This was a strange but ultimately affirming in its own way sort of weekend. Some abrupt in-law drama (will my logs ever be free of family stuff? Sorry guys), some marital tension (for sure nothing major—one of the best things about being married to R is both of us assuming there’s hardly anything that would be capital-S Serious that could come between us—but still hard to go through), some random kindness from strangers just when I needed it, surprise tea boxes from Steepsters with notes that made me a little glassy-eyed (what can I say, it’s been an emotional few days), socializing all Saturday until I literally dropped onto the bed, major spring cleaning with minor redecorating (seasonal nesting impulse), then this day never really quite got started (we, uh, didn’t actually get out of bed until 4:15pm o_O and I hadn’t eaten more than 2 slurps of leftover soup in nearly 48 hours sooo when we finally got up I proceeded to eat everything in sight…did you know Rice Krispies and banana doused in coconut-almond milk evoke delicious Thai sticky rice desserts when you’re famished?) and now we’re filing taxes and I’m trying to muster the motivation to cook like 4 stews for the week and I just can’t. Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. One of the sunniest spots, besides those wonderful notes, was of course all the beautiful, precious tea from boychik and Dexter3657. This one comes from boychik, thank you! :D I had this for my (4:30pm :b) breakfast. It is great in the way you’d expect an A&D Keemun to be—where it’s nothing way out there different, no radical departure from what one thinks of as Keemun, yet something sets it apart, just a sense that it’s “more”. More of the expected flavors amped up, but more balance and smoothness too, as always. It does have that gorgeous subtle bright tint to it in the cup Keemuns are known for, as well as that hard-to-pinpoint aspect, that almost salty, bright-dark quality. The funny thing is, the first cup I steeped 5 minutes and it was good…the second steep I lost track of time (part of that whole “this day never really even got off its feet” thing) and it bathed for something like 20 minutes. I pretty much never do that! And it was still delicious, with that salty murky quality a little sharper, more distinct, in a good way. Downed it while eating a pear and squares from the amazing chocolate bar boychik sent along with this tea—Salazon Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Crushed Organic Coffee. I opened her right up because I woke to the rude surprise of the empty packaging from a Sourdough and Olive Oil chocobar I picked up in Portland on our trip…turns out R had eaten it. Worked in my favor though, ‘cause I doubt even that could taste better than this one—it’s TRULY salty, which too many sea salt or salted caramel confections don’t deliver on (I generally like salt and starch more than sweets). There’s an entire pebbly outer coating of chunky salt. So so good. I’m beginning to join the living again, and I owe it all to tea, chocolate, and kindness.

Sil

need this!

ifjuly

yes, i think so—i tend to consider you the queen of keemun, Sil. (:

boychik

Blame it on Spring.haha I meant season. What a coincident! Glad you liked this tea. Chocolate, well I gobbled the whole bar in 2 days. I try to have 1 square a day. It’s so good. I hope everything will settle down. cleaning or laundry works great for me when I’m mad;)

ifjuly

it is so good! (good chocolate renders me an inarticulate dummy just repeating myself, haha.) chocolate and pears (or sometimes oranges) are my favorite out-of-the-blue treat.

yes, i find folding laundry and cooking—especially kneading bread—good for when i’m angry. and angry vacuuming, ha.

Sil

i just need to get through one more day without the tea going away and i’ll be able to buy it… REALLY trying to stick to no orders in March heh

boychik

Now I want pear goat cheese salad with mandarin oranges and toasted almonds. I should make it tomorrow. You know, in old times in Russia women used to clean rugs or pillows outside. Basically they had something similar to tennis racket and were beating shit out of it. I wonder what they were thinking about…

ifjuly

oh, i’ve done that! often in spring, actually. and yes, beating rugs is therapeutic for sure. “take THAT and THAT and THAT eugggh!” ha.

that salad sounds awesome! i make a similar one with pear, cucumber, and goat cheese with pistachios and romaine. mm. i love mandarin oranges.

boychik

I think I like your version of a salad. Will try and report w/ notes;)

Kat

Oh, man, I saw A&D at the Tea Festival, and they weren’t selling this yet. I would have been pretty tempted, because no shipping, and your note makes it sound amazing. I really feel that all of their teas have that ‘more’ quality you describe. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m still glowing in the limelight of the assam. I’ve also found that dealing with family always makes me crave chocolate. I have no idea if the aforementioned inlaw drama lead you to chocolate, but I thought I’d comment anyway. I’m stopping now.

boychik

@Kat, thats where i picked this tea at festival. In fact, it was even cheaper – $15. if i had a chance to taste it, i would get 2 tins. they are smaller

ifjuly

Kat, you are probably right I was subconsciously self-medicating. :b It’s funny, a couple days ago I was pondering why I’m so much calmer lately and then it occurred to me it might be because I switched lip balms a few weeks ago to something whose first ingredient is pure cocoa butter, and now every day there’s a constant low-grade aroma of chocolate on my lips and lavender on my hands (hand cream). Good therapy, har.

boychik, in case you’re ever curious, here’s the two chopped salad recipes yours reminded me of. i make them often, love them.

Pear and Cranberry Chopped Salad

Serves 4 as a light entree or 6 as a side dish.

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
Table salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 ripe but firm pear cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
Ground black pepper

1. Combine cucumber and 1/2 teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber, bell pepper, pear, onion, and cranberries; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

3. Add romaine, blue cheese, and pistachios; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

/

Radish and Orange Chopped Salad

Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are available at most supermarkets and natural food stores. Don’t use an overripe avocado, which will break down and make the salad gluey.

