Thursday, June 30, 2011

so proud!

This is my daughter, Jill.
I am so proud of her.
She recently graduated from massage school in Ashland, Oregon.
She was surrounded by gorgeous country and views,
which perfectly fit her spirit.
Once she takes her state board exams she will be ready
to share her gentle spirit with others.
I am Mimi to her and Mimi is thrilled that she has found what makes her heart sing.
That is what all mom's hope for their children.
May all our children be surrounded with love and
have hearts that sing.
Oh and did I say, she sang at the graduation
and I was so touched by her beautiful voice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Family Traditions

The past few days I have been thinking about family traditions.
Each family has them, whether they are recognized or not.
Some are small things, like the way you celebrate a holiday.
Some are related to your religious faith or your ethnic background.
I asked my family what they thought our family traditions were
and really compared to some families we couldn't think of many.
Growing up my mother's family mostly lived on apple ranches in Northern California.
Many of our family gatherings took place at the main apple ranch of my uncles.
I mentioned several months ago that the last family ranch had been sold.
I felt it was important to have one more family gathering, especially for
the younger generation to celebrate family at the ranch.
The pictures above are from the family ranch as we celebrated
on Memorial weekend.  It use to be all apples, but now there are grapes too.
The family home still stands there and many of the vintage tools and the old truck
still remain.  But it isn't the same, no it isn't.  The heart of the ranch is gone.
One of my aunts, who had a ranch down the road, was there.
But my uncle that ran the ranch is no longer there.
There isn't the hustle and bustle that once was felt.
I will always cherish my memories of family celebrations, laughter, and play
(oh there was work too); but mostly I will cherish the family traditions
we celebrated here and I am grateful.

Do you have special family traditions?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Dollhouse Project

Each month this year I have committed to making a house with The Dollhouse Project.
You can find the link to my right side bar.
I missed last month because of travel and sickness.
I knew one month I wanted to go play in my friends glass studio;
so this was the month to play.  Often when I go to play I have a general plan
and just start picking up pieces of glass to see where it takes me.
Here is where it took me for my June house of glass.
It is a sun catcher of fused glass.
I am not sure if it will hang outside or in a window, but I kind of like where the glass took me.
Do you ever do a project not knowing exactly where it will end up?
Are you usually pleased or want to start over?

Several have asked what I found tea related at the 7/11.
It was two face masks in Earl Grey Tea and Macaron scents.
I have heard they are quite nice, but haven't tried one yet.

Monday, June 27, 2011



We have a winner:

La Tea Dah

I will be contacting you soon and a package will be in the mail.
Thanks to all that left comments.  I loved seeing where each of
you are dreaming of traveling.  May your dreams come true!

Now isn't that worth smiling about?
Have a good day. 
I am planning to return to the Spirit Whispers series
next Monday.  Come along and join me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Final Day and a Farewell toTaiwan

The final day in Taiwan was spent in Taipei exploring.
Yes, there was more tea as we celebrated our last day by visiting with the
Taipei Tea Association and visiting two teashops.
As we walked throughout Taipei we often had glimpses of the 101 Building,
which at one time was the tallest building in the world.
We walked past temples and always there were motorbikes passing by.
It was a very special dream come true holiday,
one I hope many of you have the opportunity to someday do.
May all your travel dreams come true.

Please leave a comment telling me what dream for travel you have
and I will draw one name on Monday morning.  If you don't want to
leave a comment, but would like to be in the drawing, just email me.
You will find my email on the Profile page.
There will be some small samples of tea from Taiwan and something special I found at the 7/11 store.
You might laugh at finding something tea related at the 7/11 store, but you just never
know what you will find when you visit in a different country.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tea Institute - A Final Farm Visit

Now you know by now, the first thing we did when arriving at the tea institute
was drink tea.  This was our guide for the day.
The tea institute was again in the hills outside of Taipei.
It was originally begun as a training sight for tea farmers,
but has expanded to include other small groups.
Again there were rows and rows of tea.
Flowers often were included in the landscape of each of the farms we visited.
Now here is where I learned something new about tea.
I always thought there were only a few varieties of tea plants and
what made them different was in the processing.
The processing does make a difference, but what I learned
is that there are many varietals of the tea plant.
This marker is marking one varietal and there were many markers
at the tea institute.  So like a rose has many varieties, so does tea.
I learned that just in Taiwan there are over 300 different varietals.
In China there are thousands of varietals.
Am I the only person that didn't know this?  I hope not.
And then there was more tea to drink.
And we picked tea too.  We were given the special tea picking hats
and baskets to wear.
Here I am in my tea picking outfit.
Finally an oasis in the shade.  It was a hot day.
I hope you have enjoyed visiting tea farms in Taiwan.
I know I did.
Come back tomorrow for a special, small give away.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Farmer Zhang's Tiequanyin

