Tag Archives: American Tea Room

A Winning Moment

‘Tis the season to be jolly! To keep the joy and mirth a-flowing, I’m so happy to announce our Facebook Fan Page Drawing Winners!

Winner of the American Tea Room Flight to Japan Tea Moment Care Package: Shari Engelbrecht

Winner of the Naivetea High Altitude Tea Moment Care Package: Ed Bromley

Winner of the DAVIDsTEA Winter Collection Kit Tea Moment Care Package: Cathy Furr Robertson

Thank you to the dozens and dozens of new fans and friends. I hope you and your family and friends will enjoy many special Moments during this holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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A Green Tea Wrap Party Moment

With elections completed (thank heavens), and tea partiers having made their statement – whatever it is (frankly I haven’t paid attention) – I thought I’d wind down my own Green Tea Party movement with a fond remembrance of all I’ve learned and experienced.

For those of you who wonder who won, well, Green Tea did.

I began my Green Tea Party with the objective of exploring green teas and trying to develop any kind of appreciation for them at all. What I discovered was an incredibly vast spectrum of flavors, colors, and intensities that surprised and delighted.  I have been won over.  Here’s a walk down memory lane:

I started with my Green Tea Exploration Moment. Part of my motivation was the feeling that my family had been sick too much for too long. Began my journey with Wen Shan Bao Zhong from Naivetea and Genmaicha from American Tea Room.

Next  was A Long Jing (Dragonwell) Moment. David from American Tea Room recommended I begin with Chinese green teas to ease my way into the greens. Along the way I discovered fun legends involving dragons and village wells. (Thus the name…)

Ceylon Vithanakanda, FOPA House Green Moment happened next. A visit to Bill Waddington’s TeaSource in Minnesota provided a fascinating insight into another person’s tea obsession, with the bonus of acquiring some exquisite teas.

An Empress Jasmine Moment was next, with my introduction to a green tea blend from Lindsay’s Teas. My love for Chinese green teas was growing. I was beginning to see what all the buzz was about!

A Summer Morning Moment led me to explore a “greener” Chinese green tea from Two Leaves and a Bud, called Tamayokucha. The deeper you dive into this world of tea, the more fascinating facts you uncover, such as this particular style of tea is covered for the last few weeks before harvest to bring out a specific flavor!

My first tentative steps into Japanese greens was facilitated by MyTeaShelf in A Refreshing Sencha Moment. This introduction transformed my view of Japanese teas from scary Samurai to engaging Geisha.

In An Ashland, Oregon Tea Moment, I got to do what I most enjoy – share my tea discoveries with some of my favorite people. One of these teas was Immortal Green, a Japanese sencha with peach and passion fruit from American Tea Room.

Feeling braver, I decided to go right for the unadulterated stuff in A Who Sencha Moment. DAVIDsTEA provided some lovely Organic Japanese Sencha, and my newfound love of green tea took strong root.

In A Letting Go Moment, American Tea Room’s Marrakesh (a Chinese green with spearmint!) helped drive me to find clarity in what was truly important in my life and what needed to be tossed aside.

There have been other green tea moments, of course. The green tea samples I brought to a routine doctor appointment because I remembered she had said most green teas don’t agree with her and I thought she might like to try just one more (Marrakesh). The Harney and Sons Pan Asia tea bags I carry with me on all business trips because they are easy – though apparently they look like baggies of weed, which may explain why my carry on bag has been hand searched more than once. The Green Peony tea from Peet’s Tea given to me as a gift from a friend – the tea is hand crafted so that you place it in your tea cup, pour hot water over it and it looks like a blooming peony in your cup. Beautiful! 

It’s been a transforming journey, this Green Tea Party. I have fallen in love with something that less than a year ago would “gag me with a spoon.”  Thanks to all my tea friends and gurus who helped me see the light on this one!

As we approach the holidays, some of you may be dreaming of a White Christmas. Well, I’ll be dreaming of White Teas. I feel a new obsession coming on…

I’m on Facebook too! Join An International Tea Moment’s new Facebook Fan Page! http://www.facebook.com/TeaMoment.

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A Letting Go Moment

If only...

