Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ringing in the New Year with Yoku Moku Biscuits and Jasmine Tea

Happy New Year! I know everyone says this (but it is true), I can't believe how quickly 2014 ended! Time does fly (even when you are not having fun)!
My sister bought me this cup for Christmas. Isn't is sweet? It has Christmas colors too!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tea with a Feminine Flair: Fleur de Geisha Tea

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I am enjoying my tiny break from work and catching up on my reading list. I have had The Golem and the Jinni in my Amazon cart forever. I finally purchased it a week before Christmas break so I could spend time with it. I love the mythology and intriguing characters. My only critique is that the ending was a bit rushed, incredibly coincidental and downright absurd at times. I did read that Ms. Wecker was writing a sequel, so I hope it gets fleshed out more.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Silver and Gold Themed Christmas Party

My friends and I take turns hosting the annual Christmas party and this year it was my turn. For decorations, I started with a color scheme and worked around it. I am always drawn to gold and silver so it was easy for me to find my base colors. Once you have your colors, shopping for items is way less overwhelming.
A very cheap burlap table runner and tiny live cedar trees (thank you Trader Joes) are really all the decor this table needed.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Festive Christmas Tea: David's Tea Glitter and Gold

I finally found my Christmas tree! I got a perfect Fraser fir that smells amazing and looks amazing! Since I live in Texas, I think fake trees are more popular but real trees are so wonderful!
I started decorating my tree as soon as I got home. The mess I made while decorating was incredible. But it was so worth it! After my clean up I brewed one of my favorite teas for a festive occasion: David's Tea's Glitter and Gold.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tea Fit For a Queen: Fortnum and Mason's Royal Blend

The mad rush of the Holidays is only beginning! For the first time this year, I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed and pressured by the sales. I love shopping but I hate not being able to bank on one day like Black Friday (I try not to leave the house on this day because of the mob-like atmosphere) and cyber monday (a homebody shopaholic's favorite day). I just got an email claiming "Sunday is the new cyber Monday" and another saying "Black Friday Weekend." It is really too much.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and Things to Be Thankful For

With the stress of the holidays, it is easy to forget and appreciate what we have. So, I wanted to take a moment to de-stress and think about what I am thankful for. Really, I have a lot to be thankful for so I won't go on about it but at the top of my list are my family, cats and my work. When you are feeling stressed about the cooking and shopping and last minute deadlines, take a moment, make some tea and think about all the wonderful things to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chicken Soup with Rice Recipe

Our local weatherman told me all the states had at least one city under freezing temperatures this morning. How crazy is that? I saw all those poor people in New York suffering from “lake effect snow.” What even is that?!?

Some people from Texas have never even seen snow, let alone 60 inches of the fluffy stuff. I can’t imagine waking up and finding your car buried in snow. It looks like a fun day off but for those living (or trapped) in such conditions… I will try not to complain too much when I have to cover my plants because we might experience “up to 5 hours of freezing temperatures.” And for you, I will give my incredibly warm and filling chicken soup with rice recipe.
Super simple ingredients. The scallions came from my tiny potted herb garden. I didn't have any cilantro but the parsley looked pretty so I put it there. The ginger from my grocery store was super fresh and beautiful so I bought a bunch.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lupicia's White Peony Tea

When I think of white peony tea, I assume it has peonies in it. Doesn't it sound like it should? But it doesn't. This is a classification of white tea.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Matcha (Green Tea) Cupcakes

I have this amazing matcha that I purchased from Lupicia. It is so good it tastes like a dessert to me. Seriously. I have had bad matcha so I can tell you if you only ever have bad matcha, you will find it difficult to understand the sweet nuances of matcha. So how can you tell if what you have is good matcha?

Thats right... those are bats on the cupcake liners. I just really like that purple background. Take off the flower, add a spider and you have perfect spooky Halloween cupcakes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jasmine Silver Needle and The Alluring Myth of White Tea

Jasmine silver needle is probably my favorite tea from Teavana. I also like Jeju Island Green but there is something so special about silver needle. It is like a celebratory tea for me. I think white teas in general seem so special because of the way they are processed (or rather their lack of processing).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Creamy Purple Cauliflower Soup

The morning after Halloween was so chilly. I woke up with my blankets wrapped tight around me and my fat cats cuddled by my side. I love these cozy weekend mornings.