We are nearing the end of our trip to Taiwan.
A very special visit is in store.
Taking the metro in Taipei to the end of the line,
we connect with these lovely gondolas.
What a treat to take a peaceful, gentle half hour ride
up the mountain to Muzha, a small village.
The view of Taipei is spectacular.  You can see the 101 building standing so tall.
After leaving the gondola we walk about a quarter of a mile down the road arriving at
this lovely oasis of a tea farm.  Tea is waiting with the magnificent view in front of
us of a tea farm and then Taipei.
After Farmer Zhang served us tea his wife served us a wonderful meal.
One dish after another appeared and we had so many new flavors to partake.
The battered tea leaves were also served here too, yummmm!
Then Farmer Zhang got down to the business of sharing tea. I loved his smile.
What I felt from Farmer Zhang and the other tea farmers was a true spiritual
connection to tea and what they do.  They love tea and work to continually
improve and learn all they can about the growing and producing of good tea.
Farmer Zhang talked about that aspect and about growing organic teas.
He shared how he grows lupines between the rows of tea to add more nutrients
to the tea.  My husband told him he was very smart to figure this out and the farmer said,
no it was my father and grandfather that figured it out.  He loves photography
and had many pictures of his yellow lupines in amongst the tea plants.
The lupines weren't growing while we were there, but the photos were lovely.
After sharing a meal and tea, we walked in his farm.

In two of the farms we found memorials to the farmers ancestors.
Farmer Zhang's memorial was lovely.
Farmer Zhang then took us behind his teashop to his small processing plant,
where we were able to again see the process of making tea.
He makes a wonderful Tiequanyin oolong, a real treat, which was
wonderful to taste, sipping, and knowing the heart that went into making this tea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ceramics and a Museum

The Taiwan National Museum was a real treat.
I wish I could show you the beautiful things inside, but no pictures were allowed.
There was amazing calligraphy, jade, metal tools, and so much more.
We spent most of the day here and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Another full day was spent in YinGe, a town known for it's ceramics.
There was one shop after another of gorgeous teasets and so much more to see.
It was a true sight to take in on a warm day in Taiwan.
The street vendor was selling the largest hard boiled eggs I had ever seen.
And wouldn't you just love to sit at this table and share tea together?
It was totally gorgeous and I was told no pictures were allowed after this shot.
I did do a little shopping, what fun!
I came home with a beautiful tea canister that matched my favorite set at home, a little
turtle to sit on my tea table, and a few gifts.
There is nothing quite like a little shopping on Mother's Day to bring pure delight to the soul.

Only a couple more days to share of tea in Taiwan, then on Friday there will be a small give-away.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Faces and Food of Alishan High Mountain

The beautiful faces of the farmer's children greeted us early in our visit to Alishan High Mountain.
The first evening the children and their father took us for a walk in the dark where we were
delighted to find fireflies lighting up the dark night.  Some in our group had never seen
a firefly and thrilled with the new experience.
My traveling teacup also enjoyed a visit to the fields of tea.
The farmer's mother-in-law cooked most of our vegetarian meals.
Though I am not a vegetarian several things on the menu intrigued me.
Up in the right hand corner was breakfast the last day.  Those buns were huge.
The yellow filling was just more bread in a different color
and the other buns had what I think was a bean curd filling.
On the top right is a very old pot where tea is stored for aging.
The surprise treat beside having tea served to us by the mother-in-law and the farmer's baby
was in the bottom center.  It was fresh tea leaves dipped in a tempura batter and fried.
It was very good and quite sweet.  This was served to us a couple of time throughout our travels
in Taiwan.  In the little dish is a mixture of salt, white pepper, and powdered wasabi to sprinkle
on the tea.  Very good!  This is something I will try here at home from my tea plants growing in
my yard.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Alishan High Mountain Tea

Alishan High Mountain teas are a rather light, floral oolong.
Walking in the early morning I was delighted to enjoy the quiet of the fields of tea,
dew on the tea leaves, and the pickers arriving for a day of picking.
In the afternoon the baskets were collected in the little blue trucks and carted to the processing plant.
The leaves were spread on large canvas or in the flat baskets for a time of oxidation.
The men standing or kneeling to fluff the tea could tell just by the smell when the leaves were ready for the next step in the process.  The tea was wrapped and tightly wound into balls.  Then the balls were tossed into
the machine to warm and roll the leaves where the leaves turned a darker color.  This process was repeated sometimes many times or just a few depending on the results desired.
The farmer went out again about midnight to help with the next steps in the process, then he
again left early in the morning to work again.  During the days of harvest it is an around the clock process
and very labor intensive.

We found up in the mountains that the farmers all worked together to process the tea
and support each other.  It felt very much like a commune of tea growers.