That show, Hoarders, scares me just a little. The story about the poor woman in Las Vegas who disappeared for 4 months only to be discovered under a pile of her own mementos scares me a lot. I keep thinking, if not but for the grace of God go I.  Okay, maybe that is overstating things a bit. But I understand that need to hang on to things. That sense of utter offense when a loved one lightly tosses what I consider “precious” into the garbage without a second thought. My parents’ attic is testament to my sentimentality. (I’m going to clean it all out! I promise!)  

In the past few years, I’ve been working to purge myself and my life of this “personal detritus” as I saw one web site describe it. Though you wouldn’t have noticed my little stashes of “treasures,” little by little I’ve tossed literally hundreds of pounds of stuff away and hauled hundreds of more pounds of things to Goodwill.  

The final push was this weekend. However, productivity doesn’t stand a chance without reinforcements. That’s where Marrakesh comes into play. A Chinese green tea with a bolt of refreshing spearmint from American Tea Room. The spearmint combined with what is known as ‘gunpowder’ green tea is just the driving force I need. This would be my sustenance to reach my personal goal: To get down to one large Rubbermaid bin of mementos, reminders of my personal history and the people who influenced it. Just one. And it had to be light enough so that if for any reason it fell on me, I would not be crushed by the weight of my own junk!  

  

Why is it so difficult to let go of these things? I’ve searched the internet for tips on how to let go of personal mementos. The advice seems to be geared toward items that have been given as gifts. I have no problem with that. My problem is photos…  

  

And letters…  

  

And an embarrassing number of notebooks with the beginnings of several dozen great American novels. These make up my personal history. This is my legacy. And maybe that has been the obstacle. By throwing these meaningless things away, I am throwing my life and who I am… away. I always admired the stories of Anne Frank and Laura Ingalls Wilder who documented their lives and live on in books and the imaginations of children around the world. But let’s get real. I’m no Anne Frank or Half-Pint. I’ve never suffered through war or great oppression. I have not pioneered my way across an unforgiving land.  

However, my outlook is a bit different now. I have a daughter. She is my legacy, or at least a part of it. And isn’t the more important legacy about how we make people feel each time they encounter us, not the stories and personal effects we leave behind? (To be dealt with by someone else, for which I’m sure they are truly grateful.)  

I am taking to heart more and more what St. Teresa of Avila once said:  

 Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world, ours are the feet with which he goes about doing good, ours are the hands with which he blesses his people.  

That puts things into perspective. The good and kind and meaningful things that happen each day are a result of our choosing to do them. Today, I choose to take out the trash and then make dinner for my husband and daughter. Today, that is enough.  

An International Tea Moment now has a Facebook Page! http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/An-International-Tea-Moment/160567147290939. Share your tea moments with me there! 

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An Ashland, Oregon Moment

It’s something that occurs every two years, and while some might think of it as a reunion of sorts, I tend to view it more as a pilgrimage. Whatever you want to call it, it is a four-day event that I do whatever I can to attend. It started with my Mom and her sisters and sister-in-law getting together in Ashland, Oregon to enjoy each other’s company and catch up on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Over time, the daughters have joined in the event, and then daughters-in-law.

Aunt D (who serves as the glue for this ever-growing melange) reserves the biggest rental home she can find, and we all descend from various parts of the country to get together and cook, eat, sing, play music (for those with that talent), hand-sew beautiful baby quilts, knit, crochet adorable play food and animals (again, for those with talent in those areas), attend the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare festival, go on walks, explore the cute shops (and wine bars) of the picturesque downtown, talk as though it’s going out of style, and this year… enjoy afternoon tea.

At the last Ashland event, I was a brand-new mom there with my tiny baby Edie, and I was in nothing more than survival mode. Being among the most loving, nurturing, encouraging, hilarious women for a few days was the greatest blessing I could have received at that time. So now, being able to leave my ‘big-girl’ Edie to have a father-daughter weekend while I made the journey back to this oasis, I was delighted to be able to bring something fun to the table. (Literally).

With Aunt D providing the perfect mix and match of thrift store tea cups, and Aunt M and new cousin-in-law C as my sous chefs, we whipped up some tasty treats and had quite the table spread. Sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese with dill; pear and brie; a modified Waldorf salad sandwich; puff pastry with savory salami and goat cheese. Cranberry-orange scones with local raspberry preserves, lemon curd and mock Devonshire cream on the side.  An assortment of berries. And for a little sweetness, shortbread and chocolate cookies. 