When the weather is like this, nothing is better than a rich bowl of soup. I dug around my fridge and found a purple cauliflower. I purchased it with the intent of roasting it with sweet potatoes (seriously, an amazing pairing) but cauliflower soup sounded so good. Have you ever had purple cauliflower? It tastes like candy. Just kidding, it tastes like normal cauliflower. It is slightly sweeter but otherwise, the same. If it is available, I prefer it over the colors since it is the prettiest. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yoga Tea Review from Capital Teas

For my afternoon tea, I picked Yoga Tea from Capital Teas. I received it as a sample in my last order, which was lucky because I would never have bought this for myself. I think the sample packaging is the best of the brands I am familiar with. It is resealable and has a clear side, revealing the contents. Step up your sample game Teavana!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Cat Costumes and Candy Bar

The kitties and I are really getting into the Halloween Spirit. Well, at least I am, and like all doting pet owners, I am forcing my spirit on them. I bought the popular cat-shark costume for Boi Boi and the lion costume for Chantecaille. It was a bit humiliating but no one was harmed (except for me, I'm used to the scratches though) and I treated them to something tasty afterward. All of Chantecaille's photos are blurry because he was so eager to escape.
This face says, "I love this costume and I am not plotting ways to end you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seasoning Yixing Clay Teapots

Yi...what?? I know. Yixing. Yixing clay vessels are (according to many tea connoisseurs) the best way to brew tea. I know it looks like I only collect ceramic tea sets but I collect all things tea.

From Teavana. The description on the site says "Kitten Yixing Teapot" but I don't think that is a cat. The one in the back is obviously a cat. The one on the teapot looks like part shisha and part nightmare. Now only $24.47! For some reason it is not sold out yet.
Yixing clay is from a region near Yixing in the Jiangsu province of China. Depending on the type of clay, the colors may be purple- red, red or brown. Metals incorporated in the clay can form variations like blue or green. The completed clay ware is not glazed, leaving a porous surface that absorbs flavors and aromas, giving rise to complex flavors,  ultimately enhancing your tea experience.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cheddar Biscuits for Breakfast (or lunch or whatever)

Since I have to be at work early in the morning and I must eat breakfast (otherwise I am an unproductive, sad shell of myself), I am always looking for quick and easy, hot, savory breakfasts. Yes, I can eat cereal and oatmeal but they get so boring after awhile (especially heart-healthy oatmeal...). And I find savory breakfasts more filling.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Presidential Blend from Capital Teas

During Columbus Day, Capital Teas offered free shipping on all orders so I selected a few things I wanted to try. The presidential blend is one of their signature teas. I am wary of fruity teas in general but the reviews for this tea were highly favorable. Several reviewers stated that it was mild.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Homemade Ginger Tea: The Ultimate Cure-All

I was feeling a bit under the weather today so I made myself some ginger tea. Ginger is excellent for nausea and upset stomachs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cream of Earl Grey from David's Tea

Happy Wednesday! I am taking a small break from work (started way too early this morning) and wanted to post my thoughts on David's Tea's Cream of Earl Grey.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Bone Clocks and Assam Rose Mint Tea

This morning I woke up with one goal in mind: finish reading The Bone Clocks. I was too exhausted last night but this morning, fueled by assam tea and scones, I finished. I am deeply impressed by David Mitchell's genius. If I could write like Mr. Mitchell, my blog would have more readers for sure. The story was absolute captivating from beginning to end. I won't spoil it here for you but I will say I highly, highly recommend this book.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival this year (also called "harvest festival," "moon festival," or Tết Trung Thu in Vietnamese) was on September 8. The equivalent of the Moon festival in Vietnam is Chuseok is Korea, a time for families to reunite and to pay respect to their ancestors. Similarly, in Vietnam, it is a time for thanksgiving and prayer. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Extraordinary Desserts Pure Green Tea

I am starting on a new book (as per Amazon recommendation), The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Naturally, I cannot start a new book without tea and cookies nearby. Today, I am drinking Pure Green Tea from Extraordinary Desserts.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What to Bring to the Office Potluck: Fruit Cups!!

Whenever someone has a birthday in my workplace, we all sign a card and bring a treat (usually cupcakes). When I first joined the lab, it was cupcakes almost every month. I love cupcakes and cookies like everyone else (see accompanying sweets on all tea trays). However, in June I decided that cupcakes and sweets were passé and our parties needed a lift. So, I decided to bring fruit.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"So Long Summer" Tea Party

I love hosting tea parties. It gives me a chance to meet up with my friends and catch up on everyone's lives. I intended to host a tea party in early June to celebrate passing my Major Exam but I did not take the exam until late August! I finally sent out invitations a few weeks ago. I had a heck of a time finding a time for 8 girls to be in the same room for a few hours! Everyone is so busy with their own projects and personal lives.

