August 30, 2013

Tea Time Redux

   Greetings to cyberspace, happy friday! 

Okay so it's been about 4 months since I was last online here...sorry! I don't blog much if you hadn't noticed LOL But on my way to work this afternoon I had a neat idea that I feel compelled to pursue. If you remember correctly it was this time last year when I posted about my increase in tea consumption and wound up doing a mini tea review. Well my methods have changed a bit since then AND I have more tea I can review so I thought we'd do that, as sort of an homage to this time last year....

   What has changed most since last year is the quality of the honey I use. Late last year I discovered this local honey from the Tennessee honey farm and it's orange blossom honey. After some hits & misses with the honey bears I've pretty much decided I like this stuff the best so this is what I use. A large jar is about 12 dollars and contains 44 oz of honey. I use a wooden honey dowel to add it to the cup, typically using 3 dollops of honey per coffee cup size. This stuff really is the best honey I've been able to find. I get my Jars at the international market inside the market house at the downtown Nashville farmers market however I know for a fact they sell this type at turnip truck in east Nashville on woodland street as well, but it's typically a dollar more than the international market price. In a given day I drink btw 3 and 6 cups of hot mint & honey tea. Sometimes a little more if it's a weekend or if I didn't bring any water to the office. I still use the portable tea tin a year after I first came up with the idea so it's still works well in my book :). 

Tea Reviews: 

- Tazo: Refresh Mint: I got this tea today at starbucks (I'm never in starbucks so this is a banner moment here...I officially have a starbucks order! Largest size hot refresh mint tea they have, with 6 packets of honey...I'm 25 now and this is my FIRST starbucks order (when I was there in the past I used to just get an izzie btw) ) The version I had today came in pyramid tea bags. What is nice about pyramid tea bags is you get the better flavor of the loose leaf tea without the residue in the cups. How they differ from traditional tea bags is by size and prize, and again as I said about the better flavor. Typical paper tea bags have crushed tea leaves inside and it still CAN be good however the same tea blend tastes better in a pyramid tea bag because the leaves don't get crushed as much so they retain a brighter, fresher flavor. 

-Zhena's Gypsy Tea: Egyptian Mint: First of all I have to say this tea intrigued me so much I bought a sampler of this brand just to get at it. And it was completely worth it. It has that wonderful fresh smell that makes mint tea so fabulous and the flavor was really lovely. It uses a green tea base and a little touch of licorice root which I'm normally not a fan of but for this one it seems to work nicely. 

-Traditional Medicines: Organic Peppermint Herbal Tea: This one is good but not as bright and crisp as some of the others I've tried. The advantage to this tea though is it's inexpensive and easy to find and doesn't taste inexpensive which is the important part LOL In all seriousness though it's very soothing just doesn't have the more exotic flavor that you tend to find in a lot of mint teas. Still beats bentley mint green by leaps and bounds though, to date bentley is still the worst I've tried. 

-Basilur Tea: Moroccan Mint: This one was a shock for me. This brand does theses beautiful tea tins, absolutely beautiful, touts itself for its superior quality. But the flavor on this particular tea is wrong. I'm not going to use the word "undrinkable" because compared to bentley I can deal with it but I will say that it was a complete letdown of expectations. Moroccan mint, as a type, is extremely alluring for me. It was, after all, at a moroccan restaurant where I first had tea that I actually liked, and this was after growing up in a family of tea drinkers so that's a big deal. 

-Numi Tea: Mint Pu.erh: this one was a rich tea with a lot of flavor. I haven't had it recently because it's a dickens to find it in the stores, usually have to order it online which isn't fun bc it's a hit or miss on how they ship it. What I liked about it was that the Pu.erh itself has such a strong flavor and that they do use moroccan mint in this tea but the blend together is wonderful. 

-Numi Tea: Moroccan Mint: This was another tea that suprised me by the fact that I didn't like it. After trying their mint Pu.erh I expected to like this, it has nearly the same ingredients and everything, the same type of mint was used. It had some flavor but it was weak, like spearmint gum. 