 The decision of what teas to present was a snap, thanks to the kindred spirits of American Tea Room. David provided the as-always perfect recommendations.

The table was set, the food laid out, and I carefully brewed each pot according to suggested instructions. The first pot was presented: Ruby Black.  I first experienced this lovely brew on Mother’s Day at the first ever American Tea Room High Tea. In only its 3rd year of re-introduction and production in Taiwan, American Tea Room is the sole purveyor of this tea in the entire United States. You haven’t had amazing black tea until you’ve had this black tea. It is rich and fulfilling, and has a maltiness to it. And as my sister-in-law, S, kept saying after each sip, “It’s so smooth! It’s just so smooth!” Yes. Yes it is.

The second pot: Milk Oolong. I’ve been telling my cousin, H, about this one for nearly a year. Unable to have any dairy, she has been missing cream in her tea, and this, in my opinion, is the best possible solution. Not only is this a most heavenly Oolong with a gentle floral perfume and the subtlest natural sweetness, it is also infused with an inexplicable creaminess though no cream nor anything else is added to this tea. The tea is hand-processed using multiple unique methods, and the result is this magnificent sensation. H, and the rest of the table, was delighted.

The third pot: Immortal Green. Mindful of my measured journey into greens this summer, David suggested this fan favorite. A Japanese sencha with peach and passion fruit infused throughout, this green tea is not only approachable, it is the life of the party! I watched as woman after woman around the table cautiously brought their cup to their lips, bracing themselves for that greenness or grassiness or earthiness or whatever it is that is coming to meet them. And then, with that first, glorious sip, the eyes widen, the face lights up the tinest bit, and they go in for that second sip – which is now no longer just a sip, but a slurp! Success!

And even when the tea party was over, it wasn’t over, as each guest oohed and ahhed over receiving tea to take home. David had sent samples of Choco – Late (cacao husk, vanilla bean and rooibos) and Marrakesh (a Morraccan mint green tea).

The teas and treats were lovingly received, as were each of us around the table. This is what it is all about. As we talk and laugh and share stories or ideas or memories, we weave each other more deeply, more securely into each other’s lives. This is what first made me fall in love with the idea of tea. It is something that gives us a perfect excuse to be together and create these moments that feel so precious and so critical at the same time.

The countdown to Ashland 2012 begins…

Waldorf Salad Sandwich (As requested by the Ashland Gals)

Salad:
3/4 cups walnuts (or pecans) coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 scallions finely sliced
Salt to taste

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey

Prepare dressing in small bowl and put in refrigerator to chill. Prepare remaining ingredients and place in larger bowl. When ready to assemble sandwiches, pour salad dressing over other ingredients and combine well. Butter 8 slices of whole wheat bread. Spread salad in a quarter-inch even layer between 2 buttered slices. Cut into quarters.

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A Bunco Tea Moment

How does one describe Bunco? I may venture to say it’s the new “Bridge” club for this generation of women. It’s dice rolling, snacking and drinking while catching up on a month’s worth of news with 11 girlfriends. No skill is involved, except perhaps multi-tasking. Can you roll and talk at the same time? Perfect!

This month was my month to host, so I decided to have a California Tea Party, Bunco-Style. Sweet, savory and chocolate-y treats were accompanied by a choice of lemonade, iced Tangier Tea from American Tea Room, iced Strawberry White from DAVIDsTEA and two kinds of Mar-Tea-Ni’s. Who says you can’t have a tea party at night? Not me! Here are my not-at-all secret recipes for Tea-Ni’s:

Mint Tea-Ni

Adapted from Kerry Saretsky of French Revolution.

Boiling water – enough to fill large tea pot
2 mint tea bags (this time, I used Tazo Refresh)
3 Tablespoons loose leaf Ceylon (I used TeaSource’s Ceylon Vithanakanda, FOP)
8 mint leaves, plus 16 mint leaves
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 shots vodka, very cold (I used Ketel One – how could I not? Their headquarters is in my town!!!)