Serves 4 as a light entree or 6 as a side dish.

1 medium cucumber , peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Table salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
10 radishes , halved and sliced thin (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 oranges , peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and drained (about 1 cup)
1 ripe but still firm avocado , pitted, skinned, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see note)
1/2 small red onion , minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves , roughly chopped
1 romaine heart , washed, dried, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 ounces Manchego cheese , shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsalted pepitas , toasted (see note)
Ground black pepper

1. Combine cucumber and ½ teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl and let stand 15 minutes.

2. Whisk oil, lime juice, and garlic together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber, radishes, oranges, avocado, onion, and cilantro; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

3. Add lettuce, cheese, and pepitas; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

mm salad! i need to make yours soon.

boychik

I’m drooling already. I saved it to my recipes:)

Kat

Both those salads look amazing! Totally stupid, but I love salad recipes, because I actually eat a lot of salad, and I like recipes to let me know how I can diversify my repertoire, so to speak.

And I totally self medicate with chocolate, and I have been doing so recently, so I read that and was like— I totally do that! I love cocoa butter, too. It smells universally good to me. I seem to only like chocolate when I’m stressed, but I drift towards it very often.

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Sil

need this!

ifjuly

yes, i think so—i tend to consider you the queen of keemun, Sil. (:

boychik

Blame it on Spring.haha I meant season. What a coincident! Glad you liked this tea. Chocolate, well I gobbled the whole bar in 2 days. I try to have 1 square a day. It’s so good. I hope everything will settle down. cleaning or laundry works great for me when I’m mad;)

ifjuly

it is so good! (good chocolate renders me an inarticulate dummy just repeating myself, haha.) chocolate and pears (or sometimes oranges) are my favorite out-of-the-blue treat.

yes, i find folding laundry and cooking—especially kneading bread—good for when i’m angry. and angry vacuuming, ha.

Sil

i just need to get through one more day without the tea going away and i’ll be able to buy it… REALLY trying to stick to no orders in March heh

boychik

Now I want pear goat cheese salad with mandarin oranges and toasted almonds. I should make it tomorrow. You know, in old times in Russia women used to clean rugs or pillows outside. Basically they had something similar to tennis racket and were beating shit out of it. I wonder what they were thinking about…

ifjuly

oh, i’ve done that! often in spring, actually. and yes, beating rugs is therapeutic for sure. “take THAT and THAT and THAT eugggh!” ha.

that salad sounds awesome! i make a similar one with pear, cucumber, and goat cheese with pistachios and romaine. mm. i love mandarin oranges.

boychik

I think I like your version of a salad. Will try and report w/ notes;)

Kat

Oh, man, I saw A&D at the Tea Festival, and they weren’t selling this yet. I would have been pretty tempted, because no shipping, and your note makes it sound amazing. I really feel that all of their teas have that ‘more’ quality you describe. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m still glowing in the limelight of the assam. I’ve also found that dealing with family always makes me crave chocolate. I have no idea if the aforementioned inlaw drama lead you to chocolate, but I thought I’d comment anyway. I’m stopping now.

boychik

@Kat, thats where i picked this tea at festival. In fact, it was even cheaper – $15. if i had a chance to taste it, i would get 2 tins. they are smaller

ifjuly

Kat, you are probably right I was subconsciously self-medicating. :b It’s funny, a couple days ago I was pondering why I’m so much calmer lately and then it occurred to me it might be because I switched lip balms a few weeks ago to something whose first ingredient is pure cocoa butter, and now every day there’s a constant low-grade aroma of chocolate on my lips and lavender on my hands (hand cream). Good therapy, har.

boychik, in case you’re ever curious, here’s the two chopped salad recipes yours reminded me of. i make them often, love them.

Pear and Cranberry Chopped Salad

Serves 4 as a light entree or 6 as a side dish.

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
Table salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 ripe but firm pear cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
Ground black pepper

1. Combine cucumber and 1/2 teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber, bell pepper, pear, onion, and cranberries; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

3. Add romaine, blue cheese, and pistachios; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

/

Radish and Orange Chopped Salad

Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are available at most supermarkets and natural food stores. Don’t use an overripe avocado, which will break down and make the salad gluey.

Serves 4 as a light entree or 6 as a side dish.

1 medium cucumber , peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Table salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
10 radishes , halved and sliced thin (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 oranges , peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and drained (about 1 cup)
1 ripe but still firm avocado , pitted, skinned, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see note)
1/2 small red onion , minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves , roughly chopped
1 romaine heart , washed, dried, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 ounces Manchego cheese , shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsalted pepitas , toasted (see note)
Ground black pepper

1. Combine cucumber and ½ teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl and let stand 15 minutes.

2. Whisk oil, lime juice, and garlic together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber, radishes, oranges, avocado, onion, and cilantro; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

3. Add lettuce, cheese, and pepitas; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

mm salad! i need to make yours soon.

boychik

I’m drooling already. I saved it to my recipes:)

Kat

Both those salads look amazing! Totally stupid, but I love salad recipes, because I actually eat a lot of salad, and I like recipes to let me know how I can diversify my repertoire, so to speak.

And I totally self medicate with chocolate, and I have been doing so recently, so I read that and was like— I totally do that! I love cocoa butter, too. It smells universally good to me. I seem to only like chocolate when I’m stressed, but I drift towards it very often.

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Bio

“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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