Rob Teahouse and Cafe, Gong Fu tea ceremony

Marjorie Yap, Chado demonstration

Yoga, meditation and tea on the lawn, taught by Anja Sofia Churchill

Tea Tastings
David Galli, PDX Tea

Laurie and Charles Dawson, amazing tasting tea! 

Steven Odell in his custom tea van, Rabbit Moon Tea Arts

The Crowd and Staff
Jennifer Brenner (Tea Fest PDX leader) along with NW Tea Fest coaches,
and other friends

I loved seeing these women dressed in their beautiful Regency costumes

Friends dressed in Japanese kimono

These last two photos bring me to my final thoughts. Tea is a friend to all of us. Such diversity represented at this conference - in age, gender, clothing choice, ethnicity, tea preference, and much more. Tea brings us to commonality across these differences. What a truly beautiful thing.  

Friday, June 30, 2017

The 9-Year Old Plans a Tea Party

I have so many tea-time memories with my niece!  I can chronicle her life in tea stories.  Such a blessing to me, and hopefully her!  Here's a look into our latest adventure. She's 9 now, and we wanted to host her school teacher and 2 friends for tea. We used the tea set, above. It's one that I snagged long before she was born, in anticipation.

Her diet these days is focused on healthy choices, and so we were working within a no sugar and gluten free plan. I was (in my head) wondering how we would do this. She had no such concerns. Onto Pinterest she went, and in no time, we had a plan!

We started with the creative veggie tray, above. The snails, below, are my favorite.  We used almond butter in the celery. 

Mini cheeseburgers with all the fixings were a hit with the kids!

And so were the mini pepperoni pizzas, made on a bed of zucchini.

For dessert, we used stevia to soften the bite of unsweetened chocolate, and we dipped strawberries and bananas. I was surprised how well the kids took to the bitter edge of the chocolate. No problem!

And we finished with fresh berries in whipped cream. 

Here we are, my tea party partner!  LOVE!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice 2017

 Happy Summer Solstice 2017!

"I am summer, come to lure you away from your computer...come dance on my fresh grass, dig your toes into my beaches."  ~Oriana Green

Some recent photos from a trip to San Diego. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Tea at the American Girl Tearoom, Chicago

I recently met my family in Chicago, for a weekend of fun. The highlight for me was afternoon tea at the American Girl store.  I wasn't sure what to expect, and was impressed.  The tearoom is tastefully decorated, with black and white stripes and bright pink accents.  It appeals to girls, but also grownups.

The table setting comes with hair bows for the girls, and chairs for the dolls.  If you don't have a doll, you can borrow one.

The tea foods were each connected to a doll's persona. Kit's homemade pig-in-a-blanket, Josefina's chicken salad, etc.  See the menu here.

Dessert was fun!  Rebecca's New York chocolate chip cheesecake and Melody's All-American strawberry mouse (served in a flower pot).

The tea itself is served from a bag, and while not my favorite, it keeps things simple for the tea room and the kids.

At $19/person, this experience was very worth it!  Have you been to tea at an American Girl store?  Tell us about it!