1. Brew a 6-cup pot of tea, with boiling water, 2 mint tea bags, 3 Tbsp Ceylon tea (contained in infuser for easy leaf removal), and 8 fresh mint leaves. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then pull out the tea bags and infuser (leave the mint leaves). Allow to cool for several minutes and then refrigerate until very cold.

2. Make the mint syrup by put 16 mint leaves, lightly chopped, into a sauce pot with 1⁄4 cup water and 1⁄2 cup sugar. Heat on medium-high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is translucent. Set aside to cool, and then drain.

3.  Add the cooled, strained mint syrup and the vodka to the chilled tea pot. Give it all a good stir and pour into martini glass, garnished with fresh mint leaves. If not quite cold enough, shake in martini shaker with ice until chilled.

White Tiger-Tea-Ni

Boiling water – enough to fill large tea pot
% Tablespoons loose leaf White Tiger tea from DAVIDsTEA 
1/3 cup blueberries, plus handful for garnish
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 shots vodka, very cold (Yep –  Ketel One)

1. Brew a 6-cup pot of tea, with boiling water and 5 Tbsp White Tiger Tea. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then pull out  infuser. Allow to cool for several minutes and then refrigerate until very cold.

2. Make the blueberry syrup by putting 1/3 cup blueberries into a sauce pot with 1⁄4 cup water and 1⁄2 cup sugar. Heat on medium-high, smash berries and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is a deep purple Set aside to cool, and then drain.

3.  Add the cooled, strained syrup and the vodka to the chilled tea pot. Give it all a good stir and pour into martini glass, garnished with several blueberries skewered on a toothpick. If not quite cold enough, shake in martini shaker with ice until chilled.

Cheers!

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A Long Jing (Dragonwell) Moment

I’m going green. I understand that I’m on the tail end of the green movement. I’m late to this year’s Tea Party as well. Nothing new in my life. It’s the same reason I sported Hammer Pants in 1991. I’m learning, however,  that if you’re late to the party, why not just send out your own invitations.  I’ll just have to start my own Green Tea Party, even if it is a party of one.

Why now? Lots of tiny reasons that all add up to a need to re-energize, challenge my comfort zone, spark new creativity. Why green tea? I like tea. Black tea, and white tea and even oolong. Green tea… not so much. And yet there have been glimpses of greens that I have enjoyed. Influenced by the absinthe last Friday? Perhaps… I know, I’ve threatened green tea adventures in the past, but now it’s really happening. I’ve got nearly a dozen greens lined up for my education (and I welcome any suggestions you may have), so, as the children’s book exhorts, “Go Dogs Go! It’s Green Ahead!”

Today, I begin with Long Jing, from American Tea Room. David, a green tea enthusiast, insists it’s an excellent place to start. Not too much from the “newly mown grass” variety. More on the path of earthy and nutty. Also known as Dragon well, it is “grown on the slopes of the Tieh Mu Mountains in the Zhejiang Province. Skilled artisans pan-fire fresh leaf-and-bud sets into oval shapes reminiscent of the way tea leaves appear on the plant” (as described by American Tea Room). The Zhejiang Province has a long, long history of scholars and artisans, and Hangzhou (where Dragon well originated), is considered one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. Not a bad place to start my Green Tea Party, if I do say so myself! Its tea, Dragon well, is considered the national drink of China and has several legends surrounding its name. Here are three, as listed by Chinese Tea Culture:

“It is named after a single well, named as you would imagine, the Dragon Well. Located in Dragon Well Village, the well was located behind the Dragon Well Temple which was built over 1,700 years ago.Legend #1 According to the first legend, locals when digging the well found a stone shaped like a dragon and so they named the well Dragon Well.

Legend #2 The well’s water is particularly dense and after rainstorms, the lighter rain water floats on the surface of the water and exhibits a twisting pattern which resembles the long and sinuous body of Chinese dragons. I have personally witnessed this effect.

Legend #3 This is my personal favorite. Locals believe that in the ancient past, a benevolent dragon lived in the well. He controlled the weather and ensured that the area had enough rain. Locals would pray to the dragon and bring him offerings.”

