Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring in the Hill Country: Wildflowers in Texas

"... gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and the sunbeams. [...] Dream on, sway and frolic while you may in the gentle breezes of the summer" - Kakuzo Okakura (on Flowers)

Okakura actually spends much of his Flowers chapter in the Book of Tea lamenting the wastefulness of cutting the "hapless" flowers for adornment. Okakura says the plants are unable to defend themselves against predators... but maybe he has not met the Texas thistle. She sure does not relent her beautiful blossoms easily! 

Still, the wildflower offerings in Texas are incredible. Just a few feet away from my research facility is a short trail lined with wildflowers. My friend and I picked green thread, Indian blanket, basket flower, winecups, and struggled to pluck 2 (just 2!) thistles. It was worth the trouble because they are so beautiful! All the rain we got this year made this a fantastic year for wildflowers. 

For the incredibly humble wildflowers, I decided to introduce an equally humble tea, House Sencha from Ito En. Although it is unassuming, this is undoubtedly my favorite tea. The flavor is simple - hints of grass, chestuts, and vegetal. It has a very low tannin content so I find the flavor bright and clean. It is my go to tea whenever someone asks for "green tea." I always order this in bulk because I drink so much of it. 

Can you guess what I am eating with my tea? It is a riff on Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream (recipe to come soon!). The juxtaposition of hot tea and cold ice cream is always something I enjoy throughout the year. Ice cream pairs really well with sencha! 

"The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”  - Kakuzo Okakura

Thanks for reading!

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