-Twinings: Pure Peppermint: This tea is like the traditional medicine organic peppermint for two reasons. One, it's fairly easy to find, and two it's not expensive. The flavor is bright and it does taste good but it isn't a favorite of mine. It's one of those teas you drink after you run out of your favorite and don't have time to go to the store. Which, as I said, isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

-World Market: Organic Peppermint Herbal Tea: I love world market as a store, I don't go very often because since we moved I'm too far away from there :( but for my birthday I had a $10 gift card that they sent me so I made a special trip a half hour away to the nearest world market. They carry a variety of gift basket stuffers including small tins of republic of tea. Additionally, their tea selection tends to be rather diverse and takes up more than the typical two person standing side by side length of the supermarket tea sections. Add that to the fact that they carry all sorts of fun exotic teas like chocolate mint tea and flowering teas it's a great place for any tea lover to try something new. That being said, this is their store brand, the "world market" brand. And for the most part I like A LOT of their store brand stuff. This tea is no exception. The flavor is great and it utilizes that pyramid tea bag which is awesome for the reasons I mentioned before. Keep in mind if you wanna try this, pyramid tea bags ARE more expensive than the traditional paper ones but the higher cost is a small price to pay for the better flavor. After all cheap tea often tastes like cheap tea and that really isn't worth your money in the first place. 

-Republic of Tea: Moroccan Mint Green Full Leaf Tea: I literally borrowed a cup of tea to try this particular variation on the Moroccan mint which appears so difficult to do right. I will admit to a certain amount of trepidation because of the bad experiences I've had with non-Moroccans trying to make Moroccan mint tea. Overall though, very good. Not life changingly good which is what they seem to tout on their website, that they make the best tea and I'm not sure I can endorse that statement but it's certainly worth trying if you haven't yet. Word to the wise about loose leaf teas...they leave residue in the bottom of the coffee cup. If you can't stand the idea of the grainy taste to the final dregs of tea then try brewing in a CLEANED OUT coffee machine. The coffee filter can strain the tea better than any diffuser I've found. I don't usually mind the dregs because I'm used to them but I know a lot of people don't like it. 

-High Garden: Moroccan Mint: This tea is amazing...a homemade blend of peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon and other spices paired with a gunpowder green tea. This is by far the best mint tea that I've ever tried and I find myself going back for more whenever it even looks like I might possibly be running low. It's a loose leaf tea and BECAUSE of the cinnamon you do get A LOT of residue in the bottom of the cup. High Garden by the way is an east Nashville tea shop located on fatherland street as part of the "shoppes at fatherland" development across from the fatherland street side of the 37206 building. High garden is located in the first alley way about halfway down on the right hand side. They hand blend all their teas and most are from locally grown ingredients so it's as fresh as they come. The gentleman who sold me the tea the first time I was in the shop explained to me that this tea was taken from an old family recipe from an actual Moroccan family so it's probably as authentic as it can get. 

-High Garden: Hibiscus Mint: this one I wasn't a fan of, idk if it was the honey syrup they used to sweeten it (rather than just gobs of honey as I usually use) or the fact that it was an ice tea. It served the purpose of something to drink to cool me down bc it was EXTREMELY hot that day and I'd been working my vendor booth outside in the sun all day long. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't already know with absolute certainty that they like hibiscus drinks. 

-High Garden: Green Garden Mint: this tea was softer than the Moroccan mint and had I just got this tea by itself I would've thought it was absolutely perfect...HOWEVER...I bought both teas at once and tried the Moroccan mint first and it was so spectacular that it made this one taste a little weak by comparison and colored my perception on whether or not it was good tea. 

And moving on to another topic :) 

   I mentioned in my last post about a festival that I was told about upon my first visit to the shoppes at fatherland. Well that one went well, and I ended up doing 6 festivals total throughout the course of the summer and I'm signed up to do one more this fall (so far anyway) I'm trying to stay primarily in nashville for the time being because I need help to set up and it's hard enough to get dad and or the boys to east to pitch a tent. And neither the tent nor the 6 foot long display tables will fit in my car anyway. Especially not with my sample case and show box in the  car. Year to date, I've made $1019.93 in cameo sales this year, which is a big deal for a couple reasons. First of all, it vindicates my idea that this CAN work and actually making money doing something I love is wonderful. Secondly, that number is big enough to count as taxable income. AND since I already pay self employment taxes, the real advantage to that is being able to deduct the supplies, which I wouldn't be able to do had I not hit the barrier which qualifies it as taxable income. 