Tieh Mu Mountains in the Zhejiang Province

The steeped brew of Organic Long Jing is a pale yellow (like buttuh, baby), and clear, clear, clear. The mellow fragrance is that of freshly damp earth, almost like taking a hike in the high mountains at dawn. The first sip. The word that leaps to mind is, “Fresh.” It almost harkens to the aftertaste of a mint tea, but just barely – leaning more toward a vanilla finish rather than that hint of mint. There is a velvety smoothness to the liqueur, and it just feels good to have it flow through your mouth and down your throat. And despite my bent toward black teas, this tea has enough body to be satisfying in and of itself. The nuttiness is there with just the smallest dash of the grassiness I think of with green teas, and while these two elements are not my favorites, there is nothing unpleasant here. It may not be love at first sip, but I’m very glad to make its acquaintance. And perhaps, over time, this introduction will have the chance to bloom and grow into something more substantial and comfortable.

And so, the Green Tea Party begins. Long Jing, thank you for coming. Yes, I’ll save you a dance.

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A Mother’s Day Moment

What better way to spend Mother’s Day than with my dreamy husband and sweetest daughter at a First Ever service of High Tea at American Tea Room. Edie was on her best behavior for most of the time, and I got to enjoy my favorite people and favorite pastime all in one exceptional spot.

David and Valerie hard at work

David and Randy, the owners of ATR, greeted us fondly and we were shown to our table. We were also introduced to one of my new favorite people, Valerie Gordon, the artisanal confectioner preparing all the sweets and treats to accompany the glorious selection of teas.

High Tea started off with a most beautiful Amuse of the most delicate and decadent chocolate filled with a lovely cream filling. It was accompanied by Bao Zhong Royale, an Oolong with just the lightest hints of jasmine and narcissus. Edie dove headfirst into both, and I couldn’t blame her. Delicious!


And now came the potentially difficult decision of tea. A hand-picked selection was offered on a tea menu, but David came to my rescue – knowing my love of black teas – suggesting a new arrival not listed on the High Tea menu: Ruby Black. The history of this lovely Assam is the stuff of novels, but let me pique your interest by saying that this tea has been in production for less than 3 year and can only be found in the U.S. at our own American Tea Room. David, you know me too well…

Next, we were served Creme Fraiche Scones with the largest pat of real butter I’ve ever seen, and a mouth-watering selection of strawberry-creme fraiche jam, strawberry rhubarb jam, and a marmalade. I loved how the scones were a little bigger than an Oreo, light, fluffy, warm, and manageable. There was no worrying about whether or not to cut off chunks – just the luxury of slathering the whole thing in butter and jam-of-choice and nibbling away.

The tea sandwiches were next – a selection of three per person.  Curried Chicken with Muscat Grapes; Breakfast Radish, Butter and Lemon Confit; Crab Salad with mint and Lime.  All open-faced, all designed to be consumed in two or three heavenly bites. The Curried Chicken came out the crowd favorite – I even heard one patron request additional Curried Chicken sandwiches because they simply couldn’t get enough!

And last, but definitely not least, the sweets. Oh, Valerie. You are a Master of your Craft.  An Earl Grey Petit Four; a Lemon Curd and Creme Fraiche Tartlet; Matcha Shortbread Cookies; and the most divine chocolates I have ever tasted. Gene and I tried to name our favorite of the assortment, but we just couldn’t. The petit four had a simple sweetness with that gentle bergamot (and perhaps lavender) of the Earl Grey, but the tartlet had everything that is best about a lemon meringue pie without the meringue.  And the chocolates… Well, they are just a category on their own that can’t be compared. Toffee squares coated in chocolate, topped with either an almond or what appeared to be some kind of rock salt. The toffee was not the kind that you will be excavating from your teeth for years to come, oh no. This is real, buttery, nearly melting in your mouth toffee like nothing I’ve ever had before. And caramels. I love caramels. I didn’t know how much I loved caramels until I tasted these.  The liquid caramel is lovingly hidden in dark chocolate domes. I suddenly realized I had never really had caramels before.

Thank you to American Tea Room and to Valerie Confections for providing such a lovely opportunity for me and my family to enjoy tea together is such a setting. And thank you to my husband and daughter for making my Mother’s Day quite a special moment. While the High Tea was incredible, sharing it with my family was priceless.

Enjoy High Tea at American Tea Room
Saturdays and Sundays
401 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Reservations strongly recommended
310.271.7922 or  tea@americantearoom.com

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