A Taste of Fall: Lupicia's Sweet Potato Pie

An odd cold front came through last night, dramatically changing the weather from 95°  to 65° F. No transitions whatsoever! That is just the dynamic state of where I live. The change was hardly unwelcome. I couldn't wait to pull out sweaters and socks. Some people use this time to fill up on pumpkin spice lattes (the sweetness and cream are incredibly off putting to me... is it a dessert? coffee? coffee dessert?) Anyway, I realize it is blasphemous because the PSL is such an institution but I would rather use this time to fill up on luxurious puerh tea and interesting fall themed flavors like sweet potato pie from Lupicia.

A perfect tea for a rainy autumn day.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I love to read but I do not have much time to browse all the books at the store. I cheat and look at the Amazon editor's picks and reader's choice selections. Recently, Amazon recommended The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (I can't say her last name without thinking of Sherlock... I'm still in withdrawal from the end of the third season).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Winding down with "Cherry Blossom Rose Organic" from Capital Teas

Something huge happened recently. I took a Major Exam that scared me to death. It was painful to prepare and study for and on the day of, I was all nerves. I could barely eat or drink or muster conversation (a difficulty considering it was an oral exam...). Afterwards, I felt completely drained. I went to sleep early and found myself still tired the next day. It was so mentally taxing! I made all these plans while studying as to how I would celebrate the completion of my exam but soon after I was overwhelmed by relief and had no idea what to do with my newfound free time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ito En's Matcha Love Collection, Ceylon Garden

I normally drink coffee in the morning and tea in the evening but I drink black tea in the afternoon to give me energy to continue throughout the day. I never really liked black tea until I went to cafes in Japan. There is such a big French influence in Japanese cafes. Almost everywhere I went, black tea was offered when I asked for tea. Shocking right? Of course green tea (usually sencha) is offered for free (just part of the great service culture in Japan) but according to my host family, black tea was very popular. So, whenever we had cake (pretty much everyday...) we had some form of black tea.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ito En's Chiran Yutaka Midori Shincha "Artisanal"

I mentioned before that I am always looking for great green tea. Sometimes I treat myself to more high quality blends. Sometimes by accident... Recently I purchased this artisanal tea from Ito En thinking it was 2 oz for $16.00. It turns out it was only 1 oz! I was so close to emailing the company about their shipping error when I double checked my order. Oops... Well, nothing left to do but enjoy it right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mariage Frères Jasmin Mandarin

A warning, you will probably see a lot of jasmine tea reviews. Jasmine tea is the tea I grew up drinking and my marker for how good a tea brand is. My parents always bought jasmine tea so I always thought it was superior to all teas and the one I gift and serve to my parents. It is that special. So, of course when I heard of Mariage Frères, I sought out the jasmine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teavana's Jeju Island Green Tea

I am crazy for green tea. Just plain, no flowers, no spices. Any kind of green will do but shincha is my favorite. A cup of green tea is perfect in both warm and cold weather. I drink it every day, many times a day, year round, so I need a great tasting everyday green tea that is affordable and delicious. My search is never ending. This week I want to talk about my latest obsession: Teavana's Jeju Island Green Tea.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chia seeds are not basil seeds

My mom used to make  this sweet drink with seeds called "hạt é." I never knew what kind of seed it was. I just knew that when mixed with water, the seeds released some coating that made them expand and become chewy. It was a pleasant summer drink that kept us cooled and satiated my craving for juice and soda (which we we were never allowed). Lately I have seen numerous health claims for the new superfood, chia seeds. They seemed exactly like the hạt é I used to enjoy as a kid so I thought they were the same. I wanted to try some but balked at the price ($8 per pound?!?). No way. I remembered my local Asian store sold hạt é and I only needed a little so I went and found some. I noticed the package said "hạt é: basil seeds." I thought it was probably poor translation (that happens a lot actually). I went home and mixed them in almond milk with honey (as many chia seed pudding recipes suggest). After expanding in the fridge overnight, I was excited to try my concoction. Sadly, the hạt é turned out to be different from chia seeds. They are much larger and have more of a peppery taste. I went back to the grocery store and bought chia seeds this time (so determined was I to have chia seed pudding). I'm so glad I did! Chia seeds are truly much better consumed as a pudding than basil seeds. The best part is it can be prepared the day before so I have been eating this for breakfast for several days in a row. It is oddly filling and just incredible to look at.

A perfect way to start my day!