Note: I am away for the weekend, so if your comments don't get posted right away that is the reason. I do love your comments and will post them when I return.
My daughter is graduating from massage school and I am there for her celebration.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leavn' on a Bullet Train

Traveling by bullet train we traveled about two thirds of the way south on the island of Taiwan
to Alishan.  It didn't take very long until we were greeted by the farmer, tucked
into his car and a taxi and up the windy road to the high mountain.
His tearoom awaited, so neat and clean.  Soon it was cluttered with cups as we tasted tea.
Our room at the farmer's bed and breakfast.  Actually it was quite comfortable.
The view from our window was the family compound and the tea fields behind the compound.
Yes, we were in the high mountains of Taiwan.  It was quite beautiful.
There were hiking trails and tea everywhere.
I just love seeing laundry hanging on the line and for the most part this laundry was color coordinated.
We ate all of our meals for the two days we stayed here at this table.
Since the farmer and his family were vegetarians, all our meals were vegetarian.
The farmer sending his greetings!
Tomorrow I will share more at this beautiful farm and country side.
It was indeed at the end of the road, but still there were several tearooms.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Most Delightful Meal

Walking down the street of Pinglin village, passing several tea shops, we arrived at a restaurant that overlooked this river.  We took the table closest to the view and food soon began appearing on our table.
Plate after plate came and just as I thought I could eat no more, there was more. 
I cannot tell you what we ate, but it was one of our most delightful meals of the trip.
The presentation was beautiful and the surroundings a total delight.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farmer Chen and Baozhong tea

Meet Farmer Chen from Pinglin, Taiwan.
Farmer Chen was showing us an award he was happy to receive for his beautiful Baozhong teas.
We visited Farmer Chen and his wife on our first full day in Taiwan.
Stepping into their tea shop bags and bags of tea greeted us.
Each of the farms we visited had a tea shop either at their farm or nearby.
I described their tea shops as their living rooms.
A large door, such as a garage door, would open to the sidewalk.
As people would walk by, they would come inside and sit for awhile over small cups of tea.
Peeking inside from the sidewalk you can see people sitting at the table sipping tea.
After sipping tea for awhile we had lunch together.
I will show our lunch tomorrow.
Here Farmer Chen and his wife have taken us up the mountain to their farm.
They are demonstrating machine cutting of the tea with something similar to a lawn mower.
The tea was caught in a large bag, then bundled, and taken to his home to be processed.
At his home he weighs it, then begins the process.
His wife said they would be up all night processing the tea.
She stays up with him, so he doesn't fall asleep.
The fresh picked tea is poured onto these baskets to begin the oxidation process.
Though there was no tea in this machine he was explaining how during the process
the tea is put into this mixer and heated up, then again poured into the baskets.
This may be done one time or many times depending on the results and type of tea they are processing.
As we visit other farms I will show this again with tea being poured from it.

After visiting the farm we returned to the teashop for more tea tastings with Farmer Chen's wife.
Their specialty was Baozhong tea, which is a lightly oxidized floral tea.
I came home with tea from Farmer Chen's farm, which I am thoroughly enjoying.
He was also the only farmer we visited that is also experimenting with black tea, which
is fairly new for Taiwan tea farmers.  So beside the Baozhong tea, I brought home
a black tea, and a lovely aged (20 years) Buddha Hand oolong tea.
The Buddha Hand is so named because 1. the leaves can grow to the size as big as a hand. 2. this specific tea
varietal tastes like the fruit: Buddha Hand.
All these teas are full leaf, so when they have been steeped you can unfurl the full leaf and see
the beauty of a lovely tea.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taiwan ~ Wisteria Teahouse

Arriving in Taiwan we were taken directly to the Wisteria Teahouse
where we joined the group we would be traveling through the world of tea in Taiwan.
We traveled with Shiuwen of the Floating Leaves ( teashop in Seattle, Maggie (a translator), and 6 total in the group.  It was a lovely small group.
Mr. Zhou Yu, the tea master, served us tea and chatted for awhile about what he was serving us.
The entrance to the Wisteria Teahouse.
Double click on picture to see more detail.
I love the tables and drum shaped seats.

Inside the teahouse, while drinking tea, we sat on pillows on the floor
much like you see in the bottom left picture.  It was a beautiful building
and was on the historic sight register.
The tea bowl in the middle right side was over 100 years old.
The tea master was very trusting to serve us tea in such beautiful bowls.
Notice the tea leaves were floating in the bowl.

This was a beautiful setting to begin our adventure into the world of Taiwan teas.
Come join me this week as we visit tea farms and the farmers.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Farewell Thailand

The last day in Thailand we hired a driver, Marty, to drive us to some of the sights outside of Chiang Mai.
Beside visiting the Hill Tribes, we also climbed through a cave with Buddhas around each turn.
There was some very old monuments in the area of the caves.
Then nearby was a gathering place for meditation.
There were 500 steps to the top of the mountain through tropical forest.
Since again it was a very hot day I climbed 250 steps and let my husband, Jim, and
our driver, Marty, make the rest of the way while I sat and enjoyed the quietness.
For lunch we spent a couple hours of pure bliss at The Nest.
It was a lovely resort.  If we were to ever travel back to Thailand
I would definitely plan some time here.  The food was amazing and the surroundings just beautiful.
Since it is Friday and I usually write about tea on Fridays, I am bidding
farewell to Thailand with this amazing glass of Thai Iced Tea served to me at The Nest.

I don't think I have ever had such a refreshing glass of iced tea.
I haven't quite figured out the recipe, but I do know
it was freshly brewed tea, sugar syrup, and freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lots of ice.

Next week we will be traveling to Taiwan where there was tea everywhere we went.