  From a more artistic stand point, it feels great to be doing something creative. I think I've come to the realization since college that in spite of a very limited amount of talent, I have an artistic personality and that I really won't ever be happy if I'm not doing something creative for a living. And granted I'm a long way from being able to say that but I'm happier doing this then I am doing anything I've ever had to do at work. I keep my job because I know I'm needed here but at the end of the day it was never what I wanted to do with my life and certainly isn't what I want to be doing forever. But I feel more like the person I want to be when I'm with the other vendors, talking to them at events or just having my booth when they have theirs...I did a pop up event the 22nd & 23rd of april I believe at the boheme collectif. Traffic wasn't great though I did make a profit but the cool thing was most of us were set up as tables in one room so we got to talk to each other. And I learned a lot and met some very cool people and someone actually asked for (and took) my advice which was an "I have arrived" moment for me. I have a long way to go before I can say it is really a profitable job or even as a hobby but as I said it feeds a need I have right now. 


   I've been taking belly dance classes since last October. It really isn't easy but I love doing it. I've noticed a change in how I look too which to me is a big deal. I've actually got some shape now, and a VERY narrow "natural waist" as my teacher says. The natural waist is that part on a woman where the base of the ribcage narrows and then the hips swell out from that point. it's actually above where most people wear their jeans so you see it most when someone who has that curve there wears a tight top (as I've taken to doing) I still have a big back end and a belly up front but that curve there means the world to me. The first time I noticed it I was putting on my favorite blue and black stripped pirate pjs. The top is a little short and it's like a camisole. So where it hit was about right at that new little curve. I looked in the mirror as I was cleaning in the other room where the cheval is and it was like "whoa" up to that point I'd been wearing baggy tops mostly. after I saw that curve it was like my life changed. Sounds dramatic I know but I've never had what can be called an "hourglass" figure. So this curve here, even with all the other areas which are still was a shock. And I still consider it to be one. but I wear a long tight cami just about every day now, as it seems to be the best for showing off that curve I've worked so hard for. I find myself not buying any more baggy tops because they don't show it. I talked to a woman at the clothing store I buy my jeans at and she said...exact quote..."It's not surprising that you have trouble finding tops that fit, you have such a narrow little waist" NO ONE has ever said that to me in my entire life. I was smiling so big I was probably glowing. And I owe it to Ms Jackie, my dance instructor. I still feel clumsy and awkward often but as I said the reward is visible now and that is something precious. I even have some definition in the front part of the upper arm (sadly the bottom part is still icky but I have hope) I feel better, I look better, and it seems like there isn't a down side as of yet. True I do get muscle cramps sometimes (sophie from class recommended eating a banana before and after class and that does help) but I really think that is minor in the grand scheme of things. 

   But that isn't the only way in which I'm committed lately to improving myself. It was around the time we moved and I was feeling rather sorry for myself. I felt that sting of my age and the fact that my living situation just got so much worse (it's gotten to the point that I'm humiliated to admit the truth of my living situation so I gloss over the humiliating parts or kinda double speak around them). It has been about 10 years since I was in formal vocal training and it kinda hit me one day that I needed to get back to it. I don't know why I didn't before or what made me do it now. What I do know is I practice nearly every day and go to lessons friday around lunch time. I really like my new vocal teacher. I've dealt with SEVERAL crazy people who taught lessons and she is by far the best. I didn't mind the choir teacher in college but I think she knew AND I knew that I'd neglected my training for a long time. And that it showed. To make matters worse the last time I took lessons I was given a warm up CD but I only used it for a little while because something about it seemed to be detrimental to my vocal training...flash forward 10 years and I resume lessons and remembered I had that CD. What I didn't remember was why I stopped using it. To make a long story short I spent nearly 3 months doing DAMAGE to my voice with that CD :O...I remembered the why the other day and it kinda hit me like a steam roller that I'd apparently done something really stupid. I had a talk with my vocal teacher and she is going to make me a personalized warm up CD so once I get that I should be doing better. I still feel like kicking myself for not realizing I needed that earlier. I could have avoided so many problems if I'd remembered about the CD. 

One more unimportant little note then I should probably sign out of here. I've been doing the book challenge a new way this year. Using the app. I really love this app! Year to date total: 63. 

That's all for now cyberspace!

Love Ya!