the finest of afternoons

mushrooms

My mom told me once that (someone had told her) our minds seek harmony.

I think that’s true.  Balance, balance, balance.  One can never rest for danger of tipping the scales in one destructive direction or another, not truly, not completely…not here.

But there are moments, for me at least, when I can relax and breathe and everything feels fine, just fine.

Yesterday afternoon was fine, walking around a friend’s garden, seeing her point out Japanese varieties of this and that, and her wee tea tree, and nasturtiums, and then her vintage Shasta camper.

And this afternoon was fine.  Walking through the woods with another friend and her little boy and little girl, and my not-so-little-anymore girl, all the while collecting mushrooms and exploring these tiny secret worlds of color in decaying trees and poking their way up through packed-down leaves.  The color and beauty and sheer exquisiteness take my breath away.

Beautiful people, beautiful places, and beautiful, wonderful things.

 

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The Best Tea (According to Me)

For many years of my life I thought that tea was something you did to your water to make it taste bad.  Now I drink tea every day, have a bread box stuffed with different teas on my counter, and feel compelled to write about tea.  Because good tea is awesome.

The Best Teas

We had the standard wee flat tea bags at home when I was a kid, and occasionally one of my parents would pour hot water over one of them and then ingest the liquid.  And most restaurants stocked those same flat tea bags, and occasionally I’d be with someone who would order some hot tea and they’d ingest it.  I tried it; it was nasty.  I decided I didn’t like hot tea.

Then several years ago a friend of mine got me a solitary white tea cup and a tin of Harney & Sons Palace Gardens Chamomile, and my life changed forever.  I made myself a cup of tea, because it was my duty, because I loved my friend, and I took a cautious sip, and, well, it was just wonderful.  It was divine.  It tasted fresh and complex and kind of sweet and it made my throat feel good and my stomach feel settled.

I decided I ought to give tea in general another shot.  That was about seven years ago, I guess?  Since then I’ve been on a little journey to seek out the best-tasting teas, and although there are so many left to try (yay!!!)–I’ve certainly found some keepers.  I’d like to share with you my favorites, in hopes that you’ll try them and they’ll bring you joy.

As I’ve mentioned before, Harney & Sons Palace Gardens Chamomile is wonderful, and it is still my absolute favorite chamomile.  It truly has made every other chamomile I’ve ever tried taste like alfalfa.  I love it just plain, or with the slightest bit of local honey when I’m sick.  Another great herbal tea is Yogi’s Kava Stress Relief.  It has a wonderful taste (carob, sarsaparilla, Kava root, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom…) and scent.  I love to drink this about an hour before bed, as the Kava truly does relax me and kind of bring me down a notch when I’m feeling anxious or overly energetic.  A lot of local grocery stores stock this.

In the mornings, however, I reach for one of three different caffeinated teas: PG tips (along with, like, half the world–it’s just the best go-to!), Upton Tea Import’s China Lychee (if you’re unacquainted with lychee, it’s an unusual sweet fruit, that, I think, tastes kind of grapefruit-ey), and New Mexico Tea Company’s Cream Earl Grey (A lot of bang for your buck here, too!  Bergamot, vanilla…yum!)

I have to say, though, if I had unlimited funds, I’d probably drink Harney & Sons Tower of London nearly every morning and afternoon.  It’s that good.  But I really can’t keep it in my house, because I tell myself I’ll just pull it out for special occasions, but then I start making up special occasions, like Tuesdays, and, well, it just doesn’t work.

My husband and I have recently discovered Butiki Tea’s guayusa offerings, too, for a great caffeinated cup.  Guayusa?  Here’s what Butiki says about it:

Organic Guayusa is sourced from holly trees in Ecuador. Containing approximately 90mg of caffeine per cup, guayusa is more caffeinated than tea and Yerba Mate, yet it will not cause jitters or a caffeine crash. This plant also contains more antioxidants than most tea. Guayusa is sourced from local indigenous family farms and is sustainable. Brewed, guayusa is smooth with a sweet earthy molasses flavor.

I really like Butiki’s The Killer’s Vanilla, and my husband, who is a hard sell for tea over coffee, and who likes hot and spicy stuff, loves their Winter Fire (cinnamon, chiles, cayenne…)

And finally, for a superb dessert tea, I prefer Zhi Tea’s Sweet Desert Delight.  It’s a heavenly concoction of rooibus, coconut, cacao, anise, cinnamon, safflower, and stevia.  Perfection.  I’ve been trying to incorporate more coconut oil into my diet, and I love making a cup of this tea and sneaking in a teaspoon or so of oil.  The coconut flavors complement each other wonderfully, the smell is addictive, and it’s healthy.

So, there’s my little tea roundup.  Would love to hear what your favorite teas are.  I’d like to try some new ones this year.  I’d love to find a superb strawberry-flavored tea.

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